Tuesday, March 26, 2013

This & That

Thank you to all who commented to say they liked Colour Block.  I really appreciate all comments and try to answer them all.  Some of you comment under the flag 'annonymous'.  The anonymous category does  not allow for replies.  So to Linda, Ann, Sigrun, Gina  and any others I may have missed, please know that  I read and appreciate your comments even though no reply can be sent.

And for Linda who asked about Tortiere.  Tortiere is a French Canadian meat dish. Ground meat, spices, and  veggies baked in a pie crust.  A Meat Pie.  Delicious.  Here is the recipe I used.

Mushroom Thyme Tortiere -   Makes 2 double crust pies.
To make life less hectic, prepare filling the  day before as it needs to be thoroughly cool when placed into pastry shell.

Chop all veggies before beginning.
On baking day, preheat oven to 425'

2 lb ground meat.  I use only beef as Fred is allergic to Pork.  But some use Pork or half and half.
Brown meat in small amount of oil in fry pan, breaking up large clumps.  Remove from pan and drain off fat.

2 large onions chopped.
1 red pepper chopped
1/2 C chopped celery
4 cloves garlic - minced.
2 t salt
ETA - 1 1/2 t dried Thyme
1 t Cinnamon
3/4 t Pepper
1/4 t Cloves
 Add chopped  veggies and spices to pan after meat is removed and saute for 5 minutes or so until soft but not brown.  Add  to meat mixture.

8 Cups Mushrooms - Chopped.
After veggies are removed from pan, add a bit of oil and   mushrooms to pan   Cook for about 15 minutes until moisture is evaporated.

Return meat mixture to pan along with
1 1/2 C Chicken Broth. Bring to boil.  Cover and reduce heat and cook for about 15 minutes.  Uncover and cook another 10 minutes or until spoon pulled across pan fills in slowly with juices.

While mixture is cooking,  peel  4 medium potatoes and cook until tender.  Mash.  No milk, no butter, just potatoes. 

When meat is cooked,  mix mashed potatoes into meat mixture along with

1/2 C chopped Parsley
2t Worcestershire Sauce.

Next day - or - when filling is cool, place in pie shell, cover with pastry top and bake.  I always bake pastry at 425' for first 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 325' for another 30 minutes.

Tomorrow we leave for 2 weeks out west.  Watch for us the weekend of April 5, 6  & 7 at the Men's World Curling Championships in Victoria.  I'll be the woman at the end of the arena wearing wool and waving Canadian Flags.  I am taking my laptop so there could be blog postings.

Happy Easter everyone.  And thanks for reading.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Colour Block

Colour Block is finished.  Ends woven in.  Buttons sewed on.  Bands blocked into submission.  And it is perfect.  I am very happy.  I would say even 'proud'.   It is a one of a kind, self designed and knit sweater. 

A pattern-free sweater with great design features both envisioned and executed well.  I say humbly.
I like the fit of the shoulders.  
Done via a combo of Suzie M's  & Ann Budd's Contiguous Top Down, Simultaneous,  Set In Sleeve methods, the fake, sleeve seam sits at just the perfect, shoulder-width spot for me.  Just one of the reasons I like to knit without a pattern.  The sweater fits me, not the designer's idea of average.  And just to make sure those shoulder 'seams' stay where I want them, I sewed some twill tape along the  'seams'.  
In the tape photo, you can also see that I have a back-neck facing.  Similar to what one might find in a sewn garment.  That was not originally intended but I did find that the  contiguous method of starting a simultaneous, set-in sleeve sweater gave me a very high, back neck.  It's a personal preference, but I don't like the confined feeling of a high, back neck.  To correct that issue, I simply turned down the centre back and  tacked it in place.  The turn down, right at centre back, is probably close to an inch but  grows less deep as it approaches the shoulder 'seam'.  

I like the fit through the bust and  for me, the first time use of underarm, bust darts.  
I simply stopped  increasing a couple of inches shy of the full bust measurement and then put bust darts in the front sections to get the extra, needed width. 

I like the feature of an off-centre closing with several small buttons placed close together -
 that go only as far the down as the waist.  
That allows the bottom of the sweater to swing open  - not strain  -  over my hips.  There is  waist shaping and I did plan for and include additional increases in the hip area.  But being a woman of a certain age, it never hurts to have a little extra fabric  insurance for  that widest part of the body. 

Although I call this my own design, it would not have been possible without the work of many designers who have gone before me and given generously to the world of knitting.
I thank Suzie M and Ann Budd for getting me through the top-down, contiguous,  set-in sleeve portion of the sweater.  I thank Deb Gemmell for encouraging the top-down style in the first place and I thank both Deb and Robin Hunter for showing me the under-arm, bust, dart idea that gives such a great fit.  I thank Chris Bylsma for her Kaleidoscope pullover design that inspired Colour Block in the first place.

And I thank goodness it is done!  Just in time to take and wear on our West Coast holiday.
Other blog post with more details can be found here  and here and here and here.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Canadia Food

Number 2 son and his Spanish girlfriend are coming for the weekend.  A while back when I asked Lady of Spain her impression of Canadian Food, she replied that she didn't know what Canadian Food was.   Most restaurants,  she said,  serve hamburgs, fries, chicken fingers and the like, so she didn't feel she had yet been  exposed to Canadian Food.

I told her that on her next visit, I would make Canadian Food.

What you see here are 2 Tourtiere, 2 loaves of home made bread, a bunch of Hot Cross Buns, a bunch of Butter Tarts, and an Apple Crisp.  This weekend, there will also be Scalloped Potatoes to go with the Chicken dinner.  Should be Canadian enough.  I hope they bring their appetites.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Thursdays Are For knit Group

We arrived at knit group in winter, and left in spring.  That was our weather today.  There was a lot of Cabin Fever going around today, it seemed.  Comments like I am 'so over it',  'so done with it',  'so sick/tired/weary' - take your choice - of winter weather.  It is a good thing we have knitttng to keep us sane through the winter that will not stop.

Little Ruth knit white socks for her Grand daughters a while back.    Then got a phone call from their Mom.   I guess so Ruth. What were you thinking.  This next pair, still white on top will have grey heels and feet.  Much easier on the laundry lady.
Ruth couldn't stop to smile for the camera - she says that even after all these years, she still needs to read her pattern when doing the heel. 

Wilma is knitting socks,

as is Sharon, shown here intent on reading her pattern book. 

Sorry for the immodesty, but Sharon is using a great sock pattern book.  Should lend it to Ruth for number/counting -free heel turns.

Sitting at the far side of the table beyond Sharon, you see Nicki and Jean.  They have started a new sub unit to our knitters group - the spinning knitters.   They bring fleece and   children's toys    drop spindles,  and speak a language foreign to me.  New skills.  Great fun.

Ingrid has had her eyes opened to a whole new world.  She was given an i Pod for Christmas.  Her first foray into the world of cyber things.
Here she is looking up yarns on the Tanis Fibre Arts site to show me the colour name of the sock-weight yarn she is using  to knit her daughter a dress.  Yes, that is right.  I said sock weight and dress.  Only Ingrid would.  Or could.

Lots of wool being used today, despite it being officially spring.    But soon, I hope,   the yarn of the day  will be cotton and patterns will be for short-sleeved garments.  In the mean time, stay sane.  Keep knitting.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Faster. Faster.

Patience is a virtue, 
Possess it if you can.
It's seldom found in woman,
But it's never found in man.

Seldom is right when it comes to this woman having patience.  I can't wait for my Colour Block to dry.  But if patience is a virtue, impatience must be  the  mother of invention. Or innovation.

I soaked Colour Block then pinned it to size on my blocking board.  A wet wool sweater takes ages to dry, I knew.  That is when I came up with the brilliant idea of placing it in front of my south-facing patio doors.  And as luck would have it there is a heat register there.  I'm hoping for a dry CB by tomorrow.  

And with a little encouragement, I think that will happen. Curling lingo can't hurt.

 Hurry.  Hurry, hard! 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Colour BLock

Knit but not yet blocked, is Colour Block.  Good timing,  as next week Fred and I leave for a little vacation on the west coast.  My experience with spring on Vancouver Island is that it isn't.  Mostly it is cool & damp.  Perfect, wool-sweater weather.  Colour Block will be the perfect item in my suitcase.  Warm enough to wear as a jacket on the not so cool &damp days,  yet a perfect piece under a spring jacket when the weather demands layers.

Here you see it laid out ready for final touches.

 Ends needs to be woven and the curling rib needs to be tamed. 

Design touches that particularly please me are the purple sleeve with it's  variegated green 'bracelet'  and the two-coloured button bands. 
The bands  start out with the lime green mohair on the 'hole' side then switch out  to the less hairy, less-likely-to-be-picky-on-bare-skin  green  around the neck and down the 'button' side. 

I am very happy with this sweater.  Happy with the creativity of it - no patterns were used in the production of this sweater.  Happy to have tried and been somewhat successful with Suzie M's Contiguous method.  Happy to have created such a  'You won't meet yourself coming down the street' design.  Happy to have used up so much stash.  Happy that it fits.  Happy that it is done in time for my vacation.  Just happy. 

If I can tame the trim and softened the puffiness of the purple sleeve cap, I will be happy with the perfectness of it all.  Total details in a day or so.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Post March Break

First, you know  all about March Break because your kids are excited about a week when they don't have to go to school.  Then, kids leave home and you forget that it is March Break - at least that is what my sister and Sel & Poivre tell me.  Then all of a sudden you are the grand parents of school age kids and March Break becomes, once again,  an important annual marker.  Especially, if like us, your grand kids live far enough away to make  Grandma's house a  5 star  (rated by those under 12)  vacation destination.

Normally, in our   Fred's situation, the grand kids, week-long visit is sandwiched between two, long,  travel days  - one to pick them up and one to take them home.  This year, though,  their Mom & Dad came for the last few days of the week, so we were saved that return trip. 

There was FUN!  We are fortunate enough to live in a area, ripe with things for tourists to do.  Makes entertaining grand kids easy.  We spent a day on the slopes, refining their skiing skills.  A day at 'The Plunge'  - an indoor outdoor pool with lots of slides, swinging ropes and hot tubs.  It is great fun to start the swim indoors, dive under the glass wall  then lie on your back in the outdoor pool looking up at the ski hills and the skiers flying down.  We had a pie-making day, fishing with Grandpa, an afternoon at the  movies and countless games of Euchre, Scrabble and Sequence.  Teaching them to play Euchre when they were about 8& 9 years of age was one of our more brilliant ideas.  We have since, had hours of fun seeing who can out-play who.

And the only knitting I did was this.
 A dishcloth.  The local hospital  asked the Meaford knitters if we could knit some for the gift shop.  One dishcloth.  My nod to knitting during a busy March Break.


Friday, March 15, 2013

March Break Busyness

Tri-lingual Scrabble with one English, one French and one Spanish speaking person.

Great food and lovely dishes.

Reunion with a favourite uncle.

Hot tubbing under the stars.

Regular blogging resumes next week.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Fingers For Deb

Fingers, not The finger.  Finished are my mittlets from Deb Gemmell's blog. 
Just in time too as Deb is taking the  pattern  down March 11.

These are fun little mittlets. Fun to knit, fun to wear.   Nothing that would prevent frost-bitten finger tips on a cold winter's morning.  But for sure a great accessory for city dwellers  where  subway tokens, texting,  typing and lookin' cool play roles at least as large as warmth and comfort.  Knitters might even call them Knittin' Mittens.  If you knit in a chilly, basement rec room as I sometimes do, these are the perfect accessory.  With fingers free, knit away while keeping your hands comfortably warm.  Perfect.

Despite making my first mitten much too long and having to rip back three times, these mittlets  are still a quick little something to knit up while watching the evening news.  Better the 6 o'clock than the 11 o'clock though.  At that late hour, fatigue and 'film at 11' could be distracting.

Unique to this pattern is the different cuff, the different gusset increase, and the gap-free thumb. 
All cute as can be and a typical Gemmell twist on what we too often  think of as the 'only' way. 
Thanks, Deb.   Cute, easy and free.  What's not to like?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Thursdays Are For Knit Group

Not the weather man nor the fact that the equinox is two weeks away, can convince some people that spring is not yet here.  Ruth arrived at knit group today bearing the first Snow Drop of 2013 to have appeared  in her garden.
 By all appearances, she is pleased to have found it.

Is it a Poncho?  A wrap?
Regardless of what it might be called, Sharon looks great in it.  It is  Sally Melville's 

Knit Round Scarf.  Knit in Noro Silk Garden, Sharon declares it   a warm and cozy piece that she has worn lots this winter.  The rest of us want to see her wear it as a mini skirt.

Doreen, we had trouble spotting today.  We found her hiding behind   yet another 'favour for a friend.'
Big.  Heavy.  Fair Isle too complicated for Doreen.    And now the threat of not enough yarn.  She will be glad to have it finished.

Wilma knit this little baby sweater.
The pattern is from Creative Knitting magazine and Wilma's version
was declared 'so cute' by all of us, this afternoon.

Jean had finished her 'over a tee' top
 destined to accompany her on this summer's Yukon adventure.  She is not sure about it so we insisted she try it on.  Getting it on seems to be fun.

 We all loved it.  Even with my blurry photography,
it looks great.  Knit with Baby Bamboo, and still needing to be blocked, I can imagine it will grow nicely and drape beautifully.

Bonnie arrived wearing the perfectly-fit purple Vee neck she knit last year and I snapped her photo.

 "Why are you taking my picture?" she asked.  "To show off your nice sweater, of course."  Even last year's sweater deserves a picture. 

Another great Thursday afternoon that included a yarn give-away.  

Doesn't get much better.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

My Mittlet

Fingerless mittlets knit up quickly.  In chunky yarn this one took just the better part of the 6 o'clock  news..
 I didn't have any chunky yarn so I doubled up on some Country Style DK weight.   (Did you know that yarn doubled gives you approximately two thirds the original gauge?)    My 22 stitch DK yarn, when  doubled, gave me 14 stitches.  You are welcome.

You can see that I took Deb's challenge and added a pattern to  the back of the hand.  It is  - for those that want to copy - P2, K4, P2 -  for 8 rounds.  On round 2 of the 8 rounds, switch the K4 to CB2. That is slip 2 stitches to a cable needle and hold at back of work.  Knit the next 2 stitches, then knit the 2 stitches held on the cable needle.  

I love the mittlet.  I love the different gusset construction.  Look at that decidedly, angled row of increases.  Very stylish, I say.  And I love the fact that creating  the thumb hole leaves no extra holes.  Common to mitts, is the gap produced at the sides of the thumb hole.  Not here.  Look.

And if you decide to give Deb's pattern a try, know that when she says to knit 1 1/2 inches beyond the thumb, she is right.  Of course I didn't believe that  1 1/2  inches could possibly  be long enough so I kept going.  In the end I had mittlets that were way too long.  I ripped back.  Twice.  Satisfied at last with the length of my mittlet, I put it on and came to the laptop to type.  Oops!  Still too long.  That is if I want to used my pinkie for anything. Another rip in order.  Trust Deb.

Nice pattern Deb.  Thanks for the freebie.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


Catching up on blog reading just now, I see Deb Gemmell - she of my new favourite technique, the underarm bust dart - is in the process of writing another knitwear book.  I was about to call it a pattern book, but  Deb's books are often more 'recipe' than pattern.  Perfect for the way my brain works. 

Anyway this latest endeavour is about accessories and on her blog,  Deb has asked if readers might be interested in knitting up  her mittlet pattern and giving her feed back.  I think I might just do that.  Knit with chunky yarn, it shouldn't be a never-ending project like some I knit, but rather a done-before-dinner type.  My favourite kind.

  Digit Design, I am calling it.  Fun with needles in which I get to give Deb the finger. 
"Er,     um,    I mean"     give Deb 4 fingers, one thumb.  

Monday, March 4, 2013

More On Colour BLock

Figuring I have only a few more post opportunities   to rave on about my creative process  for Colour Block before you are all bored to tears   - if you are already there, sorry, skip today's post - I want today,  to tell you about my Gemmell/Hunter style bust darts.

Deb Gemmell and Robin Hunter in their book Need A Plus Cardigan?   shape the sweaters in a 'new-to-me ' method.  The back of the sweater has less stitches - is less wide - than the front.  What gives the front it's extra width are underarm increases that form the cutest little darts.  These darts, in a Top-Down sweater,  begin once the sleeves are separated from  the body and are worked every other row until the front is increased to  desired width.

Clever!! Or What.!!  Not to mention easy.  Two of my favourite attributes.  Since colour block was all about innovation - top-down construction, simultaneous, set-in-sleeves, Contiguous  (of a sorts)  shoulder and sleeve cap shaping,  asymmetrical front, four different colours, then 'What the heck?'

Why not try one more, new-to-me, construction quirk and go for the underarm bust darts.  Despite  being too small to use a pattern from the book, nonetheless, I followed Deb's method for creating those underarm darts.  Increase one stitch at each underarm, every other row, making sure the increases slant towards the bust until sufficient stitches have been added to give the front it's required width.  First attempt and, sorry for my vanity, but I think they look great.

Being top down, the normal advice is to knit until the sweater is of desired circumference before separating the sleeves from the body. In the case of my sweater, I stopped 2 inches short of my desired circumference, put the sleeves on waste yarn, then continued with the body, adding one inch worth of front stitches at each underarm.  That gives my back 50% of total body circumference MINUS   2 inches and the front 50% of body circumference PLUS 2 inches.  48% plus 52% = 100% with extra fabric only where needed.  The more amply endowed amongst you could make that 50% minus 3 or 4 or more inches for the back and the reverse for the front.  

Anatomically correct, sweater design.  Never too late to learn a new trick.