The Swatchwoman

I used to never swatch. Until now. This year, 2019, is the year of the Swatchwoman.

The year started with failure. I decided to join a crochet-along, abbreviated CAL, as in Crochet-A-Long. We would get a pattern from the designer every so often and work on it at the same time, sharing the fun of making items together.

Moogly CAL 2 -

It was fun. In the beginning. Before my failure. Before I began swearing and throwing (soft yarn) things across the room.

Failure tested what I thought of myself. It made me question what direction I was going with my craft.

Was I going to let a little yarn square stop me from doing what I wanted?

I realized I had a lot to learn about crochet.

I didn’t just want to learn, I wanted to learn to teach so I can support others in their quest and encourage them through their failures. I signed up for the CYC Crochet Instructor program and started the challenge of improving myself.

After months of doing and redoing swatches, I made 16 that might be good enough. This week I mailed them to my master teacher so she can review them for the CYC Crochet Instructor program.

Now it’s out of my hands, literally.

No matter what, I am a stronger craftsperson today than I was a year ago. I know how to swatch and make the correct gauge.

This process has shown me that while I might not be good at crochet, I am still a lucky person.

I have people in my life who care about me and what I am doing, even if it is something small like twirling yarn just so.

I have a patient partner who propped me up when I was frustrated and cheered me on when I wanted to give up. If I don’t pass the crochet instructor test, I know he will be there for me, with a hug and a cup of tea.

In this way, there is no way I can fail.

A love (of books) that never gets old

You might not know about my love for vintage knitting and crochet books from the 1970s. These books connect me to people in the past. They comfort me. Our lives come and go, but the spirit of giving and creating goes on.

It’s fun to hunt for old books at garage sales and used book stores. Anytime we take a visit to a small town, I make sure to stop by the local thrift store and check out the shelves of books.

A very special addition came into my collection this month. Here is the story of how it came to be.

Recently it was time to celebrate my husband’s birthday and we had plans to meet with my son and his girlfriend. I knew our local library, Daniel Boone Regional Library, was having one of their biggest sales of the year and I wanted to stop early for the best selection of donated books. I might have competition! Who else might be out there, eager to get the sweet 1970s crochet and knitting books? We walked into the library about 10 a.m.

We were told the sale was only open to Friends of the Library members until noon. After that, the public could enter. It was possible to join the Friends of the Library that day for $5 and enter the sale early. Normally, we would have come back, but that time was my only chance to shop since we had birthday plans the rest of the day.

I have lived in Boone County for more than 20 years. I have always loved and visited the Daniel Boone Regional Library. In all this time, though, we have never joined the Friends of the Library. This is important to know for the rest of the story.

I walked into the sale room and made a beeline for the boxes with craft books. I started to search through them. After collecting for years, I can usually tell from the cover at a glance the decade a book belongs to. I was seeing a lot of 1990s. Nothing yet for me.

Then I saw it. I immediately knew from the cover it was 70s but I checked the copyright inside to be sure. 1972. Yes! When I opened the book, I saw an address label with a name on it: Erica Pickard. I always like to see names of the people who had the books before. I feel a name on a crochet or knitting book means, “This book is valuable and it belongs to me.” I like to think the book might have been shared and the owner wanted it to return.

I continued to look through the first box and didn’t find any more. I was excited to see there were many more boxes to go through. As I started to investigate the second box, my eyes landed on another magnificent book. I checked the inside cover: 1974. I saw a sticker at the top of the page: Erica Pickard.

My heart swelled as I thought, This might be someone’s collection. It might be my lucky day!

As I leafed through the used books, I pulled out each relevant one. My arms got fuller with my heavy stack. At the end of my searching, I had 15 beautiful books formerly owned by Erica Pickard from the 1970s, plus two that were not my decade by publishing date (1980) but had the definite 70s feel and were part of her collection.

I checked out at the desk, paying for both for my old books and my new membership in the Friends of the Library.

In the car I told my husband that all my old books–my new treasures—were from the same person.

“I wonder why she gave up all her books? Maybe she went into a nursing home or passed away?” I said.

I googled her name and her obituary came up immediately. I started to read it out loud. Although she was a stranger we didn’t know, we both felt impressed by her creativity and generous spirit as we learned about her life.

Then I came upon the following:

“Erica was also a strong supporter of the Columbia Public Library, helping establish the Friends of the Columbia Public Library where she helped initiate the regular book sales.”

There I was, for the first time in my life, a member of the Friends of the Library, with a stack of her books from the book sale on my lap. Isn’t it amazing that the day I joined was the same day I found all the books from someone who helped start the Friends group and the sale?

What an honor to have her collection join mine. The world is small because we never know how our life will enrich someone else’s. I will especially treasure these “new” 1970s books.

Now you know a little more about my love for vintage knitting and crochet books from the 1970s. These books connect me to people in the past. They comfort me.

Our lives come and go, but the spirit of giving and creating goes on.

Halfway Through to Minimum Requirements

Hooking, frogging, pinning, blocking. Hooking, frogging, pinning, blocking.

It’s the halfway point of my certified crochet instructor program. All my projects are due by December. I still have more than half the work to do, so it is time to…do the hustle!

If I were less free and easy, and more exacting and perfect, this program would be no problem for me. Had I been following crochet patterns all along in the past 8 years of my crochet life, I would probably be done with the requirements.

I am learning a lot about myself as a crocheter and a creative person in general through this process.

How do you motivate yourself when you are in the middle of a project, not close enough to the end to see the finish line? Let me know in the comments!

The reason for trying

I got to have fun teaching a friend to crochet this week. Teaching is what makes the challenge of this instructor program worthwhile to me. Since my friend is a strong knitter, she got the sense of crochet immediately and knew how to use the hook intuitively. I hope she will stick with it and get over the discomfort of the first weeks. Once your hands know what to do, it is both a joy and relaxation. The early days are anything but!

Other obsessions, I mean, activities

When I am not making — and remaking — crochet swatches for the certification program, I have been obsessively making bracelets. I have made more than 60.

Logan and I are having too much fun as jewelry designers. If you see me with six bracelets on, know that I actually held back. This is my restrained bracelet wearing.

I have enough now to wear them up to my elbows on both arms!


We have not done much hiking this year, but we have been playing games with our animals. Our four-year-old Betta fish, Mr. Gardener, has one he especially likes playing with me called, “Sleeping or Dead?” I was convinced it was over the other night…but he got me good. He was sleeping!

Lots of luck

Please wish me luck on my crochet instructor certification as I work these final three months.

I wish you a happy start to fall — may it bring you both adventures and good memories!


The Taming of the Wild Hook

I, who have never been known for my exactitude in yarn, now must be exact.


I must count stitches to a precise number. I must make gauge where my work is an actual square that fits in a 5” measurement. Gone are the free-form blobs, random rectangles and spontaneous shapes. I must make 16 swatches. Gone is the girl who never makes swatches.

I must weave in my ends (gasp!) yet weaving them in is not enough! No, I must do it invisibly, like a yarn magician, a yarnician, if you will.

Why me? Why this? Why now?

I’m turning 50 this summer and about due for a New Thing. I’m happiest when I am working on some difficult quest (such as grad school while working full-time, writing 50K words in a month, practicing public speaking as a mortifyingly shy person or collecting obscure crochet patterns from the 1970s). When a new friend mentioned there was a certified yarn instructor program from the Craft Yarn Council, I got excited. Why?

  • I like learning.
  • I like teaching.
  • I LOVE certificates.

If I can successfully finish this program, I will get a certificate. With my name on it!

But, between me and my certificate, there are obstacles.

You could describe my current crochet style as:

  • Loosey-goosey
  • Willy-nilly
  • Happy-go-lucky
  • Catch-as-catch-can

Some days, you might even call it higgledy-piggledy.

If you know my philosophy, then you will understand my wild ways.

I believe you can do no wrong with yarn. Fiber is forgiving. Anything that happens with you, the yarn and the hook is an experiment. Some experiments don’t end with anything functional, but the process matters. The act alone of looping loops is worth the time.

Because of this love, it has been a joy to teach friends how to crochet. Finishing this program will show I have the fundamentals to not just teach people, but teach them correctly. I will be a responsible, knowledgeable crafter as I pass on my obsession passion to others. But first, I have to know the fundamentals.

Have you ever had the experience where the more you learn, the less you know? I have been crocheting 8 years now, and I know less today than ever! I might know next to nothing about crochet!

Before I started working on the program, I thought I was an intermediate crocheter, probably close to advanced.

I hesitate to call myself a strong beginner at this point. Maybe just: Old Beginner. Gen, the Old Beginner.

Now I seek to begin again in my second half-century and remake myself into a neat and meticulous maker of the stitch. Will it work out? Will I change my reckless carefree ways? I have until December 1 to find out. Wish me luck, friends!


Use up the scraps!

I got the ends in! Success. I sewed in all the loose ends for my ripple afghan and it was the star of my show. I was happy to talk about my passion for crochet and knitting over the three days of the Mizzou Staff Arts & Crafts Showcase in May. My thanks to everyone who stopped by or supported me in spirit! (See a video tour of my table on Twitter)



It’s time to enjoy summer. We have been having our coffee outside in the mornings and listening to the dozens of bird songs. In the evening, it’s still light enough out that we can sit out at 9 p.m.

Wildlife: 4, chickens: 0

Some sad news: our chapter on chickens has closed. Despite the electric fence, the predators on our land took out the flock. It was a lot of fun with our poultry friends and fresh eggs, but that is the end of our chicken keeping for a while.

We are well outnumbered by wildlife living in the country. The other day while we walked the dogs, there were dueling coyote packs on either side of our property. One pack howled and yipped. Then the other pack howled back. I knew intellectually that coyotes don’t often attack humans…but I still wanted to hustle back indoors. Please note that I was the nervous one. Our Chihuahua dogs think of themselves as mighty coyote hunters. They were straining at the leashes to get into the mix.

In truth, they are inspiring nappers.

Creative focus

Now my creative focus is to use up my scraps and make decisions on the unused items in my life.

My current yarn project is a scrapghan sampler. I am using a stitch pattern book called Crochet Stitch Dictionary and experimenting with the stitches. I make notes in the margins on what I like…and don’t like!


Some people have a talent for using up what they have. I am more talented in acquiring. It’s a constant balance between buying the right amount and using up what I have. I should say, attempt at balance. My pantry, my closet, my scrap yarn bins: these areas will tell you that I am unbalanced. I live 15 miles from a store, it’s true. But do I really need more than 5 pounds of rice? I would make a great squirrel, hoarding away nuts!

I believe all the unused, neglected material goods in our daily life drain us. I have to look around at all that I own and weed it again. It’s almost a spiritual practice for me!

Next month I will go for the Uber Frugal Challenge again and eat up all the things and tighten up my spending.

This stitch is called Larks Foot, which I love, but I love Logan’s name for it even better: “Purple Drops In On Friends”

What are your hopes for this summer? Let me know!

My wish for you as summer begins is that you feel a resurgence of bright energy in your life. May you be blessed with clarity, good times and warmth!

My friend Aly using the scrapghan sampler as a shawl

Loose ends

Completion and creation.

Acquisition and release.

Closed hand and open hand.

A couple of months ago I read a brief essay by David Allen (author of Getting Things Done) about the value of completion. It made me think. As a person who loves diving into the new and seeking my next Thing, I focus on the future. What do I need to do next? What do I need to get to make my vision real?

I turned over the idea in my mind—completion—and started to layout my daily plan differently. Instead of only what I needed to do, I added a column for what I needed to complete. I’m already a long-time follower of inbox zero, but I still had some lingering emails that had gotten stale over the weeks. I archived some, deleted some and answered some.

I often hold onto things, imagining I will have more time in the future to craft careful replies. The reality is most of us have more tasks than time, between work, the home and yard, (almost wrote yarn there!), family, friends, health and faith.

What can you complete? What tugs at your attention? Where are your loose ends that need to be tied?

After the digital clearing, I still have more to declutter in my house. Strangely, I haven’t felt as much pressure as usual to buy in my two major categories: food and yarn. I actually went into a craft store and left without a yarn purchase the other day. No, it’s true!

Part of it might have to do with a book I read recently. It has an amazing title that made me look at my home differently, “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter.” The author (who says she is between 80 and 100), encourages you to take the burden off your loved ones and shed your excess stuff now. Having lost three of the five members of my birth family, with just me and my sister left, I appreciate the kindness inherent in thinking of others beyond our own ends. It’s easy to look around the house and know that my son, with his clean modern aesthetic, won’t want to deal with any of our stuff!

A reason for completion

It always helps the completion process to have a deadline.

I have a pressing due date for completing my yarn projects: Tuesday, May 21. You are invited to the Grand Opening of the Mizzou Staff Arts & Crafts Showcase at noon, in the lower level of the Student Center. Parking available in the lot next to the Student Center or on the street.

Now comes the test of my commitment.

Will I get the ends sewn into my ripple blanket in time for the Showcase?

It’s one thing to ponder the value of completion…but it’s a whole nother thing to live it!

Blessings to you this week as you complete what you can and open up space for more light to come in.



Shhh, do you hear the sound of beads?

If you’re a collector, it’s good to go through your collection every so often and make sure you still like it.

I collect 1970s crochet and knitting books.

It’s fun to hunt for them. We stop by antique and thrift stores when we travel. I look at garage sales. I find some online. Lately I have been using ads in my books to find other books. I have branched out to include European books. These techniques have opened up a huge new horizon for me.

Sports and books

When I was young, I didn’t understand why people watched sports. It looked like bodies crashing around and balls being flung. I rode horses as my sport but riding was rarely on TV. We never had games on like football, basketball or baseball. We were not a sporty family, much more on the bookish side.

Then my son played in school sports. I started to understand the appeal. Sports have a lot of drama and stories. Would this player perform after an injury? Would this new player live up to his potential? Could this coach motivate his team to success? Could the team overcome its obstacles?

In the same way, my book collection holds drama and stories.

When I was growing up in the 1970s, I didn’t realize I was part of a time that would change. I walked through beaded curtain doorways and on shag carpet innocent of knowing I lived in a trend. I can still remember the click click click sound as I passed through. I thought the 70s was how the world was and would be. I thought the Vietnam War was never ending and the Beatles would always be around. I didn’t know the clothes I wore would be dated. Patches on blue jeans were normal. Crochet was in its heyday.

When I look through my 1970s knitting and crochet book collection today, I see stories. It helps that I have a hilarious partner who can caption any photo for me and make me laugh. I like to look through my books and wonder how their lives turned out: the models, the copywriters, the photographers, the editors and the designers, and sometimes even the librarians.

Some treasures from my collection

The Mystery of the Stamping Librarian

A new book to my collection, this British book was a library copy in Minnesota. I LOVE the blank library checkout card still in the pocket. Most of all, I love the librarian who stamped the library name 13 times in the book, including on page 49. Why so many times? What do the numbers mean? This book isn’t just a crochet how-to, it’s a transatlantic mystery!

Not quite

Good try, but that’s not quite how it’s done…

Eastmas, or Christer

Which holiday as we celebrating here, Easter or Christmas? I know, we are celebrating the 70s!

Never throw away jeans!

“Never throw away your jeans,” reads the copy. Well, I never will again now that I know I could buy rickrack and make…this thing!

Wear red

“When in doubt, wear red.” —Bill Blass

Work it without getting ruffled

Amazing brown crochet pantsuit? Check. Attitude to match wearing a fully crocheted pantsuit, ruffled shirt and buckle shoes inside a greenhouse? Check and check.

Life curator

For almost 50 years, I have collected experiences. I have created a family and home. Now as I look toward the last part of my life, it’s time to go through my collection.

I’ll keep the memories I still like, and let go of the rest. I’ll keep the sound of beads in the doorway as I pass through life –click click click— and the soft abundance of shag carpet under my feet, a delight in fiber.  I’ll keep the happiness of crochet, in riotous colors, hopeful and bright.

Granny square afghan made with love from a mom to a daughter

Moments of inspiration interspringled between ice

What a season! Dangerous cold, snow, sleet, freezing rain, graupel, wintery mix – we’ve lived through it all this winter in mid-Missouri. Every day our pipes don’t freeze in our trailer is another victory.


I made up a word this morning and you are welcome to use it. The word is interspringle. It’s a mix of intersperse and intermingle. “My purple and grey yarns were interspringled.” This is what happens when I am not paying attention. New words and yarn snaggles.

Recent activities

A highlight of this winter was my church’s annual women’s retreat. I was lucky enough to be a keynoter and I got to talk about yarn. Special thanks to Pat Klein for her inspiration and support. Warm thanks to Genevieve Perso for being my impromtu yarn prop manager. Big thanks to Audrey Spieler for these great photos of my talk.

A blessing during silent time was seeing a rainbow. Although it was silent time, my cabin neighbor said, “Amen!” She couldn’t have said it better. Thank you to all the women who were there in person – or in spirit. I felt loved. I felt like I belonged. I appreciated hearing so many stories. It strengthened me.


Ripple success

The positive side of being indoors, for months, is a lot of time to knit and crochet. My constant kitty crochet companion, Freyja, appreciates that.


When you last heard from your blogging heroine, I was starting a ripple blanket. I am pleased to announce that I have it almost done. By almost done, I mean I have to sew in my ends. So that will only take me a year or two and then I will have a nice blanket! (Sewing in ends is a chore and I would rather muck out Miko’s pen than do it.)


Tea cozy success…and disaster

Sometimes you have to fail spectacularly before you can succeed. I made this lumpy mess first.


Wow, it made an attractive English teapot look awful. That is almost impressive. I was sad to waste that yarn and time. Then I decided I would try again.


Better, right? More like a tea cozy and less like something one of our cats spit up.

Where there is more yarn, there is always hope.


Today begins Lent, the season we shed old habits like selfishness and judgement.

For Lent, I will not buy yarn. I’m a little nervous that I will run out before Easter but I have already had generous friends offer to give me some if I need it. Isn’t that what friendship is, knowing what matters to each other and being willing to give it?

Now we turn back toward God with clean and ready hearts. May this new season bless you with health, wholeness, happiness and a sense of what you truly need for the road ahead.




My 2018 reviewed: A year of chickens, more or less

When I look back at 2018, I see how my theme for the year, Prepare, made sense. In January, I thought of it as using 2018 to prepare for entering my 50s in 2019. In June, after I lost my dad, I thought of it as preparing myself for whatever may come: loss or acquisition, joy or pain, health or sickness.

Here’s a quick overview of what my year looked like.

Animal Math

We increased our animal count to 15 with an impulse buy of spring chickens. “Peep peep peep,” they said. We brought them home in a box and built them a house with scrap wood, horse jump standards, an old storm door and creativity.

Little did I know we would have a Problem with Roosters. Of our seven chicks, we ended up with three roosters. Maybe they will get along because they were raised together, I thought, hopeful after reading online articles about roosters that got along. Maybe they will be like brothers.


They grew big and strong with bright red combs and critical eyes. They began to crow. They were like brothers…Cain and Abel-type brothers. Now we had three roosters that wanted to start a death match daily, and one chicken house.

A good side of social media is it allows you to find people with more chicken-raising experience who are willing to take your roosters. We found a new home for the roosters without blood loss in our own personal poultry Sparta.

We are back to 11 animals. A critter?/dog?/coyote?/hawk?/owl? ate two of our hens. A neighbor gave a sweet white chicken to us named Leah.

If you doing my animal math for 2018 it went like this:

1 pony +
1 horse +
3 cats +
2 dogs +
1 fish +
7 chicks –
3 roosters +
1 neighbor chick –
2 hens =
11 animals


Work is great. Logan and I both still work at Mizzou. We enjoy our coworkers and feel lucky to have good jobs with good benefits, which brings us to…


We started an aggressive debt payment plan in 2017 through a program as part of my work’s Wellness Incentive. We worked with Tina, who has since started her own business of Widow’s Wallet. We put one quarter of our income to our student loans and mortgage. We hope to be debt-free by the end of 2019! Stay tuned!

Part of what made this possible was shopping at Aldi’s. I love Aldi’s! It’s small, it’s simple, it’s cheap. Even when I go wild with the European chocolates, English cheddar cheese and German spice cookies, I don’t devastate our budget. So many treasures at Aldi’s—just love that place!

Another part of our plan was Uber Frugal Month, guided by the Frugalwoods. We did Uber Frugal Month in July, where we lived on $4 day each for food and didn’t buy any non-essentials.

I used this cookbook, Cheap and Good by Leanne Brown (the PDF is available free!), which has a lot of delicious ideas! If you want or need some tasty, cheap eats, it’s a good way to go.

We plan to do another Uber Frugal Month in January to recover from the spending binge of December (a winter’s worth of hay, property taxes, Christmas shopping and general winter-blah-motivated overspending).

I also read the writings from Trent Hamm on the Simple Dollar blog for inspiration on being more financially responsible, a constant effort for me.


It broke my heart to lose my dad. I was touched by my stepmom’s loyalty and love. There’s nothing I can do to speed up the grieving process. It’s my first holiday season without either of my parents alive. I take the moments as they come and look for the happy ones, more on that later.

We enjoyed time with my son and his girlfriend at their house. My son is quite the good griller and they’re both good cooks. We had some good meals at their place. I think I am finally content with being an empty-nester.

I loved having my in-laws visit in the fall and we got to be tourists together in Rocheport, Missouri. It’s a cute town with shops, bike rental for the Katy trail and little cafes.


Logan and I are having a honeymoon period with our time together. We like to go on day hikes and trips to little towns together. Nothing like a road trip! During our trips and commutes, we enjoy listening to podcasts such as:


I love reading! Some of my favorites from my local library were:

Food-related fiction for fun

  • The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller
  • Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal

Non-fiction for decluttering

  • Remodelista: The Organized Home: Simple, Stylish Storage Ideas for All Over the House by Julie Carlson
  • The Clutter Cure: Three Steps to Letting Go of Stuff, Organizing your Space, & Creating the Home of your Dreams by Judi Culbertson
  • The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify by Francine Jay

I wrote every day this year. I made a book for one person. I continued to work on my public speaking skills in my Downtown Toastmasters club (come visit us!).

I crocheted every day. Some of my creations included


We are movie people and we saw some fun ones this year. We are looking forward to the fabulous Christmas movie season!

Thank you, random people in movie theaters, for indulging our movie poster model fantasies, and taking photos of us.


I am still active in my church and invite you to attend with me if you are curious about the church experience or need a new church home. (Warning: My heart is in the songs, but I’m a terrible singer. Fortunately we have a strong ensemble that is much louder than me and more inspiring!)

One of the highlights of my year was a spiritual retreat on a lake with two friends. It revealed to me how much I need to simplify my life. I came home and began a home reorganization project. I tend to hold onto every little thing, but I don’t need to. I can trust that a good future awaits me.

I have to keep reminding myself that my true self is a beloved child of God.

My job is to love everyone, rejoice and pray constantly. Simple and hard, as all good things are.

End of year wishes

I have three wishes for you: hope, awareness and happy moments.

My first wish for you is that you have hope. Hope is powerful. Hope is energizing. If you have hope, you will keep your heart full. I know there is a lot of pain in the world. For every celebration, another person mourns. For each promotion, there is someone dealing with a job loss. As one person wins a race, someone faces failing health. If you have hope, you can see beyond the pain of the moment.

My second wish is awareness. No matter where you are in life, there is good. It might be unexpected kindness, a glimpse of a beautiful sky or a hot drink to warm you up. I heard that our mind’s nature is to live in the past or the future while focusing on the negative. It takes conscious effort to be present and find the good. Be aware of the freedom you have to move around and experience life.

My last wish for you is happy moments. Even in the midst of tough circumstances, you can find happy moments. Hold them close. What will 2019 bring us? I imagine it will be a mix. Some things will try our patience and just wear us slick (a Missouri saying that I appreciate). Other things will make us laugh and dance and sing (badly? but joyfully! Yes! No matter what, let’s sing joyfully in 2019).

God love and bless you,

Season of hope: another run at the hill

A few years ago, a friend gave me a bag she got from an estate sale.

Inside was the beginning of a crochet project and four skeins of yarn in mustard, rust, khaki and coffee brown. Yes, it was yarn from the 1970s.

The project was a ripple afghan, the kind that were ubiquitous on the back of every couch in every house I visited as a kid. Sometimes I would see a granny square afghan but the ripple afghans were the most common.

The afghan was about one-tenth done, six inches wide and 48 inches across.

I felt the maker’s pain immediately. I could imagine her thoughts (because I thought of this partial-afghan maker as a woman), The project looks so great in the picture! How exciting! How nice it will look on the back of the couch in my glass and metal 1970s modern house!

Then the slog. Stitch by stitch. Slow climb up the hill and slow climb down into the valley.

Will this afghan ever be finished?

Apparently not. I took out the skeins of yarn and the faded, ripped directions.

I too know what it is to be stumped by a ripple afghan.



About four years ago, I saw a photo on Ravelry (the social network for knitters and crocheters) that was identical to an afghan I knew growing up. I asked where it had come from. She told me the pattern was from a modern book of vintage patterns. I ordered the book. I needed to order the yarn online because the beautiful 1970s colorway isn’t available in stores.

My book arrived and my yarn arrived. I decided it would be my recovery project while I was home recovering from a surgery.

With boldness and a sense of adventure, I started the 141 stitches that would make my glorious earth and sky ripple afghan, thinking, How exciting! How nice it will looking on the back of the couch in my 1990s trailer home!

Then disaster.

With a fuzzy mind and an exhausted body, I couldn’t consistently count to 12. When my count was off by one stitch, the entire afghan failed. The problem was that I didn’t see my mistake until many stitches later. Sometimes, many rows later.

Who wants to undo hours of work?

Not me. I abandoned my ripple afghan and called it a failure. I decided ripple afghans were too hard for me.



Fast forward three years. I am stronger, better and willing to try again.

That afghan isn’t going to get the best of me! I ordered the yarn again. I pulled the book off the shelf and studied the pattern.

After all, it’s only an afghan. Try, try again!

I want success because I want to show myself I can do it. I am competent, diligent and determined. I can count to 12. I can make it happen.

I want a little piece of my childhood memory. I want to feel the ridges of the yarn under my fingers like I did as a child, seeing it on the back of the couch. I want my whole life to be accessible to me. I want to hold onto what was mine before, even if it was only an experience of sitting on a couch, brown and turquoise yarn under my hand, the memory of some unknown woman’s work done successfully.

This time will be different.

This time, I will use stitch markers, to help support my creative process.

This time, if it doesn’t work out, I won’t feel bad about myself.

This time, I have a plan.

I currently use the tiny mustard, rust, khaki and coffee brown afghan made by some unknown woman in the 1970s as a little draft protector in the sill for one of my windows. If my own ripple afghan doesn’t work out, then I will turn mine into another one.

There is no failure! I am either making an afghan…or a window sill draft protector.

The yarn came yesterday and I started my project. I saw from the label that the yarn was made in 2006. I worry that it might not be manufactured anymore. Maybe I ordered from some stack in a warehouse that won’t be replenished.

This might be the last chance to make this exact color of afghan, this replica of a memory from decades ago.

Prayerful work

As I started to work, I prayed as I often do when I crochet. Lighten my heart and make nimble my fingers.

I prayed for those affected by fires in California.

I prayed for those in nursing homes.

I prayed for everyone on hospice, those who are aware of how their time is limited.

All our time is limited, truly. It is just a matter of awareness. 12 months, 12 stitches. Up the hill, down into the valley. Even though I am going down into the valley, I am not afraid. Christ, my love and my Lord, will meet me there.

I prayed for the lonely and cold, those who feel forgotten in this season of sparkling snow and family gatherings.

I prayed for the strength to take a run at the hill again, a brown and turquoise hill, the same hill I remember from my childhood decades ago.

I prayed we would all feel hope, enough hope to become our true selves and live with grateful hearts, even as we fail.