The handmade gift

December 9, 2014 at 4:11 pm | Posted in Christmas, inspiration, knitting, love, women | 7 Comments
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IMG_4701It is nearly Christmas and all over the world … all over the world … fingers are flying as artists, artisans, crafters, and makers of things endeavor to gift the finest gift there is…love.

Love.

That is the root of the season. And we seek to flow and show our love as finely and as broadly as we possibly can.

We do that, we humans. We do.

Love.

I remember the exact moment when I realized love is the one true thing, the key to the universe. I know where I was, what I was doing, the color of the sky, the other things in motion around me, the time of day, how I was sitting, where I was heading. I also remember the amazing feeling of abundant clarity and spiritual fullness I felt when I realized that simple truth.

IMG_4714Regardless of your faith, you can believe in Christmas if you choose, because the simplicity of the holiday is love.

Regardless of who or what Jesus was, you can believe in the love that was his message.

Love one another.

I mean, how simple and direct can you get.

Love one another.

Forget about everything else, all of the religious teachings and trappings and ceremony and wars over whose god is God and what we all ought to think about any of that.

Toss all of that out. There was this guy, his name happened to be Jesus of Nazareth and he said we all ought to love one another.

Love. One. Another.

Simple.

IMG_4713That message changed the world, and changed it for the better.

So, to celebrate that message a bunch of us all over the world celebrate first and foremost the concept of loving one another. And we get inspired to do all kinds of great and wondrous and small and perfect acts of kindness and brotherhood toward those we are close to but also toward others we do not know.

We find and create ways to embody the love that guy suggested.

I read an article several years ago about a survey regarding gifts people love and don’t love to receive at Christmas. Sadly, handmade gifts were on the list as being not appreciated.

That’s really bad news for someone like me because I love to make things, and I love mostly making things for other people. I am a maker of things, and when I really want to show someone that I love them I make them something.

Making things and giving them away, that’s my way of showing my love.

IMG_4668This brings me to the subject at hand, the handmade gift. In particular, I have something to,say about handknit gifts, but what I have to say relates to all handmade gifts.

When someone knits something for you, what they are really giving you is love.

It might look like a scarf, a hat, some gloves or socks, a tea cozy…whatever. It might be fine, classy, and beautiful. Or, it might be an ill-advised combination of colors in a horrifyingly inconsistent striping pattern. Either way, that handknit piece is a gift of love. You were thought of as the person chose the pattern, picked the yarn, worked a swatch, cast on, knit along, made mistakes, tangled their yarn, came to the end, cast off, wove in the yarn tails, and gazed at their completed piece. Every step in the process involved love.

Love, the secret of and key to the universe. Someone gave that to you. By knitting you a gift. Do you realize how divinely special that is?

When someone has given of themselves by making you a gift, even if it isn’t your style or taste, even if the fibers don’t suit you, or,the colors make you want to gag I suggest you give love in return by wearing or using the handmade gift at least once. And as you do, focus on the love residing in and resonating from the fibers of that thing.

IMG_4477And know this: You are one of the most fortunate human beings on the planet. Someone loved you enough to make something for you.

People. We are here on this planet together. We have the freedom and the ability to love one another.

Christmas?

Keep it simple. It is a celebration of the message of love.

And together we can change the world for the better in a big way, for a little while each year.

Merry Christmas.

Love,
~firefly

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I wore a wool hat

September 20, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Posted in art, country life, country living, faith, family, free knitting patterns, health, inspiration, knitting, Life, love, marriage, photography, relationships, shopping, summer, Vintage, yarn | 6 Comments
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It has already been chilly enough recently, I wore a wool hat a couple of times last week. AndiIt is just now the last day of summer.  I remember the first year I was in New York, we went to my husband’s nephew’s farm–a couple of hours south of us– for a pig roast in mid-August and camped out a couple of nights.  It got down into the 40’s both nights and we were freezing all night long; mid-August.

That funny little hand knit skirt I was making last week for Sweet Pea is finished now, but she didn’t want to model it today. I’ll have to catch her in a modelling mood later this week so I can share that with you all. I will also share the pattern with you for free — it is very simple and a quick knit. She looks so adorable in it, you just have to see it! I’ll be sure to include directions for making it as a little girl’s skirt, not just a toddler’s skirt. I was going to call it Sassafras, but now that I have seen it on her, it makes me think of it more as a Flintstone skirt. Anyway, soon as I can get her to wear it for a photo shoot, I’ll share the photos and the pattern.

Have you heard about the HBO show, Boardwalk Empire? It is going into its second season in a week or so, and HBO did a very cool promotion in NYC using vintage subways they ran in certain neighborhoods. The story line (which takes place during prohibition era Atlantic City) and the promotion in NYC were of particular interest to my family because of my son’s vintage-look subway sign business. I guess he knew about it for a while, because he designed a very cool set of Atlantic City subway roll signs, paying homage not only to Atlantic City but giving a nod to HBO’s excellent production as well.

Today is beautiful; I am looking out the dining room windows as I type and I see blue skys with huge puffy white clouds dancing along.  We had gentle rain over night, but now it has cleared out leaving the trees and lawn looking rich and dazzling against that beautiful blue sky.  Summer is already a thing of the past for us this year, but we are looking forward to a couple of months of beautiful autumn.  One sugar maple tree on the bank of the river has started turning colors, but otherwise the trees are still green for the most part.

Our pumpkins never did take hold this year, which is sort of sad.  However, our favorite local farm stand already has a beautiful assortment of pumpkins out for sale and we bought a couple of huge ones the other day.  They look like standard field pumpkins, but are the size of a big moon over-sized pumpkin.  Very nice, and they have gorgeous huge stems on top.

For Sweet Pea’s Sincere Pumpkin Patch, my daughter and husband and I will buy a number of pumpkins from the farm stand and scatter them around where ours should have grown.  We will do that the night before Halloween, and hang a few ghosts in the branches of the old dead pine tree who stands guard over the patch.  It will be so fun to see how she responds to it all now that she’s older.

That pumpkin patch has been on my mind quite a lot recently, not only because fall is here but also because of a book project I have been working on with my Dad.  We created a book (hardback, eBook, and Kindle editions) combining some of his inspirational poetry and my photography of our farm.

Shortly after I married and moved to this beautiful farm, my parents came for a Christmas visit along with my son and daughter (they are young adults). My father brought a folder with his poetry, and we read through some of his poems while they were here. He and I talked about how lovely it would be to publish a book sometime with his poems and my photography, and so the concept of this book took root.

A couple of years alter they all came here again for a vacation in June, and we all spent a very magical week together with the most perfect, spectacular weather you could hope for.

At that time, my father was undergoing chemotherapy; he was diagnosed with prostate cancer about eleven years ago. When he came for that visit, none of us knew how the chemotherapy was going to turn out, and we all wanted to make sure that we lived that one magical week to the fullest while we all had the opportunity to be together.

My father got to drive my husband’s tractor and help tend to our large lawn — my son also had a hand at driving the tractor during that visit. My father had not been on a tractor since he was a young man living on a farm in North Carolina, so it was wonderful for him to have that opportunity.

While they all were here we worked together to plant our first-ever pumpkin patch, with six varieties of pumpkins. We also built a crude but artistic signpost, which we put up over the pumpkin patch. My son and daughter and I hand painted, “Sincere Pumpkin Patch” on the sign in a childish hand, to make the signpost look like it was put together by children.

The pumpkin harvest from the Sincere Pumpkin Patch that year was gorgeous, and we all felt it was a great reflection of those magic days we shared in June.

I am determined to make certain that my father has an opportunity to be a published author while he is still living, and that he will experience the joy of knowing that people are reading and enjoying his creative works, and feeling inspired and uplifted by his lovely words.  The book contains thirteen of his poems and fourteen of my specially selected photographs.

You can order the eBook directly from my website here, you can find the Kindle version in the Kindle Store by searching “J. L. Fleckenstein” — the title of the book is “The Measure of a Man”.  Or,  if you would like a beautiful, full-cover hardback version of this book you may purchase one for $26 by contacting me (email editor101 @ ILiveonaFarm.com).

The hardback book is small (6″ x 9″) and rather slim, but expensive to print. There is very little profit on the hardback book, but is is so lovely I want people to have it in their hands and on their coffee tables or desks — so I am making it available that way by special request. I have to special order them one at a time for now, so there is about a two week lead time between when you order one and when it can be shipped. Worth the wait, in my humble opinion.

My father is doing very , by the way … turns out he is much, much more durable than cancer is.

I put together a reader survey this morning to get some feedback from my readers. It would be great to hear from some of you … would you be willing to take a couple of minutes to help? If so, click here.

I hope you have a beautiful, almost autumn day.

~firefly

More knitting photos

September 9, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Posted in baby, country life, country living, faith, family, flowers, knitting, knitting for babies, Life, love, shopping, socks, women, yarn | Leave a comment
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Read my blog on Kindle. You can also find my funny short story for knitters, “A Matter of Perspective” at Amazon for Kindle.

This is a brief post to share a couple more knitting photos … it is great to be able to knit more once again.  Little Sweet Pea is being so good about not ripping out my needles any longer.  She actually sat in my lap and watched me work on her little eyelash yarn skirt last night.  I’m going to call this one “Sassafras Tea Skirt”, because I intend to have a tea party with her once it is finished.  I’m using Size U.S. 9 circular needles for the skirt, so it is a very quick project.

Here is another photo of the Slouchies Socks, to show the contrasting colors in the heels and toes.  She sure does love her little socks — and when pulled all the way up they come above her knees, but then slouch back down just enough to be cute but not bothersome.

It looks like we are going to have sunshine today; that will be great after a week of temperatures in the 60’s with gray skies and rain off and on.  We would enjoy having a little bit more NY summer, pretty please. I’m looking outside at our barn as I write. There is array of tall wild flowers, cat tails, and milk weed arranged artistically by nature on the south side, where the wood block painted with a quilt square hangs on the barn, the sun is illuminating the scene. To the right of the barn, and back further I see the field of corn topped with golden tassels. Blue sky above, puffy clouds floating gracefully past and way back behind the corn field, our stand of woods.

Quite a healthy, beautiful scene. Wish my son were here to enjoy this with me, over a cup of coffee and some homemade biscuits. It is his birthday tomorrow, oh how I wish he were here.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and a I’ll “see” you next week.

~firefly

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