Life’s Work

In today’s highly connected, technological world, it is so easy to become discouraged. Social media creates the illusion that, it seems, there is a life out there we are not only missing out on, but that none of us can ever live up to. It is a conundrum for me. I enjoy engaging with folks who have similar interests as I do; I love sharing what I am doing; but I detest the inevitable discontent it breeds.

I am a creative person and all of my hobbies, in my mind, become possible business opportunities. I allow this mindset to suck the joy right out of everything I do. I am constantly pursuing validation through the work of my hands.

This morning I read this verse:

God in heaven appoints each person’s work.

John 3:27

No, I don’t believe God finds us our next job. But I know that we are all created with a certain set of abilities, gifts and talents along with the personality to use these things for good. In my case I am a nurturer. Though I never became the teacher or the mommy I always wanted to be, but all of the strengths needed for both of those were put to work in every area of my life.

I became a medical assistant so I could work in a doctor’s office; several years later I became a licensed nurse which led to working as a school nurse. I stopped working and came home when my step daughter’s mother died and I was needed here. That led to many years of nurturing her and then her children. And now, we have our oldest granddaughter living with us as she navigates her place in the world.

At sixty-four I spend much time analyzing where I’ve been as I look to where I might go next. It is clear to me that God appointed me as a caregiver to the next generation. One day when my work inside my family is done I will step out once again and care for the children and youth in need in my community. I don’t know where or how, I just know that God put that work on my heart and it will be my work for life.

May you find and know your worth and purpose; it comes from God and no one can separate you from it.

~Sheryl

Happy Mail Day

Orchard Lane by The Fiber Seed

Yarn and fiber lovers everywhere can identify with the this picture and the title of the post. Anytime we receive beautiful yarn in the mail it is a very good day. This particular yarn is hand dyed by a small company run by a husband and wife team. She is the artistic one and the face of the brand while he handles the business end of things. They worked yarn shows together back when we could do those things in person. Now they must rely on online and wholesale sales to support their family. I was the first store in Texas to carry their yarn; I love it and them to this day.

For the non-fiber folks out there let me explain what is so great about this kind of mail as the concept can be applied to many different hobbies or passionate pursuits. As a former yarn shop owner I helped many a person figure out what to make next. For, you see, the making is just part of the process. Making something – no matter the medium – is as much a heart process as a physical one. We aren’t laboriously working away so our families can have warm garments this winter. We are using our hands and minds to create something new, often for the sake of making something new. The satisfaction is in the making. This is why so many knitters and crocheters give their items away. We are creators.

Planning

A new project begins with planning. Sometimes know exactly what we want to make and other times there is just an itch to knit, crochet, weave, or whatever yarny pursuit is desired at the moment. In my case I have a December wedding to attend. The dress I have to wear has short sleeves and even in south Louisiana, a December evening can be cold. So rather than buy a new dress, I invested in this beautiful yarn made by someone I adore so that I can knit a wrap to wear. I knew the minute I saw this colorway that this is the yarn for me.

I had a pattern in mind, but now that the yarn is here I will look again to be sure the original idea is still what I want to make. This could involve hours of looking online at patterns and projects others have made with this or a similar yarn. My husband could not understand this kind of effort. Just get the yarn and make something was his advice until one day I turned the tables on him.

Wandering through the aisles of our local Academy Outdoors and More store, enduring his endless pondering over what kind of hunting items to purchase, I said, “Why don’t you just buy something and use it?” He looked at me, puzzled and was about to make a sarcastic retort when the lightbulb went off. Now he got it. The planning and shopping, thinking and dreaming are crucial to the creative process.

Anticipation

Once the yarn is ordered then I sit and wait…and wait…and wait some more. It only took about a week but it felt like forever. Anticipation is always the most exciting part of the process. It is the time when the imagination runs wild as I think about the colors, the feel and smell of the yarn, and the feeling of casting on, knitting, and seeing what I envisioned come to life. It is magical. It is addictive. And it is the addictive part that can get folks in trouble, but that is for another day.

Someone once told me that we all need something to look forward to. It is what gets us through the drudgery of everyday life. Even if life is great, looking forward to something allows the creative part of our brains to go on vacation. Twice a month I meet a friend for either breakfast or lunch. It gives me two guaranteed things to look forward to every month.

Delaying gratification and having things to look forward to are so very important. Try it. You won’t regret it.

Creating

The next step is the actual execution of the plan. Casting on (the act of putting the yarn onto the needles forming the stitches to knit) and then actually knitting the item. This part provides hours of restful pleasure. The act of actually doing that thing you’ve looked forward to for so long is incredibly rewarding.

Sometimes things don’t always work as envisioned, or the pattern is more challenging than anticipated. That is ok. There are things to learn and grow from there as well.

Lessons From Happy Mail Day

1. Plan then purchase something online and enjoy waiting…dream a little. Be like Ralph from A Christmas Story who waited for his decoder ring only to be disappointed in the end. Not everything we dream up or plan for works out, but there is pleasure in the waiting and dreaming.

2. Always have something to look forward to. This doesn’t have to cost a lot of money – in fact it is best if it doesn’t cost much – but it should be something that brings you joy and is just for you.

3. Create. We have been created to create. This doesn’t mean you have to be an artist, crafts person, it just means you use your mind and your hands to make something new. Plant a seed, cook a meal, rearrange the furniture, organize a closet, plan and execute a fishing or hunting trip, plan a picnic, take a drive just to see where the road leads. Life is a grand adventure…live it to the fullest!

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