Emily M. DeArdo


yarn along

Yarn Along No. 62

books, knitting, yarn alongEmily DeArdo1 Comment

I'm SO GLAD that I'll be having a new, fun, just for me project starting soon! But in the meantime, here are two recent Barton Cottage Crafts finished products for your perusal. :) 

First up, the Fanny Price. I chose this color way (called "Surf's Up") because of Fanny's brother's enlistment in the Navy, as well as Fanny being from Portsmouth, a naval port in England. 


And here's the Brianna Randall, based on the Outlander character who wore a Day-Glo colored dress to the moon launch party in Drums of Autumn. I think she'd love these colors!


Right now I'm reading The Half-Drowned King by Linnea Hartsuyker, which I checked out of the library along with several other novel, so I'm looking forward to reading them!


(Speaking of reading: Don't forget that my ebook, Catholic 101, is available to pre-order!

Yarn Along No. 61: Barton Cottage Crafts and Linen

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Barton Cottage Crafts is what I call my nascent scarf business. It's named after the Dashwood ladies' house in Sense and Sensibility, which is also what I call my own little house, and I think it has a nice ring to it, right? So this week I'm showing you what I'm working on there, as well as linen piece progress.


This is the Anne Shirley scarf, done in an autumnal colorway to channel Anne's love of October. 


This is the Lady Edith, done in blues and greens, and named after Downton Abbey's Lady Edith Crawley, who looked quiet lovely in these shades (even if she wasn't my favorite character. :-P) 


This one is in progress, and it's the Brianna Randall, named after the Outlander character. I chose to name this bright colorway after Brianna because of the Day-Glo colored dress she wears to the moon landing party in Drums of Autumn

All of these scarves have been commissioned, but I'm hoping eventually to knit up enough stock to have an Etsy shop for them. If you want one, just drop me a line and we can talk! 

For my own personal knitting, we've got the linen kerchiefs going on.  There's the supermoon one, in purple linen (Venice colorway): 


And the sans kerchief, in the Truffle colorway (these are both Quince and Co.'s sparrow yarn). 


The Supermoon has a textured pattern, so each row is different; you work in sets of seven rows at a time. The sans is just stockinette stitch, so it's a lot easier! It's also the project I brought on vacation because I thought it would be nice and relaxing to do, which it was, for the most part, but linen can be a pain when you're purling, especially in the beginning. Gah! 

When I have commissions, I work on my own pieces on the weekends only, usually Sundays, because I want people to get their pretty scarves as soon as possible! So I've been going back and forth between the two linen projects. No rush on those, especially on Supermoon, since it's a bit more complicated than anything I've done before. 



Yarn Along No. 60: Yarn in Colonial Williamsburg

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Freshly dyed yarn in the weaver's shop at Colonial Williamsburg

Freshly dyed yarn in the weaver's shop at Colonial Williamsburg

This is an extra special yarn along, because today we're not talking about knitting, we're talking all about yarn! We're taking a field trip to CW and the Weaver's! 

A few months before I visited CW, I heard that it was possible to buy yarn that was completely handmade by the artisans at Williamsburg, using 18th century methods. Of course, this piqued my interest! I knew that I was going to want some of this special yarn. 

The yarn at CW starts with the wool, of course. The wool comes from their herd of Leicester Longwool sheep. 


Leicester Longwools were developed in the mid-18th century by Robert Bakewell of Leicester, England. The breed became popular throughout the British empire; George Washington purchased Leicester Longwools for his flock at Mount Vernon. 

According to the Leicester Longwool Sheep Breeder's Association, "The fleece of the Leicester Longwool is prized by hand spinners and crafters for its curl, soft handle, and lustrous beauty... The wool dyes exceptionally well, maintaining the purity of color; the natural luster still shines through. This premium wool is very versatile, working well for combing for worsted products, carding for woolen products, and felting projects. " 

The sheep are very rare these days, and CW plays a big role in keeping the breed alive. 

So, we have this gorgeous wool, which looks like this, in its raw state: 

Check out that curl! 

Check out that curl! 

The wool is incredibly soft, even in this "raw" state, and really pretty. At least, these pieces are!

The sheep shearing is done by other people. Before it reaches the weavers, the wool also has to be skirted (taking out pieces that are too short or too matted to use), and scoured (cleaned). 

After the wool is clean and dry, it's ready to card. 


Here you can see a few things--raw wool, that needs picked over (in the crock), wool that's been cleaned, but needs carded (back basket), carded wool that's being spun (on the spinning wheel), and finished thread/yarn on a bobbin (in the yellow basket, foreground). The bobbin will go into a shuttle, to be used in weaving, as seen below. 

The weaver is holding the shuttle in her left hand; here, she's weaving linen cloth. 

The weaver is holding the shuttle in her left hand; here, she's weaving linen cloth. 

After the wool is spun, either with a drop spindle or on a spinning wheel, and the appropriate thickness reached (I'm simplifying, massively, for our purposes), it's time to dye!

At CW, there's an entire book about how to dye with their natural dyes. Since the colors are all natural, it's really hard to reproduce exactly the same colors. In fact, it's probably impossible. So when I went to buy my yarn, I chose two skeins that were close--but they're not identical. 

You can see, even dyed in the same vat, they're different--but close enough! The differences really drive home the hand-dyed nature of it, for me. 

You can see, even dyed in the same vat, they're different--but close enough! The differences really drive home the hand-dyed nature of it, for me. 

Here's what the CW website says about 18th century dyeing: 

Nature provided the colors used in dyeing textiles in the 18th century. Today, Colonial Williamsburg’s weavers use the same 18th-century recipes for dyes – all safe enough to drink. An insect called the cochineal from South America makes the color red. 70,000 cochineal are needed to make a pound of red dye that can turn everything from leather to makeup and frosting red – including paint and textiles. Brown comes from walnuts, blue from indigo from South Carolina, Spain, or South America. Purple comes from the Spanish log wood tree, and turmeric from India gives yellow its hue. Orange comes from the root of the madder plant.
Wool is the easiest fabric to dye; cotton is more difficult, and linen is the most difficult of all – the dye tends to sit on the linen, in a sense, not in it. Dyeing was often done on plantations, using different colors of clothing to identify slaves from the same plantation – colorful and expressive folk art came from this practice as slaves used the rich colors to express individuality. (For the rest of the article, click here.) 

As you can see, the weavers at CW get incredible colors from their natural dyes! They were really beautiful, even more so in person. 

I hope this post gives you a taste at how difficult it is to make yarn, especially if you're doing it completely by hand!  I'm so glad I was able to purchase some of it! 

If you go to CW and are looking for yarn, I found it for sale in the Prentis store and at the Milliner's. Be warned: It's going to cost you more than the $10 skein at Jo-Ann's! But I hope after reading this you'll see why, and appreciate the artistry that goes into handcrafting yarn. 

Some articles, if you want more: 

"Everything you've been dyeing to know about 18th century weaving", Making History Now

"Weaver", history.org

"Weaving, Spinning, and Dyeing" Colonial Williamsburg Journal

Hamrick, Max. Organic Fiber Dyeing: The Colonial Williamsburg Method. AQS Publishing. 

Yarn Along No. 60

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I'm working on a few projects at a time here, which I've never done before, so it's interesting. I've decided that, while I'm making Christmas gifts, "my" knitting (i.e., projects for me) will be done on Sundays/holidays, while the Christmas gifts get first priority. This has worked out pretty well so far, because I'm almost done with the first Christmas scarf. 

The Supermoon Kerchief is coming along nicely, though. I figure I'm about to the halfway point. 

The second Christmas scarf is the same pattern, just a different colorway. And after that, I have a dilemma. I have an idea for a gift, but I've never done the pattern before. It's really simple--just stockinette stitch with slipped stitches at the beginning of each row (A slipped stitch means you just move it from needle to needle, without actually knitting it). But I'm loathe to dive into a gift knit without having tested the pattern first, so to speak, by making one for me. Dilemma time. It's big--the same size as the Supermoon Kerchief--but it's easy, so I figure once I start it, it won't take long. Right now I'm planning the "test knit" to be my vacation project. 

Quince and Co. Sparrow yarn in Truffle, for the "test knit". 

Quince and Co. Sparrow yarn in Truffle, for the "test knit". 

As far as books, you can see them above: Mansfield Park, as part of the great Jane Re-Read, and then The Vengeance of Mothers, the sequel to One Thousand White Women. This book isn't actually out yet--I won an advance reader copy in a Goodreads Giveaway. Love me some free books. :) So that one came in the mail on Monday, and I've started reading it. I read One Thousand White Women awhile ago, so that's made the beginning of this book so of difficult, as I try (in vain) to remember what happened in that one. (I'll have a better review of this one once I'm done with it.) 

So that's the state of the yarn the day after Independence Day. 



Yarn Along No. 58 and a Medical Update (Oh, joy!)

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The kerchief continues! The nice thing is that I'm finally getting used to working with linen, and I really like it. I think this is going to be a great finished product. I also have the blocking mats and pins that I'll need to finish this project, even though that's a ways off in the future--I wanted to be prepared! I've never blocked anything before, but fortunately Hannah has some great advice on finishing linen pieces.   

So here's this week's progress. I'm getting near the end of the first ball of yarn, and there are three, total, for this project. So even though it doesn't seem like it, I am making progress! 



Ravelry notes here. (The pictures here are where you can really see the progress.) The book is Crossing to Safety, by Wallace Stegner. I've heard good things about it, but I've never read it--so I decided to fix that! I'm enjoying it so far. 

So, on to the Medical Update. 

As you may remember, I've been having some skin cancer issues. I actually really hate it call it that because it's so not cancer, in my book. I mean, it's stuff we're removing with local anesthesia and it's so easy. It's not cancer, to me. But technically, it is. So, I suppose for our purposes I'll be technically correct. 

(And no, this isn't because I'm fair, and I just didn't wear sunscreen. I've had some people react like that when they see the scar on my forehead from my last Mohs surgery. I then have to tell them that, no, it's not because I was negligent. Anyway, all those details are in the link in the above paragraph.)

So! There are four spots that we wanted to deal with--three on my head, and one on my chest. The three on my head and divided into two areas--one on my forehead, and two on my scalp. The forehead, chest, and first scalp one have been dealt with. But the last one is on the back of my scalp, it's rather large, and my dermatologist wanted a plastic surgeon to "close" it. 

I met with the plastic surgeon yesterday. He is very nice, very smart, and my kind of doctor. The easiest thing to do would be to do a skin graft, like the one I have on my right arm. But that also means that you have a bald spot on your head. So we're not doing that option. We're doing something called a scalp rotation flap, which basically means we're going to move part of my scalp to cover the surgical site, so that I have hair there! I'm not really sure of all the ins and outs of the procedure, technically, and I'm sure you don't want to know. :-P The end result is much more cosmetically pleasing, and, honestly, for me, it's probably easier. Skin grafts involve taking skin from other places on my body, and that means you have two surgical sites you have to deal with. That's not fun. So I support the doctor's plan. 

Because of my medical history, this is going to be done at a local hospital (the same one where I had my cochlear implant surgery, so I'm familiar with them, and they have records about me already!). That way, my surgeon can either discharge me the same day, or, if he needs to, he can keep me overnight. I like this plan a lot, because I want to make sure that any issues are dealt with appropriately, and in a real hospital setting (as opposed to an outpatient surgical center), my people have all the things they need to take care of me, should the need arise. I like that. It makes me happier. 

The process is in two parts: my dermatologist will remove the actual cancer, and my plastic surgeon will close/reconstruct it. Thus, the two of them have to coordinate their schedules to make sure we can do this in a timely manner--meaning, in May, and in a way that doesn't leave me with an open spot on my head for days on end while we wait for a surgical slot to open up. So by the end of this week, I should have dates and times and all that good stuff. 

Being me is never boring. 


Yarn Along No. 57: Continuing the Kerchief

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Continuing with the kerchief. I'm really enjoying this project, which is good, because I can't rush through it--the variation in the pattern with every row means I can only do about 3-4 rows before I stop. I really don't want to mess this guy up! 

You can see--sort of--the texture that's going on here. It'll be more evident after it's blocked, I think, but that's a long, long way in the future! 



The book this week is sort of unorthodox. :) But I love to actually read cookbooks. I have a few where I only make two or so recipes from them, but I keep them because I just love to read the stories and recipes. Yes, I'm weird. 

Anyway, my friend Mary got me The Cardamon Trail for my birthday--the author, Chetna Makan, was a contestant on The Great British Bake Off, and she got to the semi-finals (I think) in her season. She's from India and moved to the UK about ten years ago, so all her "bakes" (as they call the items the contestants make on the show) featured unusual flavor combinations that called to mind her Indian background and heritage. And man, they all looked yummy! So Mary gifted me Chetna's first cookbook and it's SO gorgeous. I can't wait to dive into it! 

Ravelry notes for my project are here



Yarn Along No. 56: New project!

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It seems like a pattern--every time I do a new project, I have to start it three times. And the third time, it holds. 

Such was the case with my newest project, the Supermoon Kerchief. And let me tell you, ripping it all out twice was really, really irritating! But I think I have success! 


This project is knit with linen yarn,  and it's almost a lace pattern--the varying stitch pattern gives some really nice texture (which makes sense, since the book the pattern is from is called Texture.) This is the first project I'll have to block, so I'm also sort of nervous about that, but I'll worry about that later! 

I'm using Quince and Co. Sparrow yarn in Venice, and Knitpicks circular needles, size 4. Ravelry notes here

Since it's Passiontide, I'm trying to be more overtly religious in my reading. So these two are on the pile for this week: Anima Christi, and Death on a Friday Afternoon. 


Yarn Along 55: When Following the Pattern Goes Awry

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When you're knitting, usually, if you follow the pattern, you'll get something like the picture in the book. 

Unless the pattern is really, really off, as such was the case with this week's project. 

After I finished my scarf, I was just totally in love with knitting. I began to plan and plot for my next several projects, one of them being this envelope bag from the Chicks With Sticks Guide to Knitting

I followed the pattern precisely. I got the types of yarn indicated. I used the right size needles--which meant I had to get them, because I didn't have size 15s, but hey, I needed them for the next project too. 

And it turned out...oddly. 

It's supposed to be tiny. Like, glasses size case tiny. This is NOT tiny. It's like 13 inches! Now, I didn't felt it--because apparently you're only supposed to felt with 100% wool, and that's not what this wool was. (That wasn't specified in the instructions, either. Grrr.)  Ravelry notes here. 

However, even though it's enormous, I did like knitting this, and I liked whipstitching the edges of the bag, because one of my hangups had been "sewing and knitting? Whaaa?" Now I see how it works. 

I'm using the bag to hold my knitting notions: extra tapestry needles, my tape measure, needle gauge, stuff like that. I will sew a button on this guy at some point. And I do love the colors I chose. 

My work in progress is this guy: a basic washcloth. But different! 

I know--books, not magazines--but I love the dark yarn against the pale cover!

I know--books, not magazines--but I love the dark yarn against the pale cover!


It's done with a cotton/linen yarn. The next "real" project in my queue is a linen kerchief, and knitting with linen yarn is really different. (I did a few rows of the kerchief pattern with the linen yarn--Quince Sparrow, Venice colorway.) So I decided, before I go to work on the "real" project, let's use this linen/cotton blend and make up a washcloth, to get a feel for linen, even in a blend. 

Linen tends to really slip off needles, I learned (quickly!). But the stitch definition is amazing. You can't really see here, but even in a blend, the linen makes a difference.  It's going to be great in the kerchief project, which is all about texture.  

(Colorway for washcloth is Planetarium, Knitpick's Cotlin.)

As for real books, I have Adam Bede and The Mill on the Floss to read next. 



Yarn Along No. 54: A completed project!

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Ta-da! It's finished! Yay!!!!!! I'm so proud of this project and I have to say I love how it all came together. I'm definitely going to do this project again, probably for a Christmas gift, and I already have the colorway picked out. (Same yarn as this project but more winter pastel-ish.) You can follow the progress on Ravelry and see my very few notes, if you're so inclined. 

As for books, I'm re-reading An Echo In the Bone, and I finished Jo's Boys over the weekend. Since I finished My Life In Middlemarch this week, I so want to read more Eliot novels, namely Adam Bede and The Mill on the Floss. But alas, I have to wait until Sunday to see if I can scope them out at a local bookstore. 

(Yes, on Sundays, you're allowed to take a day off from your Lenten penance. I will not go crazy, however. I will see if I can find one of these novels. :D )

Yarn Along No. 53: Ash Wednesday knits!

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Happy (?) Ash Wednesday! Did you get your ashes today? Or are you going to? 

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I am at 60%!!! Yay!!!!! This weekend I put on season one of Outlander and just went to town, doing so many rows. I'm really in the groove right now with this guy and I'm loving all the color changes. 

Here's a slightly better view of the colors and a sense of the length--it's 30 inches right now. I'm excited because I see a beautiful blue colorway coming up and y'all know how I love blue!

The book is Jo's Boys, the last of the Little Women books. I'm also reading A Piece of the World and God or Nothing for various book clubs, as well as My Life In Middlemarch and Kim. Oh, and A Breath of Snow and Ashes. 

Whew! That's a lot of books. 

What are you reading this week? 

Yarn Along No. 52--and a blogging update

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I love the colors that I'm working in here, and the second skein is about to start--I've attached the end of the first one to it, so really, any stitch now I'll be working with new yarn. At this point, I've gotten used to the pattern and don't have to count or really even think too much about what I'm doing, other than to remember if it's row one, two, three, or four in a particular stitch pattern.  This doesn't mean that I can work on this while I'm watching TV--I have to be concentrating on this, but it's not nearly as tough as it was when I first started. 

The book I'm showing here is Voyager, Number Three in the Outlander series, which I love. This is the book that season 3 of the TV show will be based on, so I'm prepping for its September airing. Normally I re-read the series at least once a year. I'm also still reading My Life In Middlemarch which I talked about last week

(I'm generally reading 2-3 books at a time, so I pick one to show with my Yarn Along. :)  My knitting might not change much, but my books do!) 

As far as blogging updates: You've probably noticed that it's mostly yarn and books over here lately. Part of that is there's nothing I have a real BURNING desire to write about. :)  And part of that is, I think I need to ponder the overall theme and timbre of the blog in general--what sort of stuff do I want to write about, what do I need to write about, and what do you readers want me to write about? So I'm pondering all those things and hoping that y'all will send me suggestions or comments. (Wink, wink.)

I'm still working on the ebook--I have drafts of almost every chapter now, yay!--and I'm still working on getting the next book proposal written (same book, different proposal for a different agent). That's obviously taking a lot of writing energy, as well. 

So that's the writing update! 


Yarn Along No. 51

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I'm about to start the second skein of yarn on my scarf!

So of course I had to add the new yarn ball to the photo.  I'm 36% finished with the scarf, so I would take that to mean I'll need another skein + some of the third one. The question will be what to do with the leftover third skein. I guess I could get more of this yarn and start another scarf! :-p 

Here is a better look at the color variations that were worked this week. Delicious colors!

The book is one I received from my aunt. She highly recommended it, and since I just finished Middlemarch like, two years ago, I can finally read this. I kept trying to start the book for abut 10 years, and finally just sat down and read it--and am glad I did. My advice to new readers? Stick with Dorothea. Really. Don't abandon her in her stupidity! It gets better!!!!



Yarn Along No. 50

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This week's book is  Fortune's Rocks by Anita Shreve. I picked it up awhile ago but I'm just now getting around to reading it. I love her other books that I've read, so I was happy to find this one half off at a local bookstore!

The scarf is growing really well, so I thought I'd share some detail shots today: 

I love how the blue is coming back into play!

I love how the blue is coming back into play!

And here is a shot of the entire piece so far: 

Looking at this scarf like this, I just adore all these color shifts. I'm almost at the end of the first skein so this is the variation I've gotten thus far. Isn't it pretty? 

Yarn Along No. 49

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It's nice to blog about books and yarn, isn't it? Not that I'm in denial about the topsy-turvy state of the world, but things like books and yarn are safe, in a sense. And pretty. Really, pretty is a good thing. 

I'm alternating between Kim and this book, which is part of a mystery series. The scarf obviously progresses; I'm near the end of the first skein. I think it'll take at least one more to hit the 50" mark. Next week I'll show you a full length shot so you can get a better idea of how long it is! You can sort of see here, how it's draping over the edge of the tray. I also think this is almost the entire color variation pattern, too, so I have a sense of how the colors will play out. 

One of the nice things about knitting is how you make something from nothing more than a bunch of yarn and two pieces of wood. The creative act is really soothing, at least I think it is. 



Yarn Along No. 48

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The scarf continues!

I really love the color variations here, so that makes this a fun project to work on. Instead of just doing the same pattern in a solid yarn, which would be pretty, too, there's the extra fun of seeing the colors change as I work it up. 

Kim is a Christmas gift book and I'm working through it. It's been interesting, so far, but I was sidetracked by reading all about the President's wives--I zoomed through The Residence, First Womenand Upstairs at the White House this week, all of which were great and I highly recommend them. And now, back to Kim



Yarn Along No. 47

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It's baaaack!

For Christmas, I got some lovely Harmony circular needles, and I knew that I wanted to use them to start a basketweave scarf. I've been looking at this particular pattern for awhile but I just hadn't cast on yet. After three tries (!) I finally managed to stay in the pattern, figure out how to start a purl row on circular needles, and this is what I have so far: 


The yarn is Knitpicks Chroma Twist Bulky in the Vermont colorway. Needles are Options Interchangeable Rainbow, size 6, and the pattern is from Chicks With Sticks. One of the things I love about this is how springy the scarf is, since it's a bulky yarn being knit on size 6 needles. 

I have a feeling this is going to take me awhile, though...this is about five inches of knitted scarf, and the total length is around fifty. So you might be seeing this for a loooong time. But at least it's pretty!

The book, as you can tell, is well loved around here: In This House of Brede. Pleeeease do yourself a favor and read it if you haven't. It's fantastic. 



Yarn Along No. 46

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Yarn Along time! :) 

(I feel like being dramatic today.)

So today--still working on this square, although I'm pondering making it into a blanket. Because it can't be that hard, right, to sew the little knitted squares together? And that would be fun and useful. I love blankets.  (If you have a good source on how to sew the squares together, please let me know!) 

This book......it's a tricky one. I read it through once and thought what just happened. The author says in his note that it's supposed to be a retelling of The Magic Flute (The Mozart opera) but it's.....not. Sure, the title is one of the character's names. But it doesn't really work. 

So I finished it, and I was totally confused, so I think I need to read it again and see if I am confused because I just wasn't paying enough attention. I know. I'm weird. I'll re-read a book that may or may not have been good the first time around. Anyone else read it and can help me out? 

Yarn Along No. 45

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So, here we are, back to the Wednesday Yarn Along!

I'm on the second book of the Mitford series, and I'm really liking them. They remind me of Alexander McCall Smith's books--everyday happenings, people living lives in their small towns, but you can't stop reading about them and immersing yourself in their world. Mitford is the American version of the Gabarone or Edinburgh of McCall Smith's stories. 



 (And yes....using up that washcloth yarn!) 

Yarn Along No. 43 (and a little bit about Mystery)

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The scarf progresses! I'm getting so much better at purling. I've found that these are really great projects for me to get my bearings with new things, even though I know all of you are tired of seeing scarves and washcloths. I promise I will eventually give you something more challenging. Promise! 

As is my wont, I'm re-reading Outlander. Again. I usually do this at least once a year. At the moment I'm in the middle of book 7, An Echo In The Bone. As I was re-reading, I came across this passage, which I liked and thought I'd share: 

"I talked to Mama a little bit about it," Bree said after a moment's thought. "She laughed."
"Did she?" Roger said dryly, and got the breath of a laugh from Bree in answer. 
"Not like she thought it was funny," She assured him. "I'd asked her if she thought it was possible for a traveler to change things, change the future and she told me it was, obviously--because she changed the future every time she kept someone from dying who would've died if she hadn't been there. Some of them went on to have children they wouldn't have had, and who knew what those children would do, that they wouldn't have done if they hadn't...and that was when she laughed and said it was a good thing Catholics believed in Mystery and didn't insist on trying to figure out exactly how God worked, like Protestants do." 

--Diana Gabaldon, A Echo in the Bone

The reason I like this is because it's true. In general, Catholics are really comfy with Mystery. When I taught the kids about the Eucharist last week, they just went with it. Now, sure, there are the Eucharistic miracles, which show the validity of Transubstantiation (this one, from Italy, is my favorite), but there generally comes a point where we have to just accept mystery. We teach the kids this early on. We'll never fully understand the Trinity, or God, or really, anything else, probably--just like Bree and Roger can't ever understand why they're time travelers. 

Yarn Along No. 42

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Linking up with Ginny

So it's been awhile since I've showed my scarf progress. Here you go!


And I'm reading A Time for Renewal, by Mother Mary Francis, PCC, who is also the author of my favorite Advent devotional. 

(Does Lent seem really long to anyone else? I have to keep reminding myself that I can't buy books because it's Lent. I know, it's been a week! But it seems longer. Or is that just me?)