Ten years after a miracle

It’s been ten years since one of our twin sons almost died in an accident at the beach. (You can read my original post about it here.) Ten years since a stranger intervened and changed the course of our lives. Ten years of being able to hug this child, watch him grow, nurture his faith, support his dreams, enjoy his quirkiness, and give thanks every single day that he is still with us.

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Ten years is a long time in the life of a child – it is the difference between a preschooler and a teenager! – but a short time for a mama. Sometimes, I am separated from the horror of nearly losing him by only the barest breath.

Even so, it is easy to forget how precious each day is, how precious every breath is, and how none of it is a given. I’ve had 3653 days with my son that I almost didn’t have, yet many of those days have been marred by my impatience, ingratitude, inattention, and other parental failures. Ten years after a miracle, it is still easy to take things – and people – for granted too often. Which is why anniversaries (not just this one, but also birthdays and anniversaries of both love and loss) hold such importance for me. These markers in time invite me to remember, to reflect, and to recognize again the profound gift of life.

It has been exactly a year since I wrote my last blog post (a major writing project was demanding all my “free” time, and now that it’s completed, I’ve got another huge project on my plate), but I had to come by and mark this anniversary in this space once more. It’s hard sometimes for me to talk about this experience publicly, because I know so many people who have suffered the loss of a child (including in sand hole collapses), and I don’t want my own celebration after a near-loss to be somehow insensitive to parents who grieve. And yet it is precisely this – the fact that any one of us could lose any beloved and precious person at any time – that compels me to write. To live in the awareness of the fragility of life is to discover that every breath is a miracle, every moment we have with anyone we love is a miracle. I got a real honest-to-goodness miracle on the beach that day, thanks to a stranger who was radically open to the stirrings of the Spirit. But each of us is surrounded by miracles every day, and the world is so much better when we treat each other with the awe and wonder and gratitude befitting this reality.

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Last summer, we had the amazing experience of meeting Erika Weiland, the woman who saved our son and changed our lives. We had a beautiful time of connecting with her and her dear family (including her brother, who helped pull our son from the sand hole!), and hearing again the story of that day from her perspective. She is an absolute treasure and her faith is an inspiration. I am forever grateful for her and for her openness to being used by God for good.

Not all of us get the chance to save somebody’s life. But every day we have a thousand chances to treat each other as miracles and to make their lives – and the world – better. Ten years after our miracle, I am committed more than ever to doing my part.

[I can’t talk about this story without also reminding everyone about the dangers of sand hole collapses. I had never heard of this happening before it happened to us, but now I read stories of it happening every year, and most of them end in tragedy. Yet it is so easy to prevent – I’ve written about that here.]

 

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Almost Mindless Knitting

Last summer, I found myself very briefly between Big Events in my life, and I needed to knit something that didn’t matter. Too much else mattered in my life at that time for me to also be knitting anything with emotional investment. Besides, my mind felt too soft to focus on anything that required much brain power.

What do you make when you need your hands to be active but your mind to rest? What do you make when you need to feel like you’re moving forward but you don’t want to put too much hope in the outcome?

I made dishcloths. I haven’t made dishcloths in years – they just aren’t the type of thing I typically want to spend my time on. But it turns out that all the things that make me usually shy away from them are what made them exactly the right project for me last August.

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This is the Almost Lost Washcloth, a round scalloped washcloth I find perfectly adorable. I can’t tell you what yarn or needles I used, because I kept no notes (and didn’t even log it on Ravelry until today). It was just some cotton yarn I had on-hand. I made these in almost no time at all.

And quickly followed up with a Mini Almost Lost Washcloth, equally adorable but on a smaller scale.

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The thing about knitting dishcloths is that, unless you are giving them away, it really doesn’t matter if you make mistakes in them, because they will still be perfectly useful These are by no means perfect – I think the wee one even has an extra petal in there – but the knitting was therapeutic and the final product is functional, plus the colors make me happy. Knitting therapy at its finest.

On the 9th Day of Christmas … I Collapsed

Thank you for your very kind words on my post yesterday. I’d planned to come back today and actually talk crafting, as well as do some crafting, as well as take the Christmas tree down, as well as make some progress on my doctoral project (one of my goals for 2016), as well as many, many other things. Instead, I am collapsed on the couch. I’ve been sick the last few days but seem to be much worse today, so I guess I’ll just sit here and catch up on my Netflix queue. (Making a Murderer, coming right up!) 

 

I’m wearing new jammies and sheep socks I got for Christmas. I’ve got orange juice, chicken noodle soup, saltine crackers, and tissues at the ready. I’ve got knitting nearby in case I feel like picking up the needles (right now that feels doubtful). And I’ve got a dog to cuddle with. What am I missing? What do you find most comforting when you’re ill? And what shows or podcasts might you recommend if this lasts longer than a day or so?

Sunday Progress on my Sunday Shawl

Today has been a very long, very full, very good day, and I’m so glad I got up early and got a few stitches in on my shawl before the day got away from me. 

  
I’m sitting down now with a cup of tea and my hook to do a little more before bed. I hope to have more to show you soon!

(Ps – in the comments yesterday, I was asked about the yarn color names. I answered there but will include the info here, too, in case anyone else is interested:

  1. Truffle (dark brown)
  2. Ballerina (light pink)
  3. Bordeaux (raspberry)
  4. Sand Dune (tan)

These are all Knit Picks Swish Superwash (plus two handspun yarns). 

Saturday Crochet on my Sunday Shawl

At this point, I’m having a hard time putting this down, but I have to now, because today is a writing day and it’s time to get to work. But I’m getting close to the end, and I’m only falling more in love.

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This is all KnitPicks Swish (deep stash here), but I threw in some leftover handspun for fun, and I’m loving the results.

Five rows left – perhaps my reward tonight for finishing my work.

Slow Stitching on a Simple Project

Is grief like a baby, in that once you hit the 3-month mark you stop counting time in weeks? I’m not sure if I can stop counting that way. Every Thursday marks another week without my mom, another week of getting further away from her death, further away from her life. Today it’s been 13 weeks. It has also been exactly three months. Am I ready to stop measuring time by weeks? I don’t know.

Lately, I’m also marking time with slow stitches, and not the knitting kind. With my broken hand keeping me from knitting, I have been pushed to find other outlets for my impulse to create. And so it is that I found myself digging out a little cross-stitch project I started five years ago (can that be right? I just checked, and it’s right.) I bought this pattern from sewingseed on etsy, on Black Friday five years ago. I promptly got to stitching, but only sporadically. I lost it for awhile, then found it again the following November. I made some more progress and then put away again, until a year ago, when I picked it back up right after Thanksgiving. I had gotten this far:

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I think I worked on it for another day or two at that point, and then put it back down again for a year. I guess when given a choice between cross-stitch and knitting, I always pick knitting.

But during this time without knitting, I’ve picked it up again, and I’ve made more progress:

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I just need to finish the snow and then I get to do the deer. The strange thing is, as easy as cross-stitch is, I have found the stitching lately to be very slow-going, especially those white stitches. I feel clumsy and slow and frustrated. It gives me lots of time to think and to breathe.

Despite some of the frustration involved, I’m going to keep going this time. The progress is painstaking, but, as is often the case with my crafting, it is reminding me that, if I just keep stitching, no matter how slowly, eventually something beautiful will emerge.

I am choosing to keep believing that this will be the case with grief, as well. It is painfully slow stitching, y’all, and I can’t see the whole design of it from this point. But I trust it will yield its gifts, its wisdom, and its beauty, if I persist.

Saturday Spinning

I have a new favorite fiber, y’all. It is Eider Wool and it seems very similar to Shetland, but with maybe a little more poof after washing.

 

Southern Cross Fibre “Water” on Eider


David (of Southern Cross Fibre) is a genius with color, as you can we’ll see.

This is 226 yards of DK-weight 2-ply, and I’m extremely pleased with it.

  
I’m planning to use it as weft for a scarf I’m going to weave, with some Hello Yarn Kent Romney Lambswool as warp:

  
I’m pretty excited about this project and hope to get to warping it soon!

Grey Friday

I don’t shop on Black Friday. I stay home with family and stay cozy. Today was grey and rainy so it was especially nice to be cuddled up inside. While staked out on the sofa, I decided to try something new…

  
I’ll let you know how it goes!

Thanksgiving :: Feeling All the Feels

It’s amazing to me how grief and gratitude can both occupy so much space – at the very same time – in my heart. This day has been full in the best possible way and also hard – I have wanted so many times to call my mother, to ask the most basic questions (how long do you heat a spiral-sliced ham? I don’t want to know what the Internet says, I want to know the way my mom does it), and give her the full report (I finally did everything right to get the Bundt cake to pop out of the pan perfectly and intact! I did a buffet line this time instead of putting all the food on the table, and it worked so much better! Charlie was so happy we had ham in addition to turkey – just like you, he likes ham much better than turkey.), and also let her know how wonderful it was to have my dad and brother at the table for the first time in 15 years even though it just emphasized for all of us all over again how she is gone and everything has changed.

There’s been a lot of missing her today (which is true every day) but also so much gratitude – for her; for all she taught me (about cooking and hosting and mothering and so much more); for my entire family; for the amazing honor of feeding 13 people.

  
And I’m so grateful for you, too. My virtual community is more than virtual – it is a real support for me, a net of kindness and care during this difficult time, and I am grateful.

I tried to make you a little video of me saying thank you, but I looked far too earnest and also a little bit teary (which I honestly wasn’t). So instead, you get this goofy time lapse video, of me feeling all the feels and trying to show my love.

  
Thank you for being my people. Happy Thanksgiving! 

Handspun Sisterhood Stretcher (Quaker Yarn Stretcher)

Last month, thanks to a cancelled flight and some reshuffling, I had some extra hang time in airports on my way to Rhinebeck. It seemed to me the perfect time to cast on for something new.

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I had packed this skein of my own handspun – the first yarn I spun after my mother’s unexpected death, after weeks of not feeling like knitting, spinning, or doing anything I usually enjoyed. The yarn felt special to me, a symbol of hope and comfort as I began to try to emerge from those early dark days of devastation.

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Southern Cross Fibre Organic Merino, “Laurel Crown”

It was so deeply satisfying to knit with this particular yarn, in our cabin in Red Hook, surrounded by a circle of friends. As I’ve already written, the time with these women was nourishing and healing and strengthening, and just so, so good.

On our last night together, I bound off the project I’d started on the way there.

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It was a fast and thoroughly enjoyable knit, extremely easy and perfect for travel. The pattern is the Quaker Yarn Stretcher, a free pattern designed for using a single skein of handspun (it can be adapted to be bigger or smaller depending on your yardage).

The simplicity and texture really show off the beauty of handspun.

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I enjoyed every stitch, and now that it’s done, I love wearing it too.

It’s like a little piece of Rhinebeck I brought home with me, the hours of laughter and stories from knitter-sisters stitched into it.

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When I put it around my shoulders, I feel wrapped in sisterhood, which really helps these days.

Also, it’s just pretty!

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It is rare to find a pattern that is so deeply satisfying in both the knitting and the wearing. It’s so functional too – perfect as a scarf, it also works up easily in more yarn as a shawlette or shawl. I would highly recommend this pattern, and I will almost certainly be knitting this again.

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