A Heavenly Christmas Display

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The Woods Behind Our House – December 2018

 

It was 2:00 A.M. when I was awaked to the sound of one of the dogs walking to the mudroom. When I didn’t hear him return I figured he needed to go outside. A bit begrudgingly I crawled out of bed and slipped on my bath robe. I grabbed my flashlight and walked to the mudroom to find Scout standing at the door. As I opened the door Trooper fell into line and followed Scout outside. It was still dark since the boys movement did not trigger the motion detector on the porch light. As I leaned out the door to wave my hand and turn on the light, I noticed that the woods behind our home displayed the most beautiful Christmas lights.

The early morning sky was dark but clear. The tops of the tall trees, a silhouette against the sky, were embellished with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of white lights. A glorious sight it was. The stars, though millions of miles, away appeared as though they were strung on wires that were woven throughout the tree tops.

It was only for a moment that I observed this stunning display as it disappeared when my movement made the porch light come on. As I crawled back in bed this vision lingered in my mind, erasing any resentment I felt for be awakened at such an early hour, and replacing it with gratitude for being witness to this Heavenly phenomenon.

Thanks for reading.

 

** The photo at the top is the same tree tops but taken at an earlier hour. I do not have a camera capable of capturing a photo of stars at night.**

Loom Knitting

If you have become frustrated by attempts to learn to knit, or crochet or even if you haven’t tried to knit or crochet but would like to learn to craft yarns into lovely things like hats, scarves and even afghans, loom knitting might be the answer.

I come from a crafty family – my grandmother, my mom and my mom’s older sister Ruth had all seemingly mastered the arts of knitting and crocheting among other things. My Mom’s younger sister Donna and my sister KC both do beautiful cross stitch and KC is sharing her skills in sewing by teaching any of us who want to learn – my sister JB and cousin Abbey now sew as well. Apparently despite attempts by Grandma, Aunt Ruth and Mom to pass on the art of crocheting to their offspring, it seems that I am the only one who was able to pick up the craft.

Recently my sister, KC, picked up a set of round knitting looms and found a video tutorial (linked below) for making hats. She discovered how quick and easy it was and decided we (sisters) should get together for a hat making day. It was a few weeks before we could schedule a time to all get together and in the mean time KC had made several hats on her loom. She also taught her grandson (I think he is 8 years old) how to make hats on the loom and he was planning to make them for several of his friends at school and his teacher. One day when visiting my dad KC was telling him about the craft and since he seemed interested she bought him a set of looms and a couple skeins of yarn. He called me that evening to tell me that he completed his first hat. 🙂

Last Thursday was hat day. The group included sisters KC and JB, along with my cousin Laurie, her daughter Abbey and Aunt Donna. Six of us in all and all having various experience with attempting to crochet. It was fun to listen to their stories of have they had tried to learn the craft.

“I can make a long chain,” Aunt Donna said “but never was able to turn.”

Laurie told us how patient Aunt Ruth was when trying to teach her, but how she ended up tearing it out to try again, and again, and again…

KC and JB agreed that Mom was “not so patient” when trying to teach them and they too had to undo the work over and over and over…

While Mom taught me the basics, how to make a chain, how to turn, and how to make a single crochet, I have mostly taught myself. It’s taken a lot of practice, a lot of trial and error, and A LOT of frogging, I have used stitch diagrams and nowadays I use online tutorials and videos. Learning to crochet is not easy.

Loom knitting on the other hand is pretty easy to learn. We spent about 4 hours together on Thursday. KC did most of the teaching and I helped when I could. We probably spent as much time talking and laughing as we did knitting and we took a lunch break, but by the time we left everyone had at least half of a hat finished. KC forwarded the video link to everyone so they would be able to view it if they had questions about how to finish their project.

If all of these people, who have struggled with learning to crochet, can pick up loom knitting so easily I figure it must be worth sharing. Below is the video link for the hat making tutorial. The second link has a chart for making different size hats.

I decided to include a third link which is a finger knitting tutorial. Finger knitting is much like loom knitting only using the fingers on your hand rather than a loom with pegs. If you are curious about loom knitting but aren’t ready to run out and buy a loom you might want grab some yarn and try finger knitting.

Thanks for reading and Happy Crafting! 🙂

 

 

 

http://www.loomahat.com/how-many-rows/

 

There Is Always More To Learn

I first learned to crochet more than 3 decades ago and have been seriously crocheting for about 8 years now. By “seriously” crocheting I mean I have been increasing my skills by trying different patterns, learning new stitches and stitch combinations, working with different yarns and threads, making things for gifts and even selling a few items.

Earlier this year I learned a new crochet term. The term is frogging. I first saw this term while reading another blog about crochet and I had to look it up to see what I had been missing. Come to find out frogging is something I had been doing all along. Yes, I am sure I frogged even my very first crochet project, and many of the projects that I have made have been frogged, including the one I am currently working on. Being able to frog a project is in fact why I would prefer crocheting to sewing. Come to find out frogging is the act of tearing out a portion of (or all of) the completed work. It is usually done because you are not satisfied with the results or because you have discovered a mistake you made and need to go back and correct it.

You may be wondering, as I did, why this is called frogging. I laughed when I read the explanation – because you rip-it, rip-it (sounds like a frog).

On a couple of my recent posts about crochet projects some readers have commented that I am “very talented”. While I appreciate these comments, I am humbled and I don’t want my posts to be misleading. I am not sure that “talent” is the right way to describe my crocheting. I often find myself frogging large portions of projects because I have made an error and have to go back and correct it, or even entire projects because the type of yarn wasn’t right or I just didn’t like the end product. The beauty in crochet is that you can easily “rip-it, rip-it” or undo the work and redo it without ruining the yarn. I think what you are seeing as “talent” is just plain stubbornness, or maybe determination,  coupled with the love of crafting.

There were also a couple of comments from readers who said something along the lines that they could “never do that”. I want to tell you – you really never know unless you try.  If you have tried and still can’t get it, I have great news for you. There is another (easier) option for yarn crafting that I intend to share with you. Like knitting and crochet you can create beautiful hats, scarves, fingerless gloves, and so much more. I will be blogging about it soon so be sure to watch for that post.

Until next time be well my friends. 🙂

 

 

Gangly and Awkward – Our Perfect Christmas Tree

It was sunny but cold Saturday when we went to the farm to cut our Christmas tree. Although having snow in the air and/or on the ground might have made the event more festive I was thankful for the ease of not having to trudge into the field though several inches of the white stuff. It was also nice that we did not have to clean up puddles of melted snow after setting up the tree in the living room.

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This is our third year of cutting a tree from our farm for a Christmas tree. When we bought the property in 2011 it had absolutely no evergreens growing on it. So in the spring of 2012 we bought 50 12-18 inch spruce seedlings (twigs) from our local Conservation District spring tree sale. When our trees arrived we had no idea where we were going to plant them all so we made a nursery area in our main garden. At least the trees were in soil and could grow there until we decided where their permanent home(s) would be. This also made it simple to care for them especially since it was a very dry summer and we spent much time watering.

By fall the twigs that we had planted had begun to take shape and turned into small trees. We then planted them along the north and east sides of the back field where we hoped they would eventually grow large enough to act as wind blocks and provide privacy. We have continued to nurture these trees, fencing them in the winter to protect against deer, mowing around them so they have not been choked out by weeds and watering them during extreme dry spells. Despite our best efforts we have lost some. Each year we order more seedlings to replace ones that we have lost and to increase the spruce evergreen population on the farm.

2016 was the first year we cut our own Christmas tree. Life had changed. The girls were no longer living at home. They had grown up and moved out. Some were married, some were in college, some were working and I had to accept that our days of the girls and I all getting together to put up a tree were over. It made me sad. Life had changed in another way. My husband who had always worked a job that took him away from home for weeks or months at a time and often missed the holidays with the family, was no longer working that job. He was home for the holidays. This made me happy. To help cheer me up he suggested we start something new – make Christmas ours – by cutting a Christmas tree that we had grown on our farm. I loved it.

I think it was in September this year when my husband pointed out the tree he thought we should cut and I agreed it was a good choice. It was a the right size since we set it up on the coffee table and it had a nice straight trunk. It’s not exactly picture perfect and probably not a tree I would have picked out had we gone to a place to purchase a tree. It has an awkward shape and the braches are gangly and reaching out in all directions, but I am delighted that this tree is a product of our farm.

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When we had the tree set up my husband helped me put the lights on the tree and the Angel on top, then I brought out my collection of Snow Angel ornaments to adorn the tree.

My Snow Angel ornaments are small angels each having a different pose and a tag attached that assigns them as a  different blessing. There are Blessing of Love, Blessing of Hope, Blessing of Generosity, Blessing of Playfulness… I have 36 of them in all.

When the girls lived at home and we decorated the tree together I would take out each Snow Angel, read the tag and assign it to a specific daughter to hang on the tree. They would read the tag out loud and everyone would talk and sometimes laugh about why I gave that particular ornament to that daughter. Sometimes it was a characteristic that I admired about that daughter and sometimes I thought that daughter may have needed more of that particular blessing. At times it was difficult to decide and the blessings were given out randomly. This activity was one we enjoyed year after year.

For the past two years, with the girls not being there to help decorate the tree, I had left the Snow Angels packed away but this year, I am not sure why, but I decided to bring them out.

As I hung the ornaments on those gangly braches that reached in all directions I noticed how easy it was for the ornament to hang freely, something I struggle with when decorating a “perfectly shaped” tree with nicely tapered branches. Thus increased my appreciation for this awkward looking tree.

The more I look at it the more beautiful it becomes. I see this tree as representative of our life. Much like this tree our family has grown and our lives have changed in the past 6 years. We have branched out in all different directions and each branch bears blessings. Yet like this tree each branch stems from and is supported by the same trunk. It binds us together. Our trunk is love – our trunk is Christ.

 

 

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Merry Christmas!