Even though the yarnalong link up isn’t happening just now — if I remember I am still sharing what I’m reading and knitting— it’s a nice practice to keeping a record.
I’m knitting Joanna’s cozy knee socks in a casual knit along for February ~ it’s a lovely free pattern that you can find here. I’m going quite slowly but I can tell they are a quick knit – if only one would decide to pick up the needles.
I finished reading and sometimes listening to Bless Me, Ultima which at first I loved and then decided wasn’t my style. I loved his familiar voice. I’m not sure what turned me in the end, it wasn’t the murder or magic, I think it was the gross boys he wrote. I’ll keep it on my shelves because of who wrote it and what he means to me personally as a New Mexican and a writer.
This week I am reading cookbooks, looking for inspiration. I’ve picked up the beautiful poems by Levi Romero again. I love his voice and it fills my brain and my rooms like music.
I wrote before that the mostly quarantine calm of our Holidays this year were to us, “a kind of soothing balm to all of our scrapes and wounds that this strange year has brought us.”
But what I did not say, perhaps because the thoughts had not yet been processed, is that – the mostly quarantined calm of this last season of Holidays and weirdly even big days like this last Sunday’s Super Bowl left me with room for sadness and mourning.
I suppose this is another gift given by this pandemic. The unexpected quiet gives us space and time and to see and feel all the things that busy life didn’t leave us room for before. Just one more surprise, a sort of small grace. One more hard thing to be thankful for.
Winter is back. Although New Mexico isn’t the most Wintery type of place. I’m hungry for Spring and Summer. I’m letting myself begin to think about gardens and chickens and clothes hanging on clothes lines. I’m eager for sunshine and hot days and June bugs. For bare feet and slow walks, trampolines and lazy afternoons reading in the grass.
I sure hope we get there. I hope you get where you long for too.
I finished Gilead by Marilynne Robinson yesterday. It is beautiful and seemed to speak so much so me. I started reading A Promised Land By Barack Obama before Christmas and I have loved it as far as I’ve gotten although this is not very far at all- maybe 7 chapters. I plan to pick it up again soon.
I am knitting a wee scarf for 13’s teddy bear (that he requested for his birthday) and am attempting a doll or a stuffy or a something that I am a bit unsure about as yet for a purpose that I am just as unsure about (my normal process).
Christmas week we managed to catch planets aligning just so and took what some had dubbed the Star of Bethlehem as a promise that Jesus is with us still. Of course we know that, of course we do- but planets aligning just so the week of Christmas was such a sweet and delightful happening that I took hold of it as such a sign of goodness and hope after this year. I made sure to say it again and again to all of us.
Our Christmas was quite quiet this year. Goodness it was nice. I would have loved to visit family and have a house full to brimming and meet new babies and all that but it was, to us, a kind of soothing balm to all of our scrapes and wounds that this strange year has brought us. I’m not even really speaking about Covid-19 as much as a ton of other really difficult things that happened as well as the wretched virus. We had a lovely Christmas and I am thankful.
We went away to the mountains for a few days after Christmas – very carefully and we were completely on our own. It was such a good break from our house. I did not take any yarn or needles or a hook with me which must have been the very first time since I don’t even know when, and this was a much needed rest for my hands after so long Knitting for Others (HK edition) and all the normal Christmas Knitting.
Three kids asked for socks and three asked for fingerless mitts for Christmas which was nice and easy. I used this sock pattern, and this one– both slightly modified. For the Mitts I used a few patterns (maize, honeycomb and paddle to be precise) from Tin Can Knits – also slightly modified. I made myself a pair of socks and hubby too and knitted several Christmas wash cloths to go into gift baskets but I made those up as I went.
In my journal I wrote that my goal for a certain profile description might someday read, “In between books and work I knit and make.” I don’t feel that the last year had enough completed books or making which is what I call creating things of my own design – in whatever medium I chose- to be able to use that description as yet. Perhaps at the end of this year those words will prove true enough to my heart to use them. I’m half joking but I think that maybe mostly I am not.
I’m not bothering this year with anything even slightly resembling a New Year resolution. I really want to, out of habit perhaps. But nah. Not this time. I’m cherishing my kids and doing my best to give them what they need right here, right now. I’m clinging to my husband, my very best friend ( for real though) as we both struggle – a lot – but not enough to lose faith. I’m shoring up all my edges with only the most necessary. Also cherishing sweet friends in chats and zoom calls and phone coffee dates. I’m biding my time until the day that I can visit family far away. I don’t know what is coming but I do know that He knows. God, I mean and that is a great comfort.
There is yoga in my bathroom and walks at the trail I love and the treadmill although not as often as I should but oh well! There is the sense that I just might use some of the hundred and twenty-seven thousand healthy recipes that I have collected over the years. There is a note in my back pocket (it actually hangs above my desk but I think you get my meaning) that says, “start and don’t stop until you finish.” Also there are quiet times and prayer and I won’t lie, probably too much crying but none of that is new. I don’t spot a resolution in there at all.
All this to say that we are good here. Struggling, hurt, wounded, afraid, anxious, unnerved maybe- probably, for sure. But we are together. We are loved and comforted. We are seen and heard, known and that is huge. We are prayerful and full of hope even in our doubt. I think we know each other better which is a lot, maybe everything. I hope that you are well where you are. I pray that you are comforted when you need comfort and strengthened when you need strength and loved. All of it really. Not to sound too preachy but you are not alone, I hope that is something that we all can know deeply when it matters.
I’m having trouble starting this post. I hope you are well. It’s been such a strange Spring. We are well, although our season was hard. Hard. Hard. We’ve made it back to solid ground now. Standing on solid surfaces holding hands with each other now and Jesus. Maybe someday I’ll say here why this season was so difficult. Maybe not.
I haven’t been reading a lot at all. I did listen to The Waiting, It stirred a lot of surprising emotions and made me think deeper about my kids birth moms which is a good thing I think. I picked up Father Brown off my shelf but haven’t read more than a few pages. I seem to be in a bit of a reading rut but now that school is officially out for all the kids (as of Friday) maybe I’ll add a “reading hour” to our daily routine and join them. I’m knitting the Be Brave Wrap and have cast on Rye Light socks. I’’m going to link this post to Ginny’s May Yarnalong, I know— it’s a miracle.
We are so near Summer that I can almost feel the heat. Soon we will all start our mornings outside and stay as long as we can stand it before retreating to the cool indoors for the remainder of the day. I’ve been thinking about how we’ll shape our days here. We all need routine to feel some safety, some calm. Something solid to soothe our wondering.
But this year is not like any other year. I can’t see us coming out into crowds in the near future. I’m still content to go out for groceries on my own or even better asking hubby to bring them after work. We are staying in on purpose, I’m thankful that we can and mindful that not everyone can.
I am acutely aware of a few groups of people far away who cannot just go out in the near empty streets to play before returning to the cool comfort of large rooms. Of elderly men and women who work all through the day in whatever season it is. They push large stacks of cardboard that they collect in the streets of their city. It is their occupation. It is the way they make very little money that they will try to live on in one of the most expensive cities in the world.
When they are able to return home it is often to tiny and uncomfortable spaces (cage homes) stuffed with all of their belonging. Sometimes they never get to leave the elements. Never get to get in out of the heat or cold. Never get to leave the wind or the rain completely. Some (and more than you might think) will tuck themselves behind or beneath stacks of their bags and belonging tucked under bridges or corners outside. No matter how harsh the weather.
All of their circumstances add up to a terribly hard way of life. Some have been known to sleep at tables where families gather to happily eat their French fries in the daytime hours. Although I am not sure those dining rooms are open for those nights of restless sleep these days.
This faithful group serves these elderly poor (and many others in Asia) everyday.
I am also thinking of children who’ve moved into the same city with their families. Moved from other countries into the full to overflowing city that is Hong Kong. These children have their own first language but in school, and to be able to do school, they learn Chinese and English all at the same time. Their lessons are hard. The places they live are often full and are always small. But it is a blessing that there is an indoors to go to.
My friend and his family serve these children, and others. They offer tutoring after school, even during breaks when other kids get a respite from schoolwork. They offer kid’s clubs of all sorts, neighbor ministries and vacation Bible schools along with the near daily tutoring. They offer care, support, resources and prayers to these children and their families and in this season masks, gloves and sanitizer when they have them to give. Shanti (which means peace in Hindi) Ministries serves so well asylum seekers and ethnic minorities in Hong King everyday.
This season I am putting my fingers to work for the elderly poor in Honk Kong. Things to keep them warmer next Winter. And also for the children in my friends clubs and for their mamas or aunties. I’ve been thinking about this for a very long time.
I think I’ve been overwhelmed before the start. Decided my little bit is not enough. But setting that aside I’ve set to work and My process has always been something akin to what Elizabeth Chanin says about infusing the thread in her hand sewn creations with good intentions, rather my solitary work will also be filled with slow and intentional prayers for the ones who will wear them.
This is how I tend work. Praying for who would receive the gift. I’m not fast but in every stitch of the handmade thing there is also love and prayers. Hope and redemption is prayed for. That hearts would know the love of God and seek Him. Health and freedom and strength in the good and bad. Grace and mercy and peace. All good things from heaven for them.
Edited June 2020: I’m using a few free patterns to make these works- or at least that is the plan today. I’ve cast on going to focus on hats. I like this free two-by-two hat pattern and This similar free hat pattern. The rib makes for a stretchy comfy fit for any size head.
Here are a few free patterns that you might like to use: This is the pattern for mittens. This is the pattern for a hat. This is the pattern for super warm woolen socks. I like this one for the mamas and aunties. I also like this hat a lot. I made for one of the boys on his birthday. It’s very stretchy so I reckon it would fit many heads. I’ll add other patterns here if I need to.
Feel free to join me. Or rather, would you consider joining me? You can send them straight to the ministries in HK (linked above) or send them here and I will send in the later days of Fall November, whichever you prefer.
Please pray. And remember that you can always send them financial donations if you prefer. It will not be wasted. Promise. Inquire about any of this and share as you like and thanks for stopping in.
I must confess that the photos I stole from my Instagram while the house sleeps are from June and not July. Our five kids and two wee visitors, hubby, the two dogs and the cat are all still, amazingly, asleep. So I type with the phone held above my head in the dim morning light now, unable and unwilling to fetch all my projects and find some lighting and a spot to take real July pictures. My apologies.
I was doing that thing I do in the early hours of the day where I slide my phone from the night stand / desk and check all the places that I check before the world around here gets moving too fast. Email. Facebook. Instagram. Bible App for the verse of the day etc. I saw that Ginny had posted on Instagram her July Yarnalong was up and I felt I should join her.
I have been slow with the blogposts this past Spring. Weeks of sickness and then recovery left me unwilling to do more than the basics in life. I’ve been fairly productive on the crafting side of things though now that I’m feeling more myself. So here goes it.
I finished The Path Between Us by Suzanne Stabile and picked up (again) Becoming by Michelle Obama. Both are tremendously good books of differing sorts and I recommend them to you and to everyone.
I’m knitting socks (not pictured here) that I started in the Spring. I might add a picture later. I’m also knitting a sweater which is pictured that I started several years ago. Recently I decided that finishing things long left unfinished might be a good practice for me, a doing repressed four on the enneagram. We. Will. See. So far just working on the long neglected things feels really good. Feels like needed progress.
I did also start a wee hand quilted… something. I started out thinking it was a baby’s Summer quit. I’m not too sure of that anymore. As I work with the fabric bunched up in my hand and move the needle up down and over with my other hand I feel such deep joy in it’s making.
When the fabric is pulled taut in my quilters hoop and my eyes and fingers can run over the stitches in their varying lengths and colors, it feels less like a quilt and more like art. I wish every project felt this way. Maybe this is just because it’s a new kind of project for me, I don’t really know yet. It really is so lovely to work on though.
Thanks for stopping by and happy knitting or crocheting or crafting and reading!
September is my absolute favorite month. It is the ending of the hottest days of the year and the beginning of cooler and dimmer days. I trade my tall cups full of ice and unsweetened tea for cozy cups of steaming hot teas. I start thinking about knitting for Christmas and making menus for the coming colder days.
The end of Summer means the roasting of chili and the frantic canning of prickly pear jelly and there is always the silent promise for all the comforting foods of my younger family filled holidays finding their way into our kitchen. I’ll begin to crave posole and tamales and warm flour tortillas.
This year September is extra special because it brought us a finalized adoption of our nearly eleven-year-old son. He moved in last November and as he found a place his own in our chaotic every day he slipped into all of our hearts, one at a time and in each owns quiet or not so quiet moments shared.
It has been a time full of challenges and learning curves, of failures and of so much grace that I can’t even begin to tell you. Sometimes it is hard to become family. Harder still to become friends when all the hurts burn at the ears and even the subtlest change can remind him (or any one of us) of other days and years spent in harder places.
But these days brothers are becoming friends. He and biggest sister becoming downright pals and the little girls are finding a playmate unexpected in the big boy who is tough on the outside and so tender-hearted on the inside.
Even the five-year-old is softening to him which is huge because there has been some kind of strange competition between them since he moved in with us. Maybe some fear that one’s adoption is more special than the others and so they’ve been at odds much of the past ten months he has been with us. Yesterday as his adoption became final in the same courtroom hers was in last year, she hugged his legs and smiled up at him and it felt to me like a breakthrough of sorts. Maybe the kind only a mama notices but it was something, I just know it.
I couldn’t find words when the judge asked me what he had brought to our family. I’m not the best speaker even when I am prepared but on-the-fly, I’m downright terrible. I’d say now though that he brought us to hope for his future and somehow that spilled out and over and hope grew for each of us. I’d say that he brought us all a bigger, wider and deeper understanding of Father’s love as we learn to choose to love him and ask him to choose to love us as well even when things are really very terribly hard. He also brought laughter and joy even though there is sadness mixed with it. His new with us started from loss and we will be here for him as he walks out his life.
With the finalized adoption we move into a rest time of foster care (if that is a real thing). We’ll do our best to only do respite for other foster families for a time and we hope to use our days and weeks to exhale and finally relax into our new forever family.
I’m re-reading this book (so relevant to adoptive families) and love it so. I had a few copies to give away to other families like ours or to those who would want to wrap around and support or understand better families like ours. I held on tight to my copies and waited for just the right hearts to share them with and was so happy to be able to place them into hands that needed and wanted them so. I have one more to give (if you would like or know someone please ask me) it’s a great read full of heart and wisdom and Jesus love.
I started the devotional you see below and only made it one day. It’s long and thoughtful and requires my attention and my heart. I’ll let you know how I like it when I know.
I’m knitting a wrap called the #bebravewrap by Sally who is @pinkgirlknits on Instagram. It’s a test Knit and I’m liking it so far. It is defiantly working at getting me out of my knitting or lack of knitting rut.
There is much else to say, but I think that for now I am done. Hints for later are that I started a new job last month or wait, the month before and I took a team to Asia to work with migrant workers children left behind and other wonderful works with the poor and immigrants. I didn’t plant a garden this year but hubby did for me while I was away which was too sweet and so very loving. It was a Summer full of joy and sorrow and growth and at some point, I will share about all of it. I hope. I plan to but yeah, sometimes I’m just waiting on words.
I’m joining Ginny for Yarnalong. Blessings and peace friends.
It is a New Year. One of my resolutions is to read more – or rather to read entire books- you know, to the end. I always have a stack of books that I am “reading” but I have not finished many books this year, err this past year. Too busy or tired or vegging out in front of the t.v.
A stack of unfinished books leaves me feeling that I am behind which leaves me feeling stressed. Boo. For someone who loves the well written word- it is wrong that my stacks of beautiful books should leave me feeling something so ridiculous as stress. I love books. I love to read. I must figure out how to enjoy them again. That is my goal. ❤
Just now I am reading Blood And Thunder and I am Knitting some socks- no pattern just socks. I’ve knit enough socks to wing it now. The yarn is ZOMBIE something-or-another (I lost the info) and a white wildfoote luxury sock yarn.
I was so happy that Ginny started Yarn Along again 🙂 I nearly forgot- but managed a post just for the occasion and am so pleased to join her today. Yay, thank you ma’am for starting it up again!
TWO MORE THINGS: ✌️
I wanted to add my favorite resource of the week is this podcast the topic is How To Provide A Healing Home For Wounded Children. It is so good. Gosh- can’t even tell you- so good. If you do foster care or have adopted please have a listen. ❤
Also if you need a sock pattern- one you can really rely on- you might try this one (it is free) I love all of her work.