Let it snow!


School’s out!  Now we have nothing to do.

Except the Nutcracker.  (Our snowflake is on the far left.)


And some last-minute knitting.


And writing.

And snow fun.


Oh.  And that other hat to finish…


And baking…


And that other hat I promised to make.


I hope all your doings and beings this week are full of joy!

Quilt Reveal

A week before my excellent niece graduated from high school, I started work on her quilt. (For the record, I have seven excellent nieces, each one very different.) This quilt had to be special, because she is so special.


She gave me a clue two years ago, when she was here and mentioned she liked my porch quilt.

And then like an idiot, I waited till the last possible second to begin sewing.  When she and her family rolled through on their way to California this June, the quilt wasn’t done. A surprise? Um, no.

Anyway, I whipped the top out with time to spare but had a terrible time with the back.


I wanted some really fun fabric, something that represented a mutual love.  Something… literature-y.  And I discovered Spoonflower, who made this Jane Austen fabric for me. (Okay, not just for me… but it’s perfect for this quilt.)

Once I had the backing on, I used my amazing birthday weekend away to quilt it.  I planned to bind it on the way to California.  (We know how that went.)  But it turns out the hospital was a perfect place  to do the binding.


And off it went to California to meet my awesome niece.  I’m so proud of her!


Last minute knitting panic. You?

I don’t know what I was thinking, waiting until the middle of December to begin knitting five hats.

Three have gone quickly, but the other two (for the girls) I planned in this sock-weight yarn, with a fiddly lace pattern.

Here I am during dance class, knitting at the coffee shop.

It would go much better if I could count.


A finished hat.  Number two, actually. But now I can’t find where I hid #1. So maybe I’m down to two finished hats?


I’ve been watching reruns of the 2012 Summer Olympics as I knit. Watching all those super-healthy swimmers (go Rebecca Soni!) and runners (Wow! Tirunesh Dibaba’s 10K medal!!) It makes me feel speedy. Especially the men’s 2008 4x100m free relay.  And I’m sure that all the records and splits Rowdy Gaines is quoting the whole time has nothing to do with my inability to count to four as I knit.

How’s your crafting? Are you going to make it?

The little blue sweater

My niece was born a year ago. Several months before she was born, I started knitting her a sweater.  I like to pray when I knit gifts. I prayed for her mom, I prayed for her safe arrival. I prayed for her dad and for her siblings.  I prayed for her character and her future.


The yoke of the sweater was confusing; several times I frogged it and started over.  As the sweater grew, it became clear that I should have knit it on miniscule needles, because on the 7s I was using, it was not going to fit her any time soon.  The pattern I was using had several omissions… like the length of the sleeves and body.  It just said, “Knit until size desired achieved.”  Well, without a baby on hand to measure, that was all conjecture.  I pulled up my February Baby Sweater pattern to give me some idea of how to proceed.

She arrived safely.  The sweater was nowhere near done.  Having missed the first deadline, I put the sweater away for a while.  Nine months later, I dragged it out again for some road trip knitting.  I finished the knitting but forgot to bring a needle to weave in the ends.

The new deadline was her birthday.  And by the skin of my teeth, I made it. Blocked, ends woven in, button on. Her little sweater went out to her birthday party and just fits.  Phew!


Happy birthday, sweet girl!  (Don’t think that because I finished knitting for you I am done praying for you. Not by a long shot.)

needle and thREAD

needle and thREAD

Most of my sewing lately has been limited to the Animal Hospital. Our stuffed animals have an inordinate number of injuries.

But when a little girl asked for some curtains for the Gingerbread Doll House, I was in.

How could I say no to that?


Now that I see the curtains against the wallpaper, I’m thinking white would have been a better choice. But that’s easy enough to fix.

On the reading front, I raided my dad’s shelves for a mystery.  Donald E. Westlake was a consummate mystery writer and wrote under the name Richard Stark.  (Stark’s books are serious mysteries, well plotted and beautifully written).  Westlake also wrote a fantastic series of humorous mysteries, the Dortmunder Novels, under his own name. Of course, I love the Dortmunder books.
I read Jimmy the Kid first, in which Dortmunder (a criminal who fails often, though it’s never his fault) and his crew copy a sure-thing heist lifted from a Richard Stark novel. Loved it. This week I finished Don’t Ask, another heist novel involving a religious relic from a small Slavic nation. Genius. I spent all of Christmas break laughing as I read it.

For more needle and thREAD, check out In the Heart of My Home.

needle and thREAD

needle and thREAD

We’ve changed up how we’re doing quiet time around here, and I think we all like it. More on that later.
But an upshot is that for Moriah’s past few “quiet times with Mommy” she has chosen to sew.


One of her co-op classes has been working on embroidery, so she was the expert this past week, improving my technique. Or rather, giving me some technique, since I have no idea what I’m doing in needlework. (Give me a straight seam any day.)   The heart on the right is my first effort; the heart on the left is after a little teaching. And oh, did she love to be the teacher.


I’m delinquent on recent book reviews. I read Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross’s Simplicity Parenting recently. So much good in this book.

The idea is sound: the more our lives are crowded (my word, not theirs) — with stuff (including toys), with activities and commitments, and with media– the less able our children (and we) are to engage with what is right before them.  This crowding leads to anxiety and disengagement and my one’s controlling tendencies.  But it’s not too late.  We can and should back off on all these fronts.

My reading came at a good and bad time… as we are here with two families’ stuff, I am seeing first hand how much the stuff piece is important.  And we will (soon, please!!) have a chance to “reorder” [read: get rid of] more of our stuff when we set up our new home.

But I’m also pretty vulnerable right now, and reading this book alongside

Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child by Anthony Esolen made for a few weeks of a feeling of condemnation in my parenting.  Definitely, that came from the tone of this second book, rather than Simplicity Parenting, which is very gentle in tone.  But the two together along with the fact that I didn’t know how to backstitch– phew!  It’s amazing I or my children can function at all.

For more needle and thREAD, check out In the Heart of My Home.

needle and thREAD: Lunch Bags and Poultry

We had lunch bags last year,  Actually, we probably still have them, but they’re in a box somewhere in the basement.  So when I bought our little bento-style lunch kits, I needed something to put them in.  And bags that could be thrown into the wash seemed just about right.


I used the pattern from this tutorial but didn’t bother with oilcloth.  I had these old, green curtains (just call me Fräulein Maria) which had ties on the top.  To make sure they were all different– we can’t have Owen and Moriah mixing up their lunches!– I put other fabric panels in two of them.


It was just the easy project I needed right now.  My mom, on the other hand, agreed to make doll clothes.

I’ve been reading some backyard poultry books my friend Kathie passed along.  The Luttmans’ Chickens in Your Backyard: A Beginner’s Guide makes me think poultry will be messier than I thought.  Who was I kidding?  Next up: ABC of Poultry Raising.

For more needle & thread, check out In the Heart of My Home.
needle and thREAD

On the needles: more frogging

Remember this sweater?
It’s Madelinetosh’s Tiny Tea Leaves. I love this sweater. SweetP loves this sweater. But every time she puts it on, it slips off her shoulder. Just like every other sweater I make.  There’s something wrong about how I do my gauge.

Anyway, she keeps trying to wear this sweater and then takes it back off again and puts it back on the hook.  So I decided to fix it.

First, I frogged it.

Then, as I was doing my gauge swatch, my friend Ruth pointed out that I was twisting my purl stitch. (Three years ago, my friend Heidi pointed out that I was twisting my knit stitch.) You can see the difference here, as the bottom (larger gauge) is twisted, and the smaller (top) section is straight.


So that’s what I’m working on. When it’s done, I’m planning to cast on a spring sweater for myself. I’m sure it will be done just as the summer heats up.
What are you knitting?

needle and thREAD: the porch quilt and Give Them Grace

At the end of last summer, as the days cooled, I thought, “What a great thing it would be to have a porch quilt!”  You know, a quilt that wasn’t an heirloom.  One that wouldn’t mind a little rain (not that we get much rain.)  One that could sit outside overnight without protesting.  One that would make the swing a little more inviting in the cool of the morning or evening.  Or in the late autumn or spring.

In my usual manner of sewing=procrastination from other projects, I began the quilt immediately prior to my Thailand mission.  When I should have been studying, praying or reading.  And then it went in a box of fabric and disappeared from sight and mind.

But it’s April now, and I should be doing some spring cleaning.  (If you’re on Pinterest, you’ll see how much spring cleaning  conversation is flying out there.  How much of it I’ve pinned.)  So instead of cleaning, out came the sewing machine, and I finally finished the porch quilt.

Here is the quilted top, before I bound it.  Calling it a Porch Quilt gave me some mental room not to do any intricate quilting.  And not to stress when the tension was off and the back ended up with some extra loops here and there.  I even sewed the bind on the machine.  I’ve never done that before.

I had so much fun sewing it that I made two pillow cases to go with it.

There were many volunteers to test and model the quilt.


And then the minute Sam came home, he brought it all inside so it wouldn’t get rained on or dirty.
I think I’ll have to remind him what the point of the Porch Quilt is.

Last night I read one of the closing chapters of Give Them Grace.  I’m almost done now.  I have to say I love the concept: dazzling your children with the love of Jesus.  I love the questions it asks, specifically, How does the gospel inform our parenting?  I find that so much of the Christian polemic on discipline centers on Proverbs– which is good, but missing a huge piece of the puzzle.  And the author points out, Solomon (for all his wisdom) still raised a son who lost himself completely.  There is no magic formula, no do-this-and-all-shall-go-well guarantee in parenting.  I really like the idea of parenting from a place of grace, and offering that to our children.  But I find the book’s practical models off-putting.  One of the model conversations lectures (that are to occur at a time of discipline) I read yesterday was more than 400 words long.  I lost count, actually.  It was small print, almost a full page of text.  Another one that struck me earlier in the book was 327 words long, to be addressed to a preschooler after a tantrum about leaving the park.  Seriously?   I’ve already lost my kids at, “Can you tell me what was wrong with that choice you made?”

Find more needle & thREAD conversations at In the Heart of My Home.

FO: Shalom

Yes, this is how I roll: Christmas two weeks away, lots of gifts to be working on, and I knit myself a sweater.


I didn’t intend the purple-on-purple modeling plan, but when it was done I was very excited to show you all.

The yarn was disappearing quickly at the end– when I calculated the pattern adjustment, I forgot to multiply the skein requirement by 4/3 as well.  As it was, I have about 4 feet of wool left.


I’m super happy with the weight and the lack of sleeves. Now I can be warm without my ubiquitous fleece vest and not worry about getting sweater sleeves wet in the kitchen.

Any FOs to share?