Sunday, July 15, 2018

Chase the Chill Features Fissure

Back in June, I managed to corral the Professor, both twins, and Sadie the dog to go to Assiniboine Park for a few minutes on a Saturday afternoon.  I am usually spending time with my family and going to services on Saturdays when we can pull it off, but that day--It was a chance to support Knit In Public Day --which is hosted locally by Chase the Chill, a Winnipeg knitting charity which I think is fantastic.  Chase the Chill provides handknit scarves to Winnipeggers in need, once a year.  All  year long, people knit for Chase the Chill's annual event.  It happens in early December, when it is already plenty cold here.

It's simple.  The folks who run it go out with some helpers, and tie all those handknit scarves all over the trees in one downtown park with notes.  The notes say who knit the scarves, and invite people to take and wear the scarves to stay warm. 

Today I looked up Chase the Chill's twitter feed, because one of its organizers was the very first person to purchase Fissure.  Thank you, Val!  What I discovered on the twitter feed made me feel even more connected...

See this photo?  It topped the post for WorldWide Knit in Public Day 2018 for Chase the Chill in Winnipeg.  (See anything familiar?!)  Those are my hands, knitting the sample for Fissure.  Seconds before and after this shot, everyone was passing around the yarn label and fondling the yak. :)

Today, I discovered this on their twitter feed:

Thanks so much to Chase the Chill for connecting with local designers--and featuring us!  I so appreciate it...and of course, I appreciate what you do all year as you knit for cold Winnipeggers, too.

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Thursday, July 12, 2018


Fissure is live!

Yes, it's been a long while since I've released a pattern.  Here's more info:
A knitting pattern by Joanne Seiff

1. a long, narrow opening or line of breakage made by cracking or splitting, especially in rock or earth.

Ever thought of how life goes along, with all its texture, until something breaks? A fissure can be an illness, a career challenge, a relationship break-up…something that disrupts life’s texture. Fissure is a rectangular wrap to express that kind of disruption…but in knitting form.  This design features Cecila Campochiaro’s Sequence Knitting, a 3 stitch, textured repeat, until a Stockinette stitch, scalene triangle splits it apart.
The sample uses 2 skeins of Reywa Fibers’ Embrace, a DK weight, fair trade Tibetan Yak Down yarn, to create a wrap that drapes without elasticity.

Fissure, like life, is flexible: adjust the yarn type and weight and gauge by choosing a needle two sizes larger than called for and create a design all your own. With approximately 400 yards (366 meters) of DK weight yarn and size 8 (5mm) needles, the shawl measures approximately 60" (155cm) long by 12"(30cm) in width.
If you'd like to learn more, here are three ways to check out the pattern!

Finally, if you know what you want...and you want this PDF download right now?!
buy now 

Happy summer knitting! :)

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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Embracing Patched Jeans

Hurray!  My first piece went live yesterday on CBC-Parents!

It's in the "Learning" category.
It's live, and on a national CBC website!
Here's a link:
 Why My Kids Have Patches On Their Clothes And What That’s Taught Our Family

In other news:
Sadie the dog had a little run-in with the leftover sugar from canning yesterday.  Rather, she was annoyed that I left home (She was saying, "The nerve of that lady!  Going out for some groceries! Leaving me at home with Sally the dog, the Professor, and both twins---  All on my own!") and decided to do some investigation of our kitchen counters again.  Everyone else was upstairs, getting ready for kid bedtime. This time, Sadie's adventure involved taking a 2 kilo bag of sugar (maybe a pound or .5 kilo was left) and bringing it to the living room, ripping up the bag, and spraying sugar everywhere.  Talk about a mess...OY.  She is paying for it today with a real tummy ache.

It was a lot to clean up but it was also pretty funny.  Oh, we have a big puppy!
Note to self: Do not leave stuff out on counters!  Repeat! (Read that note, again and again.)

She'll grow and learn, but it takes training and time...and I have to train all the other family members to keep better track of her.  (Cause sometimes I do leave home to do things...crazy, huh?)

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Monday, July 09, 2018

July-the mending and making edition

The professor was invited to give a talk (lecture) at a conference in Naples, Italy.  For a variety of reasons--the cost of airfare, finding stuff to do with twins alone in Naples while he was at the conference, and well, the fact that I speak no Italian, among other things...I chose to stay home with twins and dogs this time while our professor did a very speedy trip to Europe.  He came home with treats for everyone.  For us though, one of the tastiest treats was the 10 Euro he spent in the duty-free shop on real Buffalo Mozzarella.  He carried it, in a little cooler, through many airports.  We all thoroughly enjoyed it!  (See above for the tomato and basil, plain, and dressed with Italian herbs versions...balsamic vinegar and olive oil were optional, too!)
When he got home, we took a walk in the neighborhood to do some errands, and this bag was on sale at a boutique.  It's made of recycled fabric and made with fair trade workers in India.  I love it-- (I kind of have a bag thing...) but it needs some more pockets and a closure.  I haven't figured that out yet.

Also this past weekend, we had other projects going on.  The twins and the professor picked our cherry bushes completely clean of ripe cherries-and those are now sitting in the frig, waiting for me to make cherry jam.  First though, came strawberry picking.  Usually this is a family trip, but Sadie the new dog is not quite ready yet for long stretches on her own.  So, I hung out at home and they went off to pick berries yesterday.

When they came back, one twin's lightweight gray pants were, umm, trashed.  Mending needs to happen, but when we thought on it, we all concluded that really, he just needed more warm weather trousers that he would agree to wear.

After some discussion, we decided that his most comfortable, holey, patched jeans would make good "long" shorts--essentially surfer length, if not longer.  Three pairs of pants rushed up to my office sewing machine last night.  50 minutes later...2 pairs for the kid with the urgent need...and 1 pair for the other twin.  (Maintaining parity is always good!)  We will see how these work.  In any case, the cut-offs look slightly nicer than some of the patches at this point. :)

Over the weekend, I took a quick trip to a fabric store I love, and I found this Marimekko-style remnant.  It was slinky and a weird shape.  Definitely not super useful, but I had to have it--and at $2.60 CAD, it was a cheap splurge.  While I made cut-off shorts, I pondered.  I had a linen tank top that never fit right.  It was sitting in a pile to be mended.

I hemmed the remnant and attached it to the tank top in a sort of handkerchief pinafore style.  We'll see if it stays assembled when I wear it...but at least now I can look at this pretty block print flower style some more.  The fabric was so sheer and slippery that pins made holes in it.  It was hard to work with--and I am not sure I'd like to try sewing something bigger with it.

Today though, it was all about strawberry jam.  17 cups of jam later, we still have two flats of strawberries left in the refrigerator.  There is one fabulous thing about seven year olds though.  Hand them a cutting board and a butter knife?  And the whole family hulled strawberries at once.  This saved me hours of prep work on my own.
I love making homemade, local "fast food" that goes on my pantry shelves for winter...but it also takes work and a chunk of kid-free time. (I find boiling water baths and kids do not mix, especially when trying out their new palm sized Italian race cars...)

Tomorrow, I start doing the cherries...wish me patience...I might need it!

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Friday, June 29, 2018

Last day of school & Gratitude

A friend recently gave me this knitting project bag.  It's got funny things on it like:
"Mother: [noun]-One person who does the work of twenty. For free."
"The joys of motherhood are experienced when kids go to bed."

I'm extremely glad that I had my twins, and I love them a lot.  However-- I'm also pretty sad that grade 1 is over as of lunch time today!  During the summer, we have some summer camp time, and a lot of "hang out with Mommy" time.  It means I have to work at night, on weekends, or whenever I can fit it blog posts may be fewer, and well, I get fewer breaks to do grown-up things like work.  (Maybe it's surprising, but I love working and being by myself and miss it terribly when I'm on full time mom duty.)

Yesterday was a taste of things to come.  We had a day off (right before the end of school) and we got hair cuts, went to the pediatrician for a check-up, brought Sadie the dog to a play date with a trainer and picked her up again, walked to the bakery together (and boys purchased bread/treats on their own), had meals and snacks, played in our front yard wading pool... and ran one other errand.  Yes, we had take-out for dinner.  I could do no more!

The errand: I picked up my engagement ring and wedding ring from the jeweler's.  Yesterday was our 20th wedding anniversary.  In honor of this, I had my rings resized so I could wear them consistently again.  Twin pregnancy and Lyme disease/post-Lyme means my knuckles swell...and getting the rings on and off had become really a trial.  So, I reconfirmed things with the Professor this way.  The jeweler said "Here they are again, like brand new!"  But I didn't want brand new.  I wanted older, a bit worn, and still fitting.  Oh well.  No one's fault that my knuckles got swollen.  I need to be grateful for what I've got!

In order to counteract this's a link to my latest article,which just came out today:

Do you have a gratitude list?

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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Faster by the day

 There's an old phrase floating around that says something like:
Spinning on a spinning wheel is faster by the hour.  Spindling is faster by the day.  This has gone through my head repeatedly since having kids.  While I was gluing knitting needles and shooting other photos, I hung up some yarn to dry on my (dirty) porch.  First, I hung up an experiment I'd done.

Last summer, I bought some Clun Forest roving from Custom Woollen Mills in Alberta.  It is a down breed, bouncy, and hard to felt.  Perfect for boy mitts.  I spun it up in two ways.  One was a slightly over twisted chunky single ply.  The other, which took much longer, was a skinny single that I plied into a 2 ply.  It's well balanced and the skein looks much nicer.  I will continue onward with this experiment and knit both into mitts.  My best guess is that even though the 2 ply looks nicer and would perhaps last longer, the chunky single will save a lot of time.  My boys don't often lose their mitts, but they do insist on growing, so they outgrow them, but not before they get dirty repeatedly, felted, and well-worn.  Sometimes the end game is about efficiency and not perfection.

The second batch of yarn was ALL spindle spun.  I spun and plied it all on the spindle.  Much of it was spun and plied right on the same porch, as I watched kids.  I have no idea how long I spent on this.  I recently dug around in my spinning basket, noticed a had a lot of odd single balls of spindle spun yarn, and plied them.  That added up and amounted to a lot of yarn!

I have no idea what these skeins will be one day.  What matters here is volume- I was actually productive during those hours on the porch. The kids' wheelbarrow (well-used in 'weeding' play) caught their drips as they dried.

 I often feel stymied by the number of interruptions, illnesses, and other details I's not a professional 40 hour work week or lifestyle.  However, I recently applied to something and realized that I'd had 60 articles published in the last year.  Sixty!  (some were reprints, but that is ok) So, just like that water dripping, a little at a time does add up after a while!  So...spin on!  (or write on?!)

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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Making knitting needles

When I went with my family and friends to that Arts Center in Alexandra, VA in May (the one that does art with recycled materials)  I scored something unusual.  They had a jar of unfinished knitting needles in rare woods in all sorts of sizes.  This used to be someone's business, I think she was turning knitting needles on a lathe in ebony, rosewood, etc. but then she retired...and donated her leftovers.  I got 2 sets of straight needles at $3 a piece.  I could have bought a ton, but in truth, I don't really need more needles.  I do use size #6 and 7 (4 mm and 4.5mm) pretty often though.  None of the needles were marked, and none had ends yet.  So, I eyeballed, bought two, and flew home to Winnipeg.
I have a weird collection of beads in many sizes.  I always thought I might get into beading, although honestly, it has never been my thing.  I've made beaded yarns, knitted beads into garments, and in the end, I find it a bit too fiddly and the end result was too girly for my personal taste.  However, I just happened to have some wooden beads...that would work well on these needles.

I did this in a low tech way.  I grabbed some of my kids' glue, some newspaper, and set things up on the front porch.  I didn't measure or get overly particular about details.  I put glue inside the beads, slid them onto the ends of the needles, and left it to dry.

Once dry, the needles look good to go.  I have knit on straight or double pointed needles without anything on the end, and while I can manage it in a pinch, I like a firm cap on the end so stitches don't fall off when I race off to chase a dog or kid.  These will fit the bill.  If for some reason the glue does not stick, I have more wooden beads and I can use fancier glue later.  I started with easily accessible non-toxic glue from the kids' art shelf.

If you are handy, you can easily sharpen dowels and make knitting needles.  I have also knit with pencils in a pinch.  Sometimes you need to knit and supplies aren't close at hand.  If you're not into sharpening dowels, consider visiting some thrift shops and secondhand stores to get needles affordably.  This is how I built up my big collection of needles when I first got married and moved away from my mom's stash of needles.  This also helps you learn to knit with a variety of needles.  I learned not to be overly picky about wood/metal/plastic but to enjoy knitting with tools that were well-loved by those knitters who came before me.

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