Encouragement to Support Others


When I heard that Vickie Howell was creating a new knitting show I had to find out more. So I went to the kickstarter page and immediately gave some support. Vickie is an engaging and super creative knitter. And who doesn’t need a new knitting show! The gift for supporters in the  Rib Stitch level received a canvas bag with the show logo. Mine arrived just a few weeks ago.



My first project to keep in my new knitting bag is a dish cloth for my brother and sister-in-law. They live in Florida so I picked colors that reflect the houses in the area they live. My husband and I enjoyed a long weekend in their home and the new dish towel will look great in their kitchen.

One way to support and encourage others is through our own gifts. Vickie will share her gifts as a fantastic knitter through her show which will offer tons of support and encouragement for a large number of people.  On the other hand, my brother and sister-in-law offered their home and my husband and I enjoyed a long weekend away from reality. Yes, we left Minnesota to go to Florida in July, and it was fantastic.

Encouragement Principle #1 Encouragement is intrinsically good.

Both Vickie and my brother and sister-in-law are sharing their gifts to bring good. More knowledge of a fun hobby, and a place for relaxation.

Encouragement Principle #6 Words of encouragement are timeless.

My financial support encourages Vickie’s show to grow. Here is a link to The Knit Show website. Also, checkout some parody’s from Vickie on The Knit Show YouTube Channel.

Vickie’s show will encourage people for years to come. The videos are engaging and will be available for a long time. Who knows what creations will happen because of Vickie’s dynamic presentation of knitting ideas.

My husband and I will always have memories of quiet time by the ocean.

While walking along the shore in the evening we witnessed nature in action. Sea turtles were coming up onto the shore to dig a nest and lay eggs. It was amazing, standing in the dark watching the mama turtles slowly plodding out of the sea.

One confused mama  came out of the sea mid morning.

Neither Vickie or my brother and sister-in-law will ever realize the full impact of their encouragement to knit and relax.

Encouragement From Screwtape Is it True?

Encouragement found in The Screwtape Letters

The selection for my book club in February was The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis. Of course I found encouragement in the book.

This book is fascinating and I have read it many times. The book is a series of letters from Screwtape, a master tempter from hell, to his apprentice nephew Wormwood. Wormwood has been assigned to a man to win him for the dark side, while the man is by his nature, destined for heaven. Screwtape is constantly giving pointers and criticisms about how Wormwood is going about his work.

“…encouraging the belief that sickness excuses every indulgence”


“He [God] hates to see them drifting away from their own nature for any reason. And we should always encourage them to do so.”

Yes, he said it! Screwtape used encourage in a way that is not intrinsically good. In fact I counted at least 14 times that Screwtape is encouraging Wormwood in his influence over the man. Since my study of encouragement is still new, and somewhat based on my own experiences I had to pause when I read all the ways Wormwood was being encouraged by his uncle.

The number 1 principle in my Principles of Effective Encouragement list is that encouragement is intrinsically good. How could I be that off? What was I missing?

And then, as all book clubs are intended to do, I thought more deeply about what I was reading. As Lewis himself writes in the Preface,

“Readers are advised to remember that the devil is a liar. Not everything that Screwtape says should be assumed to be true…There is wishful thinking in Hell as well as on Earth.”

Of course! Truth is straightforward, lies are twisted. “Man tends by nature toward the truth”.*  Since man tends toward truth, the devil has to work extra hard to twist the truth to win souls for himself. Hence, in the battle for souls for hell, the work of Wormwood and Screwtape are very necessary and very twisted.

Which brings me, to my relief, that the encouragement from Screwtape is also twisted. In the world of the devil, encouragement is twisted from “encouragement is intrinsically good”, to “encouragement is intrinsically bad”.

So, for now, my principle holds true.


*2467 Catechism of the Catholic Church



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Wisdom from Sheep

The book Sheep, By Valerie Hobbs jumped out at me as I browsed the Young Adult novels at the library last week. Sheep caught my eye because,




This all seems like a perfectly logical reason to check out Sheep.

The book is about Jack, a sheep herding dog, and his life of adventures. It was written in 1st person from the view of Jack.

When Jacks’s father finally acknowledged that he was big enough to join the working dogs, he wrote this:

“That was before I saw the sheep. Sheep everywhere! The truck stopped, and they closed in all around us like a big gray woolly blanket, bawling and baaing, stinking like, well, like sheep.”

How nice to be content in your own environment.

Encouragement inspires us to be more of who we are. I wrote about being more of who we are in this post. Jack made the same observation in the animal world of sheep and dog.

“When the sheep were right, you had that deep down good feeling that you were making a difference. You were doing what you were meant to do, what you believed in, what you were really good at.  I’ll tell you, nothing in the world is better than that.”

Another connection is that encouragement takes away fear.  Here is Jack’s version.

“Out was what I wanted. It was a stronger feeling than fear, that need to be free of the cage.”

Encouragement is everywhere!

Encouragement Is a Luxury?

Yes, I have realized that it is. Encouragement is a luxury for those who have the freedom to move forward with it.

Principle #5 of Encouragement says…Possibility is necessary. 

I just watched a most amazing Ted Talk by Suki Kim.  The talk, This is What it is like to go undercover in North Korea, was fascinating. She chronicles her time teaching the sons of North Korea’s elite, students at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology. A place where very few students had incredibly limited access to computers and the internet. Yes, no internet, at the most prestigious university of science and technology.

Suki wanted to see what life was really like in North Korea and felt the best way to find out was to live among the people, not just visit.

As she began to understand the depth of their inability to think freely, she began to wonder how much she could push them. They spoke from scripts taught to them from birth, always giving credit to the Great Leader, for all they had. Here is a video of the song No Motherland Without You, dedicated to their Dear Leader Kim Jong-il.

Suki sums up the luxury of encouragement, and why she was always cautious in Chapter 5 of her book, Without You, There Is No Us. The title is taken from the song No Motherland Without You.

…It was a fine dance. I wanted to push them but not too much; to expose them to the outside world, but so subtly that no one would notice.

…Was this really conscionable? Awakening my students to what was not in the regime’s program could mean death to them and those they loved. If they were to wake up and realize that the outside world was in fact not crumbling, that it was their country that was in danger of collapse, and that everything they had been taught about the Great leader was bogus, would that make them happier? How would they live from that point on? Awakening was a luxury available only to those in the free world.

Wow! After seeing the TED Talk I read the book Without You, There Is No Us. It was mesmerizing, to walk with Suki through this experience. So surreal.

And of course finding connections to encouragement is always enlightening.

A Day at The Mall of America, Not My Idea!


Today my two youngest children did not have school. Why? I can’t imagine. With only 4 weeks to go in the school year, I’m puzzled about the need for a teacher in service day.

But there we were, at 9:00 this morning wondering what to do with the day. Because of a previous promise/bribe I agreed to take them to the MOA (Mall of America) for the day. This doesn’t mean shopping. I really dislike shopping and leave that job to the aunties and friends. What it means to my kids is time at Nickelodeon Universe. Which means I take a book and some knitting and anything else I want to do while sitting under a fake palm tree, trying to block out all the screaming, and wait it out.

The girls are old enough to let them go for an hour or two and then meet up at a specified location. So, we set the location, set our watches and we were all off to our predetermined activities.

I left my spot to find a Caribou to order a green ice tea, and there before me was Lego Land. They have a wall of Legos, little containers of every color and shape (not really) before you. The cool thing is that you can get a little bucket and fill it with whatever shapes and colors you wish. I felt like a kid in a candy shop. I picked up a bucket and started loading it up.


I was feeling very pink today. Also, I was feeling like 6 was a good number for building. So I put 6 of each Lego into my bucket.


Here is what I was able to fit into my bucket. Notice there are multiples of 6 in everything except the flat green Lego’s. Somehow, I only got 5. And I intentionally bought one windshield.

As I was loading up my bucket I was very aware of trying to get as many Legos as possible into it. I was thinking about a presentation I saw by Steven Covey that talked about making room for what is important in your life. I applied this theory half way into my Lego gathering.

Steven talks about putting the big rocks, important things, into your bucket first. Then adding smaller rocks, then sand, then water. If you put the items in your bucket in this order they will all fit. If you put the water, then sand, then smaller rocks you will not be able to fit the big rocks. The most important ones.

For me, my new Legos were all important. But, the thrifty part of me wondered if I had loaded my bucket with the biggest Lego’s first and then add the smaller ones, could I fit more in my bucket?

Since I still had 45 minutes before our meeting time I decided to see if there would be more room between biggest to smallest, or smallest to biggest. First I loaded my bucket biggest first…


and then loaded my bucket smallest first…


I’m not sure there was much of a difference. Perhaps a bit more can fit when following the biggest first option. But because the smaller Legos are not as fluid as water and sand, they were not able to take up the air space between the big Legos.

The lesson is just not as dramatic when using Legos.

However, the fun of Legos is to create, so here is what I created while waiting for the girls.


My son thought it was a bus. I was going for more of a speedboat image. It is amazing to me how we think so differently sometimes.

The checkout guy at Lego Land thought I was buying the white scalloped pieces to use for fangs. He really has never met me. I can’t think of any time where I have wanted to create something with fangs. My other option for the white scallops was to turn them upside down and use them as a border at the top of a castle turret.

So, for a day at the MOA that I would never have planned for myself, I am pretty excited about my new toy.

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:)