Thursday, November 30, 2017

12 years and counting

Anniversary Alert:  My blog is now 12 years old.
In November, 2005, I started this blog with a few test shots.  There was yarn:
There was Sally:
And I am so grateful that these two aspects of my writing life are still with me.  Sally and I are definitely a bit older and grayer in the muzzle.  Harry the dog (RIP) is no longer with us.  But the professor and I keep on keeping on, and while things have changed a great deal, that part is the same.  We now live in a different country (Canada) and have twins, but, well, I am grateful for all that's gone by.
It's been a challenging week...what with twins having the stomach bug.  They got better, while I had several strange work set backs, one after another.  Things felt a  I've definitely had a few missteps.  My books took a ride to a book fair--but did not sell a single copy.  My new pattern hasn't really taken off.  (at all.)  It was one downer after another.

I even was prompted to consider whether I should be writing patterns at all anymore...has my career shifted?  Am I doing other things now?  I've been writing about fiber arts and designing knitwear for about 15 years now, and this seemed like a bleak, big choice.

Then something funny happened.  I predominantly sell patterns these days on Ravelry.  I checked out another place where I sell designs...and it turns out things were selling just fine over there.  OK then.  That is good news...

And the Professor had a paper come out.  (I'm linking to an article about his paper...not all of us do genomics & evolution and development...)  So, things are improving.

I'm planning on taking some time to sit on the couch, drink tea, and knit this afternoon.  I've got a roast chicken and roasted root veggies ready to go for supper, and I'm making applesauce in the slow cooker.

Some anniversaries are quiet ones...but if you've been reading the blog for a while (or are brand new!)--I'd love to celebrate with you.  Please leave a comment and say hello and tell me how long you've been reading?

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Monday, November 27, 2017

Responsibilities and Sale

Today is the last day of 25% off sale for all my Rav patterns.  The sale ends tonight, Monday night at midnight, Central Time, US &Canada.
 Use this coupon code: Thanks 
to get 25% off all my patterns!  
(I'll be honest, very few people have taken advantage of this sale as of yet.  I haven't been the best at marketing it either--both my twins had a stomach bug this weekend.  We did a lot of laundry Saturday night--it was an all-night event. --Not much sleep for this mommy! Things seem better now.  I heard 17 kids had to go home from their school on Friday with the same virus, so it's not just us...but it sure is yucky!)
This leads me to other news.  On Saturday, the CBC Manitoba webpage ran my article:  (Note, I do not choose or write the headlines.)
As I cleaned up little boys in the middle of the night, I also got to watch the CBC Facebook feed fill up with comments.  Some thought I had a point...and others belittled me, my writing, my concerns about responsible parenting, and more.  It was an interesting thing--one wonders why people need to take time to say all the negative stuff...did I make points that bothered them?  Did they feel guilty? Were they truly interested in defending the privacy of our politicians' vacations?  
(My husband, the Professor, pointed out that he and his colleagues need to submit emergency phone numbers and ways they can always be reached when they go away, whether it's to visit relatives or off-grid.  The Premier apparently doesn't...)
I have heard of writers who never read public comments on their work, and others who read everything and respond.  I don't respond, for the most part, unless someone has written me privately.  I do read the comments when I can though--and it would seem this piece struck a nerve.
Please take advantage of the pattern sale while it lasts if you are knitter!  Who knows if you too will be stuck on the couch with sick kids...and need your knitting...?

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Making as a way of giving Thanks

As a dual citizen (US/Canada), I'm often feeling betwixt and between this time of year.  We celebrated Thanksgiving in October in Winnipeg, but right now, everyone --my family and friends--in the US is running around, getting ready for Thanksgiving.  We will be having school and work as usual tomorrow... but I can be thankful anyhow...

1)So, I'm throwing my own party here on the blog.  First, if you've been wanting to buy any of my Rav Patterns , including my brand new pattern, Woolly, you can save 25% off any of these patterns on Ravelry from now until November 27th at midnight (Central Time, US & Canada) with the coupon code:

2) Second, if you are the kind of person who wants to say thank you by knitting for others, well, that is awesome. wants to help you by giving yarn for you to knit for your good cause.
They are offering free yarn (with a contest) to knitters in both the US and Canada who like to knit for good causes.  So, if you knit for charity, hop on over there and enter their competition; the deadline is December 15th.

3) I cannot really cope with this time of year without cooking stuff.  So, I'm making a roast and some potatoes and sweet potatoes and some squash and Professor bought me this cool set of things I had to tell you about.  Here in Winnipeg, we have lots of root crops.  We have an extended season vegetable share this year, so we're getting a lot of cabbage, carrots, etc and there's only so much slaw a person can eat, let me tell you.

As my friends know, my attention span for cooking is about 24 hours.  After that, I seem to forget things like sourdough starters or sauerkraut and, at least when I lived in the Southern US, they would grow strange pink or green colors and the Professor would come along and throw it out to protect us from keeling over.  (He took those university health and safety classes while I did Arts& Social Sciences. :)

But I still was curious about fermentation.  Small batch fermentation in a cooler climate seemed like more of a sure thing, so he bought me Pickle Pipes and glass Pickle Pebble glass weights to try this out with canning jars and rings.  (We already had loads of those) I'm making my first small batches of sauerkraut and pickled carrots now.  They sure look good sitting on the counter...and these silicon pickle pipes have a little valve at the top so the fermentation gets air without introducing anything else into the concoction.  I look forward to seeing how it comes out.

--Canadians, here are links to for these things, I used the US links above first--
 Pickle Pipes and Pickle Pebbles

(I'm using a handmade book by my friend Janet as a way of keeping notes on my kitchen experiments.)

Have a wonderful holiday, or a great Thursday--wherever you live!

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Monday, November 20, 2017

Two new articles

A picture is worth a thousand words.  (Good thing I write a lot, then?!)

This opinion piece ran on the CBC-Manitoba site this past weekend.  I'd written something much longer that talked about how "the system" doesn't work in several ways--but an editor pared it way down.  Through careful editing, it became sharper-more relevant.

I was doubtful about some of the editing. Then I got an email from someone who founded a non-profit organization to strengthen legislation against domestic violence.  She felt the article was just right.  There you go then, good editing wins.

The system is broken- but it's not fair to ask victims to fix it

About a week ago, another piece came out in Vancouver, for the Jewish Independent:

Lifelong Jewish Relationships

---oh wait!  I do have a picture.  Last week, I launched Woolly
This is my first ever published kid's sweater design...after 15 or so years of writing knitting patterns.  If you're a knitter (or even if you aren't!), please go check it out on Ravelry or on  I'd be grateful for a "favorite" or two... what's not to like about sheep with horns?

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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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