Yarn Along – March 9th

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I’m reading The Museum of You, by Carys Bray. I really loved her first novel, A Song for Issy Bradley and she is also a local writer. The copy I have is a publisher’s proof and it feels quite special, a sneak preview before the official date of publication (June 16th in the UK).

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Her first novel, A Song for Issy Bradley is the story of Claire, a mother who loses her baby and most of her faith in God. Claire’s husband Ian is a good Mormon elder who is ill prepared to understand what is happening in his family. His wife takes to her bed and his teenage daughter Zippy falls in love for the first time. In the process she begins to unravel some of the double standard inherent in relationships generally and in church life particularly. Whilst this is going on his youngest son Jacob is hoping for the miracle that will put everything right and their rebellious older son, Alma, finds his own miracle in the most surprising place. The final scene takes place on the beach not far from where I live and it caused some interesting discussions at home because my husband and I both interpreted the outcomes differently. But maybe that is one indicator of a really good read …

The second novel promises to me good like the first, though it was a little slow to pick up pace. I’m only 100 pages into The Museum of You and so far I’m totally convinced and engaged by the main character Clover Quinn and her mission to put together a museum style exhibit on the mother she never knew. I’m particularly intrigued that so much of the novel is set locally, with detail of streets and locations that are familiar to me on a daily basis. Not something I’m used to in a novel and frankly a rather unusual fiction reading experience.

When it comes to knitting I’m mainly making baby cardigans. They seem to bring so much pleasure to me and others. I think this is my sixth this year. I stick with white and love using vintage patterns that various lovely people have passed on. When I finish this one I’m planning on something a different; maybe a light shawl in some exquisite yarn or a summer cardigan in pink cotton (for me).

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PS. I just noticed that an audio book of Issy Bradley is currently available from Amazon in both the UK and the US for free. Can’t recommend it highly enough!

Today I’m joining a link up with other knitters and reader, hosted by Ginny Sheller of the exquisitely photographed blog Small Things.

 

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Knitting news and Yarn Along

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Ginny Sheller’s blog ‘Small Things’ is one of my favourites. Lucy and I are both regulars there, especially since Ginny started sharing pictures of her goats. You have to go visit her on the internet for yourself because she has the most beautiful children (7 of them) and she takes fabulous photographs which I can’t do justice to with words.

On Wednesdays Ginny opens up her place for knitter to share what is on their needles as well as what the have been reading. I’ve taken part in the past and had some lovely cosy chats with fellow knitters, so I’m taking part again today.

I have so many knitting projects in progress and so many books on the night stand it’s difficult to know where to begin!

Knitting: various pairs of nearly finished socks, a quirky hat with kitty cat ears, three baby cardigans waiting to be pressed and a huge moss stitch blanket for working on whilst I watch TV in the dark. But my main knitting project is a tea leaf cardigan in Madelinetosh merino which is finished apart from the sleeves (Oh, how I wish I could get the sleeves right).

Reading: Ann Lamott’s book on the art of writing, Bird by Bird , Tokens of Trust, Rowan William’s beautiful beginner guide to faith, Kathy Escobar’s thought provoking, Faith Shift and for the most part a Peter Carey novel, True History of the Kelly Gang.

cardiIn further knitting news I have been teaching Louisa to knit. I’ve never taught knitting to anyone who isn’t family but I really enjoyed it and I think she did too. Louisa took to knitting like the proverbial duck to water so after practising with some scrap yarn she was able to get on with her sock whilst I baked cookies. A practically perfect Saturday spent round the kitchen table.

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I’m looking forwards to reading the yarn alongs to see what you are knitting and to get some reading suggestions. Maybe I will persuade Louisa to join in next week.

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Walking on rainbows

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I write like I knit like I pray.

Words come like stitches, prayer slips gently from my lips. The written piece takes shape. The fabric on the needle grows. I cast off the work, the garment is finished, there is more yarn in the stash. Some written pieces come quickly and easily, others are laboured over for days or weeks or years. One by one, sentences like rows, the fabric grows, God shows up and I am found.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Galatians 6.9

I’m working through the stitches and lining up the rows, I’m turning the heels and tapering the toes because life without promise is a confusing mess and I need to bring more goodness into the here and now of my home. Promises are set free from the pages of unopened Bibles and when knees buckle we will carry on walking even though the ground gives way. We can feel our own soft feet, in the colours of a God who promises he will not leave us or forsake us. And we are always safe.

I finished the rainbow socks for Lucy and I tell her I made them so she can walk on the promises of God. It’s an idea I borrowed, but one I am making my own. One stitch, one verse of scripture, one small prayer at a time, slipped from these lips like the loop of yarn slipped from the needle and into the coloured fabric of the promised sock. Noah is saved through a terrible flood and when it is all over a rainbow is set amongst the clouds, a promise of the covenant that God is set to keep. A promise to his people forever.

And though His promises are many, His promise is this:

Rest for the wearyCome to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11.28-29

Strength for those who are weak – He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah. 40.29-31

Peace in every situation – Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14.26-28

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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One stitch closer

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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.

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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.

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.

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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

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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.

90 minute baby mitten pattern

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We were joined by another new baby at toddler group this week. Everybody loves a baby and for me nothing brings out the knitting needles faster than a baby.

The 90 minute baby mitten pattern that I share here is a follow up to the very successful 2 hour baby hat pattern that I shared in the spring. I aim to design a simple pattern that does not burden the knitter with too much navigational toil and unnecessary complications.

In terms of skill and technique this pattern is excruciatingly easy. You just need to be able to cast on, knit and purl, make a simple decrease by knitting two stitches together and to cast off. If in doubt you can easily find videos on YouTube that will remind you of these basic techniques. If you haven’t knitted in a while it will return quickly, like riding a bike. If you can knit but have never made an actual garment this pattern is ideal.

So how quick and simple is it? In essence you work a couple of centimetres of rib, a few more centimetres of stocking stitch and then you perform the simple decrease across seven rows and cast off on the eighth. This should all take about 45 minutes per mitten; 90 minutes in all.

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The 90 minute baby mitten pattern

You will need: 50g 4 ply yarn, two size 3.25mm/10UK/3USA needles, a tape measure and a darning needle

Cast on 32 stitches

Working in knit one, purl one rib, complete 12 rows of rib

Continue working in stocking stitch (knit a row, purl a row) until the work measures 8cm, ending on a purl row

Work the first decrease row on a knit row

Decrease in the following manner:

Row 1: (K1, K2tog tbl, K10, k2tog, K1) x 2

Row 2: purl

Row 3: (K1, K2tog tbl, K8, k2tog, K1) x 2

Row 4: purl

Row 5: (K1, K2tog tbl, K6, k2tog, K1) x 2

Row 6: purl

Row 7: (K1, K2tog tbl, K4, k2tog, K1) x 2

Cast off remaining 16 stitches purl-wise

Press according to yarn manufacturers instructions and sew side seam to finish

Abbreviations: K = knit, P = purl, K2tog = knit two stitches together (to decrease 1 stitch), tbl = through the back of loops

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You may also be interested in my two hour baby hat pattern.