Friday, May 18, 2018

Advocacy on the road

In the US, as a kid, I volunteered and worked at the Claude Moore Colonial Farm.
This living history park offered me a lot of the skills I use today in teaching and living.  Spinning, mending, gardening, talking to strangers and teaching, cooking (over a fire!) and more.  I wrote an opinion piece about this, because the US National Patk Service has decided to shut down this important park by the end of December, 2018.  (There is no good reason to do so, as far as anyone can tell, aside from perhaps potentially profiting from the sale of the land.)

The opinion piece was edited down to the length of a letter, and printed here:

Please forgive this messy link!  I am away from my computer and posting via an iPad...but this is too important to leave alone.  If you want to support living history darn near the US Capitol, please google "Claude Moore Colonial Farm" to find more ways to advocate for this amazing representation of everyday tenant farmer history in 1771 Virginia.

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Monday, May 07, 2018

Busy times!

Two new articles went live over the weekend...and today my twins don't have school.  Busy times here!  The good news is that it's been warm, the front yard is open for chalk drawings and sand box, and Sadie the new dog likes squeaky balls and can play with them by herself. --I almost wanted to make a video of this very funny squeaky ball play, but could not leave twins and two dogs alone in the front yard to get a phone or iPad.  Instead, I did some spindle spinning.  Retro, and much more relaxing... :)

Here's an article featuring Winnipeg Animal Services Agency that went live on CBC-Manitoba:
Doggone lucky Winnipeggers: Animal Services adoption process reveals a system that actually works
Subliminal message from Joanne: Adopt a shelter dog!
Here's a fun Irish setter photo (not our black and tan Gordon setter mix dog) that went with the article.

And another article came out in Vancouver in the Jewish Independent:
Civil Dissent: A Jewish Value 

I am slowly working up a new knitting design, new dogs take a lot of time!
In the meanwhile, maybe you need to knit a little Sumpin for spring?  Or a lightweight linen Nanodistal?  Don't need clothing? How about a bug finger puppet or two? :)

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Monday, April 23, 2018

Coping with loss

This article I wrote came out on Friday in the Jewish Independent in Vancouver. It's about helping kids learn about death, and leaning on religious rituals to deal with it.
 It's titled:
Rituals can help us with loss


I'm also in the middle of updating some patterns with new yarn selections over at Loveknitting.comIf you'd like to buy a pattern and yarn at the same time, this is a convenient way to do it!

We're having a busy time around here as the Professor is off doing some field research. Sadie is making great progress in training and the exercise and warmer weather is doing us all a lot of good.  By warm, I mean highs in the 60s (18C tops) but to us it feels like a heatwave about now!  We're still occasionally hoping over icy piles of snow on our walks to the park.  I hope they finally melt soon!

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Yak down and Dog training

 I've finished the tunic I was making for myself and am on to using some delicious Reywa Fibers Embrace yak down dk weight yarn that my brother-in-law and sister-in-law got me...a long time ago.  It will likely become a textured wrap design...and if you are at all interested in test knitting it and posting a project on Ravelry, do let me know! 

Knitting (and anything else that requires sitting down) has taken a back seat to some intense amounts of dog training.  Sadie is bright, eager, and active...and young.  She's also still forced to be on a leash for perhaps another week because she just got spayed.  She needs lots of exercise (we're doing three walks a day) and practice at following obedience commands, not tugging on her leash, not jumping--and being by herself.  If we do it right, she is happy to rest quietly indoors when we're done.

We've also had a big spate of "lost and found" problems here.  The blue Riverbend Garden Hat got left at school until I insisted on going through the very stinky lost and found bin by myself one last time.  HURRAY! We found it--but boy did it need a wash!

Then, it got warm out yesterday and this sweater did not make it home...we're still looking for that, we think maybe it got left on the school bus.

Finally, my professor headed out the door to administer a final exam (it's called "invigilate" an exam in Canada, as compared to "proctor" in the US) and discovered he'd lost his car keys.  He had them last night.  I have walked the neighborhood looking for them, and now I'm going to do more intensive searching in the house.  We seem to be losing things at an alarming rate here.

And this is why one occasionally needs exotic, sustainably raised yak down to knit, and enthusiastic young dogs--it keeps me from feeling discouraged!!

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Friday, April 13, 2018

What's going on over there?

 Just before we got Sadie, I thought--I'm about to finish a knitted tunic!  (It's a Nutkin variation in navy Briggs & Little Tuffy yarn, designed to stand up to hard wear in our household.)  However, the tunic features pockets, and my house keys often wear holes in knitwear pockets.  So, I sewed two little pocket inserts on my sewing machine out of matching cotton fabric remnants...but the tunic isn't done yet.

Since getting Sadie, it's been all about managing our new dog, our new dog with our old dog, twins, and household.  Yesterday I did something crazy for myself. I went to my physio (physical therapy) exercise class.  I crated Sadie and left her at home for about an hour and a half.  When I got back, her brand new wire crate looked like this:
Shed pushed out the tray on the bottom, cracked and chewed it, bent the crate wires, and shredded towels and sheets that were both above and below the tray.  Oh, and she finished the peanut butter in her chew toy Kong, in case you were wondering... (Yeah.  Not good.)  So, we've got a dog with (note irony) a little separation anxiety and some crate issues.

Since yesterday: We've bought a plastic hard sided, smaller crate.  I've taken Sadie to the vet for a once-over, and for the short term, we're getting some nice drugs to help her calm down so she can be in the crate for a little while at a time, or to sleep in at night.  --Ain't no way I am leaving this dog alone in our house, free range, if she can do this to a crate.  We're doing more walks (vet approved, even though she just had spay surgery on Wednesday) and more training.

And last night, with the first attempt at calming drugs, new crate, etc., she was only quiet and calm on her own in the crate from about midnight until 5.  I am tired.

So, new dogs cost a lot of money!  Last month, I had a marvelous run of pattern sales over at Loveknitting.com.  I was so thrilled!  Then, April came, and drum roll....on both Ravelry and Loveknitting, I have sold a total of ONE pattern this month.  ONE!  So, when the fees are taken out of that?  It's worth about the same amount as ordering a single cup of coffee at a coffee joint.  I emailed the Loveknitting folks, and it turns out they wrote something in a March newsletter that encouraged people to do a pattern search--and this helped knitters find my patterns.  Since then, Nada.

To boost business, I took out a Ravelry advertisement for a few days.  Lots of people are clicking on these ads...So this is a pitch.  Are you a knitter?  Do you like knitting my designs?

If so, please share your projects on Ravelry, link to my design pages, and feel free to talk up patterns you like to your knitter friends.  ...Cause I have an expensive crate-eating dog over here....and I'm going to need more sleep before I can begin even thinking about writing more articles and patterns this week!

This Soft Basket, featured in this photo, is currently filled with dog toys at our house.
Stripe Freestyle, in the ad below, is currently in use--the 6 year old in the photo is wearing it today at school!

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Welcome Sadie!

We brought home our new Gordon Setter mix dog, Sadie, yesterday.
  She is about a year and a half old and weighs around 60 lbs (27 kilo).  She's just gotten fixed so is requiring a fair amount of attention, as any new dog should!  Winnipeg Animal Services Agency said she was a stray.  We know nothing other than a birthday,which may be a guess.

Potty training--yes, I think she was, but I do not know what words were used. I tried all the likely English ones and a little French. She could have been trained in Cree, Ojibway-Cree, or Mandarin, for all we know.
Crate training was clearly not a strong suit.  She has already bent some wires, torn up sheets and puppy pads and raises heck when crated. She even sings (not just barking) like an opera singer. (Common bird dog trait, especially in young lively ones.). She does settle down eventually.  We did not sleep a ton last night. :)
She is quiet and clingy when loose in the house with us.  She wants to be near her humans and cuddling with them all the time.  I am the top favorite, but she definitely likes her male family members. too.  Sally, our 13 year old pointer mix, is mostly ok with things.  She missed Harry, our dog who died, and seems glad for company.  She does get annoyed occasionally (who wouldn't!?) and lets Sadie know it.
Sadie is currently resting next to me in my office...she is extremely worried about losing me (entirely understandable, given her recent shelter experience) and stays close all the time.  Last night the Professor had a dinner meeting.  I bathed both boys in the bathroom by myself with the new dog in the room, too. Crowded!

She is a gorgeous big dog, very gentle, and really loving.  Not good at all walking on a leash yet, that is something to work on.  It's hard to see in these photos, but she is very narrow, tall and long.  A 42" crate was the right size.  
After the boys were in bed, Sadie helped me do chores in the kitchen.  She helped move around a dish towel that we used to clean up after she had a big drink of water and dribbled everywhere.
It was very hard work.  Here she is,in the middle of our (not very big) kitchen.
Please join us in giving Sadie a warm welcome home.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Taking steps towards future...

So, this year, my kids needed multiple pairs of mitts, as always...someone's always showing up with wet or (momentarily) lost mitts at the last moment.  -And by the way, they are still wearing at least one pair of mitts, snowpants, parkas, and hats to school every day.  The high is -1C today (just below freezing) and the low for tonight is -10C. (14F)  It's currently overcast and...flurrying.  However, with someone sick at home from December until April, my knitting output has been limited.  The latest has involved the Professor and both twins, three separate illnesses, as best we can figure out.  Between three guys, four sets of antibiotics, one allergic reaction, some fevers, some unexplained ongoing stuff...it's been a heck of a winter for illness around here.
This is the year when I began to see how longterm investments pay off. :)
...Meals I put into the freezer for later, bulk buying that worked out when I couldn't get to the grocery store or we didn't do laundry, the whole nine yards of planning ahead for a "rainy day."
These white mitts are the top layer for a cold day.  Underneath are these are a pair of The Hole Inside Mitts and a homemade mitt liner. (to keep things dry and windproof.)  Where did the white mitts come from?  This, friends, is a pair of size small women's mitts.  I spun and knit these for myself while I was in university.  They are probably 23 or 24 years old, give or take.  (I was the kid who brought her trusty Ashford spinning wheel to the dorm.  Really.)  These have never been fancy, show off mitts but have been worn, off and on, for years.  This year they got nearly daily use for a while.  They looked a bit dingy, so I washed them.  That's it.  Medium wool, spun into a chunky single, knit using an old Penny Straker mitten pattern.
Many of my projects are in use throughout our house.  I don't "see" them most days, but on a winter like this one, I began to notice things I've made--and use-- again.  I am beginning to update some of my Love knitting patterns. Some of them used small batch yarns that are hard to get, and maybe I could make suggestions...so I'm doing it, a little at a time.  Here are some examples:  I noticed the Ploughed Acre Socks had a project over on Ravelry worked up in a widely available yarn, Dream in Color Smooshy.  They look great!  So, I've updated the pattern to suggest that yarn.
My Zafu cushion is still hard at work in our house.  It's currently in use as one of my twin's "quiet corner," which involves a big old box, a dark sheet, the cushion inside, and some special quiet toys to keep him busy while he's hiding out in there.  The cushion has been well used and loved.  The Churro rug yarn wears like iron!  However, it's hard to find, Churro is a rare breed wool. Several people have worked up this pattern on Ravelry.  The most interesting options include yarns I hadn't thought about.  They include: multiple strands of mill end yarns, three strands of Red Heart Super Saver (an inexpensive, hard wearing acrylic yarn) and more.  I don't usually use acrylic, but I can really appreciate the reasoning of this knitter...she wanted an inexpensive project with lasting results--and she planned for everyone to put their feet on this.  So, she wanted to make something easily washable, too.  Everybody makes choices based on their household's needs...I get that.
One of my pleasures as a designer is watching others quietly create different and interesting versions of an idea that first came out of my head long ago.  Each pattern available as a weird eternal life that I love seeing as it evolves...and some of the originals also have staying power!
Thoughts like these have been heartening during this winter.  There have been days when I did not feel well enough to knit, or could not manage much knitting after doing all the chores by myself.  (The professor was down like a fallen tree for a while, he was really sick.)  However, if I looked around, I realized there was plenty of knitwear around the house to buoy us forward.  We have extra handknit afghans for those days on the couch, and a felted sweater blanket as an extra layer on the bed.
I wish this long winter were over already and everyone in our household felt better!  In the meanwhile though, planning ahead for that unknown future need seems to be serving us well.

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