Combining a hobby with giving

As I have mentioned in a previous post, I love to knit. Another thing I love to do is encourage others, thus the blog, and my never ending fascination with ways encouragement is effective and ways it is not.

One way of encouraging others is letting them know that you care. Sometimes knowing that someone is thinking of you helps to lift your spirits. In that vein I would like to highlight several knitting sites that encourage a donation of knitted items for people or animals in need.

For Animals

For Chickens A story about retirees knitting sweaters for chickens.Sweaters for Chickens

For Elephants A story about a very cold winter in India and the villagers who knit to take care of the local elephants.


For People

Hats for the Homeless In 2009 they provided 50 knitted hats to a local homeless shelter. The next year they gave over 900!  In 2016 they gave away 2,200.  The website provides patterns and drop off locations.

Knots of Love is covering heads of people going through chemo. They offer a huge array of knitted and crocheted patterns and also a few guidelines.

So if you are ready to reach beyond yourself to give the gift of warmth and love,  pick your pattern. Be sure to consider what causes are important to you, and also how much yarn and time you have. The elephant project looks a bit overwhelming to me!  That elephant must be very special to the people of the village!

Wuthering Heights and Principle of Encouragement #?

Today I am reorganizing the principles and so they are numberless for a few more days.

Original principle #4, Something good for me may not be good for you.

We make great judgments based on what is good for us, what works for us. And sometimes we fall into the trap of, “it works great for me so it must work great for you”. And as you will see in the example, if someone chooses to approach a situation from a different angle we may get frustrated and assume an air of disbelief that “they” do not do something the way “I” do. But if they did the world would be a nicer place.

In the beginning of Chapter 2, Mr. Lockwood just traveled 4 miles across the English moor and arrived at Wuthering Heights

Being unable to remove the chain, I jumped over, and, running up the flagged causeway bordered with straggling gooseberry bushes, knocked vainly for admittance, till my knuckles tingled, and the dogs howled.

So at this point he is very frustrated with his approach to the house and says…

At least, I would not keep my door barred in the day time…

How many times do we find ourselves doing the same thing. Justifying our frustration or disbelief by criticizing someone else. If only everyone did things like we did, then all would be well.  Not really, I don’t think so.

Perhaps the inhabitants of Wuthering Heights have great reason to keep their entrance chained and untidy. I haven’t finished Chapter 2 yet so I don’t know. And, just because I think something would be a good reason does not mean that it is good for someone else. Only the inhabitants of Wuthering Heights are qualified to decide how to keep their entrance. No matter what the rest of us think!

Vacationing in the Off Season

Devils TowerLast weekend 2 of my daughters and I took a quick trip to the Black Hills of South Dakota with a side trip into Wyoming to see Devil’s Tower.

There were some awesome benefits to traveling to a touristy place in the off season.

  1. Little to virtually NO traffic. This is nice because the landscape is unfamiliar and it takes some time to get bearings in a new place. We frequently made fast stops to see a buffalo, mountain goats, or far off views of Mount Rushmore, and never caused a backup. During the busy season the tolerance level for bad driving habits isn’t very high.
  2. Cheaper hotel rooms. Off season rates are often much lower than peak season rates.
  3. Less people=no wait times or obstructed views. Note the path at Devil’s Tower, just us. Note the view of Mt. Rushmore from inside the cafeteria. Just one couple out on the deck.

Mount Rushmore

There were only a few drawbacks.

  1. Daylight is not as plentiful in late October as it is in June.
  2. Many ice cream shops were closed for the season.



Who Encourages Me? Austin Kleon

Austin Kleon’s books Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative and Show Your Work!sit on a shelf at my desk. These books encourage me by opening my focus. They help me to see a bigger world. Researching and developing ideas about encouragement is so fascinating. But being focused on one single thought for a long time is not always productive.

Side Projects and Hobbies are Important (Chapter 5 from Steal Like an Artist)

“If you have two or three real passions, don’t feel like you have to pick and choose between them. Don’t discard. Keep all your passions in your life…The thing is, you can cut off a couple passions and only focus on one, but after a while, you’ll start to feel phantom limb pain.”

I love this quote because it somehow gives me permission to follow my passion for knitting, and my passion for encouraging others. I have a few other passions, like reading great books, and occasionally creating new recipes in my kitchen.

One of my strengths from the Strengths Finder is focus. For the last month I have been focusing on knitting. Laser focused on knitting. So much that I have temporarily abandoned blogging. Time to re balance.

Vogue Knitting Contest

Above is a picture of the fruits of my labor. The sweater has been entered into the Vogue Knitting Live Minneapolis Readers on the Runway contest. I submitted this photo in early October and just found out that I have been selected to participate in the Runway walk in November at the convention! There will be one winner from all the participants to win a future Vogue Knitting Live package.

The picture on the left is the Tasseled Sweater from the Vogue Knitting Book Spring-Summer 1962. The picture on the right is me wearing my FO(finished object) October 2016.

A Happy Lunchbag Update

Today was a better day for kid #5. 

I am grateful for the encouragement! She knew it was possible and I had the ability. (Encouragement Sweet Spot)

All is well for future bag lunches. Thanks everyone for the support:)

Encouragement Through Email

lunchbagWhile packing her lunch this morning, my middle-schooler, sighed in disgust and packed yet another lunch in a gallon size freezer zip lock baggie. She did not have to say a word. We are now in the third week of school and still….no brown bags for packing a lunch.

I don’t think this would have happened in previous years. But, with a self sufficient senior, and a 9th grader who will only eat the school lunch, I am left with one lunch packer. And, it just hasn’t made the written grocery list yet.

Yes, I have been to the grocery store many times in the last few weeks, but, out of site=out of mind.

Until today. When opening my email at work I saw this email from my daughter… don’t forget!!!

And she hasn’t even complained about carrying her lunch in a see through zip lock baggie. I guess it is time to get to the store!

What a great way to encourage me. Fill my inbox with subtle requests.

The Many Forms of Encouragement

There are so many ways to give encouragement.

On Sunday night when my Notre Dame Fighting Irish went into double overtime in the game against the Texas Longhorns …my encouragement was loud and hopeful.

At work when I was on the phone, but my co-worker did not notice as he came to my desk and started talking…my encouragement was a silent hand gesture.

This weekend when I was teaching my 7 year old neighbor to knit…my encouragement was calm.

When a friend of mine was recently laid off, she was hopeful of finding a new job quickly. However, the search has become a long and weary process. I decided that a little humor might encourage her to hang in there a little longer. Thus, the panties in the picture. (I found them at JCPenny’s if you are interested.)

I wrapped them in pretty tissue paper and put them in a cute orange gift box that looks like a Chinese take out food box. When she opened them she laughed. She laughed a lot.

Sometimes helping others to see outside the fog is the best form of encouragement.

Sweet Spot of Encouragement


Encouragement can happen here.


The sweet spot of encouragement happens when the giver believes success is possible, and the receiver is in a situation where success is possible.

The giver wants success for the recipient.

The receiver finds hope and tries to follow the words of encouragement.

Sometimes the giver and the receiver are different. Sometimes the giver and the receiver are the same person, yourself.


Encouragement Needs Awareness of Other Points of View

We all see the world differently. One of the ways we can increase our ability to encourage well is to be aware. Before giving or receiving encouragement we need to be aware of a situation. When we encourage others we cannot assume that everyone is viewing a situation from the same point as we are. Our vision of a situation can be widened by acknowledging that people looking at the exact same thing can see it very differently.

One way to make this clear quickly is to look at some optical illusions…what do you see? (I love these.)

Rubin Vase









Old Woman Young Woman


The Dress










Kaninchen und Ente

Rubin Vase: Do you see a vase or 2 faces?

Old Woman Young Woman: Which do you see?

The Dress:  Do you see a white and gold dress or a blue and black dress?

Kaninchen und Ente (Rabbit and Duck): Which do you see?

Once you get a first impression of a picture try to see it from the opposite perspective. How hard was it to view the pictures from the opposite perspective? What is blatantly obvious to us may not even be visible to someone else.

Being aware of other perspectives to the same situation may change the way encouragement is given and received.

Encouragement at School

Kid #5 is transferring from a fabulous charter school to the local middle school this fall. She has been in the carpool since she was 5 months old, riding along as older siblings were dropped off and picked up.  She has been a student for K through 7th grade. She was ready for a change and so were we, So, we made a decision I would not have imagined a few years ago. When we chose a K-12 school it seemed so logical to think the kids would be there all 13 years. If only life was that efficient. Schools change and so did our family.

This morning was “Back to school” day at her new school. That means come to school —find out about extra curricular activities, get your picture taken, buy a gym uniform and a planner, watch the “How to be Responsible with your iPad” video and sign the form that you understand said video, sign up for the lunch program, find the locker, test out the combination, and walk around the school – in class order to be sure all classrooms can be found, etc.

As we were zig zagging through the halls I noticed this sign.


My first thought is how does this fit with my 7 principles of encouragement.

  1. Encouragement is good. I am glad the school wants to be encouraging. It means they care and that is good.
  2. Aware. They are aware that the giver and the receiver need to work together for said results. They are aware of wanting specific results.  (They seem to be assuming that the parties involved have high expectations for personal and academic achievement and challenging coursework.)
  3. Just because it is possible, does not mean it should happen. In this case individual growth and collective success is good for everyone.
  4. Good for you does not mean good for me.  In this case education is good for the individual, for the school, for the family and the community. It is good for all.
  5. Possibility is necessary. Yes possibility is possible. In the normal course of maturing from grade to grade we know growth is possible. I am trusting that in special circumstances the special needs will be addressed.
  6. Words of encouragement are timeless. School is a place to learn, but also for seeds to be planted.
  7. Encouragement takes courage. Students who are entering into challenging coursework will need to dig deep sometimes. Ideas may not appear as easily as they did in elementary school.

I do wonder who the “we” in We Encourage represents. Is it the student and the school? Is it the reader of the sign (community member) and the school? Is it the parents with the school, and the students?