Tuesday, January 16, 2018


Well, at least now I know why I was feeling so crummy.  I got a phone call yesterday--Monday--saying someone had looked at my x-ray and saw I had pneumonia. (I got my chest x-ray done at about 7;45 Thursday morning) Yup, I was sicker than just flu for all that time.  (Good thing I didn't keel over in the meanwhile, huh?)  So, now I am taking some lovely antibiotics.  Things still do feel like I am swimming, quietly, underwater a lot of the time.

Good things are coming. (I love lists right now for some reason,)
 #1. It is supposed to really warm up here, right up to freezing, and that is a huge deal for us in winter.  Can't wait for a little warm break.
#2. I made this cheerful, bright salad as part of our "leftovers" dinner--like a rainbow on a cold sunny white winter day.
#3. I saw a very beautiful promotional video for Quince & Co.  This is a Maine yarn company that is run in a really eco-friendly way, with thoughtful designers and knitters behind it.  I have long admired the yarn, even if I am too far away to touch it all myself.  I thought you might enjoy this 3 minute video, too. (I get nothing out of passing this along other than the enjoyment of watching it again.)

Experience Quince from Quince &Co. on Vimeo.

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Sunday, January 14, 2018

On the brink

You may have been wondering what happened to me.  (Me too, frankly....)  So, first, there was winter break. It was long. And hard. We'd hoped to do all sorts of fun things. We did fit in a play date, a classmate's birthday party, 2 museum visits, and a couple of meals out. We went to a kid's theatre production. We tried hard to set up fun things to do. However, we were stymied by a few crucial things:

1) The professor was sick.  He often gets sick at the end of a term, as an academic term can feel a bit like a marathon to a teacher sometimes, but this time, he was sick with what we thought was a respiratory or cold virus, more or less all break.

2) Like much of North America, we had some extreme cold which meant that it was just too cold to go anywhere.  Unlike most of North America, our extreme cold means you can get frostbite on exposed skin in 8-10 minutes.  We aren't talking "put on an extra tuque" weather, or zip up your parka, wear some snow pants or anything like that.  That's normal cold for Winnipeg. We're talking wind chills of -40 or lower for days on end.

We get this in Winnipeg, it's not a huge shocker, but it's hard over winter break when you are trapped indoors.  Plus, although our hot water radiator heat works well and gas fire places, designed for British Victorian homes without central heating, were pouring out the supplemental heat...there were problem areas.  Like, our 100 year old house does not have insulation in the outside walls, and if you stood next to an outdoor wall for more than a moment, it felt like Harry Potter's dementors were sucking out your soul.

3) Kids can get restless when trapped indoors. We had indoor toys and games lined up, but ended up resorting to weird made up games like "button hockey" and "Swedish scooting" and other things you could play on the floor without hurting anybody or freezing to death.

4)Somewhere during break, one twin got sick with a virus with a fever, and even though we'd all gotten the flu shot, we now suspect it was a mild case of the flu.

5) On January 5th, I had a big birthday, and I announced we would go out to dinner, since I didn't want to have to bake my own cake or make dinner.  The windchill was about -25F(-32C) when the family walked to the restaurant and back.

Finally, after many days, we were rounding the bend. The kids would go back to school. I would start working again. Finally, I would get to be alone sometime soon...  On January 7th, we went back to a normal routine, and on Sunday morning, we went to a kid music class, where I didn't feel all that well. Yeah.  Hah.

I started running a fever on January 7th, and it got pretty high before it went back down again.  I ran a fever for 5 days.  I had the flu the way everyone is scared to get it--the reason for getting the darn flu shot in the first place. (I did, honest!)  I literally helped get the boys on the bus, went back to bed, and stayed there nearly all day every day, all week. The dog kept me company. I felt like dying was a really good idea somewhere in there. I wished someone would loan me a 2 by 4 once or twice.

I did get to a medical appointment ("congrats, you have flu") and my temp was over 39C at that point. (103.5F) I eventually got a chest x ray on Thursday morning, but I still have not heard back about it.  A person could have died of pneumonia by now... and although my fever is down, I'm still coughing a lot.

I had to reschedule several appointments last week, and I'm hoping to catch up sometime soon, assuming I get better sometime. Twin #2 and the professor seem to now be having mild versions of the flu, but we may be kidding ourselves, we are running no marathons over here. In the meanwhile, here's a new article I wrote during winter break.  It has an odd resonance; I hadn't mentioned the flu as a plague, but now I think maybe it's relevant too:
We should be more civilized

Stay warm and stay well, everybody!

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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Learn to Spin! January 21st in Winnipeg

Want to gain a new skill and chase away some winter doldrums?  Here it is!
Every January the Norwood Naughty Knitters host a fun afternoon of shared crafting in the lovely sunny venue of the Norwood Community Centre in Norwood Flats, with vendors and craft circles throughout the afternoon.
 As part of our ongoing skills sharing program, the Manitoba Fibre Festival is pleased to offer a class at this event. Please email us to register – info@manitobafibrefestival.com

Instructor: Joanne Seiff
Sunday January 21
Norwood Community Centre

57 Walmer, Winnipeg, MB.

3 hours: 1:00 – 4:00 pm

Registration fee: $30

Materials fee: $30 – includes everything you need for this class. 
Handspinning with a spindle is an ancient craft that is still important even today.  Everyone in a household, including children as young as four, used to help spin yarn that clothed the family and kept them warm!  Join Joanne and learn a bit about wool and learn to use a handspindle to make your own yarn.  When you leave this class, you’ll own a spindle, some extra wool, and you’ll be able to practice spinning at home.
For more information, check out the Fibre Festival website!

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Friday, December 22, 2017

new design! new article!

By the middle of Hanukah, we had to submit to the inevitable-fun-...parties, exhausted kids, and even one day home (each) from school with a low fever and a cough.  We're all worn out by partying, but it was a great holiday with lots of singing, fun, sweets, oily foods and treats for kids.

Then, last night we all went to the school winter concert.  My kids did a great job, it was a lovely concert, lots of good music, dancing, and fun...and we're worn out.  So worn out that when we walked to the car, we saw two people take a tumble on the icy sidewalk ahead.  We saw them get up, we walked on--and then I fell, taking one of the twins with me.  It was like a cartoon.  Suddenly our feet were no longer touching the ground!  Ouch. We're all ok--but I'm mighty sore today.

While this happened: The Jewish Independent ran my article, which I think I'd called
Don't throw your brother in a pit.
They called it "How to treat siblings, others."
(This piece also ran in the Jewish Post & News, if you're a subscriber.)
Note these brothers, modelling my newest design...

Today, I also launched Stripe Freestyle. This is my newest Ravelry design, and it's available ON SALE for 25% off until December 31st at midnight. (Central Time, US & Canada)  Use this coupon code for the discount:
This design will also eventually be available on Love Knitting, but you can take advantage of the sale right now!

Happy knitting,reading, and relaxing--I hope you have an awesome winter break.  Posting may be spotty from now until early January as I will be entertaining two six year olds.  Temperatures here will be dropping steadily after tomorrow. On Sunday, it may warm up to -19C (-2F) so my guess is that we'll be playing inside. :) 

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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Hanukah, 2017

 On Tuesday night, Hanukah started around here.  We have been very busy--every afternoon after the twins get off the school bus, there is a mad rush.  We have to choose the candles, Mommy!  We have to help make latkes, Mommy! (that was a huge mess, but sort of fun, too)  We have to read books about the holiday, Mommy!  We have to play dreidl and discuss what our friends have gotten as presents, Mommy!  (and onward.)

This is a pretty exhausting whirlwind, since we have to fit in all the celebrations and parties around school and work.... which is still happening every day. The reactions have been funny, too.  Each night, the kids get gifts.  Most nights, the gifts are small.  Last night, we got one story book, some colored pencils, coloring books, and wool socks.  This is, in the scheme of things, not a big ticket present, and cost is totally irrelevant to enjoyment, we find.  I had two boys busy coloring non-stop, and they were thrilled by new warm socks.  The book went into a pile; they would "read it later, Mommy!" 
My guys are at an age where counting the candles and putting them into the menorah is a fun math project.  Singing the songs they learned at school is fun.  Eating one piece of chocolate gelt per night is great, too.

One of my guys has scarcely unwrapped his gift before he wonders what he will be receiving the next night.  The other twin is very worried--what if there are too many great presents?  It might make his first night gift, a parrot stuffed animal that he really wanted, seem not as great? " Mommy," he says, "hold off on all the presents.  That is not what this is about."

All these photos are from old Hanukah posts on this blog!  Click here to read a fun (random) collection of stories from Hanukahs in years past.  (When I did not have twins yet, and when we threw big parties for 14 students from the Professor's lab, for instance...)

I hope you're having lots of fun celebrating, whatever you celebrate! 

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Some updated listings

It's so dark this time of year!  I try to spend a lot of time enjoying the bright mid-day light (when it happens) and seeking out lots of color, images, and ideas.  I have just been notified that Loveknitting.com has updated the listings of a few of my patterns there.  Here are some pictures and links.  The Hole Inside Mitts come in nearly every size one might need and has a short story included!  Available here on Loveknitting.com or on Ravelry. 

Another story + pattern is Riverbend Garden Hat, and this one is also sized for everybody.  Hat and mitt patterns are still well within reach for holiday gift giving, particularly if you have a chunk of time for knitting. You can check out this pattern here at Loveknitting and also, on Ravelry.

Some people love a textured mitt, and last year for Valentine's, I released the Thump Thump Mitts.  The striated texture reminded me of heart muscle. Here's a link to more info on Rav about these mitts--they too are available in lots of sizes.

Last but not least in my "flood a cloudy snowy day with happy knitting pictures" is the Undertow Hat.  This is very quick indeed and also available in lots of sizes.  Read more on Ravelry here.
This time of year, I am very grateful for wool and its warming qualities --and lots of it! 
More than once recently, I've been asked about why I pair writing articles with knitwear design.  The short answer is that knitwear design is creative, but also very stimulating detailed math and technical writing.  It serves an important function, too.  It keeps people warm and comfortable, as it has done for hundreds of years, as well as allowing smart people the opportunity to create their own clothing.  It's clothing that fits properly, exactly sized rather than mass-produced...and tailored to our tastes and needs. 

Often, this comment (about why I do this kind of design) is paired with some sort of belittling statement. I am lucky though--I had a strong liberal arts education.  Good education and flexibility allow us to do different kinds of work, and I'm grateful I have this opportunity to diversify my work life.  Also, as the person belittles me, I sometimes look at his/her clothing. I rarely see something handmade at that moment.  In our busy society, handmade often means one is wealthy, or that someone really loves you.  I focus on the latter.  It allows me to move along quickly, think of that love I've given and received, and I try not to say anything I'll regret later--because I know that a handknit item from someone you love is a precious thing.

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Monday, December 11, 2017

Hydro rates: Increase Demand, We’ve got Supply

This weekend, my op-ed article on our province's energy surplus (and potentially huge rate hikes) went live on the CBC-Manitoba webpage:
The answer to Manitoba Hydro increases?  Use more electricity, not less

Meanwhile, on the home front, we had busy times.  Another 'I've turned 6!" birthday party (we've done 4 in 3 weeks, and it's wearing this mom out!) and our last fun music class of the year.  Both kids needed haircuts, we shoveled some new snow, and were very busy.  The birthday parties (loud, often chaotic events) really make me realize that I'm an introverted old curmudgeon. 

To that end, I've just finished the second "twin" sweater.  It's my tradition to knit a sweater for each kid every fall, and sometimes more than two... The first this year was Woolly, and for the first time, I decided to write that kid's sweater pattern.  I'm blocking the second sweater, and we'll see if I manage photos and perhaps publishing a pattern before 2018!  In the meanwhile, despite choosing the colors and being near me whenever I was knitting, twin #2 seemed to have forgotten entirely about his sweater.  He seemed very surprised and pleased when trying it on, but told me "Mommy, I could not have chosen these colors."  He did....  :)

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