Monday, November 21, 2011

By the way...

...I finished a few things I haven't really told you much about.  In the wake of three failed attempts to knit a sock, I thought now would be just the right time to save face show you some projects that worked out just fine.

You saw my unfinished Five Hour Baby Sweater this summer.  I really did knit it in something like five hours, alongside my mom who was also knitting one.  The pattern was simple and the yarn oh-so-soft (mine is the blue one).

Mom incorporated a few buttonholes to close her sweater with the sweetest little pink buttons.  I wanted mine to tie closed, and had seen a cute example on Ravelry of a sweater with a crocheted tie that encircled the yoke of the sweater.  My poor sweater waited patiently for weeks for me to decide to attach a simple i-cord instead.

The Spartanburg Knitting Guild was collecting the sweaters to donate to one of several children's ministries they support.  It was fun to add my sweater to the collection on display at the guild retreat in September.

You also caught a glimpse of my No-Fuss Mitts just before the retreat, in another softest yarn ever (Louisa Harding Thistle).  I learned so much knitting these sweet little mitts, from the knitting instructor that never sleeps and is ever patient and repeats instructions as often as I ask it to (yay, YouTube!): provisional cast-ons, picot edges, folded hems, and thumb gussets...

...and embroidery!  At the last minute (in fact, in the car on the way to the retreat!), worried that despite the sweetness and softness of the mitts they would look plain amidst the many other mittens and gloves in the annual retreat contest, I decided to add a little detail.  I found instructions for a little embroidered lamb and (yay, YouTube!) learned how to do a duplicate stitch, a chain stitch, and a french knot.

The contest was indeed packed with the most beautiful, warm, soft mittens and gloves I have ever seen.    Of all things, mitts won first place!

I received a one-year subscription to Knitter's Magazine and the fun of being able to say I am an award-winning knitter!

Definitely way more fun than saying I am can't-seem-to-get-this-sock-to-fit knitter...

Friday, November 18, 2011

Preach a Little One: Last Pentecost A

Preached at the Lower School Faculty Eucharist, St. Andrew's Episcopal School

Matthew 25:31-46

The end times are upon us.

No, really.  This time, the end is actually near.  We are almost at the end of a liturgical year.  We are almost at the end of a calendar year.  We are almost at the end of a semester.  Advent and exams are in the air.

My tenth grade world history final exam had one question on it, and one question only.  Aliens have just landed.  Tell them the history of the world.  I stared at a blank sheet of paper for who knows how long, not knowing how to begin.  An hour and at least two sheets of paper later, full of names and dates and places and ideas, I had no idea how to end.

The end times are upon us.  Really.  At least, that is how it has seemed these past several Sundays as parable after parable has ended in outer darkness, where there sits a guest without a wedding robe, ten bridesmaids with no oil for their lamps, and a servant with a hidden talent.  Be ready, Jesus has warned us over and over again, for you do not know the hour or the day.

This Sunday, the last in the long season after Pentecost, the end is here.  The Son of Man in all his glory sits upon the judgment seat with all the nations gathered before him, and on the final exam there is one question, and one question only.  What did you do for the last of those who are members of God's family?

Did we feed the hungry?  Clothe the naked?  Visit the sick?  Take care of others?  Were we good neighbors?  Yes, sometimes., sometimes.  Sometimes we are generous, selfless, and brave.  And sometimes we are self-absorbed, full of excuses, and fearful.  Sometimes we are sheep.  Sometimes we are goats.

The end times are upon us.

Not really.  The time that is upon us is now, this moment in time, and the next, and the next, and then the one after that, each now a new beginning, a new opportunity to do for God what God loves best - doing for others.  The exam has begun, but we have quite literally all the time in the world to finish, and even then the one who sits upon the throne is the one who will leave the ninety-nine to find a single strayed sheep.  Or goat.  Or guest.  Or bridesmaid.  Or servant.  Or me.  Or you.  For sometimes we are the least of those who are members of God's family...

The beginning times are upon us.  The question is before us, and the answer is within us.  What will we do at this moment, and the next, and the next, for God by doing if for another?  Amen.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Third Time... not a sock.

It is a ball of yarn.  Again.

It was almost a sock.

The pattern is Twisted, and I love it.  It is perfect for this yarn, little rivulets of slipped stitches crossing purly waves of blue and purple and gray.  I don't think I have ever purled so much in one project before.  In fact, by the time I got to the heel...again...I had purled more than 125 rows of cuff.

That would be 125 rows that don't fit.

But the third time is a charm (this is what I'm telling myself to keep from crying).  I've learned a few things.  I've learned that purling isn't so bad - in fact, I'm sort of fast at it.  I've learned that I can pick up dropped stitches (and then I can pick them up again...).  I've learned a new way to knit a heel flap.

It's flatter than the heel flaps I've knit before, and I'm not sure how it would hold up to wear and tear.  But it's pretty.

This has been my problem, I think - pretty.  I have pretty yarn that brings back pretty memories, I have found pretty patterns that knit up prettily.  But I haven't been carefully reading yarn labels carefully reading patterns paying attention to the suggestions of wiser knitters knitting a pretty sock that fits.

The yarn and the pattern are taking a break from me while I think things through.

The fourth time will be more than almost a sock.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Fall Back

This year's fall is every bit as brilliant as spring, filled with colors more vivid than the crayolas that bear their names - orange red, maize, gold, burnt sienna... I'm using my extra hour tonight to post pictures.

Every day is new.  Little Charlie and I watch the trees as we drive to school, and the one that was aflame yesterday is nearly bare, while another nearby that was all green has suddenly turned golden.

He may have inherited something of my love of autumn.  Cleaning out his pockets at night I've found red and yellow leaves stuffed inside...

When I was not much older than Little Charlie, there must have been another brilliant fall.  We had hiked around the lake at a local state park, inhaling autumn and collecting leaves to press between pieces of wax paper.  It became something of a mission to find one perfect red leaf... I do not remember if we ever did.  But a song was written later that day, and I do remember it...

Falling leaves are autumn's treasure,
We can laugh with simple pleasure,
Watching sunbeams dancing above our heads.
As the leaves swirl gaily 'round us,
Orange, gold, and brown surround us,
While somewhere there's one leaf of red.

And we search for what we know is
Just beyond here where we have been led,
For the greatest treasure we will find today
Is one leaf of red.

Folk who have less time than we do
Follow clearer paths that lead to
Answers to their questions of here and now.
On this wooded path we follow,
Mysteries need not be unraveled
As we look for truth here within.

And you and I will seek our
Answers in this world that doesn't ask how.
We're content to count our leaves as 
Treasures without questioning how.

And we search for what we know is
Just beyond us here where we have been led,
For the greatest treasure we will find today
Is one leaf of red.