Sunday, November 10, 2019

The bread machine and the dishwasher

Here's my opinion piece on the CBC-Manitoba webpage today about fixing appliances and why we should do it:
Our disposable culture needs a fix that will help our environment, too

In other, less news-worthy news, we are in the midst of a three day weekend which seems to involve a lot of cold, cloudy flurries outdoors, kids playing in front of the fire, dog walks, warming foods, and very occasional chances for me to knit, spin and sew.  (in between meals, snacks, and everything else!)

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Friday, November 08, 2019

Since we last spoke...

I've been busy over here, making things.  The knitting's gone slowly but the sewing has been, for the most part, very positive.  I've had a success--I made this second jumper from the 100 acts of sewing dress no. 1 pattern, and it has already been worn quite a bit!  (It just requires woolly tights, a long sleeve shirt and a sweater as it is brisk outside these days.)

I then made a set of linen/cotton dish cloths and this too went very quickly!

Filled with confidence over the success of my efforts, I dove into making my first pair of pants...with a pattern.  They are 100 acts of sewing pants no.1.  I lengthened them, I lined up the pinstripes from this wool/blend suiting from Economy Textile.  I finished the pants completely, and then put them on.  Sewing fail!  The fabric does not drape.  The pants look sort of like I instantly gained 40 lbs.  I will either be taking these in or washing them to see if I can get them drape or....something.  Somebody may get a new pair of handmade pants?

Ahh, well.  The bigger picture is easy to see.  I am learning many new skills at once.  I'm also happy that it goes quicker than when I try out a new knitting design.  I sometimes spend months on a project that never becomes a fully realized design or goes on sale for knitters.  That's ok. It happens.  Part of making (and learning) is also failing and trying again.  Very important life lesson--sadly true no matter what we're working on.

In other big news, Three Ply: 3 Stories + Patterns, has been written up in the latest Vogue Knitting Magazine!  I am pleased as punch about it and my household was so excited to see the big article.  This ebook is also available from Ravelry as a pdf or you can just download individual stories and patterns from Ravelry or

Also, I received a lovely note inviting me to try out a gorgeous handmade ceramic bowl from   When I checked them out, I discovered that they were done by Madeline Coomey, an artist from BC who does beautiful work.  However, alas and alack, my household is too chaotic with dogs and kids to keep a ceramic yarn bowl in one piece...and I do most of my knitting on the run these days.  If you do use yarn bowls though?  This one is a good one! Please check out the link!

Last, but not least...
Today, a column appeared online and was published --on my sewing journey...From the beginning again

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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

A quick sale!

You may have noticed that I am now on Instagram.  It is definitely a new thing for me!  Please follow me over there @yrnspinner!

A year ago, this month, I published Freestyle Super.  It has been an absolute favorite around here, and it's a true workhorse.  It went off to Grade 3 this morning on a kid's back...because it was 17F(-8C) when we got up.  Yes, that cold.  And in October.

I am still learning how it works, but here is what I posted over there (hint, it's about a sale! Enjoy!  Happy quick winter knitting!):

Gee Mom, it is scary how much you like this Instagram thing now! (Sweater featured is #freestylesuper. It went off to Grade 3 on a kid this morning!) To celebrate this fun I am having, here is a sale on all my Ravelry knitting patterns. 
20% off all my patterns until Nov. 1 at midnight, CT (US& Canada) with coupon code: Halloween

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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Making, behind the scenes

I have been in recovery lately from a lot of holidays,the trip to see my family, and just keeping up with the start of school and our rough snow storm start to cold weather.  It felt like I was not doing much “work” in the writing department but actually, a lot of making was happening,  I have knitted on additions to two kids’ beloved sweaters (they got taller!) and you can see one of them here. I also decided almost immediately after finishing the black jumper to use the same 100 acts of sewing pattern dress no.1 to make a vest.  I did my own “hack” of the pattern, I cannot seem to follow pattern instructions the exact same way twice in a row!  This was all “free” fabric from theArtsJunktion. (A place in Winnipeg where you can donate arts and crafts supplies and also get them for free..It keeps us reusing and recycling and keeps good stuff for art out of the landfill.) I always make a donation and pay for parking, but the fabric did not cost me anything.  This made up for the fact that this vest took me a while!  I cut too low a neckline by accident, so had to teach myself how to make a dart in the back of the vest to raise the neckline.  I think it worked and am excited about wearing this with black dress pants and my new Strippy McStrippit design.

While all this was happening upstairs at my sewing machine, our washer broke.  Yes, this is something no twin mom ever wants to hear from her husband on a Saturday night.  However, I did a search for appliance repair people online, emailed three different ones-and kept sewing.

Imagine my surprise when one wrote back and said he could come diagnose the problem on a Sunday!  (Hallelujah!) We were able to have the broken part replaced and were back in the laundry business by Monday afternoon.  Whew!

Also happening—we received our second Black Sheep Mattress. (We were long overdue here for new mattresses.)  I have now slept on it, and wow, it was a good sleep.  It is made of wool, cotton, pocket coils, and an organic cotton cover.  Of course, five minutes after I made the bed with the brand new mattress, Sadie the dog was trying it out!
Then? There was a sale at my friendly, not so local Manitoba fabric store, ThreadCount fabrics.  I may have placed an order...this sewing thing is very satisfying just now.  I mean, I get new clothes when I finish a project!  Who could dislike that?  (Bottom fabric is a bat print for a friend’s teenager.  It is October—doesn’t every fabric order need bats in it?!).  Actually, the professor really does not like bats, and I am not world’s biggest fan I covered that up to give to my friend later!

Meanwhile, little boys in grade three play very hard.  The “brand new” start of school size 7 jeans are already getting holes in the knees.  However, I discovered that the size 7 jean legs are now almost big enough to mend using the machine.  This drastically reduces the amount of time spent on each hole, and I am all for it.  I even ironed on a patch today and then tacked it using the machine, but the kid with the size 7 slims better stop making holes by crawling on the playground, as they are too small to be easily darned on the machine. (And now that I have used the machine to do it, I do not want to go back to doing it by hand!!)

Last but not least, when kids play in wet, dirty, sloppy snow, they need a lot of mitts.  And my twins grew a lot this past summer.  I knit quickly, but do not work miracles.  So, I took some old felted sweaters and made two pairs of felted wool mitts, one pair for each boy.  These are not works of art but they are warm!  Now that the snow has melted and the mitts and boots are finally dry, I am hoping I have a few days off before we need to do quick mitten production and wet mitten and boot rotation again...

So, if you were wondering, what am I writing these days?  Well, not as much as usual, but things are still getting done over here in the meanwhile! (And this did not even mention how many meals and loaves of bread I turned out this week, did it?!)

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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!)

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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!)

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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!

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