Friday, November 17, 2017

Woolly is live!

Woolly is now live!  This is a knitting design for a kid's sweater, available on Ravelry and Loveknitting.  This sweater was designed in large part by this kid, pictured, who wanted these colors (He chose them himself in Alberta at the woolen mill!) and explained he needed sheep... with horns, please, Mommy!

Here are some snapshots and the full description, below.  It's fall, time for knitting up some sheepy goodness!
Woolly is also available on
 Here’s a child’s raglan sweater featuring sheep with horns included. (Shetland or Scottish Blackface? You pick!) Knit in 4 colors from the bottom up in the round, this design uses stranded knitting, written instructions and color charts, but never with more than two colors at a time. The sweater is completely reversible. If the kid spills on the front, as kids do…turn it around. It requires virtually no sewing at the end, just weaving in ends and joining up the underarm stitches. Woolly uses an Aran weight yarn that knits at 15 sts = 4'/10 cm after blocking on a size US 8 needle. This pattern requires the knitter to increase, decrease, knit with two colors at a time and follow a color chart.

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Thursday, November 09, 2017

Life in snow? When the mitts are wet...

A year ago today, we had a record breaking warm day, it was 18.8C (66F).  This morning, it was -21C(-6F) with a windchill of -31C (-24F).  Massive shifts in weather, (climate change?) anyone?

This week I got an email from one of the grade 1 teachers.  Apparently, in Canada, kids go outside a lot for recess.  My kids get 3 recesses, and if you count the time between the bus drop off and the first bell?  4.  While my guys were mostly well dressed (sweater, snow pants, parka, extra hat under hood, insulated snow boots and doubled wool mitts)--apparently their mitts never dried off between play sessions.  There was still snow on the wet mitts when they went to put them on at the next recess, and that wasn't a good plan.

I saw the problem.  While wool mitts are warm, they are not waterproof. (Unless felted and greased up with added lanolin....but never mind.)  I wasn't going to ditch all those handknit mitts for storebought polar fleece with 'waterproof' nylon on the outside.  I grumbled.  I started to feel grouchy about our dependence on petroleum...

And then I wondered why kids couldn't put their mitts on the radiators like they do at home (no radiators, the boys said) and why kids in Canada had to play outside so much (they go outside until it's below -28 Celsius(-18F).  When it is -29C?  indoor recess... and well, the Professor caught me grumbling and dwelling on things.

He went to the basement and dug around in the hand-me-down pile until he found a torn up Halloween costume cast-off--a fire fighters' costume made of some sort of nylon.  (polyester, aka, petroleum byproduct.)  He pointed out that cutting it up to reuse it would be the best, relatively fast, and most efficient.  A few hours later, with the help of a sewing machine and me, we had waterproof mitten covers.

So we could go out to play and shovel again, even before the mittens were dry on the radiator.
Hard to believe that we were shooting outdoor photos for a new kids' sweater pattern only a couple of weeks ago!  (It was cold out, but not like this....)

This sweater design is in the editing stage, and the pattern will be available in sizes 2-10.

....Coming soon!

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Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Raise your hand! & Snow time

I don't usually post things from around the web, but I was heartened yesterday by two very positive things I saw online.

1) This fabulous op-ed by a 10 year old, in the New York Times.  It's about girls, and about the need to Raise Your Hand. This isn't actually a new problem; when I was teaching full time, (around 20 years ago, oy!)  I was well aware of it.  I was even more struck by it when I went back to school myself, and my grad school advisor asked me to observe his class, in 1998.  I did, I counted and took notes, and told him he called on males in undergraduate lectures many times more than females.  He totally blew me off.  (..same old, same old?)

2) We are entering 'snow time'-as one of my twins likes to say, with a grin.  We got our first snow in the middle of October, and it melted away.  We've had gray days and flurries...but today, we're supposed to get actual snow that will stick.  My kids and I are wearing wool socks every day; the kids wore warm snow boots and coats to trick or treat in the neighborhood last night--we're getting excited about the change in season.

This amazing Bhangra group from the Maritimes uses their fun dancing skills to raise money for good causes...and they have such joy while they move!  Here's one that celebrates snow. (note snow clearing equipment in the background...)
 Cause, you know what?  This is how we feel about the beginning of the 'snow time' here. :)

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Monday, October 23, 2017

Getting your needle: The flu shot and basic cuts to health care

My article on flu shot availability ran on the CBC this weekend:
Cut in number of flu shot clinics a bad way to keep Manitobans healthy

Also, I heard that the Religious Studies Department at  the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill featured a post about my book!  (I graduated from this department in 2001 with a master's degree.)
UNC blog features From the Outside In

This is great news! Thanks, UNC, for mentioning my work.

The Vancouver Jewish Independent ran my piece on interfaith issues recently, too:
Need for Interfaith Learning

On the home front, we've just finished a long visit with grandparents--my twins were pretty sad about this...but as we turn towards colder weather in Manitoba, fewer people want to visit.  It's probably because they haven't tried out taking a walk or skating on the frozen rivers yet?  Go figure. :)

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Two new articles: About universities and routines

Would you let an accounting firm determine how to run your local institutions of higher learning? My latest opinion piece for the CBC is about how Manitoba's government is relying on a report written by KPMG to make big changes at Manitoba's universities. 
KPMG's value-for-money report fails Manitoba universities 

Another article ran recently both in Winnipeg and Vancouver:  It's how we use religious ritual and routine to cope during times of sadness.  It's called:
Jewish routines help us cope

On the home front, we've been busy with grandparents visiting from the US, grade 1, and adjusting to life as a one-dog household.  It's been busy.  Last night though, as I was helping one kid in the shower, he said earnestly, with great concern:

"You work really hard, Mommy.  So hard!"  I asked what it was he thought I was doing... I expected a long list of things like 'making lunches and dinners for us, doing laundry, walking the dog, etc' --things six year olds can see their Mommy doing.  Instead, he said:

"Well, you write one long book every day!" 

(I was very flattered, but tried to explain that a good week might include perhaps two essays, and/or a knitting design...lately, we've been so busy that I have hardly managed that.)  So, now I have something to aim towards.  One long book a day. :)

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Saturday, October 07, 2017

A Sale, Slow Fashion and Fun

Thanks for all the kind thoughts about Harry-- we appreciate it and miss him very much.
And now, some knitting talk:
A while back, I wrote about my stash and a sweater I'd just made.  Here's the thing--I made the sweater, and the kid was happy wearing it.  Very happy.  However, I just didn't love the yarn, it felt droopy to me, so I gifted it to my mom in case she could use it.  It went to Virginia.

Time passed and my kid loved the heck out of this sweater, and it stayed in good shape.  However, this year, when he put it on, the sleeves were way too short, and so was the length of the sweater.  (This kid's one long string bean in shape!)
I dug in the stash but could not find the they no longer lived in Canada.  My mom came to the rescue and mailed the yarn back from re-fashioning this sweater cost a lot in international postage.  (Thanks, Mom!)  Here is a quick snapshot of the sweater, with it's new additions.  Note the stripes on the sleeves and two additional orange and blue stripes on the bottom.  I also ditched the seed stitch at the bottom in favor of ribbing, as the seed stitch made it look even more droopy.  Kid is back to wearing and enjoying this enormously.  I still find Rowan Felted Tweed DK a bit limp, but it knits up nicely and has worn very well.

This year, I realized it was not possible for me to be coming up with much to say about slow fashion in October, as I did last year, as I really live it all year round whenever I can.  This sweater remake is a great example.

Also a good example?  My twins were doing horse races in the yard a few days ago after school.  I made their race horses--they are hobby horses.  I doubled old Smart Wool socks with big holes to make those horse heads, and used bits of felt from felted sweaters (from diaper soakers when we cloth diapered) to make their eyes and other features.  The only costs were many hours of my time and the broom sticks from the hardware store.

In honour of Canadian Thanksgiving, I am running a little Ravelry sale on my patterns.  Until October 16th (ends midnight, CT US & Canada), my knitting patterns will all be on sale with the coupon code: Thanks
Also, I've learned recently that my local bookstore, McNally Robinson, has copies of all three of my books available online here, and actual print copies of my latest book, From the Outside In are now available there, too.  So, if you like to do things the old fashioned way and buy your books in person in Winnipeg, now you can!

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Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Running for Harry

Harry the dog: 2004-2017.
Harry died on Friday, September 29th.
Rest in peace.
Harry was a laidback, playful, loving and opinionated member of our household, much like his namesake, from the movie "When Harry Met Sally."  To read more about our beloved bird dog, you can find him throughout many of my blog entries.

While caring for Harry, who died last week at 13.5 years old, after suffering from lymphosarcoma, we found ourselves becoming Canadian in many ways.

On September 26th, the Professor and I became Canadian citizens.  We're now dual citizens (US & Canadian) as our twins were all along, since they were born in Canada to parents who are U.S. citizens.  Or, in their words as they explained it to a vet tech friend at the animal hospital,
 "On Tuesday, Mommy turned Canadian."

On Friday, I went to school early to pick up the boys to be with Harry. We all wore orange for Orange Shirt Day to support reconciliation, because every child matters.

I participated in the boys' Terry Fox Run, which helps raise money for cancer research.  I walked, holding hands with several kids who needed a breather as we went around the school fields.

Every kid wore a sticker.  This is what one of my boys wore.

Thank you to everyone who has ever laughed at Harry's antics here on the blog, or played with him in person, or greeted him at our front door---for helping us celebrate Harry's life.  We miss him very much.

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