The wonders of YouTube (and yarn)

A few weeks ago, I decided I want to learn to crochet. I’d seen some really cute crochet/knit patterns floating around the Internet, and decided I would like to make something from those patterns instead of just pinning them on my Pinterest page and forgetting about them. So I did! I took myself down to the local yarn shop, purchased a few balls of yarn, a crochet hook (size G because they were out of size H, which is recommended for beginners, but I haven’t had any trouble), and some knitting needles. First, I found a couple videos on YouTube and taught myself to crochet. Here is the main video I used (and it has a sequel) if you’re interested in teaching yourself to crochet too. I find crocheting really easy, and frankly I’m surprised I didn’t pick up the craft much sooner! Well, I did try to crochet in college when a sorority sister taught me. Despite her best efforts I was a spectacular failure (definitely my fault, not hers!)

Anyway, my newfound skill is facilitating my ability to make handmade gifts for family this Christmas (I always try to make handmade gifts for Christmas, and for some reason I’m much more on top of that goal than years past). I find myself suddenly part of that sisterhood (that does include some brothers, though they’re a bit harder to find) who can’t force themselves past those gorgeous rainbow skeins of yarn beckoning from their shelves at the yarn or craft store. I never had that problem before and generally ignored yarn on my craft store visits but now I’m hooked! (Ha! Get it? Hooked!) I’ve already completed one scarf for a certain someone using this pattern, and I’m working on another scarf for another certain someone using a broomstick lace pattern, which is quite fancy! Here is the beginning of the broomstick lace scarf:

But I don’t want to just crochet scarves! Crocheting in the round seems a lot easier than knitting in the round, so I’m going to try my hand at crocheting a hat for the Hubs since that’s the only thing he’d wear that I could crochet for him. And I’d like to start on an afghan too for my son. I’ve found some fun, modern patterns that aren’t your grandmother’s afghan like this one.

A stomp in the woods

This past week, we went for a stomp in the woods. We tromped around on U.S. Forest Service land north of town. Shawn carried our son the Peanut in the backpack, as usual. This was a bit different though in that we didn’t follow a trail. We followed a friend and her son as they modeled their mountain goat skills for us. Up the mountainside we went, stepping over moss-encrusted logs and crunching through a golden carpet of fallen leaves. We picked our way through brush and low-hanging branches. The Peanut  had a good time being along for the ride, looking around and reaching out to grab an occasional branch or a leaf.

After walking about for half an hour, we came to a small bowl on the hillside. It was ringed with aspen trees. The late-afternoon light (which is fading earlier and earlier as winter approaches) filtered through the trees. No glow, just quiet. A bit dim. And boy did that place feel holy. The trees creaked a bit in the wind. Our friend’s son went tearing off into the bowl to climb stumps and launch himself off their rotting backsides into the air. He yelled and whooped. I listened and watched, gazing beyond his small body on its short journeys into space. There was something special about that place, something reverent. We didn’t linger long, but it’s a place I would love to return to, to sit myself down in the piles of leaves and just be. To inhabit that space for a little while, to fill it with the sound of my breath leaving my lungs. To be alive as the trees are alive. Fully present in a moment. A part of something bigger and older than my small human mind can comprehend. Too many people believe they exist outside of nature. We are just as much a part of nature and the world as the deer and the butterflies and the aspens. It is our silly belief that we are on some different plane than these creatures that truly separates us from nature.

We walked up and up and up. We came to a slight clearing where the trees parted on the edge of the hillside. Out and beyond lay the valley, blue in hue, in distance. Miles distant, the lake was a bright shimmer against the mountains that ring the other side of the valley. Not so distant stood the mountains just across the dirt highway, splattered with the autumnal gold of the larches. There’s something vaguely erotic about autumn: all of the trees except the prudish evergreens throw on their showiest colors before stripping in winter’s frosty embrace.

And then back down the hill we went, nearly tumbling forward in our momentum (OK, that was just me). I stopped to pick up a few pine cones on the way, mementos of our stomp in the woods. But we made one last stop before we departed. We walked through the almost tropical air of a cedar grove. Like the bowl above it, the cedar grove was a hallowed ground. Darker there than in the bowl, the cedar grove was also hushed. Our shoulders brushed against the soft needles of those grizzled trees capable of near millennial lifetimes. Like other creatures before us, we left only footprints and wonder. Will that ancient, sacred place remember our passing? Or in the darkening hush will we be forgotten?

Autumn decorating on the cheap

Oh, poor neglected blog, I’m sorry I’ve been absent. Just the usual excuses, as usual. One of my goals this year has been to neglect my blog less, because if I want people to read it, I need to post more often! So I keep telling myself to post more often and then I don’t. My lack of posts recently has been due to the fact that I don’t have much to write about (unless you all find government permitting paperwork absolutely fascinating). I also always try to include photos with my posts because I think posts with photos are more interesting, but perhaps I should loosen my standard a little and include more “just writing” posts here and there. Many of my favorite blogs have frequent “just writing posts.” Hmmm. Decisions, decisions. But enough musing-while-blogging and onto actual blogging.

Anywho, I thought I’d put up a quick post about two easy autumn decorating tips on the cheap. And I mean cheap. FREE actually. I have a hollow glass lamp (from Target … I covet the Pottery Barn ones, but the Target one was much more in my budget when I bought it a few months ago), which is awesome because I can fill it with seasonal decorations. For autumn, I filled the base with red and yellow leaves I picked up from trees in town.

That’s free decorating tips number one. I’m sure you also have lots of trees dropping leaves where you live (well, unless you live in the southern hemisphere or somewhere that palm trees are predominate). Take a stroll down the block and pick up some pretty leaves. You can do as I have done and fill a hollow glass lamp, or put the leaves in a glass hurricane or mason jar. Put the leaves behind glass in a frame. Get creative, but do it on the cheap!

Decorating tip number two is to find some bark from a tree and wrap it around a candle. As you can see, there is birch bark around the candle on my nightstand. I found the birch bark in the forest nearby on a hike. I’ve seen in magazines lately that faux birch candles are pretty popular. But if like me you don’t have $20 to spend on a faux birch candle, you can fake it. If you have woods near where you live, you can easily pick up some fallen bark and wrap it around a candle to the same effect!

Edit: As a friend pointed out, I’m faking a fake candle with something real. LOL?