We are on our second snow day this week and the snow is still coming. We’ve probably gotten about 10-12 inches accumulation over the last three days. Around here that brings a lot of things to a halt. It has also been causing some heavy cabin fever.
I got to thinking about how Snow Days were such an excitement for the girls in the past. A break from the regular demands of school and socializing. Now, they mean not seeing their friends when they see so few of them as it is. No change to the monotony of this house. Even more time with their sisters. They bear it well and surprise me with their kindness and thoughtfulness, but they’re going to kill each other.
I also began thinking about perspective. It has always fascinated me. Especially how a slight shift of it can change everything. To understand or be aware of many perspectives opens you to a bigger world and, I have often found, makes it harder to be hateful, or angry. Our current time has really turned things on their head. It’s a bit like Wonderland.
So as we reach the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox, I’m looking for the shift in perspective. The shift to new growth and new life. I’ll be looking for signs of Spring.
It’s a bit of a strange feeling to be finishing this up. Especially knowing that I’m going to be packing this up until my sister receives her’s. It’ll be a surprise all over again for me too! I meant to sew that little hole up, but I’ve grown attached to it. And the bit where I added a second ball of yarn doesn’t look as obvious when it’s not all stretched out. And the missed cross-over in a braid was a fix from the back and I kind of liked the look of it, so I left that too.
I can tell which shawl I did the pattern on first. I tried to use my shawl as a practice, but there were a couple sections where I worked it on my sister’s first. This white cable section was the second go at it. I just love how similar they are and yet so different. The accidents or mistakes along the way only add to their charm and seem to fit perfectly with each of our stories.
I also really like having to block it out in sections. I’m reintroducing myself to something I’ve been working on for half a year now. Really getting to see each part in its own glory before finally holding the whole piece out for one really good look. My excitement might convince me to send it a little early. I still have about three months to wait, but I also still have the story to write, so we’ll see when I get to it. I still have their Christmas presents sitting on top of the fridge waiting for me to send them.
It’s quickly approaching the afternoon, but I’ve hit the ground running today. I packed the kids’ lunches last night and set their tablets to charge for their return to school. This makes a huge difference in the morning because now I could put breakfast in the oven, start my coffee, and then help my kids find clothes and help them put them on. My kids are not morning people.
My oldest complained that she could find her own clothes, but she put on what I gave her anyway. I had to fully dress our youngest, and then breakfast was ready. I try to make eggs or oatmeal most mornings, but occasionally I pick up egg and cheese things to heat in the oven. I’d say half their mornings are cereal and half of them are cooked. I’m feeling awfully proud of myself for that.
So far, the morning was going well, then the minutes started to zoom by and we were racing to brush teeth, put on shoes, coats (at least one of them always wears her coat, it’s a losing battle with our oldest), backpacks, masks, and grabbing lunches (which has been reduced to mostly packaged goods because I’m tired). Things descended into some yelling, but we were off and in pretty good moods. Yay! Then I headed to the grocery store before I lost my drive.
I’m still having trouble getting myself to the grocery store. It’s not even about the pandemic anymore. Ok, it’s a little about the pandemic, but really I am not good at being around too many people and having to think clearly about my grocery list at the same time. About ten minutes into my trip I start getting tired. My brain begins turning to mush and I feel my inner toddler wanting to throw a fit at the indignity of it all.
I drove home feeling a huge sense of accomplishment. Got myself a wonderful cup of coffee from one of my favorite local coffee shops and began to think about the huge task of dragging everything into the house. I made pretty quick work of it, though, and feel I have earned myself a rest. Next up on today’s agenda, some yoga and then some cleaning. Not much, but enough to make sure this is really a Monday.
As requested, I’m making my brother the Fourth Doctor Who’s scarf. I looked it up online and found one with a pattern from the BBC. I sketched it down on paper, bought the colors I was missing, and have been having a lot of fun with this.
After finishing my Sister Shawl (more on that to come), it got me thinking about this scarf for my brother. Then I remembered seeing something about the 13th Doctor Who wearing a scarf. I have yet to watch these episodes. I’m not willing to pay extra for them on a streaming service. I would rather buy the disc set, which I have done with the ninth, tenth, and eleventh Doctors. Anyway, I looked up her scarf, and while not knit, I could knit it up. The tough bit is that I’ll be knitting a really long scarf the long way. So I’ll be using a cast on method I’m not all that comfortable with yet, but I’ve been practicing. Can’t imagine trying that with a long tail cast on! Basically, the idea with this is that I’ve got a Sister Shawl with my sister and this way I’ll have a Sibling Scarf with my brother. Now I really need to watch the new Doctor Who.
I don’t really do much for this holiday, but I do enjoy celebrating being that much closer to Spring when Winter begins to get dreary and drag. This year hasn’t been as challenging weather wise, but I think we all need this exhausting condition we find ourselves in to lead us into some growth and renewal; to some change.
What I do do is put white snowflakes, yellow flowers, and hints of green around the house. I also begin to decorate for Valentines Day, so you’ll find hearts with a mix of the traditional colors (red, pink, and white) and some bits of green for the season around the house.
Most of the Solstice and Christmas stuff is all packed up except for those wandering decorations or books that don’t seem to want to be packed up with the rest. I even have a miscellaneous box for the items I find after the boxes have been buried under other holidays. So blessings on your home, may it be a safe haven from the chaos outside, until the ground thaws and the seeds that we have planted begin to grow.
I’ve begun working on a sweater for my husband, finally. And then of course he’s having more health issues. We’re not really sure what is going on just yet. He has another MRI later today. Last week I dropped him off at the ER and, since visitors are no longer allowed due to the pandemic, drove home to wait. The kids were at school, so to cope with my worry, I worked on his sweater.
I’m kind of wishing I had started with a smaller needle for the ribbing, but I think it will look fine once he’s wearing it. I also lost the measurements I had taken for everyone in the family. I have no idea which notebook I put them in. So I measured two of his sweaters that he wears often to get his measurements secretly. Part of me wants to tell him that I am finally making him a sweater. That maybe telling him would help his mental health through all of this. Then I think about what it will be like to give it to him without him having known that I had been working on it for months.
So, for now, I’m keeping it a secret. Every time I pick it up and knit my way around, I meditate on his health and send him Reiki healing. With him unable to work at the moment, finding time to get some of it done can be difficult, but somehow I’m managing to make progress. This is my first time making a bottom-up sweater. Of course it’s in the round; my motivation dies with having to make two of almost the same twice. There’s something about knitting it all at once that keeps me going. I also added only a bit of cabling to the front. This sweater is going to be pretty big, so I didn’t want to make myself crazy with too much cabling. I’ve already had to rip down and fix a mis-cross. I’m just so tickled that someone showed how they used dpn’s to fix cabling in one of the Facebook groups I’m in and it has been a game changer for me. Now I have no fear in fixing mistakes, if I catch them quick enough.
It definitely came out a bit larger than I had intended, but I did have a lot of fun making it. Once I’m finished with mine, I will write up the story that goes with it. I have until Spring to get it done so that I can send it to my sister for her birthday. I’m really excited and also have no idea if she will like it. Although, she once said to me she would wear anything I made her. Which, of course, made me tear up.
The beginning of the shawl. I started them at the campsite. There is almost nothing better than sitting in the sun knitting. A pebble pattern for the gravel road we came in on and camped alongside. It definitely stirs up some sensory memories for me. I hope it does for her too. I did some basic rope cables next to represent the ropes we used for the tent I slept in every night with at least one kid. And the ropes used for the rain tarp my step-dad put up (we helped, but it is his creation-he’s an engineer).
We went to the beach almost every day. It was our morning activity before lunch. It’s a bit hard to see, but the blue bit in the shawl does look like waves in the sand. Then more rope cables. My sister and her husband brought their dog and he has to be kept on a leash. He’s a wonderful dog, but not very comfortable around excitable children. So this is a bit representative of their pup being with us. I say pup, but he is a huge German Shepherd.
There were, naturally, trees everywhere. Leaves all over the place. So there is a lace leaf pattern to remind us of all those beautiful trees. And some of the fun games we played as well. Then I added some Viking braids and knots as a nod to our Irish, Scottish, Celt ancestry. I guarantee we have Norse is our ancestry, somewhere. We were never really the braid each other’s hair and talk about boys sort of sisters. We challenged each other and tried to make our own way in the world, but we always had each other’s back when it counted. We are strong and fierce women who not only survived a tough childhood, but thrived because of the family that was there for us (my family’s family is not just blood relatives). I also wanted a connection to our ancestry for both of us.
And the last section is a lacy star pattern for hanging out by the fire until the stars came out.
A few more rows in the cable section to go, and then it’s on to the lacy stars for the finish. Part of the Sister Shawl story is also the colors I chose. We both have white, her marble color is more of a blue while mine is more of a purple, and the self-striping yarn has a few different shades for each. I also did not repeat the colors in the same order. We come from the same family and have been given a lot of the same clothes, opportunities, friends, and such over the years – especially since we are so close in age – but we always put our own spin on everything and we are pretty different people. It’s been a crazy and trying journey, but I have the most amazing sister and am so happy that age has brought us closer together.
I had a few different ideas about what I wanted to write about today. I’ve been mulling them over and rolling them around all day. Once the kids were home from school I set my phone aside and we played charades while having a snack. Then chores and dinner. Only then did they turn the tv on, but we don’t have cable. No chance of hearing what’s going on out there in the rest of the world.
See, the kids have been almost literally climbing the walls the past week. Fighting, screaming, scheming, and really hitting each other. This is the most cooped up we’ve been through all of this because we’re not taking hikes or neighborhood walks like we usually do. We’re also coming out of another swing of too much tech. Now that they are back in school I have a much easier time implementing no tech, more family time, chores get done more easily. It’s still a fight, but once they see me hold my ground, we quickly get back into our routine. Hence, no way for me to know what had been going on while we ate our late dinner and tucked our kids into bed. That’s when I called my mom back. That’s when I was once more glued to my phone for a couple hours.
Keeping up with this insanity is exhausting and so time consuming. I just don’t have it in me to be as hyper focused on it all as maybe I should be. That isn’t to say that I have my head in the sand, but I do often hear the latest second hand and then look into it later. Scouring news article after article. I also have three kids who are quickly becoming young women before my eyes, and, in order for them to be able to make their own decisions and have the strength of character and of convictions to shape the future and their own, my main focus has to be them. Especially while most other influences are not an option in our current climate.
The best I can do right now is maintain my mental and physical health and try to teach, support, and help my girls to do the same for themselves. This is such a difficult time to grow up and I want them to be able to face the world without me or their father. We may have brought them into this world, but it is their lives to lead.
My new knitting rule is gifts are for birthdays and only for the most special and thankful of people. This is the first of the two Sister Shawls I’m making for my sister and me. I will be tucking it away for her birthday while I write up the story that goes with it and finish knitting mine. I have to block it in sections because these are all my blocking mats in action. And all my blocking pins. For the moment, anyway.
I have to be honest. I’m pretty stoked about this shawl. I have been working on it since July and each section represents a piece of our camping trip together and our journey as sisters. I’m so excited to have nearly finished it.
This is the final section and the pattern is called lacy stars. I’d like to think it looks like a night sky filled with stars. Sleeping in a tent, under the stars, was absolutely wonderful. I separated the lacy sections with cable sections to represent our ancestry and how we are linked as a family.
I had a little trouble with this leaf section in the beginning, but quickly got the hang of it. Our campsite was beneath a canopy of leaves. The girls played with leaves and made leaf boats. My sister wrote out a scavenger hunt list for them and my girls worked together to find all the items. This included differently shaped leaves. There were also a lot of inch worms. The girls really enjoyed getting them onto a leaf and putting them back towards the trees. Or watching them crawl across their hands.
And into the final stretch of blocking! This section of blue is one of those sand patterns. It made me think of our trips to the beach almost every day while we were camping. My sister and I got to have some nice conversations standing in the water, soaking up the sun. We watched the next generation of sisters play and explore in the water with Oma close by.
The very first section is a pebble stitch and made me think of the gravel road we drove in on and camped alongside. And the day my sister let me drive the two of us into town for a few things. My sister hates my driving. I just have a different style. I drive more like my mother than I care to admit, but seriously, having kids does something to your brain! And when you’re typically the driver, it’s hard to be the front passenger. That’s why I tend to knit in the car. Anyway, I think her disapproval of my driving style has now become a running joke with her. On the way back in, we stopped to fill the giant water jugs our step-dad brought for us all to use from one the spigots. We had to hold the jugs up because of how the water came out. It was hilarious.
We made it! 2020 is over. Only one of us didn’t last until midnight this year. We did not watch any ball drop or do a count down, but instead watched Princess Bride and then Men in Tights.
I’m also trying to get a bit more organized again. I’ve been going room by room and throwing things away and boxing up donations. I reorganized my yarn a bit because the holiday rush got things a bit messy. I wasn’t supposed to knit more than a couple gifts this year and I did more than that. This year I’m going to stick to my new rule: no more knitting Christmas gifts. I’m done with the rush and the less than stellar response to what I’m making.
That’s not to say that I don’t have people who truly appreciate what I make them, but between knitting hats for selling at work, crocheting sweaters for my kids, and what I want to make myself, I have to get practical about what I can actually accomplish. My dad is definitely knit worthy and so he got a ‘one of a kind’ version of the hats I sell (stag horn cables on the sides). My sister is amazing and wears everything I make her, so she gets fingerless mitts that she’s been asking for and a ‘one of a kind’ version of another hat I sell (the ‘arrow’ style cable down the front). Her husband is absolutely wonderful to her and is great with his nieces, so he gets some nice fingerless mitts too.
So I’m ringing in the New Year by clearing out the clutter and focusing on the important stuff. I am no longer stressing myself out trying to go above and beyond based on other people’s expectations. I am simply going to enjoy life and soak up this time with my kids and my husband.