Wednesday, July 01, 2015

yarn along: qiviut!

Some good friends recently went on a cruise to Alaska and when they returned, they asked if they could stop by.  I asked if they could have a cup of coffee and visit a little and I was so blessed by the time they took to come chat (not to mention that they came back later that evening to babysit so we could have a quick date - such a blessing!).  Their reason for coming by was to give me a gift they bought in Alaska. They visited the Large Animal Research Station at University of Alaska Fairbanks and brought me back the softest, most beautiful yarn, called qiviut.  This is incredible fiber and I thought my yarn friends would enjoy clicking through the links to find out more! To summarize the website, the muskox disappeared from Alaska in the 1800s and was reintroduced in the 1930s with 34 muskoxen captured and brought from Greenland.  There are now an estimated 4000 in Alaska and 140,000 between Alaska, Greenland, Canada, and  Siberia. Muskoxen shed their underwool once a year for just two weeks "in a highly synchronous manner" - you can even comb it off in one big fleece if you are really careful, and skilled, I'm sure!  This underwool is the qiviut and is incredibly warm.  The blend I was given contains 30% merino to add a bit of elasticity since pure qiviut doesn't have much stretch.  The yarns produced and sold by LARS are undyed.   I can't wait to decide what to use this yarn for, it's a treasure for sure!  There is a video on the website of someone combing the qiviut and my girls were completely amazed and watched the whole thing.  

I'm still "working" on my Adama cowl, on which I continue to make strange mistakes, never ending up with the right number of stitches even though that number should be the same over the course of many rows.  You'd think I'd have learned by now I can't watch TV and work on this project at the same time but I'm being stubborn.

But let's be real:  there hasn't been time for knitting in these parts much anyway, because food is coming out my ears (not literally ::shudder::). Y'all, how could I pass up a box of cherries for $1.75/lb when they have been at least $4 everywhere else?  A row of sweet Bing jars now line a shelf in my root cellar and are lonely, so I went ahead and transformed the rest of the box into Marisa McClellan's Pickled Sweet Cherry recipe.  Just for kicks.  And since we finished our last jar of lacto-fermented cucumber pickles a couple months ago, I picked up several pickling cukes at the produce stand earlier this week, so I popped those into brine this morning before the heads of dill went bad.  If you've never tried "real" pickles made the old-fashioned way, you might want to.  It took me literally 20 minutes from start to finish this morning.  Once done pickling, they will be salty, sour, tangy, contain healthy probiotics, and their fizz from the lactic acid is amazing. Yum.  

I am completely drawn into Big Stone Gap, and listening to Sense and Sensibility and The Scarlet Letter (both via CraftLit).  Big Stone Gap is completely fluffy summer reading which is just the little escape I need for a 20 minute period before hitting the pillow-  except I am enjoying it so much I don't want to put it down!  

Joining --later than usual-- the Yarn Along crowd over at Ginny's today!  I will hopefully make it over to visit some blog friends later on!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


 My Rosie-roo has just hit this amazing stage of development of making connections AND using language to begin describing it.  As a speech therapist I can see so many things that are just SO fun. I always forget how grueling and fun and exciting and challenging toddlerdom is!  Today before naptime we snuggled on the bed and I told her a few nursery rhymes, as I have been doing lately, and she asked for "Whole world hands?" (to sing "He's Got the Whole World.")  So then we sing away with her bright eyes alight and she so beautifully fills in the gaps with the right words.   Tonight, grabbing my face at bedtime with both hands, "Stay, mama!"  How could I say no?  Precious moments to tuck away for remembering the next time she is face down on the floor kicking her feet over some little thing or another.

We spent the afternoon at one of our favorite local places yesterday, The Arboretum.  It's so lovely and restful and the moment we step foot on the premises I feel stress and busy-ness melting off for a time.  We intended to sit with our books and my yarn and let the children run and explore nearby but we never can manage it, being too much interested ourselves in seeing the different trees and plants in the different seasons. 

I am still struggling with my knitting but am not as much a Debbie-Downer as I was last week!  I have made basically no progress on my Adama cowl because I have [weirdly] had to unknit the same four rows repeatedly but for different reasons.  I reached my limit.  I have frogged back to the last garter stitch row and will work the whole lace pattern again because I think I made a mistake 3-4 rows back and it is hurting my wrist to keep unknitting this lace pattern over and over. Ah well, such is... knitting with children interrupting.  The pattern is lovely so far and really not at fault, I am entirely to blame!  I am tempted to put it aside and pick up my Radiance shawl again which also needs some tinking for a couple dropped stitches that I can't figure out how to pull back up in the lace pattern.  Maybe I need to cast on something different and new for a fresh start and give the other projects just a wee rest! Casting on is always the answer, right?

I have mostly been listening this week:  to Sense and Sensibility and The Scarlet Letter, both on CraftLit.  I am reading Big Stone Gap a little bit and totally drooling over that cookbook pictured above.  Gretchen wrote about it months ago and for some reason it really stuck in my head; one of the recipes she shared looked incredible, for one, and something about the Midwest intrigues me.  Maybe it's that I have roots there.  Maybe it's that it is some over-idealized place in my mind.  For whatever reason, the thought struck me last week to see if our library might have a copy of the book, although being here in the Northwest, I thought the chance was slim, yet not slim enough!  There it was listed right in the catalog.  It is a beautiful book, not at all just a cookbook but also an ode to Midwest culture and community.  The pictures are beautiful and several of the recipes are really appealing to me.  (A handful are not, or seem too regional for me to have access to ingredients in order to make, but most look really lovely.)  I think I may try her fermented pickles this week, since I have everything on hand for them.  The recipe looks similar to the one I used last year (though I'm searching wildly now for the recipe I might have used!) that was a big hit with my family.  Fermented pickles have a bubbly lightness to them that I'd never had before.

Happy yarn along day!  I'm linking up with Ginny as I love to do and will be excited to make my way over to your places!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

yarn along: frog

The dog days of summer are upon us.  

Oh it is hot.  I don't mind it but the animals clearly do: the dog lazes through the afternoon, eyes rolled back in his head.  The various fowl wander aimlessly through the yard panting and the kitten hides inside, napping.  We get in the water as much as possible.  Tennis shoes and boots are a thing of ancient history.

My sunflowers are skyrocketing, my tomatoes are fruiting, and my raspberries are heavy with dark gems.  The tadpoles are dividing into a head and a body segment while adult frogs hop through the grass looking for a cool and safe place. The magpies are stealing our eggs.  My weeds along all the edges of our property are also skyrocketing and I wish I could hire someone for an afternoon to come just yank out a bunch of tall grass that has overtaken a few spots that I haven't had time to keep up.  There are never enough hours in the day. 

Maybe I'm too tired to knit this month (gasp!  horror!  Never!)!  I have done so much ripping back the last few weeks - frogs here of a different sort.  I am still in the process of ripping back a few rows on my Radiance shawl and when I tired of that, I started an Adama cowl with beautiful cushy Malabrigo which I realized late into the project was wayyy off gauge and was going to turn out much too small.  Oh, the value of doing a gauge swatch!  I wish I had heeded the little voice in my head at first!  I frogged the entire shawl and cast on a swatch in the next needle size up - much too small.  Another swatch two needle sizes up - too big.  The needle size in between was finally just right.  (Someone's been eating my porridge!).  Things were going swimmingly (like a frog) until I lost track of what row I am on and could not for my life figure out last night just what I was supposed to be knitting and why I had an extra stitch.  At that point I just put it down and will return to it later today. 

Cross-stitch is sounding rrrrrreeeeeeeaal good right now.  

I have been reading a smattering of this and that.  One of my faith heroes, Elisabeth Elliott, passed away yesterday and I included the book I've been slowly reading through by her in her honor.  I imagine she and my friend Sue are in raptures over the Savior together right now and the thought makes me smile, since I know EE was also one of her heroes.  Strange that I just wrote a post including Elisabeth Elliott in light of Sue's passing and now they have both commenced out of this shadowy life into the real life we all await. 

Lyddie and I are reading Baby Island by Carol Ryrie Brink and we are both enjoying it. A copy of Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani is at the library for me on hold and I am going to pick that up today and will hopefully have some fun reading ahead of me. I am listening to Sense and Sensibility on CraftLit and just went back to continue with The Scarlet Letter, also on CraftLit. 

Although my knitting is so back and forth (mostly back) right now, I am still so looking forward to joining in with the Yarn Along crowd over at Ginny's blog.  This post is so rambly but it reflects the state of my mind lately, which is heavy with sorrow still for my dear friends and disorganized with all the solo work I do to keep this place running in the summer while Jesse works long hours.   Let me know you stopped by, I love to hear from you.  <3 span="">

Friday, June 12, 2015




Beautiful day at Rimrock Lake near White Pass.  Lots of splashing in the water, munching Oreos, knitting, reading.

One of the delights of summer.  

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

yarn along: bust

Sigh.  This week has been a total reading and knitting bust.  So is it a Yarn Along post if you are not yarning along? 

I dropped a couple stitches in my shawl and I can't figure out how to pick it up because of the pattern, so I'm heartbrokenly unknitting at least five rows.  This will be (has been already) several hours of unknitting.  I sat for more than an hour fiddling with the dropped stitches to see if I could draw them upward but when I couldn't, I muttered a few angry words, clenched my teeth and starting working backward. 

Then I got a notice that All the Light We Cannot See is due back at the library and I can't renew it, probably because there are several other holds on it.  I didn't realize that was the policy for our library system but it wouldn't have mattered because I couldn't have finished a book of that magnitude in just four weeks.  I had finally gotten far enough into it that I was so disappointed! So instead of waiting through the 30 holds on the hard copies I finally had a reason to figure out the ebook feature through our library.  Only two people ahead of me there!  

So basically I have stepped  jumped backward compared to last week.  Ah well, such is life.  I should be pleased that I have these kinds of knitting weeks more rarely than I used to!  
Still listening to Sense and Sensibility on CraftLit and picking up Monster in the Hollows again!
I'm joining Ginny's Yarn Along post as I usually do on Wednesdays!

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

rosie and her baby

"Look! Kitty, look! Picture!"

Rosie loves it when I ask if she's a baby.  "NO!" she states with a grave look.  "I a big girl!"  Then, if little Penny cat is near, she points to him, "Kitty a baby!   I a BIG girl!" giggle giggle giggle giggle.

"Mommy play food!  Play food!"  She begs.  "C'mon!  'Mon! Sit down!  Play food!"  She wants to cut the wooden food, to pretend to eat, to pour me tea.   Her hair always a mess after playing in the pool, on her third or fourth outfit of the day, drool from her two year molars always wetting around her lips. Her bright eyes turn serious about the cooking, about my eating.  She insists that I pay full attention to our game and if I turn to see what the kitty is into or which child is calling my name, she furrows her brow and hands me another piece of food.  The sun glints through the window into her hair, illuminating every wild strand, resting on chubby hands busy.

She is all loveliness.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Courage, dear heart

This week a beautiful saint suddenly went to be with Jesus, one of my "aunties" back home, not related by blood but tied in the Spirit of Christ.  There have been many tears for me this week, pondering the fact that she is just...well, not here.  That her family is here still without her. I had chance to see her a few weeks ago when we were both at a friend's baby shower and I never thought it would be the last time I saw her this side of the Jordan.  This post has been re-written three times because what can you say when death visits?  What words are there to capture the sadness and grief and joy and awe?   

I have been reading a book of short devotions by Elisabeth Elliot for several months.  I am struck over and over by her courageous truth-telling, her unshrinking drive to speak truth in love.  She makes me think of my friend Sue. 

Sue raised her children on the mission field here in the US, and understood many of the struggles I faced as we slowly raised our financial support in a time I didn't feel like many could relate to or understand. She always had a story to share with me about God's faithfulness to provide exactly what their family needed; and she shared them even after walking repeatedly through the valley of the shadow of death in illness after illness. Her faith through suffering was a proof to me of God's faithfulness.

The first trip newborn Lyddie and I took together was the short drive to visit Sue and Heather; such special memories

I am so thankful for the way the light of Christ shone from Sue. It has always given me so much hope for who I can become in Him, and the confidence I can learn to have in Him. 

I have thought about Sue since receiving word that she had gone Home, and the word "courage" comes to mind repeatedly. Whether courageously defending innocent life from abortion or courageously trusting Him as she walked by and through so many with serious illnesses, or courageously dropping everything to minister to a family member in need while receiving no acclaim or earthly reward, Sue lived in the courage that comes through grateful faith in Jesus who saved her.  Her speech was seasoned with grace and love and kindness.  I so long to be remembered in the same way, or to be known like that in life too, maybe. I can't wait to tell her these things again one day, about the inspiration she has been to me to trust God in the midst of chaos, and the peaceful waiting on Him I started learning from her and continue learning to this day. For now I am in awe to think of her joy at being united with the saints who have gone before.  For now I rejoice that her waiting for the Lord is over and she has received the fullness of joy unhindered by sin and death and sorrow. 

Would you please lift up Sue's family in this time? I am praying especially that the Body of Christ would come around them and they would feel the comfort of the Holy Spirit.  
  1. I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
    Ills have no weight, tears lose their bitterness;
    Where is thy sting, death? Where, grave, thy victory?
    I triumph still, abide with me.