FO: The Idiomatic Stripe Parade

At some point in the past six or eight months, I started thinking that it would be really nice to have more lightweight sweaters-sweaters that I could wear in the spring and fall. Maybe it might even be nice to have something lightweight that I could throw on over a dress on a summer evening or in an overly air conditioned restaurant. Now I could buy such garments, but I wanted more hand-knit garments of that ilk.

Now I had a goodly amount of fingering weight yarn at that time, and I’ve accumulated more since. But I had to decide what to make with them. I had three skeins of Plucky Primo Fingering in Pinky Swear and two skeins of the same in Sprinkles on Top, and I knew that they needed to become something together. Somehow, I found myself led back to Amy Miller‘s fabulous Stripe Parade. I decided to use the knitting directions for Stripe Parade but play with the striping directions. And in my humble opinion, the result was a real winner.

This sweater took a long time (over four months) to knit up. Here’s the thing: It was not just because fingering sweaters take longer than worsted or dk. It was actually largely because I was working on Angostura, Oaxacan Rose, and the Bounce Blanket while I was working on this. I was not making this the focus of my knitting until about the past two weeks. And this baby flew once it got to be the center of attention. So…there will definitely be more fingering sweaters in my future.

This sweater includes numerous modifications. I cast on for the smallest size possible but then knit it to fit a size 36 bust. I wanted to raise the neckline, which I did, and I really like this modification. I’m tentatively planning another revisit to this pattern later this year, and I think that I’ll do this again.

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My real play came with the stripes. The yoke was a time for me to play with stripes, and I didn’t really have a rhyme or reason to what and how I did the striping. Then, after I divided for sleeves, I started a silly but fun pattern. The first stripe in Pinky Swear was 14 rows, then four rows of Sprinkles on Top. Then came 13 rows of Pinky Swear followed by four rows of SOT and then 12 rows of Pinky Swear…do you see the pattern? I kept this up until I had a stripe of four rows of Pinky Swear followed by four rows of SOT. The next row in Pinky Swear was five rows and I began increasing rows of Pinky Swear again. I really like the effect this created, and I want to play with this kind of striping again sometime.

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I have to say that this really is the sweater that I wanted it to be. The sleeves are a little baggier than I’d planned for, but that’s the only thing that I don’t LOVE…and it’s my own fault. The fabric is delightful-soft and light, and it reminds me yet again why I love Primo Fingering as a base. It’s a nice sweater for wearing in my overly air conditioned office. I’m thrilled that I have something that I love so much, and I definitely plan to continue making myself lightweight sweaters for a few months.

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On my third revisit to this pattern, I still really love it. I’m planning to visit it again as I said earlier, and I can’t wait to see what I do with it next.

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Raveled here.

For YOU Are GOD

Over the past several months, I’ve been struck time and again by one prayer during the Divine Liturgy. It’s a prayer prayed by the priest. It’s intended to be spoken softly. It falls at the beginning of the Anaphora, and I suspect that it is easy to overlook. But of late, I’ve found myself hearing it time and again. The prayer becomes clearer and clearer each time that I hear it. (All added emphasis is mine.)

It is proper and just to sing to You, bless You, praise You, thank You and worship You in every place of Your dominion; for You are God ineffable, inconceivable, invisible, incomprehensible, ever-existing and ever the same; You and Your only begotten Son and Your all Holy Spirit. You brought us into being out of nothing, and when we fell, You raised us up again. You did not cease doing everything until You led us to heaven and granted us Your kingdom to come. For all these things we thank You and Your only begotten Son and Your Holy Spirit; for all things that we know and do not know, for the manifest and hidden blessings that have been poured out upon us. We also thank You for this liturgy which You are pleased to accept from our hands, even though there stand before You thousands of Archangels and tens of thousands of Angels, Cherubim and Seraphim, six-winged, many-eyed, soaring with their wings…

For You are GOD…as I prayed through Liturgy one day, I just found my mind hooking onto that phrase. This is God who has brought us to this Liturgy, to this Altar. We are here to worship Him. And what kind of a God is this whom we worship? A God who is invisible and incomprehensible. We can’t see him. We can’t fathom the depths of His very Being. He’s ever-existing and ever the same. He is boundless, eternal, and changeless-all claims that no mortal could ever make. You and Your Only-Begotten Son and Your All-Holy Spirit: We worship the Trinity, one in essence. We are drawn to this Altar, to this Supper by that God.

And what has this God done for us? He called us out of nothingness into being. He didn’t need us. He chose to make us. He chose to want us. When we had fallen, He raised us up. Heck, He created us knowing that we could fall. He called us into existence at a total risk to himself. And then he kept going-the Cross, the Tomb, the Resurrection, the Ascension, Pentecost, the Church, and the promise of the Kingdom to Come. He has done so much for us out of an absolute love for us.

And what is our response? Boredom, frustration, anger, and so on; we humans too often ignore and neglect these amazing gifts. We have so many blessings manifest and hidden, as the prayer says, and we choose to overlook them in favor of our own desires or our own emotions.

But what is God’s response to our rejection? He continually seeks after us. He continually loves us. He pours out His love upon us so richly, and we ignore it. But He continues to love us. He continues to seek us. We may forget that He is God, invisible, incomprehensible, ever-existing and ever the same. But He will not forget us. He will not abandon us.

We must return to Him from wherever we choose to wander. We must give Him right worship for all that He has done for us both manifest and hidden. For He is God. He is inconceivable, incomprehensible, ever-existing, and ever the same. He is also the Lover of our souls, and the One who desires and deserves nothing but the sacrifice of our humbled, contrite hearts in His service.

Rublev’s Trinity via Wikipedia

I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you.

-John 14: 18-20

Happy Pentecost!

I’ll Tell You What I Want

I love The West Wing. I’d gladly name a daughter Ainsley if I could find a man who would let me. (Ainsley means “Anne’s lea,” which is a great reference for this St. Anne loving lady. Ainsley Claire, tell me that isn’t a lovely name. And it lets me name a daughter after St. Anne and St. Clare; it’s a win.) I love the character development and the camaraderie between the show’s characters. One of my favorite things about the show is the relationship between Josh Lyman and Donna Moss.

Josh knows that Donna is almost always the most competent woman person in the room. (Except when Margaret or Abbey are in the room; those women get it done.) He knows her strengths and her weaknesses, and he knows how to use them-for better or worse. He doesn’t always take her seriously, but he always respects and values her opinions when it matters. When the chips are down, Josh is there for Donna. He’s not a perpetual white knight or a saint in a stained glass window. He makes fun of every guy she even considers dating. He teases her about all sorts of things. He mocks the fact that she’s from Wisconsin. When he’s angry with her, he makes sure that she knows it, and he is not fair to her or kind. Basically, he’s a normal angry person.

There is a point in the show where Josh feels that Donna has broken his trust. Now, he made some mistakes that led to this situation, but angry people are seldom reasonable. He chooses to overlook how he may have contributed to the situation. However, he does look at how much he misses Donna. He is honest about how valuable she was to him. But he’s hurt, and he feels betrayed. So he pushes her away. That’s not ideal or desirable, but it is realistic.

Josh doesn’t always understand his assistant/friend/life support, and I think that’s part of the beauty of the relationship. Donna is a little bit crazy, and that’s why I both like her and relate to her.  Josh doesn’t expect to understand Donna all the time-or even much of the time, and after a certain point, she doesn’t expect that of him either. That’s real life, after all. Your partner doesn’t always understand you, and they’re likely to tease you once they know you well.

Similarly, Donna understands Josh better than he understands himself. (To be fair, I’m not really sure that he understands himself at all. Let’s look at how long it took him to realize that he was interested in Donna if we need evidence.) She knows what he needs and how to help him succeed. She continues trying to help him even when he rejects her help. And if he pushes her away, she finds other ways or other people to help him in her stead.

There’s something I find really appealing about this relationship. (And it’s not just the Vaseline-screen romance of a fictional story.) I love the give and take, the banter of this relationship. These are two flawed human beings who are trying their best to do the right thing with their lives. In the context of the various stages of their relationship, that means that they’re trying to do what is best for one another as much as possible.

It doesn’t always work out, and at times, they don’t treat each other in the best way. But for the most part, they respect one another, and they want what’s best for the other. Yes, Josh can be selfish. Donna can be petty when she’s irked. They’re human; the show makes that remarkably clear to the viewer. But it’s a realistic relationship.

When I look at the fictional relationships I enjoy from modern television, I see realistic relationships. Josh and Donna are flawed humans who try to do their best. They’re fun. They’re witty. They’re real. And I love it.

But more than that, I want it. I want that relationship.

Except…I really want to be Donna with Josh’s job. I really do. But that’s a different post.

Behold, How Good!

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brothers to dwell together in unity!

It is like the precious oil upon the head,
Coming down upon the beard,
Even Aaron’s beard,
Coming down upon the edge of his robes.

It is like the dew of Hermon
Coming down upon the mountains of Zion;
For there the LORD commanded the blessing—life forever.

-Psalm 133

As someone who belongs to a minority group within the Catholic Church, I often see room for improvement or the negative side of things. However, I recently had a few really positive encounters, and I think it’s important to highlight those.

I’m going to Pittsburgh for the weekend. Pittsburgh is kind of like Mecca for Ruthenian Catholics in the United States. Our Metropolitan Archbishop is in Pittsburgh, and we Rusyns have deep ethnic roots in the greater Pittsburgh area. So, there are at least a few Ruthenian parishes in Pittsburgh.

But I’m not going for Rusyn-related reasons; I’m going to visit a Roman Catholic friend. I asked her if it would be possible for me to attend a Byzantine parish on Sunday. I’ve gone to Roman churches in Pittsburgh before, and my friend is a part of a really cool church community. But it’s the Sunday of the Fathers of the Nicene Council, and I’d like to embrace that. Plus…I like going to Divine Liturgy whenever possible. My friend responded to my message by saying that it should work and sent a link to the website to a parish that’s near her home.

Now, that might not seem like a big deal, but she knows how much being Eastern Catholic means to me. She knows that I love going to Liturgy. So she put forth a bit of effort to let me know that I could attend Liturgy in my own tradition. I could celebrate the Lord’s Supper with my people.

To me, that’s an act of love. It’s an act in favor of unity. It’s an act that seeks to support a sister in the Lord in worshipping according to her tradition. I believe that the Lord is pleased when we support one another in our faith traditions. I believe that He wants us to love one another because of our differences. He finds it to be good and pleasant when we embrace our differences and support one another.

The second thing that struck me might seem a bit odd. I was perusing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh’s website because I wanted to know if they’d moved Ascension to a Sunday. (Spoiler Alert: The website didn’t help me, BUT they didn’t move Ascension because they’re cool beans like that.) While exploring the site, I found this:

That link takes you to a list of all of the Eastern Catholic parishes within the geographic boundaries of the R.C. Diocese of Pittsburgh. It gives you addresses and phone numbers for those parishes. It even gives you links to parish websites.

That’s a great resource if you ask me. I happen to know the website for the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh. But if you’re visiting the greater Pittsburgh area and you don’t know how to find an Eastern Catholic parish for your particular flavor of Eastern Catholic, the Roman Catholic diocese has a list for you. Or if you’re Roman Catholic and you’re interested in visiting an Eastern Catholic parish but you don’t know how to find one, here’s a list.

That, to me, is beautiful. It’s a really cool act of love and unity. I’d love to see more acts like it.

Paschal Joy

In the Eastern Churches, we spend the forty days between the Feast of the Resurrection and that of the Ascension greeting each other with “Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!” It is my favorite of all of our liturgical greetings because it is the most joy-filled. No matter how you say it (Christos Voskros! Christos Anesti! al-Masīḥ qām!) it is a message of enormous joy. Christ is Risen. He has become the first fruits of the dead. The grave has been despoiled. Hades is in chains. Christ is Risen!

I think that after the first few days of the Easter season, it’s easy to forget that we are still in the midst of the season. It is easy to get on with our lives and forget to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ. To me, this is a mistake. It’s an easy mistake to make and one that I easily find myself falling into. But it’s still a mistake. We need to embrace the joy of the Resurrection.

Yes we have to go on with our lives. Yes, we have to go to work and school. We have to do the dishes and clean the bathroom. But Christ is Risen. We live in the world, and we must face the mundane realities of that. But we cannot allow cleaning a cat’s litter box or changing diapers to distract us from the fact that the Eternal Word of God is Risen from the dead. Death has been annihilated. Hades is in chains. Yes, we will still fall asleep in the flesh. But oh what joy awaits us after that!

And now, during these last days of the Easter season, embrace the joy of the Resurrection. For Christ is Risen!

Christ is risen! And you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is risen! And the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is risen! And the angels rejoice!
Christ is risen! And life is liberated!
Christ is risen! And the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power, now and forever, and from all ages to all ages.
Amen!

-St. John Chrysostom

FO: Bounce Blanket

A few months ago, one of my closest friends announced that she was expecting her first child, and I offered to make her a blanket. We talked about a few different elements (colors, patterns, and we agreed that I’d make a maize and blue Bounce blanket. I’d planned for it to be GINORMOUS. As both of the kiddo’s parents can tell you, I don’t do anything by halves. I was going to make the THROW sized blanket.

But then life threw a wrench in my knitting plans. I was supposed to knit the blanket at a leisurely pace while finishing a sweater for me. (The sweater was going to be done first.) Instead, the baby came a bit early, and I had to change my plans. The sweater had to go on the backburner. (Sorry, sweater!)  I wanted to get the blanket done as quickly as possible. I like to get the blanket done before the little one arrives if at all possible.

And…I was going to knit a big blanket. But I chose to make the shorter version of the blanket…admittedly with the width of the larger blanket.And in the end, I’m really pleased with the result. I love the way that this blanket turned out.

The mom, a graduate of the University of Michigan, had asked for maize and blue. Now, this was a hard pairing to find. I really wanted to use Madelinetosh tosh dk because I knew that was a good yarn for this blanket. I also knew that “fathom” from Madelinetosh pretty much is the Michigan blue, but fathom presents a problem. It (like most Madelinetosh) bleeds. So I had to prewash it to prevent the blue from dying the white or the yellow. There was much blue bleeding then. Then I had to play with cold water vinegar blocking to keep the colors form bleeding when I blocked. Again, this worked. No white stripes turned blue. No yellow stripes turned green. The blanket is a success as far as color and yarn go.

The pattern was also a huge success. I’ve seen this pattern around Ravelry for a long time, and I’ve always thought it to be very pretty. But the lace intimidated me. I figured it had to be H-A-R-D. Ha. I was wrong. It was super easy to memorize the lace pattern, and this is probably my quickest knit in a long time. I’m pretty sure that I’ll be revisiting this again.

Overall, this is a huge success. I’m thrilled. And I can’t wait to pass this off to the rightful owners.

Raveled here.

Guarding Your Time

The last week of April 2016 was one of the worst weeks of my life. I was taking two difficult and intense graduate courses, and it was finals week-The Reckoning, if you will-for both those courses. I’d been a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding the Saturday prior, it was allergy season, and my mind and body were both struggling as the week began. By the time the week ended, I’d failed a large assignment and earned the first (and thus far only, knock on wood) B of my grad school career. I had massive chunks of time that I couldn’t remember, and while I’d done all of my work, I was a wreck both physically and emotionally.

In retrospect, I hadn’t done a good job of guarding my time. My time is one of the most valuable things that I have, and I hadn’t guarded mine. Heading into finals week, I’d allowed myself to be distracted by numerous things, and on top of that, I hadn’t taken good care of my health. It’s no wonder that I was run-down and became ill. I hadn’t practiced good self-care.

I’m heading into a seven week period during which I need to write my master’s thesis while working full-time and taking a three-week online professional development course. Looking at the requirements of my final project for my degree, I know that this is going to require an enormous amount of time and energy. So this time, I’m not taking any chances. I’m allowing myself to two “social” events in the entire seven week period. I’m going to a friend’s bridal shower, and I’ll celebrate Father’s Day with my dad. My own birthday can go fly a kite. Grad school ends the next day; birthdays are allowed to be celebrated belatedly if need be.

Speaking from years of wisdom, someone recently told me that if you don’t take care of yourself when you’re young, no one will take care of you when you’re old. This is a season in my life in which I need to take active action to take care of myself. It’s not that I don’t love my friends and family. It’s that I cannot allow my health or my mental well-being to fall by the wayside. I’m no good to my students or friends or family if I’m not practicing good self-care.

So I’m choosing to guard my time as a way of practicing self-care. I have ways of de-stressing. I can bake. I can watch Netflix. I can annoy my roommate. But I need to take care of myself. And I need to be able to put on my own oxygen mask before I worry about anyone else. I’ve read far too many articles about how women struggle with self-care and/or the results of poor self-care. I’m going to be proactive in this season of my life. I’m going to take good care of myself so that I can be a good friend/daughter/coworker/teacher/minion to others.

It’s all about balance.