Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Perfect Outfit

You may know that my search for the perfect pattern ended in making do with a good one.  I also have to make do without a photo, because I gave the sweater away without taking the time to get a good picture.  You will have to take my word that it turned out.

Now I need a perfect outfit for my son's wedding.  Normally I only dress casually.  Since I always wear a skirt or dress, I can get by with this in most situations.  But it was hinted to me that I should wear something appropriate to the wedding.

I happened to find a turquoise dress at a thrift shop that seemed a perfect "mother of the groom" thing ~ not at all a "Nita" thing, however, and I was more than a little relieved when it was too big.  The price tag was a bit of a deterrent  too.  The dress was new and certainly worth $30 ~ but $30 is a lot, considering my allowance.*

Then I went to Ross.  It's a great store with good things at discount prices, and I even found some to try on ~ but all were too short, or too tight, or too too ~ or all three.

Luckily, --- no, it wasn't luck. I had prayed about this, and it was confidence that God would provide that kept me from buying somethig that was "too too" (which is "make do" over done.) Providentially, I found something at another thrift shop.  It had a Wisconsin-style price tag (under $5).  It fits loosely, and it suits my idea of what I should wear to a wedding.  I can't promise it will fit the groom's idea of what his mother should wear, but he says I'm fine.  And I think if I can find (or make) a  pink sweater to dress it up a bit, I will be.

*(My allowance, for those who want to know, is this: No money, but whatever I spend without permission I get forgiven for.  Since I am the tightwad in the family, this works pretty well.)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Poverty, the Mother of Contentment

It isn't necessarily true.  Poverty isn't always the mother of contentment. Some people will tell you that it is actually the mother of discontent and all kinds of evil spring from it ~ though modern America is proof that throwing money at problems does not make people more content.

Everyone knows that money is not the key to happiness; that the spoiled child is the one who has everything yet is content with nothing; and that very often, the more you have, the more you want.  We've all heard stories about how our great grandparents appreciated the small things in life; how they enjoyed the orange they got for Christmas more than today's children enjoy their abundance of toys.

After writing about necessity being the mother of invention and poverty being the mother of necessity, these thought occurred to me this morning while eating breakfast.  We had homemade turkey sausage with our eggs ~ and neither Lee nor I was particularly pleased with it.  It was edible, but yucky.

My son Josiah has always told me that ground turkey was horrible.  I think he never believed I liked it.  We ate it a lot when the kids were little.  It seemed a necessity, and I honestly thought it was pretty good.  I really , really did.

For years now we have been eating pork sausage ~ sometimes store-bought, and sometimes ground pork spiced with the same recipe I used to make the turkey sausage.  But things have been tight since we moved, so when shopping the other day, we picked up some ground turkey.  Everything I've made with it has been eaten, but at each meal, Lee says, "There's something funny about this . . . . "  We've been spoiled.  We aren't content with ground turkey any more.  I guess we're not that poor.

Monday, April 25, 2011

How to Make a Sturdy Felt Button

   I told you about necessity being the mother of invention, but I neglected to mention that poverty is the mother of necessity.  Perhaps, unlike me, you have the means to buy whatever buttons you want whenever you want.  If you do, these are sooooo cool that you may want to make them anyway.  Or,  better yet ~ check out my Etsy shop.  I hope to offer them for sale soon.

 Trace a circle on a piece of hard plastic.  I used a button for my pattern.
You could skip this and use an old button or even buy plain buttons ~ but I enjoy the thrill of making something useful out of what would otherwise be headed for the recycle bin.
 Cut out the circle and use a seam ripper to poke two holes in it.
Sew heavy cotton thread through the holes.
Make a bobble with wool.
For a 5/8" button I used worsted weight yarn and size 10 1/2 needles.  
CO 1 st. Knit it 3 times.  On next row, increase 1 st each end. (5 st.)  Work 4 rows stockinette.  Dec. 1 st. each end of next row.  Then S1, P2tog, PSSO. Pull yarn through. Wrap knitted bobble around plastic disc and draw yarn around the edges, pulling tight.
You could also cut circles out of the lesser worn parts of an old wool sweater.
(Finish the edges so they won't unravel.)

 To give a rounded, rose-like finish, you can crochet a chain and sew it on to the bobble in a spiral. 
(You can also add this or other embellishments after felting.)

Now throw them in the washing machine.
Turn the washer to hot wash - cold rinse for the smallest load possible.
Put the buttons in a bag and zip or tie shut.  Add a heavy piece of fabric to increase the agitation.  
One wash did the felting for me.  You may need more.
Felted buttons:

I used the cotton thread to sew the button to a bag.  Then I sewed it again with yarn.  

The Girl Creative

Friday, April 22, 2011

Necessity, the Mother of Invention

   All need is relative.  Mommamindy thinks she needs a cape.  If she invents one, I'll know she really did need it.  When my mechanically-minded son Noah was a kid, he had a lot of needs ~ and a lot of inventions.  He would often come to me with great urgency, saying he had to have a ride to town now, so he could finish some extremely important project he was working on.  I would say, "We can't go now, but I'll take you tomorrow," or some such thing.  He'd go away a bit sulky, but come back in an hour, saying he didn't need to go to town at all.  He had figured out how to finish his project without the store-bought thing.

   I haven't invented it yet, but I need a button.  I wanted a cream-colored, rose-shaped one, and I was planning to run to a sewing shop to see if they had one.  But Lee's work schedule won't allow me to have the car at the right time of day until next Monday or Tuesday. I can't wait that long.

   I can walk to the grocery store and a thrift shop, but we don't have button stores on every corner, and even the "close" one isn't within walking distance. In this predicament, I noticed a picture of a felted bag with a wool rose button.  Revelation: Make my own!

   The little knotted rose in the picture is cute, but it is unfortunately not substantial enough to hold a book bag closed.  It gives me an idea, though, and inspiration.  I have an idea for how to make something stronger, and I'll share it with you if it works.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Intarsia and Tangled Yarn

The first item I ever knitted was a piece of intarsia.  Of course I didn't know the term.  I was 13, it was the 70's, and I wanted the brightly-designed poncho I found in a magazine.  I asked my mom if I could knit it. She was pleased that I was interested in her craft, and she encouraged me. She helped me make plastic bobbins, and I wound up the different colors, letting the bobbins hang from the huge piece of knitting.

The directions said, as they always do, to twist the new color under the old, but honestly, I have never been able to figure that out.  Sometimes it seems right to twist one direction and sometimes another ~ and when you are stretching a strand across a long patch of another color, you have to twist twice, so it really doesn't matter which direction you twist.  I quickly learned to take advantage of this fact and change directions whenever possible in order to minimize tangle yarns. Knitting is fun ~ but untangling threads is not.

Momma Mindy tells how threads in poor storage can get tangled to an almost hopeless mass of confusion. Threads being knit into a beautiful design get tangled, too.  There's no help for it but to stop once in a while and untangle them as you go. But you can also reduce the tangles by switching the direction of your twist every now and again.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Other Side of the Story

A knitted afghan with roses may be gorgeous.  Mine turned out pretty nice.  But the trouble with intarsia is, it is never pretty on the back side.

With the first couple squares I was careful to twist my strands every three stitches, but I found that I actually got a smoother finish on both sides when I made longer reaches.  After finishing, I really couldn't tell the difference between the squares where I went three, and those where I crossed five stitches ~ so it's longer reaches from now on for me!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Sacrifice of Praise

Due to distractions, I missed "Thankful Thursday" today, but it isn't too late to be thankful.

The Sacrifice of Praise

      Impossible it seems,
      Amidst my shattered dreams,
To break the power of discontent
To which my selfish soul is bent.

      And yet I make the choice
      In all things to rejoice;
To offer thanks in everything
And teach my weary heart to sing.

      It is my Lord’s command,
      And by His strength I stand,
So, even in my darkest days,
I make the sacrifice of praise.

      If I will but obey
      And cast my doubts away,
He always will the faith impart
To praise Him wholly from the heart.

      A sacrifice it is
      To bend my will to His,
But, oh, the peace and joy it pays
To make the sacrifice of praise!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Rose Afghan in Black and Pink

A young man suggested that I make a black afghan with pink flowers.  I didn't care much for the idea, but for reasons too mysterious to explain, I made it anyway.  I found a vintage pattern at Karen's Variety:
But, as usual, I didn't follow the pattern.  I followed the chart for the rose (much too hard for me to do on my own,) but instead of making 15 of them, I made only 8, and added a border.  I also added random rosebuds to the plain squares.

Perhaps my friend will get this for a wedding present . . . if . . . .
Meanwhile it is on display at the Bee Hive in Spencer, Iowa.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Jesus is More Than Enough

I was reminded of this poem this morning when I heard a sermon on the divinity of Christ.  I am so inclined to turn every which way, when Christ is the one I need.

Jesus Is More Than Enough
      by Angie Conjurske

    Your heart is so broken;
        Your tears fall so fast;
    You live in the future
        And think of the past.
    Your heart is so heavy;
        You worry and fret,
    But brother, don’t you forget,
That Jesus is more than enough.
        He’ll heal all your hurt,
        And cleanse all your sin,
’Cause Jesus is more than enough.

    He’s standing right now
        With His arms open wide.
    Your soul in His mercy
        He surely will hide.
    Just take Him your problems
        Oh, fall at His feet;
    Find rest at the mercy-seat.
Oh, Jesus is more than enough.
        He’ll fill all that void,
        And heal all those wounds,
’Cause Jesus is more than enough.

    Just give up your worry,
        And give Him your pain.
    He’ll heal all your turmoil
        And wash every stain.
He knows how you’re hurting;
        He knows what to do,
    And He will always be true.
Oh, Jesus is more than enough.
        Just give Him your all,
        And trust Him to lead,
’Cause Jesus is more than enough.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Reading in Jeremiah I noticed these words: "In these things I delight, saith the Lord."  We are told to delight ourselves in the Lord.  That means (among other things) that we should delight ourselves in those things which please and delight Him.  I have put in my own words a few things that the Bible specifically says please or delight the Lord.  I have included some verses which speak of His will ~ which is clearly His delight (Psalm 40:8).  The list is by no means exhaustive.

In these things the Lord delights:

~Lovingkindness (Jer. 9:24)
~Judgment (Jer. 9:24)
~Righteousness (Jer. 9:24)
~The steps of a good man (Psalm 37:23)
~Mercy (Micah 7:18, Hosea 6:6)
~Obeying the voice of the Lord (I Samuel 15:22)
~Those who fear Him (Psalm 147:11)
~Those who hope in His mercy (Psalm 147:11)
~Wisdom (Proverbs 8:30)
~A fair scale (Proverbs 11:1)
~Upright men (Proverbs 11:20)
~Honest dealing (Proverbs 12:22)
~The prayer of the upright (Proverbs 15:8)
~Songs of praise (Psalm 69:30-31)
~The salvation of believers (I Corinthians 1:21)
~Reconciliation of all things through Christ (Colossians 1:19-20)
~True good works (Hebrews 13:16)
~Sharing with one another (Hebrews 13:16)
~Gifts to God's servants (Philippians 4:18)
~Obedience to parents (Colossians 3:20)
~Building the house of God (Haggai 1:8)
~Knowledge of God (Hosea 6:6)
~Sanctification (I Thessalonians 4:3)
~Abstaining from fornication (I Thessalonians 4:3)
~Giving thanks (I Thessalonians 5:18)
~Good behavior (I Peter 2:15)
~Repentance (2 Peter 3:9, Ezekiel 18:23)
~Everlasting life (John 6:39-40)
~Companionship with His people (John 17:24)
~Predestination and adoption in Christ (Ephesians 1:4-5)

In these He does not delight:

~That any should perish (Matthew 18:14, 2 Peter 3:9)
~Sacrifices and burnt offerings (Isaiah 1:11, Psalm 51:16, Hebrews 10:6, 8)
~The strength of a horse (Psalm 147:10)
~The legs of a man (Psalm 147:10)
~Those who do evil (Malachi 2:17)
~The carnal mind which is of the flesh (Romans 8:8)
~Drawing back from the faith (Hebrews 10: 38-39)
~Unbelief (Hebrews 11:6)
~The death of the wicked (Ezekiel  18:23, 32; 33:11)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Martha Hall, Faithful in Adversity

Some of the things I am especially thanful for this week are:
~ A good visit with Harmony.
~ The completion of a wood rack for hanging pans in my kitchen.
~ Word that the following poem was used for good in one woman's life.

      Martha Hall*

                      By Nita Brainard

The marriage union God has given
To be a type and taste of heaven.
Both man and wife He means to bless,
Increasing earthly happiness,
But in the case of Martha Hall,
It didn’t work that way at all.

The lot that fell to her through time,
Was her misfortune, not her crime.
Job’s friends would find in her the fault,
And so her character assault,
But suffering isn’t always sent
To those deserving punishment.

Sometimes to lift the favored up,
God gives them first a bitter cup.
The wickedness of selfish man
He uses to fulfil this plan.
Thus, sorrows Martha had to face
Became a sanctifying grace.

The man she wed and thought would be
A haven of security,
A comfort to her longing heart,
And to her soul a counterpart,
Though outwardly a seeming fit,
Was shortly proved a hypocrite.

When in her house a maid gave birth,
The servants thought the girl not worth
Their timely and their needed aid,
For they despised the unwed maid.
When Martha asked what cause they had,
She learned her husband was the dad.

Though wracked herself with untold pain,
Yet Martha saw her duty plain.
She looked in pity on the maid,
And gave her still the needed aid.
Her husband, pleased with such a wife,
Reformed a while his wicked life.

The mending didn’t last for long.
He soon returned to going wrong.
A godly man he once appeared,
But through the years his conscience seared.
At length he openly avowed
That he was numerous “wives” allowed.

One time when he a girl beguiled,
He brought his wife the bastard child;
With orders placed it in her hands —
And she obeyed the base commands.
A crib she dutifully prepared
And for the needy infant cared.

Without a word, she meekly bore
Both this abuse, and much, much more.
Although he filled it with disgrace,
She honoured his God-given place.
Without reproach or bitter whines,
She even helped his concubines.

When asked how she could do such things,
Her answer many a conscience stings:
Not as a woman do I act,
But as a Christian, bound by pact.
Oh, who has faith to do the same?
And who will such a calling claim?

How little do we wives endure,
And yet don’t act at all like her!
How quick we are with a complaint;
How quick to blame; how quick to faint;
How quick to justify a course
That could end up in a divorce!

A man may fail to rise above
The weakness of his promised love,
May fail to honor, fail to guide,
Nor for his wife’s true needs provide,
Yet when her brightest hopes are crushed,
Let even just complaints be hushed!

O woman, fix on Christ your eyes;
Above your troubles you may rise.
Perhaps your bliss is incomplete;
Your earthly prospects not so sweet;
It lies in your own interest still
To meekly bend your stubborn will.

Although the journey can be rough,
The end is sure, and blest enough:
For Martha now is with her Lord,
And e’en on earth had this reward,
That when her husband came to die,
She was an angel! was his cry.

* 1707-1791, Martha Hall was the next younger sister to John Wesley.  The details of this story are substantiated in Memoirs of the Wesley Family by Adam Clarke.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Perfect Pattern

   Flipping through a catalogue today, I noticed an advertisement that said, “Find the perfect pattern.”  Indeed!  I’ve looked many times for the perfect pattern ~ and despite the large variety of patterns available, I never have found it.

   A pattern, being a static thing has some advantages over those things which are constantly changing, like cities, neighborhoods, workplaces, and churches, so it may be slightly easier to find the perfect pattern than the perfect job or the perfect church.  Yet there is no perfection under the sun ~ and if there were, my perception of it is too imperfect  to see it.

   The last time I searched long and hard for a pattern, I was looking for a loose-fitting aran cardigan with a v-neck.  It doesn’t sound hard, does it? After much searching, I actually saw a picture that was just what I wanted ~ but I found it in a vintage magazine.  Answering an ad printed prior to 1965 didn’t seem like a good idea.  I searched online and found other vintage patterns from the same company, but my “perfect” pattern was not to be found.  “But godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim. 6:6) and I found one that will do ~ with only a little modification.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Girls Sweater Vest

When I was in Germany as a teenager, the Germans were surprised to see an American who could knit.  What’s more ~ I knit continental style! But what perhaps caused them most to wonder was that I needed a pattern to make a sweater.  Why, it says right on the yarn how many stitches to an inch!  You just figure out how big you want it, cast on the stitches and go.  I knit my sweater by a pattern, and I had a fancier sweater ~ but simple is good, and my German sister’s was nicer.

Recently when I needed to use some extra yarn, I decided to make a vest for my granddaughter.  I didn’t have a pattern handy, so I knit this up German style.  Only I wrote down what I did in case you prefer to have someone else do the figuring.  For other sizes, however, you are on your own.

Girl’s Striped Sweater Vest, size 6

Worsted weight yarn.  (I used Wool-Ease.)
Circular needles, sizes 8 and 10
8 st and 11 rows = 2”

With color A (green), CO 100 st.  Join ends, being careful not to twist. (This is the only part of knitting in the round that I don’t like.) Knit in K1 P1 ribbing for 2”.

Switch to larger needles.  Knit 2 rows.
Begin striping pattern (will be worked three times):
            6 rows color B (dark rose)
            2 rows color A
            4 rows color C (pink)
            2 rows color A
            6 rows color B
            6 rows color A

Work 9” in stockinette.
BO 2  K48  BO 2  K 48
Place 48 stitches for front on stitch holder.  (I skip this, and leave the stitches on my circular needle.)
Work back and forth in stockinette on back, dec 1 st. each side every right side row 3 times.  (Work right side decreases by slipping two stitches and knitting them together through the back.  Work left side decreases by knitting two together.)
Work even in striping pattern until armhole measures 6 ¾”.
Continuing with color A BO 8 st at the beginning of each of the next 2 rows.  Then BO 6 each of the following two rows.  Place 14 neck stitches on holder.

For front:
Begin with a purl row.  Work as for back, decreasing one stitch each end every right side row 3 times.
P 20 st, P2 tog, P20 st.
K 20 st, place on holder, K center stitch and place on safety pin or stitch holder. K 20 st for right side.
Working only on right side, dec one stitch at neck edge every right side row until 14 stitches remain.  Knit until armhole corresponds to back. (6 ¾”)
BO 8 at armhole edge.  Then BO 6.

Work right side to correspond to right.

Sew shoulder seams.  Pick up 29 stitches along left side of neck. Place marker. Pick up center stitch.  Pick up 29 st along right side of neck.  In K1 Pk ribbing, k across 14 neck stitches on holder and down the left side of neck. Knit the center stitch. K1 P1 to end of row.
Continue in ribbing, decreasing before marker and after center stitch every round.  Work 6 rounds. BO.

Pick up 72 st around armhole. K1 P1 ribbing around.  Work 6 rows. BO

Weave in loose ends.

Sew to vest with yarn.