Out Of The Fog: What Happened To 2021?

I feel as though I have been living in a fog the past two weeks or so. The last thing I remember was researching and writing about Charles Schultz and the significance of A Charlie Brown Christmas. And now here we are, January 4, 2022. The simple story is that I got sick. Covid test was negative, I only took one; however, the symptoms were very much like a friend of mine who did test positive. In addition to the physical symptoms, I was in a mental fog. I just existed, interacted when needed but basically was not mentally with the program. I felt like I had hit a brick wall, both physically and mentally. Fortunately by Christmas Eve I felt well enough to host my family and then I collapsed for another week. And, that brings us to today.

Onwards Into 2022

I have the well deserved reputation for starting things but never finishing them. Call it short attention span or creativity run amuck, whatever causes this personality trait, I wish there was a vaccine for it that actually worked. Therefore, there are no big resolutions. I don’t need the baggage of failing yet again – said very tongue in cheek. I don’t really feel bad about quitting; I accepted this part of me many years ago and I avoid people who try to make me feel bad.

No, instead of resolutions I have a couple of things that I am calling my Focal Points for this year. No specific tasks or firm goals, just areas of my life to focus my heart, mind and body. We will look back at the end of the year to find how this focus shifts the quality of my life from so-so to rich and full.

God

Without God nothing makes sense. This is a complicated subject in many ways. My relationship with God is uniquely mine. I have written about my move away from organized religion. But I have not moved away from God, in fact that relationship is stronger than when I depended on an organization for the definition of my relationship. I feel a definite tug on my heart to give back and do more. Now that I know we are staying in this community I want to get involved somewhere – maybe even get to know my neighbors, most of whom are new. There is much I can do to move outside of myself and allow God to work through me. It just requires leaving the house occasionally.

Family

Family Fun

We are all born into a family and then we go into the world and make our own families. These days what is considered a family doesn’t look like it did when I was growing up. Friend circles, blended families, adopted families all fill the need we have to belong.

In June we made room for our oldest granddaughter to live with us. The details aren’t important. She needed a safe place to land and we are that place. In six months she is well on her way to creating her own life and learning what it means to be an adult. It is a joy to watch the transformation. This move caused some stress in other areas, but as the months rolled by, those things began to ease and it all culminated with the best Christmas we have spent together, maybe ever. Our daughter, son-in-law, and other two granddaughters joined the three of us for an evening of laughter, giving, eating and love. It was the perfect ending to a crazy year.

So, this year I will focus on my family – the one I chose. I married a man and received a daughter in the deal. These relationships deserve my time and attention and quite frankly, I love being the mom who sets the stage for family fun. Also, while we have our granddaughter here to care for the house and the dogs, we are going to do some of the traveling we have been unable to do in the past. Our lives together have always been focused on externals – parents, child, grandchildren, ex-spouses, etc. Our life has not been our own, but now it is our time. We have earned this, and will live out the motto, “If not now, when?” Neither of us are getting any older.

Home

Christmas at Stately Means Manor

We have vacillated for many years on whether this is where we would live forever. I wanted to move; he didn’t. Just when I got him to agree (despite little voices of doubt in my head), we moved heaven and earth to make room for a teenager. Shortly after that I realized that my home is here. I have bargained with God for years to let me live somewhere else. It has only taken me thirty three years to finally decide to settle down and stay put. So, I will now focus on making this house the home I have always wanted.

Kitchen Remodel

First comes a new kitchen. Other than new appliances and my attempts at DIY, this kitchen has not seen an upgrade since it was built in 1985. It is time. After the kitchen I will move outdoors. We have a large backyard that has never been used. That is going to change. My goal is less grass and more fun. I want this to be the home our family wants to gather to make more memories.

Continuous Threads

Textile collage: “Security”

I come from a long line of creative people and I must have a creative outlet. One day, as I looked at one of my grandmother’s quilts, the name Continuous Threads came to me and I knew I wanted to use it in some way. I saw myself and my desire to repair her quilt as a way to continue her life and story. I got nervous because I knew I didn’t have the skill set yet, so I set it aside. But, this will be the year I will patch, mend and sew to bring this cherished quilt back to life.

It has been a journey of a couple of years, but the vision is beginning to form. For now I am learning all I can about hand stitching and embroidery including reading books about the historical aspects of textiles and their relationship to us and our quality of life. The past seventeen years have been very much wool, hand spinning yarn and knitting focused, but now I am ready for something different. I am ready to create with needle, thread, fabric and assorted found objects that tell a story. I am ready to mend clothes and my grandmother’s quilt. I am ready to weave cloth for uses I haven’t even determined yet. I am ready to learn and share with a younger generation so that these skills continue to be valued and passed to along. Our history matters.

Textiles Tell Stories

If this subject interests you as well, I have an Instagram account, @continuousthreads as well as Continuous Threads, a separate website and blog for my textile adventures.

Onwards Into The Future

With my new focus this year I am not promising a posting schedule that life can erase in the blink of an eye. I would like to post once a week and have it be an informative and entertaining glimpse into my life. But, truthfully, from now on I write this for my family and a few close friends who care. I want to leave something behind. I have no biological legacy, but I have left a trail of Sheryl everywhere I have been in my life. For the most part I think the trail has been a good one but I’m working very hard to stop over thinking and analyzing. It is a worthless waste of time and emotion.

So, there you have it. Out of the fog of 2021 (how appropriate the year ended in a state of mental fog?) and into the light. It is going to be a good year despite what goes on in the world around us. By staying connected to God and focusing on living a life that is full of loving kindness to all who cross my path I can’t go wrong and the trail I leave in my wake will make the world a better place. What more can we ask for in life?

Until next time,

Socks To The Rescue

It was 51º when I got up this morning. Each year I wait patiently, or maybe not so patiently, for the first real cool front of the season. Living in a subtropical climate means this type of weather pattern is a rare and treasured event. I celebrate its arrival by opening windows and allowing as much cool, crisp fresh air indoors as possible. The only problem is, my blood is still thin – does it really get thin or is that just something we say when our bodies don’t know how to deal with the cooler temps?

Seasonal Changes

Each summer I bemoan the weather because of the heat and humidity. After forty some odd years I know that the first few weeks are the the worst. As I get used to the wet blanket feeling each time I step outdoors, it doesn’t seem so bad and I go about my life. And now, the same is true for the cooler temps, but rather than bemoan, I rejoice. Cool dry temperatures put a spring in my step and suddenly everything in the world is just a little brighter. However, just like the initiation to the heat, there is an adjustment period for this season as well.

It is chilly inside the house. It takes some time for the radiant heat from the sun to warm things up in here. My hands and feet are cold, and for a brief moment I consider flipping the switch to turn on the heat. Immediately I self flagellate. To even allow such a thought to cross my mind should be criminal. So, I wait, again, but this time for the sun to rise so the temperature inside the house can climb to a comfortable 72º.

Two cups of coffee later I was still feeling chilly yet resolute in my determination to be tough, when, as I walked through my bedroom I remembered there is a solution. A practical and cozy solution: hand knit socks.

Hand Knit Socks

Warm wool socks made by me for me. Unlike mass manufactured socks, these little treasures are made just to my specifications and fit my foot perfectly. Only those of us who love socks and have experienced the joy of a hand knit sock can possibly understand.

Sock knitters have heard every clever comment from those who don’t get it and would never be gifted a pair of these treasures.

“Don’t you know you can buy those?”

“I can get a pack of six pairs for less than you spent on that yarn.”

With eyes rolling, “A sock is a sock.”

Simple Things

Socks are a simple necessity. They provide warmth, protection and can also be a bright and colorful fashion statement. Because of their simplicity they can also be taken for granted. My advice, try them before you reject the superiority of a sock made by hand, created to your feet’s specifications. If someone in your life loves you enough to spend the time making something to cover your feet, be kind. Wear them with an open mind. Feel the snuggle and the warmth. Remember the hands that crafted them, and be thankful. These are no small gift. They are a true demonstration of love.

Textiles Make A Home

There is one singular item that transforms a hard square house into a soft, safe, and cozy home. No matter your decorating style, there are textiles to compliment and enhance that style.

Choosing Home Textiles

We have all wandered the isles of home decor and big box stores taking in the sights and smells of the season. Rows and rows of pillows, blankets, afghans (knit or crochet blanket), tea towels, curtains – window and shower, bedding, table linens, rugs, and the list goes on. And this is just the textiles; we are not going to talk about the rest of the home decor available. I have done my fair share of shopping at these places so this is not meant to impune these businesses. I just want to plant seeds for you to consider as you make choices about the items you bring into your home.

There is no doubt that the items available in the big stores are mass manufactured in countries that may or may not be ethical in their choice of materials, dyes, or how their employees are treated. While a sweeping generalization cannot be made on this subject, textile manufacturers around the world have historically been some of the worst polluters in the world. Fast fashion and fast, cheap home decor are contributing factors and I believe it is time to rethink the fabrics and items we surround ourselves with inside our homes.

There are so many things to consider when purchasing textiles for your home. How will you use it? How is it cared for? What is made of and where was it made? How much does it cost and will it have a long life span to make it worth the price? Each one of us must set our own priorities and make the purchases that fit our home, values, and budget.

Slow Home Fashion

The slow fashion movement has caused many to reconsider their clothing purchases. For many this has led them to sew their own clothes. There has been a huge renaissance in making clothes at home. Sewing for your home decor is a wonderful way to not only personalize your home but to also have total control over the products you and your family live with everyday.

Not crafty? Don’t have a desire to do any of the above, but you want to live in this kind of home environment? No worries, there are so many people out there doing amazing work. Do these items cost more? Initially, yes. But if you teach yourself to not buy into trends, but make investments in items that will bring you years of pleasure, then you too can curate a home that is beautiful as well as good for the environment, helps a small business, and is uniquely and completely you.

A Woolen Home

Part of my movement to a more selective and holistic home is by making and up-cycling as much as possible. Surprisingly wool is a fiber that is a wonderful and healthy choice for many home items, even some items that you wouldn’t expect. Having spent much of the past fifteen years in the yarn business, I am totally and passionately in love with wool. It is a fiber that is misunderstood but incredibly valuable. I will devote entire posts to in the future.

I had dreams of creating a business that sells handmade wool items for the home. There would be functional as well as decorative items. I adore Christmas decorating and love making unique and fanciful items for this season. After much planning I learned that I don’t like making multiples of anything and the process of selling just leaves me cold. Instead I have decided to be a champion of wool and all handmade items and the people who make them.

I believe there is room for wool in every room in the house. Come back or visit my Instagram account (@mycontinuousthread) to learn more about home textiles and get inspired to use wool in your home.

Until next week…Blessings to all

~Sheryl

A Very Good Week

I came outside later than usual today. It seems that every day of the week, or at least Monday through Friday, a different neighbor is having their yard mowed first thing in the morning. I am sure it has always been this way, but now that it is disturbing my peaceful backyard time. I am annoyed. We are coming to the end of the growing season, so maybe this will change. One can only hope.

Friday Reflections

Each Friday I am going to examine my week and see how I did in my effort to build the life I want rather than just living in reaction to what comes to me. On the whole, I think I did well. I took more steps forward and can call this one a win.

There were frightening events that happened to people I care about as well as family members. In my fear and dread I turned to God and allowed Him to do His work. I was available but knew this was not my battle to fight. It is a helpless feeling to know a grandchild is suffering and in danger. It is not my job to rescue, though that is my initial impulse. It is my job to cover her in prayer and let God and her parents do the work.

I took proactive steps in the planning of my kitchen remodel as well as purchasing a few plants that will, if I keep them alive, end up in one corner of my garden or in pots on my patio.

I Knit

I took time to knit.

Katie’s Kep – A Fair Isle style hat.

I’ve always been fascinated with stranded color knitting. Living where I do there are few times when such a garment is wearable. I decided that the experience is worth it even if it only gets worn once a year. This is the annual hat design for Shetland Wool Week, a celebration of all things wool in the Shetland Islands. My Scottish heritage and my love for the television show Shetland, determined that I give it a go. This is the perfect knit for my ADD type personality. Every row is different and the color changes are charted. Slowly, row by row the design emerges. I lost the blue ball of yarn I intended for one of the patterns. After days of looking for it I decided to just use what I had on hand and make the best of it. This green, brown, white and gold hat will be my ‘sunshine through the trees’ hat.

I Stitched

Mindful stitching with coffee.

I worked a little everyday on my mindful stitching. Repetition yields peaceful consistency. I am not enjoying working on this muslin. My next piece will be linen…preferably hand dyed.

Hand dyed thread.

I received three spools of hand dyed thread for embroidery. They came from a lovely young woman (@gatherwhatspills) I follow on Instagram. She also has an Etsy shop and I couldn’t resist these beautiful little spools of thread. I am saving scraps, and hunting for just the right inspiration to use them. It will be special no matter what the project.

That was my week. There was more, I cooked some delicious meals, I planned for my kitchen remodel, and I slept…really, really slept. My body and spirit were exhausted. All in all, it was a very good week.

I pray that each of your days moves you just a little closer to living the life of your dreams. Until Monday…

~Sheryl

K.I.S.S. Day 5

Modern life is complicated. We have too many options, too much information and still only twenty four hours in a day. Choices must be made; priorities set.

In my effort to simplify my life I have removed the extraneous, evaluated the remainder, and still find room for further paring down of clutter—physical and mental. I am choosing activities that require active participation rather than passive entertainment (I do still indulge in an hour of General Hospital everyday and will schedule in my favorite sitcoms once they return). But even with the passive entertainment I am being cautious with what I pour into my brain. Will this content inspire and enliven me or cause stress over things for which I have no control? This is just one of the questions I ask myself these days. Therefore, as the simplified version of my life moves forward the following items will play a prominent role in my daily life.

Books

I loved reading as a child and have only been a sporadic reader in adulthood. There is a discipline to reading. An investment of precious time where there is almost certainly a guarantee that in the end emotions and point of view will be altered. As much as I love movies, they do not do to me what a really good book does; my soul is not touched in the same way and the characters don’t live with me in quite the same way. For a while I rejected reading on a Kindle as I prefer old school books. I still prefer them; however, I have discovered that I can read and stay awake when I use the Kindle. Being awake certainly helps the process of finishing books.

As I moved my focus from passive screen time to reading (the Kindle screen doesn’t have the same affect as a phone or computer—different lights or something) I feel a part of me has come back to life. I have read two books in the past week. Parts one and two of the ‘Me Before You’ trilogy by British author Jojo Moyes. Prior to last week I had never heard of her and now I am anxiously waiting for book three to become available through the digital library system. I believe I know how the story ends, but it is the journey that is so fun. Isn’t this whole point of life? We all know where the story ends, but it is the story of our journey that defines the life we led.

Making

During the past three years I have wasted a ridiculous amount of time on Instagram, Pinterest and general web browsing. All of it, I told myself, was business research and development. I spent money on websites, URLs, products, and for what? Only to get disillusioned and quit. Along the way I finally determined that I love the excitement of business development but I detest the actual work of running an online business. All my creative energy went to the business ideas but not actually making things that give me pleasure.

Social Commentary

For fourteen years I was in the yarn business. I believed that everything I did must connect to yarn for me to be authentic. Being a yarn shop owner was what I did every day and that became my identity. If I’m not a part of that world anymore, who am I? So I held on, reinventing myself into yet one more version in the hopes that this one felt right. It didn’t.

That is over. I am letting myself try different things, am discovering a joy in hand stitching and dyeing small amounts of fabric then creating art that is beautiful to the eye and tells a story. If I want to explore other mediums, I free to do so because my identity is no longer connected to what I make. What I make is simply an outward reflection of where I am in that moment.

Music

I am one of those people for whom music is a soul moving experience. I seem to be using words like ‘soul moving’ a great deal today. I love most all kinds of music, but without a doubt my favorite is classical. I can close my eyes and get lost in the beauty, the movement, the imagery. I have felt this connection for as long as I remember; it is simply one of those things that got lost in the businessof life. I now make time and space for beautiful music in my day.

Art

I have become zealous about who I follow on Instagram. I am removing accounts that don’t inspire me. I am primarily following creative people whose hand work and life shown on the grid, brightens my day or inspires me to look at the world through new eyes. I am no longer following accounts that merely want to sell me something, preach politics, lecture me about anything, or with whom I just no longer resonate. If I have unfollowed anyone reading this, I am sorry. Nothing personal; I am just exercising some self care in what I ingest.

I follow many artists whose work I love, and whose creative practice teaches me a new way of working out my own art life. I have no formal art training and I am learning there is a process. My habit of expecting immediate perfection is completely incongruous with the artistic life. I am learning to play. To try. To step out of the safe and into the unknown. It is exhilarating.

I not only follow artists, I buy from them whenever possible. It is the one thing I can do that is mutually beneficial. I have limited funds. These are not big purchases. But they bring so much joy to my little world and I know that by buying from them more art will come. It is the happiest part of my world right now.

My most recent acquisition. “Moon River” by Elizabeth Bunsen

Simple Living

I don’t require much to be happy. I’ve always teased my husband that he won the lottery with such a low maintenance wife. But for those few things I do need, I need them daily. I have learned that my mental and physical health depend upon a steady diet of all the above things blended with a regular dose of family, friends, my dogs, good coffee, food and bourbon…and an occasional road trip to keep the juices flowing.

Next week I get back on track with posts about the things I am making as well as any house updates. It is my hope and prayer that something I have said this week moves you to examine the role of technology in your life and how even small changes can reap big rewards for you and those you love.

Have a great weekend and make some memories.

~Sheryl

Welcome September

I know I shouldn’t go through a season just living for the next. I’m sure there are daily nuances and events that I miss by pining away for Autumn, but at the moment I can’t think of anything significant. I savor fall, winter and most of spring. And, we’re back to summer. I have always lived in a part of the country where older folks like me escape the cold and come south for the winter. They are affectionately known as snow birds. Well, I want to be a sweat bird. I want to go some place where I don’t have to sweat all day every day for months on end.

I use the first day of September as an excuse to celebrate fall. It may still be hot, but I pull out the fall colors and decor. This morning as I was hunting for my little collection of crochet and knit pumpkins, I ran across this weaving, one of my very first attempts at weaving on a small loom.

I was mesmerized by the process and possibilities. I have remained so steadfastly entrenched in the knit and crochet world since then that I didn’t listen to my soul sing as I made a picture with yarn.

I keep most all my little pieces of weaving and crochet in plastic storage bins, the flat ones that slide under the bed. I want to be able to open the container and look through all the color and texture my hands have created. Sometimes a piece will spark and idea and it comes out of storage for the metamorphosis into something new. This is an important part of my creative process. All time spent making is time well spent. The end result need not be “useful” to have value. The value lies in the creating.

I think I will honor that early effort by properly mounting this so that I can hang it up in my studio. It deserves to be seen.

I pray you take time to celebrate the day and make a little something that makes you smile.

~Sheryl

Are You Listening?

There is has never been a time in my modern recollection that humanity has been in greater need of soul nurturing than right here, right now.

I look at this pandemic and all the chaos going on worldwide as an opportunity for a reboot. A unique moment in time when we are in a forced isolation and we have a choice. It is as if God is trying to get the attention of the entire world. We can look at the humans scrambling to fix it or we can look to God for understanding. Continue with the old way of doing things or listen to that still small voice in our heart and make changes.

What kind of changes? Depends on who you are and what you need. For me, I need to simplify, prioritize, and allow God to permeate every moment of every day.

I have written about my love for choral music. I believe I have the soul of a monastic. I am at my most peaceful and content when I tune out the modern world and immerse myself in music that draws me near to God; spending the first part of my day in the presence of my Creator, waiting and listening for that which is just for me, then going about my day feeling that connection. Making things with my hands is the natural outpouring of how my day begins. Whether I am making yarn, a meal or doing laundry, I am doing all as unto the Lord. Everything is sacred because it is all a gift.

How will you use the gift of today? I pray that you find something of eternal value in your day.

Wisdom of Proverbs 31

The other day I talked about spinning wool into yarn and how it makes me think about larger issues. I love to find teachable moments in the midst of the everyday. Since Friday is a fun day on the blog I decided to show you what I do. I went through my photographs (I have hundreds) and selected the ones that I thought would tell the story.

She selects wool and flax

and works with eager hands.

Proverbs 31:3

I adore Beatrix Potter and these illustrations grab my heartstrings.


The process begins with sheep. My preference is to buy wool from small local growers who provide a safe and loving home for sheep. They grow the best wool.
Finished yarn and a few of my spindles.

So there you have a short lesson combined with my love for working with my hands to make yarn. I sell my yarn helping to provide for my family. I am not idle. I work everyday despite rarely leaving my home. If you haven’t read Proverbs 31 in a while, go give it a read. Some would cast it aside as being old fashioned and repressive towards women. I don’t see it that way. I see it as a glorious homage to the value of a woman. Women are portrayed as caregivers, businesswomen, hard working, valuable, and worthy of great esteem. That is the woman I seek to become.

Until Monday, have a joyous weekend spending time with those you love making memories and sharing the love of Christ with everyone you encounter.