FO: Flax Light

I suppose that it’s a given that if a yarn dyer that you love creates a colorway that bears your name you must buy a sweater quantity of it. At least, that’s the way that I view it, and I’ve had several knitters of my acquaintance confirm this notion. With that in mind, I bought a sweater quantity of Cecilia on Primo Fingering when the Plucky Knitter launched the color in June of 2016. I bought it with a pattern in mind, and I even wound the four skeins promptly when they arrived at my home. But I didn’t cast on. I had reasons. I was busy. The pattern was complex. But as time wore on, I found my interest in knitting the pattern had waned, and I needed to find a new pattern.

Enter Flax Light. Flax Light is part of Tin Can Knits “The Simple Collection,” which is a collection of ten knitting patterns that are accessible to beginners. They’re simple as the name implies and straight-forward. They’re also classic. I’m not exactly a beginning knitter anymore, but due to some plans that I had for my summer, I wanted a simple sweater project that I could cart around with me to plays and movies and sporting events. Flax Light was perfect for this.

Flax Light also worked perfectly with my goal of creating more lightweight sweaters for myself that I can wear in spring and fall. Because it’s knit on fingering weight, it is ideal for those days when there is a nip in the air but you don’t really need an extra layer yet. I’m looking forward to getting to use it this fall as the school year begins. This should work well both with dress pants and with jeans.

Overall, Flax Light was a great project for me. It flowed smoothly and knit up quickly. I did make some minor modifications to the shoulder and sleeve. First of all, I knit the entire raglan shoulder in garter stitch rather than using the 20 stitch garter tab recommended in the pattern. I don’t love the look of that garter tab, and so I went with the shoulder structure/style used on So Faded, which I really love. I love the look that this creates on the sweater. This garter section is the only deviation from stockinette other than the ribbing at the collar and hems, and I think it adds a fabulous layer of visual interest.

Second, I only cast on half of the recommended stitches at the underarm division. I did this because I wanted to create a more fitted body than that recommended by the pattern. However, doing this meant that I had to add a few increases in the hips to allow for my Italian ass. I love the effect that this has when combined with the drape of Primo Fingering.

I loved the pattern. It was easy to follow (and to adapt when I wanted) and quick to knit up. I’m definitely considering revisiting this pattern again in the future.

Raveled here.

A Selfish Request

Over the past few years, I’ve noticed that several wonderful single women whom I know appear to have lost hope of ever getting married. “It just won’t happen for me. I know.” I’ve heard that a few more times that I can count. Or “I’ll probably never get married. That’s just a fact.” I’ve said that one a few times myself. As time passes and you get older while watching your friends get married and have babies, it’s easy to believe that just won’t happen for you.

Now I also know single women who have hope that “it” will happen for them. And I don’t know if this is true across the board, but I know for me having hope requires making a daily choice for hope. I have to choose to believe that someday a man will come into my life and think that I’m “that one perfect person” for him. (There’s no such thing as a perfect person; there are just good matches and people who work really hard to make their marriages work.) Some days, that’s easy to believe. Others, it’s harder.

While I can sit and listen to my discouraged friends and try to encourage them, I often feel frustrated on their behalf. Yes, I pray for them. I pray for myself. I pray for their and my maybe-possibly-someday husbands. And I pray that if we don’t get married (which feels increasingly likely some days) we will still lead happy and fulfilling lives. (I think we already do most of the time.) I selfishly hope that others will see value and goodness in our lives.

All of this leads me to my selfish request for my married friends. I know that some of them pray for those of us who are single. Please continue to do that. We need it. We need prayers not only that we will meet our future spouses but also for hope, peace, and patience in this season of our lives. For me, the prayers for hope, peace, and patience might actually be more valuable at this point. I know that every Friday for the past nine years my married friends have been my daily prayer intention. Please choose to make us your intention at least once in a while. Please ask St. Anne to pray for us if asking Saints for their intercession is your jam.

Also, realize that we’re still there, and we want to be your friends. Engage us in your lives. There’s a good chance that on that Friday night when you think we’re off at the bar drinking margaritas (Yes, people have told me that they think I do that most Friday nights.) we’re actually sitting at home reading a book or watching a movie. We’d love to hang out with you. Invite us over if that’s best for you. Or we could help you get out of your house if you prefer. If at all possible, please do not make us do all of the work of arranging get-togethers in our friendships.

If you know someone you can set us up with, ask us if it’s okay and then do it. (Please ask, but I know that I’d say yes. I’m not the Lorax; I can’t speak for all of the single women.) Truth be told, a big part of the reason that I suspect that I just won’t get married is that the one time someone offered to set me up with a guy nothing ever came of it. See, if you’re spending your evenings reading or watching movies or hanging out with other frustrated singles, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that if even your closest friends can’t find you someone they want to set you up with, well that you’re SOL on the marriage front.

Above all, please continue to love us, support us, and pray for us. We know that marriage is not always perfect. We know that our married friends don’t live perfect lives. We don’t either. But I suspect that marriage doesn’t leave you with that overwhelming feeling that you’re either going to end up dependent on the charity of your nieces and nephews or stuck lonely in a nursing home in your old age. That fear is really terrifying and can induce some really horrible thought patterns. So please pray for us. Like I said, I know that I pray for my married friends.

Lessons from Neville Longbottom

If you know me, you know that I love Harry Potter. I see a great deal of myself in Hermione. I have a mild to moderate crush on Bill Weasley. I’m inspired by Professor McGonagall. I think that I might be Tonks. I love both Remus Lupin and Sirius Black. I could keep going on this train. But the elder I wax, the character who strikes me time and again is Neville Longbottom.

On the surface, he seems pretty straightforward. He’s clumsy and forgetful. He isn’t too smart or too attractive. His best subject is Herbology, which is a commonly overlooked subject at Hogwarts. He doesn’t appear to be terribly brave. He didn’t demonstrate any indication of magical ability for much of his childhood. He lives with his grandmother. His parents are permanent patients of St. Mungo’s thanks to the “skills” of Bellatrix Lestrange. And yet, in the spite of all of this-or perhaps because of it, he is a true Gryffindor.

Despite his normal awkwardness, Neville shows strength in difficult situations. In the first book, Ron tells the eleven-year-old blunderbuss “Neville, you have got to start standing up to people.” The Neville to whom Ron is speaking not likely to stand up to anyone. He is shy and nervous. He doesn’t actively seek attention. He isn’t about to stand up to one of his own friends-let alone a powerful Dark wizard.

Now as the books go on, we (and his friends) start to learn some of Neville’s backstory. He lives with his grandmother because his parents were horrifically damaged mentally after vengeful Death Eaters attacked them with the Cruciatus Curse after Voldemort’s 1981 fall from power. (You know, that whole thing where the most powerful Dark Wizard of the age was defeated by a toddler who was born the day after Neville. That.) His parents don’t remember who they are, let alone who he is. This greatly impacts Neville. To be honest, there is almost no way that a child couldn’t be impacted by this experience. Both in word and action, his family constantly tells him that he cannot live up to his parents’ legacy. He has had no reason not to internalize this idea.

However even in his early years at Hogwarts, Neville shows hints of the bravery that will one day be acknowledged even by Lord Voldemort. Near the end of their first year, he is not afraid to stand up to Ron, Harry, and Hermione when he sees them doing something he believes to be wrong. Professor Dumbledore later commends him for this saying that it is harder to stand up to one’s friends than one’s enemies. He also stands up to an enemy (Draco Malfoy) at another point, but that is supposedly easier than standing up to the Golden Trio.

Neville is also capable of remarkable love and faithfulness. He is loyal to his friends, but more than that, he is loyal to his parents. As he tells Harry in the fifth book, he is proud of being the son of Frank and Alice Longbottom. His parents thrice defied Lord Voldemort; that is decidedly something to be proud of. They may not know him; the only gifts his mother gives him may be gum wrappers. But they were good people who fought valiantly for what they believed was right. Neville does his best to carry their spirit on. As he grows older, he works to fight for the cause that his parents supported and to become a person who they would have been proud to call their son.

In many ways, Neville seems to be determined to be someone of whom his parents would have been proud. He wants to live up to their legacy. He isn’t content to reside in their shadow. A large part of this is a desire to make them proud, but I believe that it also comes from a desire to continue their legacy. Just because his parents’ minds were destroyed and Lily and James Potter died, that didn’t destroy the movement. There will be others who will rise to take their place.

Neville Longbottom shows us the importance of standing up for what we believe in and for always striving to be better. Perhaps our world needs more people like Neville.

FO: So Faded

In late March, I was sitting a meeting of a local knitting group that I sporadically attend when we began discussing Andrea Mowrey’s Find Your Find pattern. Another group member mentioned that she wasn’t planning on starting one yet because she was waiting until the similar sweater pattern was released.

Now, I thought that the shawl was lovely although I hadn’t started plotting one of my own yet, but the idea of that concept/design on a sweater…now that was right up my alley. I waited patiently (ish) for the pattern to be released, and then when So Faded was released, I started toying with my stash to produce the best combination for a sweater. I have a couple of groupings packaged together in my stash to use to make future So Fadeds.

But I didn’t use stash for this one. Around the time the pattern was released, the Plucky Knitter had a “Mix and Match” update filled with pairings perfect for So Faded, Find Your Fade, and Starting Point. One of the pairings was almost but not quite perfect for me, so I asked Sarah (aka the Plucky Knitter) if she could think of a good sub for the color that just wasn’t me and she gave me two choices. I picked one and bought five skeins of yarn on Plucky Feet. And now…we have my So Faded. From top to bottom: Fondant, SB005, Biscuit, SB001, and Cecilia.

Joy calls this my dessert sweater. It supposedly makes her hungry every time she sees it. Therefore, I knew that we had to take pictures on National Ice Cream Day. Doesn’t it just look like a dessert sweater?

The pattern is very straight-forward. The directions are well-written and easy to follow. I may have been knitting for several years, but I suspect that this would be a good pattern for a more novice knitter. I really enjoyed knitting it, and I’m planning on knitting a few more out of the pairings that I put together out of my stash earlier this year. I think that it could also be quite lovely if one chose to knit it out of only one color as well.

While it’s too warm for it now, this sweater will be perfect for fall and spring. It goes perfectly into the plan that I mentioned in an earlier post to add more lightweight sweaters to my wardrobe. I really like Plucky Feet for this purpose. It’s a sturdy yarn that knits up in a lightweight fabric that is quite delightful. 

Raveled here.

Intellectual Stimulation

As you’ve probably heard, I recently finished my masters degree. People keep asking me how I’m doing now that I’m done. They ask if I’m resting or recovering. I’m not entirely sure what people envision my life post-grad school to look like, but I don’t think they’re expecting what it is.

I spent about a week reading books that I’d wanted to read for a while. This meant reading two murder mysteries that I bought earlier in the year but didn’t yet have time to read. But towards the end of the second book I got bored. (I did finish the book.) The book was good, but it wasn’t pushing me or challenging me. Over the course of my grad school career, I’d gotten used to being pushed and challenged. And these books just weren’t cutting it anymore. I needed something else. I needed a new challenge. I felt like this:

So I went to my bookshelf and picked up G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy. My brain required stimulation, and Chesterton is graciously accommodating me. Thus far, good ol’ Gilbert Keith seems more than happy to challenge me. He’s making me work and think in a different way than my grad school work did, but he is making me work.

It’s funny, but I’m not sure that I want to rest in the way that people might suspect. I’ve always enjoyed working and learning. I do need a rest, but my mind cannot sit idle. It needs to be pushed. Fluff and chick lit make nice resting places, but my brain can’t live there. My brain needs to be stimulated and challenged.

I suspect that I trained my brain into this over the course of my academic career. I’m sure that I have some natural predilection towards this, but I (and others around me) have also encouraged those tendencies in myself. I want to be one of those people who are, to quote Dorothy Sayers, cursed with both hearts and brains. I want to be someone who is always craving intellectual stimulation and seeking what is next.

So…now I need to go finish reading my Chesterton.

Coincidence? You decide.

There’s a story that I tell people sometimes, and today I’m going to tell it to you, the blog…the internet.

In early October of 2014, I was looking for a job. I had a job that wasn’t great, and I was looking for something better. On a Friday evening, I was looking at job postings, and I saw what I thought said “ELA Long-Term Sub.” ELA stands for English language arts, and it’s what I wanted to teach. Do a long-term sub job for a middle school English teacher at a school twenty minutes from my house? That sounded better than what I was doing. I applied.

On Monday, the recruiter called me. The job posting had not been for ELA but rather ELL (English Language Learners). I’m pretty sure that the recruiter knew that I’d applied by accident, but she was willing to submit me to be interviewed if I was open to that. I went for it. I interviewed, and I was hired. And thus began a year of long-term sub jobs for ELL teachers.

At the end of my first week in that first ELL job, I loved doing ELL work so much that I started looking for master’s programs in the field. I’d talked about getting a masters in EL/ESL/ELL/TESOL for a while, but now…what the heck? I loved this job. I could see myself doing this for the rest of my life. I submitted my contact info with one university and went outside to do my dismissal duty. That evening, someone from the university called me, I applied the following week, I was admitted, and I started classes in February of 2015.


I told one of my bosses this story last fall. I remember saying that I’d gotten into this whole thing by accident, and she smiled. “This wasn’t an accident. Things like that are never accidents. They happen because they’re supposed to happen.”

Effective July 2, 2017, I’ve finished that degree. I am allowed to throw MEd (Master of Education) after my name. I am an EL teacher. I did what I wanted to do. And I still want to work in this field. I still love this field.

But the question of accident or coincidence or something else stays with me. Prior to that application, I had some concept that this field existed, but I had no clue as to what it really looked like. I had no idea what I was getting into.

I’ve said various times over the past several months that if I’d known what I was getting into I’m not sure that I would have started. There were hard moments. I was challenged, and I didn’t always respond well. Ultimately, I grew, but I had some dark moments on that journey. Do I regret it?

Not a bit. I’ve grown through this process. The challenges have been good for me. I’ve even enjoyed some of them. I didn’t enjoy the week when I worked so hard and pushed myself so hard that I became physically ill and mentally confused. I still don’t like watching videos of myself teaching/talking. But I enjoy teaching. I like the challenge of reading research articles about my field. The application of that research is a mental exercise and not exactly fun in the traditional sense of the word, but it was beneficial, for lack of a better word.

So did I get into this by accident or coincidence? I’d say probably not, but I’ll leave that to history to decide.

Socks

I was sitting there getting a pedicure and knitting a sock (Yes, I knit while getting a pedicure, but don’t worry; the folks at the nail salon are used to this by now.) when one of the ladies who works there came up to me. “You’re already working on another one? You were working on a pink one when you were here two weeks ago.”

“Two weeks ago?” I returned. “Oh, I finished that one. And then I finished the second one.”

“This is the second one?” I think she couldn’t handle the idea that I’d finished two socks in two weeks. (It’s worth noting that I’d actually been there THREE weeks ago, not two. But that probably wouldn’t comfort her that much. I’d also knit most of the foot of that sock she was talking about while watching a movie a few days after she’d seen me knitting it.)

“No, I finished that on Sunday. This is a new sock.” I showed her the two balls of yarn that I’m using to knit the sock. “I’m striping the pink yarn from those socks with this gray yarn.”

“Cool,” she said. “Stripes, I like it.”


If you only know about my knitting from my blog, you know that I knit mostly sweaters and occasionally blankets and shawls. If you know about my knitting from real life or Instagram, you know about The Socks.

The socks are all more or less the same, a fact that you can discover for yourself if you visit my apartment where you will find the socks scattered haphazardly around. (Madeline, one of my two cats, apparently has some notion that my handknit socks are her children and so she carries them around the apartment [quite lovingly actually] so as to share all of her favorite things with a bunch of…socks.) They’re knit with fingering yarn on size two circular needles. They’re knit top-down starting with about six or seven rows of ribbing, several inches of stockinette, a short-row heel, and a foot knit in plain stockinette. They’re simple socks. There’s nothing particularly remarkable about the socks.

But most people who see me knitting them would disagree with you. The socks go almost everywhere with me. See, all of those shawls/sweaters/blankets that I blog about get knit at home, and the socks hang out in my purse. Going to a movie? Perfect! I’ll knit half of a sock while we’re there. Spending most of the day in the car with someone else driving…that’s a great chance to knock out another half of a sock. Getting coffee with a friend? I’ll be able to knock out at least a few rows of a sock. The socks keep my hands busy. And the best part is that there’s a reward at the end. I get a comfortable pair of socks that is perfectly crafted to fit my foot.

If you look at my yarn stash, there are skeins upon skeins (I won’t count them for you, dear blog; neither of us really NEEDS to know how many.) of sock yarn. Sooo many colors…and generally speaking, there’s only one skein of each color. I have many skeins of Plucky Feet by the Plucky Knitter, and most of those will end up being socks someday. Others are going to become sweaters or that Find Your Fade that I need to make; it’s probably (No promises; I have indecision issues going on with my knitting.) going to be on a blue/blue-green spectrum. I like knitting with Feet, and the finished product is great. It wears well, and it’s super comfortable.

I have a couple skeins of Dream in Color’s Smooshy because DIC has these Hamilton-inspired colorways, and that’s so cool. (It is.) I bought a skein of Angelica (see my pink socks at the top? Those are my first pair of Angelica socks! Now I’m making a gray and Angelica striped pair. So. Cool.) and I loved those pink socks, but I knew I’d also need Eliza socks to go with my Angelica socks. So…I put Eliza on my wishlist, waited for it to come back into stock at Eat.Sleep.Knit, and as soon as it was back, I bought the Eliza yarn. And as soon as the Angelica striped socks are done, I get to make myself some blue Eliza socks.

I have a skein of yarn that I bought purely because the example photo on the company website made it look like the yarn was Tiffany blue. I don’t know why, but I love that shade of blue. This wasn’t the first time that I’d bought a skein of sock yarn because it looked like Tiffany blue. It won’t be the last. But when the yarn got here, it was greener than Tiffany blue really is. No matter; it’s a lovely minty green, and I’m hoping that it’ll make excellent socks. (If it doesn’t, that’s okay. Sock yarn also makes great shawls and cowls. Some even makes great sweaters. Case in point: I’m knitting a sweater out of sock yarn right now.)

The point of all this rambling is that I love knitting socks. They’re not as glamorous as blankets or sweaters, but they’re absolutely useful. I love the way that hand-knit socks feel on my feet. They’re warm and cozy. I don’t wear store-bought socks unless absolutely necessary anymore because I prefer hand-knit socks so much. Maybe no one ever sees them. Maybe no one ever knows that I’m wearing a pair of green-yellow socks with my outfit that has no green or yellow in it. Or maybe no one knows that my pinky-swear socks perfectly match my pinky-swear sweater. I know. And to me, that’s all that matters.

Sometimes it’s fun to have a secret…even if that secret is that your socks are in a colorway named after a Founding Father’s wife.