Knitting in Nature

I had big plans for shawls during my time in the woods. I was going to complete a section on both shawls every day. I should have known better. I’m not upset I couldn’t keep up- just amused. It’s my nature to have big dreams and yet be utterly happy with reality.

I was pleasantly surprised by my sister’s reaction. I’ve always had the impression that she prefers my gifts to be a surprise. She’s also very willing to tell me what she would prefer (which I appreciate). This time, she was happy to see what I was creating. She indulged my “knit talk” even though no one in my family really understands what I mean. This was also my way of making sure she liked the colors.

See my sister and I have had quite the journey together and in our own lives. She was always so needy to me, when we were kids, and I was often busy being self-involved, or dealing with our older brother’s nearly constant crisis mode. I’m a very strange individual to most people, when they get to know me, and it made me self-conscious in many ways, while strengthening my character in other ways.

My sister also holds people to really high standards. She’s eased up a bit and learned to be a little more patient, understanding, and forgiving than when she was younger, as have I. I have also learned that I need to just be myself and not worry so much about annoying my sister. Her honesty no longer hurts like it use to. Our family can be brutally honest, but it’s all from a place of love. I am a dork. I’m good with that. Secretly, she is too.

This idea formed pretty much on its own. I have suddenly taken to shawls for the Summer months. This heat is too much for sweaters. I kept coming across the Road Trip Shawl on Ravelry and I really loved the idea of telling a story through knitting. Two of my favorite things! Then, I thought how wonderful it would be to have a shawl to remember this camping trip during the pandemic. To remember our bond and feel connected as sisters even with miles between us.

Top one is my sister’s and the bottom, mine.

Now I’m working on them at home. I’m still on vacation for a few more days, so we’ll see how much I can get done. I’m excited to see what I do with them! It’s going to be a surprise for me too.

More Camping

So. The thing about camping in the woods where the internet is spotty is keeping up with my posts becomes difficult. My phone is too full for my Bluetooth to send pictures to my iPad and they weren’t downloading from my email address either. Then, half of one of my posts didn’t save, so I decided to put it aside and just enjoy myself.

We had kind of a set rhythm to our days. Coffee/breakfast. Rest. Then the beach, which was wonderfully not crowded. Lots of space for us all to enjoy. Then lunch back at the campsite and some more rest. Someone would go to the store for dinner and we would cook it over the fire. Then a hike down to the lake and a snack when we came back. Then we would all head to our own campsites and settle in for the night. Absolute heaven.

We did have one night of light rain and missed the beach because of the rain, but I loved it. We never got around to putting the rain tarp on the tent, so I’m glad it was mild. Especially since it was the only night my husband and youngest stayed the night in the tent. Of course.

It was a wonderful week. I learned a few new skills and am excited for us to try this again. I did my best to soak up every moment. By the end of the week I was ok with going home. I desperately needed a shower and all the sun was wearing me out.

Second Night of Camping

Tonight was a bit different. Our oldest spent the night with her Oma (who has been taking all the necessary precautions to be able to do this trip, just like we have been doing). Our youngest went home with daddy again. It seems to be the best way to make this work so far. So my middle one and I hung out by the fire together and then went to bed. It was a really good nights sleep.

Our day started slowly. My sister and her husband are always up early and do their thing for a few hours. I like to get up and enjoy some alone time before everyone else starts to wake. Then my mom texts me when the coffee is done and I wake my sleepy head to join me for breakfast at Oma and grandpa’s trailer. A nice slow morning. My favorite.

Then we start getting ready for the beach. Load up, and enjoy a couple hours there. As it starts to get busy, we leave. Have lunch at camp. Relax. My mom pulls out the activities and they just figure out ways to keep themselves busy. I knit. I‘m doing less and yet more of that than I thought I would be able to. My husband and I got some alone time going to the store to shop for dinner. The fire was going by the time we got back and my husband cooked the burgers. They were amazing!

After dinner we went for a hike down to the lake. It was a fun adventure. Our middle one fussed the whole way, but she had fun down at the water. I really enjoyed the view.

Of course we had s’mores and relaxed for a bit before we all settled in for the night. My oldest went with her grandparents while my husband got a fire going for me and our middle one before he headed home with our youngest. I listened to my daughter read to me by the fire while I knit until she began to fall asleep. It was a wonderful day in the woods.

First Night of Camping

We made it. I have officially spent a night in a tent. And it was without my husband or my youngest. Which wound up being for the best. The girls’ air mattress deflated in the night so my other two crawled in with me.

We had the usual mad rush to try to and get the house in shape before we left. It was a short drive to the middle of the woods and the beginning of our vacation. We were all a bit grumpy. We were all excited and we were all eager to set things up.

Before it got too dark, my step-dad showed me how to set-up the tent he gave us. I have never set-up a tent before. I tell him as much as I can how much I appreciate him showing/teaching me by letting me do most of the work. We had to get a few extra spikes from his other kit and my husband finished putting the last steaks in and evening some of the tent out. He’s pretty handy.

One of the things I love so much about my husband is that he too treats me like a capable adult. I so often have been told I can’t do things, or others have just taken the lead, but not with my husband. He just expects me to be able to take care of these things because he knows I can and how much I love doing them. Like sleeping in a tent with my kids without him. And tending the dying fire until it was out.

Our youngest just wouldn’t settle last night and my husband was getting anxious for an interview that he had the next day. (He got laid off recently because of Covid). So he took her home with him for a good night’s sleep. We’re also a little nervous with our youngest because she is wild and will do dangerous things just to see what will happen. With it being just me and our older two, we were able to get some sleep.

For the Love of Knitting

I’m a little surprised by how ready for this vacation I am. A lot of it does have to do with how much my kids need it. How much we all need to escape reality for a bit and enjoy just a few of our loved ones (who have also been being careful). But I am surprised by how much I already need a break from work.

I absolutely love my job. It’s the job I’ve been dreaming of and more. I love my clients and I have a fairly limited schedule to be able to be with my family more. I have so much respect for every therapist I work with and can’t express how much I appreciate what the owner does and what our front desk staff does for us. Honestly, there is not a thing I really care to complain about because I really can’t find anything.

That being said, what I do for a living requires frequent breaks and lots of self-care. Two things that take time for us to learn how to do. Well, most massage therapists I’ve met, anyway. It also becomes more important the longer you’re at it. If you don’t take care of your tools, your tools will not stand the test of time. I’ve been doing this for over a decade now and really intensely for the last 5ish years. Maybe almost 6 now. Time is strange… So I’m about halfway through a long career.

I also learned something about myself during this quarantine. I already knew I loved knitting and crafting. I always thought of it as a hobby. It has always been and will always be a source of great stress relief and artistic expression for me. But I’ve come to learn that it is more than a hobby and I want it to be a bigger part of my life. I’m playing around with some different ideas and since I have time right now to do so, I am.

I learned so many new things in knitting during our several months of stay-at-home orders and my imagination is just running wild with what I can do. (I’ve got a whole lot of ideas for my sewing machine too, but that’s for another time).

Reclaiming My Voice, with kids

Let’s talk about trying to write when you have kids and a husband. And there’s dinner…

I get an idea, I ponder over it while busy with life, then I find a moment where everything is calm, sit down with my iPad, get a few lines in- a story just taking shape…

No, you can’t have ice cream. Stop kicking your sister. Can we talk about this in, like, 10 minutes?

So, as I was saying,…

It has been absolutely marvelous to find I do still have things to say that people want to hear. We writers understand, that while it takes a lot of hard work, it is not really something you choose. At least it wasn’t for me. It has called and beckoned me my whole life. Even before I knew how to write words, I was writing on anything I could. Long, scrawling loops of imaginary cursive (always my favorite).

My mom enrolled me in this summer writing program one year. It was a week of lectures and readings and such. I was in heaven. Learning from successful writers and other kids of all ages who loved to write, like me, was one of the greatest memories of my childhood (that is all mine). From then on, I always carried pen and paper. I have so many notebooks filled with, mostly garbage, but there are a few gems hidden amongst all the muck. But that’s how it works, isn’t it?

Oh, yeah. Pizza. Kids. Kids who need to eat and go to bed. Which will begin the nightly two hour battle. It’s a wild time to be alive!

I journaled almost everyday for most of my youth. I kept at it through college, and when I dropped out (not enough money), and when I moved back in with my parents. Then I met my husband and I was too busy being enamored. I jotted things down here and there. I still used it as a therapy tool, but I didn’t have the same flow. Then kids came and that was all consuming. Most of my interests were put on hold and being a mom was it. Which was wonderful and rewarding, and not something I ever planned on loving so much.

I used to scratch out poems spontaneously all the time. As I got older, the words began to stick. My flow was getting dammed up…

Can I have a turn on your iPad? Mommy, when are you going to be done?! Please, don’t put that around my neck.

Right, poetry, dammed up. As the kids got older, there came some clearing of the fog in my brain. I began having ideas and opinions on issues people were talking about. I managed a few epic Facebook posts when the girls were napping, or sleeping, or I had somehow managed some alone time. I began keeping a notebook in my purse again. And not just for those random grocery items I thought of while out, or as something for my kids to doodle in when they were bored, but as a place to scratch out my ideas and save them for a later date. I’m not sure when that date is yet, but I think it’s coming soon.

As I continued to jot these things down, it was like the dam began to crack. Some days chunks broke off and I wrote as much as I could. Then it would slow down, until another crack began, and then another chunk of the dam gone, letting the ideas gush out.

It’s a wild ride trying to figure out what your voice is again. The essence of who I am has always remained constant with me, but I am not the same person I use to be when writing was all-consuming. I have a lot more to say and a whole lot more fear of sharing. But I also know that if I keep it all in and don’t try, I’ll be worse off. It’s one thing to take a break while raising babies and little ones, but entirely another to continue ignoring my voice when I am being presented time to give it a try.

Wonder Woman Wrap

This wrap has delighted me the whole way through. As I said before, I have always loved Wonder Woman. Her strength and conviction in the power of love, truth, and justice has kept me going in some of my harder times. Especially when there were/are those who would rather I conform to the narrative that people are inherently bad and should not be trusted. I have always found the opposite.

I also appreciate her femininity. Growing up in a time when you had to be the same as, or better than, the boys to get ahead, she proved being a feminine woman was a fierce thing to do. She was always true to herself and what she stood for. It gave me courage to be myself at different points in my life.

This wrap has also given me the opportunity to bond with my father. I don’t often make sense to him, try as he might to figure me out. We have had our difficulties, which I have been able to make peace with now that I am an adult with my own kids. Talking to him about my art and seeing the artist in him come out is really quite wonderful. Letting him know that he did, in fact, pass down a lot of his more lovable characteristics helps us both. (Basically, he’s the one that told me it should be blue at the bottom and red at the top. And he was absolutely right.)

Short rows are something I can do now. It’s always fun to learn a new knitting skill. Especially when it just clicks. I admit I watched a YouTube video. It’s rare that I can’t figure it out from pictures, so I am grateful to have those videos. I mean, I’m the only knitter I know.

It all felt so right in my hands. Making this wrap brought me so much joy. The child in me was tickled to be making something representing a character and a belief that I have had since I can remember. The nerd/geek in me began reading more comic history and Greek mythology while creating wearable fan gear. The knitter in me loved combining passions and creating something just for me. The woman in me loved thinking about all that she represents and what kind of a woman I really am.

Had to take a picture outside because no matter what I do, my house is just too dark.

And then I finished it. I couldn’t be happier. I thought my bind-off was too tight, but it actually helps the wrap stay in place. Which is good because this is definitely going to be getting some use!

A Little Impressed

I am actually pretty impressed with how much we accomplished around the house yesterday. Especially considering I didn’t wake up at all until eleven o’clock! Once I got out of bed, it did not take long for me to get motivated. My oldest has gotten really helpful with chores and took care of quite a bit. It feels really good.

We definitely have a lot of cleaning to do before we leave. It can feel fairly overwhelming, but I’m in energy mode right now, in spite of the heat. And, in spite of the usually overwhelming state of this country right now. So we all pulled together and we’re almost halfway done. I even had time to take a break and knit. And I blocked a wrap I finished a few days ago.

Today has been a little less productive. I’m ok with that. I did a few chores, packed my knitting bag, decided I was going to make a camping shawl for my sister, my mom, and for myself, packed some beach stuff, packed most of my clothes. Well, maybe I’ve done more than I thought.

I’ve also realized I’m going to have a lot of yarn to wind because I’m going to start each shawl in the car on the way there. I’m just trying to decide if I should make us all asymmetrical ones, or if I should make a different shape for each of us. Decisions. Decisions…

Maybe a Shawl Can Tell a Story

My kids are getting really excited. This quarantine has not been easy and seeing Oma on the phone is not the same as seeing her in person every month. (I am so grateful she was able to be here right before shutdowns began.) We have remained pretty isolated throughout this whole experience and the girls are really getting restless. The excitement is because we have a camping trip coming up. Next week.

We usually go to a camp that has cabins, organized activities, and a dinning hall. It’s also a mini family reunion for my side. But since that is not happening this year, my mom and step-dad came up with camping where they can bring their trailer, my sister and her husband will rent a trailer, and we could use a tent. This way we will all still be together this year. I have never slept in a tent before. Neither have my daughters. My husband, the country boy, has. My step-dad has a few rustic conveniences included with the gift of the tent and I am definitely excited as well.

Maybe a shawl for my sister.

As we are planning this trip, it occurred to me that I need to sort out some knitting projects. It won’t be a long drive, and a I’m not sure how much knitting I’ll get to do while there, but I’d like to be prepared. I’m also going to pack my needlepoint and some supplies for the kids. My mom always comes stocked with crafts and projects for them when we all need some quiet time, so I won’t need much.

Recently, a friend gave me some vibrant and beautiful yarn before heading across a few states for a move that had been in the works for a while. I did not know her long, but she is one of those people where we felt like we had known each other forever already. As soon as I saw the yarn a shawl began to take shape in my mind. For her.

As I searched for patterns and stitches, I imagined telling her a story. Showing her the beautiful pieces of her life- each amazing chapter- and some of the wisdom gained along the way. As I began working on that, I got to thinking about how all the different designs could be used to tell a story. Might have helped that I had been looking at the Road Trip Shawl on Ravelry.

Possibly my camping shawl.

With that in mind, I’m thinking of using some of the yarn I recently bought myself and picking stitches as I go, using the asymmetrical design. Each section will reflect a part of our vacation in the woods. I’m pretty excited about it. Now I get to go play with my yarn to figure out what to bring!

The Magic of Sunshine

Finally found the motivation to have the epic battle of getting the kids out of the house for a hike. A few of our favorite places are currently under construction and so our choices are a bit limited, but Coyler Lake is always a nice spot.

It’s a bit hard to believe our youngest will be five soon. She is so fearless.

The fishing here is catch and release and all these little fish just swim around in the weeds, waiting to get caught. The girls love watching them. Especially with daddy.

It wasn’t long before we needed a break. The air was really stagnant today and while it did not feel hot, we were sweaty and tired with little effort.

It still felt really good to be out amongst the trees and by the water. I try to encourage the girls to breathe deep and enjoy it. Especially on a Tuesday afternoon when there was almost no one else around.

And of course, I worked on my current WIP in the car. As much as I love driving, I really love having time to knit uninterrupted.