A few years ago, for a brief time, I wrote a column for a local newspaper. Today, I’m sharing with you the first of those columns that was published on September 9, 2010 in the Covington-Maple Valley-Black Diamond Reporter.

I’ve had a library card for as long as I can remember. I can still picture the library in the city I grew up in; it was an old brick building set at the edge of a park in the middle of the city.

Moose Jaw Public Library image courtesy of the Institute for Stained Glass in Canada

Moose Jaw Public Library image courtesy of the Institute for Stained Glass in Canada

I found it comforting to be in the library in the winter when the frigid wind blew outside; the blanket of peace inside the library warmed me as I sat on a small plastic chair in the children’s section browsing through books, searching for just the right one to take home.

In the summer months when it was too hot to play outside, the library was a silent refuge from the oppressive summer heat. Countless stories sat on the shelves waiting for me to enter in and allow myself to be transported to another world.

Sometimes, the library came to me in the form of a bookmobile that parked just down the street from where we lived. I always took advantage of the opportunity to stock up on a new stack of books that I could lose myself in for a few hours.

Throughout my life, whenever I wanted to learn about something new, I went to the library. I learned to quilt by reading library books; I learned about my Mennonite heritage by reading library books; I learned how to take care of family pets by reading library books; I learned what it meant to have faith by reading library books.

I started taking my children to the library when they were infants, wanting to instill my love of books and libraries in them at the earliest possible age. They grew up going to the library and quickly learned to appreciate the value of a book. Now, I am pleased to see my children passing on their love of books and reading to their own children.

When my husband and I moved to the Pacific Northwest three years ago I stopped going to the library. I got used to going to a different grocery store and a different hair stylist, but somehow I neglected to connect with a new library. I started buying my books online or from department store chains, but every time I drove past the library I reminded myself that I needed to sign up for a library card. I just never seemed to get around to doing it.

Until today.

Covington library image courtesy of King County Library System

Covington library image courtesy of King County Library System

As I was on my way home this afternoon, something prompted me to turn into the parking lot of the Covington library. As I walked through the tree-lined courtyard toward the glass doors of the library, I wondered what sort of library I might find inside. Would this new library have the same allure that the libraries of my past had held for me?

As soon as I entered the unfamiliar, yet somehow still familiar, library I started to feel at home. I was greeted by a smiling face at the information desk and within a few minutes I had a brand new library card.

With my card in hand, I strolled through the library familiarizing myself with where everything was. There was the children’s section, magazines and books on tape, shelf-after-shelf of fiction and literature, and there behind the rows of computers was the non-fiction section I had unconsciously been looking for.

The familiar Dewey Decimal numbers posted on the ends of the shelves directed me to the sections I once spent so much time browsing through. My body remembered the library-posture of tilting my head to the right to read the titles on the spines of the books; my mind recalled the hours spent in the library browsing, reading, and forgetting about everything else except the books.

I checked out three books from section 305 (They have self-checkout now!), and as I left the library with my books in my arms, my walk seemed a little bouncier, and I seemed to breathe a little easier.

Having obtained a library card and checked out my first batch of books, I guess I can say that I am officially planted here for now.

I guess I’m home.

 

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A few years ago I decided I wanted to (re)learn how to knit. When I was a child my mom taught me the basics and believe my granddaughter has a little scarf that I made for one of my dolls at the time. I distinctly remember struggling my way through the test required to earn my Brownie knitting badge and I’m not sure if I even managed to earn the badge. In time, what little I had learned fell by the wayside and I was firmly entrenched in the non-knitter status.

My interest in the craft was piqued in recent years as I read about a simpler life and envisioned a life of homesteading, raising chickens and goats, and gardening. My dream of having a farm was not to be but nevertheless I am continuing to incorporate into my life basic, simple, things I hold dear–knitting being one of them.

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As I mentioned, I decided to take up knitting a few years ago. I even wrote about it here, here, and here. With the help of a books, YouTube, and various websites, I struck out on my quest to become a knitter. I quickly learned that this was not a skill I was going to become proficient in overnight and as I learned the basics of knitting and purling, as I knit a few rows and then unravelled them to start over again, I clung to my belief that this was a skill that I needed to have in my life.

Here’s what I learned almost immediately.

  • I don’t like the feel of aluminum or plastic needles; bamboo needles only for me please.
  • Knitting with acrylic or other non-natural yarn made me feel nauseous; I can’t explain it but that’s what I experienced.  For now I knit with only 100% cotton yarn.

So, with my Takumi bamboo needles of various sizes and styles and Lily Sugar ‘n Cream yarn I set off to become relatively proficient at knitting. I struggled my way through a couple of coffee cup sleeves that we still use when we get a cup of steaming hot Tim Hortons coffee, as well as a couple of not-so-pretty dish clothes. I found it comforting to sit by the fire on a wet and dreary Sunday afternoon with my knitting projects but as I was still working, and busy with other things, my knitting time was limited.

This year as the gardening season began to wind down and the weather started turning cooler I started thinking about knitting again. I remembered a post on one of my favourite blogs, Down to Earth, that featured a waffle-weave cloth and decided to give it a go with some leftover yarn. (The original pattern came from a site called Homespun Living.)

dishcloth-1

I was pleased with how the first cloth turned out and debated whether I should try another pattern for my next one. Instead, I decided to stick with the waffle weave cloth to try to hone my knitting skills. I’ve made nine cloths since the season turned and I have become a knitting advocate. This is a craft that is portable and can be done anywhere, it produces something that is aesthetically pleasing and useful in the home, and it is soothing for the soul.

dishcloth-1-5

I’ve found that my knitting time is optimum for helping me to relax, mull over ideas, and pray for loved ones. I can sit down with a glass of water and knit a few rows, and say a few prayers, in between other projects around the house; I can settle in to my favourite spot by the window with a cup of tea and let the click-click of the needles take my mind where it wanders. The waffle weave pattern is simple enough that I can even chat with Gerry while I complete a few rows. We’ve been faced with a family crisis in recent months and it’s been especially good for me to have my knitting to help me calm my mind and provide opportunity to pray for the situation.

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I’m not sure how many dish cloths I really need but I’ll keep making them for the time being. A few may make their way into Christmas stockings too. Beyond that, I expect I’ll eventually have to branch out and make something other that simple dish cloths but for the time being knitting these waffle weave cloths is serving multiple purposes in my life.

dishcloth-1-3

 

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