Sunday, November 4, 2012

It's coming

I don't mean to alarm you, but... have you noticed anything particular in the past few weeks?  Something's in the air, something is AFOOT, people.  Something BIG.

At first it was subtle and - come to think of it - rather charming.  Quaint, even.  Something in the light, a welcome change of colours after an entire season of cheap fabrics and bright neons.

Then it was more... insistent.  Whatever it was, it wasn't going away, and I had to actually, you know... DO stuff.  Like, for instance, get next year's garlic planted.

And THEN.  Then, well... even at the grocery store, the truth was staring me in the face, and I couldn't deny it any longer.  There was no espace.

Christmas is coming, my fellow knitters.  It's only 50 days away.  For realz.

Luckily, I've been a good knitter and have been squirreling away gifts all year long.  Victory will be MINE!  Booyah!

Happy Knitting, Everyone.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


I just got back from Rhinebeck, and I want to tell you about how awesome it was.  I mean, of course it was awesome because - duh - it's the freakin' New York Sheep and Wool Festival, but I think that the fact that it has inspired me to decloak and actually write something really says something about what a fabulous time I had this year, don't you think?

I mean... first of all, there was the weather.  The sun was shining, the trees were decked out in their finest colours... What can I say?  It was absolutely magnificent. 

Then there was the excellent company.  Sadly, my fabulous peep Kate the Enabler wasn't able to attend this year, but my good friend Marie-Michele graciously stepped in and - it has to be said - as a Rhibeneck newbie she did amazingly well.  It probably had something to do with my finely tuned mentoring skills (hah!).  The fact that she got stopped approximately every 11 minutes by someone who wanted to ogle her Color Affection probably didn't hurt either.  Sheesh.

Of course, it is the SHEEP and wool festival, so one musn't forget the animals.

 (I don't think this gent was enjoying his haircut too much!)

Especially when they make such yummy fiber.

This was the first time I went to the fleece sale.  Not to buy a fleece of course, since I'm pretty sure turning fiber into yarn is easier when one knows how to spin.  But just to have a look at the different breeds and see/feel what different fibers they produce was pretty cool.

The rarest breed of all, of course, is the elusive knitwear designer.  They're a famously shy breed, but with the right mix of patience and audacity, one can usually manage a sighting. 

(Yours truly and the fabulously stylish, friendly and gracious Stephen West.)

And then, well... I can't quite explain this one.  Let's just say it involved a scarf, a Robert Frost Poem, and a pretty kickass blogger.  Um... you had to be there?

Of course there was yarn, lots and lots of yarn.  Some of it even came home with me.  But ultimately, Rhibeneck wasn't really about the yarn for me at all.  This year, it was all about the journey.

Happy Knitting, Everyone!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Something completely different

The last week of summer break, before the beginning of the new year and the craziness that ensues, I took a day off from work and had a girls' day with Émilie.  Truth be told, I was a bit worried about what we were actually going to DO together.  Around here, Dad is the "fun guy", and Mum is the one who buys the kids new shoes and takes them to get hair cuts.  All well and good when your toes are feeling pinched and your hair is in your eyes, but not exactly fun city, you know?  So what were we going to do for fun?  Sure, there were things on the To Do list that we could tackle, but that really wasn't what I wanted our day to be about.

I made a few suggestions (movie?  pedicure?  crafts?), but nothing seemed to spark her interest.  Finally I just asked her: what would you like to do today, Émilie?  "I want to go to Céramic Café, Maman."

For those of you not in the Montreal area, Céramic Café is a café where you can paint your own ceramics, and they'll take care of the glazing, drying and (baking?  cooking? whatever.  They take your piece and make it all shiny and nice).  Well alright-y then!

Émilie chose a frog figurine (I swear, the house is full of frogs and unicorns!), and I walked in fully expecting to paint a mug or a bowl or something, but... well... that was before I knew they had garden gnomes. 

GNOMES!!!  OhMyGah.  Simply Had. To. Have. One.  Honestly, is he not the cutest gnome EVER?  So cheery and happy-looking.  And puh-lease.  Who could resist that face?


So yeah... I had a great day with my daughter, got to get my craft on, and got a gnome too.  I wonder if Maxime would like to join us next time?  After all, Gnomeo here needs a girlfriend :)


Wondering about this week's muffins?  Here they are!

Peach Butter Muffins, from the Messy Baker.  Absolutely delicious, very light and fluffy, and a good way to use up my homemade vanilla peach butter, which nobody in my family seems to particularly enjoy but me. 

Oh yeah... that's the stuff right there.

Happy Knitting, Everyone!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Going Random

This past Saturday night, I had one of those Bizarro World knitting moments where the knitting was just going super fast and I finished everything.  OK, technically I only had 2 projects in active rotation, but STILL.  These are projects I'd had on the needles for weeks.  Evening after evening, I'd plunge into a thankless knitting abyss and nothing would get done, and then Saturday, *poof!*  Both projects were finished.  On Sunday, just as we were heading out to apple country for the day, Phil suggested I bring something to knit and I had nothing I could bring with me. Chew on that, my friends.

The first thing off the needles was the second of the Eyelet and Flame Chevron socks.  I finished these on September 1st, so technically I was a day late and a dollar short for the Solid Socks KAL, but that doesn't make these babies any less awesome.

Knit with Madelinetosh Tosh Sock in the Candlewick colourway.  The stitch pattern is the Eyelet and Flame Chevron, on page 68 of Vogue Knitting's Ultimate Sock Book, and I sort of fudged the cuff, heel and toe to make a sock, heh.

I mentioned last post that I'd talk about how I came to settle upon this particular pattern for my next sock.  WELL, here's the thing.

It recently came to my attention that I have... drumroll please... 446 sock patterns in my Ravelry library.  That's FOUR HUNDRED FOURTY SIX, sock patterns that I've either bought (paper of electronic) or downloaded since I first joined Ravelry.

I've got 2 words for that: In. Sane.  And the killer is that, when I want to knit a sock, more often than not I'll just download a new pattern rather than try to choose one from my books/PDF library, because honestly... How am I supposed to decide when I've got so many options?  How do I choose?

There's just no way.  The only solution was to bust out the random integer generator.  And that's exactly what I did, and what I'll continue to do for the next little while.  I've allowed myself a few outs (I don't have to knit it if I don't like the pattern; I have to use stash yarn), but this was the first one Mister Random Number Generator selected for me, and it's none too shabby, if I do say so myself.


In closing, lest you think I wussed out on my weekly muffin commitment, here are the muffins for week 2!

Strawberry Balsamic Jam muffins.  Not as "healthy" as last week's (who are we kidding at this point?), but really, truly delicious.  Ask me how I know.

Happy Knitting, Everyone!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


It's Back to School time  chez Dear (or First Day of School Ever time, if you're Maxime), so the days are long and the evenings are... yeah.  What evenings?  *Sigh*

How about we look at some knitting?

These are the latest socks in progress, knit out of Madelinetosh Tosh Sock in the Candlewick colourway (I may have mentioned previously that I have a thing for yellow).  The stitch pattern is the Eyelet and Flame Chevron from Vogue Knitting : The Ultimate Sock book, and I'm sort of fudging the rest of the sock as I go along.  I'll get into the process by which I came to select this particular pattern in another post, but for now the important thing to know is that I'm... totally fracking obsessed quite motivated to have these finished by August 31st, in order to qualify for the August Solid Socks KAL.  The fact that it's *cough* highly unlikely that I'll achieve the goal is totally irrelevant.  I am knitting like the WIND, people. 

Yup, absolutely nothing gets me going like a potentially unrealistic objective.  I find them extremely compelling.  What can I say?  I'm a complex woman.


This past weekend, I made muffins for the kids' school snacks.  They eat hot lunches at the cafeteria, but we still have to pack about a zillion snacks for them every day.  Needless to say, there can be no ding-dongs, ho hos or twinkies in their lunches (ho hos... *snicker*).  But I still want to give them a little touch of sweetness.  Hence, muffins. 

As I took them out of the oven, I thought to myself "I know!  I'll make them muffins every week!  Not only that, but I'll try a different recipe every week and share it on the blog!  Brilliant!!!"

So!  Here are this week's muffins.  Blueberry Bran Muffins, the recipe is (how embarrasing) from Kellogg's.  One week down!  39 to go.

What was I saying earlier about potentially realistic objectives?

Happy Knitting, Everyone!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Put a lid on it

Let me begin by saying that this isn't the post I meant to write tonight.  I had planned to show you the new sock in progress, and possibly to come clean share some recent stash enhancement, but well... this feels more relevant for now.

We are right in the thick of canning season chez Dear.  As you may know if you've been reading for a while, over the past year, I've tried to put more thought into what our family eats, pay attention to where it comes from, and figure out what our relationship to food actually is.  Eating local, enjoying the best of what's produced in our own backyards (literally or figuratively) is something I feel very strongly about.  So in the spirit of "getting it while the getting is good", come August, I spend most of my weekends trying to freeze, can or otherwise process some of the local goodness that is in such abundant supply this time of year.

The "Eat Local" movement is by no means new, and most people in my area either do a bit of canning themselves or know someone who does.  Even so, every so often, when the "what did you do this weekend?" topic comes up and I proudly answer that I processed 50 pounds of tomatoes and canned 12 quarts of dill pickles, I'll get a pause, a smirk and a "Oh, well, I certainly don't have time to do anything like that" remark.

And tonight I asked myself: how many times have knitters heard that kind of comment, right on the heels of a "My grandmother used to knit" remark, from Muggles?  How many times has someone looked at what we're doing and passed a tiny wee perhaps-not-meant-to-be-condescending-even-though-it-kind-of-is judgment on how we spend our time?

Hey, this just in - everything we do takes time.  Every time we choose to do one thing, that's time we're not spending doing any of a million other things. That's just the way it is.

Is canning (or knitting) time consuming?  Absolutely.  Are you allowed to feel like knitting or canning aren't your cup of tea and you'd prefer to spend your time doing something else?  You're darn tootin'.  But where I get off is when that assessment is followed by a judgment on the value of how I choose to spend my time.  When it translates into "I wouldn't do what you're doing, because I have far more important things to do".

Yes, it takes time.  But I know that for every hour on my feet, every neck spasm, and every dramatic complaint from the kids about how "it stinks in here!!!", there will be excitement and authoritative pronouncements that Mum's sauce is the Best Sauce Ever this Winter.  And - to me - that makes the hours I spend canning well spent indeed.

Next time I get that kind of remark, I think I'm going to take a feather from my dear Grandma's cap and tell whomever that they can put a lid on it.  I've got more important things to do.

Happy Knitting, Everyone!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Only Solution

This may come as a shock to many of you, but, well…. I can be a bit of a smart ass (I swear, I can actually HEAR my father laughing out loud right now).  Yes, it's true.  I have been known, at times, to display a fair bit of the smug.  Really.  You’d be surprised at how often I suppress the urge to let out a loud and heartfelt  “Well, DUH!”.


As you may or may not recall (see how I did that?  Just completely glossed over the fact that I haven’t blogged in just shy of a month.  Ahem.), a few weeks ago, I joined Stephen West’s Mystery KAL.  I have plenty of sock yarn, and I do so love his designs, I figured this would be great fun.  I didn’t bother  to knit a gauge swatch thought because, duh.  It’s a shawl, people.  I’m pretty sure it’s going to fit your basic human shaped person, right?  Nor did I concern myself too much with the fact that the yarn I had selected fell slightly short of the recommended yarns in the pattern because, duh-huuuuh.  Everyone knows projects rarely require ALL the yardage that’s stated in the pattern.  That’s just the designers’ way of messing with you covering their bases.

[The astute reader will at this point have noticed that, despite FULL knowledge of established Knitter Wisdom, this knitter flew RIGHT IN THE FACE of tested and true traditions and cast on without a care in the world.]

Everything was going swimmingly.  I was enjoying myself, and for ONCE, was actually up to date with the clues as they were coming out.  The first 3 clues were charming, and I was really looking forward to the final clue coming out and having a completed project to share with my awesome and loyal blog readers (see what I did again?)

The final clue has you knitting the edges of the shawl, decreasing from 83 stitches down to 9 at a rate of 2 stitches every 8 rows.  Yeah, I know it's a bit technical.  Anyway, the point is that there I was, happily knitting away, when it occurred to me that this last clue was somewhat knit heavy, and that my 2 balls of yarn were feeling, shall we say.... a little less than full?  I started to think that I might maybe perhaps run out of yarn.

Total and utter shock, people.  No idea how it could have happened.

This is hand dyed yarn, there's no way I can get any more.  What to do?  At first, I did what we all tend to do when we suspect we're going to run out of yarn: I knit faster.  When that proved ineffective (as it often does), I decided there was nothing for it but to rip back to the beginning of the final clue and increase the rate of the decreases (from 2 stitches per repeat to 4.  That would definitely work, but after about 5 pattern repeats, I started to feel like the edges of my shawl were looking a little too stumpy, and that maybe I should go back to the original decrease rate of 2 stitches every 8 rows.

Now I'm about to finish the first edge, and the balls of yarn that were disappearing faster than a teenager asked to empty the dishwasher appear to have as much yardage in them as they did when I first cast on.  I think they may even have MORE yarn in them than when I ripped back.  Which is making me wonder if I would have had enough yarn after all, and maybe I should rip back AGAIN and knit it the way Stephen West intended.

You know what this means, right?  I mean... there's really only one option at this point.

I'm going to have to cast on a pair of socks.

Happy Knitting, Everyone!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Garden update

I've made no progress on the Legends of the Shetland Seas shawl this week.  I will say this about it though:  when I got the pattern in the mail, at first I was a bit... well. I'm by no means an expert or anything, but the patterning didn't seem that advanced to me.  Sure, there are no rest rows, but really, we're talking K2tog and yo's here.  The decreases aren't symmetrical, so there isn't even an SSK to keep a knitter on her toes.  I guess I was a bit... disappointed.  There.  I said it.  I had thought this would be a challenge, a sigh that I had graduated to the holy status of the Advanced Knitter, and I was disappointed.

Then I wound the yarn and actually attempted to knit it. And dudes.  The pattern is sooOOOooOOOooo not the issue.  It's the yarn, my friends.  Gossamer weight yarn?  Knitting with that frog hair is intense.  2 rows on regular old straights was all I could handle before I realized I was totally gossamer's bitch and ordered some Addis Turbo Lace needles.  I even considered going Knitter Ninja and buying my first pair of Signatures, but decided against it when I realized I couldn't choose the colour myself.

So.  No Shetland goodness this week.  How about a look at my other WIP this summer?  Here's a peek at what's been going on in the vegetable patch.


My beloved tomatoes have started producing fruit.  It's still way too early for the Romas, of course, but the Cherry tomatoes are really getting in gear.  They're juicy and bursting with flavour, and have become a favourite snack when I water the garden every evening.

The bees have been busy little... well... bees, heh.  I was amazed to find them in little swarms in my pumpkin flowers.  Not swarms, really.  They were all just... chillin'.  Like frat boys after a kegger.  They're obviously doing something right, because we've got 5 good sized pumpkins out there this year.

Green beans.  Too many green beans!!!  I think I planted... oh... 12 plants?  16?  Too many.  Way too many.  It's a green bean invasion over here!!!

The corn I planted at Maxime's request seemed to be doing pretty well, maybe too much so since some critter or other has gotten into the garden and chomped 2 of the 9 stalks.  I don't know if I'll have enough to ensure cross pollination at this point, so I may well have a sad, corn-less little man in a few weeks.  We'll see.

Garlic!  I harvested my garlic last weekend!  And, to quote Anastasia Steele: Holy Crap!  It has to be the strongest garlic EVAH!  One clove is enough to get your eyes to tear up, I'm not even kidding.  Vampires beware is all I'm saying.  Phew!

And there you have it.  I'm off to get my knit on.  The Addis have arrived, friends, but so has the second clue of Stephen West's Mystery KAL.  Decisions, decisions...

Happy Knitting, Everyone!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Waiting has its rewards

After my last post, I was really hoping to have some Shetland pr0n to share with you, but it turns out that the pattern (Legends of the Shetland Seas - even the name is epic) is only available in print.  You'd think I would have figured that out after weeks of pattern stalking, but nope, not a clue.  You could have knocked me over with a feather when I wanted went to buy the pattern and realized it wasn't available as a download. No download?  You mean, I have to, like, wait?  Seriously?

Having to wait to cast on had it's advantages, however.  I finished the first of a languishing pair of stripey vanilla socks and am well on my way down the leg of the second.

Yarn: Regia Design Line Kaffe Fassett, Landscape Jungle Colourway (4350)
Pattern: 64 stitch vanilla socks, with a heel flap 'cause I like 'em better with flaps

I wove in the ends of the Wild Apple Bohus hat I finished in... oh... March of 2011.  (There were about a MILLION of them.  It would have taken you a long time too.  Ahem.)

I even joined Stephen West's Mystery Shawl KAL and got started on that.

Yarn: String Theory Caper Sock in Brina (Brown) and Viola Fancy Sock in Moonlit Heather (Purple)

And once the pattern finally arrived and I realized I now had to order some seriously pointy needles if I ever wanted to have a chance in heck of knitting this beast of a pattern, I did something drastic.  Something that, to be honest, I never thought I would do.  Ever.  

Dudes, I totally finished the green scarf.

This scarf is what you knit out of the leftover yarn for the Wild Apple Bohus hat.  The whole pattern is written out in 4 lines.  It's almost an afterthought.  And that's what it looks like, if we're going to be completely honest here.  An afterthought.  A "Oh by the way, the hat comes with this matching scarf" scarf.

But here's the thing: that's 132 cm (roughly 52 inches) of alternating rib knit on 2.0 mm needles you're looking at.  I know it doesn't look like much, but trust me.  It's a beast.

 Happy Knitting, Everyone!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Knitter Jargon

According to Wikipedia (the librarian in me just cringed, I kid you not), jargon is defined as esoteric but precisely defined terminology used for ease of communication between specialists in a given field, whereas a buzzword (which often develops from the appropriation of technical jargon) is often used in a more general way, inaccurately or inappropriately.  Whether you call it jargon or a buzzword, the point is that - as Knitters - there are words in our craft that carry a special weight, a special meaning.  Kinnearing.  Wildfire Patterns.  Ravatar.

When I settled on my next project, I realized it tapped into some of the MAJOR knitterly jargon.  Words that MEAN something, you know?

Advanced.  Shetland.  Gossamer (!!!). 


Happy Knitting, Everyone!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Impulse control

First things first: I think my knitting mojo is going to be making a much-anticipated return, my friends.  I finished a long-standing project that was sucking my will to live this weekend, and now I feel as though a bevvy of wonderful opportunities are laid out before me.

Long-term project monogamish-ness had made knitting about as exciting as brushing my teeth, and now that the never-ending project of doom is getting the snot blocked out of it upstairs*, everything feels shiny and new.  I'm stalking patterns on Ravelry, drooling over yarn, daydreaming about books...  Heck, I may even put a few rows on the green scarf tonight!  My trust, faith and deep, deep devotion to knitting has been restored, people. 

It was in that spirit that I went stash diving this afternoon.  I know exactly what my next "big" project is going to be, but can't cast on just yet, so I was just having a wee look around.  You know, a "I wonder if I have the yarn for that other thing that caught my eye this morning" gander, if you will.

Have you ever gone stash diving and come across yarn that you didn't remember you had?  Didn't remember at all?  And I'm not just talking about a solitary leftover hank of Cascade 220 or a stray skein of Colinette Jitterbug.  No, I'm talking sweater quantities of yarn.  Yarn that you were in such a frenzy to buy because you absolutely, positively needed that cardigan right. frickin'. now and it's just been sitting there?  For 3 years???

Um... yeah.  Me neither.  I mean... who does that?  Right?


Happy Knitting, Everyone!

*More on that project once I've been to the button shop!

Monday, June 18, 2012


On the eve of a month-long hiatus, I decided it was high time I visited this sadly neglected space.  How've you been, friends?  Was Spring kind to you?  Is everyone happy and healthy?

Things around Casa de Dear have been... well.  Probably just as busy/hectic/crazy/stressful as they've been in all of your homes.  Sure, we have some special issues that most families thankfully don't have to face.  Even so, it's not like our family has the exclusive on stress/worry/exhaustion. 


Sometimes I wonder about the pace we - as a society - live our lives by these days.  Seems like we fill up a great deal of our time with "busy work" that, ultimately, don't really mean anything.  But I digress...

My reaction to prolonged stress is to s-l-o-w down.  I focus on the tasks at hand, but beyond that, things get very quiet in my head.  Which translates to a total lack of blogging (but I'm guessing you're already figured that out, heh).  Not much sewing.  Not much of anything, truth be told.  Lots of reading.  Lots of gardening.  Lots of wine tea drinking.

Sure, I've been knitting.  A stitch here, a row there.  The projects I worked on were irrelevant though.  I mostly just knit because knitting is what I do, you know?  And asking me to not knit would be like asking me to not breathe. But I can't say I've been stoked by the knitting lately.

Some things DO have me pretty excited though, and even though they're not knitting-related, I thought I'd share them with you.  A list, in no particular order:
  •  Summer:  I am so, SO happy summer has arrived.  Flip Flops, kids spending entire days in the pool, trips to the convenience store for Freezies, pre-bedtime fishing on the river... Yes please.

  • My garden: despite the setback of - ahem - inadvertently killing all my seedlings, all my plants are in the ground.  This year we're growing: corn, pumpkin, tomatoes (cherry and roma), cucumber, basil, thyme, sugar snap peas, broccoli, green beans, carrots, garlic, lettuce and spinach.  Yum!
  • Eating from the garden: it's still too early for the garden to really be producing anything (it will though!  Boy, will it ever.), but so far we've enjoyed lots (and lots!) of fresh spinach in our salads and sandwiches (or straight from the ground, if you're Émilie), and this past weekend I fixed roasted potatoes with our garlic scapes.  Nom.
  • Garment sewing: more specifically, I want to make a skirt for myself.  I've got the fabric, the pattern, and the notions.  All I need now is the time!

And there you have it, friends.  No knitting news (yet), but I'm here, sharing things I'm excited about with you.  And it's a start.

Happy Knitting, Everyone!