dear 15

One of my best friends has a daughter who is turning 15 next week.

They aren’t exactly the real ‘gifty’ type, so I decided to write her a long, dishy letter full of advice.

How old of me, I know. Just what every fifteen year old wants. More Advice.

But she’s going to get it, nonetheless.

I remember the week before I was fifteen so well, it surprises me. There’s a lot about being a younger teen that I *don’t* particularly remember all that well, (whether it’s by design or honest-to-goodness amnesia has yet to be determined) but I remember that week. It was bleak and gray, in the typical November-in-Ohio style, with nearly naked trees and empty fields. I was very, very new to the whole ‘Christian Thing’. I had just the year before decided that I would try to march along the straight and narrow and had exchanged all my rock-star punkishness for a long dress, long hair and record player. I was awkward and overweight, and had very little idea how to go about life itself- let alone life as a Believer.

We had just started going to a new church and we invited a bunch of the people from the congregation over for a birthday dinner. At the dinner (which I don’t remember) I passed around a notebook and asked people to write down their best advice, recipe, favorite chant and the like for me to keep and be the wiser for.

This letter to my friend’s daughter is my chance to do what those dear folk did for me and attempt to plant some sort of good in the upturned and fertile life that is just about to celebrate its fifteenth year.

1) Don’t ever, EVER be afraid to trust God FOR everything, IN everything, no matter what. No Matter What. Life has a way of being full of failings and fallings and bumblings around- but we serve a God who is unfailing, unchanging, forever and always. Trust that the God you have committed yourself to is unswerving in His desire to see Good come to you from every thing- even if you can’t tell it at the time.  Heart and flesh fail, but our God never does. That is such a comfort, such a Rock to cling to. Cling hard and fast.

2) Don’t run away from pain and sorrow. It’s hard not to when you’re programed to dislike suffering *intensely*, but think of it as your only chance. Once you die- you’re done. There’s no more pain, no more sorrow, no more suffering, want, loss or need. This is your chance to watch God turn evil into good, so watch it. Quiet your soul and stand in front of the storm. Let the winds howl, let the rains fall, don’t run away. Don’t let disappointment harden you, don’t let upset embitter you, don’t let pain corrode your soul. Suffering has its place, its purpose and if you are one of God’s own- that purpose is for your good. Let suffering break what it was meant to, let it cleanse and burn and then let yourself dip deep into the healing balm of the love of your Savior.

3) The truth hurts. Forgiveness kills. Justice stands alone and forgotten. Righteousness is unpopular, but, BUT- His love is better than life itself, and He gives it so freely.

4) You will never regret being ‘uncool’ as much as you will regret buckling under peer pressure. The way of the Lord is strength to the upright. Be strong in Him.

5) I don’t care who says what- keeping yourself for your husband is not for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of raw nerve and real guts to wait. Trust me. It’s more than a promise ring, or a t-shirt logo, or something cute to say at church. It takes guts. But it’s worth it. Think of the gift you’re going to give one very happy, very lucky young man someday- and you’re the *only* one who can give it to him. Happy thought indeed.

6) It’s OK to cry when you’re hurt. This took me too, too long to learn, and I wish I believed it sooner, so I’m telling you; It’s OK to cry. The moments when you cry out to God could be the most important and powerful times of your life. On the other hand, it’s OK to laugh too. It’s OK to laugh hard, it’s beautiful and wonderful and healing. On yet another hand (how many hands do we have to spare?) it’s also OK to be quiet. Don’t let people make you feel funny for being thoughtful and sober. Just be moderate. Not a gigglepuss, drama queen sob story or a recluse- just be…. well…. You. That’s totally OK.

7) In the end- Christ and Him crucified, that’s what it’s all about. It’s not about who wears a skirt, who wears a headcovering, who goes to what church. It’s about a Savior who died for a dying world and then offers that love and forgiveness freely and unashamedly. His example is what we follow, in the end. Don’t be afraid to follow your Savior. Don’t be afraid to love people. Don’t be afraid to be different- just keep looking at Him and walk on!

8 ) The world isn’t *really* going to end. Really. I know everyone says that when your heart has broken, and it seems to be a proverb which should be eternally banished to the back wall of a Hallmark store, but it’s true. You might wake up the next day feeling betrayed by the sun which rose to smile on the wretched world, but hold on to the thought that tomorrow *will* come, and it *will* get better. It’s true. I know.

9) Use your youth. I mean, really use it. Use it up. All of it. Don’t get old. God gave young people a ridiculous amount of spirit, strength and elasticity- for a reason, and that reason is not for college dorm parties. You won’t regret the hours spent using your enthusiasm to make your corner of the world a little sunnier. Don’t waste it, please. You will regret that.

10) Go ahead and plan, but the best thing you can do for your future is to develop a sense of adventure, a pliant spirit, a willing hand, a bright smile and a whole awful lot of humor. Thankfulness will never get you in wrong, cleaning toilets isn’t the worst thing in the world, if you fall down- it really is just a matter of getting back up and taking the next step, overcoming is FUN, believe in True Love, and of course, always wear clean underwear cuz you just never know….

my favorite poem

If I were to live my life 
in catfish forms
in scaffolds of skin and whiskers 
at the bottom of a pond 
and you were to come by 
   one evening
when the moon was shining 
down into my dark home 
and stand there at the edge 
   of my affection
and think, "It's beautiful 
here by this pond.  I wish 
   somebody loved me,"
I'd love you and be your catfish 
friend and drive such lonely 
thoughts from your mind 
and suddenly you would be
   at peace,
and ask yourself, "I wonder 
if there are any catfish 
in this pond?  It seems like 
a perfect place for them."

- - by Richard Brautigan

New Items in the Shop

As promised, there are some new items in the shop! * And this is just the beginning, folks!*

It’s time for cooler weather- at least here in Vermont, and my mind is trying to reacquaint itself with the idea of *snow* and *below freezing temperatures*. It’s been a little hard for me to plan winter projects during weather which lends itself to suntans and barbeques, but as the breezes have chilled and the nights glisten in undecided frost, I have been able to actually think in terms of wool and warmth.

I’ve added some pairs of fingerless gloves, as well as two absolutely gorgeous pillows that my Mom designed and created using second-hand wool sweaters and appliques. I love how autumnal they are, and so cozy! Makes me want to curl up with a cup of hot cider and read a good book of old poems.

The Chunky Rustic Mug Sweaters are back in stock thanks to some long nights of knitting 🙂 and I am working on several new designs to be introduced in the next couple of weeks!

Alright- I must run!

Take Care, don’t forget to go slow and use the good soap ;-p

– Ann

rainy morning

Woke up to a world soaked with rain.

Autumn rain is so different from the storms that come in Spring or Summer. The rain in Summer is so loud- smacking the leaves and eaves and the pavement on the roads, and autumn rain, no matter how drenching the downpour, always gives the appearance that the world is slowly melting.

Like silent tears, the rain drops gather on telephone wires and swell until their weight causes them to fall to the soaked earth below. The maple tree outside my window creates a canopy in the summer that harsh rains bounce against, protecting the underneath from the storm. Now, the slow rain leaks through the leaves, rolls down them, penetrates and the tree appears to be weeping.

So, rainy day ahead. I’ll go brew some tea and probably finish my book…..


My arm is in a sling.

My *RIGHT* arm is in a sling.

This is the arm that I live with.

Life is on pause until further notice.

The latest development here at Washboard Storms is my incredibly interesting, but terribly obnoxious injured arm. This is a real bummer because the recent flooding here in the Northeast has hastened the arrival of Autumn and I am itching to be knitting.

There is nothing quite like the feeling of knitting. I love the rhythmic loop upon loop, stitch on stitch, fabric being formed right there in front of you. Oh my. I miss it so.

But- onward- getting the old arm fixed is next up on my to-do list and then I will have the entirety of our long Vermont winter to knit my heart out.

Chunky, Rustic, Wool Mug Sweater

Good for those dreary, rainy days that need the comfort and warmth of a good mug of tea (or coffee). I love tea, I love sweaters – and I love the idea of a sweater for my mug!
I make these mug sweaters from a handspun, bulky weight, wool yarn that was processed minimally and still retains it’s natural color with a bit of plant material flecked in here and there! Super rustic, super cozy, and whimsical enough to make them a pleasantry worth having.
Each mug sweater is hand knit by me using this super simple cabled and seed stitch design. Roughly 9-10 inches long with a loop on one end and one of my gorgeous antique-inspired buttons on the other. Simply button up your favorite mug and you’re ready to sit back and read a good book or listen to the rain….. Oh, sweet contentment!