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Posts Tagged ‘knitting’

freesia flower yellow candle table

There’s rain in the forecast today. And tomorrow.

I’m not entirely sorry about this: it is February, after all. And it isn’t snow. And Monday was gloriously sunny. Besides – I can hear my dad’s voice in my head, as he looks out across a drought-browned West Texas lawn – we need the rain. Those spring flowers and trees I love so much won’t grow without it.

One of my favorite hashtags on Instagram is #chasinglight. It yields gorgeous photos of skies, sunsets and small everyday scenes. And it reminds me to do what I always feel the need to do in the depths of winter: chase a little light of my own.

Because it’s grey outside, I’m also chasing color this week, and I thought I’d share some of it with you.

In addition to the sprig of freesia above (a gift from my ever-kind florist), I spotted the season’s first crocuses – they’re early! – in Cambridge this week.

purple crocus flowers light green leaves

The skies may be grey today, but on Monday morning, they were my favorite deep, bold blue.

blue sky red brick harvard yard

I’m reading my friend Christie’s gorgeous memoir, which is a feast for the eyes and the soul. (Bonus: it happens to match my potato-chip bag.)

roots and sky book table sunglasses

This bright pink cowl took me ages to finish, but is providing a much-needed shot of color and warmth.

katie selfie pink cowl

Where are you finding color and light these days?

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I’ve been an avid reader – and rereader – almost since I learned how to read. (Just ask my parents, who swear they read Ned’s Numbers to me a million times when I was a toddler.) I’ve read – and reread – hundreds of books since then, but a few of them have truly, powerfully changed the way I see the world. This list is not exhaustive, but contains a handful of the gems that marked some important shifts for me. (Inspired by Roxanne’s Books Well-Loved series.)

1. Little Women, first read when I was seven – the first story that completely, wholly absorbed me and made me want to read it again and again. (Which I did.)
2. Walking on Water, my “back-door” introduction to Madeleine L’Engle (now one of my favorite authors) and her oeuvre of beautifully written, thoughtful, moving books. (And, eventually, a topic for my master’s thesis.)
3. Watch for the Light, a book of Advent reflections that has shaped my relationship to liturgy, and indeed my faith.
4. Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, which constantly pushes me to be more honest in my writing.
5. The Sound of Paper by Julia Cameron: given to me as a college graduation gift by J, it has powerfully shaped my creative life.
6. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, which revolutionized the way I think about food and seasonal eating.
7. The Cool Girl’s Guide to Knitting by Nicki Trench, which helped reinforce a lot of the basics for me.
8. A New Kind of Christian by Brian McLaren, which introduced me to the concept of postmodern Christianity.
9. The reading list for my World Lit class, my senior year of college – most notably Saramago’s Blindness and Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things. Horrifying, heartbreaking, powerful stories with pitch-perfect writing, and so many different ways of seeing the world.

What books have changed your life?

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Making a birthday wish last year

I am a big fan of lists, as you all know, and in recent years I’ve loved the idea of making a list on my birthday – of things to accomplish, enjoy, start and/or finish before my birthday. Twenty-eight sounds awfully grown-up – but here I am! – and here’s my list:

1. Try out the Project Life system to document either some of my time in Oxford or our first year in Boston
2. Go to New York to see Ben in The Lion King (and visit friends)
3. Plan a trip to Europe/Oxford
4. Hang out with my family in Texas
5. Dig into some classics I’ve never read
6. Visit a place I’ve never been (this one comes up every year for me)
7. Clean out my desk at home (currently full of stuff I don’t use)
8. Visit my loves in Abilene
9. Go apple picking again
10. Knit some swoon-worthy autumn accessories
11. Buy a new pair of black high-heeled boots
12. Keep in better touch with far-away friends (stolen from Bethany’s list)
13. Explore more of New England
14. Try at least 2 new recipes a month
15. Visit half a dozen area bookstores I haven’t been to yet
16. Go see The Civil Wars in concert with my Jeremiah
17. Take another writing course (at Grub Street or Emerson)
18. Take a financial management course with J
19. Put together new outfits from pieces I already own
20. Schedule a checkup (it’s been far too long)
21. Start or join a book club
22. Buy a sassy red handbag
23. Drive up to New Hampshire or Vermont to see the fall foliage
24. Fill a new notebook with a super-secret writing project
25. Get a Massachusetts driver’s license
26. Learn to pay attention to one thing at a time
27. Send 28 handwritten letters (Christmas cards don’t count)
28. Go to a literary festival/conference/event

Do you make lists like this? If so, I’d love to know what’s on them!

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I am a semi-seasonal knitter. Contradiction in terms, I know – but I don’t stop knitting altogether in the summertime. I like to have a project on the needles, so I can pick it up if I find myself with a seat on the T (a rare boon), or restless while I’m watching Mary Tyler Moore, or simply with twitchy hands in need of distraction. But, I admit, my knitting slows waaaay down in the summer.

That being said, when my friend Amanda sent out a call for knitting help this spring, I knew I’d be knitting up a storm this summer.

Amanda is the founder and stateside director of Sanctuary Home for Children in Tenali, India, an orphanage that now houses about 100 kids. (They started in 2006 with 30 children.) When Amanda and some other SH board members and sponsors visited Tenali last December, they noticed people wrapping up in hats and scarves – though the weather (in the 60s and 70s) felt balmy to them. The orphanage’s operating funds cover basic clothing for the children, but extras can be hard to come by, especially multiplied by 100. So when Isaac, the on-site director, asked if we (the sponsors and board members of SH) could knit some hats for the children and staff members, we all dove into our stashes and pattern books.

Some of the hats I've knitted for SH

I love knitting for SH for all the same reasons I love knitting for Nest Maine and the Innocent Big Knit – it feels good to help people in a  tangible way, and it’s fun to get creative with my stash at the same time. With SH, there’s an added bonus: I feel a personal connection to these kids, especially the two I sponsor, and to Amanda. (I wrote a piece about SH for Halogen TV a while back.)

I’m up to seven hats so far, with an eighth on the needles and a couple more in the queue. My stash bin is lighter, my needles are busy, and I love imagining the SH kiddos wearing our handknits this winter. (P.S.: if you’d like to help support the work of SH, donations are always welcome.)

What craftiness are you engaging in these days?

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I’ve had a hard time transitioning back into normal life after Bethany’s beautiful wedding. For one thing, arriving home on Sunday, tired and mussed with a suitcase full of dirty laundry, and then having to go to work on Monday feels like a cruel joke. For another, we had yet more chilly rainy days last week (I am so over the chilly rain). And finally, we had to say good-bye to a couple of friends this weekend – Scott and Beth, some of our best Boston pals, are moving soon. To Montana. Which is just ridiculously far away.

But, as she often does, Sarah came to the rescue yesterday, with a lovely post on the little lifesavers – the things that just make you feel good, that allow you to stop and breathe in and enjoy, and forget for a moment about the to-do list and those piles of clutter that never seem to go away and that stubborn sink that just stays full of dishes. She listed her little lifesavers, which (of course) inspired me to list mine. So here they are:

1. Splurging on brand-new, delicious hardcover books. I don’t do this often, but it’s always satisfying.
2. Children’s lit. This week it’s the books about the Moffats. So fun.
3. Sitting on our wee balcony, with my journal and the flourishing patio garden.
4. Trying a new recipe (last night: oil and garlic pasta sauce from Cooking with My Sisters. YUM).
5. Fresh nectarines.
6. Fruity summer candles.
7. Good pens.
8. Phoning a friend.
9. Tea at my desk.
10. Taking the long way to work across the Common, and breathing in the fresh green smells.
11. My Norah Jones Pandora radio station.
12. Shopping my closet for new outfits. (Amazingly satisfying when I pull it off.)
13. A new shawl pattern for some delicious yarn.
14. Looking forward to a Cape Cod getaway.

What are your little lifesavers – this week, or all the time?

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1. A batch of Ron’s oaty scones.
2. A wee baby hat for a friend, out of leftover sock yarn.
3. A patch for some jeans, rendering them wearable again.
4. A few new outfits with items I already own.
5. Quite a few blog posts.
6. A patio container garden. (So far: mint, basil and a geranium.)
7. Packing lists.
8. Order out of chaos in our apartment.
9. Lots and lots of wedding decor.
10. A couple of summery salads.
11. Cream of jalapeno soup on a chilly night.
12. Pages of scribbled ideas in my journal.
13. A strawberry-rhubarb crisp.
14. A few simple, healthy dinners.
15. Packages to send to friends.

What are you making these days? (Check out the wonderful stuff happening at 30 Days of Creativity. Inspiring!)

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It’s taking me a long time to finish knitting anything these days – partly because I’m not watching much TV, and partly because I’m just so darn ready for warmer weather. Knitting more hats, fingerless gloves, or anything else warm and cozy feels like tempting fate.

However, I did finally finish a pair of Evangeline gloves with Madelinetosh DK yarn from my frogged Vine Yoke Cardigan, and I’ve been wearing them on my chilly commute. (And to a cafe or two.)

What are you knitting, or otherwise making, these days?

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