Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Cozy Life



Lately, I  have been thinking and feeling like something was missing from my life. Could it be happiness?  Since losing my husband 6 1/2 years ago, I have been searching, just like everyone else, for some meaning to my life. Is my 61 years of my life something that makes a difference in this world?
 I initially had a plan for my life. Like every woman, one dreams of a happy childhood, education, marriage, a career, raising children, their children grown, settled or in a marriage, retirement, and then grandchildren to keep one busy and purposeful.  Before all came to fruition, it seemed to change too soon. I have actually achieved much of this, and some  of it heartbreakingly disappointing.  I felt that something was missing and like many, I prayed to God to reveal what he wanted me to do next. How I can be happy in my end days without a spouse?( “Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” Matt 11:28)
I have come to realize that I can never be totally happy with someone (a man) who did not share my cherished memories of the ups and downs of my life. I didn’t know if I had the energy to take on a blended family and another person’s memories that I was left out of. Would I ever feel whole and connected? Do I really want to complicate my life and finances again?  With another spouse, there would always be an emptiness and separation from those memories. Perhaps I am better content discovering what I can do to make myself happy with God as my sole leader and guide.
So, when I felt the need to get away, I decided to go on vacation alone with God. I wanted to rebuild my confidence and drive myself far enough away from home, to avoid distractions and listen to God. It was like being as Jesus, going into the wilderness to be tested and to prepare for his ministry. I looked forward to the adventure.
                It was the best 8 days I have ever spent. I did things that made me happy. I rested, I knitted, I read my Bible, I listened to the rain (heavy for 3 days), and I slept in a very cozy and comfy bed. I took walks and drives and experienced mindfulness of my surroundings and really “felt” the moment; the beauty of God’s world in the rain and green hills and fields of central CA, the relief from caring for anyone but myself, imagining enveloped in a great big hug from God. I was creative: took some knitting classes, planned some decorations for my home,  and felt inspiration flooding through me. What I heard internally was “Daughter, you have worked hard and now it is time to rest. You are loved, you are special, and now refresh yourself. Drink from my cool stream and renew your energy. Use your gifts as you have learned to help others and encourage them. Feed my lambs with your love and care.”  It seemed to reset my world and refocus my direction on God and me. I realized that now I have permission to do some self-care so I can go out and care for others wherever God leads me.
        And then, I was browsing Amazon and saw the title “The Cozy Life”. Wow! This is what I was trying to achieve. It is based on Hygge (Danish pronounced hoo-gah). Hygge is a Danish lifestyle (attitude) that has made them the happiest people in the world, so they say.

“ It is the intimacy you create, several times a day, on purpose in order to make life bearable or even very good."

        Hygge is about being kind to yourself—giving yourself a treat, and giving yourself, and each other, a break from the demands of healthy living. It is based on connection with people and creating and sharing the cozy life in simple living. Yes, this I can incorporate in self-care and giving care and love to others. This could make me happy and purposeful. Isn’t God good to give me an understanding of all he has groomed me for my whole life?. I didn’t recognize it until now. It makes sense to me.

        So, I now look forward to this mindset of creating a hygge environment in my home, among friends, family and people. In a nutshell, it is living “kindness”, my theme for this year based on Galatians 5:22-23. It is being kind to self and to others.  It is also being mindful of gratitude and the life and blessings God gives you. This makes me “happy”.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Socks



There is something comforting about knitting socks.  As each stitch is knit I imagine the warmth this sock makes sitting near a warm fire in the cold of winter.   
I reviewed a book I had in my library called Socks from theToe Up by Wendy D. Johnson. This book is the primer to knitting socks in different ways. In the past, I have learned to knit socks from the cuff down with a traditional gusset and Kitchener stitch closure. I have struggled, as many do, with the Kitchener stitch. No matter how much I try, I still have not mastered this stitch and my toe closures have been somewhat bulky in trying to hide the holes that remained from my missteps. When all is said and done,  I frequently have left over yarn that is too little to do anything with.
My previous attempts at “toe up” have been disasters. The heels have always been a challenge. Wendy provides several different ways to do the heel. I was intrigued with her instruction of the gusset heel instruction that did not require any picking up of stitches. It only required simple m1 increases and ssk/k2tog decreases and I could do the magic loop method using one long circular needle for the whole sock.
The results were joyously surprising. The heel looked perfect and fit perfect. No holes. No odd or mismatched patterning in the yarn.  I was able to try on the sock before knitting the cuff to ensure the length was right and comfortable. The self-striping yarn came out very nice, as if it was designed that way.
 I am a very happy woman. Having had success in the first sock, I had no trouble knitting the 2nd and the same thrill felt as I looked at the results. I just could hardly put it down.  The Carlos and Arne Regia looked great in the sock. I was able to use most of the yarn on the skein, knitting the sock up to the mid-calf. I used the Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind off to finish it. This provided a comfortable stretch. Video can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ol8aZ7z_ISs. This, too, was a great success and does not bind. I cannot wait to wear them.



Saturday, December 10, 2016

Getting Ready For Christmas



  I’ve been thinking more and more of returning to my knitting blog. Since retiring  from my Nursing job with the Head Start Program in July 2016, I find I have more time to pursue my knitting and other assorted interests.
In the summer, our household added a gentleman from my church who needed to rent a room.. After much prayer and contemplation, I felt God calling me to meet this need. It provided him with needed shelter and gave me a worthy Christian service to address some of his health needs with my expertise in nursing.   The companionship was a win-win situation for both of us and this arrangement has worked out well thus far.  It has also given me a subject to knit for.
  He is a  one legged amputee and as winter approached, the need for hard-to-find, well fitted socks presented itself.  As I was sorting through my UFOs (unfinished knitted objects), I ran across some Opal socks I had started for my Dad who had passed away 5 years ago. I feel a little sad that I never finished them for him, but now I have an opportunity to repurpose them.  Originally, I designed a sock that was not to be constrictive (for swollen ankles), with a 2 by 2  rib on 80 stitches.  I had only finished the ribbing for an ankle sock at the time. Since Mr. C was a taller man with a large foot, I decided to make a knee sock.  I adjusted the heel and gusset to fit his larger ( Size 16 shoe) and higher instep.  At the end of the ribbing I changed to a 2 by 3 rib for about 1 inch before starting the heel flap. This accommodated the higher instep without binding the foot at the ankle joint.  The sock was now renamed Chris’s sock.  How nice I only had to do one sock…..perfect to avoid 2nd sock syndrome.

Another UFO that has been languishing was the Celtic Throw I was making my son. The blanket is made with 2 strands of worsted weight yarn held together. The pattern is very beautiful  with a Celtic design, but as it grew, it became very difficult to manage with the weight of it.  This, however, will be exactly what my son likes.  It was planned to fit a twin bed but I decided to end it shorter and resulted in a square throw. I think it will still give good coverage on a bed or sofa.  Yet I am glad it is now finished and ready for Christmas giving.

Having Mr. C in my home has given me an opportunity to meet and get to know some of his friends.  One is a single dad with 2 preadolescent daughters, that hold an affection for Mr. C.  They are always concerned for him.  These beautiful charming girls has given me a chance to make some knitted items for them.  It seems they like Minions.   So I made a couple of Minions hats for them for Christmas. It was a fun project.

 

Christmas is always a time of remembering;  remembering your childhood Christmases, the traditions you had while you raised your children, the people who shared Christmases with you who are now gone. There are glimpses of melancholy and sadness that are fleeting. However,  I am trying to rejuvenate the Joy of Christmas and this year I had a little time on my hands. So I decorated…… and celebrated Advent with my new housefriend.  It is such a joy to bring the Spirit of Christmas to one who has no family and never had a real joyful Christmas in the past.  I hope yours is a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Saturday, May 23, 2015

Eager Hands to Spin



Proverbs 31: 10-31
“A wife (woman)of noble character  who can  find? She is worth far more than rubies…..She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands…..She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family….She sets about her work vigorously;  her arms are strong for her tasks….In her hand she hold the distaff and grasps the spindle with her  fingers….she makes coverings for her bed ; she is clothes in fine linen and purple.  She is clothed with strength and dignity….Her children arise and call her blessed…

  How many times have I sat down to spin some yarn on my spinning wheel and think of these verses?  God knows the joy and peace this lovely craft gives me. It quiets my mind and allows me to listen and talk with my Lord of my life.
   I am amazed at the many opportunities I have discovered this year for finding peace….a feeling of rest from worries and grief of the ones I have lost.  In these moments I surrender to God…letting go of my troubles and fears and letting him fill my mind with accomplishment as I make from a raw fleece something , warm, soft and beautiful with my hands.
   As I have regained my desire to spin again, not to say I have given up on knitting, I find a happiness that I thought I lost. Since I lost Walter, I haven't spun much at all. Spinning is a time to peacefully reflect on my life and pray for people as I imagine the yarn I create as the connection to important people in my life past and present.
   I finished a Mitered square blanket knit with the colorful handspun yarn I have saved over the years. I had no idea it could be made into something so lovely. It inspired me so much that I started another one out of blue shades of handspun yarn.
   I have been reading carefully the latest edition of “SpinOff” magazine. I found a very easy scarf pattern to knit. I search through my stash and found a white very soft yarn. Im not sure whether it is wool or alpaca or both. I am somewhat inclined to believe that it is both since it is stretchy and bounces back and  is so soft and luxurious to touch. It would feel cozy and glorious around a neck on a cool night or day. The pattern has garter stitch and feather and fan patterns in it. It is something I have to count and concentrate on as I always have difficulty memorizing this type of pattern.
   I have finished spinning and plying a beautiful  4 oz. pink dyed roving braid I purchased at Stitches a few years ago. It is a very soft merino and turned out to be close to a sport to dk weight yarn…all 360 yds of it. I am wondering if I should make a scarf out of this too.
   I love my new Hansen Electric Spinning wheel. It was a Birthday present to myself. It is small and lightweight and very easy to control. I haven’t yet taken it on a trip. It came with a car plug adapter and I purchased a 12volt battery to take it anywhere without electricity. I am in love with spinning again. I could easily get up at 4am  every day and find a variety of spinning and dyeing projects to work on till I go to bed at night. But alas, I have to work and this takes up my daytime. Yet, I can still dream……Thank you, God, for blessing me.



Friday, March 6, 2015

Handspun solutions




  Cleaning out storage has brought me face to face with my stash…..my handspun stash. Years ago I took up spinning my own yarn.  Yes….from a dirty sheep fleece to dyeing the spun yarn into skeins. Since I am a process knitter, it was the process that interested me, not necessarily the product. It was a skill I learned until other interests took hold….or rather drew me back into knitting purchased wool.  So my handspun stash hibernated in plastic bags in my storage crying out every once in awhile to “Knit me, knit me”.

    So now, I have these many plastic bins of handspun yarn. I didn’t think I had  enough of the same type of yarn to make anything big.  Since knitting the Rainbow mitered blanket again, I wondered how it would look to knit one in handspun. Small amounts of different colors and breeds did not matter. So I started one. I am thinking that I can make small throw blanket or lap robes to give to charity. Even if someone mistakenly felts them, they would make some fair rugs or dog/cat blankets.  So now I have a new charity project.   Yet, knitting it gives me some satisfaction and purpose in this world. 

    I’m still struggling with finding my role in this world without a partner, but as long as I have my home to love, my son to keep me company, and a job to keep the bills paid, I am somewhat content.  Finding “Peace” in decorating my home and my knitting brings me joy.  Someone said that “Joy doesn’t just happen. You have to choose Joy and keep choosing it every day.”  There are days this is easier said than done but for now I am at peace.