See you at Stitches West! You can find WoolyMossRoots in booth 1333.
That last post concluded my posts from our trip to Florida. Lucky I had so many posts to share about our trip on the blog for awhile, because it wasn’t as interesting at home while we had the flu. It ended up lasting for two plus (!) weeks, dragging on and on, longer than any flu we’d ever experienced. So many of our friends who had it said the same thing. But anyway, onto other topics…
The weekend before last my dad and stepmom drove up for the day and we went to the beach. The sun was shining and there was hardly any wind, so we felt lucky (especially because it was pouring the next day.) The tide was out and we explored some caves, saw rock temples people had stacked all over (that’s what I like to call them), and most exciting of all- looked at the tide pools. We saw a sea star! (I called it a starfish, and was corrected- they are called sea stars now.) We were so delighted, it felt like such a gift to get to see it.
There was another reason for their visit besides having an enjoyable beach day together, they brought up their truck for us to borrow. You know that saying the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting different results? Well, we decided to make some changes this year when we go to Stitches West. The first change is driving a truck, rather than our little car, which we feel safer driving amidst the traffic. The other change is that we’ll be staying someplace close by, (not three exits away like last year.) We were so grateful to my dad and stepmom for letting us borrow their truck for our trip, and for driving it up to us.
Jeff and I have been working so incredibly hard to get ready for Stitches West, and we’re exhausted. (Getting a long lasting flu when you’re getting ready for your biggest show of the year keeps things interesting.) We needed to get all the buttons tied on cards (and Jeff made more than ever), then everything needed to be priced (still wrapping that up) and packed. (And that’s just the buttons. There’s shawl pins, shawl pin sticks, jewelry, and more that all needs to be priced and organized too.)
There are endless details and things to remember to pack when we’re leaving for a show. It’s always interesting finding space in any vehicle for all our booth and display parts and then all the things that fill up our booth too. I’m really excited about the changes we’ve made to our booth and display this year and can’t wait to see it all set up. (Somewhere other than in the middle of our living room for the practice round, that is.)
Another change we’re making this year is to give ourselves more time to get down there. That will make for more time to get our booth set up before the show begins. We don’t want to be rushed and stressed, but have plenty of time to get all the parts of our booth set up and arranged. Whatever we can do to be a bit kinder to ourselves, right?
Oh, I’ve been meaning to mention that I haven’t done a shop update post on the blog here for awhile. Lately I have been doing mini shop updates, posting a few new things in the shop at a time, rather than a bunch all at once, and have been sharing what’s new on Instagram. Follow us on Instagram if you’d like to see those (and other little updates that don’t always make it to the blog.) When our schedule gets back to normal, I’ll be doing larger shop updates again.
Okay, now checking our lists and figuring out those last minute things to pack…
I told you in the post about visiting the Clearwater Marine Aquarium that I would share something that especially touched my heart. I realized that I didn’t explain that the Clearwater Marine Aquarium is a working marine animal hospital that is dedicated to the rescue, rehab & release of marine animals. Winter and Hope’s stories were shared in the movie (Dolphin Tale), and have inspired so many. The day we visited I was drawn to several bulletin boards (referred to as Winter’s Gallery of Hope) on display at the aquarium that were full of letters and drawings, mostly from children, for Winter and Hope and the Clearwater Aquarium. Oh my goodness, my eyes were full of tears and the tears ran down my face while I read those notes, I was so deeply touched by everything I saw. (I could have easily let loose and cried like crazy, but I tried to hold it together so I wouldn’t startle people around me.)
One girl wrote about having a Save Winter & Hope Day in her room with her family and raising some money to send to the aquarium, and another had a lemonade and cookie stand with her friend. There was a story about a five year old boy with leukemia who discovered the aquarium and it became his happy place where he made a special connection with one of the dolphins living there. Children wrote about having disabilities, or broken arms, and being inspired by Winter’s story to be brave through their own challenges and fears. A mother wrote that a stuffed animal of Winter brought comfort to her child during surgery, and another note came from a survivor of the earthquake in Haiti. With each note I read and drawing I looked at, my heart filled with love for each person sharing their story.
“To all the staff at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, I am probably your biggest fan.”
“It is one of my life dreams to come and swim with Winter. I am saving every penny I find in a jar to come to the aquarium.”
“Dear Winter, Your “Tale” inspired me to keep going and to never give up. Even if it’s just school work!”
“Ever since I came to see Winter I have been drawing pictures of her. She has changed my life. Dolphins are my favorite animal now because of Winter.”
“I would like a job at the aquarium please.”
“Right now I’m 8 but, when I grow up I want to move and work there. I’ve always loved animal rescue. In fact I rescued my own cat Skye.”
“Be Brave. Be Strong. Live to be the Best.”
“Dear Winter, I love you! Your the most awesome animal I can cry!”
I could have stood there all day reading those precious letters. Reading them filled me with so much love, compassion, and hope. Whether you’re familiar with Winter and Hope’s story or not, I thought you would enjoy seeing some of them too.
I should start this post out by asking- have you seen the movie Dolphin Tale? Friends of ours recommended it and let us borrow their copy to watch. Our family loved it and wanted to watch the sequel right away. Then we told family and friends to watch it. (If you haven’t seen it, it’s a heartwarming and inspiring movie the whole family will love.) Bracken and I watched Dolphin Tale with my mom and grandma during our trip at Thanksgiving, and then talked about plans to visit the Clearwater Marine Aquarium (where the dolphins from the movie, Winter and Hope, live) when we went to visit my mom in Florida. (That’s where we were headed on our road trip up the coast, when we stopped by A Good Yarn, by the way.) We looked forward to visiting the aquarium for months. Our current reads are the books pictured above, that we got at the gift shop the day we went. Okay, I’ll get to the pictures of the aquarium…
When we got to the aquarium, the first question Bracken asked was if Rufus the pelican was real or just made up in the movie. We were told he was real, but that wasn’t his real name. We went to where Winter and Hope were and got to see Hope swimming under the water. Someone told us if we put our hands on the glass she might swim close to us and she did come pretty close, so we got a great view of her. We weren’t able to see Winter very well that day, but we could say hello to her from afar. There were other animals to see at the aquarium too- like sharks and turtles.
My mom signed us up for a Sea Life Safari Boat Tour and that was a highlight of our day. During the boat ride, they did a net pull and then showed us the different creatures found in the water. It was interactive, and so great for kids. We learned a lot, and our guide made everything we learned so interesting while adding humor in all along the way. Then the boat took us to a tiny island they called Shell Island and everyone got to stretch their legs and collect shells before heading back on the boat to the aquarium. We saw dolphins swim by the boat and they recognized one they had rehabilitated and then released from the aquarium.
Going to the aquarium was such a memorable experience for us, I’m so grateful we were able to. Tomorrow I’ll share something at the aquarium that especially touched my heart…
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! It’s a good reminder for us to tell the people we love, that we love them today. Sometimes we just expect people to know and don’t say it often enough, so how about telling those we love how much we appreciate them and how grateful we are to have them in our lives? I’d like to tell you how much I appreciate you visiting this space and reading these words, and how much I love the thoughtful comments you leave full of support and encouragement. Truly, thank you. I’m taking a break from posts about our trip (there’s still one more Florida adventure to share with you!) because I’ve been wanting to share a handknit I finished up over the summer and thought today would be the perfect day to share it.
My best friend in high school had a baby girl, and they named her Valentine. (Isn’t that such a sweet name?) As soon as I knew her name, I decided her little pink booties needed heart buttons, and Jeff made some specially in red cedar wood for me to sew on them. The yarn is Malabrigo Yarn Dos (discontinued now), naturally dyed pure baby merino. The yarn was a gift years ago and I’ve made quite a few pairs of baby shoes out of that single small skein, loving how soft it feels and how pretty the subtle color looks. I’ve knit the pattern (Keelan- Chunky Strap Baby Shoes) many times now because I can’t get over how adorable the little shoes turn out. Choosing buttons is always so fun because of how much it changes the whole look, but this time there was no deciding between different woods or different designs, the carved hearts it was!
As I finally hit the publish button on this post, it’s not in the morning (as I intended), but the end of the day. So I’ll be wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day now that it’s almost over. 🙂
I told you that I would share about a knitting-related story that happened during our trip. Last year (February 2017) I wrote here on the blog about our annual trip to visit my mom in Florida. A kind reader left a comment on one of my posts and told me there was a great yarn shop I should check out while I was in Florida sometime. I made a mental note of what she told me- A Good Yarn, in Sarasota – but since we always visited the other coast, I wasn’t sure when I would get a chance to go there. It just so happened that we visited the Gulf side this year and not only that, but we had plans to go up the coast and pass right by Sarasota. I took that as a sign that it was meant to be for us to visit A Good Yarn, and my mom was all for swinging by on our road trip that day.
We walked in and started looking at all the sample knits, yarn, and inspiration everywhere. (I realized, when looking through these pictures, that I didn’t take a picture of something while I was in the yarn shop… Yarn!) I loved the sign that read This Is My Happy Place, and… how cute are those knitting narwhals?! I was looking through some knitting books when I spotted some buttons Jeff made in sassafras wood on the cover of Kindred Knits by Susan B. Anderson, and let out a little squeal of excitement and said “Mom, look at this!” (If you scroll through the pictures in that link to the book, you’ll also see an adorable pink sweater with two buttons that Jeff made in black walnut wood. It was so fun to see, I couldn’t wait to show Jeff.)
My mom and I were delighted to see a pattern that we had been looking for, on display there. We had gone in specifically looking for it, so that was a great coincidence to see the sample knit and be able to purchase the pattern right along with the yarn. And then… the best coincidence of all happened. You know that blog reader from Florida who told me to visit A Good Yarn in the first place? She came walking through the door, stopped in her tracks when she saw me (recognizing me from my pictures here), and introduced herself. (I’m so used to what sometimes feels like writing to myself in this space, that I’m still surprised when I meet someone in-person who reads my words here!)
I was so delighted to meet her, and we couldn’t believe the chances of being there at the same time (especially because she lived on the other side of the state.) I had only mentioned getting ready for a trip, but hadn’t said anything about Florida yet on the blog, so imagine her surprise to see me all the way in Florida at her favorite yarn shop no less. And being there on the same day at the same time? I love the synchronicity, what a small world! (Hello Daune, thanks so much for the recommendation to visit A Good Yarn. It was fun to get to meet you in person!)
I could have stayed there for hours, looking around at everything, but the shop was closing for the day and Bracken (who normally enjoys going to yarn shops with me) just wanted to be outdoors and kept begging for us to go outside already. Oh, they had an ocean themed display at the shop with crocheted and knitted items, and said that anyone was welcome to make something to add to it. How fun is that? Oh, and another fun thing? When we left that day, I noticed that our bag had little bits of yarn sticking out from under the tag. I loved it, so I took a picture of that too. I’m so glad that Daune recommended visiting, and that my mom was up for a yarn shop adventure, because I so enjoyed going to A Good Yarn. What do I want to do when I travel across the country? Visit yarn shops, of course! And if I lived nearby, I’d be checking out their wonderful classes!
I finished up this knitting project, a cowl (or infinity scarf) for my Grandma Baker, during our trip. (I can freely share about it now because I sent it to her as soon as I got home.) I knew I wanted to knit a cowl for her, and looked for yarn until something called out to me. This beautiful, deep wine color immediately made me think of her (I love when I find yarn that really makes me think of someone) and though there was no name for the color listed on the tag, when I entered the colorway number on Ravelry it said Merlot, which perfectly describes the color. I wanted to knit her cowl with super soft and cozy yarn, so the 100% baby alpaca yarn was perfect in more ways than one.
I got started on her cowl in November, right after I finished up the one for my sister. It was the perfect knitting project for plane rides and traveling because it was easy knitting that didn’t require constant pattern checking, or my full concentration to work on it. Originally I had planned on knitting her Marian by Jane Richmond, but the gals at the knitting shop I was at said the yarn I chose wasn’t bulky enough, and would be better suited for the GAP-tastic Cowl by Jen Geigley. I checked out that pattern and it was a seed stitch cowl like I had in mind, and looked beautiful, so I cast on. (GAP-tastic Cowl is a free pattern on Ravelry, by the way.)
I didn’t get it finished in time for Christmas because it was a project that took awhile to complete with the length. I used two skeins, knitting until I ran out of yarn. (My modifications are on my Ravelry page here.) I did get the cowl finished in time to send to my grandma in the winter, though. It was such a cold winter where she lives that I was glad to be sending her a warm handknit in January! I didn’t do much knitting at the beach during our Florida trip (hello shelling! and sunset watching!), but I did finish the cowl there. I loved being able to knit sunshine, salty air, and sand into those last stitches… and hoped a bit of that wonderful beach magic would be woven into it forever. When I finished it, I noticed the coolest looking driftwood sticking out of the sand nearby, so I took some pictures of it there. I’m grateful for the handmade things my grandmas made for me when I was growing up, it made me feel loved. Now I enjoy being able to give them a little handmade love too.
P.S. I can’t wait to share a fantastic knitting-related story in my next post that happened during our trip.
Thanks so much for your comments on Monday’s post. I’m still down with the crud (and it’s been over a week now!), …so let’s look at some sunny pictures from Florida to lift our spirits, shall we? I’ve been wanting to share the favorite parts of our trip.
My mom loves shells more than anyone I have ever met. I’ve never known a person to get so excited over shells, or to enjoy collecting them as much as she does. There were times she would call me from the beach, happy as a clam, while she enjoyed her favorite therapy after a stressful work week, an activity she began referring to as shelling. I believe we all need to find our own unique ways to reduce stress in our lives, and what works can look different for each of us. I encouraged my mom in her shelling because I could hear the difference in her voice, a lighthearted joy, and could feel how good it was for her well being.
Sometimes my mom would jokingly refer to me as “The Crazy Knitting Lady” (in a loving way, of course, she has more requests for things she wants me to knit for her than anyone) and in the spirit of the joke, I started referring to her as “The Crazy Shell Lady.” Shells started becoming a part of her home and garden decor more and more, and she made a sign that had the word Beach written in shells. For Christmas one year she decorated a picture frame with shells and gave it to Bracken with a picture of the two of them inside.
As she came up with more crafting projects that included shells, we would joke that she was going to become one of those really crazy shell ladies and bedazzle her entire house in shells in a totally over-the-top way. (Imagine every surface- walls, ceilings- covered in shells… and you’ll get the idea.) My mom and I couldn’t help cracking up over that hilarious image in our minds, and even writing about it I can’t help but smile. (That being said, we do love shell crafts and honestly, we think her place could use a whole lot more of them. Look at these fun craft ideas with shells here, and here.)
During our most recent trip to visit my mom in Florida, I noticed a lot of shells with holes in them and thought they would be good for hanging. We saw some places along the beach where people took the broken shells and hung them on branches. I loved it and my mom said she had been wanting to do the same thing in her yard.
We collected shells at the beach that had holes in them. They were easy to find because there were so many of them. For the shells that had large holes, we hung them all over the branches of the sea grape plant outside my mom’s door. With the shells that had smaller holes in them, we used fishing line and hung them from the branches that way. (I love the one that Bracken strung with a whole bunch of shells on it.) As we stood back to admire the sea grape, the shells all over gave it such a fun look. …And now we’re looking forward to adding to it every time we visit!
Outside my mom’s door, she also has a shell table. (Reminds me of the nature treasure table at my grandma’s house.) We would bring home some shells from our beach visits and separate them into the different kinds. (Isn’t that spotted crab shell amazing, by the way?) Now I want to find a good book on identifying different types of shells, that would be a great homeschool project!
Oh, and one final picture to share in this post… my mom found a coconut shell on the beach and gave it to Bracken. He used it to hold special shells that he found, and then it came home with us. It might be a regular occurrence in Florida, but in Oregon it’s not every day you come across a coconut shell, so it was considered quite a treasure.
So, that was some of the shell-related fun we had during our trip. I had never heard of the term shelling before, and was going to give my mom credit for it, but I just searched and it came up on Wikipedia. It had various meanings, but one of them was searching for seashells. The next time I go to the beach and look for shells, I’ll keep my mom in mind, and I might just say “See you later! I’m going shelling!” Because shelling, it’s a thing, you know.
I had plans to share more pictures from our trip here today, but figured you’d be much more interested in hearing about our week while we’ve been under the weather. I knew you’d really like to know details like just how many tissues we’ve gone through (actually toilet paper rolls at this point, we ran out of tissues a long time ago) and how we’ve been rationing the last of our Vitamin C.
I’m joking, of course, I won’t bore you with those kinds of details, but seriously the amount of nose-blowing-material we’ve used up in such a short period of time has been crazy. It started out with Bracken getting a cold, and then me, and then Jeff. (The nice thing about the staggering? The person feeling the best that day could help the person feeling the worst that day, and we were better able to help take care of each other.)
We cancelled activities last week and over the weekend, and hunkered down at home. Some things we were sad to miss, like celebrations that only come once a year. It’s funny, though, how illnesses often come at times when you’re really needing to slow down more and just have some home time, and we have definitely been needing that. I had been feeling worn down on so many levels, in hindsight it wasn’t all that surprising my body slowed me down for some rest and regeneration time.
In the beginning I thought I would be a bit congested with a cold, but wouldn’t feel terrible, and could keep getting a lot done around the house. I was surprised by how knocked down I got, though. My entire body ached, and I couldn’t stand for very long at a time before feeling so weak I would have to sit down. Jeff was the one who finally noticed that many of our symptoms looked more like a flu than a cold. (Coughs, sore throats, mega mucus and congestion, runny noses then stuffy noses, body aches, and tiredness… and then Jeff got a fever, so signs definitely pointed to a flu at that point. Either way, it has lasted a lot longer than any of us expected.)
We’ve been drinking huge amounts of tea, eating homemade soups (and broths), and going through (yet another) jar of Jeff’s homemade elderberry syrup. I’ve been loading up on garlic too. (Yesterday I read Wellness Mama’s tips for getting over colds and flus faster, and really liked it. I thought I would link to it here in case any of you found some helpful tips there as well. I always appreciate reminders of things I already know, too. I know our Vitamin D levels could use a boost, for one. We soaked up a little sunshine during our trip, but not much.)
Our old wood stove in our house is either going or not going (regardless of how much we adjust the amount of air we let in), meaning our house is either so hot it’s sauna-like, or cooled down with no fire in the wood stove at all. There’s no medium. It can be annoying at times, when we are wanting the house to be warm and cozy, but we don’t want to be sweating buckets. But I think having the house so warm and sweating a bit has done us some good while we’ve been sick. I joked that people spend money to go to saunas, but we have one right at home.
When we’ve needed a mellow activity to do, we have spread out my favorite, fuzzy cotton blanket and grabbed a game. We’ve been enjoying playing Wildcraft, which friends of ours gave to Bracken for his birthday in the fall. It’s fun to play, and we learn a lot too. Learning about herbs is something our whole family enjoys, so this game is quickly becoming a favorite. (On another note, the one thing Jeff likes about getting sick is actually having time to read books!)
I would like to say we’re all better now, but I’m still on the tail end of it (only slightly miserable) and Jeff is a few days behind me, so he’s still pretty miserable. I overdid it today, thinking I was mostly better, and set myself back a bit. I was so surprised that we needed to cancel more activities this week because we weren’t fully recovered yet, but we’ve had friends with flus this winter that have lasted for weeks and weeks. There has been some nasty stuff going around this winter. My grandma and I were e-mailing back and forth, sharing remedies. What are you guys doing to stay healthy this winter? Share your favorite tips in the comments, if you feel inspired to!
We take a trip each winter to visit my mom in Florida. In years past we had been on the Atlantic side and had only seen the Gulf side of Florida once, and briefly. This year we spent all our time on the Gulf side during our trip. I was really looking forward to seeing that coast of Florida and exploring it more. My mom got a place on an island off the coast. Having a very high-stress job, her place there has become her peaceful retreat, a necessary place to unwind and relax. She had been working hard fixing it up and making it beautiful (she’s really good at that), and couldn’t wait to share it with her family. My grandma had plans to visit at the same time, but she caught a nasty flu going around and had to delay her trip. We were so bummed not to have her there, but were glad she was staying home getting well. We told her we would tell her everything she missed. (These pictures are for you Gee Gee!)
We watched the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico for the first time. We seriously would have been content to spend the whole time at the beach, doing nothing else, and I think Bracken would have happily dug clams for our entire vacation. What an amazing thing to see when two dolphins swam past us while we were at the beach! We also saw lots of birds, including large osprey, often with fish in their talons. (Speaking of birds, we didn’t see the actual nest, but we drove past the park where Harriet the Eagle lives, which was so cool.) The waves were so calm there, and the white sandy beaches different from home. There was a cold snap while we were there and everyone told us “it’s not usually this cold here,” but we had sunshine for most of the trip (and had just come from our rainy season back home in the Pacific Northwest) so I didn’t complain. On one overcast day, we had one of the most magical experiences on our boat ride…
Dolphins swam along with our boat for a long way! They were so close to us and we had such a great view of them, that it was simply awe-inspiring. There was a whole group of dolphins jumping out of the water on either side of the boat. On our side we saw four dolphins jumping at one time, and there was a baby dolphin that was so cute. We had never seen dolphins that close before and never would have imagined having an experience like that. What a gift! They had such a playful, joyful energy and simply watching them and being around them felt healing. They are truly amazing creatures, and that was an unforgettable experience we were so grateful for.