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An Invitation To Be Beautiful

"even the grayest of rocks reveal delightful hidden shades when studied closely." -Kaffe Fassett

Adam and I had an impromptu date night Thursday night. He sweetly planned an evening out, and we drove to Eureka Springs and ate at Local Flavor for dinner. Just as we were heading that way, it started to rain and the drizzle had become a downpour by the time we got there. Eureka Springs being the picturesque place that it is, we ended up parking a good walk up hill from the restaurant - and getting pretty wet. But we were together, and that's what mattered. We chose to see the dampness as an adventure instead of, well, a damper.

Sometimes it's the unplanned and the unexpected that's most beautiful, though. I love Tina's completed storm drain project - as you're looking down at the sidewalk, you find a view up Dickson Street in an unconventional place. It also has the effect of making you immediately look up, to compare her vision with the actual street.

Another instance of unexpected adornment - for the Block Street Block Party on May 19th, Hand Held is yarn bombing the light poles (and trees, and parking meters), as we have for every Block Party. We initially did it true knit graffiti style and installed it very early in the morning and without permission, but last year marked the beginning of the event's coordinators actually asking us to do it.

But as wonderful as senseless beauty is, it's greater still when there's a purpose behind it. Just as Tina's painting reminds people that the litter they throw into the street ends up in our creeks and rivers, our yarn bombs will be taken down at the end of the day to become cage mats at the animal shelter. I try to do a special panel every year, eye-catching and deserving of its final destiny, and this year's creation is Graffiti for Humanity. I made several, out of different colors, for the event, but I'd also like to try the panel in different weights, as a washcloth and as a blanket panel.

Artosphere should be my next design published. It'll be an infinity scarf, inspired by the yearly arts and nature Artosphere event that's just kicking off here in Northwest Arkansas. In celebration of the natural beauty that I can admire but cannot control, the entire thing (60" of laceweight alpaca/silk blend yarn knitted on size 6 needles - roughly 65000 stitches) is going into the washing machine on hot wash/cold rinse when it's finished. I know it will felt in some way, but I'm not entirely certain what will happen exactly. But I plan to embrace whatever I find when I open the washing machine lid.

I've been trying to focus on projects like that lately. I want to teach Little Bee, by example, to live a life of renewing the little Kingdom corner we've been entrusted with while we wait for the return of Eden - but I also need to remember that that vision looks different for everyone, and that while I can provide tools and encouragement, I cannot attempt (successfully) to control the outcome.

"One of the biggest handicaps that occurs with both trained and untrained artists is a kind of reverential attitude toward making things beautiful, accurate, and perfect. In this approach the final product becomes more important than the process." -from Mess by Keri Smith

The tiny soul we've been entrusted with will have a passion and a will and a sense of beauty all their own - and all that we can do is guide them upwards, praying that God will provide the guidance that we cannot, and rejoice in the beauty that frames both tragedy and triumph.

Redemption comes in strange places, small spaces, 
calling out the best of who we are...
it comes in small inspirations,
it brings redemption to life and work,
it comes in loving community,
it comes in helping a soul find its worth -
and this is grace: an invitation to be beautiful. -from Add to the Beauty by Sara Groves


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31 Days of Unraveling Designs

It's that time of year again... the 31 Days writing challenge starts today! Bloggers from all over will be writing every day of the month of October on the topic of their choosing. This will be my fourth year participating - the first year I did 7 for 31, and spent a month going through Jen Hatmaker's book 7. The second year I did 31 Days of Sustainable Dwelling, and wrote about local and fair trade living. Last year I was busy but still wanted to participate, so I went the easy route with 31 Days of Everyday Beautiful.

This year I'm diving into my greatest passion: knitting! I'll spend this month looking at past designs and talking about the inspiration behind them, so there will be plenty of regular life mixed in with the stitching - and there may be discount codes for the patterns that I write about. You'll just have to read and see!

Pattern index:

Pageturner Mitts
Hogwarts House Tie
Urban Artemis
Graffiti for Humanity
Love Out Loud
Strange Jacket


In order to change your knitting, you must first change yourself. I've lost track of how many times I've said that, or how many people I've said it to. Frustrated new knitters wondering why their work is loose or tight or uneven or really anything less than perfect. But something I love about knitting is that it's a record of your inner dialogue. That swatch knit at the yarn store table with a cozy cup of coffee and a helpful (and more experienced) knitter nearby is going to be a lot more relaxed than the sweater begun a week later while sitting next to a hospital bed - just like the knitter.

Unfortunately, this also applies to my own knitting. For years, I was apparently unaffected by the shifts and turmoils in my own life, so I assumed that I was exempt from the rule - when the reality was, in fact, that I wasn't really experiencing any of those on anything deeper than a surface level because everything was deadened by depression. When I finally started to really…


A few years ago, I was introduced to the concept of replacing the traditional list of resolutions with a single word. It appealed to me - I am not a big list person, but I love language and words and meanings and etymology and metaphor and... ahem. Ennyhoo. I liked the idea.
I've never chosen the word. It's always presented itself to me - and last year was no different. Pacific was very insistent, even though I tried to argue with it. Pacific? What does that even mean? What am I supposed to do with that?
But I accepted it, and I'm glad I did. I learned about depth and calm, about storm and nurture, about faith and adventure - and about the unstoppable ocean of God's grace, that overwhelms to fill and cleanse and bring blessings unasked.
So I'm bidding pacific a very fond farewell, and welcoming spark and whatever lessons it would like to bring. I invited it in with a copper wire punctuated with tiny lights and wrapped around my mood board, and I've got an empt…