Thursday, June 09, 2022

Update from springtime

Dear blog readers, I am not sure how many of you are still out there!  Some friends may still visit?  It's hard to tell --I used to receive lots of comments and make conversation on every post.  Now?  Nothing.  Hard to tell...So here are some updates from my world...
I made an unfortunate knitting project choice back in March.  One of my twins asked for a gray sweater and I agreed to knit it during our most gray, long, wet, puddle filled and flooded time of year.  True, the yarn is Polwarth wool so lovely and soft.  It will make a nice dress sweater. I finished it on one of the first warm days and my kid didn't even want to try it on long enough for fit.  Good news with twins is that if one does not want it, the other likely will...assuming it still fits somebody in the fall.
We also happened to hear about a new baby...so I made an "upsized" Worry Bear.  I took the pattern for a small pocket sized bear, which is really supposed to meet specific needs for those with anxiety, sensory issues, autism, dementia, etc. and I knit it on #8(5mm) double pointed needles and I used three strands of sportweight yarn.  Stuffed with wool, it will be perfect for a toddler to carry around or chew on.
The world news has also really gotten me down. I've struggled to keep cheerful. Our province has opened up to crowded events, without masks, despite an increasing rate of COVID deaths and health care cannot keep up. Meanwhile, war and gun violence are happening-completely avoidable deaths that politicians refuse to be mature enough to take prompt action on...people who can resolve conflicts peaceably seem to be in short supply.
When I'm particularly stressed by these things, I "make" a lot more...more sewing, spinning, knitting and cooking.  To my surprise, I discovered I'd cranked out over 900 yards of 2 ply Clun Forest wool  (Western Canadian wool) while processing bad news.  I washed and skeined it, and? - have absolutely nothing planned for it.  So, if you're taking on a big dyeing, weaving, knitting, or other project and could use handspun for it, let me know.  Let's make a deal!
There's also been an uptick in special life events.  Twins turned 11!  Alas, the gelati cakes from the past no longer are made at our favourite shop, but birthdays continue.  Mommy cake came to the rescue....although I truly failed "buttercream 101" in my 'breads and desserts' course in university...I made a big cake, and everyone seemed happy.  Yes, this is true, I took an elective course in breads and desserts at the Cornell hotel school.  Since I already knew how to bake bread, I ended up cranking it out to feed people during our labs and sales rather than getting tips on, say, icing application.  That's ok though, even poor icing skills taste good and satisfy my household!  
Work has been slower, despite the insistence that everyone is bouncing back now. It's kind of discouraging. Some of the markets I used to write for have stopped publishing or changed what they print. In one case, the publication's even been so disorganized or slow to respond that the short deadlines/low pay/weird responses have made it impossible to continue with them. 
In any case, I still had wool to wash this spring, and surprise!  I still know how...even if I wasn't able to write about it for publication. (This was the first of several loads for my household, no way I could do it one garment at a time...)
I'm still here... continuing to pitch publications, I write my column and my knitting designs are still out there on RavelryPayhip and Lovecrafts.  I post a bit more frequently on Instagram here: @yrnspinner.
I'm also celebrating our glorious (and short) spring in Winnipeg.
Last but not least?  I've had a very strange work email snafu...if you've reached out to me via email for work reasons since last October?  I may not have your message!  Last weekend, my account somehow disappeared messages from the last 7 months.  No amount of customer service or 'restore' functions seem to be working. Please do reach out if you need anything!  I'm still here, even after this new challenge.
It's been an important reminder, too.  No matter how hard I'm trying, many things are out of my control.  For instance, due to some infill construction near us, we have this large dead tree hanging over our power lines. It's not on our property, so legally, we can't do a thing about it, though of course, like losing work email in a strange blip, it's out of our control.  We cannot fix this.  So I'm trying hard to tilt my head, look at the blossoms in our yard, and hope for the best. 

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Thursday, April 21, 2022

Some Wednesdays are Thursday, instead



I spent hours this week with this office view, looking at a work in progress but not having time to write up the pattern.  Instead?  A wonderful (unexpected) but brief analysis/editing job about breastfeeding and healthcare.  I also spent many hours on a job on a tight deadline that I pushed myself on--and then, that fell through.  I planned to work on this sweater design and shoot a photo but then my iPad broke! (It fell, a kid accident, unfortunate, no one's fault...) Two trips to the fix-it shop later, the broken charger port is fixed and camera restored.  WHEW! Mistakes happen.

The work I did this week just covered the repair cost.  (Yup, that's what writing/editing pay is like these days)

Kids will get off the bus soon, there's no school tomorrow.  We've got another "special" snow/rain weather event on its way.  Sometimes "work in progress Wednesday" happens on Thursday.  That's life. 

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Thursday, February 24, 2022

Housekeeping and hibernation

It seems a little like we've been in an endless loop of very cold days (Think: -30C/-25F, for many days in a row) and then there is a little warm up and a big snowfall.  It's great for the drought Manitoba has had, but it's also been somewhat hard to get through.  I find it hard to exercise when the air is so cold and the sidewalks aren't plowed...and both have been a recurring theme this year.

Some of my hibernation time has been spent on housekeeping.  I realized that some of my older knitting patterns, available for download on Lovecrafts.com, Ravelry and Payhip...were still priced at US$4.  Alas, prices for everything in life have gone up.  So, I spent some time raising those to an even $5.  While the price increase seems small, it may mean the difference between buying a fancy coffee...or not.  When I get back to going out and buying those coffees?  Yes, I think my work is worth that.  So, you can find the Molly Baby Socks, the I'll Pack a Hat (links to Ravelry) and others still around for sale on Payhip and Lovecrafts if you want a quick knit this winter.

The sunlight has been bright and cheering though, which is helpful.  The light in my office has been sort of blinding.  Here's a shot of me, wearing the Lattice Embrace
 sweater as I leaned over my computer.  I've been trying to get back into my work routine...delayed for weeks after a longer than usual school winter break, but I have fewer gigs right now, too. (Thanks Pandemic)  If you've been looking to work with me for writing, editing or design...or even teaching a workshop - don't hesitate to let me know!

I've been doing some spinning (this is Clun Forest wool on the left and Polwarth on the right, waiting for its bath to set the twist...) and taking time to be with my family.  At these very cold temperatures, we're not doing a lot of playing outdoors, so we've come up with some fun new projects inside.

There's been a lot of playing with stuffies and legos and playmobil, listening to audio books, and dreaming of warmer weather and picnics to come.  We've also had the opportunity to buy a Spinolution wheel--the Echo-- second hand, and it's just the right size for a kid to learn to spin on a wheel. I've been doing some lowkey coaching, he already knows how to spin on a spindle, but the hands and feet coordination takes time to learn. It reminded me of how much I loved to teach beginners, pre-pandemic! 

This is most of the February news from here.  Sending you this bit of peaceful domesticity...I can't lie.  I've thought a lot about what peaceful protest looks like-not what we've seen (or the honking heard) in Canada of late- and worrying about the safety of Ukrainians and their democracy.  There is not a lot I can do from here...but we continue to celebrate science, try to take care of each other, and continue making and doing until things finally warm up. We're staying hopeful and looking forward to spring, summer, and those hot weather days outdoors. 

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Thursday, December 30, 2021

End of year summary…

Our end of year has alternated between shoveling huge amounts of snow and resting and playing a lot indoors. There's a big COVID surge in Manitoba so we're doing a lot of hibernating and no one seems to mind. I am thrilled by the snowfall as we are in a drought and every bit of moisture matters.  Still it requires a lot of work to shovel out several houses and that's most of what we've been doing these days.  (It was maybe 10" or 25 cm of snow or maybe 12"/30 cm, and we helped out some 80 year old family friends, too.) Needless to say, we all like a rest afterwards, as you can see from Sadie the dog's photo.

We seem to also take part in a lot of toy sorting and match box car demolition derby.

I've also been doing some occasional making, spinning, knitting and sewing.  I've just washed all these skeins of handspun and tucked them away for the future.
I got an email from Yarncanada asking me to let people know about a charity knitting project giveaway. 
Here's an opportunity to get yarn for free to make things for charity.  Please apply soon if you're interested!


I'm continuing efforts to improve my "me made wardrobe."  This is a wool tweed tunic, based on the 100 acts of sewing dress no. 1.  It's a great warm layer with pockets, which is always good. I got this fabric for $4 as part of the MB fibre festival fibre trail and Costume Museum's sale in September. It's an amazing tweed, it looks very serious at a distance but up close, is full of bits of very bright colour.  Hot pink, neon yellow and green, electric blue.  Very cheerful, and of course, only very special people are allowed "up close" these days.  (Basically, the professor, twins, and a dog!)  
I'm continuing to spin up some well-aged brown Polwarth wool on my Quebec wheel, and I'm also working on a simple sewing project...but a sweet housewarming project.  Six napkins in a linen/cotton fabric - the gorgeous pattern matches the new owners' future dining room to a tee.  I could not resist the fabric when I saw it, and I'm rooting for things to go smoothly so that these napkins end up in use on a dining room table soon.

I've also been working (as I can) behind the scenes. I've had op-ed articles run in the Winnipeg Free Press and the Vancouver Independent.  Another article ran in PLY magazine, and I'm still very proud of that Winter 21/22 Vogue Knitting article that ran on moths and how to avoid them.  It's not been world's best year in terms of my freelance life, but considering how complicated the pandemic has been, remote schooling, not seeing family, and construction disruptions to our home life, well, I'll take what I can get. In just a few moments, I'll be bundling up twins.  It's -14F (-26C) right now, and that's the warmest it's been all day!  I'm looking forward to getting out in it so we can walk over to a medical clinic to go get their second vaccine dose, and I couldn't be happier or more relieved to have access to this opportunity.  Thank you, science.
Wishing you a peaceful, healthy, and happy 2022. 

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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Sale!!


 Big sale!  All my patterns on  Ravelry and on Payhip are on sale!

The sale starts today, November 30th, at 9pm ET and ends at midnight ET on December 6th.  Use this coupon code to get 25% off!
FO2021
Also, please feel free to join in with the Fasten Off YAL to chat on discord, earn prizes, and more!  This is an accessible event, which is why you can gain access to the whole sale and event without using Ravelry, it offers lots of accessible patterns and web options, too.
Enjoy! (And I would be so grateful if you wanted to check out my designs, we just replaced our boiler cause uhh, the old one died, we needed heat and winter is here!  Every download counts!)

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Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Lattice Embrace


I'm excited to report -- I'm finally getting back to publishing knitting designs.  Or maybe, to be clear, two designs. The first has been launched today and is an asymmetrical cardigan called “Lattice Embrace.” It's a bulky, easy knit, and yes, it's a way for me to send 'a hug' to knitters!  That's how this sweater feels to me. I knit it and took notes while remote schooling twins last year, and now that they are back in school in person, I've been able to focus on writing it up.

This design’s now available for download on RavelryPayhip and Lovecrafts.com.  

Note: If you’re looking for a Low Vision Accessible version of the pattern, that's available on Payhip and Ravelry.

Just making this leap back into focused work has been exciting. I found I lost concentration when it came to helping 4th graders and couldn't do the math needed to grade sizes while juggling everything during the pandemic. This sweater includes sizing from 36-64” and that is a lot of spreadsheet work!  I'm looking forward to seeing how this design makes its way into the world. I love seeing knitters’ work and interpretations of these designs.

I'll also be participating again in the Fasten Off Yarn-Along this year.  This event starts at the end of November and includes a hefty discount for the first week for those buying patterns.  I will pass along the secret code closer to the time.  

If you happen to worry about wool moths, my article on that appears in the Winter 21/22 issue of Vogue Knitting! (I was pretty stoked to be included in an issue with such a famous knitter on the cover.) I also continue to write a column here for the Vancouver Jewish Independent as well…but it’s not always on knitting or fibre arts topics… That’s most of the news for now!  

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Thursday, November 04, 2021

Transitions

 Note, I am posting from a different device, format may be wonky!

What’s happening here? We had a longer warm period than usual, but alas, all good things come to an end.  We harvested our last herbs and greens, and the frost came.  All of us got used to life spent indoors, although we are still outside a lot.  Temperatures below freezing do not keep us home bound! Sadie the dog is here, on the steps, asking about her walk.

I continue to spin through deep stash.  This is some Polwarth that came originally from Australia, but I bought it in a fiber arts business retirement sale.  It is well aged!  That said, it is spinning up beautifully on my Quebec wheel.

Every fall, a kid or two gets a sweater.  This year, I made another one out of Icelandic plotulopi (unspun.). It is light and warm, if not the hardest wearing.  We were aiming for colour blocking here, but then my kid asked if I could knit the original early 20th century tile pattern from our bathroom into his sweater.  Of course!  I sent him into the bathroom with his iPad and then I knit it from the photo.  I did imagine doing those rows in the bathroom, just to see the tile in person, but thought better of it!
To keep cheerful clothing around, I also made myself another jumper using the 100 acts of sewing pattern and Rifle Paper Company print.  My biology professor husband (currently on strike at the U of Manitoba, but that is another story) suggests I am now dressing like a herbaceous border. I ignored him. I like it!

Last, but not least, our heroic boiler had finally died and we are in the process of getting a new one installed.  So, for now, no central heat, and a lot of toys to tidy in the basement so the new one can be put in.  I am excited about this, although it is an expensive home repair while my professor is on strike…because, well, in Canada, heat is life!  We are doing ok with running two gas fireplaces, a little radiator space heater, and of course, I am wearing a lot of wool…

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