The Last FO of 2011

Most people do not spend about six hours out of their New Year’s Eve sewing two skirts. Clearly, I am not most people since that’s exactly how I spent my New Year’s Eve. (P.S. After I publish this post, I’m going to either convince Momsy to watch a movie with me or I’ll read a book until we go watch the ball fall at midnight. And yes, I know I’m lame. I don’t care.)

Anyway, it all started yesterday when I went to JoAnn’s to buy a size 15 circular knitting needle and some yarn to make a friend’s impending niece a blanket. While I was there, I saw these two bolts of fabric sitting next to each other.

I’ve seen these two together before. And honestly, I’ve seen them with better pricing than I saw them yesterday. But that’s not the point. They were there. They were 30% off. I had a coupon for 15% off my total purchase, including sale items. And I was in desperate want of a cute new skirt or two.

So, I bought three yards of each one and brought them home, intending to use my tried-and-true wrap skirt pattern (McCall’s 5430) and my crafting genius to make a reversible skirt.

But then, Momsy pointed out that if I wanted two different skirts, I should just make two different skirts and call it good. So, I decided to go with it. But the skirts wouldn’t be made all from one fabric. For each skirt, one fabric would be the “body” and the other fabric would be the waistband and, for one of the skirts, the pockets.

Last night, I cut out the fabric, and this afternoon, I sat down and sewed until dinner time. After dinner, I went back at it again.

And here’s the end result. (Also, because I’m a dork, I named both of the skirts. Live with it.)

The first one is Lily. I’m not really sure why, but the name seems to have stuck. This skirt is view B from the pattern, which is the most basic way to make the skirt.

And here’s a close-up of the bow.

And then there’s a close-up of the fabric so you can see the gorgeous vine detail.

The second skirt is view C on the pattern. I named this one Poppy because it seems a little more vivacious and silly and fun. But you can judge that for yourself.

A close-up of the bow and a pocket…

So those are my last Finished Objects of 2011. And I’m pretty proud of myself for making two skirts in one day.

It’s been a good but hard year. I’m looking forward to 2012 and hoping that it’ll bring some pretty amazing things into my life…and yours, of course dear blog readers.

So good night and have an utterly fantastic 2012!

2011 in Review

At the beginning of the year, I set 11 goals for myself. I fulfilled some and didn’t fulfill others. So, let’s review the goals-and my level of success.

  1. Graduate from college-this will take the majority of the year but I will do it. CHECK!!!
  2. Finish Middlemarch. I started it last week and I’m only three chapters in. Ahem, let’s not talk about it. And then, we’ll make it a goal for 2012.
  3. Knit at least six pairs of socks. Last year, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee created a self-imposed sock club in which she created twelve kits including a pattern and some yarn to make a pair of socks every month. Well, SPM is a much more experienced knitter than I am and so I am starting a little more slowly. I’m going to commit to a pair of socks every two months with the intention of trying to get each pair done in a month. I’m starting by making these socks in green and I’m pretty excited about them. I made four pairs of socks out of my intended six. We’ll try again next year.
  4. I have two knitting patterns up my sleeve and I’m hoping to get them both out into the world this year. One was inspired by a sweater that Hermione Granger wears in the newest Harry Potter movie. The other is inspired by my imagination, current fashion trends, and by some of my favorite literary heroines. And if you want to know how all that can fit together, well stick around until a sweater pattern with a name from a Jane Austen novel gets posted. I released both of those patterns as well as a cowl pattern and a headband pattern. Also, I have two shawl patterns in development. I’d say I did something with my life. 
  5. I want to spend a week in Pittsburgh. I know I went there in the spring of 2010, but I want to go again this year. I didn’t go to Pittsburgh. But I want to go to Iowa this year.
  6. I want to knit my brother a sweater. Nope…he moved to Arizona. That ended my motivation. 
  7. I want to knit at least five sweaters this year. That includes the one for my brother, one for my friend Jenn that is currently “on needle,” and both of the patterns referenced in goal #4. But I also want to make Katie and Jenny sweaters for their birthdays, so I somehow feel that this will turn into making at least six sweaters. We’ll see. I didn’t make Katie or Jenny sweaters. But I did make six sweaters. And as the year comes to an end, I have two more on needle…and tonight I’m ordering yarn for two more. 
  8. I want to read Interior Castles by St. Teresa of Jesus. I own it; that’s the easy part. St. Teresa is a great personal heroine of mine and I want to learn more about her and learn from her. Check; awesome book! 
  9. I want to read a book from an author that I’ve never read before-not because I have to read it for a class but because I want to and because someone I trust recommended it to me. I think I fulfilled this goal. I read three books this fall purely on my mom’s recommendation-and I loved each of them. (For the curious, they were The Help, The Swan Thieves, and Cutting for Stone. I’d Amazon-link them, but I’m feeling lazy. Go google them yourself.) 
  10. I want to knit a cowl. I’ve never made one before-or even worn one. But I think it’s something that I would like and that would be useful to me. Well, I knit three, including one for which I designed my own pattern. 
  11. I want to be more patient. Now this might sound strange, but bear with me. I just listed off numerous knitting projects (sweaters, gloves, cowls) that I want to make. And as SPM said, “I don’t knit because I’m patient. I’m patient because I knit.” Ergo, What I want in 2011 is this…more knitting time. I want more time to sit and read a good book in peace, more time to knit and drink a lovely mug of tea, more time to relax. I don’t know how I’ll get that, but I’d really like it if I could get that. I don’t know if I did this. I don’t think so, but oh well…there’s always 2012. 
Also, with regards to my insanity from last week, I finished the shawl by 10:30pm on Christmas Eve and wore it on Christmas dinner.
I love it. I love the pattern. I want to make it again in another color, but I have about 5,000 other things I want to do first.
Also, I got a new camera today. I think I’m going to name it Miss Bates after the dear, sweet babbling busybody in Jane Austen’s Emma. 
That’s all for now, folks! Stay tuned for my 2012 goals coming soon to a blog near you!

Insanity

I may have lost my mind. Note the use of the word “may.” The jury is still out. However, I have decided that I can finish my Holden shawlette in time to wear it to Christmas dinner on Sunday.

To understand the state of my insanity, you must understand a few things. When I got up this morning, I still had to work ten rows of stockinette on this baby. And then, I have to work the 38 row lace pattern, knit two rows in garter stitch, and bind it off. I’m four rows into the lace pattern. It’s about 4:15 on Friday afternoon. I want this thing done by noon on Sunday. Okay, that’s doable. Doable, not likely to happen.

Between now and noon on Sunday, I have to sleep (preferably) for at least nine hours a night, for the sanity of all who have to come into contact with me in the next forty-eight hours. I have to eat three meals per day. I have to decorate Christmas cookies with Momsy. I have to sew the fleece lining into Nina’s Abigail headband.

And I have to finish this shawlette. It’d be easy if it was all garter stitch, but this is lace shawl. It’s complicated. But I can do it.

I think.

I’m off to get some caffeine and keep rolling. Wish me luck; hopefully, I’ll have pictures of this (and other knitted goodies) to share on Monday.

And remember; I’m standing here solidly on my own two hands going crazy.

Random Wednesday

  1. All of my Christmas gifts except for one are done. I’ll cast that last one on tomorrow. (It’s an Abigail without the applique for my cousin. She doesn’t read the blog, so I feel entirely comfortable confessing all of this to y’all.)
  2. Now that my gifts are done, I can freely admit that Christmas is coming. It’s coming! In four days! The brother is coming in THREE days!
  3. As of 3:35pm today, I’m done with rebind until June. But it was a blast while it lasted. I loved being with the people even if the work is what Sir Percival Blakeney would call “demmed tedious.”
  4. The flash on my camera died the other day. I need a new one. That’s a major post-Christmas wish. I need to see what sort of gifts I get and what kind of money I can make once I start subbing in January. I also need to figure out exactly what I want. I know I want something fancier/more professional than what I currently have.
  5. I joined Pinterest the other day. I’m still not sure that this was a good idea. But it sure is fun!
  6. I’m tired. Hopefully I’ll have some more exciting blog posts as I get more excited about Christmas…or after Christmas.

That’s Not a Christmas Song

I have declared myself the Christmas Music Police. Live with it. In this capacity, I will declare what is good Christmas music and what is not. So I’ll start by declaring what is bad music. And then I’ll tell you what I like. (Because I’m awesomely nice like that…)

Anyway, I’m back working in the wonderful world of rebind. So today, we were listening to a “Josh Groban (Holiday)” station on Pandora that the lovely H created.

So as we were listening to this station, I started to hear many songs that are not Christmas songs. They are not winter songs in any way, shape, or form. Nevertheless, Pandora believes them to be Christmas songs. So here are ten songs that aren’t Christmas songs, with my commentary (of course) as to why.

  1. Pachelbel’s Canon in D; it’s considered to be vaguely religious, and therefore it MUST be Christmas music. (eyeroll) (I will make an exception for Trans-siberian’s “Christmas Canon” because they at least tried to make it Christmassy.)
  2. “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music; “Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes, silver white winters that melt into spring…” I’m sure you get the picture.
  3. “You Raise Me Up” Just because Josh Groban sings it, that doesn’t mean it’s a Christmas song.
  4. “To Where You Are” See my reasoning behind #3
  5. “Last Christmas” It’s a break-up song that just happens to take place on Christmas. That doesn’t make it a Christmas song. I’m sorry.
  6. “Don’t Give Up (You Are Loved)” See reasoning on #3
  7. Anything by Glee; I know they mean well, but they’re just too much for me. If you like them, fine, but I’m a traditionalist. I like Frank Sinatra, classical music, the first part of The Messiah, and Josh Groban.
  8. Anything that implies that the true meaning of Christmas is getting gifts; even if you’re not into the Christ part of the Christ-Mass, the spirit of Christmas can be seen as the spirit of giving or sharing but it shouldn’t be so focused on getting.
  9. Ave Maria; Honestly, I’m not sure why this one bothers me. While it is a religious piece and it is about the Mother of God, something about its use as a Christmas carol bothers me. The same is true for Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring. I don’t know why it bugs me, but it does.
  10. “Linus and Lucy” from any sort of Charlie Brown special. It’s not Christmas specific. It’s just a piece of piano music named after the VanPelt kids.

Now, on the other hand, I do have Christmas music I love. Here are five examples.

  1. “We Three Kings;” I love this song in general but I love this version. That’s partially Hugh Jackman’s fault, but it’s mostly because they sing all the verses and you can see (or at least hear) the point of the song.
  2. Straight No Chaser’s 12 Days of Christmas; it’s sooo sweet and funny.
  3. “Mary, Did You Know?” Michael Crawford’s version is my favorite, but I can’t find a video of it on YouTube.
  4. Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Christmas Eve/ Sarajevo 12 24: Do we need to discuss this? It’s epic-McAwesome-sauce.
  5. “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”…especially Jars of Clay’s version
  6. Also, I love Jars of Clay’s “Little Drummer Boy” but theirs is only version of it that I like.

So that’s what I like. I’d throw things like “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” or “Gaudete” up there, but they’re technically Advent music, which is more seasonally appropriate, but they’re not what I’m ranting about. At the moment.

So what Christmas music do you love? What do you hate? Which ones do you disagree with overly-opinionated me about?

Random Friday

  1. I’m drinking vanilla caramel truffle tea. It sounds, smells, and tastes like a luxury.
  2. Yesterday, I added another piece of Christmas knitting to my life. I decided to make a man’s hat…and then I decided to design my own pattern instead of using someone else’s pattern.
  3. Today is the 236th anniversary of Jane Austen’s birth. In honor of that, I’m drinking my vanilla caramel truffle tea, enjoying some chocolate-raspberry truffles that were given to me in honor of the feast, and watching the good 1996 Emma. (This is in opposition to the bad 1996 Emma, of which we shall not say more.)
  4. Between now and December 25, I need to finish a shawlette and a hat. And I need to make a headband.
  5. I’m working in rebind again next week. This will cut into my knitting time.
  6. I’m going on a road trip this weekend. And I’m not driving. That will give me at least six hour of solid knitting time while In the car.
  7. The shawl is a relatively easy pattern. The headband is an absurdly easy pattern. The hat has cables. This weekend will be interesting.
  8. I need to get back to Jeremy Northam and the hat I’m knitting. But on Sunday or Monday, I’ll have pictures of a dress I sewed earlier this week, so stay tuned for that.

An Apostrophe

Ladies and gents, I’ve had an apostrophe.

Okay, so I’m not going to corrupt Peter Pan’s children. But, I had an epiphany. Lightning struck my brain. And it didn’t hurt.

For the past several weeks, I’ve been working on Momsy’s Christmas present. The knitting was going at a glacial pace. (Seriously, molasses and turtles move faster than this project did.) It wasn’t the pattern, which I was kind of making up on the sport. It was the yarn. The yarn was constantly snagging on itself and tangling. I’d had to tear  the thing back to the starting ground probably three times. And while Christmas is still eleven days away, I just couldn’t see this thing being done by Christmas. Sure, Momsy told me a couple days ago that I could give her an IOU for Christmas, and she wouldn’t mind. But a) I mind and b) well, I’d be paying that IOU off sometime around 2028.

Then last night, I was having trouble sleeping, and somehow, my Great-Grandma Grace came to mind. Now, Great-Grandma Grace, Momsy’s maternal grandmother, died before I was born, but apparently she was a crafter. (I’m not sure on all the details of this because Great-Grandma Mary, Momsy’s paternal grandmother, was also a crafter and I’m not entirely sure on which one did what. But Momsy is named after both of them, which makes me love them even though I never met them because they both died before I was born.)

But Grandma Jo once told me that both of Momsy’s grandmothers would be proud of me because I knit and crochet. (Sidenote: Great-Grandma Mary was seriously freaking talented; you should see the bedspread she made my grandparents when they got married, but I digress.)

Anyway, I was thinking about the shawl I made over the weekend and about Grace. And then, I had an apostrophe…or an epiphany. Lightning struck my brain. I knew what to make Momsy for Christmas.

Now, you won’t get to see it until Christmas. (And by a totally bizarre turn of events, Momsy *might* get two knitted things for Christmas, but we’ll see how things go.)

But I’m soooo excited about this. I don’t have to sit around and detangle yarn anymore.

So, Great-Grandma Grace, thanks for the inspiration. I hope you are proud of me.

Another Christmas Sneak-Peak

I have another Christmas gift done and since I know the recipient won’t see this blog post until after her gift arrives, I’m going to show it off.

I made a shawlette. (The recipient remains unnamed until she opens her gift.) The pattern, which I made up on the fly, is a really quick knit. The edging is a different color because I ran out of pink yarn when I got to the cast-off, so I decided to use some light gray yarn to bind off. I wasn’t initially sold on the yarn, but it was the best I had on hand and I really didn’t want to go buy more yarn just to cast-off. (And since the pink yarn is a) from Knit Picks and b) dyed by hand with Kool-Aid there wasn’t much chance of recreating that same color again any time in the foreseeable future.)

But I love the contrast. I’m definitely planning on making another shawl like this for myself. In fact, I have a couple of other ideas up my sleeve for this pattern.

For now, however, this one is done, and I love it. I hope the recipient loves it as much as I do. And to end this for now, here are some gratuitous shawl pictures.

 

Holiday Traditions-Christmas and Otherwise

It’s fifteen days before Christmas, and we’ve put the Christmas tree up in this house. Normally, we wait until it’s a bit closer to the holidays, but I’m going to be out of town next week, so Momsy decided that it would be easier to do it this weekend rather than waiting until right before Christmas.

In this family, it is a tradition that “the girls” decorate the tree; as the picture above evidences, “the girls” includes the cat. It’s been this way since I was a teenager, I think, maybe a little longer than that. I remember when I was a little kid, we would all go to a tree farm together on a Saturday in December, get the tree together, get hot chocolate and candy canes, and then we’d take the thing home and decorate it as a family.

When I was about seven, we got our first artificial tree, but decorating the thing remained a family affair-minus the hot chocolate and candy canes.

And then, somewhere along the line, my brother and my dad dropped out of the tree-decorating “festivities” and it turned into a “ladies-only affair.” In fact, this year, Momsy and I even got the tree out of the garage ourselves.

But last night, I was thinking about this. This is probably my last Christmas at home. And eventually, I’ll (hopefully) get married and have my own family. And when I have my own family, I want to have traditions. Christmas is important to me because a) it’s the celebration of the birth of Christ (which, yes, I am aware probably actually took place in April and was put in December because of a pagan feast but that’s not when we celebrate it in the Catholic Church, so deal with it) and b) it’s a family holiday and I happen to like family holidays.

When I have my own family, I want us to have traditions. And I hope that decorating the tree is a family tradition in my own family. I don’t want it to be just something that “the girls” do. I want it to be a family activity, so that my kids can experience some sort of ownership of the tree. Now, maybe my kids will think that I’m pathetic and won’t give an att’s rass about decorating the tree. But I love Christmas. I want my kids to grow up celebrating Advent. We don’t really do Advent in this family; we haven’t since I was about ten or so. And I think that takes something away from decorating the tree. A few families I know make decorating the tree a gradual process throughout Advent. (I also think that religious Advent calendars and Nativity scenes can also help celebrate Advent.) If decorating the tree becomes a part of celebrating Advent, then it makes it more of a family thing, at least to me.

I want to have my kids experience Advent. And I want to create lifelong traditions that can last long after my youngest kid turns 10. I want my kids to grow up celebrating the feasts of their patron saints. (Even if this does mean that I’ll potentially have to find a patron saint for an Elinor-St. Helen, maybe?) I have an incredible bond with my patroness, and I want my kids to have something similar. I want them to know why we do what we do.

So I want them to decorate the Christmas tree together-and yes, I’ll give them hot chocolate and candy canes as bribes. I want them to value Christmas and family. I want them to realize that Christmas is about more than presents. Maybe I’m crazy. Maybe I’m asking for too much. But I want them to see the Christmas tree as more than just a thing we put up to decorate the living room. I want them to see the point of Christmas.

P.S. The other two Magi are still hiding off to the east of the stable. They’re traveling from Persia; it’s a long trip.

Quo Erat Demonstratum

My junior and senior years of high school, my math teacher, Mr. M, always wrote Q.E.D. at the end of our tests. Q.E.D. is the initialization of the Latin phrase “Quo Erat Demonstratum,” which means “It has been demonstrated.”

It is traditionally used at the end of mathematical proofs, but I’ve also found it useful as a reflection on success in life. After five and a half years of college-0r twelve semesters, I should hope that my education is self-evident. I should hope that the past 12 semesters have demonstrated that I have learned what was expected of me. I hope that I have become, as my institution of higher learning’s motto says, educated to shape my life, my profession, and my society.

 

I’ve taken 185 credits worth of classes, which is about 60 classes, which sounds about right to me. I’ve lived in a foreign country, had more than ten different roommates-and that’s not counting my Spanish host family, lived in six different places, and changed in so many ways, ways that are often more evident to others than to myself.

 

I’ve learned so many things. I’ve discovered new things about myself and found new friends-as well as growing closer to some older friends. I’ve fallen in love with new writers-and developed a deeper appreciation of some old favorites. I learned to love poetry-something my teenaged self swore she would never do.

 

I fell in love with creating clothing and accessories myself instead of buying them. My sixteen-year-old self would totally be judging my twenty-three-year-old self for that; she thought that handmade automatically equaled ugly. Actually, I’m not entirely sure that sixteen-year-old Cecilia would like twenty-three-year-old Cecilia very much. Heck, I’m not sure nineteen-year-old Cecilia would like twenty-three-year-old Cecilia very much.

They would judge the skinny jeans, which is okay because I remember my reasons for hating skinny jeans…before I fell in love with them. (Sorry, Jenny!)

They’d probably wonder about my taste in music. Sixteen-year-old Cecilia would probably be pretty blown away by my interest in Queen, Juanes, and the Gipsy Kings.

The knitting, as previously mentioned, would probably confuse sixteen-year-old Cecilia. Nineteen-year-old Cecilia would just wonder how I finally figured out how to knit.

The desire to go to grad school would probably irk nineteen-year-old Cecilia to no end. “No more school!” she would cry. “You need to get married and do more productive things with your life. You don’t need to write papers or read books. You need a job.”

(I do need a job. I know. The getting married part can wait.)

But twenty-three-year-old Cecilia wants to write papers and read books and go to grad school. She loves learning and wants to keep growing and learning.

She has learned much. And she has much yet to learn.

But the two most important things that I have learned:

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” -Douglas Adams

and

“In God’s will is our peace.” -Dante Aligheri

It has been demonstrated. And more will be demonstrated in the future.

But for now, gracias a Dios por todo lo que he recibido y lo que recibire.