Thursday, December 29, 2011

One year

Today's a very special day at Casa de Dear. Wait, special isn't the right word. It's significant and imbued with meaning for our family. It was on this day, one year ago, that we discovered our daughter Émilie had a brain tumour.

For the past week, Phil and I (and our extended family) have been nervously apprehending this day, this anniversary. Remembering the... bewilderment that we felt during that awful, awful time. The helplessness. The profound ache and grief that you feel, as a parent, when your child is afflicted with a serious disease. The rage you feel because damn it, it's unfair, and wrong, and just doesn't make sense at all and yet, there's absolutely nothing you can do about it.

Trust me when I say that it's very, very easy to get buried in sorrow when thinking about that day, December 29th, 2010.

Having said that, when I get past the pain and sorrow of that day and actually look at the present, at December 29th, 2011? The overwhelming feeling isn't one of sorrow, or pain, or fear. It's one of relief. Of gratitude.

Relief that she doesn't have a tumour anymore. Gratitude that she's thriving, and happy, and apparently able to move on from that horrible ordeal. Relief that those feelings of bewilderment, of helplessness, of grief, are (fingers crossed) behind us. Gratitude that our daughter is still with us.

I guess December 29th is a good day after all.

Happy Knitting, Everyone.

Friday, December 23, 2011


A couple of things have got me thinking that it must be getting mighty cold in the underworld this week, and I'm not talking about the snow that finally got here today*. Nope, I'm talking about strange, heretofore unheard of goings-on chez Dear that, had you asked me about them even a week ago, I would have scoffed at.

Thing the first? Well, brace yourselves but... I knit a toy.

I realize that might not seem like a big deal to most of you, but trust me when I say that anyone who knows me will be absolutely GOBSMACKED.

Long story short: I don't do toys. Garment knitter all the way, 100%. I've had discussions about knitted toys with people, and while I've occasionally conceded that there might MAYBE be a few toys out there that score fairly high on the cute-o-meter, I just... don't get them. To me knitting a toy would be like crocheting a cozy for my toilet paper dispenser. Um... no.

Enter DangerCrafts' Three Christmas Hooligan pattern. Pretty gosh darn adorable, wouldn't you say? Yup. Only I wasn't going to knit it, because, as I said, I don't do toys. Not me. No siree. Knit a toy? Surely you jest. Pshaw... Like, duh.

However, when Émilie told me that they were having a "bring a stuffie to school" day this week, that was all the excuse I needed I decided to put aside my aversion to knitting toys and made her one, because that's the kind of mature, wonderful mother I am.

But wait, that's not all. I said there were a couple of things...

Thing the second? I finally fixed and finished The Mittens. Yeah... I know.

Happy Knitting, Everyone!

* yeah, I know. I'm complaining about the lack of snow, even though I know perfectly well that I'll be having nightmares because of it in April. What can I say? I'm Canadian. My relationship with snow is complex.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Fishermen's Friends

About a zillion years ago (or so it seems anyway), I was stalking browsing Springtree Road's site when I fell hard for a skein of BFL fingering weight yarn in the most absolutely perfect shade of red. It was magnificent, I tell you. It had richness and depth and it just felt luxurious, you know? It looked like velvet is supposed to feel. It was called Red Delicious, and I wanted very much to make it mine.

Of course, I was on a yarn-diet at the time, one that I was actually sticking with for a change, so despite some pretty gosh-darn strong feelings on the subject, I didn't buy it.

And for weeks that was how it went. I would stalk browse Maya's site and I would have a cyber-visit with the red yarn. I would look at it and sigh over it's magnificence, and I would let it go. Until one day, I visited my the yarn and saw that there was only ONE skein of my precious Red Delicious in stock. ONE SKEIN, people.

I think you can guess what happened next? Yarn diet schmyarn diet, and I'll take a membership in your fabulous sock clique club while I'm at it, thanks.

When it arrived it was just as fabulous as I had imagined it would be. Contrary to my usual habit, I didn't carry the skein around me for a few days, taking every opportunity to look at it and give it an affectionate squeeze (shut up, you SO do it too!). I wound it up almost immediately. I had fawned over this yarn long enough, my friends. I couldn't wait to knit it up.

For some reason, I felt that the skein wanted to be knit up into man socks. Awesome, kickass, Yeah-I'm-wearing-red-socks-what's-it-to-you-pal socks. Socks that would make an impression. Epic socks.

I chose to knit up my Red Delicious yarn into these Filey socks, inspired by a traditional guernsey pattern. Because it's my firm belief that if fishermen of yore had had access to some awesome red yarn, they would totally be more traditional red guernseys in the world. Heh.

Chalk ONE up for the Christmas Gift Pile (Yup, I said it. Hang on to your dpns my friends. Chrismas Knitting has arrived chez Dear.)

Happy Christmas Knitting, Everyone!

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Swatch

I had a really laid back attitude as far as Rhinebeck prep was concerned this year. I didn't have a buying plan, didn't have any specific itinerary. Honestly? It's been a rough year, and I was just happy to be going at ALL, you know? Me and my peeps, going to spend a weekend with people who know and understand the awesome power of yarnz.

It was going to be great! I was happy and at peace. Right up until Phil asked me what I was knitting for Rhinebeck, 17 days before the big day.

At first, I just dismissed the idea. Knitting something (aka a sweater) in 17 days? Was he mental? The schedule was crazy! I was starting a new job! Things were just WAY too hectic. 17 days to knit a sweater? There was just no way, right?


I mean... it just couldn't be done.

Could it?

The thing is... you can't just plant an idea in a knitter's head like that and have nothing happen. In knitterly parlance, by asking someone what they're knitting for Rhinebeck, you've effectively drawn a line in the sand. You've challenged the knitter's skillz, dedication, and fortitude. Shit is going to go down, one way or the other.

And so it went. Fester, fester, fester... the idea of knitting a sweater in 17 days gnawed at me. I was as excited at the prospect of a good knitdown as I was pissed at Phil for even suggesting it in the first place. And to add insult to injury, it's not like I had nothing appropriate in the stash. I just happened to have 11 skeins of Shelter lying around, earmarked for Gudrun Johnston's Kerrera, for the better part of a year.

- "OK," I thought. "I'll knit a swatch. See what happens. Maybe the Shelter won't be a good match for the pattern. Maybe I won't get gauge. And that'll be that. It'll be out of my hands."

Naturally, I got gauge. On the first try, no less, which never happens. The knitting fates were just laughing at me at this point. I stared at the swatch. Tumbleweeds blew across the living room floor. Time seemed to stop. There I was, on the cusp of knitting greatness. Deep down, I knew what I had to do. I couldn't back down. I couldn't let it go. I was Knitter, and I would knit a sweater in 17 days or go crazy trying.

And for the next 16 days, I knit like the wind, people. Every chance I got, I knit. A few rows here, a couple of stitches there. By the time we left for Rhinebeck, I had completed the body and 2 sleeves, but I still had to finish the hood, make the pockets, and knit about a zillion miles of edging (in double garter stitch - aka endless time suck stitch - no less).

Luckily, Kate understood. Without my even having to say anything, she sensed my desperation, my knitterly angst, and graciously offered to drive the entire way to Kingston, all so that I could maximize the knitting time. (Or maybe she just didn't want me driving her swagger wagon. Heh.)

When we got there, while other knitters were whooping it up with cocktails around the pool, Kate was right there with me, giving me oxygen offering words of encouragement while I knit furiously into the night. Eventually even Kate couldn't hold on any longer, fatigue got the best of her, and still, I kept knitting.

I wove in my final ends at a few minutes past midnight, the night before the festival. I sighed in relief, and not a little disbelief too. I had done it. I had knit a sweater in 17 days. Wow.

Bug eyed and stiff from hours of intense knitting posture, I turned off the lights and shuffled off to the bathroom, my sweater grasped tightly to my bosom. Again, pride washed over me. I had done it. I put on the sweater I had knit in 17 days, and...

It looked like ASS.

Crumpled, egg-cartony, misshapen ASS.

My eyes widened. I may have sobbed a little. I had hoped it wouldn't come to this, but it was just staring me in the face at this point. I was going to have to block the sweater.

What was going through my mind as I dunked the sweater into a warm bath at half past midnight the night before Rhinebeck? Resignation. Acceptance. Maybe a touch of insane hope as well.

- "Shelter isn't really a dense yarn. It'll probably dry quickly" I thought as I blindly patted it into place in our now pitch black hotel room, as Kate dreamed happy dreams beside me.

It didn't quite work out that way, of course.

The next morning (you know... 6 hours later?) it was still wet as... um... water. I wore it to the fairground anyway, draped over my arm when I became concerned it was going to stretch beyond repair if I continued to wear it. But eventually I came to my senses, mostly because I was tired of lugging a heavy, dripping, slightly smelly sweater around.

Still. I knit a sweater in 17 days, y'all. I rule.

Besides, she may not have been ready to make her debut at Rhinebeck, but she's still a damn fine sweater. Which is good enough for me.

Happy Knitting, Everyone!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Wordless Weekend Wrap-up

How was your weekend? Mine looked like this:

Happy Knitting, Everyone!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Where's Ringo?

I was thinking about how it had been (gulp) 2 weeks since I last posted this morning, when one of my favourite lines* from Boogie Nights popped into my head. It's from the scene when Dirk is practicing his lines in front of the mirror at the end of the movie. There he is, in all his cheesy-eighties-porn-star glory, and he scrounges up every ounce of his acting ability to ask "Where the f**k is Ringo?".

I'm here, friends. I'm here.

Adaptation to the new schedule continues, however, and I confess I'm having a little trouble finding the will time to do anything beyond taking care of the family unit lately. The good news is that I'm knitting up a storm, however, and I've even put in a few evenings on the sewing machine as well, so I won't lack for blog fodder. We'll get there.

In the meantime, how 'bout we take a peak at my Rhinebeck purchases?

Miss Babs Northumbia Hand-Painted 4 ply BFL Yarn (437 yds). Colour: Squash Blossom.

Foxhill Farm Cormo Cross, 100% wool (410 yds). Two skeins.

Sanguine Gryphon Bugga! (412 yds). Two skeins: Robberfly and Rhinocerous Beetle colourways.

Miss Babs Northumbia Naked 4 ply BFL (240 yds). Colour: Luna Granite (2 skeins), Moss (1 skein)

Spirit Train Fiberworks "Sunna" (350 yds). Colour: Aquitaine (2 skeins)

Miss Babs Yowza Whatta Skein 100% Superwash Merino (560 yds). Colour Lady Bug (2 skeins)

The Sincere Sheep Keen 100% BFL Superwash (465 yds). Colour: Milpa.

The only question is what will I cast on with first? Any suggestions? :)

Happy Knitting, Everyone!

* Sure, most people remember what comes AFTER that line (that'd be when he finally reveals his... um... assets. Ahem.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Weekend recap

Busy week here, poppets. I'm very, very tempted to pull a Wordless Weekend Wrap-Up post for Kate and my Rhinebeck shenanigans, but I can't rightly do that after making such a weepie git of myself in my last post, can I? So let's get to it.

Friday latemorning, Kate and I headed out to pick up the lovely and talented (but drivers' license-less) Véronik, and we chatted and knit our way down to the glamourous (she said with tongue firmly in cheek) Kingston Holiday Inn. We arrived in the early evening and met up with the fabulous Carol, Laura and Jim, joined them for a few cocktails in the supah swanky (again with the tongue in cheek!) hotel bar, then retreated to our room for some frantic knitting on my part (more on that next post) and some desperately trying to stay awake on Kate's part (she'd driven the entire way so I could knit, silly sausage).

When we arrived at the fairgrounds on Saturday morning, the knitters' had arrived en masse. The weather was lovely, a bit on the breezy side but heck, we were all swaddled in knitwear anyway, right?

We each grabbed a cuppa and, without any specific shopping objectives in mind, decided to stroll around and just enjoy ourselves. Rhinebeck can be a bit overwhelming, even when you've already been there, because there's just So. Much. Yarn. And people. And fabulous knitwear. And fabulous designers. We hadn't been there 10 minutes before we ran into Anne Hanson (we weren't able to get out s**t together in time to make it to the Knitspot lunch, sadly), and later that afternoon, another illustrious member of the knitterati happened to be strolling next to yours truly...

Can you see who it is? Take a closer look at the hat he's wearing... Ring any bells? It was none other than Stephen West, people! I just about sh@t myself!!!

OK not really. But when, a few minutes later, I found myself right smack dab next to the man at the Foxhill Farm booth, where we were both fondling some Cormo, I might have been a little bit of a dufus... (but not, like, in a weird way or anything. Hah). He was perfectly charming and agreed that my chocolate brown skeins would make something fabulous.

By late afternoon, neither Kate or I had made many purchases, much to our mutual surprise. We were able to pull it together though (like, duh), I with about a TON of Miss Babs, and Kate with her habitual Shelridge Farm.

And that about wraps it up. We had a lovely day, met some fabulous people, and spent some quality time among our kind.

The only thing that would have made the weekend better is if our friend Alison had been able to make the trip with us...

Oh well, there's always next year :)

Happy Knitting, Everyone!

Friday, October 14, 2011


It's a busy morning chez Dear. I've sent the kids off to school, the husband off to work, and I'm running around the house like a crazy person, trying to prepare for this, the most anticipated weekend of the year. That's right friends, I'm going to Rhinebeck.

Obviously, I'm looking forward to the yarn. But more than that, Rhinebeck is - for me, anyway - about the people. It's about being part of the gathering en masse of thousands of fiber enthusiasts. It's about getting to spend some special time with some of my most favourite people in the world. It's about community.

The past few weeks have been hectic around here. In a good way, of course. My new job is demanding and challenging and so, so rewarding. Being a part of something, feeling like my work, my skills, are appreciated and valued has been like a tall glass of cool water on a hot day, and I'm so grateful for the opportunity I've been given.

Of course, all change has it's difficulties. I feel as though all I've had time for the past 2 weeks is work and (immediate) family. Friends, commitments, and yes, blogging, have all fallen along the wayside. My commute is (much) longer, I'm home less often, and Phil has had to take on more of the "holding down the fort" workload. We're still trying to adjust to the new routine, trying to figure out what works best. It's an adjustment, but I know we'll get there.

Which is why this morning, as I'm getting ready to participate in one of the biggest assemblies of the knitting community, I'm taking a few minutes to write up this post. Because this blog, this space is also about community, about my community. I haven't forgotten that.

Happy Knitting, Everyone.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Just the scarf

Last night, as I sat down for my pitifully small daily alloted knitting time, Phil asked me what I was knitting for Rhinebeck.

I'm starting a new job next week, the schedule is crazy, and it's taken me a week to manage to knit a freakin' size 3-month stockinette baby cardigan, and dude's asking me - 17 days before the event - what I'm knitting for Rhinebeck.

I just stared up at him in astonishment, my eyes conveying a subtle "Are you sh**tting me???" message.

"Just the scarf then, eh?", he stammered.


Happy Knitting, Everyone!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Good mail

A few weeks ago, I received a letter in the mail. I'm not talking about a bill or a card or a note... I mean an actual, honest-to-goodness letter.

A friend of mine had decided it was time to step back from all this "convenience" and decided to take the time to physically set pen to paper and write me a letter.

I couldn't believe it. As I read her letter I had vivid flashbacks of a dozen childhood pen pals, of blue inked letters hurriedly written on ripped note paper... It was a simple, howdeedo? kind of letter, but the fact that my friend took the time to write it out by hand and send it to me by post - because she could have sent the very same message by email - infused it with an additional level of thoughtfulness and sincerity of feeling that moved me.

I can tell you that that feeling has led to some pretty deep, introspecty stuff at Casa de Dear. I've been pondering all this "convenience" which we've come to expect in our daily lives, and wondering what we've given up in the name of instant gratification... Honestly though? It's Sunday night. I'm beat. I think I'd rather sleep and live to rant another day, you know? :)

In the meantime, I'd invite you to pull out the old stationary and write someone a letter. It'll make their day, trust me.

Happy Knitting, Everyone!

p.s. : snail mail isn't the only thing my mail carrier has been bringing to my door this week!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


It's been an interesting week here. Not that I haven't busy with the usual errand-running/appointment-making/meal-preparing/personal-growth-in-the-form-of-exercise-and-drum-practice-ing that is my life, but I've felt... quiet. Big changes are afoot in my life, and it's like I'm trying to cultivate as much calm as possible now in anticipation of the coming storm.

I'm changing jobs. Again. In a few weeks I'll be starting a new position as the medical librarian in a prominent, well-respected hospital in the Montreal area, and I'm very excited. And scared. And worried about how this will affect all our lives. And nervous. And psyched about what an incredible professional opportunity this is. And grateful. And...

Well. You get the idea.

My thoughts are going every which way, and until recently, I was finding it incredibly difficult to stay focused. Luckily, my beloved Interwebz delivered a mantra which I've found most soothing over the past few days...

It totally works, too. Heh.

Happy Knitting, Everyone!

Friday, September 16, 2011


It's cold here today. Granted, we haven't reached the single (Celsius) digits yet, but it's cold enough that a single piece of knitwear isn't enough to keep me comfortable anymore. This morning's weather definitely called for layering. I combined the recently blogged Koigu Linen Stitch Scarf and my beloved Castlegar cardigan over jeans and a simple black Tee, but I knew in my heart that wasn't going to be enough.

Like thousands of Canadians, I'd been desperately holding on to my denial Summer, see... Sure, there had been signs for weeks. All around me, there were subtle reminders. Apple picking season had begun. Labour Day came and went, taking our white pants with it. But - for me anyway - reality only truly sinks in when something very specific happens, and this morning it did. As a responsible, intelligent grown-up, I had to suck it up and face the truth:

I was going to have to ditch my sandals and wear socks.

Not my hand knitted socks, of course. It's still a bit too balmy to wear those (hah!) ... But their time will come all too soon.

Luckily, I love my hand knitted socks, and once I get over grieving for the dearly departed Summer, it'll be a treat to dig into my sock drawer again.

As you can see from this crappy picture, I'm not one of those "Poorly shod cobbler"-type knitters, heh.

Happy Knitting, Everyone!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

'Tis the season

I've always felt that Autumn is THE season for knitters. Oh sure, people are always quick to think of Winter, pointing out the necessity of the hats and mittens and such that knitters produce to get our loved ones through its long cold months, and they're absolutely right. But Autumn is when we can show off our knitwear not because we HAVE to, but because we WANT to. We can throw on a cardigan or a scarf and not look out of place. We can pull on a hat and a pair of fingerless mitts and look fashionable. Let's face it, when it's minus 20 degrees Celsius in January, you don't care WHAT the knitwear looks like, you just want to get warm. But in Autumn? Knitwear can be appreciated for the beautiful pieces of art they are.

This morning, over breakfast, Phil and I were discussing how absolutely perfect the day was shaping up to be. The sky was gloriously blue, the sun was shining, and yet the air was crisp and fresh.

This afternoon we took the kids on a nature hike in the woods that Phil used to explore as a kid. We've all been there a million times, but each time we manage to find something new and interesting to explore and marvel over. It's always soothing to get out there and just BE for a while. Restorative. For all of us.

Plus, it was the perfect opportunity to take pictures of the Linen Stitch Koigu Scarf, heh.

I can tell I'm going to get a LOT of wear out of this scarf this season. It's the perfect accessory to just throw on and instantly feel fabulous. Wearing it made me feel fashionable and grown-up. I felt sure Stacy and Clinton would approve.

To your needles, my fellow Knitters! Rejoice, for scarf season has officially begun!

Happy Knitting, Everyone!

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Somehow, right in the midst of the Tomato Tornado (to say nothing of the Apple Avalanche that came right on its heels), I managed to finish the scarf I've been working on over the past few weeks. It's the Koigu Linen Stitch Scarf, by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas, and I could not be more pleased with how it turned out. I don't want to say too much about it here, because I'm planning on giving it it's own post just as soon as I can find the time to take some fabulously stylish pictures of it this weekend (OK fine, I'll settle for decent, in-focus pictures taken in natural light), but I can totally see this scarf becoming the next Noro Striped Scarf. There are just so many possible colour combinations, and there's really NO way any of them could turn out to be crap, you know? I mean... it's KOIGU. Like, duh.

Enough about the scarf though (patience, my preciousssssses). The point is that I finished it, and I was now free to cast on something shiny and new. The thing is though, I wasn't too sure what I wanted to knit. Nothing was really jumping out at me, calling out to my Inner Knitter. Or rather, nothing I already had the yarn for in my stash was calling out to me. Oh sure, Carol Feller's Tembo (and the Quince & Co. Osprey I'd need to make it) was really tempting, and Stephen West's Spectra (and the 10 skeins of Noro (at LEAST) I would be FORCED to buy "just to be sure I had THE perfect one") was looking pretty gosh darn nifty... But socks? Mittens? A shawl? You know... things I already have the pattern and yarn for???? Nope. Not even a blip on my radar. Typical.

I was starting to get seriously discouraged, when I happened upon the Garden Gnome Hat, which I've had in my Rav queue ever since it first came out. Quick, perfect, and I had about a dozen single skeins of KnitPicks Palette in the stash. This was it, the next project, the next One True Thing.

And I'm charmed, completely and utterly charmed. Maybe it's the red and white colour scheme, which reminds me of Cauchy's completely awesome red work. Maybe it's the (yet to be completed) pompom, because y'all know I'm a sucker for a good pompom. Maybe it's just the cooler weather making me want to begin cranking out the winter wear.

Personally, I think it's the fact that it's a HAT WITH FREAKIN' GARDEN GNOMES ON IT. Gnomes!!! On a Hat!!! Brilliant.

Happy Knitting Everyone!