A thought for the Weekend

"Don't bend, don't water it down;don't try to make it logical. Don't edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly."     Franz Kafka

 ...I didn't know Kafka was a knitter! ;)

Have a great weekend!


Minimalist Cardigan FO

Its all in the name...
min-i-mal-ist - one who provides a bare minimum of what is necessary."

Pattern: Minimalist Cardigan by Ruthie Nussbaum
Yarn: Moda Dea Washable Wool
Colour: 4461"Maize" Lot:128
Unlike what you see in the photos the colour of the yarn is the same as the one I've used as a highlight throughout this post!
Needles: 6mm Aero straights
Started: February 4, Finished April 27, 2010
Modifications: Worked in Wool rather than Alpaca

"Minimalist" really sums this one up. No shaping, embellishments, buttons or belts. It provides the bare minimum of what is necessary in a knitted cardigan... yarney warmth with sleeves and an open front. - oh and amusing to knit - 'can't forget that!

In fact lets start with that! The tedium of all over seed stitch and how time consuming it could have been was overcome for me by working it in my fledgling Continental technique. If you don't have this in your repertoire I heartily recommend it. The only thing thats hard about it is being patient with yourself long enough to cultivate the skill. I applied it bit by bit on various accommodating projects before using it full time on this knit and that greatly minimized the "pain". As a result I will now look at other patterns in rib or seed or moss stitch less warily - its like opening a door to a new world of potential projects!

Also entertaining for this knitter is the way the two broad panels of flattened stockinette are knit as one with the front panels of the sweater to ultimately flank the front opening and extend up past the shoulders, around the neck forming a handsome stand up collar. The blocked stockinette lies miraculously flat and hangs perfectly on the body - a wonderful visual and textural foil to the bumpy staccato of the neighbouring "seeds". No need for closures or embellishment - remember its just the bare minimum - and it works!

I like the collar at the back. My minimalist ;) hair makes the collar's apparent seamlessness visible, hiding the clever construction. Nice! More practically though it will also keep my neck warm. (Not against outdoor chill so much as the kind that comes from indoor air handling. I can't stand those down drafts of cool, unrelenting "wind" in modern buildings!)
As you might remember I knit this wool yarn at a looser gauge to end up with something akin to the soft, drapey quality the designer intended in recommending Alpaca. That attempt sure worked out. I wish you could feel the drape and hand of this fabric! I used about 850 yards of the Moda Dea yarn or just over 5 balls which brings this knit in at a total cost of less than $50.00 (Remember, there are no buttons or zippers to buy so even the price is minimal on this one!)
As for fit? I would say its "okay". As you can see above the shoulders are a tad wide, ditto the cuffs below. In being a bit large they detract from the intended minimalist aesthetic but only a tad. I'll live.

How does it suit me? Ditto the fit. "Okay".

Amy over at Stash Knit Repeat is posting a 10 part series on "fit". Currently the first and second installments are up and definitely worth checking out if fit is one of your bugaboos! Anyway, in her words, that I read yesterday just after completing this sweater, my Classic Hourglass is not suited to boxy shapes creating a line between the two widest parts of my figure (upper and lower body) while obliterating the view of the narrower bit in between at the waist. Sigh.

But then I have to remember its not supposed to be a "Maximizing Cardigan". Its "Minimalist",  providing the bare minimum - sleeves, a front opening and entertainment for the knitter. Check, check and check. I should be happy with this one and in fact I am.

Thanks for dropping by to review my little FO with me today!

P.S. Hey Leslie! in answer to your comment yesterday re: setting in sleeves... after wet blocking the pieces flat to the measurements cited on the pattern I steam block the curves of the sleeve tops while pinned in place to the pieces of the sweater body letting everything dry completely before moving it. This establishes matching ease on both pieces so when it comes time to stitch things together there's no visible sign of pulling (or pushing!). Rue also commented yesterday on needing to understand how to work with sleeve design...for what its worth I found this VK article very helpful when I was working on understanding how the sleeves would come together for my Olympic Sweater.


Minimalist - Almost Finished the Finishing!

Tomorrow I should be able to post a full FO report but even so close to the finish there are still things to say...

First of all, in making this all over seed stitch cardi I definitely improved my Continental technique. It was evident from the beginning of each piece to its end with my tension getting more consistent with each row. With this being my first all Continental all the time sweater its naturally not even close to my usual English knitting.  This is especially evident in the stockinette panels dominating the front of the sweater (above) and the presence of more than a few gaping seed stitches (below) that despite a double dose of blocking (wet and steam) there are obvious tension issues and visible "rowing out"*.
From a distance and among non knitters this will probably be a non issue - especially since the drape of this piece is gorgeous. The blocking wires ensured all the lower edges as well as the inside edging of the open front are dead straight and even which distracts from the uneven quality the rowing out lends to things.

I'll leave commenting on the fit on me until tomorrow but the way the pieces fit together really is the stuff of the assembly story.

 I know many people knit so as to avoid assembly and finishing altogether. In fact several of the sweaters I've happily made in the past year and a half fall into such a category but I have to admit I quite appreciate the effect and shaping that's possible when pieces are knit separately and seamed, sleeves are shaped and set in and blocking is done in advance of finishing. It lends a different quality to the garment that when I put it on, makes me feel good for having made the additional effort.
I dedicated last evening to doing that work and sewed in all the ends. What remains now is to graft the centre seam of the collar back. (BTW the shot below also illustrates the rowing out. To the right of the pins you can clearly see the pairs of one loose and thereby more prominent row and then one slightly tighter row with its resulting tendency to kind of recede in comparison to it looser neighbour.
I admit I don't always go the extra distance to correct the grafting at the toe of a sock if its a bit off but I am going to really strive to get this very visible seam dead on and so try to do it in the light of day when my wits are about me and the distractions of my family are not!

Thanks for dropping by!

*"Rowing Out" results when one row is knit at a different tension than the other - apparently its most notable in Stockinette.


Weekend Redux

...Some garter on the go at...
...a springtime track meet watching Number One Son
...A charted sock and a TV movie (The Enemy Within) Saturday Night with My Beloved
...A luncheon with Darling Daughter and the ladies in my family on Sunday afternoon...

Now I'm off to run off the calories from that cake and ice cream!

Thanks for dropping by!


Again with the Sleeves?

Cruising along with my new longer needle last night thinking "oh just a couple of more rows...I can't be at the point where its time to separate the stitches for the sleeves yet!

Besides I had it in my mind I needed to try the thing on rather than measure because that is what my new longer needle was allowing me to do with this new-to-me fancy top down knitting stuff.

Did I think trying it on would yield wild new information? Knowing (through measuring recent FO's) I need no more than 14" total distance around for a well fitting sleeve? Perhaps I did because onwards I knitted without measuring until this morning when I took the time to try it on.
I should have stopped because I had gone too far - it was too big. So I put markers in to show where the best fit was. Would you be surprised to hear the right fit was right at 14"?!

I've decided to go with "I was too lazy to measure" rather than something more like "too stupid!"
Ripping back to the 14" markers will be undertaken this evening.

Finally connecting the dots on the most basic of questions related to avoiding stupid mistakes...it wouldn't appear it will be anytime soon!

Have a great weekend, thanks for dropping by!


Laughing Somewhere near the Middle

  • Last night at the DKC "Dr. Knit" gave a slide presentation on a recent textile tour she took over three weeks in Peru. While she was there she took, among others, a lengthy course on the knitting style used by rural Peruvians for thousands of years, bought a quantity of examples of this craft (which we were all able to fondle and admire after her talk) and further enriched her personal textile library that she acknowledges requires 18 linear running yards of shelving to house.
  • Also at the meeting there were more knitting miracles of dedication presented in Show and Tell and another knitter told me about the extreme challenges she is conquering working one project in reversible knitting and another from a wildly fantastical Nora Gaughn pattern.
  • At the other end of the knitting spectrum this morning I dropped in on a weekly get together over coffee that includes a woman I taught to knit a couple of years ago. She works one project at a time, doesn't stash and has just a couple of sets of needles. When I tell her about opportunities for learning at DKC workshops or classes in the LYS she is uninterested.
  • Now I just finished reading an interesting post at More with Les wherein she reviewed "Sweater Quest" citing some of her favourite passages from the book and referring to quotes by the Yarn Harlot  as they illustrate the motivation to knit and the payoffs that come from it.
It all makes me wonder just how "passionate" I really am about knitting. Where do I fall in the spectrum?

I knit on a daily basis and blog about it and read other knit blogs and I undertake local knitterly outings. I felt  pretty "hard core". But three weeks in Peru? That is hard core!! I've attended a lecture by the Yarn Harlot and for a while followed her blog but I've never cracked one of her books or any kind of knit-related fiction. I doubt I ever will. Am I insufficiently interested in the topic to read about the motivation to knit? If so I'm probably less devoted to the craft than I thought.

On the other hand maybe I just prefer to spend time and money knitting rather than reading about it. If so maybe I'm more devoted than I think.

If skill is simply equal to dedication then maybe its a sliding scale and the closer I get to being able to knit anything I want, well and fast, the more passionate I will be! Like knitting "to" my heart's content rather than "at" it!

I don't know the answer. But its fun to ponder as I enjoy working the Swingy Sweater in mindless rounds of garter stitch. And truly mind"LESS" it is as my hands do all the work. I'm using Continental for the straight rows and English style for the increase rows so the pattern doesn't require the least bit of mental attention. 
Like marvelling at a cheap parlour trick I'm tickled to watch the appearance of a square neckline and neat shoulder shaping from simple paired increases.
I really haven't the time but nonetheless I'm going to try to squeeze in a stop at Passionknit for the longer circular to facilitate the trying-it-on-as-I-go feature of this, my first top down pattern.
Maybe these things indicate I've got a more than significant interest in the this knitting "thing" even if the knitting challenges I set for myself are just that - challenges for me rather than difficult in and of themselves as so many more brave knitters than me are willing to do.

Whatever the case and whether I have a little or a lot of passion for knitting relative to the many knitters I encountered yesterday and so far today, I hope as a knitter to never lose sight of something one of my 7 year old students said yesterday afternoon. Towards the end of class (one in which errors and issues stalled all progress cold and in which she herself lost 3 whole rows to purling on the knit side and vice versa) she giggled that this knitting lesson had been her favourite so far because "everyone was laughing and everyone was together".

Out of the mouths of babes!

Thanks for dropping by to be "together" with me today!


This Morning...

...on my desk...
On the breakfast table...
"Peeking" in from the porch outside the kitchen...
Just outside the back door...
Under the big Lilac a shot of orange - not a colour I ever associated with spring but I love how it sets everything else off so beautifully! In the foreground is one of the smaller vines of a species Clematis that by climbing up through the shrub gives the lilac the look of white blossoms a few weeks after its fragrant purple blooms are done
Its almost magical the way the lungwort presents different coloured blooms all at the same time!...
The Serviceberry is covered in a cloud of these white blossoms...
...that will become the berries the Robins will devour.
Viburnum ``Summer Snowflake`` starting to hint at the show she will put on for us in May. I love the heavily textured leaves and little broccoli-like baby flower bracts!
In the main garden...
...Dictamnus looking rather "muscular" in its early growth phase and nearby the
Pea Sprouts are keeping company with species tulips...
And back at the opposite side of the garden door from which we started, Vinca (a long ago prize from my mother`s Bridge Club) in blue at the foot of a Golden Forsythia planted with  a cutting from my grandfather`s garden...
And waiting to be spread around on the garden beds...
...If given a choice do all knitters choose a sheep variety over the kind "originating" from cows?
Then back inside I'm finally getting around to this job...
...A beautiful morning with all kinds of potentially enjoyable activities inside and out but what isn't illustrated here today are the less photogenic but more pressing, less entertaining "opportunities" (aka char woman work) that I've been doing instead!

Thanks for dropping by!


Fun Stuff

I like the way my word cloud looks like a ball of yarn? Especially since the word "Yarn" is so prominent.
Have you checked out the winners and runners up of the Bob Awards on Ravelry? (There's a link on the right side of the opening page - the one you see after you sign in) Check it out the next time you're on Ravelry, its amazing how varied, beautiful,  brilliant and silly knitting can be!) My favourite piece among the ones I saw is the fair isle cardigan in "Best use of Colour".

And finally, I love knitting but not this much! (If you check them out you'll see they are nonetheless beautiful - if I had to get one of them though, it would be the second one! ;) How about you? (Or maybe you already have one!)

Thanks for dropping by!


Everything Old is New Again

Having learned to knit as a child I was keen to get back to it in my twenties once I had the funds to indulge in buying yarn. One winter I asked my aunt if she would give me a refresher to help me get started.

('A note about my aunt - she married a man from a family of boys and then they had a family boys. She is very adept at communicating with males. Her manner is direct, unencumbered by the subtleties of typical female conversation. My sisters openly admit, and my mother - her sister - begrudgingly so, that because of her manner they have typically found her intimidating. I have always enjoyed her company though and found her style of communication refreshingly clear and helpful. She is one of my all time favourite people.)

During that winter in my 20's my aunt and I thought a weekend long jump start of two solid days of knitting would be a good way to refresh my memory so I bought needles and yarn and went to the cottage for the weekend with her and my uncle. (I wasn't working from a pattern, rather just a plan to make the same simple stockinette sweater twice with the same sized needles but two very different yarns. I figured I needed repetition to get going again but wanted two different sweaters out of it. My "plan" was for a short boxy look.  No shaping except to increase for drop sleeves. I would use the number of stitches the label told me I would get if I used the recommended needle size - I'd never heard of such a thing as swatching - wasn't that what having information on the yarn label was for? There would be ribbing at cuffs, around the bottom and the generous turtle neck. One yarn was a bulky deep forest green, the other, a mohair-esque in vivid pink - both in acrylic.

First thing that Saturday morning, perched on the couch by the fire I sat with my aunt all ready to go when she  stood up and went off to make some fresh coffee.  As she walked out of the room she told me to cast on.

"How do I do that?" I asked

"What!?!" she semi screeched from the kitchen.

Mistaking her irritation at how much of a "hand" I needed for simply not having heard me I innocently and more loudly repeated "How do I cast on?"

"What are you talking about?" she demanded as she rounded the corner from the kitchen. "Just cast on!"

"I don't know how to do that" I said

"You don't know how to CAST ON!?!" (she was incredulous) "You know how to knit! You were knitting in elementary school! Of course you know how to cast on! Just cast on. I'm going to finish with the coffee and I'll be right there!" And back she went 'round the corner.

I sat there staring at the chunky green yarn and my needles. I made a slip knot around one but that was as far as I could get.

Then she was back beside me now chuckling under her breath as is her habit (one which I particularly love) "I had no idea we were going to have to start with casting on!" she said.

Then she showed me the only cast on method either she or I had ever seen or knew of existing - a knitted cast on. That was how you cast on, just like how you held the needles was like a pencil, the yarn thrown with the right index finger. No other options or possibilities - this was how it was done.

A couple of years later, both of my sweaters finished and frequently worn (and no doubt covered in pills!) I was flying through Pingouin patterns and feeling every bit a bona fide "knitter". She mentioned to me that she had heard of an amazing improvement on casting on. Rather than knitting through the last stitch cast on, it was better to insert the right needle between the two previous cast on stitches. This would make the edge less inclined to twist and so create a more attractive edge. I immediately converted to this "new" technique. Until my most recent rebirth into knitting via knitblogland I had no idea anyone had ever cast on by any other method than by one of those two.

Since then I have bought and used reference books and the internet to expand my understanding of casting on and myriad other aspects of knitting. Yesterday beginning anew  with the Jo Sharp Silkroad  I recalled a knitter reporting on Ravelry of using a "cable cast on" for the beautiful edge it makes. Remembering that moment with my aunt all those years ago, how narrow our understanding was but how far I have come in understanding the value of trying new approaches I grabbed my favourite knitting reference (Montse Stanley), flipped to the instructions for this  "beautiful" cable cast on and read...

"a) Make Slip Knot
 b) Cast on 1 st following knitted method
 c) Continue as for knitted cast on but insert needle behind last st."


I laughed out loud.

Today I must give my aunt a call and tell her - we'll no doubt laugh together. She has a great laugh - even better than her chuckle!


A New Plan is Hatched

I've taken my compelling blue yarn off in a new direction entirely.

Rue suggested in the comments yesterday that its well suited for Garter stitch and something more simple and straightforward.

So I'm trying it out with this pattern - the Garter Stitch Swingy Sweater but making it longer with longer sleeves more like this version by Slinky Malinky (How great is that for a Ravelry Name? Btw I'm sorry to include a Ravelry link - I'm too lazy to ever follow Rav links so I don't and that's why I never put them in here but in this case Slinky Malinky doesn't have a blog or this knit in her Flikr photos so I have no choice and I hope you think its worth the effort to sign in and have a look.)

I knit the swatch this morning and had Darling Daughter take the relevant measurements and so I'm all ready to go.

As for what I knit last night...I restarted the Merino Lace Socks getting as far as the end of the first cuff and then, as is my post gardening habit these days ZZZZZZZZZ.........

So now I'm off to cast on for the Swingy Sweater! I'll be my first top down sweater but also garter stitch which will be nice and mindless for these drowsy springtime evenings.

Thanks for dropping by!


A Bit of a Dilemma

The dilemma of what was wrong with the computer has been resolved - or at least as resolved as computer problems can ever really be. When I enquired of my "geek" why these issues had popped up I heard, sometimes this kind of stuff just happens...".

My knitting dilemma concerns the Nora Gaughn cardigan from VK Fall '06 I've been working on over the past week.
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It has a shape and details that caught my eye despite the VK model actively turning me off the piece. A stylized riding jacket with the back hemline curving down longer than the front and a cheeky nod to being "double breasted" across a too narrow button band. All that paired with stitching detail reminiscent of a classic Aran as moss and garter stitches, varying widths of ribbing and a wee hint of lace to lighting things up wrap the body and circle the sleeves in bands of varying widths.

It gave me visions of easy but entertaining knitting in a pattern for which the dimensions were perfect for me just as written!

But the yarn is knitting up to look like chenille with a soft edged bulkiness about it. If I continue with this yarn the definition to show off that brilliant application of those stitches will be lost. I may as well follow the shaping instructions and knit the whole thing in stockinette.

But I love the yarn and I'm keen to work with it now. What to do with it though? I wish it would tell me what its best suited to but so far its not "talking".

I have neither the time nor interest to shop for a substitute yarn.

If I think about switching to a new pattern and yarn from my stash I'm  so far utterly un-enthused. So many new and fun things were to be had in working my most recent batch of knits - fair isling and first time steeking,  eyelet lace and "tangled" yoking. I've also done fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants pattern work while on the needles with a new-to-me fiber and then all over seed stitch with my beginner Continental. Its like I've momentarily exhausted my "wouldn't that be fun to try" list.

The poor finished pieces of Minimalist are being caught up in the quandry and are still piled, unblocked on the laundry room counter.

Maybe its more than a "bit" of a dilemma...

The rain and cold in the forecast for the weekend and a Saturday morning meeting that will take My Beloved  out of my company and off to the office for a couple of hours promises some time and energy early tomorrow to perhaps wrestle this question to the ground and put something entertaining in my knitting basket. Let's hope! In the meantime though, what will I work on tonight?


I never thought

...everyone would be as engaged with the question of the quality/source of food as the comments showed you are! Not only are you talented knitters there are a quantity of sophisticated and informed foodies among you!

I couldn't agree more with Amy regarding better taste and to that I would add texture! I am always amazed at how little water sweats off the free range meat as well and how few impurities seem to rise to the top when I'm braising them.

To Sandra's comment about the pressures of full time work and serving healthy meals at the end of the work day, my hat goes off to anyone who does that balancing act with school aged children!

Rue and Elizabeth also prompt a sense of real admiration in that they have actually given up meat. I love that idea. For a few reasons particular to my own health its not an option for me at the moment but it just strikes me as such a clean and fresh way to eat!

A big thanks to Michelle for those sources here in Toronto. I'm familiar with the Healthy Butcher but I'll have to check out the second reference! And who knew there were 100 mile markets out in the country north of Toronto? I was so surprised at Brenda's use of just such a shop.  If I'm ever up that way I fully plan to check that place out!

As part of my usual practice of cooking with seasonal ingredients today I've stewed the last of my '09 rhubarb harvest, frozen since early last summer and I'm making Parsley soup. Its bright green, more flavourful than you'd expect (the 2 tablespoons of Sherry added just before serving does amazing things indeed!)and absolutely one of my favourite spring time soups. With that done I'm off to the garden to plant spring onions and some pole beans.  The forcast doesn't have any frost in it for at least the next two weeks so I think I'll take a chance.

I've been in the garden every spare second which is making for good progress outside but lousy knitting at night. Last nights' effort was pathetic. I managed about 10 rows of moss stitch on the swatching I've decided to revisit before I started falling asleep! As soon as I stop moving my body fast forwards to sleep mode!
'Tis just a symptom of the season I guess. I won't hope for better tonight.  Right now I'm heading back out - more planting to do and I need to top dress and seed the lawn after it gets its first cut, trim and thorough raking of the year.

Thanks for dropping by today!


My Computer's Down but My Freezer is Full

I had to take my desktop unit in yesterday so today I'm on a wee laptop with no access to photos :(

The weekend didn't facilitate knitting at all.  The days were busy and full and by the time I sat down at night I was fighting to stay awake and loosing the battle every time!

The activities of the weekend were largely centered around food. Unlike the previous weekend where it was all about preparing it for Easter, this weekend was about buying it and organizing it for storage.

Last year we replaced our inefficient ancient upright freezer with a small chest freezer that I try to keep essentially full while constantly rotating the contents.

It was time to stock up on meat again as I was rapidly depleting the frozen stores. For a while now we have been buying meat and poultry from sources other than the grocery store. One personal connection we have is to a couple who raise small herds of cattle for their own use. Alternately sometimes be buy from a small town butcher who operates a free range cattle operation in the farm country near My Beloved's home town 2.5 hours outside the city. He also has chicken and pork on offer in his shop.

The beef is grass fed, the chickens and eggs free range from very small producers. The butcher makes his own sausage that, like his pork products are also from small scale hog farmers in the area. A special treat for My Beloved and the kids was the butcher's special summer sausage complete with linen cheesecloth wrapping and still wearing the cotton string tied in the bow that allows it to hang for aging and whatever else you do with summer sausage. We also bought local maple syrup and honey, beeswax candles and home made soap.

With the meat wrapped in butcher's paper Not one scrap of packaging of all these goodies will go anywhere other than our green bin!

Back in the city Sunday I worked on the home grown side of things transplanting herbs, tending to the emerging peas, planting spinach, mesclun and leaf lettuce and also a few garlic cloves in the spots where last fall's plantings had some holes.

Finally, after dinner it was "Food Inc."on CBC. The nightmare that is agribusiness sure gets pulled out in the light of day to disgust and horrify in that movie. All of it was essentially stuff I already knew or suspected - hence our increasing efforts to seek out alternate sources of fresh food than the grocery store. I did feel good as we watched to know that at least we were supporting local farmers and their efforts to raise bio diverse livestock in humane conditions while respecting the fertility of local farmland.

For my part its more labour intensive than buying processed food but its also a much healthier way to eat and live!

The point was made in the final few minutes of the movie that when we purchase food of any kind either in restaurants or fast food places, the grocery or the farm stand we are making a powerful and influential vote in favour of that product we've bought. All those votes are closely tabulated by the food and grocery industry and do affect the way they do business and the products they offer. I'm keen to let them know I don't like the way they're doing things!

So I feel very good about the votes we cast on the weekend (and a little bit guilty about buying stuff at the home baking table that I then ate on the long drive home. Those kinds of "votes" get tallied right in and around the waistband of my jeans "in favour" of more exercise! Booo!)

I hope you had a good weekend and unlike me got to knit as much as you wanted and hoped to! Thanks for dropping by!


Eye Candy Friday

This was on the wrapping for one of the prizes I won a couple of weeks ago.

Stephanie (Sunshine Soapbox) who packed up my prize spent a University term in Europe last year and shared a wee bit of it in the mail with me! I love the look of this stamp, especially now in April - the month that most evokes the essence of Paris for me so I've got this shot as my wallpaper today.

I finished the knitting on Minimalist last night. I'm out this morning but 'hope to get the blocking done this afternoon. I'm looking forward to diving into this pile of deep blue.
It'll be a nice change from all the softer colours I've been working with over the winter!

Thanks so much for dropping by today!


Last evening, we attended an awards night produced by our Darling Daughter. Unless invited I don't think parents should intrude on a healthy 20 something's world but she told us at dinner Tuesday we were welcome to attend so we jumped at the chance. About 300 University students made up the vast majority of the audience.

It was long and loud but they were all dressed up and excited to be nominated and in some cases, to win. Their enthusiasm for life and the limitless possibilities ahead of them was palpable in the room.

As I looked around over the course of the evening at all these "baby adults" just starting to be independent, moving a bit uncertainly about under their own steam, very keen to do everything by themselves! It struck me how much in their lives has yet to happen.

So many decisions lie ahead of them and the consequences thereof.  With independence comes freedom to choose but also obligation to manage the consequences of those choices and of course manage them from amid the maelstrom of day to to day life.

Of course my big scary decisions around marriage and children, career, house and home are behind me and by and large worked out better than I ever hoped they would. Those 20 years following my graduation were satisfying beyond words but also utterly consuming. Now I have the mental capacity to look into, explore and enjoy the little delicious details of life like, oh, say Knitting for example!

As I knit in the car on the way home, looking out through the rain smeared windows at the lights of the city, I wondered what more in this world I could want than this fabulous life of mine!

Thanks for dropping by today.

P.S. I hope to finish the second sleeve on the Minimalist Cardi tonight!


Easter Weekend

Easter last year found my family all busy caring for my brother in the final days of his battle with cancer. For 2010 I wanted to mix things up from our usual routine for our first Easter without him. So I threw tradition to the winds. I switched our customary dinner gathering to one immediately following Easter Morning Church services, suggested we all attend one service together at my mom's church rather than our own various churches and then had everyone come back to our place for a sunny, flower filled lunch. New new new!

As for the food, I found an Easter Luncheon Menu (Martha Stewart Living March '97 Gardening Edition). which takes its inspiration from ..."a (California) valley rich with citrus orchards ringed by coastal mountains in a hundred shades of pink". I thought it sounded just like the change we all needed this Easter...

Pimm's Cup Cocktail (With Fruit Plate)
Whole Poached Salmon in Aspic with Citrus and Orange Mayonnaise
Rosemary Flatbread
Roasted Beets with Citrus and Spring Greens
Steamed Asparagus with Orange Zest
New Potatoes with Gremolata
Fennel and Apple Salad
Eton Mess

Instead of doing my customary thing of making the whole meal, I said I'd make the Salmon, the Asparagus and Bread  and then suggested my sisters and our mother divide up the rest of the recipes between them. The result was wonderful! Everyone felt a real sense of accomplishment and even my non cooking mother and sister reported very much enjoying the process of making something new and unusual. Martha recipes can be challenging but that can be half the fun and in this instance it was! I know my part had me standing on my culinary toes as I'd never before made Aspic. Its like nothing I've ever tried and night and day different from glazing or coating something with straight gelatin which is what I thought it would be!

On the floral front all the forsythia branches bloomed just in time...
The cocktail hour of our event featured Pimms No.1 laced with the juices of macerated fruit, poured over ice with Gingerale and garnished with a cucumber spear. It looked just as fresh and flavourful as it tasted! Again such a nice change from our usual wine or beer!

The sister who made the drink also brought a beautiful fruit tray to go with it as we started off our celebration in the garden.
Then we made the move inside to the dining table with a wee chocolate gift at everyone's place...
As usual with Martha, everything looked as well as tasted fabulous and everything really worked together.

The colours in the beet and citrus salad were so fantastic - especially alongside the rosy salmon and set off against the acid greens in the apple and fennel dish. Afterwards I counted and across the entirety of the menue there were about 20 different fruits and vegetables used!

After lunch the ladies who had cooked enjoyed tea and coffee from springy china cups and saucers while the guys did the minimal cleanup the kitchen required, building doggy bags for everyone to take home, loading the dishwasher and washing and drying the more delicate glasswear.

Once everyone had gone we had time for a walk before a cozy baked pasta dinner. It was by then just the four of us and we ate in front of the television watching Fantastic Mr. Fox. (That's the beauty of a vegetable laden midday meal - pretty soon there's room for a simple hearty dinner!) During the movie I started the second sleeve on the Minimalist Cardigan.

I hope to block the two fronts, the back and completed sleeve tomorrow and once that's done I'll really feel like I'm in the home stretch on this one.

I hope you had a grand holiday weekend, whatever it entailed. Thanks for dropping by today!