Other Kinds of Rows

We’ve been busy preparing for little man around here. That doesn’t mean that no crafting has been done. In fact, I’m sooooo close to finishing up a little blanket that will be used on our porch to cover up some wear and tear on an armchair until I have time to recover it. I’m running out of yarn, so it may be as big as it is going to get pretty soon.

We’ve also been beginning the process of double digging our garden beds. Yes, it’s February. Yes, this throws off everything we’ve ever known about gardening, but we’ve been watching local gardeners, and they’re beginning to prepare their beds now.

So that also means finishing up the purchasing of our seeds and starting our seeds. My husband managed to find some bio (organic) sweet potatoes today to get started indoors. Sweet potatoes (patate douce) are fairly expensive here compared to in the states, and they are so nutritionally dense, so we wanted to ensure that we’d have a good crop of them.

Beginning of the digging.

We’ve only got about 200 square feet of in-ground garden, not for lack of space, but for practicality. (We also will have 15 or so medium-sized containers.) Michael will be gone many hours beginning in March, and I’ll be in charge of the five kids and maintaining our little garden operation here. This year, it needed to be easier. So we’re doing a high-density double dug garden, based on the recommendations of John Seymour in The Self-Sufficient Gardener. But since the growing season here runs from early April through late November, we’re hoping to have several mid-season replantings and reap a huge harvest of…cabbages and beets and greens and such. Our kids are generally pretty tolerant of our healthier cooking as long as we season it well enough, but the amount of cabbage I’m foreseeing might push past their limits.

We are reusing seeds from last year as our primary seeds and then filling in with seeds for the things that are most expensive or hard to find here in France (celery, sweet potatoes, hot peppers, cilantro, etc.) We did make a couple of purchases of seeds that the kids requested (American watermelons, because the French ones are just not the same.)

Around our yard, we’ve been so pleased to see signs of Spring everywhere.

These quince blossoms were just so lovely, so my daughter added them to our vase of grocery-store tulips.
Some little primrose that my daughter found near our mailbox today as she was hauling some sticks to help the boys build a tree fort.
We’ve also been able to find many new bird species, and the bird calls at night and at the morning are so soothing to hear. (And a little homeschooling going on in the background…)

A friend sent a lovely package with some tea and cloth napkins from vintage cloth, and it’s been so delightful to hang them up on our laundry rack. I’m looking forward to March, when it will be much more temperate and line drying outdoors will be again a more feasible task for us.

I’m hoping that you’re finding beauty even on days that may be grey and gloomy.

Texture Lap Blanket: Baby Blanket for Our Little Man

It’s almost time for little man’s arrival. I just managed to get this finished in between packing hospital bags, working on my French for the hospital, and trying to get the house and children ready for me to be gone for a little while. (The average French hospital stay after giving birth is four days. What will I do? Not sure. I might go crazy from the lack of yelling and general hubbub, or it might feel like a silent spiritual retreat to only have one child around that sleeps the majority of the day.)

In any case, this texture lap blanket is done. And here are the details!

Yarn Used

Stylecraft Bambino DK – Mellow Yellow, 800 grams

Yarnspirations Caron Crochet Texture Lap Blanket


15,6 Euros (approximately $17.20 )

Time it Took

Began project on October 23, 2019. Finished January 23, 2020. Completed more than 30 smaller projects between, so not as much of my time was completely devoted to this blanket. Hard to estimate.

Texture Lap Blanket inspired by Caron Crochet

Final dimensions

42″ x 39″ (106 x 99 cm)

Pattern notes and changes

I used the Yarnspirations Caron Crochet Texture Lap Blanket pattern; however, I changed the size significantly and also altered the border. For the border, I used a front post double crochet/back post double crochet repeat for three rounds to create a ridged look.

For other blankets (like this one!) or tah-dah posts that I’ve done recently (man is it hard to track down decades of progress photos!!!), you can either look at my Ravelry profile or in my finished objects category.

Now that the blanket is done, I just need to wrap my head around what life with a newborn will look like again. I find myself googling phrases like “newborn schedule” and other things that came intuitively the last time, which was five years ago. Ah well. It’ll all shake out, and little man will be so loved.

The Daily Yarn: January 21

The baby commandeered this past week with three appointments. He turned around in the correct direction (please stay that way, youngling!), and we’re all so happy about that.

Baby’s Christmas Sweater

I began his Christmas sweater because I needed a mental break on one of the days when a new math skill was just evading one of my kids. Don’t look too closely; it’s been a while since I’ve done any “serious” knitting.


This weekend, my husband helped me do some serious nesting/rearranging. Together, we solved about eight household “problems,” but our house is still in full-on recovery mode from all of our industrious “fixing.”

If you ask the kids, the baby can come at any time. They are so anxious to meet their little plaything/friend, but some are beginning to have some amount of anxiety about me being in the hospital potentially for the French stay of 4 days. I’m ready for us to all just to be able to hunker down for a bit. And I wouldn’t mind having my spine back again.

Speaking of baby, his blanket should be all finished by this weekend. Stay tuned for the big reveal!

A gift of yarn & a new project

A lovely friend sent me a bunch of yarn in the mail. As we say in our family, “my love bucket is so full!” The next day, I began a bit of a bobble blanket to use on one of our chairs that needs recovering. I anticipate that this will be a really swift project due to the smaller size and chunkier yarn. It only needs to be big enough to hide the major wear and tear on the chair until I can do some upholstery work.

trying to plan things better

Because I always bite off more than I can chew at the last minute, I created a calendar for all of my projects for the year. Don’t worry! I left some room for flexibility and fun. I’m a pretty ambitious person (with a lot of ideas!!!) However, I am choosing to not be caught making projects for all of the at-risk young men we work with in December this year. (It’s going to be hats for the young men this year, by the way, since some may still be living in the same housing situation…)

yet another crocheter in the family

I taught my oldest how to chain, single crochet, and double crochet this week. He caught on so quickly, although the moment I snapped this photo he was mid-mistake. (Isn’t that how it always goes?) He is flying through this experience and is genuinely loving it. Knitting was not the same. He spent about two hours today crocheting what will be a small blanket for one of his stuffed animals.

I read a pretty bit of a quote by Maya Angelou today: ” A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer…it sings because it has a song.”

I hope that today finds you singing the song you were made to sing.

Doll Bed Crocheted Blanket Pattern for IKEA Duktig Doll Bed

doll bed crocheted blanket

For Christmas, my daughter received the IKEA Dukvig doll bed. It was sturdy and affordable (things that are handy when you work in the nonprofit sector and have a lot of kids.) It did come with a little “quilt” and mattress as well as something that functions as a pillow (which my little girl soon replaced with an infinity scarf she designed last year.)

However, my little girl has a birthday VERY soon after Christmas, and she always seems to be a bit forgotten in the mad rush of holiday gatherings. And this year is her….golden birthday.

Do you celebrate golden birthdays? It’s where the date you were born on corresponds with your age. For example, I was born on the 13th, and so when I turned 13, it was my golden birthday.

doll bed crocheted blanket

So I knew I wanted to make it special. Our girl is an odd duckling and requested a laundry basket, a rug, a full-length mirror, and something to hang her clothes on. (Closets are not really a thing here in France, and we’ve had to be economical in which furniture we purchase in what order.) Basically, she wanted a “big girl” room with all of the features. We were able to find all of those things for under $40, but I wanted something that would make her eyes sparkle and make her room feel extra special. So I decided to throw together a little doll-sized blanket for her IKEA Duktig doll bed.

doll bed crocheted blanket

Project: IKEA Duktig Doll Bed Crocheted Blanket

Materials Required

Four 100-gram balls of DK weight yarn.

(I used Stylecraft Special DK in Bright Pink, Fondant, Magenta, and Powder Pink.)

Size G (4.25 mm) crochet hook.

Project Final Dimensions

24.5 inches/62 cm (W) by 24 inches/61 cm (H)


13 sc stitches by 16 rows should equal approximate 4″ square in size

Crochet Instructions

For blanket

Chain 85 in color A. (For mine, Magenta.)

Row 1: 1 ch (counts as 1 sc). Skip 1 st, *1 hdc into next stitch, 1 dc into next st. 3 tr into next st. 1 dc into next st. 1 hdc into next st. 1 sc into next st. repeat from * to end, turn.

Row 2: Change color to color B (For mine, Powder Pink.) 1 ch, skip 1 st, 1 sc into next st (counts as sc2tog), 1 sc into each of next 2 sts. *3 sc into next st, 1 sc into each of next 2 sts, over next 3 stst work sc3tog, 1 sc into each of next 2 sts; repeat from * to last 5 sts. 3 sc into next st, 1 sc into each of next 2 sts, over last 2 sts work sc2tog, skip tch, turn.

Row 3: As second row.

Row 4: Change color to color C (For mine Bright Pink.) 4 ch, skip 1 st. 1 tr into next st (counts as tr2tog), * 1 dc into next st, 1 hdc into next st, 1 sc into next st, 1 hdc into next st, 1 dc into next st** over next 3 sts work tr3tog; repeat from * ending last rep at **, over last 2 sts work tr2tog, skip tch turn.

Row 5: 1 ch (counts as 1 sc), skip 1 st, 1 sc into next and each st to end, turn.

Row 6: Change color to color D (For mine, Fondant.) As 5th row.

Repeat these six rows, using each color for two rows (so continuing onto row 1 with color D, and then changing to color A for rows 2 and 3, and so on.)

End on 65th row with color A.

Stitch or weave in all loose ends.


Using color A, which should be at the top and bottom of your blanket, single crochet around the entire width of the blanket, remembering that the treble crochets on the edges count as four stitches in length. When you reach a corner space, 3 sc in each corner and turn.

After you’ve finished your single crochet round, continue using color A, and do one hdc in every stitch (excepting corner stitches which will receive 3 hdc.) Tie off and sew or weave in your loose border yarn.

And that’s it! Your little one will be so thrilled that their babies or stuffed loveys can be comfy and cozy too with your very own doll bed crocheted blanket.

( I feel the need to disclaim that this post is NOT sponsored by IKEA. However, should anyone from IKEA be reading this and notice a spike in your IKEA Duktig doll bed purchases due to this post, I’d love to work out an arrangement for some new living room furniture or bookshelves. Hardy har har.)

I plan to continue to add other patterns to my site, so if you’re curious about some of the other patterns I’ve got available, click here!

See this pattern on Ravelry: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/doll-bed-crocheted-blanket

Scarf Central: (Ta-DAH!)

I feel a bit like William Carlos Williams any time I use the phrase “This is Just to Say,” but I have to use it in this case.

This is just to say that I’ve finished 30 scarves and one baby blanket in the last six weeks. (For 21 of the scarves, I used the easy pattern I wrote about here.)

Things I’ve learned:

  • Start Christmas projects earlier. Ha. Hats are on the docket for next year for the guys we work with, so prepare yourselves. I’ll be starting somewhere around September probably.
  • Pink as a feminine color is an American social construct. My husband offered the first choice of scarves to one of the “leader” asylum seekers at the refugee and asylum seeker housing ministry we work at. He asked for us specifically to reserve a pink scarf for him. Here I had been worried all along that I was using up scraps of pinks and purples in the scarves and that these teenage and young adult boys would balk at the femininity of the scarves. Nope.
  • Always check your length when making scarves for men. The first scarf I made and we handed out was honestly a little short because this boy wrapped his scarf differently than I was used to wrapping scarves around my kids. He did the neck loop instead of the tie around. (For pictures demonstrating what I mean, see here.)
  • It’s possible to make a baby blanket in a day.
  • I need to buy more yarn.

I hope you’re enjoying the holiday season and also taking time to reflect how you can make the world a more beautiful place in the coming year. All it takes is small acts with great love, right? Simple steps? Maybe preparing for a more beautiful tomorrow? However you go about it, set about it with intention, and together we can make the world a more beautiful place.

Cheers to 2020!

Easy (and Free!) Crocheted Men’s Scarf Pattern

This is the easiest crocheted men’s scarf pattern out there. I recently made 21 of these scarves for young men, most over 6-foot tall. Because we live in a country where men’s scarves are folded in half and looped through generally instead of tied around the neck, the scarves needed to be plenty long to provide ultimate warmth and comfort.

Project: Crocheted Men’s Scarf (Double-Stranded)

Materials Required

This pattern is designed to use two strands of yarn, held together. I used DK weight. It takes approximately 350 grams of DK-weight yarn.

Size J crochet hook

Project Final Dimensions

80 inches (L) x 10 inches (W)/ 203 cm (L) x 25.5 cm (W)

Gauge: 9 SC stitches x 9 rows produces a 3″ square with yarn held double stranded

Crochet Instructions

Row 1: Begin by chaining 28 with two strands of yarn held together.

Row 2: Double crochet in third chain stitch from hook and continue double crocheting until you get to the end of the row.

Row 3: Chain 3 (this functions as a double crochet) and turn. Double crochet in each stitch in the row.

Rows 4-117: Repeat row 3.

For color changes, see options below, or create your own!

Color Variations

I have several color variations of this project that I like to do.


Hold Color A and B together for 3/9/13 rows. Follow this with color B and C held together for 3/9/13 rows. Then you will hold color C and D together for 3/9/13 rows. If you use the 3-row repeat, you’ll need 39 color combinations. When using the 9-row color option, you’ll need 13. Finally, if you use the 13-row color option, you’ll need nine blocks of color combinations. (Note, I choose odd-number color variations, so that the color changes don’t all end up on one side of the scarf, as this can create a dimpled look on the edgings…)


Have approximately 175 grams of color A and use it throughout the entire scarf, adding in color B, C, D, and so on and so forth throughout the scarf. Again, you can use the 3/9/13 row idea, as written above, or you can create your own number.


For one of your strands, use a solid color pattern, either A/B/C/D/etc. or A/B/C/A/B/C in 3/9/13 row repeats. For your second strand, either make a magic ball of yarn or use up scraps of yarn. Your color changes will likely not occur perfectly at the end or beginning of a row, so you must be okay with a more fluid-looking scarf and the idea that you *may* not be able to make it into a symmetrically designed scarf.

A side by side of solid color running all the way through scarf, 3-row repeat, 9-row repat, and 13-row repeat.

I hope you enjoy making this easy free crocheted men’s scarf pattern. It’s really easy and makes a fantastic (and fast) gift for those hard-to-shop-for guys in life.

Little Things and Sacred Places

Lately, I’ve just had to push myself to find goodness, find beauty, find any amount of energy. Parenting and homeschooling are hard work. Living in another country can be hard work. (It can also be a fun adventure.) Being eight months pregnant and iron-depleted is also hard work.

I manage to feed and educate the children and do the fun Christmas traditions they’re used to, but I’ve really had to force myself to do much more than that. I’ve been working on double-stranded scarves for the last week or two. I’ve made eight so far for the teens/young adults we work with, and I have theoretically 13 to go. Michael initially had a count of 15 boys that he works with, and then it ended up being 21 total, so I may have to order yet more yarn to get them all done. (They may end up being New Year’s scarves, depending on children/health/yarn supply/shipping.)


Michael handed out one wrapped scarf to a young asylum seeker that he mentors, and the young man was so shocked to have been given a present. His eyes started to tear up, and his face was filled with joy. He didn’t expect anything, and he didn’t know what Christmas gifts were.


This is why.

I have photos, but I can’t share them in order to protect the privacy of this young man. But they make me cry every time I look at them.

To know that a couple of hours of time, a few balls of yarn and approximately 3500 stitches could tell a boy that he was cared for and valued and that people see him as a person and not as a helpless case. It’s immensely humbling that my hands could be used that way, and it fills me with awe and a sense of sober purpose when I sit down to work. It reminds me that little hobby of mine can be holy work. Just like faithfulness in doing laundry, cooking supper, and scrubbing toilets is holy work.

Too often we separate things that are “sacred” and things that are “ordinary.” It brings to mind the snatch of Wendell Berry that I often quote.

There are no unsacred places;   
there are only sacred places   
and desecrated places.   

Wendell Berry

But even though I quote it so often to myself, I still forget that everyday work is a chance to breathe and worship in a sacred place. It’s a chance to practice gratitude. It’s a chance to bend my knee. And more importantly, it’s easy to forget that if I don’t make it into a sacred place, it might become a desecrated place.

I don’t share this story to toot my own horn. I share it as a bit of a journal to remind myself that this work that I have the privilege to do can indeed make the world a more beautiful place. And to remind you, too, that wherever you are found today….it can be a sacred place.

I’ll close with a quote from Brother Lawrence, who some call the Kitchen Saint because in the monastery he served in, he had the oh-so-glamorous-job of washing dishes. But he found that he was able to experience a vivid and powerful relationship with God because he was able to spend time doing little things while acknowledging the presence of God.

We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.

Brother Lawrence

Two Finished Scarves

Finished this scarf today. I intentionally made it shorter for this kiddo, because he stretches out his scarves to previously unheard of lengths. I’ve learned a thing or two over the years of parenting.

I also finished this scarf, made from a magic yarn ball I threw together a few nights ago. I have enough left in this magic yarn ball to make at least one, if not two, more scarves. I think I’ll switch up the patterning, though, because I like variety.

Unfortunately, the lighting is such in northern France right now that I can rarely get a “good photo.” Having to be content with poor lighting, and that means that my photo colorations are wonky. Ah well.

I began another scarf in bright oranges, reds, and yellows, because there’s a kiddo in my life that shares my affinity for bright colors. It’s such a joy to knit multi-colored things after a few solid items. This one will be very simple in just a seed stitch. But it will work up really quickly for my little pal.

Six Months In France and A Beastly Blanket

I’m feeling a little ridiculous posting now, beginning this again, and I almost feel the need to reintroduce myself. However, I’m going to just press into this post. We’ve managed to find beauty in all sorts of places in the nearly six months since we moved overseas. Beauty in discomfort. Beauty in sadness. Beauty in nature. Beauty in flavors. Beauty in a feeling of home.

It took us a few months more than we thought to find a place to call home, but we’re here now, finally settling in. And we have internet! While we still are very limited in our furnishings, it is so nice to just spread ourselves out and begin routines.

I finally finished up a blanket for our daughter. It was a tough one because I was using up scraps of old purples and pinks, her favorite colors. (Not MY favorites…) I reworked the blanket three times for various reasons. It just is what it is now.

My husband chose the edging, and I don’t think it’s half bad, but I will never voluntarily make a blanket in colors I despise again. (Remind me of this in a few months, right?) I don’t have glamour shots, because my daughter wanted it the instant I was done, and her room is…spartan right now. (Missionary life.) I’d really love to make her room a little more beautiful than it is. Currently, it’s just a bed in a very large room. Not pretty for staging. Ah well.

horrible night lighting. Hopefully someday, I’ll get a photo to show you the colours in a less garish light.

I also knit up a scarf for one of the older boys with some leftover rust-colored yarn. He calls it his “jaunty scarf.”

I did order some grey-blue wool yarn and some ochre wool-blend yarn for a few more projects, because we have another little boy joining us in February. I plan to knit some leg warmers and a hat and to crochet a blanket for baby boy.

I do want to work more on my knitting skills because I’m honestly still a little scared of cable work. I hope to make myself a cardigan or pullover sometime in the next year, but we’ll see. It is nowhere near as cold here as it was in Minnesota, but it’s a consistent damp feeling, so I find myself reaching for sweaters even when it’s only 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 Celsius).

We’re learning to be much more economical than we were even in the States. It’s a constant stretching of creativity in terms of where we can skimp and where we need to add flavor (or quality). One of my goals in our lives as a mom and a missionary has been to not really allow our kids to feel a sense of financial sacrifice. It’s been challenging and has stretched my creativity.

Of note: homemade nacho sauce with French cheese and without access to jalapenos is just NOT a good idea.

Now that I’ve finished that beast of a blanket, I do hope to write here more often. Maybe I’ll throw in some non-craft-related posts, just to remember our first year in France. We’ll see.

A Lovely Gray Celtic Afghan (Ta-DAH!)

On my birthday, I drank my favorite coffee, got to hold a baby, my husband took me out to a creamery, and I picked out some tulips to celebrate. It was delightful.

I also finished this blanket.

celtic afghan, celtic blanket, crocheted cablework,

This particular one was begun out of necessity, rather than plan. We’re in the process of moving overseas, and our initial visa application was denied. What’s a girl to do when her entire life is inaccessible because it’s packed away in boxes?

I try to live by the old Shaker phrase “Hands to Work, Hearts To God.” So instead of sitting around googling visa application horror stories or sure fixes, I chose to make this Celtic afghan instead.

Details About The Celtic Afghan

Pattern details: free on Ravelry.  Lion Brand® Vanna’s Choice® Celtic Afghan, Pattern Number: L20303

Yarn details: Big Twist Rainbow Classic Yarn – Gray.

The time it took to make: 21 days. I don’t know how many hours, but there were quite a few days that I didn’t work on it at all.

This lovely blanket is so comforting. It’s also quite heavy for a blanket, weighing at around 5 pounds. It’s the perfect blanket for curling up in our cold Northern winters.

celtic afghan, celtic blanket, crocheted cablework,

The first day or three, I struggled to learn cablework. I crocheted and then “frogged” about 20 or so times. It became a joke with my husband because he thought it was so unusual to see me struggling with something related to crochet. But soon, since it’s only a four-row repeat, I was able to proceed pretty quickly. It’s a pretty bulky yarn, so things worked up really fast.

Future Projects To Look For

I enjoyed it so much that I’m foraying into other cable work and plan to design my own little cabled blanket in a smaller baby blanket size. Look for a work in progress update and maybe a free pattern here on this website! I also have a design in the works for a really fun vintage quilt-inspired pattern.