This week I'm continuing to strive for a "Chill" Christmas with the help and "oversight" of our in-house Christmas "Angel".

He's incapable of malice, ever sweet and loving, ("dresses" in "white"!) and keeps me mindful of what really matters...being together, enjoying our dinner (even if its kibble!) and whatever's on that To Do List and no matter the weather, making sure we get out and enjoy a big long walk twice every day!

Appreciating the food we are lucky to be able to enjoy and making sure to get our exercise are fairly straightforward if sometimes elusive goals over the Holidays.

"Together" can be a little more tricky. "Together" needn't only mean those we can see and touch. After all traditions and their place in our memories are a big part of feeling together but are naturally crammed with people and events that once defined the season for us but that, for whatever reason, are no more. So I feel I need to focus on a broader sense of what "Together" might mean right now.

For example, its not that its only the four of us for Christmas. Rather this year "Together" means Number One Son is home from England and we have him all to ourselves on the 25th.

Together is also manifesting itself in opening up the Christmas preparations to my 20-something compatriots - both in how they can help me and how I can help them. (And of course there are the mittens I got the go-ahead to make!)

Today all my finished knits are soaking together pre-blocking - I'll post about those next week!)

On the 26th at my in law's big family bash, "together" will include someone new "attending" within their mother's belly. We won't be able to see or hold that wee little one but they'll hear us and sense pregnant mom's feelings about the whole thing!

And we'll be "Together" with my family most recently in our memories of last year in Manhattan. On Christmas Eve, while we were there the safe arrival of miraculous identical twins (now happy one year olds) occurred.  Their existence defied parental age, injury and cancer, their gestation overcame extremely high risks and they handily overcame the challenges of prematurity to expand my close Cousin's offspring from 3 to 5 in one big jump. (Hudson artwork featured above courtesy of same Cousin!)

So the idea of "together", in all its various manifestations, is my particular focus this week. If I loose sight of it in the melee of my mind Hudson's contented sighs from the floor between us is a potent reminder.

I hope this next week is wonderful for you - wherever you are and whoever you are with or remembering!


Right on the Money

A typically jam crammed time chez Sel and Poivre has been the nature of our December but I'm hitting my marks and staying "Chill". It feels great.

Christmas knitting is going pretty well - hit a bit of a snag working decreases on the fly on a pattern that hasn't any while simultaneously watching a gripping BBC thriller PVR'd last summer. 'Serves me right. Fourth time was "the charm" for sorting it out! Now I'm awaiting some sizing information - being collected on the sly for me before I'll finish that project off.

Another Christmas knit for a certain picky recipient has been knit to a point where I've stopped, ready to package it up. Once opened by said recipient I'll get the final go ahead for size before finishing it off. (Using a new to me yarn for this - very interesting - can't wait to blog about it.)

The last of my gift projects almost sprang from my needles last night to the point of being half done in shorter time than I'd anticipated.

Cast on during my subway ride down to the Toronto Knitter's Guild (DKC has a new name) meeting. The presentation was largely a straight up information session answering questions Guild members had submitted ahead of time. Responses were prepared and quite exhaustive with the new Executive all sitting on stage. Not exactly exciting but nonetheless thrilling to have clarity and a commitment to future transparency. We are very lucky to have a new President who will bring her legal background to organizing the Guild for future growth and stability. But that's not all!

There's a bubbly new Program Coordinator who will be managing Show and Tell from now on and she put together a fantastic spread for the Holiday gathering that followed the business part of the meeting. There's a new newsletter team, a new webmaster and yet another member newly committed to overseeing/managing the Guild's social media presence.

I saw lots of new faces in the crowd and would describe the mood in the room during Show and Tell as "giddy". Lots of energy there and a sense of genuine interest in the new initiatives going forward. It was also a nice surprise to meet one of my Ravelry friends in person and make another to boot!

While some familiar faces were absent once back in our usual "home" next month I hope they'll return to be as inspired by the positive "vibe"  as I was.

I came home all ready to finish off the Christmas knits and finish up Hawser too. ('Got a bit carried away a few nights ago and went 4" beyond where I should have stopped on sleeve one. Again, have to blame the BBC!) I'd like to wear Christmassy red on the 26th at My Beloved's family Christmas celebration.

I can't fail to also mention how much I'm enjoying reading about Brenda's exploits with knitted gift giving in recent days and Stephen's triumphant completion of an EZ pullover he's packed up to wear abroad over the holidays and some fantastic hats he's taking along as gifts as well. Needles also sounds like she is enjoying working up Alpaca scarves for the "Bobs".

While I don't always read the Yarn Harlot I've also been scanning her pre-Christmas posts and finding inspiration there too.

Our snow cover has melted over the last few warm rainy days and nights. The rain's kept us from our annual family trek to get a tree. Just what the four of us are doing/eating on the 25th - our first ever Christmas without extended family - is TBD but I credit the knitting (and the reading about it) and last night's festivities for feeling the spirit of the season this morning.

I hope you're feeling it too - whatever your "season" entails. Thanks for dropping by!



I've been working away on Hawser and only Hawser and loving the continuity of the process with no distractions and no particular pressure either.

I'll finish the body over the weekend and then just have stockinette sleeves in the round to be able to pick up and work any time. Lovely!

I've developed a bit of a Christmas gift knitting list - small things that will work up quickly and be fun and gratifying but I need to hit Romni and Eweknit before I can start any of them.

I can't squeeze a trip to either of those spots in before next week so for now its just ruby red Hawser to enjoy through the long dark evenings. There's something that feels so right about cold weather, darkness and knitting when they're all together.

The weather for walks with Hudson has ranged between brisk and bitter but layered cowls and scarves have blocked the wind 'round my neck while the wool layer under my coat keeps the chill at bay. Back at home it feels fantastic to have exercised out in that cold fresh air.

My mitten collection grew a lot over the last year but I find myself imagining more effective designs to keep the achey cold from my fingers.

There's a new baby expected among my in-laws early in the new year so I'm scheming for that as well.

With projects "current", "soon-to-be" and "what might I feel like doing after that?" my proverbial "knitting basket" is a very comfortable place to "be" these days!

I'm just "over" being frantic about the Holidays. Nor am I interested in setting arbitrary deadlines for myself or exhaustively working lists. I've no little souls for whom I must demonstrate the magic of the season nor aging/failing elders watching to see I'll carry the proverbial "torch" forward. Been there, done that, will likely get there again and anyway by this point I can do that in my sleep.

Right now, Beloved and kids are most interested in "happy" and "calm" in a comfortable festive context, some seasonal treats and a willingness to let the kids go about their own celebrations of the season as they choose (at the last moment of course but such is the "beauty" of their digital lives.)

Meanwhile my Beloved and I have a PVR full of fantastic (mostly BBC programs - the beauty of our digital lives!) to enjoy with a big creamy poodle at our feet in front of the fire.

Now I must confess, this "picture" is not what you would see if you were actually to take a peek into my days and evenings of late or of events on the immediate horizon but its where I'm focused. The rest is peripheral. At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it!



Finally Underway

At last Hawser is underway. The 13, simple, post-ribbing set up rows are complete, a correct stitch count of 252 is on the circ. and the knitting is relaxed (and relaxing!) Amazing what happens by just paying a wee bit of attention!

My many stupid errors made for delays, but they allowed me (by necessitating so many repetitions) to appreciate the BT attention to detail in these important establishing rounds.

By this I don't mean knitting tricks and expansive displays of technique. I mean the inclusion, within
those 13 rows, of thoughtful little details making the design shine without having the elements dominate the garment and ultimately the wearer thereof (aka Me!).

Among these some of my favourites...
  • Single rounds/stitches of stockinette providing breathing room around design elements.
  • Yarn overs, dropped on the following round to ease bunching and so, bulk, of the wide cables.
  • Clever increases to build the cables gracefully out from the ribbing.
  • And looking ahead to giving this pullover its A-line shape, narrow ribbed sections running up each side to hide decreases/minimize odd looking breaks in the rhythmic moss stitch pattern.
This is what I'm looking for in patterns now. I'm still entertained by the ideas behind expansive knitting techniques and garments built to support them but I'm inclined to keep them in my vicarious knitting queue and out of my actual knitting basket. Truth be told, a few years ago things were the other way around!

So things are feeling pretty great knitting-wise this morning. The wind chill for our walk may be -18C this morning and the first snow shovelling of the season happened yesterday but I've got a basket full of rich, vibrant blue-red yarn to knit up and high hopes of a cozy wardrobe staple to wear in the fast approaching holiday season ahead.

Beyond that I just noticed the newest BT lookbook is up! Will I be able to hold off looking until after the walk? Hard to say! Thanks for dropping by!


"Devlan" from Remnants

The backstory...

When purchasers of Juniper Moon Farm's first "Shepherd and Shearer" project received our kits the quantity of yarn included in each was determined by submitting the size we wished our finished sweaters to be.

Weeks later, an error at the mill where the wool had been spun was discovered. Many, but not all, skeins, and it was hard to say which ones, were short on yardage compared to what had been ordered and then shipped out by Juniper Moon so we subsequently received additional skeins in case ours were among the ones that were short on yardage. There was no way to know whether those skeins were accurately labelled for weight or yardage either. We just got "more" so we'd have "enough".

So when deciding to knit Devlan using those remnant skeins I was, at best, guessing how much yarn I had to work with and even that best guess suggested I'd have only yards to spare.

And of course there'd be no more yarn available should I run out. I was prepared to get into it, run out and have to abandon the project.

Sure enough, done knitting the body and shoulders I was working the first narrow sleeve when I knew I needed more yarn but it didn't feel like I'd need a lot. Where could I source just a little more?

There's was none for sale on Ravelry, my swatches were already knit into Devlan but I kept knitting, kept thinking and then remembered My Beloved had been wanting modifications to Shearer's collar and cuffs. He wanted them smaller and tighter! He wanted shorter sleeves! He'd mentioned this last winter but I'd shut him down saying I was not going to be renovating that finished knit.

Needing yarn for Devlan though changed everything! Now I happily ripped back the sleeves, shortening them by 2 1/2"each. Then I knit narrower cuffs, changing the 2x2 rib to 1x2 with a snug rather than square fit.

Before on the left - "after" on the right
Both cuffs reworked

Next I ripped out and re-knit the collar picking up fewer stitches around. The ribbed section before the turn was 1 1/2" high rather than 2"...


After the turn I switched to straight stockinette using remnant white yarn that I also pressed into service when sewing dowsn the live collar stitches to the inside...


With the precious yarn "harvested" I turned my attention back to Devlan where the plan was to maximize its use by...
  • Knitting Devlan's collar on fewer picked up stitches than called for.
  • Picking up and knitting the first round of Devlan's collar using more of that white wool yarn I'd used on the Shearer collar.
  • Splicing all ends (of which there were many) to avoid waste.
  • Using standard rather than the tubular bind off called for in the pattern.
It got the job done, complete with full length sleeves including ridged details and less than 2 feet of yarn to spare. (And Beloved is also very happy with his renovated Shearer.)

It's all been a bit of a nail biter but was also pretty fun and altogether satisfying. Not unlike reading a fantastic novel wherein the story is so satisfying you don't want the book to end while you also can't wait to get through it to see how everything turns out.

A true knitting adventure that's ended being able to enjoy Devlan's arrival into the sweater rotation as our first blast of winterish chill arrives.

We'll head out in the morning to get the snow tires put on the all season tires put away for the winter in My Beloved's home town. It will take several hours of driving round trip and since Darling Daughter has agreed to drive one of the vehicles this time I can go along as a knitting passenger!

Hawser continues to be trouble - now working on version 7 of the bottom band - stitch count issues for the set up rounds. No errata or problems reported on Ravelry or the BT web site so it must be "me". 'Beyond frustrating!

'Have a great weekend - thanks for dropping by!



Long before he was my "Papa" or even my Dad's "Father", before he was even married, he was a young lieutenant in the Sixth Battalion of Canadian Engineers. He had a horse named Lady Bird for transport and his job was to sort out the building and demolition of bridges as well as the design of all manner of war-related structures. He was fresh out of University. He was 22.

He shipped out to England, spent time in Belgium and Germany but like many Canadian service men served most of his time in France. There he was gassed in the trenches but was lucky to lose only his sense of taste and smell. On another occasion he was rescued after an explosion collapsed the trench he was walking through, burying him alive.

Throughout it all he kept a diary, the contents of which are largely deceptively light in tone and content noting the weather and friends he'd encountered as he went about his activities only rarely mentioning details of the horrors of the Western Front. On that 11th day in November, the day the war ended he wrote...

11-11-18 Monday

Cool and drizzling. The good old war is no more. Hostilities ceased at 11:00 a.m. We don't seem able to realize it. Everyone standing fast and consolidating on line at 11:00 o'clock....worked the old gramophone to a fare-you-well to-night. To bed at 10:00 p.m. Feeling better today.

By the time of the Armistice he was approaching his 25th birthday. He was lucky. He came home.

When I look through the pages of those Diaries and read the names of the many men he knew I wonder how many came home as he did. I recognize they must have all suffered greatly and that likely many still lie, as The Poem says, in Flander's fields.

I'm going down to the Remembrance Day Ceremony at Old City Hall this morning. It will be crowded and sad and I'd honestly rather not go but its really a rather puny sacrifice in comparison. I'll have this pinned inside my pocket...
But as the events of recent weeks have shown, "The front" is not so well defined today. I'll have Papa's pin in my pocket and a poppy on my coat and in my mind, the families of Nathan Cirillo and Patrice Vincent. They made the ultimate sacrifice for us right here at home.


"Devlan" by Bristol Ivy FO

Pattern: Devlan by Bristol Ivy
Yarn: Shepherd and Shearer 2013 Remnants
Source: Juniper Moon Farm Website
Needles: 4mm, 4.5mm and 5mm circular and dpn's
Start: August 23 Finish: October 26, 2014
Modifications: Worked fewer picked up stitches around collar, used smaller needles than called for on ridged sections of front and back.

I love this sweet, swingy little sweater! The narrow sleeves and close fitting shoulders (made a bit more snug going down a needle size when working the garter ridged sections) keep its' generous a-line cut from swamping me. (I also knit the collar on fewer stitches than called for to keep it neat and trim.)

Devlan is trendy but I think still works well in this traditional, minimally processed, yarn.

As ever, the BT pattern is detailed and a pleasure to work with, easily yielding a well appointed garment. Specifically Devlan's features lie in its shaping. At no point in time are you ever not counting rows or working to a marker of some description - kind of a surprise in what looks, at first glance, like a straightforward stockinette sweater.

There's extra length across lower back edge...
The close fit across the shoulders via shaping front and back south of the ridged detail...
Paired decreases running up either side of the front...
And importantly, decreases almost the full length of the sleeves to keep them trim enough so as not to compete with the soft folds of the sweater's body...
Once again I worked the third size on a BT pattern...
It seems to be working for me and my figure! (Cue the Hallelujah Chorus!)
Hudson's "working" for me too...up at 5:00 a.m. to go to an out of town Obedience Trial then home to a photo shoot...
It all makes a poodle sleepy!

Next up, the back story on squeeking this knit out of remnant yarn and the renovations to My Beloved's "Shearer" sweater that made it possible. ('Too much information to cram into one post today!)

Thanks for dropping by!


A Week's Worth of Knitting

After being out two evenings this week my knitting time was limited but then so was my "to do" list - just get the tubular cast on done for Hawser's 218 stitch bottom edge.

I'd worked out my approach while knitting my flat swatch using Eunny Jang's recommended technique but I didn't like the way it transitioned to knitting in the round when I actually started on the sweater.

 So I went instead with the recommended technique included with the pattern. The first try I was careful not to twist stitches when joining for working in the round but then stupidly did twist on the second round, only noticing the error after knitting a couple of inches up the band.

Attempts #2 and 3 I got a bottom edge wasn't gaping or looking loose - as tubular edges are inclined to be but also didn't yield sufficient circumference.
This swingy A-line pullover will be completely ruined if everything pulls in at the bottom edge.

So I tried one more time with a 4mm rather than 3.5 or 3.75mm and moved up to a 4.5 on the round in which straight 1x1 rib begins.

4th time's a charm!
Looking forward to establishing the set up round tonight so I can knit without too much to think about over the weekend. (Hudson and I are in another Obedience Trial - this one an hour and a half from here and My Beloved has offered to come along. That will leave me free to knit en route and back.)
In the end I guess its worth the effort to get it right although it is a bitter pill to swallow that it took so long to get here. Serves me right I guess for swatching flat when the knit is in the round!
Have a great weekend everybody! Thanks for dropping by today!


Its Here!

Time to really wear the wool! Mother Nature told us so herself over the weekend with a clear message that its time to reorganize our brains and wardrobes around here. Winter is comin'!

With the house decked out for Halloween, Friday may have felt like the essence of Autumn. But toss some snow over those, still waiting to be raked up, leaves...
...drive through some fairly intense flurries...
...past a wintry landscape...
To find the ropes connecting the boat to the dock frozen solid...
...and the whole "summer cottage" thing really feels "done" for the season. (FYI re those frozen ropes, Beloved had to pry them open with a screwdriver but some people carry knives this time of year to cut their boats loose when prying won't work!
Hence we quite happily did the last few tasks of draping the windows and furniture to get the place ready for its winter-long, frozen nap...

Then, without ever lighting a fire or taking off our coats (it was zero degrees celsius inside and out after all) back across the lake to the marina to winterize the boat and put it into storage.
Back home, the To Do list for the house looms large but without the cottage to draw our time and attention away I'm kind of looking forward to getting some stuff done around HERE!

Not the least of which - knitting - like I said, its wool season!


And Hence a Knit Blog!

Your kind words on my crazy coloured leggings have been so gratifying! You understand them! However unlikely you might be to knit a pair for your yourself or even wear a pair if they were given to you, you see them as a successful knit.

Whereas they mystify non knitters as witnessed by recent real life comments like...

"Don't they make you feel itchy?"...
"When/How will you wear them?"...
 "Where did you get the idea to make those?"

 And of course, that perennial non-knitter's favourite...
 "Wouldn't it be easier to just buy tights?

So your enthusiastic but more importantly understanding responses have been more than fun to receive!

By contrast "Devlan", (FO shots today, hoping to twist Darling Daughter's jet lagged arm to take modeled shots tonight), will likely be a knit that's universally "understood" among the non-knitting public I encounter.

Devlan is the kind of sweater that will prompt non knitters who know of my interest in knitting to smugly ask "did you knit that?".

Their recognition borne of their observations that it is a sweater in what they universally think of as "wool coloured". Its also probably not like anything they might have seen for sale anywhere - often another important "clue"!.

In my experience the likes of sweaters such as "Tinder" do not enjoy such wide recognition, but then nor do they toil under the glare of critical examination. They appear commercial, hence, understood, accepted, "normal".

There are times when blogging feels draining rather than energizing. Times too when events in the life of this knitter have made it just plain impossible - sometimes for weeks and months on end.

For me though, its always worth it in the end to get back to blogging, not because the comments are complimentary but rather because they come from people who "get it". Its become an important part of my knitting experience. From England to Australia, distant parts of the U.S and
Canadian knitters literally around the corner, the city, the province and the country I can't thank you all enough for your kind contributions to the Sel and Poivre comment box!

As ever, thank you so, so much for dropping by!


Ahhhh That's Better!

Camera back in my hands, daughter back in Canada, a coherent professional leader back in the Mayor's Seat in Toronto.

(Very) Darling Daughter brought her mother some yarn from Edinburgh...
Authentic Scottish. It smells divine and fills the void of aromatic yarn left by the final knitting up of the Shearer Yarn last week. What remains is too small to give a good woolly "sniff"! No matter, I have a remnant - not a sweater to rip out for lack of yarn to finish it. Whew!

The plan is to work up either Gloaming Mitts by Leila Raabe (I'm on quite a Brooklyn Tweed jag these days!) or Herdsman Mittens by Outi Kater. Currently the generous jet lagged shopper is weighing the options.

Devlan is almost dry...'thrilled with the fit of this one! Can't wait to have pictures to share!

The behemoth Double Knit Dog Mat is down to the final two skeins. I'll measure when I'm getting to the end of this one and decide whether to add in the last skein or not. 
Lots of fun and exciting things happening around here!


A Big Day

  • Darling Daughter returns from her "UK Vaykay"...She will have, with her, My Camera!!!
  • I'm currently soaking Devlan in preparation for blocking this morning...With the help of the yarn harvest from Shearer I squeeked it out!!
  • With Devlan/Shearer off the needles I'm putting a push on to finish Hudson's Double Knit Dog Mat and indulging in queuing up some Stuffed Dog Knitting Projects from this fantastic book I found at the Libary.

  • Having voted Number One Son's Proxy Vote during the advance polls, the rest of us will cast our municipal votes together tonight. 'Looking so forward to having the "Circus move out of town"!!!
A Big Day Indeed!


Rainbow Olympics "Nethergarments" by Elizabeth Zimmerman FO

Pattern: "Nethergarments" by Elizabeth Zimmerman
Source: Knitter's Almanac
Yarn: Assorted Worsted Remnants
Needles: 4 mm
Start: February 8 Finish: September 22, 2014

Stripes! Colours! Remnants! All fun gauge-based knitting according to simple length/circumference measurements all through the Russian Olympics right up until I hit the shaping for the hips and waist. The striping stopped and the frequent exercise of taking the thing off the circular, putting it onto string, trying it on, taking measurements, doing calculations, putting it back on the circ...blah, blah blah, spring came and I got distracted...you know how that can happen right?

Anyway...during the fun Olympic bits 'meted out yarn quantities/colours so colour changes were balanced without matching.

'Used the brights to enhance the shape of the legs and the darks to minimize more expansive sections.

As ever, 'enjoyed EZ's "Pithy" directions and recalling the origin of each remnant as I knitted it in.

The few runs to work out something for the waist were aimed at getting a low rise to keep bulk to a minimum without sacrificing fit or comfort. I'm happy with what resulted via...

  • Two little "v"'s of extra stitches at the back for extra room where there's extra "me".
  • 12 short rows divided into 2 groups of 6 rows each separated by 4 rounds straight for extra rise at the back. (The downward swoop of the red illustrates the short rows pretty clearly below...

  • 2x2 ribbing started after that point draws in the shape to follow mine in a forgiving, comfortable way.
  • Finally decreased 1" each side then 2" at centre back nipping things in further before adding eyelets and binding off.
  • Eyelets accomplished via binding off the first stitch of each pair of purls in the ribbing on one round, replacing it with a YO on the next round.
  • Atop the eyelets 'used a contrast colour for one round straight before binding off.

I admit I could have fiddled with the fit/rise endlessly lower down on the butt/thigh sections adding decreases and spacing between them to eradicate the need for so much ribbing but EZ's have a wide band of ribbing and honestly, the slightly negative ease of the fit on these is fine so this is how they'll stay.

Prior to giving them their Eucalan bath and blocking I wore them for an hour or so with no issues related to itchiness. After the Eucalan they're softer still, totally comfortable and warm!

Did I also mention these were free? Right down to the drawstring, made entirely from leftovers.

Like I said, lots of fun! Can't wait to wear them!
Thanks for dropping by!