Pattern Release: Elise McKenna

Last summer, I was privileged to visit one of Michigan’s little bits of heaven, Mackinac Island. While there, I asked my lovely friend, Kathleen, to model a cowl I had just designed that I was going to name Elise McKenna after the main character in the classic film, Somewhere in Time (Collector’s Edition). Kathleen was, naturally, a wonderful model, and the cowl flowed beautifully with the beautiful waters of Lake Huron. IMG_0862 The cowl is worked flat and then seamed at the end. It uses US Size 6 needles and about 300 yards of fingering weight yarn. It is a relatively simple pattern, and I hope that you’ll give it a try. IMG_0863I have decided to publish this pattern as a free pattern until the end of 2013. The pattern can be found here and you can see my project page hereIMG_0864

Two Hundred Years of Pride and Prejudice

In case you haven’t heard yet, my favorite book turned 200 today. Yes, the thoroughly delightful Miss Jane Austen first published her most famous work on January 28, 1813.

And two hundred years later, the book (and its various film adaptations) are still beloved by women (and men) the world round. After all, who can ever forget the chemistry sizzling between the awkward Colin Firth and the defiant Jennifer Ehle in the 1995 BBC adaptation or the awkward brooding of Matthew MacFayden in the the 2005 edition?

The story has encountered zombies. It’s been modernized and sent to India. It’s even found its way into a vlog format on YouTube.

So why is this story so popular? What makes this brooding, shy man so attractive to women of the 21st century?

(photo credit: Pinterest)

Is it that we just all love the thought of Colin Firth in a waistcoat and cravat? Is it because all women see themselves as Elizabeth Bennet and their best friend as Jane Benent? Or is it something in his air, his manner of speaking, his manner of treating his beloved Elizabeth that strikes us? Is it his strong morals and his devotion to those he loves that resonates with us?

Well, I can’t speak for all the Janeites, but I can speak for myself.

Fitzwilliam Darcy is a strong, proud, reserved man. He is well-educated, both at an academic level and a personal level. (Have you heard about his library?) He holds firmly to his beliefs-although he does accept correction when it is needed. He defends what he believes in. He isn’t perfect as he himself will admit, and this admission is not false modesty but a sincere fact. He will do anything for those people he loves-his sister, Georgiana, Charles Bingley, Elizabeth Bennet etc. And this is endearing to me.

And then there is Elizabeth. She is a strong woman who knows her mind. She is intelligent. Like Darcy, she is protective of those she loves. She is stubborn but willing to be corrected when necessary. She is impetuous and not always the most discerning. But she is a very intelligent young lady.

The supporting cast is also realistic. While they are not as strongly and intricately drawn as the main characters, they are still realistic and relatable. We’ve all known some variation on Caroline Bingley and Colonel Fitzwilliam. Like it or not, we’ve all met a Wickham.

So why is Pride and Prejudice so popular after two hundred years? Because it’s realistic and relatable-at least that’s my take on it. (And because while these two are stinking adorable,

(Picture via fanpop)

These two are just as adorable…

(Picture courtesy of Pinterest)

What do you think? Why do you think that a book about relationships (not just romantic relationships but friendships and family relationships) has endured for 200 years? Please let me know in the comments.

Thursday Thoughts

I’ve managed to make it to another Thursday. I still have to make it through Friday, but I’m subbing in a second grade classroom, which probably won’t kill me and even if it does, I have to drive by a Starbucks to get home, so I can probably revive myself…in an manner that is appropriate to a Friday in Lent.

  1. But anyway, it’s Thursday, and I’m still here. And it’s March! I have survived another Leap Day…without proposing marriage to anyone.
  2. Also, in making it through Leap Day, I have made it to the first (hopefully annual) March Ado About Nothing. Yes, that’s right. We are now dedicating an entire month to my favorite Shakespeare play. Next, we’re going to start throwing Henry V parties on the Feast of St. Crispin and then we’ll have Twelfth Night parties every January 5. (Side note: Google informs us that the next Twelfth Night will be Sunday, January 5, 2013. Clear your calendars.)
  3. Just wait until I figure out how to have Hamlet parties…
  4. After I’m done writing this blog post, I’m going to watch the 1992 adaptation of Much Ado. You know, the one with Ken and Emma and Ken tries to convince us that somehow Denzel Washington and Keanu Reeves could be brothers. Something tells me that the charming Mr. Branagh never did very well in biology as a child.
  5. Today, I misspelled my own last name on the whiteboard. And it took me over an hour to realize it. I need to drink more coffee.
  6. Oooooh! We could have Macbeth parties and dance around boiling cauldrons!
  7. I’d like to report now that I’m a little over 5/7 of the way through Middlemarch. It’s like eating brussel sprouts while getting your teeth pulled. No, actually, it’s like eating brussel sprouts while pulling your own teeth.
  8. To be fair, I actually really enjoyed the brussel sprouts I had back in December. But no one was pulling anyone’s teeth during that meal.
  9. I’m about 1/10 of the way into Jesus of Nazareth. It goes down much better with coffee than it does without…and that’s because I’m more alert with coffee than without. But it is far more enjoyable than brussel sprouts. Or dentistry.
  10. I’m currently knitting a gorgeous shawl, a sweater, and a sweater-dress. In case you care.
  11. How would you throw a King Lear party? Please comment and tell me.
  12. And don’t forget to remember to get me birthday presents on December 16 for Jane Austen’s birthday.
  13. Or I won’t invite you to my totally awesome Henry VI (Part Two) Party where we will begin by killing all the lawyers.

Sense in Georgia

A few weeks ago, I declared today the first International Sense and Sensibility Appreciation Day. So, Becky and I headed up to spend the afternoon with Katie and to appreciate Jane Austen’s first novel by watching the 20087/8 BBC/WGBH movie.

If you’ve never heard this before, I love this movie. In my opinion, Dan Stevens is the perfect Edward…and Hattie Morahan is superb as Elinor. And the supporting cast is pretty great as well.

We had a fabulous afternoon. We started by making chicken and sweet potatoes for lunch. We also used various moments throughout the afternoon to document the fact that I finally finished my Georgia sweater earlier this week.











I really love this sweater. It’s comfortable. The yarn (Malabrigo Sock) is delicious. And it held up to my adventures in attempting to cut sweet potatoes.  

After the potatoes and chicken were done, we at lunch. And after that, we watched the movie…while eating chocolate.









And after that, we got another picture of my sweater…because Katie and Becky are most helpful like that.











And now, I’m home. S&S Day was a success. We appreciated it. And I think we’re going to keep this holiday around for a while.

And my Georgia is fabulous.

Friday Confessions

  1. I’m taking a personal day today. I subbed four days last week. Then I spent the weekend focusing on a bridal shower I threw in Grand Rapids on Sunday. And then I whipped around and spent the past four days subbing again. At the end of it all, I’m exhausted. So today, I ran errands, got some sewing ideas in my head, and bought Momsy’s birthday present.
  2. My Georgia sweater is 75% done. The photo below is my progress as of 8pm (ish) last night. (Please ignore my awkward right arm.) The sweater is lovely. The right sleeve is coming along beautifully. I bought some lovely red buttons for it today. I can’t wait until I have a finished object to wear and show off.
  3. While I adore the Georgia and am ridiculously excited to have it finished, I took a few breaks from it to do some instant gratification knitting. Both projects were test knits, so I don’t have pattern links for you-yet. But I’m still going to show the lovely things (a hat and a headband) off.   
  4. Back in December I promised that I would read Middlemarch this year. Well, I’m going to start reading it ASAP. And hopefully, I’ll be done with it (and back with a report on it) by mid-March. (Get it? mid-March, Middlemarch? Yeah, I know. I’m horrible.)
  5. Byzantine Lent starts on Monday. I still don’t know what I’m doing for Lent. I think I’m going to read Jesus of Nazareth this Lent, which would fulfill another of my 12 goals for 2012. But I just came up with that idea while typing this blog post, so I need to think about that before I commit to it.
  6. I bought this pattern today. I bought it to make the dress, but now I also really want to make the top and the pants. I almost bought fabric to make the top today but the line was really long and I just wanted to finish my errands and get home.

Crazy Old Maurice…err…Cecilia

I’m knitting a hat right now. And as I often do while knitting hats, I decided to try it on.

And then, I realized that I looked like someone quite familiar to a woman whose favorite Disney movie is Beauty and the Beast.

Yeah, it’s a bit disturbing, but that’s what happens when you’re working with two circular needles at the same time.

You find yourself turning into the crazy inventor who left his daughter in the Beast’s castle.

My Day in Pictures

I got up this morning. I drank a cup of coffee.

I took a shower. I got dressed all cute.

(You don’t get pictures of this part of the day. But anyway…)

Then I went and spent half day subbing in a sixth-grade classroom.

Then I came home and I found the quickest path to Mordor on a Google Map.

Then, I spent a couple hours on my bed with some tea, my knitting, and the world’s most beautiful cat.

I love my current knitting project.

That’s my Georgia sweater and it’s my only project currently on needle. I’m in a monogamous relationship with this sweater until it’s done.

I also have a monogamous relationship with this bug-a-boo.

Isn’t my baby sweet?

Adieu to Spleen and Disappointment

It is now time to announce one of my favorite parts of the year-the Third Annual International Pride and Prejudice Appreciation Day. Yet again, the venerable Katie and I have created our favourite holiday of the year. The Facebook event can be found here. And a list of suggested ways to celebrate can be found below. (It can also be found on the FB page.)

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

It is also a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.

Furthermore, it is yet another truth universally acknowledged that we must set aside one day out of the year to celebrate the greatest novel written in the English language.

Join us wherever you are for festivities that would scandalize Lady Catherine DeBourgh and shock Mr. Collins.

I have been asked how to best celebrate this event. Well, here are my humble suggestions:
1) Watch the movie-with friends, of course!
2) Drink tea.
3) Quote the book.
4) Read the book aloud to friends.
5) Randomly greet friends with “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of good fortune must be in want of a wife.”
6) Say “Capital, capital” whenever anyone says ANYTHING to you.
7) Pack your trunk, re-pack it according to Lady Catherine’s instructions, then re-pack it in any way that you want because Lady Catherine will never know.
8) Appreciate the shelves in your closet, which are the very essence of economy and convenience–happy thought indeed!
9) Make sport for your neighbors, and laugh at them in your turn.
10) Have compassion on poor Mrs. Bennett’s nerves (or, as an alternate activity, cough as you please).
11) Buy a chimney piece that’s worth 8,000 pounds and enjoy the nice blaze.
12) Take a turn about the room because it is a very refreshing exercise and it sets your figure to a better advantage for Mr. Darcy.
13) Visit your fencing master. At the end of your visit, make a fist and say, “I shall conquer this. I shall.”
14) Play the piano in an out-of-the-way room where you shall bother no one.
15) When tired say “Lordy, I’m soooooo tired.”
16) Go to Brighton.
17) Take a swim in the lake at Pemberly and then very awkwardly greet the love of your life soaking wet.
18) If anyone asks you what you think of something, you should say “tolerable, I suppose, but not handsome enough to tempt me!”

And I’ll think of more in the next three months.

So please do join in! Darcy will be ever so disappointed if you don’t.

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.

Why the End of My College Career is like..

The Lord of the Rings.

That’s right, folks. I’ve decided that my 5.5 years of college can be roughly summed up in J.R.R. Tolkien’s literary masterpiece. And I’m going to use pictures and quotes from Peter Jackson’s phenomenal 2001-03 movies to support my case.

And why yes, I am procrastinating…thank you for asking.

But anyway…

While most people think of Thanksgiving break as a warm, fluffy, comfortable break…

…I saw it as the deep breath before the plunge…

And trust me; I feel just like Pippin when he said, “I don’t want to be in a battle. But waiting on the edge of one I can’t escape is even worse.”

However, it is worth noting that the picture I chose to illustrate that point is actually from the scene where Gandalf tells Pip “End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path… One that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass… And then you see it…White shores… and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise. “

(That’s what I call December 6, a far green country under a swift sunrise.)

Like Frodo, who told Sam, “I’m glad to be with you, Samwise Gamgee, here at the end of all things” I’ve got some pretty awesome friends.

Also, I feel fairly certain that while life is pretty rough right now, Aragon is right, per usual.

I love that scene. I love it.

Also, I’m reasonably certain that I’m secretly a hobbit. I have curly hair, hairy feet, and a fondness for beer. I’m just not short and I don’t smoke. But those hobbits are pretty dang awesome. They’re loyal and (almost) fearless.

But if you’re wondering, I’m Merry. Totally.

But for now, I really need to get back to grading papers. Gandalf would grade papers.

And this is going to motivate me to grade. This day, we grade!