Sunday, October 13, 2019

Following the pattern...

I took sewing lessons as a kid.  The rigidity of how patterns were introduced to me, possibly reinforced by the punishment when I (ahem) cut up some of my mom’s expensive fabrics in her stash without asking permission, has made me very worried about using sewing patterns as an adult.  So worried, in fact, that over the years, I decided to just wing it and made myself and my kids a few things just by having some knitwear design shaping ideas and ummm, winging it.  And this worked out ok, but...

I've been needing some new clothes...I wear my clothes hard and various twins spill on me and well, there is only so much mending and cleaning you can do before things do not look presentable...The options in the stores seemed: too expensive, too flimsy, wrong colours, wrong styles, too small, too large, and did not fit (pick all or pick one).

A friend convinced me I could follow a pattern, guided me into picking one, and I went from there.  This is 100 Acts of Sewing’s dress no. 1 in a Robert Kaufman linen/cotton blend.  I finished it Friday afternoon and wore it Saturday evening to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving with my Strippy McStrippit cardigan.

Today, my piece about slow fashion came out on the CBC-Manitoba webpage, too:
Mend, craft or make do with less

Our Thanksgiving weekend has been slightly different than envisioned due to our big snowstorm here.  Lots of time inside...and it has been full of “making” time.  I have turned out two pairs kid mitts from old felted sweaters, three pies (apple, raspberry apple, and peach) a sweater renovation—I am knitting cuff and body extensions for a skinny but growing kid—and more.  It has been productive, if indoor, time.

Tonight is the start of Sukkot, and I am sad to say we have not put up a sukkah. (An outdoor hut for spending time outdoors.) The place we usually built it on the deck is wet, slushy, and alternately, still covered with 20 cm (8”) of snow.  The weather brings me back to another of my articles that ran this week: A dose of humility, gratitude (Cause, you know, we really cannot control the weather!)

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

overstimulated by social media?

I had a piece run on the CBC a couple weeks ago about my new foray into Instagram @yrnspinner.  Here's a link to the piece:
Self-promotion vs. Self-reflection: How can we use social media better?

The funny thing is that there is always something to post about, and with a shiny new iPad (purchased to help a twin with his Sphero--STEM learning, of course), taking photos and posting is easier.  However, it means I don't post as much here, and I also probably waste more time on it all around...posting rather than making and doing in real life.

Why is it such a time waster?  Well, ahem, if you're me, you might need to look at sheep, and pretty photos of knitting designs and yarn, and see a friend's baby...and it is so easy to get seduced by all the visuals.  It is not even the same as reading a whole article/blog post/email or even, gasp, a book.  It definitely shortens my attention span.

LOOK!  A new photo!  Another person likes my post!  (I can see how people can get addicted to this.)

So, if you're not on instagram, here are some of the photos I posted there.
I bought some Navajo-Churro wool from a Pennsylvania farmer while at the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival...while we were in Virginia visiting relatives for Rosh Hashanah. (and yes, I tried it out before the holiday!)

If you're curious, even after writing a book about festivals, like, umm, Fiber Gathering, yes, I still love going to festivals, teaching at them, and speaking at them.  This festival was just a spur of the moment thing, so I went with my folks and my twins and just had fun!

 We came home to Winnipeg and it rained like crazy last weekend.  It seemed like the best Sunday afternoon though.   We had an emergency spinning wheel fix--(someone had been playing and got a drive band caught between the axle and the wheel.  This makes Mommy angry and causes us to do spinning wheel surgery, which involved kid teamwork! Yeah for teamwork!) Afterwards? Playing inside, spinning Churro on my Schacht spinning wheel, and even having the gas fireplace come on at intervals.

The new bulky flyer set up holds a lot of singles.  I also found treadling it made me sore afterwards!  Maybe less is more here? Or maybe I need more spinning as exercise?

 And, here are the bonus photos for longtime blog readers:

We had a lot of cabbage in the frig...when the CSA (community supported agriculture) farm is still delivering, two weeks of produce accumulates fast!  I made Everlasting Slaw.  Three quarts in the refrigerator now.  Fall is here.
 Last, but not least, I am attempting a new fall project...sewing some new clothes for myself.  This involves learning a lot of new moves, including how to make bias tape.  (quality time with my new rotary cutter, my old dependable iron, and some steam.)

More to come soon on this front, I hope!
If you're fasting, wishing you an easy, meaningful one...gmar hatimah tovah! 
 (May you be inscribed in the Book of Life!)

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, September 26, 2019

The Stay Put Kippah

A little more than five years ago, I designed these kippot (yamulkah, kipah, yarmulke,etc.) for my twins. And, you know, I kept planning to write up the pattern. I have finally done it. I can definitely say that these kippahs stay put. My kids run and play in them, paint and goof off and …they started wearing them when they were 3 and now they are 8 and they still fit, with minor adjustments.
I am really proud of this pattern because it has worked so well in use in our household…and now it is finally published. I set Rosh Hashanah as a deadline!--and I made it!
Wishing everyone who is celebrating a happy, healthy, sweet and safe new year.

Happy 5780!

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Catching up

I'm a little behind over here!  Ok, here is the summary.  We've had some warm weather, some time off of school (yes, already, there was a teacher-work day right after school began) and I just chose to give in to playing outside and decide to catch up later.  In Winnipeg, we need to enjoy warm weather while it lasts!

In sad news, we seem to have lost a Worry Bear somewhere along the way.  Since one of my kids needs his every day, I made a new one ASAP.  Same yarn, same ribbon...and I launched it on my brand new Instagram account, @yrnspinner.  (Yes, this is news...please follow me!)
My class last Friday at the Manitoba Fibre Festival was just fabulous.  I had a lot of fun teaching and my students were all eager to do more recycling and reuse.  We had fun.

I managed to take my twins back to the festival later in the weekend and we came home with this outstanding fair trade basket, handmade in Ghana, and sold by Big Blue Moma.  My kids knew the basket would immediately be pressed into service for spinning on the front porch and argued over who would get the amazing blue bead on the label.  (We're negotiating about that.  Luckily, I have other beads for the other kid.)  I took some time to myself to do some hand carding on the front porch while the Professor and twins were out on an adventure.  It was an amazingly rare and quiet moment!
All my columns and other writing work during this time has had to be done while kids are asleep or finally back at school, etc.  The Jewish Independent has recently run two columns: Apple-picking and tzedakah (tzedakah roughly means charity, although not an exact translation) and Concern over what to share.

In between play dates outside with Sally (almost 15 year old Pointer mix) and Sadie (our young Gordon Setter mix), I have also begun to post my patterns for sale on a new website called well as my old standbys, Ravelry and  I'd love to hear if you've used PatternVine's new but comes well-recommended.

Here's to enjoying the warm days while they last!

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, September 09, 2019


This past week, I did a little tour around my house and collected samples that I'll use for teaching my class on how to make and use recycled yarns.  It was a good opportunity to give beloved household items a good wash and airing!

Remember, if you're interested in taking this class on Friday at the Manitoba Fibre Festival, please register here!

These are only some of my supplies, but a short summary...the baskets.  These knitted baskets were taken directly out of household use.  The flowered one is used to hold medicines and odds and ends on a high up shelf in a kids' bedroom.  The white one sits in a hallway, usually filled with dog toys.

(We are still helping Sadie the dog realize that she can also return toys to this bin as well as distribute them around the house!)
This braided rug usually lives in the guest room.  It is made entirely of old clothing and is aging very well.  I recognized most of the clothing from around 1995-7 or so.  I made this rug for our first home in Durham, North Carolina, around the time we got married.

I wove this rag rug on a floor loom for an outdoor exhibit at the Forks in 2010, I think.  When it came home (a little worse for wear), I washed it, it cleaned up nicely and it became a rug in my guest bathroom.

Part of the reason it was easy to gather all this?  The professor and my kids have been working to paint our guest room recently.  It was an ugly brown color...we inherited it this from the last owner.  When we had our house insulated in June, the workers decided they could not insulate the house on the third floor from the outside.  (too high up, too hard to drill into the stucco to shoot the insulation in the walls.)  So, they drilled inside, and we've had a lot of chaos in cleaning up from this.  Because of the big bore holes, it was a good time to repaint...and we chose a cheery pistachio green shade.  The guest room is mostly reassembled now and looks so much better.  I feel relieved every time I see the new color!
Last but not least, I had an article come out recently in the Vancouver Jewish Independent about the start of the new school year and what we share when trying to connect with others.
That's the news from here!

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, September 05, 2019

Back to School Sale!

The first day of school went smoothly around here, thank goodness...and I am finally getting back to my work life.  All the work (writing, etc.) has to happen when kids are asleep, guests have left, and this makes for one very tired freelancer.

I recently had an article come out here--but I need to avoid commenting on details to protect the privacy of some vulnerable minors.  It's a bad situation, but that's all I can say for now.  It fits under the category of 'something has gone really wrong with protecting kids.' I used to teach in inner-city environments like DC and Buffalo, NY, I know when something should be reported, but I'm worried that no one will look into this, despite my best efforts to report the info safely.

In happier news:
I'm having an article come out in the next issue of PLY Magazine!  It's called "The Mad Felter" and I'm excited to see how it looks in print.

In other happy news...

I am running a sale over on Ravelry!

Use the coupon code:

and get 20% off all my Rav patterns until September 12th.  (ends midnight, CT, US & Canada)

This is your chance to get my new pattern, Strippy McStrippit, on sale, too!
I'm giving blog readers a special opportunity to get the sale a little bit ahead of everyone else, too...if you read this, feel free to share the promotion! Thanks for checking out my work!  Happy September!

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

I'm teaching on September 13th!

Yes, it's true!
I'm teaching a class on how to use recycled materials to make the Manitoba Fibre Festival!  (The photo's from my book, Knit Green, an oldie but a goody...)
Check out this lovely kind blog post for more information..and
  To register, go straight to this page on the Festival website.

Other things, in brief...
Strippy McStrippit, my new cardigan design, is now live on both Ravelry and  (If you live in North America, Lovecrafts even carries Einband, the yarn I used for the pattern sample, so it's easy one-stop shopping.

On an entirely different topic, if you want to read one of my newspaper articles--this one's about Canada's federal voting date, religious minorities, Jewish holidays, and reggae.  (No kidding, I had to throw in reggae...)  Check out this piece, published last Friday in Vancouver.
We are one people, one heart 

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,