Something old, something new, something borrowed, and I’m not blue, Part IV!

kitchen

Three years ago, in spring of 2012, I started a simple kitchen makeover on a shoestring, blogging about it in three successive posts (here, here, and here) — all relevant to The Green Sheep because of the recycling theme, right? “Use what you have!”

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Over this stretch of time, we have continued chipping away at the following changes:

• painting the island a “greige” color
• hanging a pendant light above the kitchen sink
• switching out the linoleum for laminate flooring
• adding a back-splash made of ceramic floor tiles

…and IT FEELS SO GREAT. Done for now. (The lamp and tiles were from our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Only the flooring was brand new.)

The back-splash was the latest project, completed this month, so I’ve got pics:

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kitchen

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Here’s the finished product — very subtle, just as planned:

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kitchen

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And here’s the full kitchen, as we use and love it everyday. You can see the pendant light, painted island and new flooring now. The cabinets are a bit worse for wear; I haven’t been incredibly impressed with how the Rustoleum Cabinet Transformation product has held up. And yet! There’s no doubt in my mind these changes have made me a better cook ;). Also, there was no island prior to the start of this remodel. Of course, it’s now a favorite workspace and gathering spot.

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At some point, I will repaint and put up new art on the walls — as one of my daughters gifted me a couple of her paintings. Woo hoo!

As long as I had made a mess in one part of the house, I decided to keep on going. This past week I’ve been working on the back hall. It was one of the earliest-painted parts of the house when we moved in, late 1990s. In my desire for color, I went for green stripes. Although it made me happy, it’s now dated. The only pic I have is this recent one, once I started repairs:

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I now chose a very light gray for the walls (“Is it going to look white??” asked both a daughter and my husband separately) and painted the trim plain white. I’m going for peacefulness this time around. Here’s the same corner after patching, sanding, priming, and painting:

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kitchen

So there you go, an update. How about you all? Any other do-it-yourselfers who’ve got a project to report? I’d love to hear!

He gave her yellow roses

Yellow Roses

“Significance of yellow roses.” I typed this into my search bar as I worked on this latest blanket.

Yellow Roses

Personally, I lean toward less traditional flowers — the handful of purple wildflowers from the hillside near my college in southern California, the tangle of bright cosmos from my first garden, the graceful tulips I came to love after living several years in Michigan. But I gained a new tenderheartedness toward roses after hearing about Richard and Anne.

Yellow Roses

Yellow Roses

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The meaning of yellow roses (from goldflorist.com):
• friendship
• a love that is familiar
• happiness with the domestic arrangement
• joy and happiness

 

Yellow Roses

Yellow Roses

When Richard and Anne met in college, he was on his way to becoming a dentist, she, a nurse. They married, settled down in Indiana and raised two daughters, now grown with families of their own. This last August, after over 50 years of marriage, Anne died. The daughters, grieving the loss of their mom and seeing their dad’s profound lonesomeness for her, wanted to have a blanket made for Richard from several of Anne’s sweaters. Lori, the oldest daughter, talked with me about her parents.

Yellow Roses

Yellow Roses

“Mom had a heart of gold,” said Lori. “Above all else, she loved being a friend. She liked to write cards to encourage people. She loved to get together with friends for lunch. She loved the Lord and she loved us. She was so sweet! We really miss her.

Yellow Roses

“Dad always worked very hard. He also enjoyed being an outdoorsman and hunting when he was younger. But after we were grown up, my parents had more time to travel. Myrtle Beach was a favorite place, and Dad loved to golf there. My parents completely enjoyed being together.”

Yellow Roses

Yellow Roses

“Oh!” said Lori, near the very end of the phone call. “Dad always gave Mom yellow roses! Would you put a yellow rose on the blanket?”

Yellow Roses

Yellow Roses

I look back at the meaning of a yellow rose: friendship, a familiar love, happiness in a domestic arrangement. Those warm, sunny roses are perfect for this pair, on so many levels. I also read that yellow roses can signify spring and new life, causing this blanket, made in April, to be extra timely.

Last week, when the finished blanket was hanging over the railing of my loft/sewing space, the roses caught my husband’s attention. I told him about the significance of the flowers. My guy, tough yet tender, got tears in his eyes as he imagined the difficulty of losing a companion and friend of over 50 years. “You’re gonna make him cry,” he said.

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For Richard and family, I pray this blanket can be a comfort to you all and bring a sense of nearness to your wife and mom. I was touched by the love in your family and am so glad to have had the chance to make this for you.

(For readers, here are some fun blanket details: The colorful sweaters belonged to Anne–the green, the blue, the mottled blue and the multicolored one. The buttons are from the green sweater, and I included two pockets of the mottled blue. In the end, Lori chose three yellow roses for the three grandsons whom “Mom thought the world of and who felt the same about her.” Finally, the bumpy tan under the roses with its braid pattern was difficult to sew over but I love the contrast it offers. As my husband pointed out, “It looks brambles behind the roses” — those rough patches in marriage and in life that make the sweet part even sweeter.)

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“Yellow Roses”  (58″x75″)

This blanket has already gone to a good home.

 

“Baby in the Badlands”

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It all started with their love of raptors.

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Kristen and Lori, wildlife biologists, best friends, and now sisters-in-law (they ended up marrying brothers), met while working on a golden eagle project together in the Badlands of North Dakota.

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Badlands

When Lori got pregnant with her second child last year, Kristen (a Green Sheep blog lurker for over a year) wrote and asked me about the possibility of making a Badlands-themed crib blanket. Both families still live in North Dakota. Now, Lori and her husband are ranchers there.

Badlands

Badlands

The closest I’ve come to where these two met was the South Dakota Badlands on a family car trip in my early youth to see Mount Rushmore, Wall Drug, Crazy Horse, and the Corn Palace. That was a long time ago! So I relied on Google Images to feed my imagination. Kristen steered me away from the stylized, filtered photos toward the natural ones. What an astounding landscape!

Badlands

Badlands

Kristen, who has been a sewer since age eight (“I learned from my mom and in 4-H!”), requested blues and browns to echo that landscape. I headed that direction and soon realized I needed to somehow represent the Badlands’ fascinating geologic formations. Two striped sweaters were perfect for the project. I also knew from the beginning that there must be a golden eagle coasting on the air currents above the land.

Badlands

Badlands

For Lori and Baby Owen, who arrived just last week, here is “Baby in the Badlands.” Welcome, little one! May you come to love the land and its creatures as much as your momma and your Aunt Kristen do. And Kristen and Lori, may your friendship continue to be a blessing that binds you and your families in wonderful ways :)

“Baby in the Badlands” (45″ x 52″)

This blanket has already gone to a good home

The Irish Trio

Irish Trio

In time for St. Patrick’s day: The Irish Trio.

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These three blankets belong to The Green Sheep Legacy Collection, as they commemorate the life of a loved one who has passed away. They are made in warmhearted memory of Mariclare  — with her great love of Ireland in mind — and will go to her two daughters and granddaughter, as a gift from her son John and his wife Maureen.

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Mariclare was actually a step-mom to the four children she raised, but I only bring up that small detail in order to tell you her story. Mariclare gamely married Jack, a widower with four children — two boys, two girls — between the ages of 7 and nearly 1. Jack had tragically lost his first wife to brain cancer on the very day she gave birth to their youngest, a baby girl. This was the needy young family that welcomed Mariclare. To these four children, all grown up now, she has simply been Mom. Her daughter-in-law calls Mariclare a saint. She may not have been as well-known as Saint Patrick, but she may have been just as crucial to one small family in God’s great kingdom!

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Mariclare’s family contributed a lovely cream-colored Irish afghan of hers for the blankets. That beautiful afghan shrunk to a very small size, causing me to cut its knitted cable and basket-weave stitches into long strips rather than the rectangles I usually employ for blankets. I added in a Celtic-design sweater I’ve been saving, with chains of Celtic knots, to tie the trio together as well.

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Here is “Irish Blue.” The cream pieces from Mariclare’s afghan are a geometric echo of the Irish knotwork against a rich deep blue background. Blue was St. Patrick’s color! —

Irish Blue

Irish Blue

Irish Trio

Irish Blue

Irish Blue

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Here is “Irish Cream.” In this, the afghan pieces– they are the ones that are contiguous from one edge of the blanket to the other — are part and parcel of the cream body of the blanket. —

Irish Trio

Irish Trio

Irish Trio

Irish Trio

Irish Trio

Irish Trio

And finally, this is “Irish Grey.” The creamy afghan stripes and the shamrock complement the subtle greys really beautifully. Very restful. —

Irish Grey

Irish Grey

Irish Grey

Irish Grey

Irish Grey

Irish Grey

For daughters Ann and Kathi and granddaughter Maggie, may these blankets be loving reminders of  your precious mom and grandmother. Your family is grateful to you for all the care you gave her.

The Irish Trio (each approx. 52″ x 68″):

“Irish Blue”

“Irish Cream”

“Irish Grey” 

The blankets have already gone to good homes

“Sunset with Flowers”

Sunset with Flowers

Sunset with Flowers

I’ve mentioned before here and here and here that you just never know how a blanket might change before it’s out my door. I’ve got another example of one today, with the change done at the invitation of a customer.

I originally made this as  “Box of Chocolates” (posted about here with unfortunately overexposed photos) and enjoyed the results with its unique abutted edge. Many shoppers have shown interest in it, but in the end I would generally hear something like: “I love it, but don’t know what my husband would think of the pink.”

Sunset with Flowers

This recent customer was looking for an item for a February fundraiser and thought the colors perfectly appropriate. As appliqués are her favorite part of Green Sheep blankets, she requested one and left its subject matter up to me.

So now, shifting the scene from a box of candy to wildflowers at dusk, this comfy blanket has become “Sunset with Flowers,” giving it a welcome vibe indeed.  May it do its fundraising part this Friday for an organization important to many young lives (St. Peter Lutheran School of Arlington Heights, IL) and may it bless the new home where it finally settles :).

Sunset with Flowers

Sunset with Flowers

Sunset with Flowers

Sunset with Flowers

 “Sunset with Flowers” (55″ x 66″)

This item is no longer available for purchase.

 

 

“Heart[h] and Home”

Heart[h] and Home

Early last year, in the middle of a terribly hard time in her life, Susan lost her mom to cancer. I honestly have no words to put to such a difficult thing. I love this friend and ache for her loss.

Time and the hand of God have been at work in the healing process, and last fall Susan called me after finding some wool sweaters of her mom’s. We met over sandwiches, Susan passed me the sweaters, and asked if I’d make two blankets — one for Susan and one for her sister Cathy.

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To help me with the design plan, the sisters shared particular memories of their mom, Chris: She liked to read. She made popcorn in a pot on the stove. When they lived in Westport, Connecticut, she packed picnic dinners for the beach. She planned many camping trips to Maine’s Acadia National Park. She loved her grandkids and got “grandma” time with all of them while her daughters worked. And she loved blue and green.

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Susan’s family moved several times in her growing-up years, and what Cathy and Susan remember above all is Chris’ devotion to her family and to making a home for them, wherever the family found itself. Susan noted, “She wasn’t exactly crafty, she didn’t really have hobbies, and — even though she loved having Thanksgiving — she wasn’t even a great cook. But she was always there for us. That’s what I think of when I think of my mom. She was there when we got home from school, every day. That was really important to her.”

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Chris kept her own wardrobe neutral, and such were the sweaters she left behind. Susan provided me with three sweaters in different shades of gray (one with sweet pale blue snowflakes) and a fourth one, cream, from Marshall Field’s that Susan recalls her mom wearing more than any other.

I decided to anchor those three grays at the heart of each blanket and surround them with Chris’ favorite colors. I would have the cream encircle and embrace the whole, like a mother taking a child in her arms. Finally, I would add a heart: such a simple symbol but unrivaled in representing the depth of love of a mom for her family. I laid out the two sister blankets as mirror images of each other.

And they were all ready in time for Christmas. For Susan and Cathy, with love ♥

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“Heart[h] and Home” 

Two blankets, 59″ x 76″ each

These blankets already have homes.

A very good gift

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I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

–John 10.10

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 Photo: Christian Lambert Photography on Flickr via Creative Commons

Neither my husband nor I speaks the language of gifts fluently. For each of us, there are other things that rank higher in importance, and that’s where we spend our energies. But my husband has a quality that simply amazes me: if you need something, he will drop just about anything in order to figure out a way to get that something done. I regularly see him do this for others, but this year he did something for me that was so impractical and so loving and so undeserved, I still get teary thinking about it.

The story actually begins, and not in a good way, on my birthday in February of 2013. We had gone out for a lovely birthday dinner and were on our way home when my car was rear-ended at a stoplight. It was a pretty big BUMP but we weren’t hurt and neither was the other driver, so the officer sent us all on our way, grateful, to home.

But then we learned that my beloved car, an 11-year-old previously-owned Mazda Tribute with a manual transmission, had been badly knocked awry and was declared totalled. Time to go car shopping.

That prospect might cause YOU joy and elation, but I wasn’t feelin’ it: we weren’t going to get much insurance money, so in addition to losing a car I was very fond of, we would be making a new financial investment, whether we bought new or used.

Now, in our 30-plus years of marriage, we have always bought used. (You are likely not surprised by that fact! This very blog is based on a fundamental recycling theme!) But this time we compared the options and, with a popular used car market driving up prices, my husband said (after countless hours of test drives with a disheartened wife), “Honey, I would just love to do this for you,” and we brought home a beautiful new white and shiny small SUV. I felt pretty stunned to be the recipient of this lovely gift.

The end.

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Photo: Angelina Vukel on Flickr via Creative Commons

Oh, wait; that is not the end. Honestly, that car was a LOVELY gift, but it did not turn out to be the gift in this story.

I drove that car for over a year but somehow never felt attached to it. It was beautiful and comfortable…but not really my style. And I felt that most acutely when I, the check-writer for the two of us, paid its monthly car payment. It took me a long time to tell my kind husband this truth.

We talked about trading my car in, but I didn’t want to go through the hassle, I hated that we’d lose money on it, etc., etc., etc. But he wouldn’t give up that easily. We’d done so much car-shopping and test-driving that he knew what I liked and soon he had some great used cars picked out — relatively late models with low mileage and lower price tags than my shiny new vehicle had. His research brought to my attention a car I hadn’t taken notice of before — as Hyundai had stopped making them after 2012: the Elantra Touring. I fell in love with all the practical qualities of that car: its low profile, good fuel economy, and great cargo space.

And then that charming guy of mine showed me one with a manual transmission. My heart leapt within me. I hadn’t realized how much I missed the delight of driving a stick shift.

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Photo: Monika & Manfred on Flickr via Creative Commons

You know how I said these cars were no longer made? And how I liked it a lot? Apparently many other car owners feel the same because this vehicle is not too common in the used market. Local ones were either weirdly bright colors (my apologies to the owners of those colors — I’m happy that variety can be the spice of your life!) or in wrecky shape. Did my husband try to talk me out of this car? No, his brain went into another dimension and — I’m telling the truth — this is what happened:

One Thursday afternoon, my husband calls me at work and casually says, “I have a verbal agreement with a dealer in Massachusetts for a beautiful black Touring with a manual transmission and just 18,000 miles on it. CarMax has offered a good price for your current car. So can I ask for your help when you get home from work? We’ll go to CarMax and trade in your car, and then you can drop me off at Chicago O’Hare to catch an evening flight to Boston Logan, and then I’ll take a 3-hour bus ride to Dartmouth…”

[To understand this picture fully, you need to know how much I would never do this, this thing so quixotic, so complicated, so uncalled-for and — honestly — so crazy. Me? I’m the one who efficiently lines up all my errands like a UPS driver, ticking my way through them with right-hand turns, wasting neither time nor money, and getting home to cook a sensible dinner. I attribute this to my German and Scottish ancestors. Why should anyone put everything on hold and go to all this outlandish trouble for a CAR??]

Well, he pulled it off with barely a hitch: from trade-in to flight to bus-ride to dealing with the car salesman to working out a legal way to drive home without proper plates in this out-of-state purchase to driving over 1000 miles back to northern Illinois. And I never caught a single note of stress in his voice when we talked by phone.

On Saturday evening, my tired husband pulled into our driveway with a smile on his face and one of the most thoughtful, fun gifts I have ever received.

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I tell you this story because to me it is a tender glimpse of the way God gives gifts — beyond my imagination, always undeserved, with details only he could orchestrate, and with a care-free generosity I cannot wrap my care-full mind around. This in fact is the story of Christmas and the gospel, beginning with the unusual birth of the baby Jesus — who came that we might have life and have it abundantly.

The unanticipated joy God the Father throws in is a bonus.

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Celebrating Ellie

Celebrating Ellie

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This week, I got to hold tiny Ellie. Ellie is just a newborn but she has already accomplished a great feat: she tenaciously stayed put through her momma’s 16 weeks (!) of pre-term labor — including DAILY contractions. She did her family proud by not appearing until well into Week 39 … on Thanksgiving Day. Amazing. For all this and more, I present —

 /\/\/\/\/\/\/\   a few celebratory chevrons!   /\/\/\/\/\/\ 

It just seems appropriate.

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[Hyacinth Quilt Designs was helpful to me in learning how to plan out the stripes for the chevrons.]

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Welcome to God’s beautiful world, little Ellie! And congrats and love to Lori, Steve, and Aiden :).

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“Celebrating Ellie” (~40″ x 40″)

This blanket already has a home.

Mittens!

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Fortuitous events caused me to make a handful of mittens this year even though I hadn’t been planning on it. They were fun! They’re up in the Etsy shop if you’d like to see them there.

In response to popular request, I make my mittens with a bit longer cuff and keep it adjustable (it’s not tacked down). This means your wrists are just as protected as your hands are — no breeze can touch that tender skin at the end of your coat sleeve. Each mitten is also snugged in at the wrist to keep it comfortably in place. All mittens are lined with fleece for double warmth.

These mittens actually fall into two categories. First, there’s the traditional design, where the most interesting fabric is on the back of the hand:

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Then there’s the nontraditional design, where, just for the fun of it, I put the interesting pattern on the palm side of the mitten. I enjoy the “surprise factor” of these :)

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And they’re ready in the nick of time — many of us have snow coming soon! If you’re interested in staying warm in winter with some mittens from The Green Sheep, please come browse my Etsy shop.  Take care and stay warm!

A Beautiful Intervention

Whooo’s Sleepy?

Tim and Stephanie were pretty sure they were finished having children. They had one son and one daughter — a comfortable family. And then out of the blue Stephanie had the distinct impression they should have a third.

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“Why don’t you pray about it?” recommended Tim, who places his confidence in God but was skeptical about another child. Stephanie’s sense about it only increased, but she knew that wasn’t what Tim was hoping for. One evening in front of television, Stephanie suggested perhaps Tim ought to join in on the prayer. Tim was respectful but still rattled by the entire idea. “Okay, I will,” Tim responded, “but I think it’s going to take a sign to actually persuade me.”

     “What kind of a sign?” asked Stephanie.
     Tim replied, “I don’t know — maybe a burning a bush.”

They turned back to the television and just moments later, big as day on the screen before them, was a bush consumed in flames. Tim couldn’t believe his eyes.

Before long, Stephanie was pregnant.

Early blood tests to check the baby’s health, however, indicated there might be problems. Stephanie was told to prepare for a possible miscarriage. On the day of her OB appointment to listen for the baby’s heartbeat for the first time, she feared there would be none. Stephanie paused in the parking lot to text a friend from her women’s small group at church. “Please pray. I’m going in to hear the heartbeat.” That friend started a chain to pass the request for prayer on to many more people. In the doctor’s office, Stephanie heard her little one, alive and well.

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At the beginning of her pregnancy, Stephanie was being followed by her regular endocrinologist for a long-standing thyroid imbalance. Although he was out-of-state, he knew her well and continued to monitor her meds from a distance. He told her it would be best to stay on her regular meds until the third trimester. But abruptly and confusingly, insurance denied medication coverage and Stephanie had to discontinue these meds much earlier than planned. With the change, Stephanie quickly chose a local endocrinologist to now follow her through the pregnancy.

At one appointment, the new endocrinologist felt something foreign in Stephanie’s neck and requested a biopsy. The test revealed two fast-growing cancerous tumors on her thyroid. Surgery could not be put off. So when the baby was at about 28 weeks, Stephanie — less concerned about the cancer (a very treatable kind, she says) than about the effects of the anesthesia on her baby — went in for the operation. She says there was a palpable, peaceful presence in the room; she was certain that God was caring for her and her baby. The surgeon removed the now-three tumors and some lymph nodes.

It is not lost on Stephanie and Tim that had she not gotten pregnant, had there been no need to see an endocrinologist face-to-face, this cancer would most likely have gone undetected until it was too late to treat it effectively. And the medication she couldn’t take because of insurance denial? It would have caused the tumors to grow even more quickly. In retrospect, Stephanie is incredibly grateful for the sequence of events.

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Several weeks after surgery, Stephanie began to show signs of pre-term labor. On her way to the obstetrician’s office one day due to early contractions, Stephanie once again paused in the parking lot to text her friend in the small group. The call for prayer once again went out to many. Within 6 hours, labor stopped and there was no dilation.

Finally, at 38 weeks, just as scheduled, little Noah was delivered. He was healthy as could be.

Stephanie, who has been telling me Noah’s story by phone, finally stops. “All of it –” she says, “It is a beautiful intervention by God.”

I have one last question for her, because I had heard bits and pieces of her story earlier through her women’s small group who ordered the owl blanket as a gift for her. On the phone I ask, “So, in addition to the burning bush…wasn’t there something about a rainbow?”

“Oh! There is!” says Stephanie. “At the beginning of the summer, before my surgery, we took our kids up to Kalahari in the Wisconsin Dells. It’s their favorite place to go. At that point, we knew we were having a boy but hadn’t decided on a name yet. We asked the kids for their input too. They came up with some hilarious things! But while we were there, we settled on the name Noah. And as we drove home from that trip, we saw one, two, three, FOUR separate rainbows. Our kids were so excited about seeing the rainbows right after we chose the name ‘Noah.’ They told us: ‘It’s like a sign that our baby is part of God’s big story!'”

Noah, you certainly are part of God’s big story. Welcome, little guy, to this beautiful world and into your loving — and amazed! — family. Already, God has shown his faithfulness to you.

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“Whooo’s Sleepy?” (34″ x 40″)

This blanket already has a home.

The Tatler Ad

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Yesterday after work I pulled into the driveway, unloaded the groceries I’d just picked up, and, with the day’s lunch bag still slung over my shoulder, walked to the end of the drive to get our mail. And there was this.

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(Not with the giant tear in it; I did that.) I’ve been on the lookout for this package, eager for its arrival from across The Pond. A couple of posts ago, I mentioned that The Green Sheep had an ad coming out in a parents’ gift-giving guide. I didn’t mention where…

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Tatler Magazine, a Conde Nast publication in the U.K., contacted me at the beginning of August, asking if I would care to be part of their holiday promotion leading up to Christmas. I was stunned! Honored! And in disbelief that this blog had captured someone’s attention over there. Those British know their wool. I am like a dwarf among giants.

And then I said “yes,” sent off the ad copy and image, and got to work. You guys have seen the result: I finally took the Etsy leap.

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Here’s the final product! (Get out your monocle and check out Item #8. I was so pleased that I had just finished “Baby Goes Hiking” and had its photos all ready.) I feel privileged all over again to have been invited to be part of this 2-page spread. Thank you, Tatler; and thank you, Harriet-of-the-sales-team. I enjoyed working with you.

As frosting on the cake, Tatler’s sister magazine, British Glamour, just asked me this week if I’d care to run the ad in their similar holiday guide next month. What??? I said “yes” :)

“Quiet at Last”

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[Please visit my Etsy shop, The Green Sheep Studio, for purchasing information.]

Many times when I begin a blanket, I begin simply with a group of sweaters that look beautiful together. I know that in the process of combining them, they will inform me of what they’re all about. I love diving into a project, trusting the materials to lead me. At some point we become partners: if the end doesn’t immediately satisfy, I keep pressing until it does.

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I recently had several blue and gray sweaters strewn about my work area from the little boy blankets I’d been sewing. I kept thinking how I’d love a big blanket in those colors. So I sliced them up and started putting them together. These colors felt extraordinarily calming from the start.

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The blue and gray were nice on their own — but a little more drama was called for. I added the charcoal pieces and found a charcoal sweater in cashmere to make into the bias binding.

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Then I enclosed the blues and light grays by darker gray all around the edges. That’s when I felt it: You know that calm that falls at the end of the day when the kids are in bed, the house is nearly quiet, and you can finally think again? When the day and its din are drawing to a close? When your bed beckons to your tired body, and the blessed hope of rest whispers “Let go”?

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Of course, in a few more hours the next day will begin with its own needs — that is the rhythm of our lives. I suppose there’d be an element of boredom without that.

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But I’m eminently grateful for the rest in between.

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“Quiet at Last” (54″ x 72″)

[Please visit my Etsy shop, The Green Sheep Studio, for purchasing information.]

Etsy Shop now open!

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After years of sharing The Green Sheep’s blankets (and more) via this blog, I’ve now also opened an Etsy shop!

If you haven’t heard of Etsy before, you are in for a treat. It is a well-developed online marketplace where millions of people from around the world sell and shop for unique goods, mostly handmade. Many talented, creative people have set up shop there.

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On Etsy, my shop’s name is The Green Sheep Studio. (You’ll find other shops with “green sheep” in their name as that phrase is not exclusively mine.) To get there, click the “Etsy Shop” link in the green header bar on this page.

Over the next few days, keep your eyes open for the child-sized blankets (like the one above) that I’ll be adding to the shop, as I have an advertisement coming out soon in a parents’ gift-giving guide for the holidays.

Please click on over and do some window shopping. And while you’re there, browse through more of Etsy’s wonderful wares. It’s a great place to find really unique gifts. Have fun!

“Baby Goes Hiking”

Baby Goes Hiking

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In my (other) job as an occupational therapist, I have incredible co-workers. I have mentioned this before. Not only do they give their all for our patients, they do some pretty fascinating things when they are not at work.

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One of our physical therapists, Mike, along with his wife Annie, runs marathons, competes in Ironman triathlons, and flies to places like Vermont for long weekends of bike-riding in the mountains. These two love to be active. Their dog Maple goes along whenever she can.

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So, several months ago, Mike and Annie casually announced they were going to have a baby. (Honestly, they do all their spectacular things quite casually.) Then they painted their spare room with fir trees and forest creatures and things from the great outdoors. And in that span between announcement and baby, I could think of no better idea for this pair than a blanket with a tree, a path, and a puppy, all just waiting for baby to join them.

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On the day we had planned to throw Mike a shower at work — with a good three-ish weeks before baby was due to arrive — Mike was instead over at the hospital encouraging Annie through the last part of a very long labor. And that evening they welcomed little Owen into their family.

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Congratulations to Mike and Annie on the birth of your son! Maple, get ready for your playmate. May you four enjoy many, many amazing adventures together ♥ .

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 “Baby Goes Hiking” (37″ x 39″)

This blanket already has a home.

 

 

“A Plaid Affair”

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I’ve been busy in my sunny sewing place, making up several things to be ready for fall. But I decided to take a quick break to make a post of an early, early blanket I made.

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This blanket nearly qualifies for the designation of “crazy quilt.” It’s such a mix of things:

lovely wool, “bad wool” (high synthetic content), heavy sweaters and thin ones, textures going every which direction, and colors that don’t really blend. I just threw it all in there. This experimentation taught me so much. [Nota bene: I don’t buy bad wool anymore.]

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But in fact this blanket is saved from any “crazy” nomenclature by two things:

the uniformity of the squares and the powerful restraint of the plaid. I find it pretty amazing.

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Incidentally, we have used this blanket a ton for over five years and it is still holding up great. Those lacy patches in particular have surprised me with their durability.

All right, time for me to get back to the sewing machine :)

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“A Plaid Affair” (72″ x 74″)

This blanket already has a home.

Keeping up appearances, Part 2: The blog tour

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I’m a map-lover. I like to know where I am and where I am going. That’s why I’m conducting this little tour around my blog today. It’s all about navigation — what’s here and how to get to it. If you’re curious, come along!

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(Earlier this year, my husband and I took a trip to Italy to mark 30 years of marriage. I decided to use some photos from that trip in today’s post. After all, we DID take a lot of tours!)

All right. Is everybody here? First stop: the header menu.

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 The Header Menu

Across the top of the page is a green bar that has links with lots of useful information. I’ll describe each one:

HOME will always take you back to the most recent post, which will be followed by the next most recent post, etc., in one long scroll. HOME is the place you can return to if you get lost.

ABOUT provides background about me and my business, The Green Sheep. That’s self-explanatory, right? But check it out — you may learn something new!

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CUSTOM ORDER lets you know what to do to order a special blanket of your own or for a gift. A custom-made keepsake blanket makes a great one-of-a-kind gift for a special occasion…or for no occasion at all!

PRICES tells how to find the price of an item that’s available for sale. (As I build my current inventory of blankets available to buy, I also plan to open a shop on etsy.com to make sales transactions simpler.)

LEGACY BLANKETS — This new grouping showcases custom-ordered blankets that specially remember a loved one. This button in the menu bar takes you to a page describing what these blankets are. (For a list of these blankets, see “Legacy Blanket Collection” under “Blankets” via THE GOODS button.)

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CONTACT — This page has a new form for contacting me directly. Yea! It’s easier than ever before.

TESTIMONIALS I appreciate feedback on my business, and customers like to comment. I thought you might be interested too. In fact, if you are an owner or buyer of anything from The Green Sheep and have a testimonial sort of comment of your own, please contact me (see “Contact” section immediately above).

THE GOODS is an index to all Green Sheep items that have ever been posted on this blog. Categories will drop down as you hover over them with your cursor. For instance, you can find children’s blankets I’ve made by going under “Blankets” and then “Blankets for Children.”

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We’re halfway there! I know for a fact some of you don’t spend a lot of time online. So: is this making sense of things?

 

Next up: The Sidebar

Over in the right sidebar are a few more helpful tools I’d like to show you…

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SEARCH MY BLOG: Type in anything you want to look for on the blog. You know, like the birthday coat I wore everywhere last winter :).

FIND THINGS HERE: Just like “The Goods” above, this index contains lists of categories on the blog. This one, however, lists every single post while “The Goods” lists only the items I’ve designed, blankets and all. They overlap some and are both helpful indexes. You would, for example, find this current post listed in the sidebar under “Miscellaneous.”

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FOLLOW BLOG VIA EMAIL: Sign up here to receive an email notification from WordPress every time I post something new. This is in case you don’t want to miss out on anything.

GALLERY: Photos of Green Sheep art! If you click on an image, it will expand to a larger size against a beautiful black background. You can scroll through all the images from there. It’s pretty fun; I hope you give it a whirl.

ARCHIVES: This gives you access to the blog’s posts by date — all the way back to its inception in 2010.

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Almost finished! Now on to the conclusion of our tour:

Comments (and other bottom-of-the-page things)

O.K. This is going to get “techy” for a moment. I’d like to point out something about how most blogs work. When a viewer clicks on the title of the blog (like “The Green Sheep” in black type at the very top of this page), the programming behind the blog brings up a l-o-n-g scroll of consecutive posts, one right after the other, in reverse chronological order.

But! When a viewer clicks on the title of a post (like “Keeping up appearances, Part 2″ at the top of this page in red), the programming instead brings up that one single post. That’s it. No scroll directly onto other posts. With this option, the comments and the so-called sharing buttons appear for use at the end of the post.

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All this to say: Let loose and join in! Leave a comment! Share the post with other people who might enjoy it! Click a button or add your two cents. The fun is in being together.

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Well, that’s it. That’s the little tour. I hope you’ve done some exploring and have found it helpful. I’ve enjoyed introducing you to new features I’ve been working on. Also — I truly do appreciate feedback. Let me know if there’s something else that would make navigation more convenient. I’ll do my best to figure out how to get there!


Interested in Part 1? Check it out here: “Keeping up appearances, Part 1.”

 

 

Keeping up appearances, Part 1

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typewriterOriginal art: virginia kraljevic on etsy

As I am of a certain age, I have seen some changes in technology over my years. I mostly try to take it in stride, but actually I find it astonishing.

I first learned how to use a desktop computer at work in the early 1980s.

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Except it wasn’t actually a desktop; it was a Compaq portable computer, the size of my sewing machine, and it weighed 34 pounds. I could cover the screen with my hand. But so progressive! So exciting!

When we bought our own computer in the later ’80s, it looked something like this:

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In those days I would stick my head into our basement where my grad-student husband was working at his desk and find him bathed in an eerie green glow. Graphics? Of course it had graphics! Like this!

ascii-snoopyPhoto: eetimes

Fast forward more than a decade. I clearly recall when my hubby and I walked into Best Buy and saw — for the first time — high-def, animated graphics on a regular home computer. We stopped like country bumpkins in front of those screens and stared. We were astonished.

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Photo: Disney Screencaps

I’ve been reflecting on technology recently because of a particular need to Keep Up. Five years ago I started this blog in response to requests to put photos of my blankets online. WordPress provided a great platform so I figured out the basics and let it go at that. But then! my WordPress theme, Chaotic Soul, was retired. Do you recall when my blog looked like this?

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But I didn’t like trying to read the old white-on-black anyway so I chose a new theme, Motif, and then had some catch-up to do. (WordPress has added many new features since I began blogging but I’ve been bad about keeping up with them.) With help from Wiley’s “Dummies” imprints, I learned some code, asked for help from the incredible WordPress volunteers, and did a tiny bit of my own web design. (Okay, I may be leaving out a few frustrated hours of struggling to conceptualize what I even needed to ask the volunteers!)

Honestly, I can hardly believe how amazing the internet is, and computing, and code, and the blogging world, and electronics…it’s mostly beyond me. But I am so grateful to be living now and taking part in all of this. How about you?


Please come back next week to see “Keeping up appearances, Part 2,” in which I give you a little tour around my blog!

 

 

 

“The Sand and the Sea”

The Sand and the Sea

Here is an all-time favorite sensation of mine, start to finish:

Spread a beach towel on warm summer sand, sit down on it and scrunch around until the sand underneath conforms to your body. Lay down. Drift into semi-consciousness to the sound of the surf sploshing onto the sand and being sucked backwards. If there’s a crowd, listen to their voices swell and swing different directions with the breeze. Fall asleep.

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I know, I know. You’re wincing because of the sunburn. I just didn’t know much better when I began this habit as a kid in California. So here’s the grown-up me: Avoid painful developments by employing advance planning and self-discipline, specifically with SPF 50 sunblock.

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I no longer live near an ocean. (In fact, we now live in a Midwestern town whose name ends in “Lake.” Not that I’m complaining! But it does help explain the bobbing boats in these photos.)

Still, I have memories of enough beach-naps to keep me happy for some time. Plus I have a brother and family in San Clemente, where crashing waves set the ambiance perfectly. And I have two daughters and a son-in-law on Michigan’s west coast, where dune sand creates gorgeous sleeping spots. No shortage of lovely beaches to visit, right in my family.

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Sandi, who custom-ordered this blanket, has beach memories tucked away as well, although she is currently a fellow-Midwesterner. But she will always love the beach and the way it makes her feel. (Her name IS Sandi, after all.)

When Sandi first wrote me, she said, “I am a beach lover! My favorite colors are ocean blues, sky blues and shades of turquoise blue-greens. Those colors simply make me feel better.” She now makes her home in the middle of Michigan and, part-time, allows her beach memories to inform her own creative design work with jewelry. The name of her business? Sandibeach Jewelry! (Her website is currently under construction.)

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In the mid-20th century, Anne Morrow Lindbergh spent some time by the sea and wrote a small book about thoughts it coaxed from her. In large part, she recorded reflections on her life at that stage as a wife and a mother of five. She called it Gift from the Sea. 

The thing I want to share here is her description of the effects of time near the sea. She expresses it far more beautifully than I did above:

“Rollers on the beach, wind in the pines, the slow flapping of herons across sand dunes, drown out the hectic rhythms of city and suburb, time tables and schedules. One falls under their spell, relaxes, stretches out prone. … Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach – waiting for a gift from the sea.”  

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Sandi, may this blanket — with its calm ocean blues, its hot-sand whites, and its sparkle of sun on the surf — carry you to that pleasant place where the beach can present to you its gifts and its wonders.

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“The Sand and the Sea” (70L x 55W)

This blanket was a custom order.

The one whom my soul loves

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Elsewhere I have mentioned what I like to call my day job (you can find little bits here and here and here) — as an occupational therapist in a busy outpatient neuro rehab clinic. But “busy” doesn’t quite capture the character of the place. 017a

We deal daily with people who have just gone through something generally sudden and traumatic — a stroke, an accident, cancer that has appeared in the brain — and life is often completely different than it was just an ordinary handful of weeks ago. This can make for a huge emotional component during the time we spend with a patient. I believe we try to reserve the best part of ourselves for this.

But on top of that, we muster the resources to cover a lot of other territory: writing documentation that is meaningful to doctors, insurance companies, other therapists; cleaning up equipment after treatment or organizing our ever-changing clinic space; consulting with our fantastically adept case managers on a particular insurance plan or an out-of-sorts family member; juggling last-minute schedule changes…

…and not least of all, trying to care for each other in the crumbs of time we might have left.

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One of us recently got married. The relationship was a happy surprise to both She and He, coming as it did after each had raised their children and spent many years alone. And in the midst of a harried, frenetic clinic day, one of my creative colleagues brought up a great idea with which to honor our marrying friend. Since it involved felted wool, she brought me in on it.

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The idea (which may have been influenced by something on Pinterest) was this: stitch up a table-runner/wall-hanging  with a pair of birds to play the parts of the bride and her groom, add a tender verse from Song of Solomon, and have the varied lot of us on staff fill out the rest with fanciful flowers of our creation.

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And we ARE varied…and colorful and complementary and sometimes cacophonous. All of these came out when we gathered one rare relaxed evening to complete the project — sharing scissors, fabric scraps, wine, and pizza.

We think the outcome illustrates the assortment of us pretty well ;).

Happy Ever After to Donna and Darrel! We love you both.

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Tuesday Treat – Warm Feet

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Today for a Tuesday Treat: Slippers!

This past winter for the heck of it I tested a few slipper patterns for felted wool. (I hold my breath as I say “past” since the last drift of snow in our yard disappeared only YESTERDAY.) I tried out three: Stephanie’s Sewn Felt Slippers  and another simply-named Felt Slippers at Martha Stewart.com, as well as Cosy Slippers by ThePrintPlace on Instructibles.com.

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Each of those test pairs has its pros and cons. (None of those made the photo shoot, incidentally. They were made of reject sweaters! the stuff I keep on hand for experimenting! The ones pictured here Stephanie’s pattern, which I later made as a quick gift for a friend.)

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For each one, I redrew the creator’s pattern with my own foot measurements. Stephanie’s was the simplest pattern to size in this way and also the quickest to sew up. Her moccasin-based slippers fit close like socks and feel snuggly warm because of that. The other “Felt Slippers” come farthest up the top of the foot of all three patterns and are really warm because of that. And ThePrintPlace’s pattern takes the most time to measure and draw, but yields a homey, traditional-looking slipper that says (don’t your slippers talk to you?) “Yea! you’re home!” when you walk in the door at the end of a long day. All of them benefit from the addition of a couple of suede or leather patches at the ball and heel of the foot so that the wearer doesn’t slip and the wool lasts longer. (I cut ovals from suede elbow patches I had removed from sweaters.)

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So, anyway, that’s my little review. They were fun to try, and now I love having extra slippers at each door of the house. You never know just what they’ll say when you walk in at the end of a long day, but it’s always downright welcoming.