Portable knits

I’m on holiday this week and feeling pretty pleased with myself about this post. It was written before I went away and set up ready to publish in my absence.

aquasock

psock

So, this week I’m camping with my lovely church family and a whole bunch of other related churches. We will get to see some of those very special friends, that though you only see them once or twice a year the relationships seem to have an immensity that is totally out of proportion to time spent together. We will be eating together, playing together, talking together, singing together and listening together, to ever increasing good news of Holy Spirit hope and Jesus kingdom restoration. All the knitting will be portable in the form of socks, socks and more socks.

blueknit

In readiness for going away I have been finishing a few baby projects. These are for friends who have had babies since I saw them last. The tiny aqua socks and the tiny pink socks were fiddly to finish and I abandoned the kitchener stitch in favour of a simple cast off where I picked up a stitch from the front then the back needle and knitted them together. Very quick and satisfying. The little blue jumper will be sewn together in the car. I always put off the sewing up of the seams because I make such a bumpy job of it how ever carefully I work.

rainbowy

pinkyarn

I’m also pretty excited about new yarn. There is a rainbow sock yarn from FabFunkyFibres at Etsy and a Rowan baby alpaca, colour shade ruby, which I will use to make myself a Ginny Sheller inspired shawl. This will be my first triangular shawl and I’ve been studying a few Youtube tutorials in preparation for the challenge ahead.

leaf

My holiday reading is mainly John Irving. I’m starting with Until I find You and finishing with The Hotel New Hampshire.

Holiday plans are looking good!

I’m sharing this post on Ginny Sheller’s Yarn Along. You can learn more about this at gsheller.com. She writes,

The Yarn Along began in early Fall 2010 as a way to share knitting projects and good reads; motivating ourselves, and inspiring each other. Every week knitters, and a few crocheters as well, link up and share a photo (or two) of what they are knitting and what they are reading. Knowing that Yarn Along Wednesday is coming up is a great way to stay motivated to finish those projects! And I, for one, am always on the lookout for a great book recommendation as well.

yarnalong

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One stitch closer

stripesock

There have beens some challenges lately, I won’t pretend otherwise. Challenges of the heart and soul and a little unravelling of the fabric of expectations and aspirations in our family life. In it all, by God’s good grace, I’ve seen a sure and certain way ahead so I just keep travelling forwards, wrapping the yarn, slipping the loop and moving one stitch closer to the end of the row. I’m knitting through this tough place just as hard as I can.

On Saturday morning Lucy and I made eggy bread which we ate at the kitchen table. We sprinkled it with brown sugar and declared it better than bacon. I made a pot of coffee and took a cup upstairs for Andy.  I sat at the end of the bed knitting whilst he drank his coffee and he said he used to think it was nice for me to have a hobby but now he can see that knitting is much more than this.

On Sunday I broke my favourite bamboo knitting needle. Moving up the sofa, towards the window for more light. Work still in hand, I leant on the needle, the full pressure of my weight and heard the wooden fibre snap. In the kitchen we smoothed out the wound and wrapped it in a slither of sticky tape, smoothing out the rough parts with warm fingers and great care.

So now I’m knitting loose with a lot more slack in my yarn to help the stitches move smoothly over the rough place where the needle broke.

I’m writing this piece to share on Ginny Sheller’s Yarn On, a place where each Wednesday we are invited to share what we are knitting and what we are reading. I finished the wide stripe socks and I’m now knitting a similar sock in a blue space dyed yarn.

yarn

book

I bought Anne Tyler’s, The Beginner’s Goodbye on Saturday and finished it on Monday. Anne Tyler creates extremely human, flawed characters who instead of following the usual tragic routes find unexpected grace and transformation in the everyday circumstances of messy human relationships, loss, failure and discontent. In The Beginner’s Goodbye, Aaron is suddenly widowed and as he moves through the process of grief he comes face to face with the flawed nature of his past marriage through a series of unexpected meetings with his now dead wife. The story has a warm Tyler-esque ending full of hope and an unexpected love match.

You can join Ginny’s “Yarn Along” every Wednesday on her blog.

The Yarn Along began in early Fall 2010 as a way to share knitting projects and good reads; motivating ourselves, and inspiring each other.  Every week knitters, and a few crocheters as well, link up and share a photo (or two) of what they are knitting and what they are reading.  Knowing that Yarn Along Wednesday is coming up is a great way to stay motivated to finish those projects!  And I, for one, am always on the lookout for a great book recommendation as well.

The close of the day

honeysuckle

We had an early tea last night. Five o’clock, children around the table with a plate of cold foods from the fridge and the usual clamour of chatter.

We had planned to go over to Liverpool but at the last moment I decided to stay at home with two of the children. It was a good decision; by saying no to something really good in favour of something that turned out better, an otherwise frantic evening, was transformed into a slow open space without any plans.

Lucy watched The Secret Garden and I watched most of it with her. I got started on the second sock (knitters amongst you know all about the second sock!). We got to talking about the film settings, the house, the furniture, the garden and the wild open moors. I recognised some of the places, lovely places where I have been, Fountains Abbey and the hotel stairway at the St Pancreas Renaissance hotel, where I once attended a rather swish Apple Education conference (that seems like a million years ago!). Lucy went up to bed when the film finished and I planned to do the same; cup of tea, early night and a book.

I pottered in the kitchen, tidying the clutter of the day, sorting laundry, putting things in order for the morning. Dusk fell, shadows and grainy gloom hanging around the kitchen like unwelcome guests, but with the patio doors still flung wide against the closing day I stood a while and watched the pale colours of the sky sink into the surprising peace of my own back yard. Tendrils of overgrown jasmine hung over the door lintel just where I stood, the tip of each turned upwards to face the last of the sun. I pulled a chair up and sat down to watch. There was very little movement, very little sound, an insect passing, a quiet bird call somewhere distant.

Some flowers give more scent as night falls. It was the honeysuckle that I could smell sitting there watching the evening filling up the yard. I wrote the words on my note pad, “Peace smells like honeysuckle and contentment looks like a bee, in the pocket of a foxglove flower”. I’m sitting on my own back step waiting for bats to take flight.

Outside it was still light but in the kitchen it was too dark to see. I sat on the door step in the in-between light and I remembered that my grandmother, my dad’s mum, would sit in the dark as the night fell. That she never got up to switch on the light and how we thought her excessively frugal or excessively sad, rather than content and restful alone with her thoughts and watching the close of the day. Sometimes she would knit, there in the dark, feeling the stitches on the needle with her thumbs, her sight failing from thick milky cataracts that covered her eyes. I wonder what it would be like to live without the power of the electric light? To rise when the sun rises and sleep when it sets? To do our work through the long days of summer and to stay home through winter keeping warm, telling stories and planning for the spring? To live without the false notion we are somehow in control of the very light of day or could order the comings and goings of weeks and years?

I have been busy, anxious and troubled by many things for more years of my life than I care to count. But sitting watching the night fall I wonder what there is to be afraid of. Time has slowed and I’m catching up. Tonight I could slip through the thinning places of the day and find myself on the other side of reality, like losing my cares to the inside of a prayer.

But the Lord answered her … you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing …

Luke 10.41.42

There is a time for us to rouse our souls and make them sing a song they don’t really feel like singing. There is a time for gratitude lists and inspiring quotes, for disciplines of prayer and an unrelenting pursuit of the never-give-up life.

But there is also a time (and it is a better time) when the soul, by its own devices rises up to meet God with an un-stoppable cry of thanks. A slow time, at the end of the day, as the sun slips away and a cool hush falls on the busy-ness of all the well spent hours.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits …
Psalm 103.1,2

In which I find a new blog to read and feel inspired

So I haven’t blogged much lately. But I have written nearly every day. My assessment of the situation is this: you wouldn’t want to read what I have been writing about or I wouldn’t want you to read what I’ve been writing about. Either way it has all led to a lot of ink on a lot of pages but nothing published.

I’m probably reading fewer blogs and spending less time online generally but yesterday was a great online reading day because I found a really beautiful blog that made me want to write something for publishing again.

Ann Voskamp (who I read without fail even when I’m not online very much) published a guest piece by Ginny Sheller, a homeschooling mum of seven children. She knits, keeps bees and takes the most beautiful photographs of the Virginia countryside and her beautiful family life.

Ginny wrote a piece about God taking her relentless desire for control and order, and shaping it into something more restful and trusting, through her experiences of caring for her family. She writes,

And I think I’m finally letting the truth sink in, that if the house is messy, nothing bad will happen.

And really…

There are no winners in the race to get it all done.

Because the reality is that after those things are done, there is still more. While I’m folding the laundry, my three year old son and his sisters are playing in the mud.

It would be impossible to keep an immaculate home and raise this family well. And God isn’t asking me to do the impossible.

Nothing bad will happen if I can’t clean this mess today.

I read the piece and I was hooked, fresh air breathed into the suffocating stress of a too-much-to -do life. I hopped over to her blog and read a little more of her story , comforting words on finding grace and truth amongst the hard or mundane things of life.

And I was really taken with her Wednesday link-up where she invites readers to share what the are knitting and what they are reading. So here I am; sharing what I am reading and what I’m knitting.

sock

knit

book

I’ve been furiously in search of the perfect sock yarn and the perfect sock pattern. I’m currently working on my own sock pattern and my friend at the Yarn Fairy in Southport suggested that I tried a new sock wool from Sirdar called Heart and Sole. Initially I disliked the wide stripe but I’m gradually coming round to the idea now that the garment is taking its final shape. I’m thinking that these socks will be perfect for our summer camping trips as slippers or in wellies.

The Wendell Berry  is also set to be a summer tent companion, a poet for outdoor times. This poem calms my thoughts like the words of a new born psalm 23.

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wendell Berry

daisy

You can join Ginny’s “Yarn Along” every Wednesday on her blog.

The Yarn Along began in early Fall 2010 as a way to share knitting projects and good reads; motivating ourselves, and inspiring each other.  Every week knitters, and a few crocheters as well, link up and share a photo (or two) of what they are knitting and what they are reading.  Knowing that Yarn Along Wednesday is coming up is a great way to stay motivated to finish those projects!  And I, for one, am always on the lookout for a great book recommendation as well.