Wednesday, April 27, 2016

On Being Present....

Here is the link to my latest CBC piece!  I heard from my mom that she sees tons of people she knows in the grocery store, and that's why it takes her forever to get the shopping done....but since I have moved so much, I only rarely see people I know.  Here's what happened recently:

See?  It's worth it sometimes to smile at someone at the store.  No telling who you will meet.

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Monday, April 25, 2016


Here is an amazing follow-up blog post by Hugh Stephens that emphasizes the serious difficulties in copyright issues in knitting and crochet patterns and writing.  Thank you, Hugh!
We've been in the middle of Passover, which is a big deal holiday, lots of family, lots of different foods.  Some years, I cook it all myself.  This year has been so different from last year.  No big medical issues (thank goodness) and some actual breaks for me, which has been great.  The twins have just completed their first big overnight (without parents!) with their grandparents.  HUGE!  What did I do?

I sat outside (hint, I may not be on my Winnipeg back porch...) and drank a little wine, did some knitting, and listened to an audio book.

I looked at the trees.  I heard birds sing.  I sat still for over an hour.  Whoa.

The weather was warm.  Here's another look up at the trees.

So warm, in fact, that my new AllBirds wool runners  (sneakers) felt a bit too warm, but were very comfortable on a long walk, right out of the box.  (These are some new, eco-friendly sneakers that I had to try.  So far only available in the US and NZ, but I got US connections, that's all I can say, here's hoping they become an enormous international hit so I can order my next pair from home in Canada.... :)  Here's another review of the runners...  and they look cool.  I would wish for some more colors, maybe a brown pair, or maybe something a little less bright, (they are very aqua green in person) but otherwise, they are super.

The last bit of this post is about a pep talk my brother gave my kids.  He suggested that if they were absolutely PERFECT on their way to bed after the Saturday night seder, he would reward them with a dessert of their choice next Saturday night, after Passover.  The boys' preliminary choices are: a chocolate cookie, and blueberry pie. (I have never made or served them blueberry pie, so that is an exciting option, apparently!)

Well, the truth is that they took that pep talk very seriously.  I have been so impressed with both little guys, and they were active and smart participants at the seders, too.  It was all sort of amazing.  So, we're aiming for a perfect (or almost-perfect) vacation week (no school, either), cause you know, we want those special desserts.  My homemade pies --apple, peach, key lime, whatever.  Not as good as their imagination, cause their uncle is a great cook, and he is exotic and different than Mommy, too!

For me, a long walk, a bit of sunshine on the back porch, some knitting and some wine?  By myself?  Nothing could be better.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

It's that time again

This month has just flown by.  I try to plan ahead, really I do, but somehow, I got a few of the dates and details mixed up.  A week or two ago, I realized we were nearly out of challah for Shabbat.  (this is the sweet egg bread that is traditional for some Jewish families to eat on Friday nights, for the Sabbath.)  Anyhow, I jumped into action and made bread...and even shot photos.
I put it all in the freezer, and then?  I don't really know how it happened, but it is now very nearly Passover.  (In Hebrew: Pesach) So, we're heading into the "we're not eating any bread" period anyhow.  Oops.  I guess I didn't need to bake so many loaves?!
We've been getting ready.  My boys have been learning about the holiday at preschool, and even invented a holiday of their own: Pey-Socks.  It involves putting socks on all their stuffed animals' feet and making necklaces for them.  Then all the loveys and stuffies will go to a wedding every day during the holiday.  Exact dates of Pey-Socks have not been scheduled yet; it's a holiday in its formative stages.
Note: This has no resemblance at all to the actual holiday, but it sure was fun finding all the too-small kid socks all over the house and dressing the stuffed animals.  Hurray for Pey-Socks!
In other news, I also seemed to have double-booked us; for a while we will have dance class and swim classes on Sundays, which is just too much.  I thought it was only one week of the "double-header" schedule, but unfortunately, this lasts until June.  Luckily, we're shaking things up a bit--going to a concert one weekend, going out of town for a I am not working preschoolers to the bone.
There was a look of wearied exhaustion from a four and a half year old when I said "Yes" when he asked "Is it another double-header Sunday?"....Oh.  NO.  Obviously time for a holiday and a big rest.  Hurray for Pey-Socks! (and Pesach!)  Time off of preschool to rest up. :)
Chag Sameach! (Happy Holiday!) if you celebrate this one.

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Wednesday, April 06, 2016

The Cuddle Coat--a new release!

It's been snowing again.  One of my boys has another (insert expletive here) head cold.  Both boys have been moaning about when summer will get here... and the answer is?  Not yet.

Long ago, I designed the Cuddle Coat as a Knit Picks exclusive.  Eventually, the pattern copyright returned to me, and I put it up on Ravelry, but gosh darn it, it had world's worst pictures.  It never improved, either.  I wore out TWO cuddle coats (they are seriously, well, cuddly) but could never snap the perfect shot that showed off the sweater.  However, if you look over to my profile shot on this blog?  I'm wearing a Cuddle Coat!

So, I've just revised and re-released the pattern.  I've added metric measurements, I've updated yarn selections, the whole 9 yards (and equivalent number of meters.)  Also, I've left it at the old price, which means it is really permanently on sale...It's easy, it's a fast knit, and it's seriously cozy.  That said, last week, I wore this with a skirt to a dress up occasion, too, so it's versatile.  Did I say warm?  It's warm. So, here it is, re-introducing...the Cuddle Coat.  

Everything else here is still in a serious jumble, but I've tidied up this one pattern AND submitted my Canadian taxes ahead of the deadline, so you know, things are good, right?

PS: Dear Readers, I'm so hoping that one of you buys a Cuddle Coat pattern, knits it up and takes a gorgeous photo...because this is my third try...and I'm still not showing you how danged comfortable it is!

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Thursday, March 31, 2016

fun things to share

Just a quick visit here...
I recently did a knitting design pitch--and it was my first in a very long time!  Something about it just appealed to me, but gosh, I felt rusty.  So, I knit a very big swatch out of Morehouse Merino Bulky yarnThis is the old-style singles yarn, my understanding is that they have transitioned to a two-ply that knits at the same gauge, but in any case, it is luscious!  I cannot believe I have held onto it for so long...but this week was the right time to knit it.  Scrumptious stuff and a really fast knit.

While I'm the beginning of the month, I met up with someone and helped turn her into a new spinner and taught her how to use a drop spindle.  I didn't know at the time she was also famous.  Here are a couple of links to her twitter feed from our lesson:
I'm looking a bit rough in the photos...

She was in town to shoot a movie but is now back to Hong Kong, her home base, I think.  She has dogs, she loves wine...amazing how "the famous people" are just all really future spinners, don't you think?

Then I came upon this...turns out a big consulting firm for higher ed. mentioned my article among its top ten items a couple of days ago.  Neat!  I wondered if anyone read it...

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Monday, March 28, 2016

a new op-ed on higher ed

Over the weekend, my new article came out on the CBC:
Underfunding higher education is hurting Manitoba's economy

As the partner of a professor, the two of us are sometimes wrapped up in knots over what's going on in universities.  How things are funded, how a professor's teaching load and classes are assigned, how to manage the hundreds of emails and students and details.  What is particularly interesting is that by choosing not to get a PhD or become a professor,* I have a different perspective.

From outside the ivory tower, sometimes you can see how individual professors or departments have lost track of their mission.  For instance, professors are, in part, teachers, but often lack any kind of training in how to teach.  So, they struggle with how to be effective instructors...and their assignments sometimes don't match the objectives they hope their students will master.  Their students don't learn all that they could, because the professors lack the teaching tools they need.  Some professors don't even like teaching!  Professors aren't perfect, by any means, but they are experts in their particular field of research.

Yet, in an era of cost-cutting at universities, there's a tendency to push professors to do many things they aren't trained to do:  master travel vouchers and reimbursement software, deal with all their grant funds with no training in accounting, nurture students with special needs or challenges (again, without any training) and more.  Getting a PhD means you are smart--in your specific field of expertise--but it doesn't mean you are good at everything.

Sure, smart people can figure out how to do a lot of things, but how long does that take?  I often wonder what would happen if professors were unleashed from some of the bureaucracy and allowed to really innovate in their areas of strength.  There would likely be new patents and ideas, technology and business start-ups.  There would also be some great teaching, because some professors are, at heart, very good educators.

If there were competent people in supporting roles, managing grants and travel and all the details that keep a university functional, well, professors might get to spend a lot more time on teaching and research-- in our house, that might mean more science and less time fighting over small bureaucratic change.

If you're curious:
*I have two master's degrees.  One in English Education, and one in Religious Studies.  I started out trying to get a PhD in Religious Studies, but midway, my advisor retired without any kind of plan in place for his grad. students.  I am the only one of his students from the period who got a degree out of the situation.  I had a serendipitous opportunity much later to go back to school again to earn the PhD, but at that point, I'd already done 5 years of grad school and two degrees. It would have required a long commute, more years of study and yet another university.  (I'd already attended three)  I decided I was done...I still wish I'd managed a PhD, but since it's hard to get two academic jobs in the same city, I might not have managed to stay married or have kids.  Life's all about choices...

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Thursday, March 24, 2016

setting a nice table?

This is a quick note as I've got twins home from preschool celebrating Purim!  Luckily, we have to take naps in between running around in our costumes, delivering treats to friends, and going out for ice cream before lunch. :)  We've got to go to a big party later on....

In order to celebrate a new Ravelry download:
...The Hemp Placemats are now available as a single pattern download!

I'm running a sale through the end of March.

Use the coupon:
  • Holidaytable

 on Ravelry and put both the Hemp Placemats and the knitted napkins patterns in your cart...and you'll save 30% off the purchase of both patterns.

Cause, you know, spring is a great time to celebrate holidays of all sorts, and to plan on a dressy new table setting or two.

I'm old-fashioned that way....I love a pretty table setting.

I hope you do, too!

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