Friday, January 17, 2020

Those McStrippits!

So, how did the McStrippits get their name?
(If you're just reading the blog for the first time, WELCOME!  Strippy McStrippit and Rosie McStrippit are knitting patterns that I designed.  Follow these links to learn more!)

 When I started designing these, I was endlessly knitting these strips when we were at piano lessons or outside playing or whatever. Nobody in my household could understand these "strip" things that Mommy was making. 

Eventually, I sewed the first design together and said to my twins and to the Professor, "Well, now we need a name for this thing."  And they laughed and said--"Obviously, Mommy, it is about the Strips!

Somewhere in this conversation, my husband the Professor brought up the story of Boaty McBoatfaceThis was when the British Navy had a "Name Our Ship" poll for a new research vessel.  Only, the one that caught on and won was Boaty McBoatface, which was really kind of not dignified enough for the Brits.  They did eventually name a submersible with this funny name though. (Scientists do make lots of jokes, but dignity has its place!) 

In moments, our whole dinner table was laughing with jokes about how if there could be a McBoatface, well, these were the McStrippit designs.  And so it was!
That is how the McStrippit designs got their last name.  The first name is based in some way on the particular design (Strippy was first, so, you know, there you go!) and the last name is to pay homage to a really funny boat name.

Rosie McStrippit is Rosie for two reasons.  The square neck reminded me of some Scottish and Irish dancing outfits.  When I was in elementary school, a classmate dressed up in her costume and did a jig performance for us. Her name wasn't Rosie but I've never forgotten the square neck of her dress--and Rosie struck me as a good Scots-Irish kind of name. Second reason is that I happened to knit the sample in a rose coloured yarn, but please, use whatever colour you like!  I am sure you'll still look rosy if you knit one.

Now that I've finished two of these designs-- (and a total of 15 strips!) I sort of miss having the strip knitting in my purse.  I may have to start another soon...

Last bits of news for this post:  On Ravelry, Rosie McStrippit is now available with an additional LOW VISION pdf.  This means that I've made it more accessible to those with vision challenges.  I hope to go back and revise other patterns in the future to do this so more knitters can try out my work.

Also related to accessibility, my article, Tips for Inclusivity, has gone live on the Jewish Independent's website today.  It offers pointers for choosing summer camps for kids with special needs.
Wishing you all good things-and a laugh! --Joanne

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Friday, January 10, 2020

low tech spinning

The big news today is that my article on low-tech fiber processing is featured on PLY magazine's blog!  Here's the link:
Low tech wool (and other fibres) prep

I'm proud to be included in this processing issue--via the blog!

I often encounter new spinners who are overwhelmed by the expense and complicated nature of all the tools and gadgets they think they must have to begin spinning.  In fact...spinning can be pretty simple and low cost.  This piece spells out ways you can use your hands to do the work-without the tools.

PS: I'm not ignoring all the upsetting stuff that is going on in the world right now.  Far from it, but I'm needing distractions so I don't despair entirely.  I hope this provides a helpful distraction.  In the meanwhile, believe me, I'm thinking about peace in the world--and rain in Australia.

PPS: How did Rosie McStrippit get her name?  Well, she's clearly related to Strippy McStrippit, made in strips, and there's a story about elementary school and Irish (or Scottish?) dance in there...for another time.

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Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Rosie McStrippit

At last, here is the next 'McStrippit' pattern!  Introducing..
.Rosie McStrippit!

Rosie McStrippit’s an A-line, square necked women’s tunic, in seven sizes with a trick up its sleeve. This is a bottom-up, simple sweater knit in pieces…eight pieces, to be exact. You’ll work towards a sweater that drapes and flatters while enjoying completely portable, simple patterned knitting that fits in a purse while you’re on the go!
Too tired to carry a top-down sweater project on your commute, to kids’ lessons or the doctor’s office?  These McStrippit designs are for you.
Rosie McStrippit requires knitting, purling, increases, decreases, and sewing up at the end. This design uses written instructions and a schematic. It uses a single strand of Aran yarn that knits at 17 sts sts = 4"/10 cm after blocking on a size US 7 needle.

You may wonder how I got all these photos...well, I had twin eight year olds and one very patient professor photo taking photos of me all at once on one sort of "warm" December day.  (They used an iPad, an ancient digital camera and a fancy camera that the Professor used to shoot all the photos for my first book,  Fiber Gathering.) There are also a couple photos indoors, and unless I am modelling, I took all of those.

I am very excited to release this sweater design, as it matches the dress that I made in the last post, AND I think it's a really useful concept for those of us who knit on the go.  I announced how long it took me to get everything online today---and how much I charged, per pattern, at dinner. One of my twins said, "But Mommy, that's not very much.  That's not anything like as much work as it took you to make it."

If I don't count any of the time I spent designing this, knitting it, grading the spread sheet for all the sizes, writing the pattern, editing the pattern, getting the pattern online (and it's here on Ravelry and here on 

Well, I need to sell 13 patterns at full price just to pay for the basic supplies: yarn and the tech editor fees.

How much does a pattern download cost?

$7 US

Having a little pouch of knitting with you while waiting at the doctor's office, the playground, piano lessons, the school bus stop?

Well now?  That's priceless!

I hope you enjoy knitting Rosie McStrippit as much as I did.
(I'll explain the name some other time...)

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Sunday, January 05, 2020

New dress, new year

Winter break has taken over my whole world.  Kids go back to the school tomorrow and I may be able to catch up again!  My late night sewing has turned out this new #100actsofsewingno1 dress with a lining rather than bias tape and inseam pockets.  I'll show you both sides!  It's Brussels Washer Yarn Dye, (linen blend) and the colour is called heliotrope, although I think it looks sort of like a raisin in gray light. I made this to match my new knitting design...more details soon!

We've done some fun things over break, including buying both twins new skates and trying them out at the local community centre arena.  This has been fun and included a few brief moments where I too wore skates again.  (It's been a long long time...)

Last but not least, my opinion piece went live on CBC-Manitoba today:
Mental stimulation amid child-rearing? You can do it if you try

To that end, I recently signed up to learn more Talmud.  I signed up for a 'Daf Yomi' email every day...learn more here.  Sign up here if you're interested.  To my surprise, it is all in English so far, so I am also using Sefaria, or at least I am--on day 1!  Happy Birthday to me!

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Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Here comes 2020!

In 2019, I designed and published 4 knitting patterns: worrybear, strippymcstrippit, deirhart and thestayputkippah.

 I also wrote and had published more than 65 articles, helped edit a diabetes health book, and returned to sewing—since October, I have made myself 4 dresses, 1 pair of pants, a vest, some dish towels and a summer tunic! Whoa. My boss is reasonably satisfied with my output....
(I am a freelancer.  The boss is me!)

To celebrate 2020 and my upcoming birthday, I am offering 20% off all my Ravelry patterns (including Three Ply, which was featured in Vogue Knitting Magazine this fall!). This ends January 5th at midnight, CT. Thanks for celebrating with me! Have a wonderful new year!
Use this 20% off coupon code on Ravelry:

Psst!  I sent a new pattern off to the tech editor...Stay tuned!  Here's something new for 2020...I can't wait to share it with you!

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Tuesday, December 24, 2019

A gift for 2020

This piece ran on the CBC-Manitoba website this morning.  I am proud of it--and hope it could come true.
A gift for 2020: Earth for our great-grandchildren
We're having lots of fun at our house, Hanukah started and we are playing, resting, and celebrating.  Hope you are, too!

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Thursday, December 19, 2019

Make money: Invest in student research

Every so often, I write about a topic that is important to me--but nobody wants to buy it.  Maybe the draft wasn't good enough, or they have too many other pieces to run?  Maybe the publication thinks that the topic isn't important enough to their audience.  In other words, they don't think anyone cares enough to publish it.

This is hard because I've already invested the time in researching and writing it.  The hardest part though is when it's an important topic, but nobody has aired it sufficiently.  The Professor and I spent a lot of years as graduate students.  Since then, we've also mentored graduate students--in the classroom, the lab, or by feeding them on a holiday.  It was important to me to speak out about the poor levels of financial support grad students get in Manitoba.  Here's my piece on this issue.  It was just published in UM Today--despite the proximity to the end of the academic term, I hope folks read it!  I'm thrilled this piece found a home. I hope it might make a difference.

Op-Ed: Make more money: Invest in student research

Short version: Investing in undergrad and grad research offers huge positive outcomes from a financial perspective.  Personally?  It means grad students can afford to eat without using the food bank and avoid living in rooming houses while they continue their schooling.

In family news, we have continued our hibernation and making frenzy despite several viruses.  Here is a beet chocolate chocolate chip Bundt cake...Maybe the second or third time I have ever used this bundt pan we got for our wedding!  (we get a lot of beets in our farm share at this time of year.  It's a root veggie time of year..)

This year, my kids decided our gifts for teachers would be all handmade.  This morning we gave out four bags with homemade jam, pickles, handwoven and handknit items made by kids AND beautiful hand done colouring and cards from kids.  I was proud of my twins.

One of my guys is currently alternating between wearing only two handknit sweaters.  They are: Freestyle Super and Stripe Freestyle.  (The dude likes stripes.  A lot.)  We are now collaborating on yet another one, with hand-dyed yarns that both kids helped make last summer.  This sweater will be a mommy hand-knit, but I'm not going to write another pattern.  To my surprise, those patterns do not seem to be as popular with other kids as they are in my house.  Again, it's a mystery...but I'm glad the designs find a home on my kids' backs all winter.

Last but not least, one twin is exploring crochet.  This is his version of a lion, before he put on the mane.  Can you see it?  (This is an abstract thinker, I was  impressed.  Rorschach Tests are like this...)
Hope you are having a wonderful December, no matter what you make or celebrate! :)

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