Monday, December 09, 2019

You take care now, y'hear?

This time of year, my household does a lot of hibernation.  It's a busy time for those who celebrate Xmas, but for us, it's much quieter.  A time to play at home and focus on each other as it gets cold.  It's really cold this week, which apparently will have some very cold windchills...-36, last I heard.

The Jewish Independent in Vancouver ran my article last week called:
You take care now, y'hear?

(Just in case you need some reading from a friendly voice over here.)

In other news:
Sadie the dog has gotten so used to having someone with her that when we leave her at all, she breaks out of all the childproof gates and has gotten into some messes.  Last week, she ate all the high end dog training treats (like eating your way through a steakhouse, frankly) and got into our kitchen trash.  Although we compost and clean most everything that goes into the bin, she still managed to stain the front hall somehow with the trash.  I've already washed it three times.  It's hard to be a dog around here...?!

Happier 'making' news: I have finished a huge undertaking, a wool jumper I made, with a lining, based loosely on the 100 acts of sewing dress no.1I lengthened the dress, put in the lining, skipped the bias tape, and it took a while to do.  I'm looking forward to wearing it this week during our cold snap, though!

We've also done some weaving at home.  It was a good weekend to sit near Mommy and the fireplace and hang out.  (This kid has big plans to make things for his teachers.)  The handknit sweater modeled by this kid is Freestyle Superwith a colour scheme he helped to design.

Finally, since someone has recently asked there a way to buy my Yarn Spinner collection of patterns and stories,  Three Ply ---without buying it through Amazon?  Answer? Absolutely!

Support Ravelry, a small business (and me, as Amazon takes a big cut) by purchasing it through Ravelry right here.

Stay warm and safe!  Hope you're having a great December!

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Monday, December 02, 2019

The ups and the downs

Right after I posted last time, I had an article come out online--for a Vancouver publication:
Generations struggle together
I also had a series of experiences which, all told, have left me sort of exhausted. On Friday morning, early, I was out walking my dogs and I fell on the ice.  There was no one on the entire block and it hurt like crazy.  I am very lucky, I was able to get up again and get home.  I have really severe bruising on my right shin and knee...
And of course my muscles are sore from the move, but the dogs stood by patiently and waited while I gasped on the ice and got up.  They were so good.
However, I had a big day planned so I put some ice on my bruises (oh, the irony). I drove downtown to do a three hour spinning/fibre arts demo for the Manitoba Crafts Museum’s “Made in the Middle” curated craft show at the Manitoba Hydro building.  Keeping moving ended up being a good thing and it was lucky I was wearing dark wool tights.  (It looks like a changing purple, navy, red and pink silk screen,  it is gross.)  This, by the way, was definitely the very best part of the day!
I get myself home and have a coffee and pull myself together... as my kids are just about to get off the school bus and come home.  So one twin, who had been acting weird, tells me he had felt bad all day and nobody let him call home.  And then, he walks into our front hall and starts vomiting like crazy.  So, you know, I am cleaning up vomit and trying to calm the other kid down (He starts screaming over the whole thing, it was a scene) and oh, my goodness. Poor kids.  Throw-up everywhere.
And then I threw up my hands, let both kids eat the banana and other snack I had out for them, and we watch the prerecorded Macy’s parade while I try to pull things together again.   Shabbat dinner for four was oatmeal. And some challah and grape juice.
 Then I was already in my pjs, ready for bed, when the vomiting started again, all over the bed, at 9:30.  He got better, but obviously we were not able to go to services on Saturday, either.
We had dog training Sunday AM and managed it, but even the dog was not doing too well at regular stuff and got into a tussle with another dog at the end of the class.  (All my fault, I let go of her leash while putting on my coat.) 
When we got back, my stomach decided to rebel that was most of the day today!  (stress? Something I ate?  Some version of the virus? Who knows.) And the other twin started having stomach pain and gas tonight so who knows what that may mean...maybe round two of the stomach bug.
It has been a crazy weekend.  Lots of sitting around interspersed by crazy health issues.  And my leg looks horrendous.  Thank goodness I can move around normally though...
I did get out to support our local yarn store and may have purchased some stuff.  Cause, sometimes you need to find something distracting and positive... (now, what to make for dinner for a household with this many sensitive tummies....)  Here are two hole-less buttons from Purl and Hank, some locally made toffee for people who wanted to eat it, and...some yarn.  Cause who doesn't need some purple/cranberry alpaca and wool? 

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Thursday, November 28, 2019

The making season

 I am showing off my gear...I am getting ready to demonstrate spinning, weaving and knitting tomorrow (Friday) at the Manitoba Hydro Building for “Made in the Middle”-a big curated craft sale put on by the Manitoba Craft Museum and Library.

One of my twins came home with a mitten from his reading teacher with a big hole in it.  Could I fix it?  Yes, I did. Mommy mending to the rescue! (Pro tip: I used my handspun naturally cream colored wool that matched)

I may also have ordered more fabric, since my sewing machine has been serviced and is good as new, aside from being very oily...I am currently trying to teach myself how to line a wool jumper I'm working on.  That's my new sewing project.

 And, I cranked out some challahs, as Friday comes every week and we eat some every Friday!

I find when it is cold-and it is, we have ice and snow outside now-, I do a lot more making...(and a lot less running around outside with twins.)

It feels to me that there is not as much in the publication department to announce, (everything else seems an anticlimax after being mentioned in Vogue Knitting, go figure!) but plenty of things are still being baked, mended, spun, knit, sewn and more.

Thank you to all my readers for sticking with me so long! We celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving this year in October, but I am grateful for you all year round.

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Sunday, November 10, 2019

The bread machine and the dishwasher

Here's my opinion piece on the CBC-Manitoba webpage today about fixing appliances and why we should do it:
Our disposable culture needs a fix that will help our environment, too

In other, less news-worthy news, we are in the midst of a three day weekend which seems to involve a lot of cold, cloudy flurries outdoors, kids playing in front of the fire, dog walks, warming foods, and very occasional chances for me to knit, spin and sew.  (in between meals, snacks, and everything else!)

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Friday, November 08, 2019

Since we last spoke...

I've been busy over here, making things.  The knitting's gone slowly but the sewing has been, for the most part, very positive.  I've had a success--I made this second jumper from the 100 acts of sewing dress no. 1 pattern, and it has already been worn quite a bit!  (It just requires woolly tights, a long sleeve shirt and a sweater as it is brisk outside these days.)

I then made a set of linen/cotton dish cloths and this too went very quickly!

Filled with confidence over the success of my efforts, I dove into making my first pair of pants...with a pattern.  They are 100 acts of sewing pants no.1.  I lengthened them, I lined up the pinstripes from this wool/blend suiting from Economy Textile.  I finished the pants completely, and then put them on.  Sewing fail!  The fabric does not drape.  The pants look sort of like I instantly gained 40 lbs.  I will either be taking these in or washing them to see if I can get them drape or....something.  Somebody may get a new pair of handmade pants?

Ahh, well.  The bigger picture is easy to see.  I am learning many new skills at once.  I'm also happy that it goes quicker than when I try out a new knitting design.  I sometimes spend months on a project that never becomes a fully realized design or goes on sale for knitters.  That's ok. It happens.  Part of making (and learning) is also failing and trying again.  Very important life lesson--sadly true no matter what we're working on.

In other big news, Three Ply: 3 Stories + Patterns, has been written up in the latest Vogue Knitting Magazine!  I am pleased as punch about it and my household was so excited to see the big article.  This ebook is also available from Ravelry as a pdf or you can just download individual stories and patterns from Ravelry or

Also, I received a lovely note inviting me to try out a gorgeous handmade ceramic bowl from   When I checked them out, I discovered that they were done by Madeline Coomey, an artist from BC who does beautiful work.  However, alas and alack, my household is too chaotic with dogs and kids to keep a ceramic yarn bowl in one piece...and I do most of my knitting on the run these days.  If you do use yarn bowls though?  This one is a good one! Please check out the link!

Last, but not least...
Today, a column appeared online and was published --on my sewing journey...From the beginning again

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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

A quick sale!

You may have noticed that I am now on Instagram.  It is definitely a new thing for me!  Please follow me over there @yrnspinner!

A year ago, this month, I published Freestyle Super.  It has been an absolute favorite around here, and it's a true workhorse.  It went off to Grade 3 this morning on a kid's back...because it was 17F(-8C) when we got up.  Yes, that cold.  And in October.

I am still learning how it works, but here is what I posted over there (hint, it's about a sale! Enjoy!  Happy quick winter knitting!):

Gee Mom, it is scary how much you like this Instagram thing now! (Sweater featured is #freestylesuper. It went off to Grade 3 on a kid this morning!) To celebrate this fun I am having, here is a sale on all my Ravelry knitting patterns. 
20% off all my patterns until Nov. 1 at midnight, CT (US& Canada) with coupon code: Halloween

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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Making, behind the scenes

I have been in recovery lately from a lot of holidays,the trip to see my family, and just keeping up with the start of school and our rough snow storm start to cold weather.  It felt like I was not doing much “work” in the writing department but actually, a lot of making was happening,  I have knitted on additions to two kids’ beloved sweaters (they got taller!) and you can see one of them here. I also decided almost immediately after finishing the black jumper to use the same 100 acts of sewing pattern dress no.1 to make a vest.  I did my own “hack” of the pattern, I cannot seem to follow pattern instructions the exact same way twice in a row!  This was all “free” fabric from theArtsJunktion. (A place in Winnipeg where you can donate arts and crafts supplies and also get them for free..It keeps us reusing and recycling and keeps good stuff for art out of the landfill.) I always make a donation and pay for parking, but the fabric did not cost me anything.  This made up for the fact that this vest took me a while!  I cut too low a neckline by accident, so had to teach myself how to make a dart in the back of the vest to raise the neckline.  I think it worked and am excited about wearing this with black dress pants and my new Strippy McStrippit design.

While all this was happening upstairs at my sewing machine, our washer broke.  Yes, this is something no twin mom ever wants to hear from her husband on a Saturday night.  However, I did a search for appliance repair people online, emailed three different ones-and kept sewing.

Imagine my surprise when one wrote back and said he could come diagnose the problem on a Sunday!  (Hallelujah!) We were able to have the broken part replaced and were back in the laundry business by Monday afternoon.  Whew!

Also happening—we received our second Black Sheep Mattress. (We were long overdue here for new mattresses.)  I have now slept on it, and wow, it was a good sleep.  It is made of wool, cotton, pocket coils, and an organic cotton cover.  Of course, five minutes after I made the bed with the brand new mattress, Sadie the dog was trying it out!
Then? There was a sale at my friendly, not so local Manitoba fabric store, ThreadCount fabrics.  I may have placed an order...this sewing thing is very satisfying just now.  I mean, I get new clothes when I finish a project!  Who could dislike that?  (Bottom fabric is a bat print for a friend’s teenager.  It is October—doesn’t every fabric order need bats in it?!).  Actually, the professor really does not like bats, and I am not world’s biggest fan I covered that up to give to my friend later!

Meanwhile, little boys in grade three play very hard.  The “brand new” start of school size 7 jeans are already getting holes in the knees.  However, I discovered that the size 7 jean legs are now almost big enough to mend using the machine.  This drastically reduces the amount of time spent on each hole, and I am all for it.  I even ironed on a patch today and then tacked it using the machine, but the kid with the size 7 slims better stop making holes by crawling on the playground, as they are too small to be easily darned on the machine. (And now that I have used the machine to do it, I do not want to go back to doing it by hand!!)

Last but not least, when kids play in wet, dirty, sloppy snow, they need a lot of mitts.  And my twins grew a lot this past summer.  I knit quickly, but do not work miracles.  So, I took some old felted sweaters and made two pairs of felted wool mitts, one pair for each boy.  These are not works of art but they are warm!  Now that the snow has melted and the mitts and boots are finally dry, I am hoping I have a few days off before we need to do quick mitten production and wet mitten and boot rotation again...

So, if you were wondering, what am I writing these days?  Well, not as much as usual, but things are still getting done over here in the meanwhile! (And this did not even mention how many meals and loaves of bread I turned out this week, did it?!)

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