Sunday, April 24, 2011

Not Knitting, for most of one day

This week I took some time to make a square for a wedding quilt for Luke and Kat.  I was kind of stumped for ideas for design, but during a long walk on the bike path I had time to think.  I liked using a motif that identified us with where we are in Luke's past, or that marked our family identity somehow.

Finally I realized that the colors of the available fabrics would lend themselves well to a sunflower, which is our state flower as well as my favorite flower.  Therefore it identifies our place in Luke's past, and it identifies me, if not our family.  But probably it identifies our home, since I usually let a few wild sunflowers grow unhindered in my flower beds each year.

This is the final product.  After sewing on all the petals with a tiny hidden stitch, it just seemed that they still weren't firmly enough attached to the fabric.  I decided to add the blanket stitch embroidery to add a little strength to the stitching.  After doing so I realized I really like the way that embroidery changes the look of the square.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Coming Home, in a complicated kind of way

Our son returned home today from a year serving with the National Guard in the horn of Africa.  Home means Kansas, or maybe the United States.  It is more complicated than the usual 'house where I grew up' kind of meaning.  With a birth family and an adopted family and all the complications that go with that scenario, well, how do  you decide where home is?

We got to be in Topeka for the ceremony welcoming the soldiers back.

It was a trip of unexpected changes.  Originally the ceremony was set to begin at 10:00 am, so we arrived at 9:30.  At 10:15 we asked those sitting around us if they knew anything about the starting time.  It had been changed in the last day or two.  It was to start at 11:00am.

Chuck, Ben, and Wes took a walk and got back just as the National Guard was ready to walk in. 
The Guard marching into Kansas ExpoCenter  (these pics had to be adjusted for color because of the lack of light in the auditorium)
 There was a short ceremony that included an invocation, the national anthem, the presentation of the Kansas flag to the commander, remarks from Gov. Sam Brownback, remarks from a National Guard officer, and an benediction, followed by the Army song.  It took about 20 minutes.

The view of the stage from where we sat, Gov. Brownback on the left.  (Sorry about getting the woman in front of me into the pic)
Then the soldiers were released to find their families.  There were probably 500 soldiers.  My message had not gotten to James that we were coming.  We couldn't find him.  Ben and Wes walked through the reuniting families on the floor and still didn't find him.  They went again and we followed, finally reaching him outside the ExpoCenter.

We visited for a while and talked about plans for the rest of the day.  James was waiting for his sister, Holly, to pick him up.  He called her and then realized that things could get pretty awkward.  His birth mom and her husband were with Holly.

James said he was fine with having us meet.  Chuck was fine.  Ben was fine.  Wes was fine.  I thought I was fine.  I met Wes's eyes for a minute, and realized I wasn't fine.  I didn't know why, but I wanted this meeting to wait for another day.

I can think of a number of reasons now why that might make sense, but truthfully, at the moment, it was my gut feeling that made the decision.  It was not some rational well-reasoned, logical conclusion made after weighing the circumstances of everyone involved.  I'm satisfied that it was a good decision, and that if it was a mistake, it is one I can work through.

We visited a bit longer.   James offered to come by the house soon to catch up with us.  We snapped a picture and went to the car.

Wes and James
We went back to the car and started talking about where to eat as we pulled out of our parking space.  Someone noticed a car near us that had a styrofoam cup on top of it as it made its way through the parking lot.

I rolled down my window and yelled to get their attention, but I was unsuccessful.  It was misting and wet and I rolled the window back up...or tried to.  It had come off its track and would only go a little more than half way back up.

There was a Honda dealer directly across the street.  They had time to fix the window right away.  There was a barbecue restaurant about a block and a half away where we could eat while we waited.  While we walked to the restaurant we called my brother and sister to see if they had time to join us.  My brother answered his phone and came out for a short visit.

When we got back to the Honda dealer, they still had not worked on the car.  The person who was going to work on it got it onto a lift and then left for lunch.  They moved it to another lift so that someone else could work on it while we waited.

After a half hour they had the window up, but not fixed.  They wanted $92 for that.  Chuck objected politely.  The window wasn't fixed, and even if it had been, $92 was the price of a full hour of service labor.  Our car only got a half hour.  They agreed to change the charge to $46.

We were late arriving home, and Wes called his job to make sure his substitute had showed up for work.  Nope.  I ran Wes to his house, and then to work.  Then I came home and started cooking the things I still needed to make for our Easter gathering.

We got there a little late, but none the worse for all the mishaps and changes we had throughout the day.  It was a nice gathering, good food, good conversation, good people, and at least three great hugs from Luke!

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Note: This post was started several days ago and is old because I didn't have time to finish the work on it.  However, all the pics were there and I worked pretty hard to get the pics there due to internet malfunctions, so here is a late post.

There are days when it seems like nothing at all gets done.  Some days that is pretty accurate.  Some days it helps to document that at least a few things got done.

This morning was pretty much a wash, except for discussions necessary for decision making.  There were also a few errands and a lot of sitting in front of the computer trying to fix it.  It currently is taking an hour to start up.  This has happened before.  It has always been fixed by restoring the Windows operating system to an earlier point.  Today I have done five system restores.  It isn't working.  This morning I was staying pretty close to the computer while the systems tried to restore themselves.  That got old pretty fast.

I did necessary email/calendar/web work in between restores before trying just once more...always just once more.  We may need to reinstall Windows, unless Ben comes up with some amazing idea tomorrow.

There were also a couple of errands to do and phone conversations to complete.

That was the morning.  

Lunch was late and was again punctuated by a couple of long phone calls that also involved discussions before and after so that decisions could be made.  Then something visible HAD to be done.

Garden was my area of choice, because it is supposed to rain the rest of the week---at least we hope it will rain.

I've written about letting this garden get away from me before.  Slowly it is being taken back.  I have had help.  Elizabeth, my mentee from church, came out to help me one Saturday afternoon.  My parents came quite a bit one day last week.  Now more than half the garden is cleared, two and 1/2 beds are planted, and four beds are ready to plant just as soon as we get some moisture.
peas growing down the center, broccoli on both sides
Three of the cleared beds
Onion forest
the area left to clear and work

Today I added compost to one bed, worked it in, and reshaped it.
I also decided to get some loose straw from the barn to add to my working compost heap.  There has been so much green material added from all the weeds we've worked out of the beds, and it needs to be mixed with brown in order to really compost well.  I reworked the whole pile, using my potato fork to add layers of green followed by layers of straw.  When it was done I watered it well so that it will start to cook.

Newly built compost pile

The last thing I did was to pick some baby spinach for supper.


  This is the first we picked this year.  It needs to be thinned but that will wait for rain or a good watering.  The dirt is too dry to loosen it from the roots of the plants that stay by uprooting the plants that must go.

Last weekend Chuck was gone for Men's Retreat and I chored.  This is really not such a big deal, but since I had the camera outside already for the garden pics, I thought I'd take a couple of pics of the sows.  There are currently 39 sows in A-houses that need to be fed and watered twice a day.  I was responsible for one measly feeding, and it went well.

sows waiting to be fed on their cement patios

more sows and some pigs

Friday, April 08, 2011

Short stay

We so enjoyed having a couple of days with Luke and Kat at our house.  We had time to hang out and just 'be' together for a short while, and that was good.  I love having the children of our friends become our friends in their own right.  It is such an honor.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Second Thoughts

I'm probably 75% done with my sweater.  I've tried it on several times throughout the knitting, but always thought it would look better when I got it to length.  Well, it is two rows from bind off, after which I would add sleeves, so I divided the stitches between two circular needles to try it on and check the length/fit.  It is the right length.  It fits.  But it isn't really me.

So I asked Chuck to give me his opinion.  He said he didn't really like it.  Then he looked at me.  Then he asked if I'd really wanted honesty.  Poor guy.

The thing is, I can't throw away good yarn.  It is good yarn, after all.  It is expensive yarn---although it could be more expensive...but still.  I also still need a white sweater, so why buy more white yarn when I have such a large quantity so readily available?

But Chuck is so sympathetic.  He really hates to see all those hours of knitting go to waste.  So he tells me he really doesn't like the sweater on me, and that he doesn't think it will grow on him, but don't unravel it yet...sleep on it at least a few nights.  Maybe someone else will want it?  Naaaa.

So I went to Ravelry, a site for people who knit or crochet.  It's amazing.  You can look up nearly any pattern, find out how to buy or download it, and see the way it looked when hundreds of other people knit it up.  You can see the changes they made to it.  Many of them write down detailed instructions for how they made those changes.  You can see pictures they posted so you can tell how it looks on different body types.

I did this for my Rosamund cardigan, and I liked how it looked on my body type.  But I guess I've just never worn a style like that before, so when I put it on, it wasn't me.  I could take a leap.  Or I could make something else.

There is a shalom sweater pattern on Ravelry that I've bookmarked before, thinking it would make a great future project.  Now I went back to look some more.  It has cap sleeves and I want long sleeves, so I went to the picture and descriptions of what other knitters did with this sweater.  Wow.  There are some wonderfully creative knitters on Ravelry.

shadystroll's version of the Shalom cardigan
My favorite variation includes some cable work on the front and sleeves that aren't in the original pattern.  It has long fitted sleeves.  And it will be easy to figure out how to put in button holes that go all the way to the bottom of the sweater.  I read the comments the knitter had written.  She made this sweater after she decided to unravel a poncho she never wears!  She used ideas from the changes made by 2-3 other knitters, and also added her own changes to make this beautiful sweater.

I love the idea of knitting a pattern that someone else designed after unraveling something they don't wear, to make something for myself after unraveling something I won't wear.

I'll add my own ideas.  I want buttons and buttonholes to go all the way down so I can wear the sweater closed at the bottom and open at the neckline.  I may want the sleeves to be wrist length, or maybe not.  I have time to consider that option.  And I will probably use a different cable along the sides of the front because I don't own the book that has the cable pattern she used---but the library has a book with hundreds of stitch patterns.  I'll find something I love.

So last night I printed up the new pattern, along with all the notes from every knitter's modifications that I thought would be helpful.  Then I sat down in front of Private Practice and started frogging my sweater.

I learned from Ravelry that frogging is the term for unraveling a sweater.  I learned at the knit-along at the Newton Beadery why the word 'frogging' is used.  When you unravel you rippit rippit rippit.

It is now back in large balls of yarn waiting for me to knit swatches to check gauge, and then cast on the new sweater.

I'm sure there are some implications I could include about redemption and faith here.  I have ripped my yarn back to its original form in order to form something new and more useful and beautiful.  However, the original form, the yarn itself, is also beautiful and useful, and definitely of value, and not to be quickly or thoughtlessly discarded.  Even in the act of tearing down there is still the joy of new creation and hope for something that will use the beauty of the yarn to even greater advantage.  If I consider myself to be the yarn, would I find the unraveling painful? devastating? frightening? freeing? fulfilling? hopeful?

I'm glad my yarn doesn't have feelings!  But I'm also glad for opportunities to reinvent myself, or for being reinvented by God for greater use of the goodness created in me.