Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Random Acts of Kindness...Yes there is still some goodness in the world. A neighbor down the road from my folks' mobile park used his tractor to clear out the church across the road, his neighbors and then came into the park, clearing the park's main road and the driveways of residences so that people could get their vehicles out. This is looking across the street from my Mom's. You can see how high the drifts were in places! Believe it or not I miss the snow! The one thing about snow in Washington is that it does not stay too long so you don't become as wearied by it as you do in places in the midwest or northeast where it might stay for quite awhile and get much more of it. It is however very windy and icy where they live which does make it dangerous, but you just have to use common sense! Thanks Jack for these pictures. Five years ago in January/February, I sat on the couch nursing baby D, watching the snow fly and the birds come in to the feeders. The world was all silent the way it is only when it snows and I felt cocooned inside with my little bundle of love! :o) Posted by Picasa

This is my folks' front yard between snows. I hear they are expecting more tonight. Some of the drifts are thigh high and they were not able to get the van out of the driveway due to the heavy drifts until the neighbor plowed them out. Posted by Picasa

The snow has just been blowing by. If there was no wind, I imagine there would be close to two feet of snow! Posted by Picasa

Yesterday I began the long process of cleaning up my room so that I can finish the Christmas stockings I made last year (!!!) and do some other sewing for Christmas. My "room" tends to get stuff dumped in it because it is a small (8' square) dining room that we have curtained off from the kitchen and have a half wall/curtain separating it from the living room. It's the perfect hidey hole! LOL I share this room with the built in china cabinet/buffet (It's a 1972 mobile home) and our upright freezer. When you add in 14 boxes of knitting stash, 26 boxes of sewing/quilting stash, two bookcases, spinning wheel and stash, a sewing machine and a serger, plus sewing accessories, it gets cramped! Still I am thankful to have a little space and I hope that by getting it more organized I can be more productive. This oak veneered bookcase was my graduation gift from Mom and Jack when I completed tech school for medical assisting. I have always liked it becuase it is extra wide. Last Christmas Jack and hubby reinforced it with metal rods so that it would stay together. Previously it was bowing, which caused the shelves to pop out! The top row and some of the second are my favorite knitting books. The second row is mostly knitting patterns in the white binders (see next photo/post). The third row is mainly knitting magazines, but also some craft and quilting magazines. The fourth row is quilting patterns and the quilt books that don't fit with the sewing books on the other shelf as well as some stack trays where I put things to file since I am always printing stuff off from the internet! The bottom row is miscellaneous "stuff" that doesn't fit anywhere else. Keeping reading to see the rest of "my space"! :o) Posted by Picasa

Close up of the knitting shelf to show you the binders. These come from Walmart and they are archival quality plastic (so it won't lift or stick to the paper inserted). The brand name escapes me. I did show some pics of this once before, but what I did was place scrapbooking paper in the front and the spines. The patterns are in sheet can see some patterns stick up because they are taller than sheet protectors. To me this makes it more pleasant to look at. The patterns are in the white notebooks by subject and the magazines are in black notebooks decorated in the same manner. Posted by Picasa

Unfortunately because of the space constraints, I have to place boxes in front of part of the bookcase, but everything is still accessible. Posted by Picasa

This is a close up of my shelves which include the sewing and cooking books. I have my homekeeping binders and the cookbooks I use most often. I took some books out to store so that I would have room for the binders. Also some books I have own and my Grandma's. I decided to store my own for now and keep my Grandma Hopkins' cookbooks out because she wrote notes EVERYWHERE! :o) It is a joy to see her writing and all her ideas. She was so creative and imaginative and she loved cooking, home making and anything that would make the home run more efficiently! Posted by Picasa

This shows all but the top shelf of my bookcase. On the very top are 4 pattern boxes. Then there are two rows of cookbooks, a row of sewing/quilting and two rows of miscellaneous cooking, gardening and health or household maintenance books. Posted by Picasa

Here is the view from my sewing chair. The table sits in front of the bookcase shown earlier with the cooking and sewing books. Behind me is the knitting bookcase and the stack of banker's boxes with fabric. The cute little bonnet pincushion was made for me by my step Grandma Doris. It is a tuna fish can underneat there filled with stuffing. Posted by Picasa

I thought I would share my tin photos for my friend Debra who loves vintage things! I hope to soon have her link back up on the right hand side. When I changed templates, they took my links away! :o( Anyway, my Mom and I used to go to Victoria, BC, Canada a lot when I was a teen/20s. I found this tin in an antique store. It is a Cadbury's Biscuit tin and is a colorized photograph of the Cotswolds. I am guessing this is from the 40s, possibly the 50s. This is what I use to store my sewing essentials and take with me to quilting class and leave on my table top for easy use so that I don't have to drag out my big plastic box with the rest of the sewing stuff in it. It is small but holds my Gingher scissors and a rotary cutter as well as thread, bobbins, needles, seam ripper etc. It has scratches and dents but I love it! The box in the next picture I am pretty sure is from the 40s based on the car styles in the painting. Posted by Picasa

This interesting shaped tin has a picture of Lion's Gate Bridge in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on the front. My Mom always had this with sewing stuff in it. I have not decided what I will organize in it. There is a puncture, like an awl or scissors poked from the inside out and there is a raised rough hole about an 1/8" thick on one end. I don't know how I can soften it without runing the aqua color and painting on the side. Since theoretically my children will NOT be using this tin, I may just leave it as I know it is there and will be careful. Hey Mom! Do you know the story behind this tin? Posted by Picasa

Sitting at my sewing table, this is what I see. The next photo will describe the background. In the foreground is my Lendrum spinning wheel. I still need to sell my Ashford Traditional which is sitting in my bedroom at the moment. The basket in the front belonged to my Great Grandma Winnifred Kirkland Tisdale. I use it to store current spinning projects and my bobbins etc. Sorry for the dark picture. My camera is in the process of dying. Posted by Picasa

This is looking towards the built in dining room buffet/china cabinet. My SIL does stained glass so she put in the hand rolled glass for us so that we did not have to look at orange plexiglass! LOL It looks funny in the pics but is really pretty. We also painted the paneling and cabinets. Along the buffet I have a row of banker's boxes 2 deep. I think there are 14 boxes in all. This is my yarn and UFOs. The bags on top are some of my spinning stash! There is one double doored cabinet below this which I use for some of my sewing accessories and my dye pot, dyes etc. Posted by Picasa

Here we are, hubby and I on Thanksgiving. We had a nice one with our brother and sister in law. Posted by Picasa

My SIL keeps a box of little toys and different things and the kids always love hats so she put some in there and my "Li'l Stinker" found this one and loved it! This is my son D. Posted by Picasa

This picture cracks me three little pilgrims A, D, J...this is typical of anytime I try to take a picture of the three of them together! LOL BTW, that is not cranberry sauce smeared all over their plate! The girls ate a little turkey dinner but my son won't even touch it, he had just mashed I made their favorite buttermilk biscuits and that is raspberry jam! :o) Posted by Picasa

This is my hubby (eating my apple pie), for whom I was most thankful for this Thanksgiving, after all we have gone through with his health this fall! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Why Change The Name? (Long Post)

Well, let's face it, those UFOs (unfinished objects) were just not getting finished. I was having no adventure with those UFOs! LOL The name fit when I first started blogging almost two years ago, thanks to Amy who I met in a quilting class at Quilter's Corner. I don't think I ever told Amy this, but the first night in class, even though I had not spoken with her directly, I just "knew" that I was meant to meet her! May sound crazy but it is true. Amy has helped me so much in getting started with blogging, getting back to my knitting after a long illness induced hiatus and also in my grieving process.

But I digress! At the time I started this blog I was excited about getting back into knitting. I have many UFOs which I just stopped in the middle of when I was diagnosed with Pseudotumor Cerebrei ten years ago. The thing is that if you enjoy talking and writing, it's really hard to keep a blog centered on just one aspect of your life. All the different aspects of my life overlap. I talk about my family, faith, traveling and many other subjects.

The old name didn't fit, but the new name was hard to find! Thank you to those who gave your input. I really loved Lynette's suggestion of "One Stitch At A Time". In my mind I could hear Cristy Lane singing "One Day At A Time". (It was a favorite of my stepdad Andy who raised me.) Most of you liked "TJ Knits" which is afterall the blog address. I almost went with that except that it is a nickname I had growing up and reflects my maiden name (Theresa Johnson) and I am not that girl anymore.

Grace has a lot of meaning for me. My middle name Ann means grace. My Aunt, the artist who taught me to "see" and create is named Grace. At family camp when I accepted Christ, one of the first things I did after being baptized was play "Amazing Grace" on my flute for talent night (it still makes me cry). As someone who has fought perfectionism and the inability to live up to my own expectations all her life, grace, "God's unmerited favor" means more than I could ever express in my own words.

One of my favorite books of the Bible, Ephesians, has this to say about grace:

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (NIV published by Zondervan, emphasis mine)

How does this relate to knitting? My faith permeates all of my life, even my knitting! In the summer of 2005, my dear cousin Nancy was losing her battle with Ovarian cancer after ten long years. I felt so hopeless 800 miles away and unable to travel to see her or put my nursing skills to good use in ministering to her. Even though I love being a stay at home mom, there have been many times where I feel like "What can I do?" I certainly do not have the freedom I had as a single person for 32 years and I didn't become a Mom until I was 35. I'm stubborn, independent and I like to be hands on. It's hard to sit back and not do much. As I worked out these frustrations over the course of a couple years, God has convinced me that I'm not "just a Mom" and that even though my health often confines me to my home (asthma and chronic, severe migraines), He can still use me. In fact, in the verse above He says that He prepared good works in advance for me to do!!! How exciting is that!? So, I set out to knit Nancy a shawl. I had only knit minimal lace. I was given the yarn and the pattern for Sivia Harding's Shetland Garden Faroese Shawl in a secret pal exchange (you can see pictures in the archives for August 2005) and undaunted I forged ahead and knit it in two weeks. I was in a hurry, racing to finish. Nancy was delighted with the shawl. She was always quite stylish and fashion conscious and put together the most lovely ensembles which she found at bargain prices! :o) I was not surprised that she would like a lace shawl, however I was surprised at how much it blessed her. A couple weeks later, her daughter would wear the shawl at her mother's funeral.

The Lord placed it on my heart to begin a shawl ministry which I have named "Garments of Grace" after Nancy (Nancy means grace). In the past year I have placed one more shawl to another lady battling Ovarian Cancer and I have one waiting to be blocked and another half finished. Several more are planned, especially after the special gift of the Victorian Lace book! :o) The nice thing about lace shawls, especially those knit with some wool content, is that they are still quite warm while being very light weight. Sometimes people with illness are unable to bear the weight of heavy blankets and yet they are quite cold.

I also am hoping that I will improve in my spinning enough to be able to knit shawls from the yarn I create! When I received my Lendrum spinning wheel for my 40th birthday, I immediately knew that this wheel would be "Karis" which means "full of grace"! (In case you didn't know, many spinners name their wheels, just like some people name their cars!)

And so, Stitches of Grace, just seemed appropriate with all those connections. What a blessing His grace has been in my life, giving me the freedom to become the woman He always wanted me to be (I'm still in process!). In the description at the header I chose the analogy that He has placed many stitches of grace in the tapestry of my life. That is because it has not been easy. Life has not been easy for me. And I have not been easy. I am stubborn. I try to do everything on my own. He never leaves me or forsakes me. But just like God promises in Romans 8:28-29, He does work all those things together for my own good. And like He promised in Isaiah, He is creating "beauty for ashes and the oil of joy for mourning" in my life. He has truly blessed the broken road of my life. That is why I like this song which has been around for awhile and is currently being sung by Rascal Flats and Selah, two groups I really like. It is a love song, but I relate it to my relationship with God...after all the Bible really is a love letter to His children and He considers the church His Bride...

God Bless The Broken Road

I set out on a narrow way many years ago
Hoping I would find true love
Along the broken road
But I got lost a time or two
I wiped my brow and kept pushing through
I couldn't see how every sign pointed straight to You

That every long lost dream Led me to where You are
Others who broke my heart
They were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way
Into Your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to You

I think about the years I spent just passing through
I'd like to have them back again
And give them all to You
But You just smile and take my hand
You've been there and You understand
It's all part of a grander plan
That is coming true

That every long lost dream
Led me to where You are
Others who broke my heart
They were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way
Into You loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to You
Now I keep rolling on into Your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to You

Well, if you have made it this far, you deserve a prize! If I wasn't so broke I would give you one! :o) I hope I haven't scared you off. My blog will continue to be much as it always has been. I just wanted to share a little of my heart with you. Thank you everyone who reads and comments. You are so encouraging to me!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

My Thirty Things

Two of my friends from church have been posting on their blogs thirty things to be thankful for in November. I liked the idea...reminded me of things my Grandma used to have us do as kids for Thanksgiving Day. My list is probably a bit on the serious side. But it has been a rough year and that tends to make one more contemplative! There really are lots of things to be thankful for!

1. God...I know it sounds like a canned answer, but this year I am so thankful that I serve such a loving God who has been there through thick and thin...before I call, he is there!

2. My hubby...I'm so thankful for my hubby. We found each other later in life, but he was definitely worth waiting for! :o) This fall I am particularly thankful, because when he was in atrial fibrillation with a heart rate of 220, I was afraid that God was planning to take him Home. I am so thankful he is on the road to recovery and staying home with us!

3. My kiddos...I have three who are full of too much energy, drive me nuts half the time and definitely make me exhausted. Many days I just feel too old to be a Mommy! But they are precious and beautiful and remind me of good things that I should not forget. They are a blessing I prayed for and hoped for, but wasn't sure I would be given. Even though my hair is now pretty gray, I'm so thankful for my three miracle babies!

3. My Grandma Hopkins...who is no longer living, but led me to God and taught me all about life, the Bible, creativity, gardening and being a Mom/Teacher! It's almost five years and I still miss her!

4. My Mom and my extended family who bless me in more ways than I can count. I miss them especially at Thanksgiving time.

5. The Christian Artisans list...a group of ladies (and one brave man!), who are creative, prayerful, genuine and loving! They enrich my life in so many ways!

6. The Internet...and access to it because it connected me to my future hubby and continues to connect me to those I love and provides many opportunities for me to reach out to others when I am not able to leave my home.

7. My new church home where the people are "real" and caring and do an awesome job at teaching and loving my kiddos.

8. My best friend Shelley, who is like a sister. It has been 14 years of laughter, tears, struggles and joys. She could not be more my family if we shared the same blood. We are so different and so alike. We are twins separated by nine years and two families! LOL

9. Laura...who is Home with Jesus now. She taught me a lot about being a woman and a wife and influenced my children in ways that will never leave them. She was the hands and feet of Jesus to our family, reaching out willingly and uncomplainingly when she saw a need! This Thanksgiving she is free of tears, free of pain and free of cancer! Halleluia!

10. Precept Bible studies from Kay Arthur's Precept Ministries and my Precept Group which included Laura and also my friends Debbie and Vera. I have learned so much from these Bible studies and I feel they have grounded me in my faith.

11. Photography...It is difficult to explain but this is so intertwined with my relationship with God. His creation brings me such joy and I love to capture it, previously on film and now with digital. It's hard to imagine life without a camera.

12. Scrapbooking...A wonderful creative outlet for me and a way to share my photos and what they mean to me. I have met some awesome friends this way, especially Sonia and Pam!

13. My Daddy, who turned 13 on Friday the 13th. I am thankful that he quit drinking and grew up so that we could share the last few years of his life in a loving and two-way relationship. I am most thankful that He accepted Christ as his Savior so that I can see him again some day.

14. Andy, who stepped in to be my Dad during the years my Daddy was not able to be there for me. I learned a lot from him and I am sorry that he was taken from us far too soon!

15. Laurel Community Baptist Church and my Koinonia Group from the 1990s...Laurel is my "home church" in Washington. I have made so many important friendships there and they have loved me through thick and thin.

16.'s a fun outlet and a way to share with friends and family.

17. Knitting...It has been a faithful companion through a lot of ups and downs in my life. I love to discover what will unfold between my fingers!

18. Spinning...which I am still a newbie at, but provides me relaxation (and much frustration at times) and a sense of joy and accomplishment.

19. Quilting and sewing which are major ways for me to show my creativity.

20. Color...which drives most of my creativity in all its forms!

21. Instructional television shows that teach about decorating, arts, crafts, history, travel etc.

22. Genealogy...a fun pursuit which stretches my's like a mystery and a puzzle and a treasure hunt roled up into one!

23. soothes my savage beast! LOL It makes me happy, joyful, excited, sad, contemplative and surrendered. I enjoy listening but I also enjoy participating in worshipping God through song.

24. My years working in pediatrics and the wonderful teachers I had in Drs. Kuiken, Johnson, Gass and Ban. They taught me as much about parenting as they did about medicine!

25. kitty...for me a house is not a home without a cat! :o)

26. The opportunities I had to travel to Europe when I was single. They were a lot of fun and I learned as much about myself as I did about the different cultures!

27. My marriage, which is a sanctuary.

28. Thanksgiving...a day which was a huge and joyous feast in Mom's matriarchal family. It always included guests who were widowed, poor, alone, in need...people who had lives and stories and gifts to add to the mix...people who taught me that life is not just about my own peers or my own circle, but that it is complex, rich and interesting. My Grandma always turned our thanks to God and the food wasn't bad either! :o)

29. The ocean...where I find solace, restoration and inspiration!

30. The birds eating outside my window this fall, putting on their own little show!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Fiber Angel

I have a Fiber Angel in England! Her name is Pamela and since she is in England I really should say she is a Fibre Angel! :o) This is the same lovely person who gifted me with the Bosworth spindle and fiber (that I still need to learn how to use)! Well, the mail man knocked and there was a package from Amazon.

I have to tell you my heart stood still for a moment. I had just looked at Victorian Lace Today on my Amazon Wish List. I've had it on there for quite some time and have been drooling on the keyboard wanting to order it. I could have put it on near its limit credit card, but really couldn't justify that when we are working so hard to get out of debt and hopefully move to Spokane in 2 years. So when the box came, I thought, "Was I lusting after that book for so long that I ordered it and didn't realize it?! Oh no! We don't have money for a mistake like that!"

Well, I had lots of help opening the box, but much to their chagrine it was "just a book"! LOL I sat in my chair and cried a couple tears of mixed joy and humility. I am going through a very tough time right now emotionally and I just felt like God reached across the ocean and gave me a hug through Pamela! She could not even have known how much I needed a boost right now! But He did! Well, I will have to watch my words from now on because someone is reading them! We had been discussing this on our Christian Artisan list and I had said it was a shame that Tim couldn't fit this in my Christmas stocking! LOL

Sometimes when you long for a book that is coming out, you are disappointed, not so with this! It's so lovely! I want to make nearly every single pattern in here, though I would need a lifetime to accomplish it. The first I want to try is below. The photography is by Alexis Xenakis of XRX books and as is his usual, it's stunning. As a photographer, I really love well photographed books. And speaking of photography and angels...someone is also helping make it possible so that this spring I can get my digital SLR, a Nikon D80, because I would like to take my photography a step further and I have really used my little Kodak to death in the last 3 years. You can see that the quality of photos is decreasing and it takes a painful and literal 7-10 seconds to record now. So I am excited about doing more photography, I'm sure I will blog about my new baby.

I feel so blessed. I really don't deserve it, but for whatever reason, God has chosen to bless me through His children who are so loving and kind and generous to me! Thank you!

I hope to catch up on blogging soon. I am going to be making some changes to the blog and putting up a new profile picture as soon as I learn how. I might even be changing the name (address will stay the same). Some ideas are:

TJ Knits (same as address)
A Knitter's Life
Stitches of Grace (but I wondered if there is already a blog named that)
Fibers of Life

Any suggestions or opinions?

Cover of the book. Posted by Picasa

This is the Harebell fichu that I think I want to knit first. I am even going to look for a silk yarn in a similar color. I don't usually knit something in the same color but I wear a lot of blue and I like the way this looks on the white blouse. Other options would be a pretty purple or burgandy. Posted by Picasa

When I was taking pics of the socks below, the girls wanted me to take pictures of their toys. This is J with her favorite kitty. Posted by Picasa

This is A with her My Little Pony. Posted by Picasa

This is my "consolation knitting"! It is sock yarn from fearlessfibers on eBay in the Marakesh colorway. This will be for the Swallowtail Shawl from Interweave Knits/Evelyn Clark. I really like how it is working up except for those light bits which are undyed parts. I saw another blogger use this on socks and it looked okay but I don't like it for this. Hopefully it won't show too prominently in person. The flash tends to pick it up and highlight it. Posted by Picasa

A Tale of Three Socks...or The Third Time is Not Charming!

It is so painful to write this post. My readers (all 2 or 3 of you! LOL) may have wondered where I have been lately. Well, I have to tell you I have been knitting socks for my Feet To Prayers Exchange (see next post for explanation). I deliberated over the yarn, wanting it to be perfect and found this lovely Schaefer Anne when we went up to Placerville. It's such a nice yarn and comes about 500 yards, so I thought it would be perfect for the Jaywalker pattern which sucks up a lot of yarn in the pattern. The yarn looks dull and lifeless in these photos, but it is a beautiful yarn with two shades of green a bright burgandy and a little deepnavy/dark purple. When I saw it in the skein at the store, I gasped and new it was perfect!

So attempt number one, in the first photo below (or above if Blogger persists in placing things out of order!)...well, Jaywalker was too small. It wasn't overly surprising as I used size 0 needles wanting to have a somewhat firm fabric for my swap partner who lives in the cold midwest. (The lovely Charlotte is sadly blogless!) Undaunted I frogged about 4" of knitting! Next I found the instructions to knit Jaywalker in a larger size. Wow! Great! I knit away (seek second photo) and got beyond the heel and gusset and was heading for the home stretch and realized that this sock was just too huge, especially since the bottom of the sock is knit in stockinette so does not soak up the yarn like the top which continues in pattern. The photos don't do it justice. It looked so lovely and the striping was going beautifully. I took pictures like any good knit blogger would do and proceeded to visit the frog pond once again! I mourned for two days. I could not face it. I had been beaten down by this pair of lovely socks! So for the next day and a half I knit Fetching which will be a Christmas present.

Not one to give up on a challenge and really wanting to knit something lovely for Charlotte who is a wonderful person, I poured through patterns both online and in my pattern notebooks. I picked out a lacy ribbed (just has one row with eyelets in the stitch repeat) and it looks lovely at the top. I got gauge with 9 sts/inch on my size 0s and I plugged away. It had a short row heel, which looks horrible like the person's heel would need an added little appendage at the back to fill it all in! (UGH!) I had also knit almost to the point of starting the short row toes. Well, I looked and thought that it was looking pretty huge. So the next time my feet were nice and clean I tried the socks on. Whoa...big on me and my feet are big! I wanted to sit down and have a little cry. But cranky kids kept me from having a pity party for too long.

So there it sits...what to do? I am writing Charlotte after I write this and am going to beg her mercy to be able to send this sock late. I will send the rest of her goodies on time, but this sock and I need to take a break from each other! Charlotte, when you read this please know that I do not resent knitting this sock for you!!! I am just very disappointed because I wanted it to be perfect for you. I am so sorry. I feel that if I take a break, when I come back to it I will have a fresh mind/perspective and will be able to handle it just fine with good results.

This is the most lovely yarn to knit with...I hope it can handle a third frogging!

Sock attempt one...Jaywalker as written...too small, as the pattern really sucks up a lot of stitches.  Posted by Picasa

The second makes me cry to see it, heel turned and heading down the home stretch, this yarn looked perfect for Jaywalker! But alas, it was not meant to be! Posted by Picasa

Here is sock number three, looking innocent for it's photograph, heel turned + 3 more inches! Posted by Picasa