Monday, July 31, 2017

Bandana goes live!

Do you remember how I was spinning Canadian grown and processed flax a while back?  Extolling the virtues of the whole thing?

That flax became yarn, which got simmered to wash it, and then it got balled up and knit into....this.  A new design.  It's called Bandana.  It's available on Ravelry as part of the Manitoba Fibre Festival's Flatlands Collection.  As a result of being part of the collection, the fabulous ash of sunflower knits did a photo shoot, and it was lovely.  Really artistic.  Beyond what I'd hoped.

 This accessory collection is launching August 1st, and to celebrate the Manitoba Fibre Festival KAL, everything in the Flatlands Collection will be 30% off (no need for a coupon) from now until August 6th at midnight, CT.

It's currently summertime warm in Manitoba. The true confessions part of this is that I wear a lot of linen in the summer. I wanted to design something that would hold up to our daily roughhousing.  This past weekend, for instance, we went cherry picking, had an impromptu trip to Gimli for lunch and ice cream. Back in Winnipeg,we played in both the yard wading pool and at a neighborhood one, and watered the lawn with the wading pool leftovers.  There were hands-on opportunities to be stained with cherries, ice cream, grass, soaked with water, covered with sidewalk chalk, and more...
 I'd like to pretend I'm wearing this bandana as an elegant shawl option....and not just folding it up "for good."  For now, it is being held for display at the festival, which happens September 15 and 16, 2017, at the Red River Ex in Winnipeg.
 If I get a chance to wear Bandana, it's far more likely to be on my head, or being used to wipe off bits of ice cream from passing six year olds....but I'd like to dream of an elegant knitwear future.  (That's why I love those fancy photo shoots...)
 Bandana is available as a digital download on Ravelry right now, and will cost US$6---but it's 30% off until August 6th!  Please join me in a quick and cool summer knit.  I know I can't be the only person who needs a little textured hidden paisley or two to jazz up my summer wardrobe. :)

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Friday, July 28, 2017

Summer knitting

Some people don't knit in the summertime.  Weird, huh?  I am of the opinion that there is no bad time for knitting, and further--I live in Winnipeg.  Winter is always coming.  My twins have outgrown nearly all their mitts, and we're a family that wears double layered mitts when it's cold.  In the last month, I've done 2 pairs of kid mittens and am on to #3.  (I'm aiming for a minimum of 4 pairs of kid mitts, but maybe more, we need back ups)

The ones pictured here are based on an old Penny Straker pattern I have altered significantly but used for over 20 years!  This project started around the time we travelled to Virginia in late June.  I am now working on a stranded pair of The hole inside mitts, in green and orange. (Stranded = warmer)  At home, the mitten project happens solely when we are listening to audio books before bedtime.  We're currently having a binge: the Henry Huggins Audio Collection.  It's something like 15 hours of listening, all doled out 20 minutes at a time before twins go to bed.
I also had a little grocery store experience (oops) where I spent more than I meant to--I was feeling relaxed in the air got out of control.  Little did I know that the store also was looking to give away a lot of Canadian blueberries for free, and I ended up with 8 lbs of blueberries, free upon (big) purchase.  So, lots of frozen fruit, 10 cups of jam, fruit salad and crumble later, we're making progress on that front, too.  Like a bear, I'm preparing for winter hibernation.

I'm swatching up a new design project: I want to see if I can come up with a sweater pattern done in strips or sections that are easy to carry around.  I am currently knitting a top down cardigan and I'm on the second sleeve.  That thing is so heavy and hot there is no way I will bring it anywhere!  Hence the strip idea.
After a lot of cooking, canning and cranking out a couple of articles, I felt the need to sit outside, and yesterday, I actually took one of my spinning wheels outdoors, sat on the back porch, drank some iced coffee, did some spinning and read (using my Ipad) at the same time.  It seemed remarkably indulgent and delicious.

If you're a summertime knitter like me, did you know that:
A) I also sell patterns on Loveknitting?
B) Loveknitting is having a BIG SUMMER SALE?
(I get nothing from telling you about the sale--nothing but the feeling that I am helping out friends, right?!)
Happy Summer!  (We're having a really fine weather, mosquito-free one here)
PS: Yarn choices...
White mitts: my handspun, unknown medium wool odds and ends
Blue mitts: Patons Wool Worsted and a strand of Kroy sock yarn (please don't felt these,my twin who felts mitts)
Brown Swatch: Lopi Einband, naturally colored brown, knit doubled

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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Manitoba women's health just got worse

Here's a link to my CBC opinion piece, which ran this morning.  You may recognize the photo if you are a long-time blog reader.  (That's the Professor's finger, he took the photo, he held the twin, and no, I did not get to do that more than once in the NICU)
If you don't recognize the photo, click on June 2011 to learn a little more.  The details I wrote about for this essay are perhaps more graphic than I've ever shared in a published piece before, but it was worth it. 
Many women in Manitoba have gone through similar things, and based on proposed changes to our health care system, it could just get worse.  Here's hoping others are concerned, too.  (Based on the CBC-Manitoba Facebook page and the number of times this article has already been shared, my guess is that others may agree and are plenty worried.)
Manitoba women's health just got worse

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Friday, July 21, 2017

Being your better self

Here's my latest piece from the Jewish Independent in Vancouver--this piece also appeared in a Winnipeg paper.  It's about rough days, and...well, donkeys, of course:

It takes work to be your better self

Other news...we've been very busy with summer here.  Summer camp, wading pools (with slides!), picking strawberries and canning strawberry jam, checking out cool bugs, rabbits, and other important long walk, digging outside, planting, gardening, digging... hot weather activities.

I've also been busy on a secret project--a new design to be released as part of the Manitoba Fibre Festival "flatlands collection" which will be available soon on Ravelry!  Stay tuned for sneak's all about handspun flax, subtle handknit textures, and more..

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Monday, July 10, 2017

Plastic Straws, and making things

Summer camp starts at 9:30, which means that there is time for early birds at our house to play, walk dogs, and even watch Clifford on TV before camp.  Last week, I dodged upstairs for a bit while the Professor supervised the matchbox car races and tower destruction... and I wrote something about our trip.  It happened to correspond to a great campaign in Winnipeg as well, and it ran on the CBC on Saturday morning.  Here's the link.  (and a photo...) 
Want to save the planet? Start by saying no to the plastic straw

It's been a busy few days.  Just a couple days after we got home from our trip, the Professor left to do some work research at a museum in NYC, and visit relatives.  I had my hands full with twins, but Harry the dog suffered some serious stomach issues, too and was up a lot with me 2 nights in a row.  It resulted in a lot of messes to clean up, a trip to the vet, and $174 later, some antibiotics and a much happier dog.  Sally, our other dog, was remarkably placid during all this, which helped enormously.

Once things seemed a bit more under control, I took a trip to my favorite quirky fabric store, and bought supplies.  I am making something for my nephew in Virginia.  (A quick update if you've been reading the blog since 2008?)  This nephew mostly uses a wheel chair, has some significant challenges, but is bright as a penny.  He signs and uses a communication device, and his spelling is amazing...he is lots of fun!  My kids love playing with this cousin. :)  Anyhow, his mom gave me a project to work on.  (Kids with special needs often require handmade things to help out, you can't buy everything in a store!)  I will need to figure out snaps.  For me, it's a new sewing frontier.
While the Professor was away, I juggled everything fine until things started to be, umm, not as fine.  He was supposed to return Friday night.  Unfortunately, he had one of those bad travel experiences that results in a marathon travel experience.  He spent an extra night with his brother's family in Manhattan, and he was getting on planes that don't take off due to weather (1), plane troubles (1), then missing a connection due to the late flights, and then having to take two more flights, and then well, he got home around midnight Saturday night.  A day and a half of trying to get home.  
Ouch.  However, it was also ouch for me, since I'd planned out life with twins and dogs right through Friday, but not beyond.  Luckily, an artist friend sprang into action.  On Saturday, we joined her to do age-appropriate paper marbling on her front porch, and then her husband read kid stories, and she fed us a delicious lunch.  I thanked heaven for friends who could help about then.  We came home, took a nap, played at the wading pool, and waited for Daddy.  Both boys were so excited that they could not sleep, so we did chores together until nearly 9pm.  Chores are boring, though the boys were very helpful, so eventually, they fell asleep.
On Sunday, we all went strawberry picking, as well as boy bike riding, and playing with the hose in the front yard.  
I'm exhausted, but folks will insist on continuing to eat, too, even after Daddy comes home.  Tonight?  Beef kofte, brown rice, vegan tzatziki, and a big salad.  Strawberry banana apple fruit leather is drying in the dehydrator, strawberry yogurt popsicles are in the freezer, and there are still something like 7 or 8 flats of strawberries left to process into jam or washed, frozen berries...   There's always tomorrow.

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Monday, July 03, 2017

Waterfalls, fishing, and airplanes

An article of mine recently went online at the Jewish Independent in Vancouver, it's called Good relationships matter.  Around the same time, I was packing suitcases for three of us (two boys, one mom--the professor does his own..) and 2 dogs to go to dog camp.  (the kennel)

All the humans in our immediate family flew to Virginia to see grandparents, family friends, cousins, and aunts and uncles.  We do this a couple times a year.  It's a huge undertaking, although considerably easier now that both boys walk on their own, and don't need bottles or a double stroller.

 The travelling takes two planes, international border crossing, and all day, each way.
The biggest victory this time? We took 2 taxis, 2 rides with relatives, four planes, two each way, and no one threw up on me.  This, we think, may be a first, and I am very grateful.  (I engineered it through careful underfeeding of snacks, encouraging people to take deep breaths, and in one case, a kid had his head on his knees, taking deep breaths. We did it.  Whew.

On our trip, we mostly focused on experiences:  Each boy caught his first fish with Bop (grandpa), at Lake Fairfax in Virginia (heavily stocked with fish, btw).  We saw a waterfall for the first time.  For kids who live on the prairie, Great Falls is indeed, a 'great' falls.  One twin asked about fossils, and the other one focused on learning about George Washington, soldiers, and the educational movie at the visitors' center.

We experienced a lot of heat (highs in the mid 90s, maybe 35C, with high humidity) and lush green summer weather in Virginia.  We ate out a lot, and 'tavernas'--a Greek one, and a Lebanese one, remained big favorites.  We played with cousins and saw friends.  We went to the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum because one twin plans on being an "airplane driver" when he grows up.

However, experiences aren't everything.  Souvenirs are important too!  Kids recall a lot about their experiences when they play with something small that they got.  My kids picked up sticks in the yard for my father and 'earned' a trip to an old fashioned hardware store/5&dime that I used to go to as a kid named Ayers.   Choosing toys that they earned by doing chores was a very exciting part of the trip.

While visiting Great Falls, they chose coloring books of US national parks and backyard wildlife, which they have worked on nearly every day since.  This included coloring at our gate with new friends named Mustaph and Leila in the airport on the way home.  (I wish I had a photo of that one, it was amazing.  Three bottoms lined up, heads leaning over the coloring on a window ledge, while planes took off right in front of them)

At Udvar-Hazy, the boys each chose one small toy: a space shuttle and an airplane, which have been in constant motion and creative play since then.

My father also built wooden motorcycles with the help of one twin, and the other colored his to personalize it.  Those are also precious.

In one airport, we chose dinosaur (for the future paleontologist) and plane (for the pilot) sticker activity books, and we met an adult twin who worked at the bookstore.

On that twin topic: on another plane, we met a flight attendant who was a twin.  We played with twin two year olds in the Minneapolis airport playground, too.

I suspect that we may remember fishing (and hooking grandpa, OUCH!) forever...but the coloring books will last a long time, too!

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