Yarn Along

If you've listened to the podcast, you know two of my favorite things are knitting and reading... so how come I never heard of Ginny Sheller's Yarn Along until now? While Ginny's weekly Yarn Along started in the Fall of 2010, I just recently discovered it. If you're unfamiliar, every Wednesday, knitters post current projects along with their current reads in order to inspire other knitters and readers.

How could I not join?

Here's a pic of my current project and book:

I'm working on The Sampler Girl's Jane Eyre shawl in Berroco Remix in the color Buttercup and reading Stephanie Barron's newest in her Jane Austen mystery series, Jane and the Waterloo Map.  The shawl is a pleasure to knit; while it's worked in a worsted weight, the suggested yarn is primarily cotton and linen so it's the perfect accessory for those of us who spend a lot of time in air conditioning during the summer.  I hardly ever choose golden yellow to knit or wear but fell in love with this color when I saw Tanya's version in the ravelry group.

With regard to my book of choice, the newest Jane Austen mystery takes place soon after Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo and involves the murder of a soldier and disappearance of what else? A map!  Jane's family, especially her brother Henry, once again provide support for our favorite author turned sleuth.  This installment also features Raphael West, son of the artist Benjamin West, who was introduced in an earlier book.  I don't want to give too much away if you haven't read the series, but just because Jane spent her life single doesn't mean she never had admirers or love interests!!

That's what I'm knitting and reading this week - check out Ginny's blog for more inspiration and join us with some of your own!

Confessions of a First Time Bible Study Leader

Have you ever received a recommendation for a Bible study that sounds so good you immediately go on Amazon, use your college kid's Prime account and have it delivered the next day? When it arrives, you read the author's intro, flip through the study checking out the sidebar comments (who doesn't love "fun facts"?), and complete the first day of the study right then and there. For the next week or so, you sit down every day at your "quiet place" with your Bible, pretty gel pens, and washi tape and work through the daily lessons.

Then life happens.
Epic fail on my part with this study ... I had high hopes ...
That's a post earlier this week by one of the women who joined my Facebook group with the intention of working through Angie Smith's Seamless Bible study. All our good intentions fell away in the face of life's events. That member voiced what I knew was my truth, but I'd been too afraid to face it.

Life crashed in to my well laid plans.

Over the past few weeks, my Bible study workbook moved from one side of my desk to the other, but I never opened it. I felt I'd let down the women who joined that group by not setting an example of a woman who sticks to a plan and encourages others to work along with her. My first outing as an online Bible leader, and I'd failed miserably.

I finally got up my courage and responded:
We could all just decide to start again and take as long as we want.
No stress, no blame, right? Then a group member said,
That might be a nice spring thing to do!
Putting aside the fact that it was a cold rainy day more like March than May when I read that, I knew she was on to something! Just because I failed to carry out my plan didn't mean I had to abandon the plan, and more important, I wasn't the only one struggling. Encouragement should come from all group members for any group to thrive not just the leader, and this one simple sentence set me back on the path.

Sometimes we just need forgiveness from others, ourselves, and even God, and we need to adapt to changing situations, much like the people in the Old Testament. Abraham, Moses and David come to mind, but that's because I'm only up to week 4 in this study.  Could be a lot more people receive forgiveness and adapt by the time I get to the Book of Revelation!

So I'm going to begin again much like springtime, and forgive myself for something very minor and remember that God forgives actions both small and big. If you'd like to join me and the encouraging women of the Knit Read Pray Bible study group, come visit us!  No stress, just lots of encouragement!

The New Adventures of an Old Cross Stitcher

Back in the days of Bon Jovi and 21 Jump Street, I  was a cross stitcher. In fact, I learned needlepoint during the Carter administration and graduated to cross stitch about the same time Ferris Bueller took that day off. I worked on various projects in the evenings after work until my daughter was born.  After her arrival, I stitched two small designs for "Grandmother" and "Grandfather" then said goodbye to hoops, threads and cloth for over 2 decades.

Recently, not one but a few of the podcasters I watch or listen to mentioned cross stitch. I posted a few pics of my projects from back in the day on Instagram - thanks #tbt - and as often happens, a follower (hi @carriefluter!) encouraged me to start again. Social media, the land of enablers!

The next day, I spent way too much time during my prep looking at cross stitch patterns and ignoring my stack of grading. (Don't judge; it's May.) The phrase "I am no bird" was rattling around in my head after reading Jane Eyre not once but twice since the beginning of the year, but I couldn't find a Jane Eyre inspired design I truly liked.  Then I came across this design in the SimplySmart Etsy shop:

After printing the pattern, I realized the colors were remarkably close to the cover of my 1968 version of Jane Eyre:

I even invested in a handy dandy q-snap with my Teacher Appreciate Week Amazon gift card!!

It's true, I've put down my knitting at times and picked up cross stitch once again.  On the next podcast, I'll talk more about the new adventures of an old cross stitcher, but for now, feel free to continue the enabling with your comments here or on Instagram!

Summerhill Sheep Farm

I recently started an AMA (Ask Me Anything) topic in the Knit Read Pray Ravelry group.  This is a thread I love to read in other groups, so I thought I'd give it a go in mine.

Almost immediately, I wondered, what if no one asks me any questions?  Thankfully, Andrea, one of the first group members, posted this question:
I am curious as to how you came to be a shepherdess, how does the wool from Jacob sheep compare to other types of wool... and do you expect to add any other animals?
Great question!  My former in-laws own Summerhill Sheep Farm in Morganiville, NJ, and raise Jacob Sheep; these are the sheep I mention in the podcast.  Their farm is about 30 minutes northwest of where I live at the Jersey shore, and they've owned that farm for about 12 years.  Tom, my former stepfather-in-law and the "shepherd" at Summerhill, is very active in the Jacob Sheep Breeders Association in New Jersey and involved in the organization of the Garden State Sheep and Wool Festival every September.  He loves Jacob sheep so no need for other breeds on the farm!

I've been lucky enough to go to both Maryland Sheep and Wool and Rhinebeck as their guest over the years, and a few years ago, Tom was kind enough to drop off some fleece at Rhinebeck with representatives from a mill in Pennsylvania.  That spring, we picked up a big box of gorgeous worsted Jacob wool yarn, and I've been knitting with it ever since.  This yarn is a deep gray (we didn't have the cream and black portions of the fleece separated), and almost water proof.  The fabric it makes is very squishy and just becomes softer and softer with wear.  I've made a bunch of accessories with it, but the overall favorite is my version of the Outlander cowl I made for Sarah a few years ago.  She's spent 2 winters in Philadelphia, and this cowl served her well.  I've also made versions for her friends - it's a popular pattern for the urban millennial!

Now the question is, why am I talking about a farm owned by my ex's family? Not only are they wonderful with my children, I've know my ex-mother-in-law since I was 19, and we've remained close.  We've spent a lot of time at the farm over the years as a family, and as someone who loves yarn, having a farm to enjoy and fiber to knit adds another wonderful layer to a lifelong loving relationship!

If you'd like to see more projects with wool from the farm or the recent babies born to the flock, check out my Instagram.  There are a few hanks of our yarn for sale in our etsy shop as of the date of this post.  Please join us on Ravelry to keep up with future questions as well as knit-a-longs and other crafty discussions!

Congratulations! It's a Blog

Spring is the time for rebirth and renewal, so in the spirit of the season, I (re)created a blog.  I've done this before, and I hope the content of this blog reflects what I've learned since I started my first blog in 2010.  If you found me via the podcast, welcome! If you found me via Instagram or Facebook, welcome! If you found me through another blog or podcast, welcome!  If you wonder about all these connections, just look to the nifty navigation at the top.

Why blog? Why now? Why Blogger? Great questions!
  1. I have experiences I want to share between monthly podcasts, the content of which transcends platforms like Instagram and Facebook.  
  2. Blogs are back on my radar! After the demise of Google Reader, I stopped reading blogs on a regular basis. Boy have I been missing out! Through other podcasts, I've discovered some great blogs and as a result, discovered a desire to start writing my own blog again.
  3. I fought the use of sites like Squarespace and insisted that Wordpress was the "professional" way to go.  "Blogspot" in the URL for a blog? Pshaw! (OK, I just like typing "pshaw", I never actually say it.) Insisting on Wordpress directly conflicted with the concept that "content is king"; I lost sight of that in the pursuit of design.  A Wordpress based website just takes too much time away from the real purpose of a blog - writing!
In the coming days, weeks, and months, look for posts about what I'm knitting (or want to knit), what I'm reading (or have on my TBR list), and any Christian books and studies I'm working through.  If you wonder what those topics might entail, give the podcast a listen - there's a very nice link in the sidebar.