The knots in life

Ever gone on a complete binge of your favorite activity? That’s me and knitting right now. I started a few weeks ago with a pair of socks, then it was the cowl I posted a picture of on my last blog, and now I’ve moved on to a scarf I’m planning for a Christmas gift. Thanks to Ravelry, I have plans for a lace shawl and maybe a tam in my future. I don’t even know if I could pull off a tam, but the pattern I like uses cables and I’ve never tried those before.

I think knitting has become an important part of healing for me. At first it was heavy academic reading, then weeding the garden. Knitting is relaxing and mind-numbing and those are two very much needed things in my life right now. Keeps me from having too much to “think” and concocting issues and stressors that aren’t really there. I can’t let my mind wander if I’m counting stitches. I don’t feel like living dangerously. Ha.

Knitting is also become a bit of a metaphor for life for me now. It’s a series of knots, holes, and binding off, similar of life’s disappointments, the holes of people who have come and gone, and the loss of things that weigh heavily on us. In the end though, the knitted piece becomes a work of art. Simple yarn is transformed into something beautiful, made with love, that will warm and bring comfort to either ourselves or others. That’s a goal I’m working towards.

 

Falling down the Ravelry rabbit hole

This is my mother’s fault.

A few days ago, my mom showed me several shawl knitting patterns she’d found on Ravelry.com. I’ve really never tried out the site, but I was intrigued enough to register. I was looking for a cowl pattern for a skein of alpaca yarn I bought at a local arts and crafts festival last month.

And boom. Fell down the rabbit hole. I’ve spent more time adding patterns to my library than knitting. Whoops.

I’m working on my first lace project, titled The Lazy Knitters Cowl. It’s a very easy-to-follow pattern and is perfect to try if you’re a beginner.

Here’s my progress so far:

image

The pattern can be found here: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/the-lazy-knitters-cowl

Are you on Ravelry? Wanna be friends? My username is juliannaknits.

Seasons

Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?

- “Landslide” – Fleetwood Mac

 

I’ve heard the cicadas and the crickets singing for a few weeks now. The black walnut and sweet gum trees are shedding their leaves. Summer’s fading. Autumn is coming.

My husband returned to school to teach this week. As I was packing his lunch bucket a few days ago, I realized that I’d forgotten to wash the chip container before I’d stored it away for the summer. Then it hit me – the last day he used it was the day our world crashed three months ago. The container, along with so many other of my usual summer chores, was shoved aside and neglected.

My entire summer feels like a blink. Time and the world have marched on when I’ve wanted it to stop. It’s been occupied by tears, uncertainty, frustrated and soul-searching journaling, appointments, and questions that don’t have answers. The first time off from work I’ve had in two years was spent planning a funeral instead of managing sleepless nights and feedings like it was originally intended. It feels like a week, not three months.

But I’m grateful that summer is my grieving season. Feeling the sun on my shoulders while hanging laundry on the line or watching the chickens scratch around in the yard has been a balm for my soul.

Our small garden this year has been a source of comfort. Hoeing it to tame the weeds is one of the few things I can do that makes my brain completely shut up because I’m too busy concentrating on not wacking off my toes with the hoe to think about anything else. Sometimes I talk to God while I’m weeding, hoping he’s working on the figurative weeds in my life while I’m trying to work on the literal ones.

I see life mirrored in the garden. The leaves on my sunflowers are marked with the holes made by hungry insects, yet they still manage to thrive, grow taller than me, and bloom despite the adversity. Their seeds I planted went through a complete destruction before they transformed into something beautiful.

When the autumn comes, the sunflowers will wither and die. The trees will lose their leaves and go to sleep in a blaze of color. I will face “first” milestones that won’t be what they should. I pray that the little flicker of hope I have will turn into a blossoming spring and I will thrive just like my sunflowers when summer comes again.

 

Crossroads

So, how ya been?

It’s been almost a year since I’ve posted. Grab a cup of tea and pull up a chair. Things may get a little heavy.

I’ve spent some time thinking about this little blog recently. This post has been mulling around in my head for a few weeks. I’ve wondered if I should just let this blog fade out into the Internet, or pick it up, dust it off, and write again.

But I can’t pick up where I left off. The girl that wrote those posts doesn’t exist in that Pollyanna-ish world anymore.

I’m not one to post details of my personal life on the Internet for strangers to read. I do prefer some element of privacy in this digital world. However, I will say this: when I last wrote in September, Sax Guy (my husband) and I learned that our lives were starting a new chapter that we had quietly saved up for and planned for a couple of years. We eagerly spent nine months dedicating ourselves for the next part in our story. Then, earlier this summer, someone very, very dear to us unexpectedly passed away. Blindsided doesn’t even begin to cover it. Read into that what you will.

So now I’m a woman on a road that I never imagined or wanted to be on. This road has had me questioning my faith, what I thought I knew about life and more.

With that said, back to this blog. I’ve wrestled with the idea of blogging again. Part of me just wants to leave it be and peace out. Another part of me is chiding myself for becoming a bit of a hermit, because that’s what grieving does to a person. But, to my surprise, it’s still being read in my absence. People have told me they miss my posts.

When I started this blog, it was just for something to do. A project. I wasn’t expecting to become famous or leave any significant mark. In the grand scheme of things, I’m no Pioneer Woman or Joy The Baker. I honestly really don’t have much to offer that hasn’t been written by others a lot better than I can put into words. I don’t have a fancy camera. I don’t have a fancy life. I have a day job, a cat that pukes on the floor a few times a week, seven chickens, and another cat that’s taken upon himself to wake me up nearly every morning out of a dead sleep by licking my armpit.

Those of us who have gone to college for writing degrees of some sort were taught to “write what we know.” And here’s what I know: life is messy. Messy is honest. Honesty is beautiful, and that is the road I’m on.

This redhead can say she has award-winning apple butter

All of that apple and canning work actually paid off this year! I won a grand total of $1.25 and a third-place ribbon, but hey, I won!

I entered a pint of apple butter, a pint of bread and butter pickles, and a quart of green beans into our county fair this year. The fair opened last Friday and will close Thursday. This is the first time I’ve entered anything I’ve canned in our fair (Roberta, my hen, made her debut in the photography category three years ago), so I was a little nervous. I was so excited when I saw that my apple butter took third place!

My apple butter is on the bottom shelf with the white ribbon.

My apple butter is on the bottom shelf with the white ribbon.

Unfortunately, my beans and pickles didn’t place in the top three. However, I did get a chuckle when I realized my bread and butter pickle recipe was the only one with onions in it. (Sorry, not sorry judge!)

My pickles are in the jar on the top shelf on the left. At least my  jar was placed next to the first-place winner, right?

My pickles are in the jar on the top shelf on the left. At least my jar was placed next to the first-place winner, right?

The apple butter recipe is from my maternal grandmother and the pickles are a recipe that’s a family favorite from my paternal grandmother. We like our bread and butter pickles with a ton of onions in them, so I pack them in the jar. Makes for better pickle sandwiches that way!

I canned more apple products than anything this year thanks to Ohio’s bumper apple crops. About 30 pint jars went to apple butter, which I plan to give as Christmas gifts this year. Now I can joke that the recipients are getting award-winning apple butter!