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!

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FO Friday: Amethyst Scarf

So I was planning on posting this project as Work In Progress on Wednesday, but then I finished it, so I decided to save it as a post-Thanksgiving Finished Object.

A while back, I found and queued Jane Richmond’s Mustard Scarf as a project I definitely wanted to have for this coming winter. At the end of October, I ordered some worsted weight yarn from Knit Picks in a lovely purple that they call “Amethyst Heather.” Then, I bought some size 13 needles.

And then it all sat in my bedroom for about three weeks…until Sunday. Sunday, I cast on. And I was done by the end of the day on Wednesday. In other words, this is a quick knit. I could have it done much faster had I not had to teach all day on Monday and Tuesday.

The scarf as designed should measure 27 inches finished. However, I wanted something that I could wrap around my neck several times to keep my neck safe from the coming Michigan winter. So my final length is somewhere around 65 inches; I’m not entirely sure how long it is because the scarf grew when I blocked it. Regardless, the yarn is soft and warm. And I’m very excited to have this scarf this winter.

So here it is, a lovely amethyst scarf. This definitely a project that I’ll be coming back to.

Off My Needles: The Brennan Cardigan

Today is two-for-one day.

If you’ve been paying any attention to this blog over the past four and a half months, you’ve probably heard me whining about something called the Brennan Cardigan.

It was a major project that I undertook in July and it really was a beast in my life. As I told a friend last week, it was my effort to purge myself of any sort of commitmentphobia I might have ever had. For four and a half months, I was dedicated to this thing.

But you’ve probably been wondering. What the heck is it?

It’s a sweater. More specifically, it’s a sweater designed by Glenna of Knitting to Stay Sane. Like me, Glenna is a fan of Fox’s hit TV show, Bones. And back in 2006, she saw the first season finale of the show in which Dr. Temperance Brennan (played by the lovely Emily Deschanel) wore an amazing long cardigan with a shawl collar. And Glenna designed a pattern for determined knitters to create their own cardigan. (For more details, check out her first post and her second post on her blog about it.)

About two years ago, I found this pattern and noticed that the skill level was intermediate. It required some skill in cabling and some skill in making sweaters. Two years ago, I had neither. But I kept the pattern in the back of my mind.

Then, this past summer, we learned that Bones would have a longer hiatus than usual due to Emily Deschanel’s real-life pregnancy. Somehow, this long hiatus inspired me to say, “I must make the Brennan cardigan. Now.”

I trotted off to Knit a Round in Ann Arbor and bought eight skeins (a grand total of 2000 yards) of Stonehedge Fiber Mill’s Shepherd’s Wool in a lovely lilac.

And then, I started knitting. Four and a half months later…or this past Saturday, I was finally done.

Today, I wore it for the first time. And I’m in love. In. Love. I love the yarn, the fit, the color. I’m soooo warm in this thing; it is absolutely perfect for a Michigan winter. When my colleagues were complaining about being cold at lunch today, I didn’t admit to how freaking comfy I was in my warm, snuggly sweater. And that’s a credit to a great yarn and a great design.

Jenny and Mom helped me out by taking pictures of the sweater. All I can say about it is that I love it. Love.

And I have almost 500 yards of yarn leftover. I smell a lovely cowl coming up in my near future…but more on that later. For now, I think I’ll be moving into this sweater until further notice.

And tomorrow, I’ll be back for WIP Wednesday to tell you all about the great Jane Richmond scarf I’ve got on my needles…

Jack and Cecilia

Forty-eight years ago today, the world lost three men-Aldous Huxley, John F. Kennedy, and C.S. Lewis.

Now, as you might have guessed, I love C.S. Lewis. (Hi, there’s a reason I named my blog after one of his quotes. And yes, I’m drinking tea now with plans to read a large book this weekend.) And Lewis preferred to be called Jack, so we’ll call him that for the duration of this post.

Now Jack is one of the strongest voices of reason in my life. I’d always loved him, but while I was in Europe three years ago, I grew to love Lewis even more. I was listening to some podcasts by Dr. Peter Kreeft and Kreeft loves Lewis. And I fell hardcore in love with a man who died about twenty-five years before I was born.

But he spoke Truth without fear, and I love that about him. His books, especially Mere Christianity and The Weight of Glory have been some of the strongest influences in my life. The quote below, which is from The Weight of Glory, has shaped the way that I view others in a profound manner.

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations-these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit-immortal horrors or everlasting splendors…Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.”

Jack was wise and holy. He had an incredible imagination. (See The Chronicles of Narnia and The Space Trilogy.) Today, in fact, I had the opportunity to discuss my love of Lewis with a few of my colleagues over lunch when one of them mentioned that today was the 48th anniversary of Lewis’s, Huxley’s, and Kennedy’s deaths. I wasn’t the only one who knew that, and in discussing that fact (and my love of Lewis) I reminded of how important, how holy, and how wonderful Jack was-and continues to be 48 years after his death.

Also, Jack died on the feast of St. Cecilia, my patron Saint. I’m not sure why, but that makes me love him more.

Now on to St. Cecilia. She’s my patron Saint. She lived her entire life about eighteen centuries before I was born, and as far as I know, she died in her early twenties. I have no great soundbites (or really any at all) from her like I do from Jack. She was martyred by the Roman government for being a Christian. She is the patron saint of music. And I was named after her.

Three years ago, I spent November 21-24 in Rome. On November 22, my hosts took me to the Basilica of St. Cecilia in Trastavere  for the Vespers service that is held annually on the feast of the Saint. Being in the church dedicated to the honor my patron saint and having the opportunity to spend a few minutes in prayer in the crypt below the church where part of the saint is buried really strengthened my bond to my patron saint. For example, I want to have the flowers (white lilies, red carnations, and white daisies) that were on her tomb that day in my bridal bouquet if/when I get married. I was almost like meeting her; we were together and now it’s like I know her.  She is irrevocably part of me.

Jack and Cecilia remind me of one of the greatest things about being a Christian. We are connected to the Communion of Saints, to all of those who have gone before us in the Faith. Jack died 25 years before I was born. St. Cecilia died more than 1700 years before I was born. And yet, they are irrevocably part of me. We are joined by the Body of Christ, which transcends time and space and unites us all.

So, I’ll give Jack the final word.

“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

And St. Cecilia, pray for us.

The Shape of Things to Come

I finished something. I have no full pictures of the finished object, but I do have many sneak peeks into what this delight looks like.

And yes, that is a sweater in the oven. It was drying.

Button, button, who’s got the button?

Shawl collar…I love shawl collars.

Sleeve…sweater…drool…

BUTTONS!!!!!!!! And they have sunflowers on them.

And I have other projects on needle too…but we’ll discuss those more on Wednesday when I have a day off from school and time to talk about these sorts of things. And after I make Jenny take pictures of my sweater.

Random Ramblings

1. Over the course of the past 28 hours, I have made this.

It’s a little lumberjack hat that I improvised. I took the picture with my cell phone, but better pictures (on the model of its rightful owner) are coming…eventually.

2. The Brennan cardigan is all sewn together. Now it just needs a button band and collar. I’m working on that. My goal to have everything but the button band was today. My goal for the button band and blocking being done is “By the time we leave for Thanksgiving dinner.” I think that’s a pretty solid goal.

3. I want to make pumpkin brownies. I need a victim.

Pattern Release: Abigail

On Tuesday, I blogged that I was working on something called “Abigail.”

Abigail, I am now excited to tell you, is a headband pattern. It requires both sewing and knitting skills. It’s a fairly easy pattern, and I’m quite proud of it.

This particular Abigail that you see me wearing above is destined to be a Christmas gift.

And this one is being mailed to Iowa in the morning.

So hop on over to the Knitting Patterns page and check it out.