Tempted but not this summer

Step back to a May (nearly June) day one year ago, or two, or three, or four years and you would find me studying pattern release notes and making yarn and color choices for Marie Greene’s annual 4-day sweater knit-along (KAL) but not this summer.  Instead, with July’s arrival, I will observe rather than participate in this summer’s KAL since I have a full task list as the co-lead of the church building team.

After spending several years in discernment, in what now feels like it was a leisurely drive on a blue-line road, it is like we are in the F1 pit lane prepping for 78 fast laps on the streets of Monaco.  As May began, we purchased 40 wooded acres of urban wilderness, engaged the architects, performed soil borings and tested for Decorah Edge.  In just weeks, we will begin listening sessions when we will dream of all this building might represent and then move into conceptual and schematic designs before breaking ground in September 2024 and dedicating a new building in September 2025. 

With weekly planning meetings, frequent discussions with the architects, and writing regular eNews updates intended to keep member congregants and friends informed and engaged, the 4-day sweater KAL, just doesn’t gel with my mindset.  But my needles will not be still as yarn for a summer silk shawl and two scarves are tucked in the rattan basket by my TV room chair.

Happy knitting!


Our time to dream

graphic depiction of a chalice and flame surrounded by 2 circles

Together, our church community has been engaged on a critical path of Building Our Future activities.  We find ourselves, as a congregation, its members and friends, in the midst of a great call for creativity.

After a successful congregational vote supporting the purchase of the Viola Road property as our future church home and having concluded that purchase this past week, we are entering into what our board president has described as, “our time to dream.”

I can sometimes be a broken record.  I never miss an opportunity to remind anyone who will listen that there is a long wish list for our new space; a list that has been growing since 2019 with heartfelt suggestions offered at forums and casual comments shared during mahjong games in the Chapel.  But even with this long bulleted list, I believe there is more creativity out there. 

Rest assured, the Building Our Future team is grounded in reality and we know that not everything will be possible whether prohibited by cost, or time or discovering that today’s technology is not quite ready for the future we want.  Even knowing that, we want to hear everyone’s dreams. Every idea will be held tight and, if not incorporated into our 2025 building, then that bit of dream will be saved and maybe implemented in 2035 or 2050 or even 2125.

I feel the advice shared by Rev. William Sinkford’s in a recent article entitled “On Predicting the Future” pertains to what we are doing – Building Our Future – Beyond Ourselves. His words were intended to offer guidance as congregations continue to re-gather and try to understand how we, as faith communities, will behave after having lived through a significant worldwide experience.  But I believe his message is not just about post pandemic activities but also about how we acknowledge; how we embrace change.  His article is based on an essay by the award winning science fiction writer Octavia E. Butler and her rules for predicting the future:  In that essay she wrote:

All that you touch
You Change
All that you change
Changes you
The only lasting truth 
Is Change

I know our congregational world is changing, that this beloved community will be simultaneously the same and different in a new church home.  In the early morning hours, I will admit to the same worries and concerns that may be on each member’s mind and in each heart when thinking about the magnitude of this project.  But then I look at the person next to me at a Tupper Supper, I look at the faces of people sitting in the sanctuary on a Sunday morning and the librarian in me begins cataloging the depth of the talent pool, the variety of skills in our toolbox and I am infused with confidence.

We have over 150 years of history in this community; a history that includes drawing blueprints, fundraising, constructing, and moving into four different buildings. But before any of that hard work began so many times before, so many years ago, before ground was broken, or rafters set, before church bells were hung or buildings dedicated, those that came before us dreamed of what their new home might be.  So let creativity soar and let us dream of the place Rev. Luke has described as:

“A church at the intersection of public witness and preserved wilderness. . . A Sanctuary for community, for nature, and the soul.”

It is our time to dream.

Graphic credit:  Chalice Art © Karin Lindsey

Other items of interest

April Sandwich

white dogwood blossoms in full bloom

My April felt like a sandwich.  The first week and the last days of the month were sliced treats of delicious, hand crafted sourdough bread filled by almost three weeks of a slimy, slightly off-tasting, maybe even salmonella contaminated filling.

Week 1 – A Tennessee trip and time spent with family, flowering trees in full bloom, and a mountaintop wedding.  For a flavor of that week, check my two April blog posts highlighting wedding presents and travel souvenirs.

The last days of April – A whirlwind of warp speed activities as the church building team performed due diligence exploring zoning and building codes, attaining soil boring reports, performing environmental testing and, peculiar to our southeastern corner of Minnesota, conducting Dakota Edge delineation.  When we submitted our Letter of Intent to Purchase land for a new church, we proposed a 90-day timeline for all of this work.  After back-and-forth negotiations, the seller accepted our financial offer but would allow only four weeks for study.  Unbelievably, the myriad of required professionals were able to find time in busy schedules to accomplish the numerous inspections of the property including all the relevant tests.  The stars aligned and not just “in a galaxy far, far away…”

The middle of my month is a sea of days lost to Covid.  After three years of careful sequestration, masks, and practical activities (as well as not so practical actions like wiping groceries) Richard and I were both sick.  Even after the specific symptoms– fever, congestion, cough, and tiredness – subsided, I felt my brain was Covid-addled to the point I worried I might adversely affect building team decisions.  But, not to fear, my trusted colleagues persevered and double checked my work so that we close on this unique parcel of nearly 40 wooded acres on May 10.

Knitting · Travel

The Best Souvenirs

four skeins of multi-colored varigated yarn
The four seasons of the Smoky Mountain Collection: spring, summer, autumn, winter

I received the first skeins of travel yarn in 2016 from a friend who attended a destination wedding in Iceland.  She gifted three skeins of Léttlopi in a deep dark blue that, in turn, became a travel gift for a Swiss cousin.  But, even though I had been knitting for years, I did not purchase any yarn on our 2017 retirement road trip – Minnesota to Spokane to Seattle to Vancouver and home again via the trans-Canadian highway.  I am sure there must have been yarn stores along the way but none made our travel itinerary.

I corrected this omission during our 2018 European adventure – Amsterdam to Spa-Francorpschamps in Stavelot, Belgium to Ingolstadt, Germany to Switzerland and Italy – with purchases our first day in Amsterdam and on our last day in Zurich.  Now I make a stop at a local yarn store as a planned part of our travels, whether I am in Arizona for Cubs spring training (2019) or just two weeks ago while in Tennessee for a mountain top wedding. 

These most recent acquisitions to my stash were handdyed exclusively for Smoky Mountain Spinnery in Gatlinburg and represent the four seasons in their Smoky Mountain Collection.  Each colorway is based on a photograph that captures the location’s natural beauty:  delicate spring flora, the vibrant colors of summer twilight, cascading water amidst fall’s changing leaves, or the bright blue winter canopy over frosty hillsides.  With two skeins of each, the possibilities for future knitting projects are endless.


Wedding Presents

four multicolored pottery bowls with dragonfly motifs on a gray background

For years, Richard and I have given unique hand thrown bowls as wedding presents. There is nothing wrong with purchasing from a couple’s gift registry and we do that too. I remember how excited we were 40 years ago to receive, plate-by-plate, the Dansk Christianshaven Blue dishes we still use today. We give the bowls knowing our gift is something both practical and a work of art; a functional piece that may be hugged as a popcorn bowl on movie night or simply displayed on the table for its beauty.

The merits of a good LYS (local yarn store) are a frequent discussion topic among fiber enthusiasts and I realize Caradori Pottery is my LPS (local pottery store.) The key attributes are very similar: a showcase of intriguing shapes, in a multiplicity of colors, knowledgeable staff, fun accessories, and lively conversations with the potter and proprietor, David Caradori.

For the mountaintop wedding of our great-niece earlier this month, we selected a large bowl similar to those pictured. The light earth-toned background with coral accented petals and dark dragonfly motifs will complement the couple’s lightly speckled charcoal gray everyday stoneware.

Photo credit: © David Caradori


One of four flowers in the cloud room

large deep coral colored amaryllis

For decades, Dad tended a collection of amaryllises; staggering their move from a dark corner in the basement to the dining room window of my childhood home on 14th Street.  At some point (maybe 20 or more years ago) we brought one of his bright blossoms to Rochester. 

Each spring we monitor the green growth as it emerges from the large potted bulb through the brown brittle remains of last year’s color.  Will there be just a flat shoot that yields green fronds sans flowers or a fatter nub that will eventual break into riotous color with dinner plate sized flowers? 

Through trial and error we have identified some useful tricks that help ensure flowers and not just fronds.  Once the weather warms, the pots are moved outside.  While they do not add summer color in my perennial garden, the plants benefit from sunlight not filtered through energy efficient windows and from the magical qualities of rainwater much improved over purified tap water.  But even before the move from house to garden, Richard acts as bumblebee.  Armed with a Q-tip, he gently dabs yellow dust on the white tip of a central pistel rather than relying on gravity and hoping the pollen will simply drift its way to the “right” spot.  This spring, we are enjoying his pollination efforts and being treated to vivid color; an enjoyable contrast to our cloudy skies.


A Sheep Story: MKAL

two skeins of yarn with aqua varigated tones on the left and peachy colored on the right

Who doesn’t love a mystery? Whether on paper or film? Puzzle or yarn? As a reader, channeling one’s own powers of detection against the author’s controlled revelation of details which may or may not be clues leading to the discovery of whodunit. As a knitter, reveling in a new stitch and then trying to deduce where the design will go next.

Despite our Minnesota days feeling nothing like spring, it is nearly time for Marie Greene’s spring mystery knit-along (MKAL). Her new pattern will be revealed in four clues, over 10 days, April 3-13. The advance teaser alerted MKAL participants that this will be a triangular shawl in two contrasting colors, knit from top-center down, incorporate texture and special design elements, and the accompanying story will feature the adventures of one rambunctious sheep – hence the title of the MKAL and the shawl – A Sheep Story.

The March surprises in my Sew Happy Jane Hand Dyed Happy Yarn Club subscription could combine nicely for a lovely A Sheep Story mystery shawl. But, my April box arrives on Friday, so I will make my final decision with two new skeins in hand.


Filling the time ‘till testing

My knitting time during these deep winter months (January into March) has focused on small, quick-to-complete projects while I await participation in my first test knit.  The sage colored cowl uses yarn I hand-dyed with Kool-Aid as part of a class with Heather Best and I did a stash dive for the wool, alpaca, mohair, silk blend that resulted in the soft, squishy cable bordered shawl.

The pattern I volunteered to test is currently in the making by Jennifer Berg, Native Knitter.  While her projects often incorporate geometric images in contrasting colors reminiscent of Acoma pottery or Navajo blankets, a first glimpse of her new design reflects the dramatic colors the raw southwestern landscape.  Proceeds from the sale of this soon-to-be released pattern will benefit MMIW – Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.



daffodils in the garden with raindrops

Having barely missed being snow bound in Minnesota by a winter storm that made the national news, the pops of spring color in Tennessee brightened my short visit despite rainy skies.  My unexpected trip was that bittersweet mix that permeates funeral days – sadness for a loss and the happiness of being together to celebrate a life.

Growing up there were very regular gatherings when this family of cousins drove to Wisconsin in a large gold Suburban to visit our shared maternal grandparents or my family ventured a bit to the east when traveling south to visit my Alabamian paternal grandparents.  But college schedules, jobs, and life (in general) intervened and years went by punctuated only by Christmas cards and infrequent letters.  A recent wedding and now a funeral has us reconnecting.  And, I am pleased to have an April trip already planned.


Vibrant Colors on a Winter Day

My stash has lots of blue, green, and purple skeins with an infrequent pop of red. I joined the Sew Happy Jane Hand Dyed Happy Yarn Club intent on stretching my color palate.

While I tracked my first hand-dyed installment from Idaho, I wondered if the new skeins would blend with the predominant hues already in my stash or provide challenges from the color wheel. Both of these thoughts proved true. The solid aqua skein was well within my color comfort zone. The variegated skein is one I definitely would never have selected with its repeating runs of un-dyed natural cream to yellow to coral to burnt orange.

I knew I needed to use this odd yellow skein right away or it would languish for years. A new shawl pattern from Marie Greene featuring lacy contrasting stripes was released at just the right moment for a February project inspiration.