So, I was sitting in bed on December 27th, and this happened.
I was making lists of lists, and it sort of…. congealed. The number 9 is arbitrary, but it’s also… pretty. Now, it’s entirely possible that excessive planning is an advance symptom that I am getting a cold. That was definitely the case this time – four days later, I am still recovering. But it also makes me really happy.
What resulted is this matrix of make-9 charts. Stringbean, drawn to the blocks and colors, pored over it and asked if it was a list of resolutions. That it is definitely NOT. It’s a view from a mountaintop with a telescope, checking out the terrain ahead. When I get down into the actual work of pathfinding, decisions are constantly changing. But the big picture is really fun to check out when you get the chance, and having an overhead map in your head can be helpful when you’re down in the weeds.
I ended up with 9 categories of 9, in no particular order:
- Daily Life/Habits
- House & Cabin Projects
- Fun Knitting
- One-off Projects.
Here they are, broken down, again in no particular order.
This isn’t really a list of plans, as much as a list of what has been working so far that I want to double down on and affirm. This is going to be the wordiest, sorry. This is what takes up the most of my actual life, so I give it a lot of thought!
- Morning Chores: Every morning (or nearly) I make a to-do list. At the top of the list I write: B L T D H F. My husband claims this stands for Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato, Dijon, Hamburger, and Fries, or something like that. It actually stands for Bed, Laundry, Toilet, Dishes, Hair, Floor. Those are the things I try to remember to do every morning.
- Bed: There is a certain philosophy that says, if you make your bed in the morning, it makes things better. I have come to accept that this philosophy applies to me. It’s pretty much an established habit, but I have it on the list because sometimes I slip, and because I’m slowly trying to extend the bed-making habit to the kids.
- Laundry: Starting a load of laundry almost every morning helps keep things from getting too backed up in that area.
- Toilet: I have adopted the FlyLady daily “Swish and Swipe” method which keeps things from getting too nasty. Dooner likes to help with the toilet brush.
- Dishes: The dishes get done after dinner, but sometimes not all, and getting a clean kitchen before the morning is out makes it possible for me to do… anything. at all.
- Hair: This often doesn’t happen; the kids need a daily hairbrush but don’t get it. I keep it on the list so I keep trying to find a good routine. My own hair is also at the point where it needs more than a shake of the head to get untangled.
- Floor: To make sure the floor in the kitchen gets swept at least once a day. My floors generally are an issue, but at least this way we’ll get one meal a day without crunching things underfoot.
- Weekly Chores: When we were reading some of the Little House books this year, I was inspired by Ma Ingall’s routine of “Wash on Monday, Iron on Tuesday, Mend on Wednesday, Churn on Thursday, Clean on Friday, Bake on Saturday, Rest on Sunday.” What I actually stick to is:
- Sheets on Monday: Either our bed or the kids’ beds get new sheets every week. Changing the sheets every other week was good enough for my mama, so it’s good enough for me.
- Laundry on Tuesday: The big laundry day. I picked Tuesday because Jared has an early morning Bible study on Tuesday, so I can start running loads first thing without messing up his shower water. Stringbean can fold her own, and Dooner likes to help; still working on MiniMighty.
- Put away on Wednesday: I like folding laundry ok, but for some reason I hate putting it away. So this gets its own day.
- Trash on Thursday: A day to empty all the non-kitchen trash cans in the house.
- Floors on Friday: This is my weak point (week point? heheh). If you come to stay with me, bring thick slippers, and glasses with the bottoms blacked out. I just find sweeping and mopping exhausting, probably because you have to tidy first. I am certainly tidier than at any previous point in my life, but a growth area in my general housekeeping is to actually clean the floors more often.
- Quiet Time: This is a gift my husband gives me in the mornings. When the kids leave for school, I get half an hour to pray and read the Bible. This is life and nourishment, so here’s to being intentional about not letting that slip.
- Healthy Food: Speaking of nourishment, I feel I’ve hit some kind of a stride with food in the last few months. I’ve gotten over my need to have us all eating the same things every meal. I just make the healthy food I want to eat (often something plant-based and weird), and if it’s something the kids won’t eat, I make them something else. I had to let an ideal go, but it turns out this is the most loving thing for the kids and for me.
- Exercise: Probably the best thing about having a dog, next to the cuddles, is how much exercise he needs. Between that and some intentional dieting, I’ve lost about 15 lbs in the past two months. Sisko needs exercise whether I feel like it or not, and we don’t have a fenced-in yard, so I get out there pretty much every day. I love being able to feel my core when I move, and jog for a few minutes without feeling like I’m going to die. I don’t have any exercise goals or program, and my weight goal is pretty reasonable. I just want to keep moving.
- Training Dog: speaking of woman’s best friend, it’s time to step up Sisko’s training. He is house trained, and does a pretty good sit and lie down and shake, but we’ve got a long way to go. To that end, we’ve enrolled in an online obedience course that will take us the next couple of months, and we’ll have to stay on top of training him. I love him to bits and I want him to stay easy to love!
- Preaching & Officiating: Since this fall, I’ve been switching off with Jared to take turns leading the Sunday service and preaching. Sparked by Stringbean’s surprise that my sister didn’t ask “a real priest” to do her wedding (“You know, like one that does things on Sunday”), I made this commitment, and it’s been a good thing for both Jared and myself. I have one afternoon a week to work, which is enough for my needs. I have dreams of doing a proper sermon series. There’s also a real possibility of starting a more serious children’s ministry, though this is still at the prayer stage.
- Time with Jared: Without my husband, I wouldn’t be doing any of this stuff. He’s hands-down the most important person in my life. So much of what I do is to support him in his leading role in our ministry together. But so often he gets the dregs of my actual attention. This note is an intention to do better.
- Time with Friends & Parishioners: I am a homebody. I like being by myself. I like hanging with just my family. But I do actually like other people, especially when I see them. It turns out I actually like having dinner parties and stuff, and I don’t stress as easily as I used to. So…. let’s do that more, self? But not now, because lockdown.
As this list formed of things I’d like to do with the kids this year, I realized it was missing something important. So I put it right in the middle, and made sure it pushed everything else out of the way.
- Play: My time with the kids is shuffled around school and chores, and it isn’t as structured as it used to be when we were homeschooling. I have to be sneaky about the supplemental learning we do. I’m so tempted by curricula and plans. But what I need to learn to do, most of all, is drop everything and play. Play board games, play pretend, play wrestling, play tickles. Just play.
- Crafts: My kids love making stuff, and I love making stuff with them. I dream of the day that they are working independently and consistently on longer projects, since they totally have the intelligence and fine motor skills to do amazing things. But developmentally they aren’t there yet. So, still feeling this out. I’m experimenting with that grey area of projects that engage them, but push their attention longer.
- Chores: Jared recently sent me this cool article about teaching kids to do chores. I think that concept of the micro-task is super helpful. I’m good at that with Dooner, because she’s my little shadow, and we’re super well-attached. I struggle more with my older ones. We’ve been working long-term on shifting the tone of our parenting, and this is a good piece to slip in.
- Bible: We used to read a Bible story together every night; we’ve gotten away from that in the last year or so. The older kids are old enough that we can just read the Bible, so I’m discerning how to do that well. Ooo, that’s a lie. Real answer: I’m working up the will to just do it, and stop playing video games in the evening.
- Music: There’s a piano in the living room, and a wee violin in the closet. Would like to do something about that with the kids.
- Friends: We let them have friends over about once a week, when Jared and I are both home, and when I can supervise them sufficiently. We have discovered that these are necessary for our family. Mostly I need to have a better attitude about it. See above re: liking people.
- 8., and 9: Spelling, Math, and Reading: This is where the sneaky supplemental learning is. I asked for “A Reason for Spelling” for Stringbean for Christmas, because she really wanted it back when we were homeschooling. I just ordered a lower level for MiniMighty. I’m hoping to ride their interest, and keep it fun. I also asked for the “Life of Fred” series to supplement their Math, and they’re already giggling their way through the 10-book set. They love to read, and I am feeling out the land of encouraging their choices in more edifying directions. They love learning, and will probably supplement for themselves, I’m just trying to nudge here and their without killing their joy.
House & Cabin Projects
This is mostly a list of things to do in the summer.
1. & 2. Jack house & fix bathroom floor: Taking care of the rectory (or as they sometimes call it up here, the “manse”) in a grown-up sort of way.
3. & 4. Clear Yard and Move playhouse: a thick coating of snow and winter twilight can make even our back yard look picturesque. But in the summer you can see how much trash everyone has back there. There’s no perfection here, but we can make it nicer. And we got official permission to break down that half-finished cabin and move it.
5. Dog Run: I have dreams of building a dog run back there. Sisko likes a good walk, but he needs to run, and not run off.
6., 7., 8., and 9. Cabin Projects: There’s some painting that needs doing out there, and some this-and-that always comes up, but I forget what they all are. The owners will be staying in the cabin this summer, and probably working on it a lot themselves, but we’ll probably get a chance to contribute before the year is out.
You don’t get to see what’s in this one, haha!
These are already in process, but they have a long way to go. It has to do with knitting. But there is such a thing as announcing too early. I hope to be done by the end of the year, and the results should be interesting. You’ll hear more when the time is right!
I was going to put knitting next, but some of those projects are pending the spinning, so I’d better do this first!
Because fun, I’ll give you a gallery of the (mostly) stash I am going to use. These correspond to the grid above, unlike the previous lists, although they are not very much intended to be in order of execution.
- Gotland. This 1 lb of plain, natural-colored gotland is destined to be a DK-weight sweater quantity, spun to match these color study yarns from several years ago. The plan is to put them together in Puffin (below).
- “Phoenix Rising” on Superwash BFL from Sweet Georgia
- “Lava Love” on Panda from Crafty JAKs
- “Tapestry” on Panda from Sweet Georgia
- “Summer’s Delight” on Targhee from Crafty JAKs
- “Graffiti” on Panda from Crafty JAKS
- “Rogue” on Superwash BFL from Sweet Georgia. 2-6 are all intended to become sock yarns. My idea is to spin fraternal sock yarns from each braid, experimenting with the different color handlings in Rachel and Katrina’s book, Unbraided.
- These socks were knitted by my friend Kelly from one of the braids in the last Wool n’ Spinning Breed and Color study I participated in, a few years ago. I’d like to participate again, so I am saving my pennies and saving this space. Katrina and Rachel announced the study just this morning to Patrons, and I am SUPER excited.
- Will this be the year I spin my 1 lb of superwash merino? I don’t know. If I’m still too intimidated, I might do my other last sweater quantity of wool, 1 lb of plain white roving from Custom Woolen Mills, for Shifty (see below).
- Not pictured: I have three enormous bags of qiviut fiber that I need to sort through and clean! I’m going to set some monthly goals so this doesn’t just sit for ever!
There is business knitting, but I have every intention of doing fun knitting as well. As usual, this is committed to using my stash.
I’ll give this to you in gallery form as well, matching the above. All images are from the design’s pattern pages (except 4 and 5), and links with copyright information are provided below.
- Solaris: I have the handspun for this ready to go. I’ll be looking up Rachel’s modifications.
- Weel Riggit: Also in handspun, also ready to knit.
- Lilia’s Day: My mom got me the kit for this for my birthday this year. Must Knit!
- Shakerag Top: I’d like to use my handspun silks and ramie, either for this or something else.
- Handspun Socks: Shown are the one pair of handspun socks I made last year. I have one pair’s worth ready to knit, and hope to spin more this year (see above).
- Plain Socks: I have one more beautiful skein of commercial yarn to make into socks, and some machine knit tubes that need heels and toes. Shown are the Walk Good socks by heyBrownBerry, a cool human and fellow spinner whose patterns I will get around to trying one day.
- Argyll Club: Image is from one of Kate’s posts about the Argyll Secret Coast club. I’m signed up for Kate Davies’ club this spring, and I know I’ll want to knit something from it, so this space reserved!
- Puffin: I have the contrast color spun, I have some plain Gotland ready to spin the MC (see above), and a plan to convert it to a top-down cardigan in the wrong gauge. I’ve had this plan for years and it’s going to happen at some point!
- Shifty: Again, I have the contrast color, and I have a pound of plain roving from Custom Woolen Mills to spin up and dye with avocado pits to be the main color. But I don’t know if this will happen. The spinning project didn’t make the cut, so probably not, unless I pick a different MC.
Yes, I do plan on weaving this year. The only reason I can say this with any confidence is because the warps are already wound for ALL of these projects.
All of these projects are from Syne Mitchell’s book, Inventive Weaving on a Little Loom. I’ve been weaving through this book since the start, and I see no reason to stop now! Images below are all from the Kindle edition of the book, which I use extensively.
1. & 2.: Pooled warp scarves. Warps are sock yarn; weft will be lace. May have to put these in two heddles if too fine (see 9 below).
3. Ombre scarf. Again, may have to put in two heddles. Handspun, I hope it survives.
4. & 5. Plaids from a bunch of leftovers – one of J&S jumper weight, one from Brooklyn Tweed Loft. Just wound off half of each color into warp and made a design.
6. Art Yarn funky weaving sampler. Going to use my crazy corespun yarn as a feature while I play with things like Danish Medallions, Spanish Lace, and that sort of thing.
7. & 8. Two warps worth of Looped-Pile washcloths. Leftovers from tea towels a couple of years ago, plus some cotton yarn my friend Christine didn’t want.
9. Fine Weaving with Two Heddles. I really want to try this, since I happen to have two heddles of each size for my loom. I wound up some silk lace into a warp if nothing else happens, but I may have to do this for 1-5 if the warps are too fine. I can tell you I’m not going to be making tea towels.
All of these projects are from stash as well. Look out stash, you are so busted!
Though I’ve been doing a fair bit of sewing in the last couple of years, I don’t have a ton of plans to sew this year.
1. Dooner’s Quilt: I’ve gotten a start on the Starry Path Quilt, and I told her I’d have it done for her birthday in April. So, better get on that. This is the only thing in this make 9 that needs to get done this year.
2. EPP Lallybroch project: I really enjoy this, and there’s no pressure on it, so I’ll keep pecking away at it this year, at the cabin and on travel.
3. Masks: I have a set of 26 masks that are about halfway done. Omicron may have rendered them obsolete, but it seems a shame not to finish them. We’ll probably need them sooner or later.
4. Repairs: Gotta leave space for this, or it won’t get done. Meh.
5. & 6.: My MIL kindly sent me an enormous collection of beautiful blue and green batik fabrics. I originally asked for some blue because I didn’t think I’d have enough for the backing on Dooner’s quilt, but these are way too nice for that. There’s enough for me to make a couple fun quilting projects with them.
7., 8., & 9. Little House Dresses: I asked for and received a pattern for pioneer dresses for the girls. I don’t know if I’ll go through with making them, but it’s on my mind, while the girls are still young and enjoying the series. I received some beautiful organic Muslim fabrics for Christmas that would work for aprons, pinafores, or just wearable muslins.
This is a space for all those little projects that need to get done, but get ignored because they don’t fit handily in another category. The contents will shift, I’m sure. It’s just a place to stick things so they don’t get missed!
1., 2., & 3: Bind journals. I’m not doing a lot of bookbinding anymore since we’re not really homeschooling, but I do like making my own pretty journals with covers made from quilting cotton.
4. Photo books. And photos generally. I take lots of photos, but my girls love having the books to pore over, and the 8x10s hanging on the wall are at least three years out of date!
5. & 6. Godly Play. Or any other crafting or planning that is needful for children’s ministry.
7., 8., & 9. A placeholder for all that stuff I do at Christmas every year!
So there it is! My crazy list of lists. That was cathartic to make, and as I said, I shall enjoy the rest of this mountaintop time just communing with the view, and descend to the valleys when high point is past. Happy New Year!