Friday, December 08, 2017

Sfinj and other delights

My kids are preparing for their big Hanukah concert at school.  They go to a special public school--it offers a Hebrew/English bilingual program.  I have been (mostly) keeping up with their rapid increase in new vocabulary...but it is a bit random.  I never know what words they are learning in Hebrew.  Our dinner table is full of surprises in conversation these days.  The Professor (who knows a lot of other vocab, but not in this language) is often stunned and surprised by what comes out of our mouths.

In order to refresh my memory (It's been years since I studied or spoke Hebrew regularly), I signed up for a 'word of the day' email.  Yesterday, I found myself deep in conversation with one of my twins about the Hebrew word for "circle."  I must have known this word when I was a teenager; I spent a year abroad in Israel and my high school there was an odd mix of English for 'international' students, as well as French and/or Spanish and, of course, Hebrew.

Many of the things I learned that year have been sort of lost in the mists of time...or sleep deprivation, since having twins?  I remember how frustrating it was,  28! years ago, when I came home, to find no one knew what I was talking about when I mentioned Sfinj.

My "kibbutz sister" (adopted family for kids living away from home) was part Moroccan and for special treats, she would fry us Sfinj.  To my surprise, there was a big article this week about this "Hot Israeli treat" like it was a new thing or something.   Well, there's nothing new about it, but Sfinj is sure good.  It's also good to know others are getting a chance to enjoy it.  (Imagine a hot, light doughnut, fresh from the fryer, dipped in sugar water or honey.  We stood near the stove, dipped the pastries, and ate them as soon as they cooled enough in the honey to eat.)

To go with this of my all-time, most successful patterns has been for a knitted Kipah.  The first version of this pattern appeared in Interweave Knits in 2002.  Then, the magazine sold out, and the design needed fine-tuning.  I worked on it, changed it, and came up with a new version...a Yamulka. (Note: Kipah, Yamulkah, yarmulke, yarmukah...this is all the same headcovering.  The word can be spelled any way you like in English; it's a transliteration from Hebrew and Yiddish)
  I have always sold it for a small amount of change; enough to pay for expenses.  To date, it has sold probably a couple hundred copies or more.  This pattern has also been newly updated on Loveknitting if you're curious about it.  

For my kids, I eventually developed a "stay-put" version which has not been published but probably should be---some day.

A very common (if not popular) present on Hanukah when I was a kid was a night where everyone got new socks and underwear.  Yup, some of presents are small and not glamorous...but there is still time to knit a pair of socks for someone (especially a small person...) if you hurry!

Check out the Molly Baby Socks on Ravelry or here on LoveknittingFor bigger feet, try the Mary Jane Socks...and here's the link on Loveknitting, too.

This is a time of year when I am like a bear in hibernation.  I love staying indoors, cooking, and making things...I hope this week's series on 'small things to knit' has inspired you some, too!

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Thursday, December 07, 2017

A few more speedy prezzies

 This may be something like a 'drive-by' post...but behind the scenes, I've been watching knitters download and knit some of these quick patterns in time for holiday gifts.  So, why not share them with you, too?

Bacchus in the Bath: Knit a scrubby mitt, a couple washclothes, or even an eye mask...Long ago, this was a Knit Picks exclusive, but now it's available on both Ravelry and Love Knitting.
 Due North Mitts--
Dudes, up here in Winnipeg, it's winter already, you may need some mitts.
you may need some mitts.
 This is the last one for today:  The Icelandic Winter Cap is unisex and a really warm and useful hat.  I've been wearing one for years and have a new hat on the needles right now.  To give you an idea of how often this has been knit, the pattern is in both my book and available as an individual download.  It's been sold as a download somewhere north of 30 times, and it has 19 projects up on Ravelry.  My guess is there are many more of these walking around cold climates right now...keeping someone's ears warm. :)  If you're cold-- Knit up this hat, maybe?

More another day soon-I've got to throw some dinner on and head out the door...

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Tuesday, December 05, 2017

When you need a boa

Yesterday, we got a new blast of snow cover in our yard.  It snows slowly on the prairies when compared to an east coast kind of storm.  We did not end up with lots of accumulation, but it sure did blow around.  I was happy to stay indoors, aside from the dog walk, as the temperatures have dropped quite a bit, too.  It was about -16C (3F) this morning.
One thing that keeps me happy while wearing winter gear is to rotate the mitts, scarves and hats.  I also try to maintain a happy selection of colors.

Way back in 2006, I did a pattern or two for the (now defunct) Magknits.  It was an online magazine.  That pattern, the Alpaca Ruffle Boa, went off-line when the magazine did.  I got a flurry of concerned notes from people who still wanted to make the design.
Sally the Pointer does her stuff...

I spent some time revising it, and then posted it again.  It's been available on Ravelry ever since,  It's a steady presence there.  I've knit this pattern a few times, and even included it in a box I sent to my family one year for Hanukah...I couldn't be in Virginia with them, so I made a huge pile of knitted things and sent it along.
Sally expresses her inner diva
I'm not really a person who is into ruffles or boas, but there is something about a bit of alpaca luxury and glamour that can really do it for your inner diva when it's cold.  AND....this is pretty fast to knit, so well-worth considering if you've got a few skeins of sportweight on your hand and a deadline approaching.
In this light, I recently updated the details of the pattern on so now you can buy the pattern and the yarn at the same time, if necessary.
Note: No Sally dogs were harmed (or even asked to get off the furniture) in the taking of these photos.

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Monday, December 04, 2017

Quick knits for loved ones

A blogger I love reading, Dances with Wool, is posting every day in order to celebrate this time of year.  I'm not able to post every day, but I've been wanting to reach out and communicate more often. 
When I first started blogging, I made lots of friendships and connections through this blog, and the comments were a joy to me.  These days, nobody seems to comment, but according to my 'counter'--a lot of people read.  I'd love to hear from you.  If you are out there and reading, well, I may as well post, too.
Lene, on the above blog, makes a lot of amazing toys and quirky folk art.  I love her creations.  I don't make as many of these toy designs these days, but I used to do a few kid oriented ones.  I looked around and thought about it...what's a good present that a knitter could start now and get done in time for a holiday gift?
I'll try to post about these when I have a chance.  For today, I think that would be--
If you have leftover fingering weight (sock) yarns around, this is a great little project to make for kids.  My twins are six, and still get out these out to make puppet shows every now and again.  You don't have to make all the puppets (of course) and you can use any colors you have on's all fun.
This design was originally published with Knit Picks way back in 2005!  Although it doesn't look hugely successful on Ravelry in terms of project numbers, it has been a consistent seller for many years--Finger puppets don't go out of fashion with little kids.

My favorite part of the design, at the time, were the beautifully drawn images. This was a collaboration with the great design coordinator at Knit Picks at that time...she had some amazing illustration skills!  I'm including them here so you can enjoy them, too.
 Buck the Butterfly:
 Carl the Caterpillar:
 Doug the Dragonfly:
 Lacey the Ladybug:
 Luna Moth:
 Manny the Mosquito:
It's snowing here today, and Sally the dog and I had a gorgeous walk in the warm flurries.... but something about these puppets always makes me dream of spring and remember summer. :)
The pattern's also available on Loveknitting

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Thursday, November 30, 2017

12 years and counting

Anniversary Alert:  My blog is now 12 years old.
In November, 2005, I started this blog with a few test shots.  There was yarn:
There was Sally:
And I am so grateful that these two aspects of my writing life are still with me.  Sally and I are definitely a bit older and grayer in the muzzle.  Harry the dog (RIP) is no longer with us.  But the professor and I keep on keeping on, and while things have changed a great deal, that part is the same.  We now live in a different country (Canada) and have twins, but, well, I am grateful for all that's gone by.
It's been a challenging week...what with twins having the stomach bug.  They got better, while I had several strange work set backs, one after another.  Things felt a  I've definitely had a few missteps.  My books took a ride to a book fair--but did not sell a single copy.  My new pattern hasn't really taken off.  (at all.)  It was one downer after another.

I even was prompted to consider whether I should be writing patterns at all anymore...has my career shifted?  Am I doing other things now?  I've been writing about fiber arts and designing knitwear for about 15 years now, and this seemed like a bleak, big choice.

Then something funny happened.  I predominantly sell patterns these days on Ravelry.  I checked out another place where I sell designs...and it turns out things were selling just fine over there.  OK then.  That is good news...

And the Professor had a paper come out.  (I'm linking to an article about his paper...not all of us do genomics & evolution and development...)  So, things are improving.

I'm planning on taking some time to sit on the couch, drink tea, and knit this afternoon.  I've got a roast chicken and roasted root veggies ready to go for supper, and I'm making applesauce in the slow cooker.

Some anniversaries are quiet ones...but if you've been reading the blog for a while (or are brand new!)--I'd love to celebrate with you.  Please leave a comment and say hello and tell me how long you've been reading?

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Monday, November 27, 2017

Responsibilities and Sale

Today is the last day of 25% off sale for all my Rav patterns.  The sale ends tonight, Monday night at midnight, Central Time, US &Canada.
 Use this coupon code: Thanks 
to get 25% off all my patterns!  
(I'll be honest, very few people have taken advantage of this sale as of yet.  I haven't been the best at marketing it either--both my twins had a stomach bug this weekend.  We did a lot of laundry Saturday night--it was an all-night event. --Not much sleep for this mommy! Things seem better now.  I heard 17 kids had to go home from their school on Friday with the same virus, so it's not just us...but it sure is yucky!)
This leads me to other news.  On Saturday, the CBC Manitoba webpage ran my article:  (Note, I do not choose or write the headlines.)
As I cleaned up little boys in the middle of the night, I also got to watch the CBC Facebook feed fill up with comments.  Some thought I had a point...and others belittled me, my writing, my concerns about responsible parenting, and more.  It was an interesting thing--one wonders why people need to take time to say all the negative stuff...did I make points that bothered them?  Did they feel guilty? Were they truly interested in defending the privacy of our politicians' vacations?  
(My husband, the Professor, pointed out that he and his colleagues need to submit emergency phone numbers and ways they can always be reached when they go away, whether it's to visit relatives or off-grid.  The Premier apparently doesn't...)
I have heard of writers who never read public comments on their work, and others who read everything and respond.  I don't respond, for the most part, unless someone has written me privately.  I do read the comments when I can though--and it would seem this piece struck a nerve.
Please take advantage of the pattern sale while it lasts if you are knitter!  Who knows if you too will be stuck on the couch with sick kids...and need your knitting...?

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Making as a way of giving Thanks

As a dual citizen (US/Canada), I'm often feeling betwixt and between this time of year.  We celebrated Thanksgiving in October in Winnipeg, but right now, everyone --my family and friends--in the US is running around, getting ready for Thanksgiving.  We will be having school and work as usual tomorrow... but I can be thankful anyhow...

1)So, I'm throwing my own party here on the blog.  First, if you've been wanting to buy any of my Rav Patterns , including my brand new pattern, Woolly, you can save 25% off any of these patterns on Ravelry from now until November 27th at midnight (Central Time, US & Canada) with the coupon code:

2) Second, if you are the kind of person who wants to say thank you by knitting for others, well, that is awesome. wants to help you by giving yarn for you to knit for your good cause.
They are offering free yarn (with a contest) to knitters in both the US and Canada who like to knit for good causes.  So, if you knit for charity, hop on over there and enter their competition; the deadline is December 15th.

3) I cannot really cope with this time of year without cooking stuff.  So, I'm making a roast and some potatoes and sweet potatoes and some squash and Professor bought me this cool set of things I had to tell you about.  Here in Winnipeg, we have lots of root crops.  We have an extended season vegetable share this year, so we're getting a lot of cabbage, carrots, etc and there's only so much slaw a person can eat, let me tell you.

As my friends know, my attention span for cooking is about 24 hours.  After that, I seem to forget things like sourdough starters or sauerkraut and, at least when I lived in the Southern US, they would grow strange pink or green colors and the Professor would come along and throw it out to protect us from keeling over.  (He took those university health and safety classes while I did Arts& Social Sciences. :)

But I still was curious about fermentation.  Small batch fermentation in a cooler climate seemed like more of a sure thing, so he bought me Pickle Pipes and glass Pickle Pebble glass weights to try this out with canning jars and rings.  (We already had loads of those) I'm making my first small batches of sauerkraut and pickled carrots now.  They sure look good sitting on the counter...and these silicon pickle pipes have a little valve at the top so the fermentation gets air without introducing anything else into the concoction.  I look forward to seeing how it comes out.

--Canadians, here are links to for these things, I used the US links above first--
 Pickle Pipes and Pickle Pebbles

(I'm using a handmade book by my friend Janet as a way of keeping notes on my kitchen experiments.)

Have a wonderful holiday, or a great Thursday--wherever you live!

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