FO: White Turtleneck Sweater

So here’s how this post works. Back around the time of the Super Bowl, I bought six skeins of white yarn. (TFA Green Label in Natural) I was going to make two baby blankets out of it. Somewhere along the line between the Super Bowl and the Stanley Cup playoffs, I decided that I wasn’t going to use the white yarn for the baby blankets. Suddenly, I had a sweater quantity of white yarn and no plan for it.

But here’s the thing. Ever since I saw The Holiday back in 2007, I’ve wanted a white turtleneck sweater. So, I took the skeins of yarn and made them into balls, and then I cast on for a sweater. I worked on it for about a week, and then I realized that I didn’t want that sweater, so I ripped it.

On Thursday, November 6, 2014, I sat down with my US size 9 needles and I started knitting. Yesterday afternoon (on Wednesday, November 26, 2014), I cast off. I blocked the sweater. And then I wore it to Thanksgiving dinner this afternoon. My awesome mother took pictures of it for me after dinner, and I love it. (Of course, now I have to wash it because my dad spilled cold coffee on me on the way home.)

IMG_0509 IMG_0510 IMG_0511 IMG_0512 IMG_0487 IMG_0476I love this sweater, and it’s going to be a great neutral staple in my wardrobe. If you’re wondering, this used about 4.5 skeins of yarn or about 925 yards of yarn. It was pretty simple. It’s just reverse stockinette with a few cables and ribbed hems to add interest. And I love it.

Raveled here.

Literary Evangelism

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

This is one of my favorite quotes about literature. It’s an odd quote at one level because that’s how I feel about TFIOS. As far as I’m concerned, y’all need to go out and read The Fault in Our Stars like yesterday and the only way that we’re ever going to make the world a better place is if y’all do that. I love that book so, so, so much.

But that quotation doesn’t just apply to TFIOS for me. It applies to several books (Brideshead Revisited, The Ordinary Princess, Emma, and The Brothers Karamazov to name a few.) I just finished reading two books over the past few days that left me with that feeling.

In the past two days, I finished reading In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex and Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity. Each of these books is a skillfully worked piece of nonfiction. (Sidenote: Don’t tell my high school self this, but I really like reading nonfiction now. It especially helps me when I can picture one of the main characters looking just like Chris Hemsworth.) Each of these books left me longing for me. I enjoyed the books and felt that they were well-written, and they left me wanting to read more books like them. They left me wanting to read more books and experience more intellectual, emotional, and psychological fulfillment.

And that’s what I want from the books I read. I want to read books that fulfill me, that show me more of the world, and that feed my soul. I want compelling stories. I want to be nourished and motivated by the literature I read. The books that I’ve referenced in this post do that for me. And they are books that I believe that everyone should read.

What books do that for you? What books do you think that I need to read?

My Advent Adventure

I’m Byzantine Catholic. I don’t know if I’ve ever said this explicitly on this blog, but if I haven’t, there you have it. This means that while my Church is in communion with the Pope, I’m not Roman Catholic. My Church (the Byzantine Catholic Church) has its own traditions that might look or feel or smell a little different than what my Roman Catholic friends are used to.

And I had the privilege to be raised in a family that honored those traditions. My parents did a really great job of incorporating the liturgical seasons into our family’s prayer life especially when my brother and I were young. However, as an adult, I’ve often let many of them slide because I’m single. I haven’t made a concentrated effort to observe and celebrate things because I have no one to share these traditions with at home. However, over the past few months, I’ve come to the realization that just because I can’t share my traditions with others, that doesn’t mean that I can’t develop these traditions for myself so that I can share my family if I ever have a family.

This means that on August 14 before I went to church for the vigil Divine Liturgy of the Dormition (Falling Asleep) of the Mother of God, I went to the store and bought a bouquet of flowers for the priest to bless. This is one of our traditions, and it’s something that’s easy for me to honor.

This also means that I’m trying to actually celebrate the Fast of Philip this year. This is what my Western friends call “Advent.” But their Advent looks and smells a little different than mine does. For example, while my Western friends are used to a four week Advent, my Advent, which we actually call the Fast of Philip, begins on November 15. November 15 is forty days before Christmas. (November 14 is the feast of St. Philip, hence the name.) The use of the word “Fast” implies what you might suspect-that it is a season of sacrifice and trying to draw closer to the Lord whose birth we’ll celebrate in 40 days.

There are a few things that I’m trying to incorporate into my life this year during Advent. One thing that I’m doing is choosing to fast “Byzantine-style.” In other words, I’m trying to live as a vegan as much as possible. (I will however celebrate American Thanksgiving as well as the feasts of St. Nicholas and of the Conception of St. Anna.) I’m also trying to fast from music that doesn’t encourage me to focus on the coming of Christ. This means that you’ll probably hear most of the beginning of Handel’s Messiah if you’re around me much during the next six weeks. (But that’s okay with me because one of the themes that I’m trying to work with is the “He shall purify the sons of Levi” section and the larger meaning of Malachi 3:3 for my own life.)

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Another thing that I’m doing as an Eastern variant on the Advent wreath. While the Advent wreath isn’t an Eastern tradition, I’m adopting it as a reminder of the idea of “light” in connection with Christmas. Christmas is four days after the darkest day of the year, and it is a celebration of the One who is is the Light of the World. So I want to use the candles as a reminder that no matter how dark our lives or our world may seem, there is always Christ.

(And if you’re wondering why the wreath is in front of images of three female Saints, it’s because I wanted my Theotokos of Vladimir icon with the wreath and because that’s where my St. Catherine icon and my St. Cecilia engraving fit.)

In short, I’m trying to focus during the pre-Christmas season on developing my relationship with Christ and on developing traditions that I can potentially transition into family traditions if I ever have a family. (Feel free to check out the Pinterest page where I’m trying to organize ideas.)

Next year, by the way, I want to add in a Jesse tree. I really want to add in a Jesse tree to this. And I need an icon of the Nativity of Christ. And I want an icon of the ancestors of Christ that I can use especially during Advent.

FO: Wingtip Cowl

Back in September, I received my bimonthly shipment for the Tanis Fiber Arts Year in Colour Club. I think that we all know that I love TFA yarns, and I love the YICC. September was no exception to this. In fact, September was my favorite yarn yet. The yarn was TFA’s Amber label, which is a dk weight yarn made of a wool/cashmere/silk blend. The yarn is luxurious, and the color (Jean Jacket) was incredible. It’s a mix of blues, and I love blue. It’s my second favorite color and the most prevalent color in my wardrobe. IMG_2122

The pattern Tanis released is Wingtip Cowl, which is gorgeous. I love it for two reasons. Firstly, it is beautiful. Second, I love it because it allows me to have the soft, wonderful amber label yarn on my neck, and I love being able to feel that yarn on my skin. IMG_2124

I started the cowl on October 23, and I finished it on Saturday night. It’s absolutely perfect. And I can guarantee you it will be used quite often this winter.  IMG_2128Raveled here.

(P.S. I loved the yarn so much that I ordered a sweater’s quantity of it so I can make a Sople out of it.