It begins...

A friend recently forwarded an email to me titled "The Invisible Mother," a short essay comparing the tireless and often thankless job of a mother to the builders of Europe's great cathedrals. Both give their whole lives for a work they will never see finished, both make sacrifices and expect no credit, and both are fueled in their passion by the faith that the eyes of God see every detail. The writer of the essay was inspired by the thought that our endless efforts in motherhood, invisible as they may seem, are worth it and can make an enriching life.

For many of us, the way we choose to hold our invisibility at bay is by creating something tangible. For me, my days often end with knitting - my love of fiber and the need to do something relaxing end up producing something I can hold and look at. Nobody will know how many times I swept under the high chair that day, or how many toys I picked up, or how many times I tried to coax a "please" or "more" or "sorry" out of my 5 year old. But a darling, handmade infant hat? That you can see.

I start new projects every day, and my 10 year old does the same. In this process of creating (and yes, often not finishing our projects!) we connect with each other and a bigger picture of ourselves in the process. My plan for this blog is to share the projects that excite me and bring some accessible proof of my existence in this invisible world of mothering!

So, this blog is dedicated to the mothers out there whose days are filled with the minutia of tasks that build our children and our families. I often tell people that I haven't decided what I want to be when I grow up. But for now, I am the builder of a great cathedral. With every shoelace tied, lunch packed, and forehead kissed, I build.

And I can hardly wait to create something new...

Friday, February 28, 2014

Last Day of February

The month of love is on it's way out. It's time to walk through the house and put away the heart paintings, the window clings, and the little bits of red that decorate here and there. And finally put away the Christmas wreath - oops.  Time to think GREEN thoughts!

My hyacinth, daffodils, and tulips have already nudged their little green tops out of the garden soil - I guess they don't know about the polar vortex arriving this weekend. :P

On this last day of February, I hung my final hearts on the girls' doors. Man, I love those people!

I took Brynn to Kindergarten roundup yesterday and filled out a ton of paperwork. She played in the classroom happily the entire time, requesting songs and wanting to dance and hear music.  I hope they will love her. I hope she will be happy. I hope she will find friends, acceptance, and compassion. I will try not to worry. :)

I finished another set of blocks using more of the blue Malabrigo of Mom's, and some pink I may have inherited from a friend? Can't remember.  They are soft, and hopefully not too "babyish" in color!

I'm going to attempt some embroidery on the next block, so stay tuned!

Tomorrow I am headed to an all-day Girl Scout Expo in Topeka, where I will hopefully add some resources and creative ideas to my leadership tool belt. I don't relish the thought of sitting around in uncomfortable chairs all day, and I probably shouldn't show up in yoga pants. :P  I had my leader hat on this afternoon for awhile too, filling my car to the brim with cases and cases of Girl Scout cookies. Can't wait to deliver in the snow - gack! Please, oh please, polar vortex - go North!

And on that note, I am going to take advantage of my free time, make some tea, knit for awhile, and catch up on some Jimmy Fallon. Happy last day of February, everyone!

Monday, February 24, 2014

I Love My Mom

Imagine, if you will, that a crafty knitter decides to organize a knitted afghan with her knitting group to be donated to Warm Up America. Said knitter mentions this fabulous plan to her knitting mentor (aka, Mom), who then offers to knit a block or two for the afghan. Awesome.

But then, said knitter and mentor mom get addicted to knitting blocks and are cranking them out daily, using all the fun patterns they've never gotten to try in their shared library of fabulous knitting books. Pictures are exchanged daily, and it is decided that these two addicts will knit their own afghan to donate, apart from the knitting group. Messages of excitement and praise are exchanged, and the knitting bond grows deeper. 

And then one night the knitter climbs into bed, worrying about her mom's upcoming gallbladder surgery, and starts to think about mortality.  One day...hopefully not for years and years and years...but eventually, one day, Mom won't be around anymore.  And the beautiful, amazing afghan that they knitted together with such joy and fulfillment is also gone. Gone to a stranger who may be grateful, but who won't be able to cherish it the same way the crafty knitter would. This amazing heirloom afghan that could be passed down, talked about, and enjoyed through generations of mothers and gone.  

So, the knitter has a good cry and tries to decide if she's being selfish and un-giving, seeing as how this afghan wasn't meant for her. She struggles - does she continue to let her mom happily knit away, not knowing that a secret plot has been hatched and is steadily growing stronger?

Then, a couple days later, Mom sends a picture with the message, "Just for fun I took this pic of my 19 squares!! Man, this is so fun. Getting awfully attached!!!" 

It's a done deal. There is no way this afghan is being donated. The knitter's heart would hurt forever if she let it go.  When the knitter emails her mom back and explains how she's feeling and asks if it would be ok if they made this blanket for her to keep and then make another one to donate, Mom's single world reply is..."Yes!!!"

Thanks, Mom.  I will cherish our blanket forever, just as I cherish you - all that you've given, all that you've taught, all the amazing things you are.

(Kleenex break.)

So now we have the fun of finishing a ton of block options which we can piece together the next time we visit - hopefully at the end of March. I'm happy to return to my knitting with a light heart!

In recent block news, I hit a bit of a bump with an entrelac block I had hoped to include.  I cast on 35, as I am doing with most of the other blocks, but I didn't calculate all the 'extra sideways width business' (ESWB - technical term) and so ended up with a block that is twice as long as it should be. Not sure what I'll do with it. :P And the variegated yarn I used was super lumpy bumpy chunky (LBC) and not the best for entrelac, so I will be finding a different yarn to attempt a repeat at some point.

Sticking with the same yarn scheme, I created two new blocks.  Love the icord heart, but am on the fence about the cabled icord hashtag thingy. Not nearly as cute as I'd hoped.

But I love the next block duo to bits! Using Malabrigo again, here's my "buttoned up" and "squared lamb's tail" blocks... 

Just realized I still need to block and dry the lamb's tail - oops! And with that, off I go. :)

Thursday, February 20, 2014


What a dreary, blah day. :P  Brad is travelling, and the girls are both at school this afternoon so I've been preparing for our Girl Scout "World Thinking Day" event tomorrow evening.

Area troops are gathering to celebrate Girl Scouts being worldwide.  Each troop was assigned a country to present and we will rotate around the room 'visiting' different countries.  Our troop was assigned Lebanon, and 10 of my scouts gathered a few weeks ago to put together our board.

They did a GREAT job, and are really proud of the information they chose to display.  It was suggested that troops bring SWAPs to hand out, but I TOTALLY forgot to have my minions work on that when they were here, so the job was left to me. I decided to stick to a simple flag SWAP, with information on the back of each one to tell the flag's history. I just put 80 wee flags on safety pins, and can cross that off my list!

Rowan's Junior vest was also in need of a few patches, so I tacked them on this morning and she's all set to represent.

And now...more afghan blocks!

I got excited about trying a "frame" and some bobbles in my next two blocks.  I had to re-adjust both patterns for less width, but they turned out pretty well!  (Btw, the awesome book I am using for the majority of these blocks is called "Knitting Block by Block" by Nicki Epstein.) I used leftover Cascade 220 yarn from way back when I knitted my girls' Christmas stockings, and from a time when I was making striped sweater vests for kids in Afghanistan.

The next two blocks took some simple lacework and cabling - using some lovely, soft yarn from my mom's stash. The cable doesn't quite want to stay where I blocked it, but should stretch a bit wider when sewn into an afghan.

The last two I'll share today were fun to make, albeit a bit scratchy.  The basket weave is a bit wobbly (I still struggle with tension issues when I switch from knit to purl stitches) and I couple of those cables look a couple rows too long, but oh well!  The yarn used was from my mom's stash, and if I remember correctly, it was a leftover bit from some yarn a friend brought her home from Ireland. A bit scratchy, but that's ok - it's authentic Irish wool!  I literally had about 3 inches of yarn left when I finished these. How about THAT for using up stash!

Tonight I will host my monthly knit night, which is always an evening I look forward to. Friends, food, wine, knitting, and awesome conversation.  Love my Knotty Knitters - see you tonight, ladies!!

Monday, February 17, 2014


I love my girls.  I will love them even more when they go back to school tomorrow!  Out of 11 school days so far in February, Brynn has attended 2. Between snow days, teacher professional days, school conferences, and the stomach flu, she has been home 9 of those days. S.t.i.r. C.r.a.z.y.

I have tried to squeeze some fun into our February, and despite a cranky 5-year-old, we have gotten some crafting done. :)

Starting on February 1st, I surprised the girls with a heart on their bedroom door that says "I love you because..." and each day of February I am adding another heart and another reason why I love them.  Brynn is fairly unaware of what's going on, but Rowan thanked me right away and within a couple days I found these on my bedroom door...

Yep, made me cry. Then a few days later Brad was having a tough work day and I mentioned to Rowan that she might want to be extra sweet to her Dad that day.  As soon as she finished her lunch, she made these for his office door...
Yep, he cried.

We kicked our month off right by having my mom come for a long weekend visit, so Grandma got to post some door hearts as well.  Rowan also taught us the technique of Imposto (sp?) painting, which she learned at school.  We picked up some sale canvas at Michael's and got to work. Mom's is my favorite, but she took hers home so I can't share it.  Here's Rowan's and mine:

I also bought myself a set of semi-decent paintbrushes, because I discovered after a night with friends at "Grapes & Paints" in Overland Park, that I totally dig painting!  You bring wine and snacks to share, and the instructor walks you through the steps of painting a sample they have chosen for the night. It was really neat to see how different the paintings were - even with the same color palette and design. Here's how mine turned out - I gotta say - I rocked it, dude.

(You'd think I could hold the camera straight to take a dang picture of it, though! Sheesh.)

But most of my crafting this month has been in the form of knitting 7" x 9" blocks for an afghan my Knotty Knitter group is putting together for Warm Up America. I am on FIRE! I have been pouring over books and designs and having the most fun pulling yarn from my stash to create a serious of individual works of art. It might be more than a little hard to give them away.  It is a walk down a knitted memory lane for me, remembering where the yarn came from.  It feels good to use up the bits of stash that have been sitting dormant in a drawer.

I kicked the project off using leftover yarn from a scarf I made my brother-in-law years ago. I was in the mood to cable, and chose these to start with.
Next, I used leftover wool from one of the first bags I felted about 8 years ago. I remember how much I loved the color, and how tangled and frustrating it was to attempt Intarsia for the first time!  So far, these are two of my favorites blocks. And now I can say that I've knitted a tree.

The next set (and I did these in sets of two so that there would be at least some coordinating colors in the patchwork afghan) uses leftover Malabrigo wool (heaven!) from both my mom's stash and mine.  We made a bunch of striped scarves last winter and ended up with a bag full of little bitty leftovers. Kinda funky, but it will add some pizazz! 

And I will leave it at that for today (I'm such a tease), although there are 8 more blocks to share another day. There's a little person in the next room who is NOT happy I'm within sight but out of reach.  Time to go squeeze a little girl. :)

Friday, February 14, 2014

I'm Back

Happy Valentine's Day!  It's been almost 2 years since my last post - life does have its phases, doesn't it?  I took time off blogging in order to "write" and got very little writing actually accomplished. :P  Oh well, it was a crazy 2 years!

Since I can't catch you up on all the missed crafting, I will just launch in with current projects and let you see for yourself what we've been up to...

My Girl Scouts (now 4th grade Juniors) would have received these crocheted hearts from me at our meeting before Valentine's Day, but alas, a snow day was called and our meeting cancelled.  And then I was going to bring them to school and hand them out the day of the Valentine party, but stomach flu hit my 5 year old, and home I stayed.  You can still give out heart-shaped gifts after Valentine's Day, right?

We had a little family exchange after heart-shaped pancakes this morning, and I gave each of my girls a knitted bag filled with chocolate treats and a new movie. (We'll be watching Despicable Me 2 tonight!) I only had one cabling goof-up on the purple bag, but Rowan doesn't care. She tends to always want the misfits anyway, so it works out. :)

Speaking of Despicable Me, our valentines this year to all of Brynn and Rowan's school friends were awesome, thanks to a Pinterest genius.  Valentine, you are one in a Minion! (Rowan hand drew a Minion on every single tag.)

Rowan also finished her first knitting project this month - a snake! Here she is attaching her crocheted tongue and sewing on the button eyes

I will leave you with that for today.  We are so thankful this Valentines' Day to be healthy, cozy, and warm and spending our day together as a family.  The world is white with snow, but the sun is finally peeking out and promising temps into the 60s later this week.  Spring is most welcome!