Overdue (Post and Mama)

While we wait for baby to decide to show his face, I’ve managed to do every chore imaginable (even washed the outdoor windows one nicer day) and also work a little bit more on some knitting projects. I like how the blue sock yarn is turning out for my third son’s Christmas sweater.

I also enjoy working in the round. The piecing together for the baby’s sweater will be easy, but working in the round is so satisfying and goes by so quickly.

As the baby is nearly two weeks overdue, I told my husband that if I finish our third son’s sweater before the baby comes out, I will cry. Who am I kidding, though? I cry a lot these days, to begin with.

Nearly every day, I wake up feeling guilty for being crabby at the other four kids, so I try to make up for it with a baked good or special breakfast. So not only are the kids anxious about the timing of our blessed event, they’re over-sugared. Sigh.

It’s a season. It will pass.

In better news, much of next school year is planned, and I’ve been able to work on my French language learning. ๐Ÿ™‚

More Christmas Sweater Decisions

I decided on the Christmas sweaters for the two remaining kids. Our oldest will be getting the Teeny Geena Sweater, although I haven’t decided on yarns yet. His favorite color is red, but he likes hand-dyed or variegated yarns. I’m concerned that with the raglan sleeves it might be kind of wonky looking if I use a more textured color. Rowan does have some really beautiful hemp tweed that I love the look of, but it’s a little more cost-prohibitive for a very active boy’s sweater.

Our only girl loves sweater dresses and pockets, so I chose a combo of the two with the Fiona pattern (short-sleeved edition because it’s so mild here.) For the last two years, every time she’s been asked her favorite colors, her response is this verbatim: “pink and purple and orange and grey.”

So here’s what I’ll end up using:

I hope you’re having a fine day filled with color and sunshine. If not, I hope you’re enjoying a chance to snuggle under a blanket and read a good book or do something that refreshes your soul.

Crocuses, Yarn, and Christmas Sweaters

The sun shone quite a bit today, revealing some Dutch crocuses in our yard to little eyes.

Crocuses in January.

New Yarn for a New Crocheter

I did get a yarn order this week, which was exciting. My oldest managed to get three balls of Stylecraft in my order. He began crocheting last week or the week before, and he’s doing so well after knitting for a few years, so I thought I’d let him pick a few skeins of his own to use colors he enjoys. He’s always been a jewel tones kid, and still, he continues. He’s working on creating a tiny blanket for one of his stuffed animals and has grand ideas of what will come next.

When Middle Children Complicate Decisions

Unfortunately, in my order, I got all of the yarn but forgot to order knitting needles for my next project, one of the Christmas sweaters I’ll be starting. Someday I’d love to have knitting needles and crochet hooks in every size all organized, but it’s just not that season. I’m not a Knitter with a capital K, so I have to use what I’ve got and plan for new needles every once in a while.

It was a real conundrum deciding how to do Christmas sweaters this year. (I’ve decided to do them in place of matching jammies, in order to reduce my “factory footprint.”)

I always love a good matching photo op for the kids, but one of the three older boys just a) wants to be different and b) hates to be different at the same time. I understand. It’s a middle child thing. So I tossed and turned about doing the same pattern for all three and just changing out the colors or doing the same pattern but giving him some distinctive elements like stripes. My husband finally decided that I should just do different patterns and different colors for all three, and then nobody will feel left out or like they don’t stand out enough. Our daughter will be getting a sweater dress for Christmas because she always loves sweater dresses.

Patterns I chose for the Christmas Sweaters

I haven’t figured out our oldest’s pattern or yarn yet (but his favorite color is currently ruby red, so it will likely be a flashy sweater.)

Our second son’s sweater will be Bernat’s Rickrack Pullover in a yellow gold with grey, blue, and orange colorwork.

Our third son’s sweater will be Drops Vincent in Drops Fabel Green Turquoise.

I have not yet determined the pattern for our girl’s sweater dress, but it will probably be purple, as I’ve worked enough pink lately to bring tears to my eyes. I might be convinced to add a little dusty rose color work to it, but that would be it.

Baby’s sweater is already in the works, as I mentioned recently. He doesn’t get a choice on his color or pattern, because I had this yarn lying around from two children ago. They just keep growing, and I never got to use this.

christmas sweaters are a joy to make.

Tulips Because They’re Lovely

Michael brought me home some tulips today because I have such a heart for flowers. Buying fresh flowers here in France has a bit of the same “feel” as it does in the States, that you’re either trying to impress someone or that you’re just a bit “extra.” But I’m glad that he does little things like that for me every once in a while because beauty and goodness do matter.

Here’s hoping that today brought you a bit of sunshine or beauty, even if it’s in the form of an icicle or “Jack Frost” crystals on your windowpane.

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.

Nesting

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.

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.

My Symphony: Dirty Dishes and Copious Amounts of Scarves

To live content with small means.
To seek elegance rather than luxury,
ย  ย  and refinement rather than fashion.
To be worthy not respectable,
ย  ย  and wealthy not rich.
To study hard, think quietly, talk gently,
ย  ย  act frankly, to listen to stars, birds, babes,
ย  ย  and sages with open heart, to bear all cheerfully,
ย  ย  do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never.
In a word, to let the spiritual,
ย  ย  unbidden and unconscious,
ย  ย  grow up through the common.
This is to be my symphony.

William Henry Channing

I’ve been going through all of my social media sites lately and culling quite a bit. You see, I have the unfortunate habit of clicking “save for later” or whatever the equivalent is on each site. So I’ve amassed an insurmountable heap of digital content that I will never get through, nor would I ever want to try. Things that may have interested me five years ago hold less sheen and shimmer now.

But what I do enjoy is that I’m a word hoarder. I have journals filled completely with little scraps of beauty that I find in books or quotes from songs or sermons or what have you. In the culling process for all of these digital articles, I’m finding a treasure trove of words that I’ve collected on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest as well. (Like the poem above.) So I’m working on gathering them all together in one place, so I can read them on days when I need a good word.

Life has been less beauty-filled and more grin and bear it around here. We’ve had plumbing difficulties which lead to a lot of laundry from the sopping up of plumbing messes. And dishes piling up because everything is slow to get a fix for here in France. And I haven’t washed dishes in three days except for a couple of desperation rounds washed in the bathtub. So my cooking is all off-kilter as well because I’m trying to create as little dish disaster as possible.

It’s a hot mess. But it’s real life.

Also, we’ve been trying to evaluate one of our kids for a learning disorder. It appears that he may not have this particular learning disorder but that he struggles immensely and needs extra help in a certain area.

And some of the kids have had just genuinely angry days. My husband worked a Long Week last week; he’s working a shorter week this week. But the kids have not adjusted to the spontaneity of their Daddy’s schedule after years of predictability and availability. And sometimes that comes out in anger.

So I’ve been lax on my projects. But today I managed to pick some up for a few hours while listening to kids reading to each other or watching kids do some independent portions of their homeschool.

I’m nearly finished with this hurdler stitch scarf. I still have the mustard/gold baby blanket on a crochet hook, but as he’s not due till February, I need to prioritize winter and Christmas gifts first.

So I began this linen stitch scarf for one of twenty-odd scarves I’m going to attempt to make in the next two months. (I have ambitions that are overly high sometimes… I’m aware of this.) We work with 13 to 15 teenage boys who have completely heartbreaking stories, and I’d like to make them each a scarf for Christmas if I can. At the very least, the kids are going to be making them a Christmas cookie/goodie care package, but I’d love to include scarves, as many of them are frequently cold due to not being from this climate.

So yes, you’ll be seeing a lot of scarves here. Hopefully some fun color combinations. There are also a few odd family Christmas gifts that I need to make up as well. I don’t think I’m going to get to my own kids’ slippers that I have good intentions about. But as I’ve just made several of them scarves and made large blankets for all of them, I think we’re good for a teensy while. They’ll be getting cardigans for Christmas anyway. (Sadly, not handmade, but at least it’s something.) What’s that old joke about the cobbler’s children never having any shoes?

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.