"Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber." Proverbs 31:19 NLT

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Year of Knitted Gifts Coming to an End

It's Christmas Day evening and we have enjoyed a quiet day. Our first "wave" of Christmas excitement was over by 10:00 a.m. on Christmas eve. My son and his family and my step-daughter and her family were here with us the evening before Christmas eve. My step-daughter will be here for a couple of weeks with visits to some of her other family members during that time, but my son will not be back over the Christmas holiday. So we all ate a nice, big meal together and then, after gifts were distributed, had a bit of a "free-for-all." The kiddos were excited so we decided not to laboriously wait as each one opened individually. We just sort of let everyone open gifts at the same time. The chaos was sweet and fun, albeit, short-lived.

Today my husband and I decided on an outing to the only store that we could find opened, Walgreen's Pharmacy.
We needed a few groceries that have been depleted by 4 grandsons and 3 step-grand-children but the pharmacy was not the best location for grocery shopping. We only partially succeeded. And then we decided on a quiet, romantic lunch but, again, the only "show in town" was Burger King, which was neither quiet nor romantic. But I didn't have to cook or clean-up so I was happy with my veggie whopper.
On the way home, I spotted a bald eagle flying over a nearby creek. And to top it all off, we had about an hour of sunshine before our 4:30 p.m. sunset - the sun has been quite elusive for probably abut 2 weeks now. So I had to document the rare occasion with a photo:

Now to the knitted gifts that I have mentioned on numerous occasions and which have kept my fingers flying all year. Not all of them have made it to their homes yet, as we still have to gather with other family members for fellowship, food and giving.  But I think it may be safe to finally show this year's worth of knitted gifts all together in one blog post. So here goes.

I discussed the wraps I made in a couple of previous posts, (here and here). It is a purchased pattern so I am not free to share it but it is Carina Spencer's Far Away, So Close Shawl and can be purchased on Ravelry for only $5.00 USD. I have certainly gotten my money's worth from the pattern - I have made 4 of them so far and I'm not finished yet. 

The shawl on the left was knitted with Grignasco Knits Loden in color #637. The middle shawl was knit in Vanna's Choice in color 'colonial blue.' And the right hand shawl was knitted in Cascade 220 Paint, Superwash in color Tropical Sea.

Next there is all the Fair Isle hats in a variety of yarns, all the way from Plymouth Gina to Galway to Patons, Classic Wool, to Lion Brand acrylic yarns, for the ease of washing children's hats. I also knitted 2 of  the "Whimsical Tassel Hats" for which I shared the pattern on this post. 

And finally, there are the purses (or totes) that I explained here. I used chunky yarns for all of these. And I found the pattern for these adorable knitted flowers at "Mack and Mabel's" blog here.

I didn't make too much time for spinning this year but I plan to remedy that during 2015.

I would like to end this post with a link to a post by another blogger. Many of you likely read the blog titled Yarn Harlot. Her Christmas post from yesterday, Christmas eve, 2014 included sound advice to anyone who receives knitted gifts. It was so great. Her advice is found near the bottom of the post and can be found at this web address. I know for sure that knitters (and crocheters) will enjoy reading it whether or not the recipients will.

I hope you all have a great end of 2014 and a wonderful 2015 filled with happy times with your loved ones, new friends and lots of yarn and knitting.

The nativity set arranged by one of our 9 year old grandsons.
(Yes, there are two of them.)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Spinning Memories

This post is a photo trip down memory lane. Spinning memories. This time "spinning" is an adjective, not a verb.

As I've mentioned in past posts (like here and here), I have participated in many spinning demonstrations over the years. Some with a group, some with a farmer friend who sheared sheep and then I'd pick up some of the wool, card it and then spin it, and some demonstrations done alone. But probably the most enjoyable ones have been around Christmas time. There have been 2 different kinds of Christmas spinning venues for me and I will show them here by way of photographs. (Some of the photos have been lost on the computer so print copies had to be scanned. The quality is not ideal but maybe you'll get the idea.)

                         LIVING WINDOWS

For many years I participated in a local event called "Living Windows," as recently as last year, 2013. The goal of it is to set up various vintage vignettes in downtown store windows. I have never been able to see other windows, which have varied from year-to-year, so I will share this link to a newspaper photo gallery so you can see for yourself some of the great displays. And below I have added photographs of various years with a variety of costumes and window displays that I did. I also included a photo of hubby. A couple of years he portrayed an early 1900's carpenter. We don't have great pics so I only shared one.


Another event that our former church did for about 3 years was called Bethlehem Boulevard. It was quite spectacular, as we tried to portray the streets of Bethlehem as it might have been the night that Jesus was born. That is difficult in northern states of the U.S. during December - it all must be done inside. Bethlehem Boulevard is a "program" that can be purchased which includes ideas for displays, costumes, food, etc. When southern state churches put it on they can include goats, sheep, cows, etc. walking the "streets" of their parking lots. We had caged chickens and rabbits in our fellowship hall! We also had "authentic food vendors" (free to sample), street dancers, women at a well, a local potter, a local carpenter (hubby) and, you guessed it, a local spinner and weaver! Now in Jesus' time, spinning was still done by drop spindle so that is what I demonstrated with a little schpiel to each group that toured through. I didn't actually weave but displayed wares that I might have woven, but didn't. shhhh

There was also a living nativity with narration in the sanctuary, a simple version of the temple and an inn with a grouchy inn keeper and a NO VACANCY sign. 

Here are some random pictures that I could pull out of my files. 

One year we took our goldendoodle, crated her
and kept her in my booth. I told people that
she was a Syrian Sheep Dog (non-existent)
and that I spin her hair when she is sheared.
People loved that. She, however, did not.

Those Roman guards were pesky and nasty. Here
they were trying to squeeze more taxes
out of the poor and honest carpenter.

One year one of my sons participated as a poor musician
trying to sell a few products and make a little money with his flute.

Unfortunately we are no longer involved in either of these activities. I had done Living Windows for so long, I think they were looking for some variety. And the little church didn't do Bethlehem for too many years. It is a big, or rather HUGE, deal and I think they ran out of people who wanted to head it up.

But I'm very grateful for the experiences and the photographs that remain. And for the memories.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Recap of December Week One

While I am busy trying to finish up 2 final knitted Christmas gifts, there are lots of other great activities not to miss. I am excited to share photos of all the gifts I've knitted through the year - even though I've featured several in various posts already - but the "Christmas gift" post will have to wait a couple of more weeks.

For now, I want to share some of the events of this busy week, for MY viewing pleasure. And maybe you will enjoy them, too.

One of my knitting friends had a few of us over to her home for a Cookie Exchange. We brought already baked cookies to be embellished or DIPPED once we got together and then shared some of each to take back to our families. It was great fun. Our delightful hostess greeted us with yummy muffins, home made quiche, and coffee. Then we dealt with all the sweet Christmas treats and then we had lunch - paninis made with a panini press. What a fun time. We ate and yakked and laughed and ate and yakked and laughed and sampled and yakked and laughed. How therapeutic. Except maybe for all the eating and sampling!

Here are a few photos of all the fun. There were a few more ladies but they're shy of being pictured on-line. And who can blame anyone for that?

Another day this week, I got together with some dear old friends (old as in, I have known them a l-o-n-g time - never let it be said that I called them OLD!) We just met for lunch but it was so nice to catch-up with them. They live in the town from where I moved a few years ago so we don't get to see each other too often. This photo is from another time we met for lunch - TWO years ago. I forgot to take a picture this time. :^(

That same day was my youngest son's birthday. So I dashed home after lunch and made lava cakes for him.  The easy recipe is Paula Deen's and I got it at this website.

And here is the birthday boy, who just happened to be chilled and had donned his Fair Isle hat and hand spun hooded sweater, both of which I made for him. That's how love is knitted. :^)

And then, because it has been such a busy week, we took him out to eat at one of his favorite restaurants.

Other happenings, we've had a visitor this week to our bird feeder that always creates a stir inside our home - the huge Pileated Woodpecker. They are about the size of a hawk and eat a lot but they are a pleasure to see. We hear them often around here but don't see them so much, as they are fairly shy. The picture didn't turn out too well because if I move too close to the window, he flies away. But here he is. They can be seen better at All About Birds.

And speaking of knitting (oh, wait, was I?), I had ordered a protective case for my new mobile phone and it arrived a few days ago. It is so cool.
Huh? Huh? What do ya think?

I'm sure all you knitters and crocheters will want to know where I got it, right? I got it at Inspired Cases .com, where you can pay with PayPal. And at the bottom of every page on their website, I see that they invite your idea of what you want on a phone case. Check this out!

I've been trying to decorate for the blessed Christmas season but all the busy-ness has interrupted it. I am, however, almost finished. We will be having grandchildren around this year so I want to make it nice and festive for them. And for us, too. This is the one of the only times of year that over the entire world, attention is given to the Savior of all, the only Hope for our predicaments. I like to make this season a big deal.

One final bit of news - yesterday while I was praying, I got a call from a new knitting friend who lives in another town. She recently learned Fair Isle knitting from me and called to see if I would be willing to teach it at a knitting retreat in her town this spring. My answer was a resounding YES! I told her that even if they don't end up needing me to teach, I'd love to attend this weekend long retreat, needles and yarn in hand. 

The rest of the days until Christmas are more relaxed, with a lot less on the calendar. I look forward to that as I reflect on all that the baby Jesus - who was born to grow up and then to die to pay the penalty for the sin of the world - has done for me. Actually, I try to always keep that in mind all year long. Perhaps you do, too.