Monday, June 30, 2008

Classy and Fabulous

My youngest Church-Lady-in-training was recently blessed to attend a very girly retreat. Among the recommended resources she got there was Eliza, a fashion magazine "created for women who want to be stylish, sexy, and engaged in the world while retaining high standards in dress, entertainment, and lifestyle. Eliza strives to bring you the best of fashion without any of the trash. We will not uncover the sexual secrets to make him want you, promote people who are glitz with no substance, or glorify lifestyles that we know do not bring happiness. We are dedicated to finding up-and-coming fashion lines, showcasing pieces that are worth the big price tags, and discover deals that are just as hip at your local low-end department stores−along with presenting articles on uplifting entertainment, current issues, creative ideas, and life in general."

It's beautifully produced with an interesting mix of features like History Repeats Itself (my issue is all about the style of Grace Kelly), an article entitled New York Women in their Favorite Skirts, some music and movie reviews and even a few serious articles. Their archives have some particularly interesting articles on fashion history. (Ever wonder where the little black dress came from?) Some of the advertisers have a decidedly Salt Lake City flair, but not that's not evident in the magazine at all.

My favorites:
Funky Frum is "the place to shop for stylish modest apparel. We offer a collection of trendy modest clothing and the basics including modest tops and tees, layering pieces, below-the-knee and long skirts, suits and modest dresses that won't compromise your femininity and contemporary sense of style." (That PERFECT hat pictured above is from this site.)

Check here for slips that are meant to be shown.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

You Are Germany

Check out this beautiful German ad promoting family life.

Thanks to Danielle Bean for posting it.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Wrought by Prayer

Today's must read for Church Ladies, "Sock Knitting and the Christian Life" comes from CJ at Light and Momentary.

The weekend before last I started knitting a pair of Monkeys. Then I started again. And again, and again. On the fifth try, I got them going. (A 32-inch needle is really too short for magic loop, but it can work if you are stubborn enough.)

A couple of days later I talked to a dear friend who has been having a hard time. I got it into my head that I would make these socks for her, praying for her whenever I sat down to knit, and offering up the frustrations that came my way in the process. I wondered if this was a dumb idea, and if maybe I should just take her a casserole if I wanted to do something concrete. But I think, on reflection, that sock knitting and the Christian life have more in common than you might expect.

Both require perseverance, for one thing. A pair of socks requires about 30,000 stitches, which roughly corresponds to the number of days in an average American woman's life. It takes patience and discipline to keep going through all those stitches, all those days. Sometimes I am tempted to throw my knitting across the room, or throw up my hands and plan a move to New Zealand. Second Sock Syndrome is a fine metaphor for midlife, "the long, dull, monotonous years," as Screwtape advised Wormwood, which are "excellent campaigning weather."

Remember the bit in A Wrinkle in Time where one of the Mrs. W ladies compared human life to a sonnet? The form presents many constraints, she said, but you are free to make something lovely of it. So also with socks. Within the requirements of cuff, leg, heel, gusset, foot, toe, you have the freedom to do whatever suits you: lace or cables or top-down or toe-up or some kind of crazy Cat Bordhi sideways thing. One of my friend's struggles is the question of (paraphrasing cautiously here) how human freedom and divine sovereignty intersect -- does God intervene in the details of our lives? I cannot address the theological fine points, but I am certain that there are many ways for a Christian woman to fashion something beautiful out of her days, or her yarn.

I was well into the toe decreases when I spotted a dropped stitch back up in the leg. I felt like an idiot. I thought, "I can't even post to Ravelry to ask how to fix it because they'll all know I'm an idiot. Plus they will look at my notebook and see my ugly sweater cast-ons." Then I got a grip, and realized that this would be Exhibit A in how not to live the Christian life. Mistakes happen. You fix them the best you can. Misplaced pride only keeps you from getting where you're going.

Non-knitters really don't get sock knitting. You're knitting a sock? When you could buy a sock at Target for approximately 35 cents? You're spending all that time on a sock that will go on someone's smelly foot and eventually get holes in it? As my husband said when I, full of pride, showed him my first finished adult sock, "Ah, yes, an excellent use of 20 hours of your life." I did not poke him with a dpn, though I thought about it, because sock knitting teaches a person patience (and the importance of not breaking dpns). Here, too, I think the parallel is clear: you can devote yourself to fashioning a chain of tidy stitches or a string of well-ordered days, but usually those efforts will be hidden. (There are occasional mothering moments that I might compare to being stuffed in a smelly shoe.) Always, in socks and life, the result is ephemeral. Make it beautiful anyway.

The last line of the instructions for these socks says, "Block well." Blocking, for any non-knitters with the patience to read this far (and that's a lot of patience! you should think about taking up sock knitting with all that patience!), means that I will swish the sock in water and press out the excess gently. I will pin it out, stretching it in all directions, and leave it to dry. This will open out the lace pattern and even out the stockinette stitch, so that it looks the way the designer meant it to look. While I am blocking I will pray for my stretched-thin friend again, for peace and trust amid the stretching. I believe that in the seasons when we feel like we've been stretched too far and hung out to dry, God can work in us, calling forth the women we were meant to be. I would appreciate it if you'd pray for her, too.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Watch Out Facebook, Here Comes Something Catholic

"The archbishop of Sydney launched the first-ever online social networking site developed especially for a World Youth Day, and he's looking for friends. Based on other popular social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace, the Sydney World Youth Day organizers developed, which stands for Christ in the Third Millennium.

Cardinal George Pell, along with Bishop Anthony Fisher, coordinator of the Sydney World Youth Day, launched the site today at the Telstra Experience Centre with 100 young people. He invited them all to "come online and become one of my friends." is the exclusive online social network for World Youth Day Sydney 2008, and will connect pilgrims with each other before, during and after the event."

Read the full article at Zenit.