Sunday, December 27, 2009

It's a family affair...

A few months ago my friend, up-and-coming knitwear designer Stéphanie Voyer (aka Birana), posted something on Twitter about needing a 5-6 year-old little girl to model one of her creations for a new pattern.

I happen to have one of those (to quote the Yarn Harlot, I made her myself with things I found lying around the house, heh), and she's pretty gosh darn cute if I do say so myself. So I contacted her, gave her the "Duh!" speech, and she came over the next weekend.

It's been really difficult keeping these pictures under my hat, let me tell you! But I finally got the OK to publish them on the blog.

The pattern is called Chanelette, a beautiful little jacket inspired by Coco Chanel. Give it a knit! You know you waaaaanna. Just don't ask me not to gush that MY daughter was the model for the pattern if I see it on the streets! Motherly pride, what are ya gonna do, right?

Happy Knitting Everyone!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Pick it up from the Fa La Laaas

It's over! Thank God and Sunny Jesus, Christmas is behind us! Can I get an Amen?

Last time I posted it was beginning to dawn on me that I had *perhaps* underestimated the amount of work involved with having 17 people over for Christmas dinner. As I discovered, the good thing about freaking out over having that many people over at once is that it really motivates you to get your arse in gear, and it wound up being... not so bad, all things considered. I mean sure, 17 people in my tiny house presented some logistical challenges, but I think it went over fairly well.

There was food (and drink!) a-plenty, and everybody did their best to get along and make do. We had soup, salad, tourtière, ragoût de pattes with mashed vegetables and beets, cheeses, and tarte au sucre. Ugh... I may never eat again...

Christmas morning my Dad, stepmother Margot and my 3 nephews were here dark and early and we attacked the mountain o'gifts.

As you can see, Santa did indeed come to our house, and all I can say is that the dude went frickin' NUTS this year! I think everyone did really well. Émilie was a bit disappointed she didn't get the mechanical lizard she had asked Santa for, but hey, that's life, right? Apparently the hair accessories set her cousins bought her is a big hit.

The rest of the day was spent cleaning up, preparing The Bird for dinner that night, and taking my nephews to the movies (Phil took the 2 youngest boys to see Avatar, I got to see New Moon again with the eldest, Keenan. Sweeeeeet!)

And now here we are! Taking a well-deserved break before the madness starts up again with New Years' festivities. I think we might hunker down tonight. I've got a six-pack of beer, my knitting, and there's a Star Trek movie marathon on all night.

Happy Knitting Everyone!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

All the way

I think it's safe to say that I've *officially* underestimated the amount of work that I've got to do for Christmas this year. And I'm not even talking about the knitting.

I've somehow managed to parlay my way into having 17 people over for Réveillon (That's Christmas Eve for you non-Frenchies out there), and I'm only now realizing that it's not going to magically sort itself out all by itself. *I* actually have to do it. I have to feed and entertain 17 people. Oy Vey.

Normal people would look at the size of their house (I can comfortably sit 4 people in my living room), the size of the group, and make a reservation at their local Chinese Buffet or something.

But not me! When faced with the devastating truth of 17 people crowding into my tiny house, expecting me to feed them and make them Merry, what did I do? I made bread. And I'm not talking about your standard "stick it in the machine and press the START button" bread. No bread machine, no food processor. Just me and the dough, working it out. It was very therapeutic.

I made 4 loaves this morning, but I think I might make another 2 tomorrow. I mean honestly? 4 loaves (OK 3 and a half, we ate one today) of luscious, scrumptious, delicious homemade bread for 17 people? SO not going to happen.

I also had the love Kate-the-Enabler over for lunch, ran errands, and made a pear and butternut squash soup this afternoon.

And now it's late! I've consumed waaaaaaaay too much wine (I won't tell you how long it took me to type this post up), and I've got a big day ahead of me tomorrow. If you celebrate, I hope all your Holiday preparations are going well. Hang in there! Rhinebeck 2010 is only 10 months away!

Happy Knitting Everyone!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Another parade!

A while back I mentioned that I was in the midst of a mild (hah!) obsession with hats.

The thing I love about hats is that, not only are they usually one skein projects, but you only have to make ONE to have a finished object, something that's not to be neglected during this, the busiest time in a dedicated Knitters' life.

I've been a smidge busy this week (hence the lack of blogging, sorry about that). But I've been knitting! To whit, I give you not one, not two, but three recent finished objects. Oh yeah!

A few days ago as she was getting ready for school, Émilie commented that she'd like to have another hat. Since I've made myself about 5 in the past few weeks, I figured I'd suck it up and make her one, heh. The pattern I chose, Robin's Egg Blue Hat, is a really quick, simple knit (honestly, it took me less than 2 hours). I used less than one skein of Malabrigo Chunky (Indigo colourway), and I've got a bit left over. I'm thinking of picking up another skein and making her a (sort of) matching cowl-thingy. We'll see if I have time before Christmas (bwaaaaahahahahaha!!!).

I used a vintage button from my mother's bucket 'o buttons, even though it's funkiness is probably lost on a five year-old. She seems to like it though, she insisted that it be worn with the button in the front when I took her picture this afternoon.

Of course, I tried it on for myself (just to see, you know), and I really like it. I might make one for myself, I may have another skein of Chunky in the stash somewhere (AHEM!).

In the meantime I'll just have to make do with my latest Marrow Joe.

I wound up giving the first hat to a friend, but I loved it so much that I just had to make another one for myself. Besides, these Woolly Wormhead hats are just so fun to knit!

Even Phil's got one now!

This would be Urbanista, from the Summer 2009 Knitty. A lot of fun to knit, even though it was a bit of the pain in the arse to weave in about eleventy-billion ends... But it looks great on him (apologies for the lack of Phil in this post, my pictures all came out blurry, sigh). And as Struan is still in a time-out, he needed something to warm his noggin'.

And here we are! The home stretch! The last few days of frantic knitting! The parties! The food! The shopping! The collapsing into a nervous, hysterical wreck!!!

Happy Knitting Everyone!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Stuff that matters

Those of you who have been reading for a while know that Sundays... heck.... WEEKENDS are generally referred to as DORMA (Day Of Rest My Arse) days around here. Getting ready for the coming week with 2 young kids when both parents work full time is pretty hectic, and by the time Sunday evening rolls around Phil and I are both pretty knackered.

But we've been trying to do things a little differently lately. Trying to stay focused on the stuff that really matters rather than getting caught up in the mundane (yet time-sucking!) details.

So as I sit here, the laundry isn't finished. I made some meals for the week, but not all... But I'm not going to let that bother me in the slightest. Because I took care of some pretty important stuff this weekend.

For instance, I got to FINALLY meet the lovely Caroline on Saturday.

After about 2 years of reading each others' blogs and emailing back and forth almost daily, we placed a joint KnitPicks order as an excuse to finally get off our lazy butts and meet each other! (We live in the same city, for crying out loud...). Also there were Kadi and Robyn (who I must thank for these pictures because someone who shall remain nameless forgot her camera... *Sigh*)

Now you've got to admit: spending time with your fellow knitter is pretty gosh darn important, right?

Saturday evening the kids spent the night at their grandparents, and Phil and I got to have a well-deserved date night. You'll forgive me if I don't post pictures of that, this is a G-rated blog after all, heh.

Today was supposed to be all about madly scrambling to get caught up due to the previous day's slackage. And then? Then it started to snow.

Do any of you remember what it feels like to be five years-old and see the snow falling outside? How magical it is? How you just want to roll around in it and play outside until your nose freezes off or your coat is so weighted down with the stuff that you can't lift your arms anymore?

Well, after spending over 2 and a half hours with Émilie this afternoon, I sure do.

So yeah... the laundry isn't finished, the ironing hasn't been touched, and the food isn't all made. But I think I got the most important stuff taken care of. The rest? It can wait.

Happy Knitting Everyone!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Over the weekend we put up our Christmas decorations. It's a moment I simultaneously look forward to and dread every year. I look forward to the anticipation lighting up the children's faces, but positively dread because that anticipation unfailingly transforms into full blown hysteria and shrieking when things don't go exactly their way, and NOW. When the decorations come up (and I have a LOT of decorations, people), it's a mad dash to get the year-round disposable crap, I mean objets d'art, out of the way to make room for the bazillion irreplaceable water globes and figurines that come out in December. And once the tree is up? All bets are OFF. The evening after the decorations go up, I usually have a stiff drink and some serious knit-therapy once the kids are in bed.

This year though, I had an idea, something I'd been toying with for a few months. I couldn't stop the chaos or the tears (or the stiff drink), but maybe, just maybe, I could find a way to hold on to that which, when you get right down to it, matters most of all...

My ornaments.

My kids are 5 and 2. Glass ornaments and children of that age don't mix. Wait, that's over-simplifying. Not only do they not mix, they aren't meant to coexist. Period.

So what to do? I means, besides the obvious solution of buying plastic ornaments (NEVER!).

Before I answer that, let me back up a bit. Contrary to what new readers might think (although one would hope that the blog's title would cue them off somewhat), I am a Knitter (the use of the capital is intentional). And like most committed Knitters, I have a lot of yarn lying around the house. A LOT of yarn. Good yarn, crap yarn, leftover sock yarn I didn't have the heart to throw out... It's really everywhere. We're, quite simply, overrun with yarn.

And that's when the solution to my ornament conundrum hit me. It was an epiphany, I tell you. An almost zen-like, beautiful moment of clarity I have never experienced thus far in my life, and I can only hope you get to experience something like it yourselves some day.

Can you see it? Can you see what we did? How about if I give you a closer look?

Yes people, the tree at casa de Dear is trimmed with pom-poms. I was a genius!

I'll admit... it hasn't turned out quite like I had planned. I had envisioned myself, my cousin Jessica and Émilie (Maxime would be sleeping, I may be delusional but I'm not STUPID), sitting at the table, happily making pom-poms for the tree (and lifelong memories to boot), and later seeing the tree filled with these little one-of-a-kind beauties. As a matter of fact, my original plan was to have the tree trimmed ONLY with pom-poms (and the ornaments made by the kids at school/daycare).

Turns out that making pom-poms is deceptively time-consuming, and doesn't quite hold the fascination I thought it would for Émilie. Or myself. Or Jessica (she actually kept at it while we had quit, God bless her). I'd say we worked at it for about an hour and a half, and in the end I wound up with 13 pom-poms.

Even so, it warms my heart when I look at my tree. I can look at a particular pom-pom and know that it's the leftover yarn from a pair of socks I wound up giving to a complete stranger in Japan, or that one has particular meaning because it was made by my cousin (who then promptly broke into hives from concentrated yarn exposure).

Cheesy? Maybe. Tacky? Yeah, a little bit. But the point is that it's OUR tree. Everything in it has meaning, and is connected to a memory, or a time, or a place. And isn't that what this time of year is supposed to be all about?

Happy Knitting Everyone!

Saturday, December 5, 2009


As I mentioned earlier this week, Phil and I have been making a real effort to eat better, try to live healthier, etc. We signed up for the organic produce delivery service (and we've almost eaten all of this week's basket - Yay!), I've been making a real effort to buy either local or organic, and I'm really trying to make choices that are both physically AND economically sound when it comes to what I choose to buy for my family.

Sounds good, huh? Well, all I can say is: Hah! Easier said than done, my friends. Good intentions are all well and good, but when you've got a five and two year-old at the table (and mind you, I wouldn't call them particularly picky, they're really quite average)? Healthy=schmealthy.

For instance:

For dinner today I made a Jerusalem artichoke velouté soup, from scratch (I'm throwing in the French and italics as a way to try to impress you, really it's just boiled and puréed, with onions and butter), Swiss Chard quiche with Emmental cheese, and an apple-raspberry crumble - using organic apples and flour! - for dessert. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but it was delicious, I tell you. An absolutely exquisite meal. Oh what the Hell... toot toot!

Don't believe me? Well here, see for yourself:

Honestly, it seems as though the entire day was spent preparing for tonight's dinner. I made the soup around lunch time, had Émilie help me with the apple-raspberry crumble while Maxime napped, pondered the organic eggs I had in the fridge and decided on quiche for dinner, ran to the grocery store to buy the veggies and bread around 3:30, came home at 5:30 from visiting my mother and made said quiche... I literally spent the entire day preparing dinner!

And what do you suppose happened when it all came together like some kind of culinary ballet at the dinner table?

Well... the kids poo-pooed the soup (Phil and I loved it!), Émilie practically gagged at the quiche (Maxime liked it), and - well OK, everyone liked the apple-raspberry crumble (except that Émilie didn't get to eat any because of the afore-mentioned gagging). Not exactly what I was going for...

Gah! Why do I put myself through this? Why, why, WHY???? They are SO getting wiener wraps for dinner tomorrow night!

Happy Knitting Everyone!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Christmas Knitting...

... or why I'm an idiot.

Every year this happens. I get caught by surprise that Christmas, the most stressful time in a knitters' life, is almost upon me. Around December 3rd I make up a list of people I need to give gifts to, and of course I want to knit them something, and then I sit back in a depressed stupor and wonder how I let this happen. Again.

This year's even worse, because I've got 2 new people to add to the gift list, Émilie's kindergarten teacher and bus driver. Le Sigh!

But wait, the über-intelligence of moi doesn't stop there. I don't select simple, quick knits (like say... HATS?) for my cherished woolly-love recipients. NoooOOOOOOOOoooo. I choose socks (which should TOTALLY count as TWO gifts) and lace and... wait for it... afghans! Yes folks, I am officially an idiot.

Really... Why do we do it??? I mean, it's not like our loved ones, our REAL loved-ones anyway, aren't on the receiving end of knitted items all year long, right? Looking at my list of FOs for 2009 (I'm still behind), I'd say a full THIRD of what I've managed to get on and off the needles this year wasn't even for me! (I make no apologies for that. My money + my time = my knitwear).

Phil's gotten socks, the kids have gotten hats, friends' babies have gotten cute little baby knits... They've RECEIVED the woolly-love already! So why do we feel this crazy pressure to come up with an insane amount of knitted items to give away in, say, a 22 day period?

I really believe that knitters are fairly intelligent people. While the average Muggle watches TV and sips a soda, we KNITTERS watch TV, sip a soda AND knit. We transform "down time" into "productive time". We can look at a ball of yarn and see potential for warmth and comfort and an expression of love.

I won't even ask if our efforts are worth it. We've ALL had someone smile politely and scratch their heads when we've presented them with that wedding ring lace shawl that took years off our visual acuity. Know your gift recipients, I say.

No, I'm referring to what our cherished loved ones, the ones that receive the knitwear all year long and really appreciate it, give US for Christmas. Because chances are, even though they know you LOVE to knit, that you LOVE yarn, they think you've got (wait for it...) "too much" of it, and will rack their brains to find something else to give you when the ideal gift is staring them in the face.

Tough questions, questions that need answers, I tell you!

But right now you'll have to excuse me. I've got an afghan to finish.

Happy Knitting Everyone!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Something completely different

Last week Phil and I watched Food, Inc., a documentary on America's (and by extension Canada's) corporate controlled food industry. We've been questioning our purchasing and eating habits for a few months now, but this film was a real eye opener, and raised some important questions for us about the kind of food we prepare for our family and where it should come from.

I think that we're fairly "good" in terms of food consumption. We're not vegetarians, but we will try to have one vegetarian meal a week. We don't go to fast food restaurants, as a matter of fact we rarely go to the restaurant period. I make almost all our meals at home, as opposed to buying convenience foods that I can just nuke and be done with...

And yet we can always do more, right? There's a local farmers' kiosk about a 10 minute walk from my house, and we never go. We don't eat enough vegetables, I don't read labels, we eat too much meat and pasta...

Well, this week I did my shopping a little differently. I tried to buy locally produced fruits and vegetables (no small feat in December!), I bought organic whenever possible, all with an eye to the budget... I'm only just beginning, so I think I could have made better choices, but I'm getting there.

Another thing I did was to sign us up for an organic fruits and vegetables delivery service called Le Jardin des Anges. I'd read about them on my friend Caroline's blog last summer, and although she ultimately decided it wasn't for her, I was curious to give it a shot. I figured that by signing up I would have a week's supply of organic fruits and vegetables, it was convenient, and it would also encourage us to broaden our palette and eat more foods we're not accustomed to.

I got my first delivery this morning, and I'm pretty happy with what we got:

Celeri, shallots, lettuce, tomatoes, Jerusalem artichoke (a first! we actually had to Google them, lol!), zucchinis, blueberries, mandarines, apples, Chinese cabbage, cucumbers and oranges. We also received some sunflower sprouts and germinated lentils. Sweet!

So that's what we're up to chez Dear! Trying to get on a healthier path, for ourselves, our environment, the whole shebang. Hopefully we can keep it up.

Happy Knitting Everyone!