Saturday, December 20, 2014

almost there

The holidays may have me on the ropes just the tiniest bit, I'll admit. I haven't started trying to stab people with candy canes or anything—yet—so the situation still remains in the relatively-stress-free zone.

On the bad side, I still have a couple more presents to purchase and more than a couple dozen to wrap.

On the good side, I don't have any reason to go into a mall. Only one more delivery has yet to arrive. The Christmas photo-newsletter-thingies are folded, stuffed and stamped as of tonight, thanks to my older sons who steadfastly maintained throughout that there was no way that we know that many people.

On the bad side, the principal's shawl is still not done. Eight more rows to go.



On the good side, I got quite a few rows done while the older boys manned a kettle for the Salvation Army tonight, though it was slightly uncomfortable standing-position knitting in a grocery store vestibule since I didn't feel right sitting down on the motorized shopping carts.



Because it has been that sort of season, I will end on the good!





Thursday December 18: Beautify
For the beauty of the earth, for the glory of the skies,
for the love which from our birth, over and around us lies.




Friday December 19: Heal
In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan;
ground as hard as iron, water like a stone.




Saturday December 20: Thank
Now thank we all our God, with hearts and hands and voices.



Wednesday, December 17, 2014

four hours of knitting

In case you ever wondered, four hours of knitting looks like this, before:



And after:



No wonder Norway based an entire reality television show around it. Fascinating, amirite?

This is the principal's shawl, which needs to be done by next Tuesday. The first picture is pretty accurate on color. I love Madeline Tosh Merino Light yarn so much, it's a wonder that I don't knit every darn thing with it. My last project using it was my Family Leaves Shawl, and that was way too long ago. It is a wonderfully tactile yarn, and an amazingly beautiful yarn, all of which makes it an absolute pleasure to work every stitch.

I am enjoying knitting someone else's pattern, for the first time in a while. So nice to just follow along and not be considering the next move or taking copious notes (and sometimes even pictures) on what I have just done! I have one more pattern repeat to go, which is 16 rows. I made no progress with it during knitting club tonight, because it is not a knit night friendly pattern, but hopefully I can make some progress tomorrow. Right after holiday shopping, and before the vet visit. Or maybe at the hair salon?



Tuesday December 16: Experience
Come, labor on! No time for rest, til glows the western sky,
and a glad sound comes with the setting sun.





Wednesday December 17: Become
Make me a channel of your peace.



Monday, December 15, 2014

keeping up

A quick post so I don't get too far behind in sharing my Advent words. I am keeping up with those faithfully but that's about it!

Primo came home from college on Friday. Thanks to a wonderful family I came home from the craft fair on Saturday to a clean house. We came home from tree hunting on Sunday with just about the perfect tree, but aren't they always, once you get them home and decorated?

My least favorite question this time of year: "Are you ready for Christmas?" I am doing my best to answer with a cheerful (hard through gritted teeth), "Nope!" But my stress level, at least as far as the holidays are concerned, is still remarkably low. A hat tip to the monks.



Saturday December 13: Risk
We shall overcome.




Sunday December 14: Expand
Expand thy wings, celestial dove, brood over nature's might.




Monday December 15: Focus
Will the circle be unbroken?


Friday, December 12, 2014

change in terms

I was doing laps around the house the other morning, in search of my usual prey.

"Have you seen my mug?" I asked Terzo, packing up his backpack for school.

"A businesswoman shouldn't lose her coffee cup," he said, tapping me gently on the cheek.

His descriptive startled me. Since when had I become a businesswoman, in his eyes? Not sure if it is the knitting classes or the office work, because I have always done the farm, but now I am seen as being officially in business.



Well, this businesswoman is almost ready for the last craft show of the season tomorrow. That's fifteen pairs of gloves in that basket. I think I just about have them out of my system at this point. At least I will have plenty to give away at my multiple variety of places of work.



Thursday December 11: Breathe
Breathe on me, breath of God.




Friday December 12: Act
Love consecrates the humblest acts and haloes mercy's deeds.




Wednesday, December 10, 2014

simplest headband

Teaching the knitting classes in town has been a great way to meet all sorts of people. Some are already friends, some I know as a friend of a friend (it is a small town!), and some are completely new.

One woman in particular, I'll call her B., has stood out for her sheer dogged perseverance. For a few reasons, knitting has not come easy to her, but she is very eager to join in on knit night, and so she has stuck it out. The beginner's cowl project we do in the class is 24 stitches wide, and only involves the knit stitch. After three weeks of drop in visits to the shop owner and me to help her with various problems, she turned up at knit night in despair. "How do you make all these stitches fit?" she wailed. She had over 100 stitches jammed on a 10-inch needle, and no, I am not exactly sure how she got from 24 to 100, though new knitters' projects tend to grow horizontally. We recommended she start again, though she is determined to use that first piece of knitting for some purpose. We haven't quite figured out what that purpose will be yet.

To her credit, she started again. It has been my experience that most adults wouldn't: they would have made the decision long before that point that knitting was not for them, and abandoned it as a bad job.

But not B.

She bought another skein of yarn and doggedly cast on again; this was her third or fourth try, and she was happy to note that she had mastered the process of casting on. After a few weeks, and a bit more help, she called me in delight. "I have 19 inches! Am I getting close?" I assured her that she was almost there. She showed up to knit night that week, and despite difficulty with binding off, got it finished and seamed to put it around her neck in triumph. And she immediately cast on another cowl.

Two days later, I got another call. "I have a lot of nieces, and they all have long hair. I want to make them headbands for Christmas. I will pay you for the pattern. When can I meet you?"

My heart sunk. Did she understand what she was asking: the time of year, a limited skill set, such a short amount of time?

Answer: No. Any explanation I could offer about why this would be an impossible task wouldn't be understood.

So I came up with the Simplest Headband; though it may still be too much, a garter stitch alone will not have enough structure. I think it would look great in a marled or variegated yarn, but I didn't have time to knit it up. If anyone does, and would like to offer comments on how well it works, I would appreciate it! Better yet, if you are willing to take a picture, then I will add it to the Ravelry database for free, because I didn't ask her to pay for it, either.

Simplest Headband Pattern

(wyif = with yarn held in front of work)
CO 12 st.
Row 1 (RS; tail will be at right side of work): Knit.
Row 2 (WS; tail will be at left side of work): Sl2 purlwise wyif; k8; sl2 purlwise wyif.
Repeat rows 1 and 2 until headband is desired length, around 15 in.
BO all st.
Seam ends together.
Weave in ends.



December 9: Encourage
There is a river that flows from deep within.



December 10: Wake Up
"Wake, awake, the night is flying," the watchmen on the heights are crying.


Monday, December 8, 2014

global advent calendar

Day 9 and still going strong! I am having tremendous fun with this, perhaps too much fun as I haven't purchased one gift yet and Christmas seems so far away that I don't even need to worry about it. Definitely more focus on the season of Advent, so if this project is measured by that yardstick, it has been a successful one so far.

If you haven't checked out the global calendar the monks are creating with everyone's pictures, make sure to visit their Advent Word page from time to time and take a look! You don't need instagram to see the photos; as the pictures are tagged, they are added onto the collage. Tremendous fun to look at mine mixed in with everyone else's and see how everyone is interpreting the word of the day. My dear friend Mrs. C., her husband, and two lovely daughters are also participating and it is even more personal, seeing what they come up with. What a wonderful way to connect this holiday season.

Keeping the age-old tradition and spirit of a reflective Advent season by taking advantage of modern technology and forms of communication: these monks are genius.



Sunday December 7: Show up
Just as I am, though tossed about, with many a conflict, many a doubt.





Monday December 8: Respond
Lift high your praise resounding, for grace and joy abounding.



Saturday, December 6, 2014

many hands, light work


Last night I was on my hands and knees in the aisle of Walmart, reaching to the back of the bottom shelf to fish out the last few containers of the cheapest table salt.

Two women came around the end of the aisle, one in a wheelchair, the other pushing her, and stopped dead abreast of my shopping cart lined with salt.

"Wow," one said. "You must be planning a really big salt bath."

"No, you don't want to know," I grunted in reply, trying to keep count of the number of cans in my cart.

They stayed there, watching me check and double check the number. I felt bad moving along and leaving them stranded in the aisle.

"Do you really want to know what it's for?" I asked. They both nodded. I launched into the most abbreviated version possible, explaining that we needed salt to cure the sheepskin hides until I could get them to the tannery.

"I bet you're sorry you asked..." I said at the end.

"No!" they responded brightly. "That was very interesting! Thank you for telling us."



This morning found us ready to face those skins with the help of all the salt. I really dread this task, though it usually ends up not as bad as I imagine. Today this turned out to be especially true, since my husband was on board yet again, and even better, so was Secondo. This is a task that Primo never faced after his horrific introduction, despite the fact that we got into this business upon his urging. So when Secondo volunteered to help last night, I kept giving him opportunities to back out. "You don't have to do this, you know... This is a little rough, trust me..." He steadfastly maintained that he wanted to help.

And help he did.

Give us some credit, we didn't throw him in at the deep end. The hides were perfectly defrosted after sitting in the barn for two days; Terzo and I had picked them up on Thursday, when he had a half day of school and could keep me company on the trip down. Thanks to moderate-but-not-too-warm temps, they had defrosted just enough that my husband and I were able to get them unrolled without too much difficulty. We took care of the sometimes gruesome task of cutting off undesirable bits, though to be fair to the butcher, this was the best year ever: no legs. We put Secondo in charge of salting them down once we were done, and he did a fine job.

With the newly-repaired electricity lighting the interior of the barn on the rainy dreary day, and my husband's iPhone playing music, and everyone working away together, it even approached pleasant, or at least as pleasant as this job can be. Certainly we were done in record time, eight hides finished in under an hour.

Interestingly enough, Dusty wanted nothing to do with it. The smell, while noticeable, was not overly unpleasant to us. Dusty clearly disagreed and refused to come out of the rain into the barn the entire time we were working. This is a dog that relishes eating poop, so I take his opinion with a grain of salt, but it was surprising that he was bothered.


Now, with the exception of driving them to the tannery, which I have planned for next Friday, we are done for another year. Hurray!




Thursday December 4: Notice
Lord, all I am is known to thee:
in vain my soul would try to shun Thy presence or to flee the notice of Thine eye.



Friday December 5: Watch
While Shepherds watched their flocks by [morn], all seated on the ground...
(I couldn't resist)