Friday, May 19, 2017

Riding off into the sunset

In between writing articles, and making dinner, we sometimes try to do some creative things.

In order to bring you this post...I've lined up homemade challah (from the freezer), slow cooker leg of lamb (freezer lamb to first slow cooker this AM), potatoes and sweet potatoes (second slow cooker), spelt bread for weekend sandwiches (bread machine is going) and salads for all of us.  I find if I manage to cook ahead a bit, it leaves me feeling less panicked and less likely to give in to expensive take-out, etc.  We're about to enjoy Victoria Day here --May Long Weekend, and that is three days of uninterrupted kid- feeding around here...they sure do eat!

Doing all this crazy planning ahead has given me 10 minutes here and there to do some spinning.  I found some wool roving (unknown medium wool) leftover from a class I taught a while back.  It was a strange small amount, so I decided to use it up.  Then I will likely make a chain 3-ply, and knit it into mittens.  I foresee a need for all new mittens for next winter; twins are growing fast; must be all that food!

In my pre-twin life, I imagined all the creative things I would do with my future kids.  I failed to understand how much time goes into just keeping everybody afloat, honestly.  However, both my boys really wanted their own hobby horses.  I'd read a great book called Rags as a kid, it's by Stella and Linda Allison.  I knew we could do this project.  Our Professor (Daddy) picked up two broom sticks at the hardware store, and we were off.

We had our photo shoot and maiden ride on our new horses (the gray one is a pony, just so you know that, Mommy!) this morning.  The boys helped stuff the doubled wool socks (cast-offs with big holes from Daddy) with some wool fleece that was ideal for stuffing.  The boys stuffed the broom sticks in.  I used duct tape (after bed time) to make sure the fleece did not pop out, nor the heads come off the broom sticks.
   Each kid picked out the eye colors (note: blue eyes for the blue eyed twin, brown eyes for the brown eyed twin) and mane colors.  They cut the mane for me after school one day.  I did all the ear attachment, eye embroidery, mane tying, harness, rein and rosette assembly, etc.
 I haven't done as many of these creative play projects as I had hoped to do, in the halcyon days when I imagined what twin-rearing would be.  There just isn't time.  Late last night, as I attached reins and stitched everything on firmly, I guessed that this project took me at least 5-6 hours of sewing/handwork, not counting the broom stick acquisition, the know-how, and the time I spent getting "help" from twins.  My main work time was between 9-10 at night, when I felt a bit cross-eyed with fatigue and couldn't see to thread needles.  (Yup, need to get my eyes checked, too.)
The best part of all this was to see the boys' enthusiasm, and every morning, they checked to see how their horses were coming along.  They seem to have no idea that some people just buy these things, and that is great, in my opinion.  Hurray for handmade, eco-friendly toys!  We didn't spend much money on these, aside from my time. I could see how this would be a fun thing to do if perhaps I didn't have to make two of everything, assembly line, and fitting in actual work for pay time, maybe if someone else was in charge of dinner. :)

However, my kids don't yet understand any of that, so they're literally planning their first horse race for the front yard when they come home from school this afternoon.

Let the races and adventures begin!

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Monday, May 15, 2017

fair pay and feeding babies--why women's (writing) work matters

Long time blog readers may remember a few images like this from when my kids were infants?  (This used to be a pretty normal 'look' for me, but it's a while ago now, as they are about to turn six!)
Recently, I wrote a piece for the CBC about normalizing breastfeeding.  I posted about it here. Then I got approached about writing about how I fed my babies. I was enthusiastic about writing about that struggle... Except?  It was an offer for me to do it for free, and potentially provide free marketing to a very big company.  I chose to write a different opinion piece, because (surprise!) I think writers (and mothers) should get paid if they choose to write marketing copy.

 Check it out here, it ran on the CBC-Manitoba website for Mother's Day:
On Mother's Day, what about fair pay for moms?

It may not surprise you to hear that longtime friends of mine also like to speak out on issues that matter to them.  Long ago, I played in bands at Cornell University as an undergrad (yup, closet musician here) with Seth Kibel.  Seth has gone on to become an award-winning professional musician, and I am super proud to still know him.  (One of his first klezmer bands played at our wedding.)  Seth is launching a new album, and he's doing a Kickstarter campaign to provide support for its release.  Here's the link to the campaign, with more about this fabulous performer, and his creative efforts towards political commentary and making change. (Hint, watch the video.  He is very funny.)

Seth Kibel presents songs of Snark and Despair

Happy spring time!  Let's change the world, shall we? :) Joanne

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Thursday, May 11, 2017


For Knitters...(my fiber tribe!):
There's a great knit-along/crochet-along, once a year, to celebrate knitwear designers in Canada.  I'm thrilled to be a small part of it.  I've donated a few patterns as prizes--to be given away to lucky winners!  Also...
In celebration of the CANADA KAL/CAL 2017, It's 20% off on all my Ravelry patterns from now until June 1st.  (Ending at midnight, CT, US & Canada)  Please use the coupon code:
to get 20% off.
This event offered me the chance to see what I've done, designing-wise, in the past year on Ravelry.
Here are some photos and links to what's new this time around:
 Undertow came out a year ago, and I wore it a lot this winter.  Soft, stretchy, and definitely warm...mine just got a wash so I could tuck it away.  Here's hoping I won't need it til October!
Gigadistal is a super bulky, fast knit, great for combining a couple (or three) strands of yarn.  It is a fun accessory for cooler spring/summer/fall days.  I've worn my sample quite a bit.

 Nanodistal, knit from laceweight linen, is Gigadistal's cousin.  Same rough shape and construction--very different effect!  I wore this even on the hottest day.  It really dresses up loose summer clothing, and I love the drape of linen.
 Plum Ribbed Cardigan is a new release of an older favorite--formerly a Knit Picks exclusive.  This cardigan took me a while to reknit, but once done?  It was so cozy I even wore it to sleep!
Last but not least, the Thump Thump Mittens--textured, stranded knitting with a little red, released in time for Valentine's Day, 2017.

I hope you find something special to enjoy and get 20% off during this sale.  

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Friday, May 05, 2017

Little kid clothing

This week I took one morning off to search for new flannel pjs.  Spring's the wrong time of year to look for these, but in Winnipeg, I am just beginning to wear lighter weight's finally warming up.
A funny story about clothes you never see:  I recently had a spectacular flannel pajama blow out!  I had three pairs of serviceable, matching pajamas.  (I'm not big on matching at night, I figure who can see the polka dots and stripes and clashing if your eyes are closed?!  Answer? Apparently--Your family.  The professor bought me these matching pjs as a result!)
Anyhow, it was as if these flannel pajamas all said "We're good for 31 washes.  Afterwards? We're done."  Within a week, all three pairs of pants ripped across the bottom in a really irreparable kind of way.  Rag bag it is, then.  I went back to the mis-matched pjs.  Loving partner said, "Could you please find new pjs?"
I spent a whole morning traipsing around stores.  The good news? I found: 1 pair of cotton flannel pj bottoms, no matching top.  1 box of good British tea that I like.  I bumped into one new person I like and talked to her twice. (in two different stores!)  I also saw my physiotherapist, who I also like, of course, and met her three year old daughter.
Many things seemed to cost a lot, but weren't made of natural fibres, or made in a sustainable and/or fair trade way.  I noticed that a pair of new little boy jeans might cost upwards of $15.  (We use a lot of hand me downs and second hand clothes for kids.)  I'm beginning to wonder if I have to figure out how to sew pajamas?  (in my spare time!?)
I was motivated to go home and fix these two pairs of pants that had been waiting for me.  Mending these now has an established takes about an hour.  If I fix two pairs, that is well worth the time spent, when you consider how much a new pair might cost.
1) Collect more than one pair of pants with holes to save time.

 2. Choose boring patches; these get ironed on the wrong side of the pair of jeans, and are bigger than the holes.
 3.  Find fun patches for the right side, and iron those on to cover the actual holes as best you can.
 4.  These iron-on patches tend to peel off after just one or two wearings--which requires me to take the jeans out of circulation to fix and mend all over again.  Now, I just take them right from the ironing board to my sewing kit.
 5.  I stitch on both patches on the front and the back of the fabric.  I've given up making little "hidden" stitches because it is just not worth my time!  It's not a secret that I mended this, right?  And by the time these bigger stitches rip out, the whole pair of pants will be too small or will have self-destructed somewhere else....
6.  At which point it will either find a new home with another kid (if they are still salvageable) or will be used as rags at our house, or will enter the bigger rag trade through a second hand shop my husband has found that will take them.
We tend to wear our clothes hard around here.  We fall, dig, play hard, decorate ourselves with chalk and other art supplies--we're busy.  Slow fashion seems glamorous when you're talking about buying new, organic, fair trade cotton...whatever, but it's rather less so when it means actually fixing, mending, and making do.  However, this is also a bit of a how-to.  I've figured it out, know how long it takes now, and find it worth it to do.  Not for everything, not those ridiculous pj bottoms (formerly lush, warm, fuzzy cotton flannel), but with no backside left in them!
However, this saves money, saves time (no shopping involved!) and makes two little kids very happy.  They get the comfortable, old, worn-in jeans back, but with a novel twist.  I get a quiet hour at home instead of a morning driving around to stores which seem to feature mainly throw-away fashion.  What's that worth?  (Priceless.)

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Monday, May 01, 2017

A different take on feeding babies

Here's my latest CBC opinion piece.  This went live on their website yesterday-- April 30th. It's on normalizing breastfeeding. It goes beyond making it legal to feed your baby in public...let's make it socially acceptable.
Reaction to Leah McLaren column shows education still needed around breastfeeding

PS: I don't ever get to choose the photos or headlines, but I loved these photos.  Such strong and positive images of parents taking care of their kids!

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