Saturday, January 14, 2017

new sweater for a new year

A week ago, I finally finished knitting the second twin sweater...but the timing was off. Last Friday night, I took care of this guy all night while he fought a terrible stomach bug.  When he finished being completely sick all over three sets of bedding (and was resting on a beach towel, with another towel for a blanket), he was so wan and weak that he spent much of last Saturday in bed.  He wanted to pose for photos, but did not feel up to it.  He said he wanted the photos to look good, "since people knit Mommy's patterns" but I promised him--this is a one-off.  It is specially designed for him.

He wanted a sweater that was "dressy" and described it as "big brown, little white, big white, with dots."  He seemed delighted with how it came out.  He wanted to make sure to show that it was completely reversible, too.

The sweater was knitted on size 6(4mm) needles, in the round.  Three tubes, joined at the yoke, sized to fit a skinny but long limbed five year old.  The yarns were all from stash: Jo Sharp DK wool (white) that I bought in Australia, the tweedy brown is a Rowan DK wool that was given to me, and the darker brown is from Cushendale Woollen mills in Ireland (well-aged stash, we went to Ireland in 2004, I think) but is sold in the US as Blackwater Abbey yarn.  I wasn't sure I'd have enough of any of the colors for a whole sweater, so this worked out well.

Although it has been brutally cold out, both boys made it mostly through a whole week of kindergarten. (Yesterday it was -32F without windchill.  The windchills were something like -46C.  Yeah.  I do not even want to convert these back and forth.  Awful.)

 I knew that the stomach bug was a rough one.  I've been waiting for the other twin to get sick.  Today we rested at home again...and this afternoon/evening, we dealt with round 2, which seems to involve Mommy spending a lot of time in the bathroom with little boys. Ugh.

(The kid wanted a lot of close ups with the sweater, so you could "SEE IT"!)

Then, at bedtime, the guy with the new sweater took a flying leap towards bed and just ripped his toe open.  YUCK.  Blood and a very upset, brave kid.  We bandaged him up, propped it up, and hope things will be better tomorrow.  That would be good...I could do with a better day tomorrow.  I'm hoping we do not skip both dance and our first ice skating lesson...

In between bouts of sickness, we played super twins.  Here are the dudes in action.  I could not resist showing the photo was an amazing game.  (Note Pillow case capes, pipe cleaner/sun glasses, and the superhero boot slippers?!)

PS: Remember to get your copy of my new book if you haven't already!?  Please tell people about it, too...I am going to need help promoting this one while I take care of these super heroes...

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Wednesday, January 04, 2017

what I did on my vacation...

Long time, no post!  Sorry about that.

My twins started winter break after school on December 16th.  Things got very busy.  In the meanwhile, late at night and during naptime, I managed to accomplish a few things I am very happy about.

Big Things: From the Outside In is now available in paperback.  It's available as a Kindle download and it's available from a whole pile of other places if you use another kind of digital device.

Also, after six months of running low fevers, having lots of unpleasant symptoms, and feeling generally crummy--I have been diagnosed with Lyme disease...and the lab test was positive according to CDC guidelines, so there is that.

This was a relief!  Instead of being seen as potentially hysterical or ill with something vague and undefinable, I've been handed a pile of antibiotics.  I sure hope it works and I begin to feel better soon.

Small Things:  Grown ups in our household did not get anything really glamorous for Hanukah.  We do not do really big presents, but even so, a few things really made winter break better.

1) A new microwave:  When your microwave has hot spots, it can make you run like a crazy person to get your (smokin') bag of popcorn and rush outside to dump it into the snow.  Then, when even the dogs won't approach it, I was forced to bring it back inside, run it under cold water, and then rush out to the compost to get rid of it.  Note: the temperatures here are really low, and I put the bag in the snow, and it was all still smoking.

You can bet the house smelled bad.  Time for a new appliance!?

2) A Gleener 
This thing removes pills from sweaters.  It is amazing.  We wear our woollies very hard, and a lot of handknit things in our house were looking mighty worn.  I set up a little schedule with one of my twins and we "gleened" two sweaters a day for a while and removed a lot of pills.  My kid still says "pins" when he means pills but he is very keen to take all the fuzzy bits and throw them away once the sweater is tidy again.  It has been a super investment.  Not romantic, mind you, but I am very glad the Professor bought it for me from Canadian Tire.

3) A gift from my parents:  A traditional gift on Hanukah is "gelt" which just means--money.  You may have noticed that Canadian currency has dropped a lot when compared to the US.  My parents sent us some money to spend on going out to eat/take out to make the break easier.  We had a lot of fun, and those American dollars went farther than one might think.  Thanks, folks!

That about sums up our break, aside from sledding, playing outside in snow suits, cooking a lot, playing inside a lot, three play dates (I baked challah with three five year olds.  I still can't believe I attempted this.)  and a lot more...

School started again January 3rd.  I love kindergarten. :)

That's the news from here.  How are you?  Drop me a line?

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Thursday, December 15, 2016

It's live! A new eBook!

It's available now!  New!  Finally!  Remember my 'special project' in July?

Here it is.  It's taken a while.  This collection is a year and a half of my newspaper columns.  It’s a first-person essay that runs twice a month, covering community building, holidays, family life, Jewish learning, and other issues. It focuses particularly on my local community, but my understanding is that it may be useful in a broader context.

This has been a very steep learning curve. :) However, a very kind woman (who does a lot for our community) came to me after services one week, pulled me aside, and told me she was clipping all my columns and saving them in a file folder. This was such a surprise---and it seemed like a very good reason to put a year and a half of these articles in the same place. It’s about Winnipeg, and about our city’s Jewish community, but from the feedback I’ve gotten so far, it’s probably a little bit about where you live, too.

The eBook is available in a variety of places for $3.99US.  (The price of a big cup of joe)

From the Outside In: Jewish News & Post Columns, 2015-2016

and through this universal link, you can connect with it on iBooks, Kobo, Nook, and Scribd, as well as a pile of other platforms.

The official "launch" date is December 16th, but in some cases, it is available now.  If you pre-order it, the file should magically appear on your e-reader tomorrow.

The paperbook will be available on Amazon soon, but it's not quite ready for the big time.  In the meanwhile, I was too excited to keep this news to myself. :)

If you're a knitter and you visit my blog for knitting info and designs, Please use the coupon code:
and get 20% off my Ravelry patterns until midnight (CT) on December 29th.  Help me celebrate!

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Saturday, December 10, 2016

like a stab in the eye...

This infill development is proposed for two residential lots, about two blocks from my house.  Here's my opinion piece for the CBC about the issue.

PS: I guess I posted too soon about our trying week--if I'd just waited til this was published, I would have had something more positive to say!  (I didn't know then that it would be published. Surprises make life interesting, right?)

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Friday, December 09, 2016

Oh my gosh

Sorry for the blog silence over here.  I thought I'd have something interesting to post by now.  Really.  I checked in about that sock yarn contest--no news about voting or winners yet over there.  I submitted a couple of essays to different places.  I have been to (no kidding) three different medical specialists in the last couple of weeks, too.  Still not any definitive diagnosis on why I have been feeling subpar for 6 months.  I have heard several different theories though, and I'm still trying to sort that out.

Then, in between one of those "get this to Fed Ex right away" lab tests, a drop off at kindergarten, and a few other details?  It snowed about 30 cm (1 foot) on Tuesday and Wednesday.  It has been an enormous, messy mess.  No one cancelled anything in the city, although on Tuesday, when I got to my special physio Pilates class, it was just me and the instructor...and I told her that walking (through completely uncleared snow) two blocks to see her had been downright aerobic on its own!

Since nothing got cancelled, and nothing gets plowed here until the snow stops, it has been a trying few days.  My twins are teary and tired, and I have to admit, sometimes I am too.  I'd leave the house early, shoveling like crazy (more than once) during the day to make sure everyone could get in and out of the house and car.  Then, I'd hop in the car, only to discover I was trapped.  Watching the car behind me flounder around in the backlane, getting itself stuck and unstuck (twice) as I waited to try to get out of my now cleared parking space?  That summarized things...until the Professor told me how he had to stop in the middle of a road on the way to pick up the boys from kindergarten.

A car was stuck in the snow.  A well-intentioned but small man (from the car behind) tried to push out the stuck car.  Stuck behind two cars now, my Professor hopped out of his car, gave a serious push to the car that was stuck---and whoosh, he got to drive to school.  Sometimes I think it is lucky we have the opportunity to shovel, push like heck, and that the snow muffles our screams.  All this is a good way to vent our frustrations...

Soon, soon, I will be giving you news about my Jewish Post & News columns and the eBook release...and soon the plows will come.  Soon it will be the weekend...when the temperature will drop to -25F. (-30C windchill)

I hope we can all stop screaming and crying around here long enough to rest on the couch. :)

Note: No picture.  Imagine a lot of blowy white stuff.  It's getting a little dirty and looks like lumpy mashed potatoes on the streets.  Yup.  You got it.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy American Thanksgiving!

I missed North American Thanksgiving this year.  Yup.  I'm a little sad about that.
I was in the US for Canadian Thanksgiving in October, and in I'm in Canada for US Thanksgiving... but I am still thankful, and want to pass along something to you.

Here it is.  You can save 25% off of any of my Ravelry Pattern downloads from November 23rd through November 28th.  (the sale ends at midnight, CT, US & Canada)

Please use the Coupon Code:

So, after all the turkey is cooked and you're ready to relax, sit back and get knitting, you'll have some new patterns, on sale, to enjoy.  Here's the link to my Ravelry patterns.  Knit On!

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Sunday, November 20, 2016

Sock Yarn for Life?!

The folks over at are running a really fun giveaway.   Here's part of what they wrote me in their note/press release:

We at feel there’s too much pain and suffering caused by chilly feet, or worse, people wearing socks from Costco.

That’s why we are changing somebody’s life, by giving away a lifetime supply of socks (well, sock yarn, what happens with it is up to you!). The prize ($1000 worth of yarn) goes to whomever can show they will be most impacted by winning.

This is a very important "cause" and we need to raise awareness.

Note: I don't get anything by mentioning it to you.  In fact, I'll just have more competition when it comes to winning all the sock yarn for myself!  (which, you know, I hardly need, given my stock pile, sure is tempting.)

I'm especially tempted by some of the yarns in the pile: Briggs & Little, Regia, Malabrigo, Crystal Palace...and my little boy sock standby, Kroy Sock by Patons.  (There's a long list on their website.)

All you have to do is wander over to their website to enter.  It's open only to people living in the US and Canada.  They ask what you will do with all the sock yarn and why you should win...and that's it.  The deadline is December 7, 2016, and they will announce the winner on December 14th.  That's a nice short deadline--delayed gratification is hard, right?

I'm going to imagine jumping into that big pile of yarn.  Ahhh.  See, I'm already feeling better just thinking about it!  And no, I have nothing to do with the giveaway, I'm just spreading the word.  

I hope you win!  (Or...I hope I win?!)
:) Joanne

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