Archive for the ‘knitting’ Category

slouchy5As a mom, there are a lot of gifts my boys receive they really don’t want. What teenager really wants to find Payne’s Common Sense or de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America in their Christmas stocking?

slouchy1My youngest son was not thrilled to find Lewis’ space trilogy in his stocking (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra and That Hideous Strength). He spent the rest of his holiday trying to slip his oldest brother his trilogy when I wasn’t looking.

No, my boys don’t always appreciate many of the gifts I give. Some gifts aren’t wrapped as pretty as a Christmas gift or stocking stuffers. Some are the gift of discipline, the gift of No, the gift of re-doing math problems, the gift of project development and completion, the gift of dress clothes for appropriate moments, the gift of not leaving the table until your plate is clean – but that I throw out the lure – and leave it there, in faith, knowing that at some point – the gift will enrich their lives – the mom in me has learned how to wait for a gift’s appreciation.

Delayed appreciation doesn’t always make parenting a feel-good job. It takes a while for a seed planted to grow. Learning to love unconditionally in the interim, to walk faith in the hope of a seed planted –whether it is a reading seed, a math seed, a moral seed, a relationship seed, a good-choice seed, even a God seed – those seed gifts will one day be pulled in, used and even valued.

“Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn’t a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing. You’re at least decent to your own children. So don’t you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?” (Matt 7:11, The Message)

slouchy4God knows, though, that we need good moments – moments where our love gifts need to be accepted with alcrity – cheerful readiness, liveliness and briskness – whether the gift is a big thing or a little thing – maybe as little a thing as a hat.

In November, I started knitting slouchy hats. Sometimes the best ideas come at the last minute. For the next 6 weeks, I knitted slouchy hats – knitting 5 rows of one yarn and changing to 5 rows of another yarn x 4 slouchy hats.  Some people had elves making mischief over the holidays. Instead of finding an elf, I would find a slouchy hat out of my collection bag – on a head – as though I wouldn’t notice. Every time I turned my back, one of the boys had fished out a slouchy hat out of my knitting bag:
“This one’s mine.”
“Can I wear it today – it is so cool.”
“I think I need to make sure it fits.”
You are such an awesome mom – you’ll let me wear it today?
Such beautiful words – when they want something only I can give.

slouch2I wasn’t beguiled by their words, though. Successful moms can’t afford to be beguiled by manipulative words – no matter how sweet the sound – but we can savor the sound of those words.

What makes gift receiving so sweet sometimes is the suspense. They waited – no matter how many times I had to pluck hats off, tickle ribs away from my knitting basket.

All the while I knitted gifts, they gave me teasing smiles, humor, mercenary charm – and lots of laughter. I don’t think they knew they were giving me gifts in return – but they did.

On Christmas, the stockings came down and the hats were hung from the Mantle, waiting for the First Annual Family Hat Day on New Years Day (I didn’t make the Christmas deadline)– one for grandbaby girl, one for my DIL, a toboggan for my soldier son – and 4 slouchy hats.

slouchy3Moments like those make those delayed-gift-appreciations easier to bear. Right now, I have to wait for the oldest brother to finish reading the younger brother’s Christmas gifts – but I walk in faith of the hope that one day, the littlest will value reading. One day, all the tough gifts will be appreciated like Slouchy Hats on a New Years Day.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11))

946) 7 hats hanging from a mantle
947) Bothers stealing brothers books because they love to read
948) 6 smiles beneath 6 hats – baby girl love taking her hat off
949) 5 cardinals in a tree outside my door
950) Standing on the back porch with my husband, watching the rain in the nighttime, a torrent of rain sweeping everywhere, spraying our faces
951) The sweet smell of rain – even if it is 65 degrees in January
952) Winter coming
953) A son telling me he is praying for someone he cares about
954) The Father helping me reach a decision
955) Toscano Soup on a Saturday
956) Baby girl turning one
957) Squirrels playing in trees outside my office window
958) My MIL visiting for a week
960) Sweet smells from a sugar cookie candle
961) Citrus Mint tea from my son
962) Home – just being home


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I asked my son, Faithful, a few years back what type of scarf he wanted me to knit.  He looked through a book and chose the hardest one because he wanted me to work hard for him.  Those of you with 14 year olds, maybe not your first son, but your second, might find them challenging, fraught with difficulty for both mother and son. It’s a stage, but some 14 year olds are like emotional fireworks while others are sparklers.  Still, either way, it is a tough time. 

While I knit this scarf, I noticed that working it was just as frustrating as being with my 14-year-old at times – the humor sustained me. My love for my son kept me unwavering in my doggish attempt to finish the scarf in time for Christmas.  I must admit, he secretly loves it, though he would never admit it.  I often find it neatly folded all by itself – which he does not do with his other clothes. 

I boasted in the interim (between then and now) that I needed to write “Ode to the Sock Scarf:  how like a 14-year-old you are.”  I thought now was the perfect time to tackle that task – and after researching the Ode – I must say, it is up there with the sock scarf, though not as time-consuming (as you may be able to tell).  The first two stanzas are constructed 75% according to structure.  The last stanza is not – because motherhood is often fluent, unstructured in our attempts to meet challenges and think out of the box.

If you notice, there is a prayer mixed in – because when I knit knitty things for special people, I always pray for them.

Ode to the Sock Scarf

How Like a 14-Year-Old You Are


“A sock scarf, I want you to work hard for me”

The fourteen year old teen cleverly decided

Bravado brimming, carelessly deciding to torment his mommy

His ploy she saw but never chided the invited

“What scarf shall I craft you – I’ve made for your 4 brothers

But not yet you? –  A quality time love langauge gift  designed

To wrap a hug about my son, a colorful, warm mother

gift from a mother’s heart that loves blind

loves even 14-year-old grumpiness wrapped in nails arguing anything,

struggling, frustrating, trying to wriggle out of the cocoon and spread wings


The scarf I started, tube first, heels and toes last

The tube, so easy, so simple, like little boy 2,4, 6, and 8

36 stitches divided evenly over 3 double point needles, so quickly past

Careful not to twist stitches, knit and pearl consistent, not trusting to fate

Grafting waste for heels, a holding place, almost ready, not quite

For grown up product able to fulfill the design created for

Decrease, increase, slip, slip knit, drop a stitch, not loose, not tight, 

Count, knit, pearl, discovering a dropped stitch, heaving a great sight over this labor

Shaping this scarf of my heart, unraveling, backing out, re-knitting boldly

Constantly questioning, “Am I doing this right?”

Waste yarn pulled out, time to knit the heels, the heels so 14-years-old

My job so close to completeness – yet the hardest part


Slip stitches from one needle to another, right side facing

Knit one, pray for Godly friends;
knit two, pray for a heart that seeks Godly things;
pearl 3 his choices

Slip, Slip Stitch God planned his days before he was born

Increase his awareness of truth, decrease rebellion,

Slip Slip stitch, undo discontent
Knit two together for Faith

Pick up and knit 1 stitch between, knit, pearl, pray

2 rows at end of needle – graft stitches together

Grafting his heart to our Lord’s heart

Wrestling, frustration, repeat,
lost stitches searched

For, found and fixed, unravel, re-stitch, knit and pearl

Weaving prayers through tube, heal, and toe

Knitting in faith directions true, hoping in the end product,

Loving through the heel of 14 years old, crushed all but for faith

That God’s promises reign true, sore fingers, worn mind,

Questioning my actions, trying so hard to create

What the directions promised, the plan, wholeness and strength

Blindly working, knitting Faith, Hope and Love
I complete this Sock Scarf so like my 14-year-old

Permission granted from 14-year-old to use picture!

The Sock Scarf.  Scarves, a Knitter’s dozen. Published by XRX Books.

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heartsccKatie over at From the Heart has a post that speaks right to my heart, How Do You Love?  Some love with words.  Some with hugs.  Some with helping hand.  Some help just by spending time with you. Some help by giving.  By giving, I mean giving holistically: words, hugs, help, time, and gifts.

I love easiest by words.  I feel most loved with words.  However, not all my sons feel hugged by my words.  One feels loved just by rubbing my fingers on his cheek or touching is arm in the car.

One feels all loved-up when we spend quality time together.  A simple trip to Petco or even Panera Bread Co., giving him time to talk without interruption, allowing him to be the star of the moment, makes him feel special, loved.

chessOne son loves to give, but he does it with wisdom and insight.  Not rashness.  Not guilt.  When you receive a gift from him, you know he puts a lot of thought into it.  He and the oldest one gave me a chess set one year on my birthday.  They planned, saved their money, and gave me the most perfect gift.

I try to love holistically.  I’ve knitted blankets and prayed for the son I was knitting it for. I’ve knitted baby hats, girl-friend scarves for my sons, teacher scarves.  I’ve baked casseroles for friends who needed meals.  I’ve extended myself in friendship because I assume that there’s someone out there like me who needs a good friend.  I pray.  I try to encourage.

However, love isn’t always pretty.  Love is tough.  Love holds the feet to the fire.  I used to teach college composition. Many students loathed me because I just wouldn’t give them a grade.  They had to work for the grade.  I pushed them hard.  I loved them enough to risk their contempt and hatred because I knew they needed to be prepared for writing requirements in college and in the job market.  One student sent me a note last year thanking me for teaching her to believe in herself.  Another told me how she had lectured a couple of students complaining in the library about my class.  Then she told me that my class gave her the tools to succeed without sweating in the other classes.  Love is tough.  Love is not a popularity contest.


My older sons complain every now and then about me holding their feet to the fire, fighting the good fight.  Yes, I love them enough to make them mad.  Some get made like a massive hurricane storm, some brew like a hot muggy day that just simmers with no relief, some just thunder for a moment and then it blows over, some are like upper level clouds where the rain evaporates before it touches the ground.  Stealth Temper.  It still needs to be recognized even though it’s hardly noticable.

Some people believe in quota love.  Quota love is where you only love a select group.  God calls on us to love beyond that quota we have set in our heart.  God needs us to love not only inside our family circle, but outside that circle as well.  We are called to be spiritual mothers as well.  A smile, an encouraging word, a prayer might be the hand-up a child or another mom needs in a moment of crisis that we don’t see. The love within us is big enough to love as many people as you want.

I do not always love well, but I never give up.

Love never gives up! Love feeds!  Love cuddles!  Love disciplines! Love knits! Love stares down pressure! blueberryLove hugs with food when hugs aren’t “in.” Love opens your heart to your kid’s friends.  Love quilts! Love prays! Love hopes in the face of adversity! Love lectures! Love sees past the tantrum into the goodness! Love is unconditional!  Love offers friendship!  Love Champions!

Paul says it best, though:

Love is patient, and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the TRUTH. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never ends.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Read more about the diversity in love in Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love LanguagesHow do you love? Please share with me in a comment.  I’d love to read about it!

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