Monday, June 22, 2015

A Cheerful Gift for a Non-Milestone Birthday

It's hot. It's so, so, hot outside, and with triple digit temperatures in only mid-June, we spend a bit more time indoors on our weekends in the city. Grabbing a remnant of summer-colored yarn, I decided to knit up a gift for a girlfriend who was having a "non-milestone" birthday (as the card I chose for her put it). She's 44, not quite on the lower half of those years leading up to her 50th birthday. Big deal, I joked with her before the weekend.

And since it was hot, I was thankful for a couple of hours to sit in my living room and knit a happy little something to celebrate her year and our friendship.

Wanting a break in the color, I inserted a patterned row of white, giving the cozy a bit of a creamsicle appearance, then chose a taller mug for the bulkier gauge of the wrap.

Get Pattern Here

I love having the opportunity to steal away for a little extra time with my little guy. Making a quick extra errand for a box for my gift, we stopped for some weekday morning brunch.

For me, it's doing little things for others that brings joy to my day, and though I get busy and distracted with my daily have-tos (just like everyone else), it's something this simple that sets my heart back on track.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Burning Off Debris and Stress After a Long Winter

We use our cabin on the mountain as a summer retreat, and invariably the winters seem long. This weekend, we tossed a few things in the Expedition, and headed into Utah for our inaugural visit. Because we had a little extra time for the drive, we stopped in Cedar City to check out one of my favorite recycle/up-cycle shops... fortunately for me, they were open.

I always have fun checking out what's new in the store since our last time shopping.

The mountain had experienced some rain and when I opened my car door, I was overcome with the deep pine and earth scent of the mountain.

We made quick work of putting away the groceries from our cooler, and hauled out the fire bowl for our first fire of the season. The temperature was perfect for burning off some wood, and the stress of our week.

Our little guy loves to ride with his Papa on the quads. Dragging a few down to the village for our annual start-up service, he couldn't wait to show me that he found one "just the right size".

The shop on the mountain inspired me with a DIY project for our home in the city. (Mostly, because she wouldn't sell me the weathered pallets from her display walls.) The shop owner and her husband gave us detailed instructions on how we might finish a set of new pallets to look almost the same. We were energized and up to the challenge.

As fate sometimes will have it, we found some discarded old pallets at the dumpsters when we stopped in the village to discard the weekend's trash before our drive home. Making room in the back of my husband's Expedition, we toted them back up to our place for another week or so of weathering.

Winters can seem long. In the fall, I cast-on a cardigan to knit for my son. I chose a thin gauge of 100% mink, and the slender thread of yarn (combined with its dark hue) make for a slow, although exquisite, knit. While I have worked this project over our Las Vegas winter, I still have much to do to until the cardigan will be ready for him to wear.

I'm left pondering that although the winters (like my project) can seem long and slow-moving, I look forward towards the light of fresh beginnings with gratitude for what I have learned along the way.

Monday, June 1, 2015

A Hand-Knit Cozy, a Pay-it-Forward Challenge, and a Heart-Felt Surprise

There it was on my FaceBook newsfeed. A friend posted a 2015 Pay It Forward challenge, and I instinctively responded "I'm in!". The gist of the challenge was (in view of tragic events unfolding around the end of the year) to spread some love and light by randomly surprising the first five people who responded with some trinket during the coming year. Dutifully, I cut and pasted the information to my own status update and waited for someone to respond.

And respond they did!

In February, I knitted a pair of cup cozies as a combined Valentine's Day gift and house-warming gift for my son who had just moved in to a new place with someone he loves. I have often made these adorable mugs as a gift, and someone asked about a pattern on my blog. It was one of those things that I created without much thought or articulating the instructions into pattern form, but I was up for the challenge. Sitting pen and pad in hand, I scribbled out what I believed to be the necessary steps to create one of my cozies.

And then the 2015 Challenge came back to mind. Without notice, the first four months of the year slipped away in the quickest way they invariably do. I hadn't given another meaningful thought about my pledge to reward my first five friends with a random bit of heart-felt cheer.

So sitting in my afternoon cheerful place, Addi Clicks and a favorite remnant of baby alpaca in hand, I set out to test my pattern with a specific "Pay it Forward" recipient on my mind and heart. Making a significant amount of appropriate edits to the pattern I had written out, I finished my cozy with a button labelled, "Smile".

And smile I hope she will!

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Dangerous Slope of Comparison

The source of all discontentment, I told my kids, is comparison. So why is it that we can't seem to help ourselves from the endless and compulsive comparing?

Lacking my own wisdom, I found myself sitting at my desk one morning last week thinking thoughts of self-loathing. I hated my look, my outfit. I look fat, old and tired, I thought to myself. I am relatively certain that I actually looked pretty close to the same way I did just four days earlier, when I felt adorable...yet I couldn't help myself from telling me that everything had taken a nose-dive while I slept overnight.

We compare ourselves to our others, and we compare ourselves to a "better" version of ourselves. Perhaps a version that is younger, thinner, more successful, or just generally happier. Each comparison leaves us more convinced that we are somehow less than we really are.

I find from time to time that I do the same thing with my knitting. I over-scrutinize the details of my seaming, or lay aside a garment less than thrilled with the fit or color, only to pick up up again sometime much later and wonder what I found displeasing in my work. Searching the pattern of a fine lace trim, I'm completely unable to find what I once thought was unmistakeable error.

Two days later, wouldn't you know, I felt completely like myself again. Who knows what clouded my may have been a dream, some random interaction, or a hormone imbalance. Yet when I look upon the work my maker has done in me, I am perfectly comfortable with who I am.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Learning to Articulate What I Know by Heart and Hand

And so there it is. I know you have done it too. Perhaps you have driven somewhere so familiar that you can get there (no problem) so long as you are driving, but when faced with the need to write down the're lost.

And so it is with the coffee cozy. A quick knit, adorable, and always well-received, I have knitted these several times as gifts. I can knit one (shhhh!) during the course of two hours while watching TV at night. There are times when things are so familiar, that they come to us (seemingly) instinctively.

When these became the rage a year or so ago on Pinterest, I decided to knit a few as thank-you gifts for some friends who had helped me organize a large event. Over the last year, I've knitted a few as gifts for other occasions, making adjustments for practicality as needed. Finally, I was asked if I had a pattern.

I decided to see if I could write out the instructions, without actually (driving there). Pen in hand, I thought about the neat rows of knit and purl combinations and began to scribble from memory, but I found I wasn't confident in whether I remembered all the "street names" that would lead me to my metaphoric mother's house. Reaching for a remnant ball of yarn, I cast on as my (now) written instructions commanded. At the end of the 3rd row, I turned my work, consulted my notes, and realized that I would already need to make some edits.

This afternoon in my car, I passed a street I recognized as the street name where a long-time friend of mine had lived. Signaling for a turn, I decided to see if I could find her home by sight. Within seconds, I was turning my car around in the culdesac where she had lived the fifteen years of our friendship. Then I thought of the pattern for my cup cozy. So often we just know where something is, or how to prepare our favorite dish, or the lyrics to our favorite song...but the question of articulating how is a whole new exercise for our mind.

What do you know by heart, but can't remember by name?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Well Done Thy Good and Faithful Servant

She left the world a better place, and I am a better person for the simple fact that I knew her. She loved me, not for anything that I had done or earned, but just for who I am.

In her sunset years, she would sometimes forget who we were for a moment or two, but we didn't mind because we were grateful for the privilege of having her for another day. My mother in law, Jane, (or Mum, as everyone called her) was a beautiful soul. She was the closest thing to Jesus' character I have ever experienced. She chose to love greatly, and each time we said goodbye, she made sure to look closely into my eyes while holding my hands, to tell me how much she loved me and how special she believed me to be. There was no casual wave with a carefree shout of goodbye across the room with Mum. She loved us because we were hers.

One year ago this week, my mother in law slipped from the world the way everyone hopes they will. She very simply was here one moment, and then she was no more. In the hours and days that followed, we remembered her with joy and thanksgiving for the wonderful life she led and all she gave from the little she had.

Mum lived a life of opulence in all the ways that really matter. Hers was a simple (yet profoundly purposeful and beautiful) life. On the day we said our final goodbye, our sadness was buffered with the joy and thankfulness of the favor of calling her our own. I will remember her lovingly and thankfully always, for I am changed for the experience of being Mum's.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Love What You Do

"Love What You Do" says the reclaimed artwork that looms over the credenza in my knitting studio. It's nestled on the wall right next to another that says, "She BELIEVED she could, so she DID." And then there is the little plaque that greets me each morning on my nightstand to remind me:

Dear You,
Now is the time to follow your heart's 
deepest calling.

Each of these bits of literary artwork inspire within me a sense of hope and encouragement. We all need encouragement from time to time, and if you're even a little like I am, you're probably the first to abandon yourself and your dreams when the going gets tough or when emotions are low.

My son sent me a short text note over the weekend. It was just a simple, "I am missing you" message, and I responded in kind. He grabbed ahold of his dream for entrepreneurship last year, and I watched him awe-inspired as he grasped it with abandon. I've been toying with this dream and idea of working within the knitting industry for a few years, but logistics and the economy have kept me from moving forward. At times, I find myself feeling deeply disappointed at my inaction, yet at the same time, I know that I also greatly value my personal freedom. I expressed my quandary to my son.

Without skipping a beat, he served up words of encouragement and a suggestion for how I might have it all and have it all work.  

It has given me new direction... a sense of refreshment within my spirit. I want to start, immediately, and I see nothing in my way.

Sometimes, everything you need is right at your just need a fresh perspective.