Emily M. DeArdo

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Yarn Along No. 76

Barton Cottage Crafts, books, knitting, yarn alongEmily DeArdoComment

It's May, and that means--Yarn Along with Ginny!

So I've been finishing a commission for Barton Cottage Crafts, but for my own knitting, I'm working on the Skye Cowl from Quince and Co., with their Puffin yarn. (My ravelry page here) I'm using the sorbet colorway, because I wanted something fun. 

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Yes, my nails are terrible. Sorry. 

Above, the project is with the Magnolia Table cookbook (birthday gift), and I've been reading various things all month--the spring Bella Grace, which is a great magazine, Ann Voskamp's The Way of Abundance, and the fifth Outlander book, The Fiery Cross. So I'm all over the map. 

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And, Barton Cottage Crafts (my little knitting shop) is taking commissions! I do the basketweave scarves, shawls (basic ones), and plain garter stitch scarves. You get to pick the colors for anything you commission, obviously. Plain scarves are $30, basketweave's are $35, and shawls are $40. That price includes shipping!

I don't have a good picture of the "plain" scarf--bad me--but it's really lovely. I use Quince's osprey yarn, so it's very plush and squishy! 

If you'd like a commission, contact me and we'll get started! 

Yarn Along No. 75: Back to basics

Barton Cottage Crafts, books, knitting, yarn alongEmily DeArdoComment
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So, after finishing the shawl, I wanted to go back to basics, this is about as basic as you can get--a garter stitch scarf in a nice, squishy yarn. This is Quince and Co.'s osprey in winesap, which is just a gorgeous true red. I adore it. It's really relaxing knitting. No pressure, no difficult pattern, just knitting with beautiful yarn. 

The next project I'm working on is their Skye cowl, so I can work a project in the round. It's basic stockinette stitch, and I wanted something basic to ease me into a new technique. Once I knit this, I have some plans for other cowls, with other lovely yarns. 

Also: Barton Cottage Crafts is open for orders! Basketweave scarves, shawls, and even this scarf are available. You can choose your color. Shipping is included in the price. This scarf is $30, basketweave scarves are $35, and shawls are $45. Drop a note in the comments if you'd like to talk about an order! 

Some birthday gifts

Some birthday gifts

As for what I'm reading: Birthday books! I read Force of Nature and Unmasked over the last few days and I'm into The Bronte Cabinet, which I'm really enjoying. It appeals to my English Lit Geek Nature. The book discusses the lives of the three Bronte sisters (Charlotte, Emily, and Anne) within the context of nine of their possessions. Really intriguing. 

 

2018 Goals: March update and April goals!

goal setting, Barton Cottage Crafts, knitting, memoirEmily DeArdoComment
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So, if you're new to this, I use powersheets to set my goals. I love Powersheets! You can catch up on this year's series by going here

March was the longest month. It really was! But there was progress made in some areas!

Goal Number 1: 

Work through Dave Ramsey's Baby Steps for Financial Peace to cultivate good stewardship, gratitude, and contentment.

 

March goal: Finish baby step one--get an emergency fund in place. 

Status: ACHIEVED! Guys, I am so proud of this. And it was so enjoyable to know that, when I was having computer issues earlier this month, I could go to the store and know that if it needed repairs, I could pay for them! This fund also allowed me to replace part of my Bionic Ear without freaking out. 

April goal: Start baby step 2--also known as the Debt Snowball. This is where you list all debts, smallest to largest, and start to pay them off, by moving as much money as you can toward to the smallest debt. Once that's paid off, that money + the minimum payment for the second debt goes to the next debt....you see how this works? I will have the first part of the snowball done by this fall. Yay!

 

Goal Number 2: 

Find an agent for my manuscript

March goal: At least one two-hour block of time outside the house working on my proposal. It doesn't have to be finished. But I have to dedicate at least two hours to drafting one. 

Status: yeah...no. AGAIN!

April goal: GET IT DONE. And I've already started! I've written out the basics of a proposal and now I just have to tweak/re-write the sample chapters. I am ON IT. 

Goal Number 3:

To deepen and strengthen my relationship with God, because He is the center and the well-spring.

March goals: Weekday Mass once a week, confession once a month, holy hour, daily vespers (evening prayer).

Status: Everything but that weekday Mass--because every time I tried to go, there was no place to park. I'm not kidding. So I tried, God! But I did get in a holy hour and daily vespers. Confession, no go either...I wanted to go wen I went to Mass. Face to face confession is offered at my parish on Fridays, which was the day I wanted to go to Mass as well. But no parking. Sigh. 

April goals: confession, holy hour, Mass once a week! 

Goal Number 4: 

Continue to lose weight and treat my body well so I can do everything else I want to do, and honor my body which God made. 

March goals: Daily yoga glo classes, weekly meal planning, go to bed by 10:00 (be IN bed, not necessarily asleep). 

Status: I did REALLY well here. I attended a yoga glo class almost every day! The meal planning was OK, as was the bed thing. 

April: Focus on healthy snacks, regular workouts--yoga glo strength courses, continue meal plan. 

Goal Number 5: 

Grow Barton Cottage Crafts, to help with baby steps (goal 1), but also to have a creative outlet and for enjoyment. 

March goals: Keep trucking. :) 

Progress: I finished my drachenfels shawl  and am almost done with a current commission. That means that BCC is open for new work! If you'd like a scarf or a shawl, please contact me and we'll talk! I can do them in solid or variegated colors. Shawls at $45, and scarves are $35, and shipping is included! 

April: finish new projects (I have two that I want to knit), get more commissions!

Goal Number 6: 

Have a beautiful, peaceful, welcoming home so I can appreciate what I have, encourage hospitality, and cultivate peace. 

March goals: ZERO OUT (with alarm at 9 pm); zone clean weekly; weekly surface clean; contentment challenge; finish Emily Ley's simplify challenge! 

StatusZeroing out just isn't me....I sort of tried but it doesn't work. I'd much rather come down in the morning and clean a bit. So that's what I switched to. I'm in zone cleaning weekly, and doing the weekly surface clean. 

The Contentment challenge is almost done!

The biggest thing I did this month: 

Sorry it's blurry!

Sorry it's blurry!

This was a terrible corner on my first floor. I hated it. I had no idea what to do with this empty space. 

So I was sick of looking at it, and went on an organizing spree. I dumped my old stereo that I NEVER use from my book case, and added a new shelf of "favorite books". That gave me more space in all my bookcases, yay!

Then I went on the IKEA website--motivated by a birthday coupon--and looked some something that would fit here. KALLAX would! KALLAX is pretty!

KALLAX IS HEAVY. I had to open the box and take the pieces in piece by piece. :) After an hour, I had entered in the realm of adulthood, because I had put together a piece of IKEA furniture. 

And now, behold!

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Isn't that much better

So, for April: My goal is to get another one of these units to go in my living room, to hold some other things that are currently being "stored" crappily. :-p I will also continue weekly cleaning (both detailed and surface). But I want stuff up off the floor. I'm tired of living like a college student! :-P 

Goal Number 7: 

To nurture my creativity so I can learn new things, inspire myself, stretch my mind, and feed my soul. 

March goals: Shawl--finish? Maybe? Continue Artist's Rule. 

Status: DONE, on both counts! Yay!!!!

April goals: Knit two new Quince and Co. projects, get new commissions, start Artist's Way reading. 

Progress is happening on the first project: 

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It's a really simple project, but I love this yarn. I'll talk more about these in the next yarn along. 

So, March had ups and downs. But it also had some great progress!

 

 

 

Yarn Along No. 74: Drachenfels!

yarn along, knittingEmily DeArdo4 Comments
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My shawl is off the needles! 

It's not finished, because I have to block it, and I can't block it until my eucalan order comes--no one in Columbus sells it, apparently--so I'm waiting for that. Blocking is where you wash your finished object and then shape it on blocking boards. Some pieces require extensive blocking, but this is going to be pretty gentle. (Here's a good post on how to block, if you're interested, or looking for a how-to for your own knitting projects.) Once it's blocked, I'll show you the final product as well. 

This took me about three months to do, start to finish. The yarn was a Christmas gift, I started it a few days after Christmas, and I was working on other commissions during that time, so that affected how long it took. If this was my sole project, it might have taken a month off the finish time. I really enjoyed this pattern and am already thinking about color combinations for the next one! 

(Whoops! Forgot to link to Ravelry! This has all the details and my notes.) 

But my next two projects are going to be much simpler: Puck's Scarf from Quince and Co., and then the Skye Cowl (partially because Outlander, and partially because I want to learn to knit in the round, and this will be a good starter project). 

 

 

Yarn Along No. 72 and My Lenten Plan

yarn along, Lent, knitting, Take Up and Read, books, Barton Cottage CraftsEmily DeArdoComment
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So, um, Happy Ash Wednesday? :-D

I do like Lent. We'll talk about that more in a second. First: Yarn!

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This is a completed Barton Cottage Crafts commission--it's my signature basketweave scarf in the weathervane colorway. The colors are much richer in person. In the line this is my "Jane Bennet" color--I think it suits Jane quite well. :) 

I'm currently working on a shawl for another customer, in a deep yellow color. When I have more of it to show, I'll post a picture. At the moment, it's a very small triangle!

My shawl is coming along gorgeously! I'm finally into the blue stripes! 

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What are you reading right now? 

My Lenten Rule

AKA, what I'm doing for Lent. 

1) Giving up book buying (except at the Catholic Women's Conference this weekend--and actually, my book buying has dropped off a lot this year since I'm focusing on my financial goals. So go me!)

2) Attending weekday Mass at least once a week

3) Confession every other week

4) Doing Nancy Ray's Contentment Challenge again. You can read ore about it on Nancy's blog here and here . Here are the first month guidelines!  I think Lent is a perfect time to kick this off. 

And of course, Above All. You can still join us! Order the book, pop into the blog, or join us on facebook, twitter, and instagram

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How about you? How do you "do" Lent? 

Yarn Along No. 71

books, knitting, yarn alongEmily DeArdo9 Comments

Big progress being made in my shawl (pattern: the drachenfels shawl)

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I am finally done with the gray yarn! (In case you're just joining me here: I'm using Quince and Co. Chickadee yarn in Iceland (gray), bird's egg (light blue) and fjord (dark blue). 

The next section of the shawl alternates the two blues, and I'm excited about diving into that. I love the fjord color and I can't wait to get to use it! (Well, really use it. I used it for one stripe, which you can see above!) Maybe by the time we get to the March Yarn Along link up, I'll be done? Probably not. But you never know!

I'm reading two books on psychology, habits, all sorts of goodness. Really enjoying both of them. (It's actually my second time through the Peterson book. This time I'm taking notes. The way he talks about suffering makes me want to do a Baptist "Amen!". So accurate.) Since I'm back to living in Hoth, today is a good day for knitting and reading!

 

Yarn Along No. 70: Shawl forward motion!

yarn along, writing, knitting, booksEmily DeArdoComment

Hi y'all! 

So we've gone from Hoth, to spring, to Hoth, to--spring. Sort of. :) It's not bitter cold but it's not in the fifties. Dare I say it's...seasonal? But it was great to have a thaw and really clean the house and take out trash from decluttering! And when it's cold, you have time to be creative inside. So that's what I've got this week--the results of forced staying in! 

First, in the Barton Cottage Crafts department, this little sweetheart is  done! She was mailed off to her lucky recipient earlier this week. I just love the variations the yarn gave me in this particular scarf. 

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The book is a re-read: The Dry, by Jane Harper. I don't really like mysteries, but this was a good mystery, and it's becoming a series, with book two coming out on February 6. So as much as I say I don't read mysteries, between this and the Sherlock-Russell series....I guess I do? 

And on the shawl....I am finished with section one! That's right! Yay! 

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The next section involves ridges of alternating colors, using the same stitch pattern as in the first part. So it's not new stitches, but new colors. I finally get to add in fjord, my third color! Yay! 

I've also cast on a new scarf for BCC, in the weathervane colorway. It's not far enough to have a pretty photo of yet, though! It is pretty, however, just...short. 

And a few notes: 

The Take Up and Read Lent book, Above All, is available on Amazon! Here's my post about it, and there's a link to buy on the sidebar, too! Go get it! (It's also available on Amazon Canada, Amazon UK, and other countries!) 

Catholic 101 is now available! Blog subscribers get a 15% off discount code! Buy your copy here

 

 

Yarn Along No. 69

books, knitting, yarn alongEmily DeArdoComment

It's going to be 50 degrees today! As opposed to last week, when I was dwelling in Hoth! Oh, Ohio weather....(Next week? Looks like it's back to Hoth...) 

Anyway, time for a yarn along!

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Still working on the shawl. It's coming. I actually had to frog quite a bit of it last week but I managed to save it, and now I'm sort of frogging-shy. :) Does that make sense? (Frogging is where you rip out stuff you knitted.) But I'm planning on diving back in today.

In the mean time, I've been working on this scarf, for an ebook customer who won this scarf as part of my release week** events! Isn't it pretty? 

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This week I finished Pachinko, which was one of my Christmas books. The book revolves around four generations of a Korean family that moves to Japan--the book starts in the 1930s and goes until 1990 or thereabouts. I enjoyed it--mostly--but if you're not familiar with Korean culture, you might need to Google a lot of references, especially early on. 

**Speaking of the book (my book, that is!): If you haven't ordered it, you can do it right here. It's $9.50, but if you're a site subscriber, you have a code for 15% off! You can read all about the book here, but a few notes: isn't not something you have to read straight through. You can jump around to the sections you want to read. It has several new pieces that I didn't feature in the original blog series, and it's illustrated! (Not lavishly. But there are pictures.) I'll be writing another post that goes into more detail soon. 

(Note: There is WAYYY more than 80 pages of content. It's almost 200 pages! So I need to correct that!)

Yarn Along No. 68: Knitting to keep warm!

books, knitting, yarn alongEmily DeArdo11 Comments
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I don't live in Ohio anymore. I live on the planet Hoth. :-P As I write this, it is -1 for the real, actual temperature. It feels like -16. Yeah. No thank you.  


(And yes, this is an old graphic, but I thought it was worth sharing because it amuses me.) 

So I am knitting to keep warm! And then reading, under mounds of blankets, also to keep warm. A good set of conditions for a Yarn Along. 

First up: some completed/almost completed scarves from Barton Cottage Crafts:

"Marianne" scarf 

"Marianne" scarf 

"Brianna" scarf 

"Brianna" scarf 

My big personal project is the drachenfels shawl. I am really liking working this pattern. It's not hard, once you get used to it, because the pattern doesn't appreciably change over the extent of the shawl. 

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I'm using Quince and Co. Chickadee in iceland, bird's egg, and fjord. The needles I'm using are Knit Picks harmony interchangeables. 

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Above, you can see how far I've gotten. Ignore the wobbly end bits that need woven in and tightened up! For the first part of the shawl, you do many repeats with color one (Iceland) and do a few rows of color two (bird's egg). I'm almost done with this first section. Then we get into using all three colors! Exciting. I won't exactly be sad to see the Iceland go. 

The book is one of many I'm currently reading. One of my goals for the year is to have a simplified, comfortable, cozy house, and Emily Ley's A Simplified Life is helping me do that. All the sticky notes are pages that have lists or ideas I want to accomplish/incorporate. I did a huge closet clean out last year and book purge, so that's really helpful, but if there's anything else I want to get rid of, this is the time! 

What are you knitting/ reading? 

******

Site notes: Catholic 101 is now available, and it's also listed on Goodreads! So you can leave a review if you've read it! If you haven't read it, you can pick up your copy here. Blog subscribers get 15% off! 

 

 

Yarn Along 67: Looking Ahead

yarn along, knittingEmily DeArdoComment

So, I'm looking ahead today to 2018 project (wow, 2018 is SO WEIRD TO WRITE)! There are a few on the horizon that I'm excited to share with you. 

First up is the Drachenfels shawl. This is a BIG project. However, it's all garter stitch work, so it won't be as hard as it could be! But it still involves colorwork (my first time doing colorwork), and some new stitches. I'm hoping to get some help from the knitters in my family when they're here at Christmas!

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For my colors, I'm using Christmas yarn--yes, yarn that I haven't gotten yet, but I know I'm getting because I had to pick the colors! I'm using Quince and Co's chickadee in Fjord, Iceland, and Bird's Egg, so it's definitely a cool-toned shawl. I wear so much blue that it just made sense. 

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The next project is this scarf from Quince and Co.--Dahlia. I have the pattern and the yarn, I just haven't cast on yet. I'm using Frabjous Fiber's Mad Hatter Speckled Yarn in Victorian China. The colorway is just gorgeous and I had to have it--and then I had to find a use for it. :) 

And finally, speaking of must-have yarn, I'm going to be using my Williamsburg yarn to create this cowl.  Special yarn like my Williamsburg yarn requires a special project! 

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So there you have it--the Project List for 2018 (thus far), in addition to any Barton Cottage Crafts creations I create! I'm excited to start!

 

Need a last minute gift? Catholic 101 is easy to give as a gift! Just click the present icon at checkout in the email field, and voila! Shopping is done. Also remember that blog subscribers have a 15% code to use! 

Yarn Along No. 66: SCARF FOR SALE!

books, Barton Cottage Crafts, knittingEmily DeArdoComment

Today's a bit different: I have a scarf for sale!

This is a beautiful basketweave scarf in the "Lady Sibyl" Barton Cottage Crafts colorway. Much like Sibyl Crawley, it's sweet, but also somewhat unexpected with the edition of deep blues and teals that run throughout the pattern. 

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The teals and blues that run through it remind me of Sibyl's famous harem pants: 

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The colors run from deep ocean blue, turquoise, a light slate blue-gray, pinks, and lavender purples. It's a beautiful scarf in a great colorway, and would make a perfect Christmas present!

The scarf is $35 with FREE U.S. shipping. It's 40x6", and made of 70% superwash wool and 30% nylon. I send it priority mail so it'll arrive quickly! And it's all wrapped and ready to go. I have one scarf available

So if you'd like to purchase it, leave a comment, and we'll work out the details! It's really beautiful. 

Now, for this week's project: 

I finished the shawl!

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Holy cow, I love this guy. It's so warm and pretty!

And I'm working on this scarf: 

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I LOVE this colorway. This is "lupine", or as I call it, the "Marianne Dashwood", because, like Marianne, it's full of rich, strong colors with a strong romantic streak (check out that deep pink!). She's gorgeous. 

I'm reading The Miraculous Medal, which I got at our parish used book sale for ONE DOLLAR. I've been wanting to read this book for awhile, and here it is! Yay!

 

Yarn Along No. 65

books, knitting, yarn alongEmily DeArdoComment

This is a little different. :) I'm working on a new project! Rejoice! (I still have basketweave scarves being worked on, too, though. So if you've ordered one, don't despair. The knitting machine works overtime around here.) 

One of my Christmas gifts is yarn for a big shawl pattern. But before I begin that pattern, I needed to learn different ways of increasing. So, my lovely friend Sarah taught me two ways to increase stitches, and now I feel like an expert! 

I made this project to help get the technique in my head. 

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This is the Urban Wrap shawl. It's knit on size 15 Caspian circulars, and the yarn is Sugar Bush Yarns' Canoe in the Whitewater colorway. I love the tweedy goodness of this yarn, and it's very soft and warm, which is great for this shawl. 

Check out that tweedy goodness!

Check out that tweedy goodness!

 

The original pattern called for this to be done in Stockinette stitch, however, since my big shawl is in garter stitch, I made this all garter stitch, too. But I love this pattern so much that I think I will make another and add it to the Barton Cottage Crafts inventory! So keep an eye out, if you want a shawl. 

The book I'm reading is A Gentleman in Moscow, which I finally got ahold of. I'm liking it so far. Russian history has always been something I've enjoyed, so this book taps that niche in my reading list quite nicely. 

Various and Sundry:

My piece on living a painless life was picked up by ForEveryMom.com! I'm so honored to be featured there. You can read it here

Don't forget to pick up your copy of Catholic 101! It has great tips for Advent and Christmastime inside, plus the St. Andrew Christmas novena! If you're a subscriber, you can still use your offer code until the end of the year to save 15%. If you're not a subscriber, subscribe to get the code! You can buy Catholic 101 here. (Don't forget that you can also give it as a gift!) 

 

Yarn Along No. 64

knitting, yarn along, booksEmily DeArdoComment

It's back! Whew!

Knitting definitely took a back seat during the frenetic pre-release period of Catholic 101. (Which you can purchase right here!)  But now that it's out in the world, I've got a bunch of orders to work on, starting with this little guy: 

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This is the Sugar Cookie Colorway, called "Lady Sibyl" in Barton Cottage Crafts parlance, because it mirrors a lot of the colors and personality of the youngest Downton Abbey sister, Sibyl Branson. And this is  tied with Lady Mary ("Red Velvet" colorway) as my top seller, so the Crawley sisters are dominating the BCC world these days. 

The book is Be The Gift, a photography book based on Ann Voskamp's The Broken Way. I really adore this little, pretty devotional, especially as we head into the holidays. Ann gives concrete ways to bless people's lives that don't involve a lot of time or talent expenditure--just a little bit of heart. 

And if you'd like a Basketweave scarf of your own, I'm currently taking orders! I have a pile of scarves to knit right now, so any orders will be ready late December/January, at this point (I think). I work on projects in the order I receive them, so first come, first served. So if you'd like a scarf, just drop me a comment and I'll email you back and we'll talk! The scarves are $35 each, about 40x6", and you get to pick your colorway. Just let me know! 

 

Yarn Along No. 63

books, knitting, yarn alongEmily DeArdoComment

Anddd we continue the knitting! Since I'm working on getting the ebook ready for publication (you can pre-order here!), I'm keeping the blogging to a minimum and devoting all my energies to editing, and knitting, because I have commissions!

 

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So here we have a commission: this is the Lady Sibyl (after the youngest Crawley girl on Downton Abbey). The book was pretty good. Adriana T. can be hit or miss, and I'd wondered about this when it first came out. It's got a bunch of side plots/characters that the book doesn't need, but the core story is good. 

 

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. 

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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!

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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

yarn along, books, knittingEmily DeArdoComment

 

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.

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

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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) 

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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): 

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

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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

yarn along, history, knittingEmily DeArdo1 Comment
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. 

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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. 

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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. 

Creative Burst

behind the scenes, Catholic 101, current projects, knitting, writingEmily DeArdo1 Comment

The last week has been so exciting! I've been making progress on some big goals, including one thing I never thought I'd do, so I thought I'd share this with you today. 

First, as I said last week, I've got a cover for my ebook!

This was a big hurdle for me, because graphic design is elusive in my world. But I'm really pleased with how this came out. I took the photo during my last trip to D.C., when I visited the Franciscan monastery

Now I have to finish writing and editing a few pieces, then it gets sent to a few beta readers for testing, so to speak--and then it's almost ready for the rest of you! If you use an e-reader, what format do you use the most? Kindle? iBooks? Doesn't matter? Let me know!

The ebook is based on my Catholic 101 series, but there are also brand-new pieces, to make it worth your while. I'm hoping to have it on offer later in the fall! 

The second big thing--I've decided to start selling some of my knitted pieces. 

 

Whenever I post photos of my variegated basketweave scarves, people always say how much they love them. And that got me thinking--would people buy them? Turns out, YES. I have three orders already! I'm really excited about this. 

I'm not planning on making this a huge thing, but I'm excited to be offering these scarves, and some other projects, in various styles and colorways. Right now I'm posting most of the information about them on Instagram and Facebook. So keep your eyes out--I might also cross-post some things here, too, when the pieces are available. Right now I'm sort of behind the gun because I had to order yarn for the projects, but soon I will have some available! 

And in between all this, I'm still working on proposals for my memoir. Whew! There's a lot going on. But I'm using pockets of time to work on these things in a somewhat organized fashion. For example, the yarn for the next project isn't here yet, so I can use today to write and work on the proposal and the ebook. (And give my shoulder muscles a break--knitting so much really does cause them to work!) 

Thanks for all your kind comments and support with my projects! I really appreciate it and I can't wait to share these with you in the near future. 

 

Saturday Miscellany

books, behind the scenes, current projects, Jeopardy, knitting, writingEmily DeArdoComment

Normally, as you know, I don't do a blog post on Saturdays, but I had a stomach bug on Friday, which derailed my plans to do one then, so, here we are: Saturday! (Stomach's fine now.)

First, the winner of the Cultivate Book: Cristina! Yay! I'll get this book out to you in the next week!

Second: Next week marks a year since my appearance on Jeopardy!, which you can read all about here. The Tour de France, people! :-P (If you don't get that, read the posts....or try to find my episode online. I wish Jeopardy re-runs ran around here....)

Third: Take a look at this!

 

I'm kind of a fan. Do you like it? Let me know! I took the photo at the Franciscans of the Holy Land Monastery in D.C. a few years ago and I thought it was a good choice for the cover. 

And finally, in the knitting area: here's the second Christmas gift in progress. 

Yes, it's the same pattern as the first scarf. But man, I love this yarn too! This is called Sugar Cookie--same yarn as the last one, too. 

So, that's my miscellany for this Saturday! Hope you have a great weekend! 

Yarn Along No. 60

books, knitting, yarn alongEmily DeArdoComment

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.