Lost and Found

Hips on rosa glauca species shrub rose
Lost: A couple of hours this morning (and I'm not done yet!) to shoveling the driveway and knocking heavy wet snow off badly bent branches around the garden.
Already Blooming Witch Hazel hamamalis virginiana

Found: A thrill at having had the foresight to plant for visual interest...

cornus "Winter Fire" Dogwood
 ...regardless of the season!

I have also "lost" a few inches of progress on Ranger but have "found" solice that the loss is not due to a stupid error of omission or failure to pay attention. I made a decision to interpret the instructions that was...um....wrong but it was nonetheless a decision and for some reason this makes me feel much better about it. You don't suppose I might be finding some perspective with this knitting thing!?! Nahhh, couldn't be!

Thanks for dropping by!


Still at it...

I feel close to the finish line on the body of this beast but it remains rather distant.

Skimmed the instructions late last week and took away the notion I had but 11 rows of decreases before the collar shaping...11 Right Side Rows that is. Oooops.

Other than the unwieldy business of picking the thing up over my head to release the twist of the whole garment and then extricate the yarn from its generous folds before I can continue it's quite pleasant knitting.

The shaping is thoughtful and clearly conveyed. I'm finding documenting my passage through them gives nice structure to the process and after many years of working cryptic magazine instructions 8 pages of expansive explanation feel like lying on a King size bed - so much more than I need or am used to and boy does it ever seem like a long way to the edge!
Last night was the monthly craft group meeting. I decided to express both February's Valentine's Day and almost-upon-us March's Maple Syrup season with heart shaped, maple toffee topped cookies. The crushed maple and almond toffee recipe will be a keeper for everything from coffee cakes to mixing into the icing between cake layers to just sprinkling over ice cream but I found the cookie bit to be sub standard. Whatever my objections though, the ladies were, nonetheless, most appreciative recipients!

Its a gorgeous sunny morning with that stormy forecast for later in the day. Hudson and I are off to take it all in before the clouds start to gather.

Thanks for dropping by!


Knitting for Men?

Last night at the DKC (Glenna C. was the featured speaker) Patrick Madden wore a new FO for Show and Tell. So refreshing to see a man proudly modeling a knit sweater!

While growing up, a huge amount of the knitting I witnessed come off the needles of my mother, aunt and grandmother was for men...socks, vests, gloves, fine gauge cardigans and of course Mary Maxim curling/hockey themed sweaters! Ditto vests and cardis, hats and mittens and bulky zipped jackets for boys.

These pieces were worn a lot and darned for greater longevity.

Now, however my knitting world seems almost exclusively female. Last night in her talk on the internet/social media and knitting Glenna C. cited more than one definition of some aspect of knit culture (Stitch and Bitch for example) as being of female constitution. I get that, but I'm not referring to knitters, rather to knitting - the products of the process. Sure enough a Ravelry pattern search for adult females yields almost 66,000 results, a search for adult male patterns gave me just over 8,300. That's only 13% of the number of options for females.

All this is a bit top of mind for me right now as Ranger's going well and Number One Son is wearing his headband and mittens daily and so I'm wont to dream big about doing more knitting for the guys. I've even fantasized about the DKC Fashion Show next Christmas with My Beloved modelling multiple great sweaters I've whipped up for him between now and then. (Fat chance of that kind of productivity but like I said, its fantasy!)

Anyway looking through those eight thousand men's patterns, the featured photos are generally professionally modelled so I check out the "projects" to see real life knitters working the patterns and real life men modelling them.

If you've ever done such a search you may have noticed men who knit for themselves (like Patrick) have pictures of themselves in those knits that like Patrick last night convey happiness and comfort and satisfaction with their garment.  The men and boys of my childhood similarly beamed comfortable, unselfconcious smiles in family photos while wearing the knits of their wive's and mother's hands.

Contrast this with many photos of men on Ravelry wearing contemporary knits others (females?) have made for them. Pained, Awkward, Stunned. You can almost hear the instructions from the other side of the camera..."do something!"..."move your arms!"..."why do you look so weird - just smile!" I wonder whether some of the more crazed looking gents are suffering from the trauma of photographing the FO or being expected to wear it? (There is, after all, the well documented phenomenon of the "Boyfriend Sweater"!)

Why is this the case? What's happened? Knitting has exploded, it would seem more and more men are knitting and designing (Jared Flood #1 designer on Ravelry, Stephen West, #4!) I don't get it!

Its not photography related - I think that's just a symptom. I'm pretty sure it has to do with the knits themselves. And maybe just a wee bit about the knitter too? I know I want a certain amount of entertainment value out of my knitting efforts. Not so the knitters that came before me. It was much more pragmatic then and they were not trying to "style" anyone, just working basic, comfortable, well fitting and warm garments.

I have to admit an interest in pattern, texture and colour for male knits. I should recognize though, the males for whom I want to knit, don't share this view. In fact Number One Son asked me a couple of years ago why everything I knit for myself had to be so bright? He pointed out my choice of yarns actually competed with the knits themselves. 'Wondered why I didn't prefer to show off my stitches rather than the yarn somebody else made.

The lure of bulkier yarns to accomplish bigger sizes in less time might also be a mistake.  "Its just too hot" was a frequent complaint I heard from My Beloved early in our years together when I was cranking out pullovers for him.

So maybe I'd better take it easy on the gauge, high style and colour. If I want to knit stuff for my "men" I'd better find entertainment in the "done" and the "often donned" rather than the "doing".

Would it still be worth it then? Well I have to admit I am tickled to watch my son hunt around the house for the mittens I made before he heads out the door into the cold. It also feels pretty good to have My Beloved asking about the progress of knitting on his Cardi. If the odd man-knit could appear in a family photo not because I need a modeled shot of it but because its just being worn I think it would be pretty great. The intensely boring  basic socks I've knit up for both my guys do get worn almost constantly all winter and its great to find them in the laundry week after week.

Its something to ponder as I finish up Ranger.  Thanks for nudging me into thinking about all this stuff Patrick!
And thank you for dropping by to ponder it with me!


A Day at the "S-Paw"

The Process starts with Hudson awaiting the inevitable knowing downstairs in the "S-Paw" (aka Laundry Room) are these tools...
Including his "Blow Dryer"...
And the Grooming Table...
Now combed down to the skin and ready to hit the shower...
Post bath flat head...
Fluff dried and ready for clipping...
Ta Da! Lapsed time a record breaking 3.5 hours!

Back on look out duty 5'2" of clean fluffiness!

Its DKC night tonight! If you're in town, 'hope to see you there!


Wild Week

Unloading photos from the camera, just realized why I failed to post last week.

There was a birthday (celebrated twice!)...Skiing...A screening of the Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts...A Pancake Party...Valentines Day...A Black Tie Event...Sniffling people staying home with colds...Beethoven's 9th at the Symphony...The Auto Show...Number One Son (with laundry) arriving home for Reading Week....Multiple subway trips downtown and back and then yesterday, the Family Day Holiday.

None of this was good for Ranger. It did, however, provide an excuse to work up my own DK version of Veronique Avery's Fingering Weight Pinion mitts almost to completion (you called it Mary!)
And add a few inches to my subway travel receiving blanket.
Back onto Ranger now enjoying the looooong straight rows. Lovely and so cozy draped across my lap, its going to be a light, warm cardigan. Immediately ahead are the second set of 10 short rows adding length to the back then the decreases will start as I head for the collar - 30% or so of the knitting is all that remains - the end clearly in sight. My Beloved will have it on in no time (she types optimistically!).
The plan for the dark and dreary day ahead is a bath, blow dry and scissoring for a certain creamy white fellow I hang around with. (Start to finish its probably a 4 or 5 hour event!)
Then tonight its still all Hudson all the time as we head off to his Obedience Class. I hope to start Obedience Trials with him next month. Its something I've always wanted to do so we didn't stop with basic puppy training classes, we've kept up weekly lessons for the last couple of years. He's really gaining control of himself now - undoubtedly the hardest "trick" of all - so its time to put that "steadiness" to the test by putting him through his paces in an arena filled with a couple of hundred other dogs!?! (It will be the first Trial for both Hudson and ME! I'm working on my "steady work" because the speed with which my energy travels down that leash to him has to be seen to be believed!) Cesar Milan, the Dog Whisperer says "... you don't get the dog you want to get the dog you need." Interesting to think of it that way!

Thanks for dropping by and catching up!


(If you haven't seen enough) "Snow Day"!

'Tried to capture the snowiness here yesterday but it kept sticking to the camera lens and obliterating the view.  This view does a good job of summing it up though...

My "Gear" drying between dog walks and driveway shoveling. (>4 hours outside over the course of the day!)

During one break in my shoveling mid afternoon I looked out to see this...



Boys and their toys eh?!

If you're somewhere the storm just left 'hope you get out and enjoy your sparkly white world today! I find the knitting is so much sweeter afterwards if you do!

Thanks for dropping by!



'Cleaning up my year end photo files and realized I never showed you the incredible fit of the PJ pants Curlerchik made for me! We can tell from the combo Santa/Hat/Beard this was Christmas morning as we finished opening gifts.

Can you believe she made these using only my measurements? We have never even met! She's amazing! (And generous too don't you think?)
And anyone remember my tale of  the Chocolate Mint Cake?  Here it is with all four layers iced and its structural "truss" ribbon keeping the slices from tipping backwards under the weight of their own frosting...
The truss is held in place with a toothpick you can just see peeking out from that mint leaf on the side.

In the end it traveled beautifully in rush hour traffic in my little standard transmission car and arrived at its destination looking just as it does above.

Despite the trouble I had I'm very glad to have pre-sliced it. I was able to take my time with a clean, wet, sharp knife for each slice which gave me sharp cuts and ease of serving at the actual dinner.

There, all caught up! Thanks for dropping by!


Love/Don't Love


How a new screen opens when I click on an Ad in Ravelry yet because I don't loose the current page I'm on I tend to click on so many more!

Don't Love

How an interesting visual in those same ads often won't take you to that particular item but often to an Etsy shop featuring things utterly unrelated to the image in the ad.


Following talented, inspired Knit Bloggers

Don't Love

When those same bloggers become knitting professionals and then only post when trying to sell things.


Friendly, helpful yarn shop staff

Don't Love

Being "sold up" on yarn. I came in for "X" and I'm trying to look at and consider it. Don't stick "Y" in my face and gush about its qualities. Its distracting and really not compelling beyond making me think twice about returning any time soon.


Downloading Free Brooklyn Tweed Look Books to my Tablet and being able to scroll through them for inspiration/insight/ideas anytime without going on line or having to wait for pages to load.

Don't Love

The space/time continuum that means though I may want to knit it all that ain't ever going to happen.

Really Love and as noted above Really Don't Love the contents of the latest BT Look Book just out a few minutes ago!

But wait a minute! I've got a BT knit on the needles! Why not just enjoy that? 'Talk about instant gratification! Ranger's finally all on one needle.

Also Really Love

That you dropped by!


Au Revoir Penny!

It'll still be in circulation for a little while longer but as of today, no longer made. Its a bit sad but I think I can hear my wallet's sigh of relief from here!

Also a bit sad, failing to achieve my weekend goal of getting Ranger's disparate pieces onto one needle to begin shaping for the yoke.

The distances of this large men's sweater are deceiving me. Knitting my own more familiar size that goal would have been realistic but not so for this brute.

Oh the mind games a monogamous knitter must play balancing perception and expectation with reality...like responding to the child asking..."how long 'till we get there?".

('Reminds me of a trip to Floriade in the Netherlands My Beloved and I took with sightseeing route based on an Amex brochure for Dutch Bed and Breakfasts. Very familiar with the scale of Ontario maps we'd identify a destination in the morning and head off with a day's drive in mind but repeatedly finding ourselves, long before lunch, at the border (or the ocean!) having literally crossed the entire nation in less time than our familiar drive to the cottage back home and asking each other "We're here already?!)

Of course with knitting the smartest knitters know either how long it is going to take, or, not to ask themselves that question! For me, not clever enough not to ask I at least do know its too early to think about finishing. Better to focus on starting the yoke. I got up early this morning to work on it a bit so now there are only a dozen or so rounds on the last sleeve between "here" and "there".  I'll have a little mental happy dance when I finally "arrive" and hope that's enough to motivate me to plow onward.

I'll let you know how that goes!

Thanks for dropping by!


Friday, February and 5th

Well, well here it is Friday and February and my 5th Blogiversary!

Being Friday I can now report a week of monogamous knitting on Ranger! No screaming progress as a result but sleeve #2 is underway and if I hadn't been faithful goodness knows where on sleeve #1 I'd still be.

Being February is also not being January - a month where I kind of mentally checked out. I can't say for sure how much of that was by choice or just portions of my brain taking a breather. I've pushed myself past my physical limit in the past to the point of feeling ill with exhaustion but never has my ever busy and hungry mind ever been more sieve than steel trap.

I'm not talking about sadness or depression or being disinterested in things. Just not having capacity to manage commitments to anyone or even any thought. I could feel it beginning to happen after Christmas and I just went with it as a necessary passing thing, I was relaxed about it, kept up exercising and eating right and now the clouds and fog are lifting.

Good thing too as today's new found clarity has me suddenly recognizing its the 5th Anniversary of this blog documenting the adventure of "catching up" my knitting skills with those of the talented young knitters I'd been following on line.

I feel like now I am at the point I was aiming for - I did catch up...

I know lots of ways to cast on, I've steeked and felted, learned Continental, struggled with altering patterns and understanding fit. I've taken lessons from big time designers and workshops aplenty.

I've ordered yarn on line and done regular rounds of the many shops in our Great City.

I have (DKC)Frolicked and Modelled. I've maintained a membership in that guild, tried Stitch and Bitch drop ins, attended Knitty Yarn Tastings and joined a regular craft group.

I've bought expensive hand dyed skeins, knit with pencil roving, fine alpaca, heavy cotton and mohair lace yarn. I've worked sweaters with more than a dozen colours within them and re imagined colour schemes from scratch. I've used Intarsia Bobbins and done one and two handed stranded colour work.

I've explored the many three dimensional attributes of Gloves, Hats, Mitts and of course socks from top down and bottom up using Bamboo, Birch, Addis, Vintage straights and handfulls of dpn's.

Zippers, buttons and linings have been installed in my knits. I've dallied with lace and seen firsthand the value of woolly wool.

I joined Ravelry, made real life knitting friends and attended Yarn Harlot readings where I knew so many in the room I shocked myself. I met knitters in person after coming to know them on line.

I discovered Elizabeth Zimmerman and have tried to channel her as well as work her "rules" and I've considered many of Annie Modesitt's "heretical" ideas.

I've learned about and used safety lines and stitch markers, row counters and stitch holders. I've bought T pins and blocking boards, blocking wires and SOAK. I've built up from a wee collection of knitting magazines to a bit of a knitting library with books and pdf patterns, stitch dictionaries and instructional manuals.

I've watched YouTube How To's and listened to knitting podcasts. I taught beginner knitting to school children over an Academic Year.

I've received gifts in the mail from knitters all over the world and blogging awards too. Thrilling!

I haven't yet joined a KAL  (I did an Olympic Knit Sweater if that counts!) I haven't knit with beads. I haven't spun my own yarn or bought a loom. 'Haven't knit from silk hankies or thrummed. I have never travelled to a knitting event or gone on a knitting tour. I don't regularly attend an LYS knit night and I have yet to try out an on-line Craftsy-like course.

Once I bought yarn on sale without a pattern in mind for two projects. That yarn burned a hole in my brain for almost three years before I knit it up and was free of its silent but unrelenting pressure. Needless to say I have never developed a yarn stash.

Through all of this the biggest lessons have come from making stupid mistakes. The biggest victories are the sensations of confidence to now try pretty much anything out there and/or to work up something from my own imagination.

Over all five years people have pointed out I could always buy that (fill in the blank) faster than make it myself, suggest I must be a very patient person and have helpfully observed I clearly have too much time on my hands.

None of the members of my family have become any better at standing in a yarn shop without having an anxiety attack although the knitting-related gifts I receive from them are starting to increase and improve dramatically.

Oh and somewhere along the line I came to think of myself as a knitblogger ; to self identify as "Sel and Poivre". I've even introduced myself as such.

So what now? Now its time to enjoy.

Enjoy more monogamy with Ranger, the longer days, brighter sun and clearing mind of February and maybe tinker with how things look around here. I haven't even checked into all the new doo dads Blogger offers these days. And I'm going to enjoy the weekend!

Hope you do too. Thanks so very much for dropping by!