Through the Back Loop

Adventures in knitting, fiber arts, and family.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Slowly Knitting - Slowly Blogging

Ten months. Time continues to march on even though nothing on the blog seems to record it. Maybe that means my hair didn't become more gray. Maybe those extra pounds I wanted to lose have melted magically away. Maybe I've been so busy clicking my knitting needles that I haven't been able to blog. Maybe. Oh, the possibilities!

The reality is - The hair is more gray. I'm trying to grow it out to embrace my true age..... we'll see how much more of that I can stand. The extra weight is still on me, but my husband has managed to lose over 90 pounds in the last year, and he is healthy. He joined a weight management program, and has dedicated each day to being a newer, healthier man. I love him! Knitting? Well it's amazing how much I had forgotten about parenting little ones.

By the time meals are cooked, kitchens cleaned, homework done, and little ones are tucked into bed, I have little motivation. Projects are moving slowly. It doesn't help when one major project that was meant as a gift was obviously the wrong project.

My mother wanted a new knit shawl, and I was secretly making one for a Christmas present. When she described the "exact" type of shawl she wanted me to knit, it turned out to be the opposite of what I was half way completed with. Bummer! It still sits on needles and I ended up buying something closer to what she wanted. It was my only project of the moment, and I had no motivation to make anything else... but......

to my surprise... my 18 year old daughter has FINALLY become a knitter! She takes her knitting to school, sits in her room listening to music or watching movies and... KNITS. Ahh... success at last!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

It takes Roughly Nine Years to Travel In a Complete Circle


Here I sit again. In the kitchen. A bag of knitting at my feet while watching the feathery steam float from the top of my hot cup of coffee. The radio in my kitchen plays current pop hit songs and I am at peace. Finally.

Nine years ago I sat the same way, but in a different kitchen, with a different knitting project, a different radio station, and a different feeling in my soul. Trepidation. We started what later became the most difficult years of our lives. I never knew when I started blogging that I would be recording those difficult years. I blogged because it satisfied some need within me to write. I never cared who read my entries, never cared how many hits my blog got, and I still only write to satisfy my own needs. Now, however, I'm thinking of printing off all of my entries to serve as a journal of our journey.

My knitting served a crucial role during this time.




It traveled with me as my husband graduated from earning his new professional degree. It sat with us as we sent off hundreds of applications. It came along on the trip to set up his apartment in a new community several hundred miles from our family home. It came along as I carted our oldest daughters to and from activities like a single parent.

My knitting rejoiced when I was hired to work near my husband and our family was finally reunited. The needles and the rhythm of completing each pattern soothed my soul as we moved again and again, lost the equity in our home from mold damage, mourned the loss of my mother-in-law, and it soothed me most when my husband began his battle against cancer.

Now, those things are finally behind us. We sold the property that was weighing us down for years, took our huge financial loss, and still managed to buy a new home. A beautiful home to raise our new family. We moved on my daughter's birthday, a great reason to celebrate many things, but mostly to celebrate life. To celebrate the new lives that will be joining our family later this spring through adoption.

We have waited so long to have traveled in a complete circle.

So here I sit again. Caring for two small sick little girls while the radio pumps out current hits, and my coffee sends curls of steam into the air. The only differences?

I don't feel the same trepidation, even though my husband is undergoing routine cancer testing at this very moment. I feel the joy of my family, even though my little girls are sick. I feel the relief of only owning one property, the home we live in each day. And my knitting?

Well, it's amazing how I had forgotten how difficult it is to knit when there are little ones to be taken care of, but when I get the chance. It rejoices with me in the happiness we have finally found!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

OH JOY! It's FINALLY here!

Warning: This blog entry contains positive language, happiness, and excitement. Readers may not be used to this kind of attitude from this particular blog, and extensive exposure may result in joy and happiness for the reader as well. Proceed with caution. You HAVE been warned!

Good news. On every single issue our family has been dealing with! SERIOUSLY!

First, the first afghan gift was given in late June, and I finished the project under the wire, again. I made the fringe the night before the wedding. At least THIS time the afghan was dry when I made the fringe. Last time, it was still a bit damp, so I left it out in the back of our car to dry during the church service and then wrapped it before the reception to increase drying time. This time... much better.

Second afghan needs to be started SOON! I plan to order the yarn this week. For the last yarn, DH and DD stopped at Herrschner's on the way home from an ortho appointment and bought the yarn. When I saw the receipt I was shocked. It cost more to buy it there than it would have to buy it online? Even with S&H? Strange.

Also, I'm back at camp, teaching knitting. This year many of the girls brought their own needles and projects and in the second week of camp everyone is already knitting away! AWESOME!

Ok. ok. ok. You are wondering about the happiness warning that started this entry. I had to get SOME knitting content in here. Joy, joy, joy! Where do I start? Adoption? Ok. We got to spend one night with our new little girls, and it went very well. We are officially starting the transition process next week, and they will be with us permanently in a couple of weeks. We have a crib, car seat, a stroller, and we will be shifting the older girls rooms so that everyone can share. The sharing of rooms is working out because our older daughters are SO excited about adding to the family. None of us can wait until the day they come!

They are also excited that sharing rooms may only last a few months BECAUSE......

Closing is July 31st and everything is in line for it to go through without any problems. We got the news about a week ago, the same time that we got the news about the little girls and transition. We are truly happy...... BECAUSE......

We were given the pre-qualification to build! Oh, my. Yes! Our credit has taken a huge hit over the past two years especially, trying to maintain all of our monthly payments. It was getting harder and harder, but we did it. At first, we didn't qualify because of the foreclosure on our home? Did I already write about that? There was NO foreclosure, but for some reason (it's a long story... it took a long time to find out why this happened) it was appearing on our credit report. A month later, after many phone calls and sleepless nights, it was gone. The difference in our credit report was pretty amazing. We can build!

We have picked out house plans, will meet with the builder to trim some of the costs down (we now need a bigger house for 6 people, but have less money because of the $40,000 we lost in the home from the mold damage)and can hopefully order the home in August and be in by Christmas! And? Yes, there is MORE! And... the house we are renting was in the process of being sold to someone who wanted to live in our side of the duplex. Somehow, the sale fell through and our landlord has taken the house OFF of the market! Plus, our new lease was signed for six months starting July 1, which means that we can move into a new home and not need to find a new renter!

There is happiness and excitement pulsing through this family again! And NO longer will we have to use the phrase, "when the house sells," as an explanation about why something cannot become a reality for us.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you to the powers above that have finally provided!

We hope for more good news on July 15th when DH has his next cancer check. July will TRULY be a great month!

No go off and spread that happiness that this blog has given to you!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

It's sold!

But not the one you are thinking of. But I'm getting ahead of myself. First... knitting.

The "Project" that I'm working on is coming along very, very well. Ahead of schedule. My wrists hurt most of the time, but the darn gift will be done on time!

I'm also preparing for summer knitting at camp. I've put together some informational handouts that are laminated and on book rings so that the girls can refer to pictures to help them out if I'm busy with someone else. I have some basic projects planned, and a better system ready to keep track of who has what materials, who has completed which techniques, and who is ready for their award. I'm pretty excited.

Knitting has been pretty good. I'm planning projects for the little ones who will be joining us in a month or so. Two little ones.... we are very excited. We are just waiting to hear the dates that are being planned for this, but we know that it will happen over the early summer months.


It is sold.. as I said, but not our house. The house we are renting has a buyer, and we were first told that she wants to live in our side (the bigger of the the two units in this duplex) and rent the other one out. Our landlord wanted to get us a lease for six months to protect us so that we couldn't be kicked out. Our home that has the offer is not moving along - the buyer has not sold their home and cannot lower their price. We are afraid that the deal will die. Because of our struggles financially, we cannot even put in an offer on a house to buy, or qualify for a loan to build if the house were to sell. At least not for six months. And.... ready for this? When our rental is sold, even with a six month lease, we have been told that the owner has the legal right to ask us to move out with 30 days notice.

So... we will be adding two little girls to our family, with a lot of love and no money..... we may lose the buyer for our own house, we could be kicked out of our rental - and we don't qualify to buy or build anytime soon.

Yeah... I'll be losing sleep again. Our social worker for the little girls was amazed at what we have lived through, and how we have continued to hold our family together in a positive way. She said over and over,"You guys are amazing." I don't feel amazing. I say my prayers several times a day. Not for a new house, not to be able to buy, but to have our financial burdens lifted - basically by selling our house in Valders.

If you have read over our history - and you think we are worthy of a mention - send a letter to Extreme Makeover, Home Edition. Please. We can use all of the help that we can possibly get.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

That Quiet Time of the Day

It's late in the evening. The house is quiet and everyone is shifting into that nighttime mode. Temperatures today were so warm, that the windows and doors are still flung open and a nice breeze crosses the house. It's very peaceful. Michael Buble is helping with that, too.

There has been quite a bit of knitting going on. In fact, the deadline of knitting "due dates" is bearing down on me. I can't talk a lot about the project because the person who it is intended for may actually be one of my ten hits each day? Who knows.. I wouldn't want to ruin a surprise.

The knitting is going well, and it's a project that I enjoy. My family is supportive and wants me to make these things, too, so they allow me to indulge that knitting bug even more than ususal. Mother's Day was a perfect example. I got a headlamp that allows me to knit while we are on the road at night. AWESOME! There is a red light, so that I don't bother my husband the driver, or distract oncoming cars. I originally wanted it for camping trips, so that I could knit by the campfire, but I realized right away that this could also be used in the car! Now I don't have to always drive the night shift so that I'm free to knit during the daylight. Again, AWESOME!

I've used the laundry soap for all of my washing since my last post, and it has won over the hearts of all of my family. Even the picky teenager loves it and wants to use this forever. The clothes feel better. They look brighter, I think, and the fact that it's "green" (is Borax "green"? Hmmmm don't know) really apeals to my oldest daughter. I gave so much away to friends and family that I had to make a new batch this past weekend. At about two dollars a batch, I can't really complain. Most of my friends loved it and they want to have a laundry soap making party? Sounds great to me! If we serve some wine and make laundry soap - I'll be happy!

House news.

Well, I mentioned how happy I am right now. I'll leave that update for another time. It's not good news, and I don't want to ruin the moment. I'll just say that we will need to continue renting for 6 months to a year before we can buy or build anything. Long story. So, we plan to bring two little ones into the small duplex, and we are Ok with that. What's important is the quality of our family, not quantity of what we have. The best thing that we have is a happy life :)

Thanks Michael - your voice has brought real content to this weary soul on a warm and breezy spring night.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Laundry Day... Errrrr Night

Years ago I decided that it would be a good idea to learn how to be self-sufficient. The kind of self-sufficiency that meant that if there ever were another depression, I would be prepared to do very valuable things like raise vegetables, can and freeze, sew anything, bake my own bread from scratch, and cook up just about anything I needed from scratch. I am pretty much a freak, I know.

We were newlyweds, and I brought my penny-pinching ways into my marriage. Luckily, my husband didn't mind sampling my pink homemade applesauce, and he waited months before I perfected lump less gravy. He also feigned interest as I explained and tried dozens of ways to make the perfect boiled egg. Now he likes to brag about my perfectly boiled eggs to others (how embarrassing!). I also found several recipes for making my own baking mix and my own ant repellant (it didn't work very well).

I have always loved frugality and we live pretty frugally, even when we have had more money than we do now. I joined the Frugal Homemakers group on Ravelry and noticed a thread for homemade laundry detergent. I was doubtful. Finally, I read it and was so excited that I had to wake up my husband to tell him all about how wonderful it would be when I started cooking up some laundry detergent. This was at midnight on a weeknight, so he wasn't really thrilled to hear about my new "experiment".

On Friday night I went out for my evening's entertainment. I went in search of these:

Laundry ingredients

I went to four different stores in search of the ever elusive Arm & Hammer Washing Soda. Turned out that my regular grocery store had all three items, who knew? And all of the items were cheaper than what I had paid for them at the hardware store. Oh well, lesson learned.

I came home and started supper, and started shredding the Fels-Naptha soap

closeup grating

Then I cooked it up while we ate the real food. I was very careful not to confuse the pots and serve up soap soup.


Then I added the rest of the ingredients and set it aside for the night.

ready to set

I had to wait until morning to see how it would turn out, so I will make you wait until morning as well. Sorry! I know that the suspense must be killing you. My husband also had a sleepless night, filled with fret about how my $8.00 experiment would turn out. And wondering if I would actually use the stuff.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

One Dollar Mitten

Yep. One dollar a skein. Bargain priced yarn at the dollar store - and it's pretty good!

When I saw some mittens at the LYS in Wausau with a cable cuff - the cable ran around the wrist - I knew that I had to make some. I picked this yarn to experiment with and....



Pretty nice, no? For the next pair I will make a few changes. A wider cable cuff and more ribbing, and maybe a different shaping style, but all in all it was a good first effort.

We spent the weekend in Sheboygan again, visiting Opa, Grandma, our nephew, my brother and sister-in-law, and Nalena. All in one day. EXHAUSTING, but a great day. The Easter Bunny left an early basket for Nalena, and the girls went outside to blow bubbles, play with the chalk and play in the sandbox. It was chilly, so coats are still required for little ones.


Because this is primarily supposed to be a knitting blog, and because I need to find some space to purge all of my financial agnst, I decided to separate posts into knitting and "the house" which is our primary finacial strain. This way, if you are interested only in knitting, you can skip right over this part. And if by some strange chance you enjoy hearing the continuing saga of our house, you can find those updates without having to read through knitting stories. Brilliant? I thought so.

We had an offer a few weeks ago, did I mention that? No, I checked back. I didn't mention it. That's probably because it wasn't worth mentioning. The offer was $45,000 below our already $20,000 reduced price since the lower level was gutted. She came up $5,000 and we went down $5,000, and then she said it wasn't worth any more than that. Since then there have been two walk throughs. Their comments are ringing in my ears because it is now always the same story, again and again.

"The lower level will require too much work."
"The siding is old and starting to deteriorate."
"The garage door is old and the trim is starting to deteriorate." (the garage door is actually a new problem)
"The upstairs bathroom is out of date."
"The kitchen floor has a tear in it."
And, "It needs new carpeting in some places upstairs."

All true. And impossible for us to do anything about.

A friend of mine was asking about the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition application that I sent in, and I told her that this was sent over a month ago and so far we have heard nothing. Their application very clearly said that we would hear nothing unless they were interested, so no news is not good news. Then my friend asked me if I had considered the Oprah show. I hadn't. I haven't watched the show in years because I'm never home in time, but I went to the website and they wanted me to condense my "remodeling project that has become stuck due to financial reasons" into 2,000 words.

I began writing. I read it to DH and he liked it. Then I began to copy and paste it into the form online and... whoops. It said 2,000 CHARACTERS, not 2,000 WORDS. Great. Four pages of text and now I had to cut it to 2,000 characters including spaces? Hmm... challenging.

I wrote a poem:

Lessons in Life

Wheels spinning in mud
Nine long years
Young children watching, learning
Lessons in life

Job to be eliminated
Back to college, both
House damaged
Windows and roof replaced
Full time work and classes
Young children watching, learning

Heart attack
Quit job
Savings gone
Finally graduate
But no job
Young children watching, learning

Hundreds of applications
Still no job
Substitute teacher
Three years
Children watching, learning

Finally a job
Three hours away
Separated but happily married
Two homes
Finances stretched
Children watching, learning

One year becomes almost two
Finally another job
Family reunited
Pop-up camper is home
Children watching, learning

New savings gone
Repairs, new carpet and paint
Credit used for bills
Finally house for sale
Buy beautiful lot
Children watching, learning

Oma has died
Finally accepted to adopt
But no – testicular cancer
Teenagers learn

Lost wages
Money spent driving
To cut grass and remove snow
Teenagers learn

Decreased property values
Sluggish house sales
No money for updates
House decaying
Adoption pending
Teenagers learn

Our story in basically 2,000 characters. We have proposed donating our home to a needy family if we could have a home in our new town. This is my plea for help. Hopefully they will hear me.