Scarves and books

In a recent post, I talked about my bookscarf – the beautiful scarf my thoughtful husband got for me with the word of Lucy Maude Montgomery prompted upon it. So in this post, I am talking about scarf books. Or rather, knitting books.

This sweet and lovely book, “Extra Yarn,” talks about Annabelle and her magical box of colorful yarn. She manages to to knit scarves for everyone in town, including all the animals, and all the buildings. Spoiler alert: an evil archduke steals her box, but finds all it contains is a pair of knitting needles. And of course the box finds its way back to her. In Annabelle’s hands, this is the in-Pandora’s box, a box of goodness helping humanity one stitch at a time. And I love this picture – everyone connected to each other by yarn.

Because yarn is love!

This little phonics book starts with Nan the mouse, alone and knitting in her store until she takes pity on some chilly insects and knits them underpants. Soon she gains a lucrative second career in undergarments for various bugs.

We all have our gifts to share and these books celebrate how precious those gifts can be to both ourselves and others, and how they can transform a community.

Whatever we make – scarves, hat, art, donations, stories – is our gift. It may not go very far. It may be imperfect, scraggly, tiny. With practice, it will get better. Like underpants for ants, it may seem silly. Like a sweater for a house, it may seem unnecessary. But never underestimate the power of a gift.

Wearing the Green

St. Patrick’s Day is here and it’s time to wear green… scarves, that is! Get ready because I have a lot of green scarves. Although I don’t know of any Irish ancestry on either side, I have green eyes, a May birthday (emeralds!), was married at Emerald Valley Ranch, have a strawberry blond child, and can’t wait to visit the Emerald Isle, so I feel fully entitled to wear green on 3/17 or any day.

My mother just sent me this delightful book called “How to Tie a Scarf: 33 Styles” and I decided to experiment a bit. Here is the book and the Copenhagen style with my “rain forest tapestry” scarf:

I got this next scarf in Wabasha, a little town on the Mississippi River, at a church’s Christmas bazaar. I believe it was $8.00 – I just couldn’t pass it up! I love the ombré-green patches and generous fringe.

And now for a literary interlude – a “linterlude?” One of my very favorite authors of all time is Lucy Maude Montgomery, who wrote Anne of Green Gables, and also one of my favorite books, the beautiful romance The Blue Castle. My thoughtful husband bought me this scarf, which has a passage from Anne of Green Gables written on it. Incidentally, Anne and her red hair would look amazing in it.

My new scarf book encourages wearing scarves all year, changing style depending on the weather. Here is a light infinity scarf with some pleasant shading paired with a SLEEVELESS (!!!) shirt. My arms almost fell off from the chill, but I survived thanks to my insulated neck. I believe I got the scarf from a friend who was purging her closet.

My love for scarves has rubbed off; as you can see below, my daughter wears her new St. Patty’s scarf everywhere. Here we are for the St. Patrick’s Day dinner at church, where we enjoyed coddle, Irish soda bread and home-brewed root beer. Here’s to green beer, cabbage, family, and friends – Happy St. Patty’s Day!

I’ve Got the Blues(carves)

If you’re reading this from almost anywhere else in the country you may be wondering – “Why are you still talking about scarves?” Because it’s still winter here, friends! At Bible study, we were talking about the winter blues… we are ready for it to be done already. If you have Season Affective Disorder, this has been a particularly challenging year.

At least it is getting warmer! Personally I prefer about 20 and above. This is a picture from when it was colder than that and I wore my “serious coat.” Full-length, Lands End… a bit like wearing a sleeping bag. The perfect time to wear my “shades of blue” scarf, another recycle from a friend. I love the delicate texture and the playful pom poms on the end . And as you can see, I have a little scarf buddy, wearing a scarf my grandma gave me.

We are in the liturgical season of Lent and I gave up Facebook. For the first few days I kept scrolling through my screen, looking for that familiar blue app. It is amazing how much time I spent on Facebook! Certainly I miss the connectedness with far-away friends, but I am enjoying the ability to be more present.

Back to scarves… I can’t remember where I got this giant comfortable scarf but I love it. It is perfect for wearing into work with my scrubs on a cold day.

Blue is everywhere at work. In fact, there is a particular shade we call “Mayo blue” used for signs and posters. When I worked in the hospital I wore baby scrubs; now in outpatient I wear royal blue. Blue is a great scrub color since it is fairly gender-neutral and most people look good in it. (Some would day everyone looks equally bad in it but I disagree.)

Today I am thankful for another blue – blue skies. I got to wear my “spring coat” today. The snow softens to slush on the roads. The days lengthen and the sun is warm. Yesterday we went cross country skiing for the first time this year and nobody felt cold.

Pastel spring peeps

quietly from a snow-laced

tree.

Monochromatic in Minnesota

Since we moved to Minnesota ten years ago, every winter has been different. Some we remember for the snow until May, or bitter cold at Halloween; some were so snow-light that we couldn’t ski. This one will be remembered for the unending snow. I was thinking “I’d love to curl up by the fire, drink cocoa and read The Long Winter… but I’m too busy shoveling.”

Fortunately I love snow. I love how it resets the world like a blank page. I love the different kinds of snow, the light dry fine snow, the dense blizzard snow, the crystalline sugar snow. It reminds me of my grandmother-in-law who loved to watch it snow. Now that she’s in heaven, I think of her fondly whenever I look out and see it falling.

This winter faked us out. One day we were playing on the playground:

And then it started snowing and never stopped. Every 2-3 days, a little snow, or a lot, or a blizzard.

So yes, Minnesota has been more monochromatic than many years. White snow, dark trees, gray sky.

Gray like the ashes of Ash Wednesday. This blog began as a Lenten exercise many years ago. If Lent were a color don’t you think it would be gray? The somber music, the recognition of our sinfulness.

I once thought gray was boring but I have warmed up. Gray and silver are the color of experience, of something precious. They gray clouds cover the blue sky but for a time. Gray clouds yield rainbows.

Here are a couple gray scarves I acquired from friends who were purging their wardrobes. This was prerfecf for a chic Chik fil a drive through date (drive through because small kids and Minnesota weather!)

I mentioned that some scarves are soft, some rub you the wrong way… this one below is beautiful but abrasive. I love it anyway 🙂

So as we approach the season of Lent, preparing for the joy of Easter, I am reveling in all things gray. I am ready to give up Facebook for 40 days (I think). I am ready to focus.

I often don’t wear scarves because it bothers me when things don’t match. The scarf below went with a hat that matched and has now been lost forever. It is the softest snuggliest scarf so I thought I would pair it with this fantastic sweater that my parents brought me from Peru. If you look closely you can see the llamas!

It’s OK when things don’t match exactly. It’s OK to enjoy these shades of gray. It’s OK not to enjoy them… this too will pass.

Before we know it the buds will be on the trees, and the green grass will be poking through the snow. I pray that you enjoy this solemn season of Lent in anticipation of the joy of Easter.

Shoveling! (A Guide for Warmth) (With bonus cocoa recipe)

Can it stop snowing now? Please?! I haven’t written because since we got back from Hawaii I have been shoveling about every other day. And we are going to get a lot more in the next week. And nobody at a snow-removal company is returning my inquiries (probably because they’re too busy removing the last bunch of snow).

Here’s a Hawaii picture to make us all feel warmer:

Ahhh that’s better. No scarves needed in Paradise!

So back to shoveling. I enjoy it in moderation: exercise, fresh air, occasional chance to see long-lost neighbors, and excuse to take a bath and eat carbs. This is my sixth winter of shoveling (we lived in a rental condo for four years) and I have become quite handy with our electric snowblower and shovel.

And the most important tip is – there is no bad weather for shoveling, just bad clothes. To stay warm, you need a full length coat, zipped all the way up to avoid flying snow, snow pants, waterproof mittens or gloves, full length boots, warm hat, and a scarf or neck sleeve for the face. Mittens are said to be warmer than gloves but for fine motor control of a snowblower I prefer some heavy duty gloves.

In this first picture, you can see the benefit of the furry hat. Very warm and comfortable! Also it is fun to dress up your utilitarian coat with a fun scarf.

Here is me when it’s really brrrr. You can see the snowblower in the background and I am completely matching (hat, buff, coat and snowblower!)

(Not that it matters because soon I will be covered with blown snow and look more like a snow-woman!)

If you feel your energy flagging, it’s time to warm up with a cup of cocoa.

Recipe for Amazing Hot Cocoa:

Microwave water for 1 minute 30 seconds on regular power (2 minutes works too. 1 minute is not enough.)

Stir in desired flavor of Swiss Miss

If it is before 4 PM, add small scoop instant coffee for extra zing.

If available add extra marshmallows.

Happy shoveling!

Scarves are Love

I fell in love with the yarn the moment I saw my mom holding it: a mixture of blue-green colors like the play of tropical waters, the soft texture, I watched in awe as my mom turned it into beautiful leaf-shapes. How did she do that?!

My mom’s mastery of textiles has always mystifies me. I saw her cross-stitch and sew home-made clothes and costumes as a child. As an adult, I marveled as she taught herself to knit.

My mom says the yarn is called “cyan malabrigo caracol” and she found the pattern on Ravelry.

Every time I wear the scarf, I think of the thought she poured into selecting that fabric and planning her pattern, the time she took to make it, and the love she put into each stitch.

I have beautiful hand-made baby blankets, quilts, hats a prayer shawl, and a baby sweater. In this day and age when you can buy anything, making something seems particularly precious.

This scarf feels like a hug around my neck. A hug from my amazing mom. Sometimes, scarves are love.

Scarfs and Scarves for All Occasions

I don’t dress up everyday. In fact, I try to avoid it as much as possible. With small children, nice clothes inevitably attract food, saliva, marker, boogers, etcetera. Since I feel like scarves go with nice clothes, this is another imagined barrier to wearing them.
But I was determined to start the year of scarves off right, so as I ran an errand in my husband’s college sweater, I decided to find a matching scarf…
Alumni pride from head to toe!
(If only Noah’s carseat were in the picture… then you would see how deep our alumni pride really goes. O Davidson, you are the best!)
I have always loved the black/white/crimson color combination and was delighted during the college search to find that my favorite college also had my favorite colors.

But I digress. Just as there are scarves for all outfits and activities, there are a plethora of meanings to “scarf.”

It can also mean to join metal or timber, to cut whale blubber, or to eat quickly. I doubt I will ever use the first two meanings, but as a parent I do tend to scarf my food down speedily.
Also, in case you were curious, both “scarfs” and “scarves” are appropriate plural forms of the noun fscarf, but only “scarfs” can also be used as a verb! 

So I encourage you – do not be afraid to pair a scarf and pajamas. Put on your long coat and boots and walk in like you own the place!