Little by little…

Today I won’t neglect my Corners — I will not fail to update you on doings… (remember, the Corner idea is that you can just skip it if it’s boring to you!)

Spring has sprung, although the weather still tends to damp cold with some bouts of sunshine, occasionally. We leave the house early every morning for Mass, so I can’t exactly hunker down until the highs, such as they are, are approached.

So I spend all day adding layers to my outfit (due to early morning vain optimism), and then shedding them (due to later morning activity once things warm up). Then adding them again (due to evening chill).

Such is life in New England!

I am currently, as I type this, sporting woolen wrist warmers, sweater, scarf, and woolen socks. I’m sure things will get better.

I loved all the discussions in the comments about setting the family dinner table last week, once I got the comments to operate (and bear with me; it seems to be something in the code that toggles itself on and off, and has to be tinkered with; if the comments are not enabled, they soon will be! hold on to your thought! sorry!).

It’s not that any one detail of homemaking makes or breaks the situation (though a candle on the dinner table seems fairly important, as I think you have gathered). It’s just that someone has to make it homey and pretty, and there are specific items that someone has to attend to.

The mother’s work comes down to this, so often: many little tasks and attentive details that make the whole. To bring about the making of the home, we need time and thought. Why do we let anyone (including ourselves) take those away from us?

Bread Corner

{click on the tag Bread Corner at the bottom of the post to find all the posts with my process, if you would like some guidance that is geared towards the busy home baker}

Last Bread Corner time I discussed these loaves, and I did take a picture of the crumb eventually, so I wanted to show you:

This is what I have been challenging myself to produce.

I am happy.

I’m trying to share what I have learned, little by little. Remember, everyone’s ingredients and environment are different, so what works for one baker might not work for another.

Today’s tip is to handle the dough gently.

Do the strengthening coil folds after the first rest (discussed here) in a way that your hands feel the dough getting stronger. I do that kind of fold shown in that video, but never with so little dough (who has time to make bread one small loaf at a time?) and usually not with such a high hydration (ratio of water to flour). But the method is the same.

By the time you do the last coil fold, be quite gentle. And when you turn your nicely risen dough out to shape it, do so gently. As you shape your loaves, do it all gently! We are used to yeast dough, if we learned that way, that takes a lot of kneading and can be handled fairly roughly. But well proofed sourdough needs gentle handling to preserve the air bubbles and structure.


Knitting Corner

I’m getting there with my Norwegian Selbu mittens. The learning curve was steep for me! The chart is tiny (should have enlarged it, too late now), the pattern is not one I have been able to memorize, the knitting is fiddly, I have made mistakes due to the pattern not being quite correct (you get what you pay for with a free pattern!) and to my inexperience, resulting in me not knowing what the comments of other knitters even meant, so not being able to fix the mistakes until it was too late… but they are pretty!

The i-cord cast-on was my idea!

I am determined to make a sweater (a “garment” rather than an “accessory” — like a shawl, mittens, or a hat — as real knitters call it). I have decided on this one…

Altheda by Jennifer Steingass

…and then: commence the saga of getting the yarn choice right….

Take a deep breath!

I have one Ann Taylor or maybe it’s Talbots, wool sort of “riding” or “walking” skirt, some thrifty find, that fits me so well and is so warm and versatile. It is basically the shape of this corduroy one, but beautifully tailored of luxurious dark brown wool, so that it can be worn to church, with a lining and everything…

All last year I was looking for another one, or for wool to make one. I thought I had some wool in my stash but couldn’t find it for the longest time! Then of course I was looking for something else (in the linen closet) and there it was:

It’s not really my color (winter), but from a distance it could read as taupe, rather than beige, if you twist your mind just so, which means that with the right top, I can make it work. And it is the loveliest worsted tweed, super high quality. I have no idea where it came from! Probably my mother found it and gave it to me, on the Like Mother, Like Daughter principle of curated abundance, that surely we will have some use for it!

I decided that my (projected) sweater will go with this (potential) skirt. Am tired of black and gray, already made a brown sweater (which I have yet to show you), so went with blue and white!

The pattern calls for Ístex Plötulopi, which is an Icelandic wool that is not spun. [Cue all the indecision, searching, querying, wondering, being hampered by not having a giant yarn mall right here so I can make all the comparisons, anguishing over the expense of any other kind of wool, needing to get to a yarn festival preferably in Scotland, STAT, going to the local yarn store where they actually do have this exact wool, along with this exact sweater knit up as a sample, amazing, buying it, but still agonizing.]

After some swatching (as seen in that photo above), I decided that this wool, as far as I, a hasty and imprecise person, as you can see by laddering in the small white swatch never mind an entire sweater, am concerned, needs to be held with something sturdier.

In the blue swatch, I knitted half of it holding this lace-weight yarn from the depths of my stash:

Despite being a different color, it works perfectly to add firmness, body, and strength to the Plötulopi.

Naturally, I have zero idea where this lace came from from or what it is, other than it was simply there; it’s beautiful, seems to be alpaca maybe, has two plies… no other concepts about it. Did a lot of searching online.

There’s enough of it that I could certainly use it for the ribbing (I intend to have regular ribbing, not the garter stitch that the pattern calls for). But now I have my heart set on holding the lace with all the yarn — I really love the way it changes the fabric, making it more like a Shetland wool than it otherwise would be, and giving me a fighting chance of not making a mess of the tricky Plötulopi. I just know that a floppy, messily knit, almost see-through sweater would annoy me, however warm everyone says it is.

So I ordered something that may or may not be like that lace, plenty for this project (staving off future-me trying to sabotage things)… we shall see… three skeins of this: Alpaca Lace by Cascade Yarns:


And now you know why I say, up above, to feel free to not come into a Corner, lest you be bored to distraction!


Garden Corner

My indoor seeds are started, though the sweet peppers are not cooperating at all. I’ll have to try them again. So far I have tomatoes of a bunch of varieties, some eggplant, some flowers, cukes, and even a Malabar spinach!

The outside winter sowing is doing great!

And I did take advantage of some sunny days to get the garden up to speed. If it seems overwhelming to you, either to start or to reclaim things after a fall and winter of neglect, dead plants, leaves, and so on, try just doing one bed at a time.

Don’t try to do everything at once, but just plant a few things. I started with the peas, which are already coming up (so exciting!). And the onions, which also need an early start and don’t mind cold Aprils — they are in that far bed, just in front of the tractor. Just doing that much wore me out but also gave me hope that little by little, I can get things going.


bits & pieces






  • Do you live in the San Francisco Bay area? Do you know someone who does? Dear Anne is starting a St. Gregory Pocket there and would be overjoyed to meet up with you (or your friend/relative)! Join this private Facebook group here. If you are not on FB, email me and I will put you in touch with her.



from the archives


liturgical living

Roman martyrs today… and of course, still Easter!


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