Sunday, January 26, 2020

Those Granola Bars

I make mostly homemade lunches for my kids...aside from the granola bars.  A while back, I tried making homemade granola bars and our twins really didn't dig them, no matter what.  (The professor and I can vouch that the homemade ones were delicious, we ate two whole pans of them and probably gained a lot of weight during that experiment!)

As a result, I just buy a big box of granola bars with chocolate chips but no nuts from the grocery store and I carry them around as extra snacks, especially for doctors' appointments or during vacation periods.  It's safe to say I've thought WAY too much about these granola bars.

Two things happened.  Today, my opinion piece about the granola bars ran on the CBC-Manitoba website:
Mom's emergency granola bar is there when you need it-no matter who you are

Second thing...
My kids' school is having a program this week called "The litterless lunch."  They want to reduce lunch time waste and trash by asking kids to bring homemade foods, packaged in reusable containers, so that everything in the lunch can be reused, recycled or composted.

Turns out that my twins were already in second place in the classroom when it came to bringing lunches with no trash.  What made them second place?  The granola bar wrappers!

Today, one of my guys decided to help me make homemade granola bars again.  We mostly made the recipe up, but each bar has oats, sunflower seeds, cut up pieces of dry fruit, chocolate chips, a little whole wheat flour...all mushed together with condensed milk.  We baked it for a half hour, and then cooled it down fast using a Winnipeg solution: by leaving it outside in the snow on the back deck for a few minutes.  The quick cool down in snow isn't the recipe, of course!

We produced enough bars for school lunches this week, plus enough to taste test.  Turns out that now, both twins think these are darn good.  Have their tastes changed?  Are they proud of their mom's litterless lunches?  Who knows.

Now we have more granola bars (in wrappers) to give away this week, too.  It's all good.
--This photo's from the article, link above.  I'm not that hip looking!

PS: When the kids first mentioned the litterless lunch, I couldn't figure it out.  I thought they were talking about 'the literal lunch.'  And I was like, what kind of crazy elementary school program is this?  Who packs a figurative or metaphoric lunch!?  (Joke's on me, of course. Maybe I took too many literature courses at Cornell.)

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Friday, January 24, 2020

Low Vision patterns-coming soon!

This week, I've been slowly but surely reformatting some of my knitwear designs on Ravelry. 
What am I doing?

I'm reformatting these to provide an additional pdf, for free, in a Low Vision format.  This is for people who need larger print to easily read a knitting pattern.  I'm also adding photo descriptions, as I am able, and getting rid of fonts and italic that might make the design hard to read.  All my designs are already black print on a white background, which also improves accessibility for the vision-impaired.

As of this week, I've launched Low Vision Format versions of:
Rosie McStrippitThe Stay Put KippahStrippy McStrippitWorry BearDeir Hart and On Track.

I hope to add more Low Vision Format options to my patterns over time--it may not work for every design, but I aim to keep working on it.  So far, it hasn't sold a single pattern, but that's not why I'm doing it.  It seems to me that making life better and more accessible for everyone is a good thing to do...and well worth a few minutes every day, when I can fit in the reformatting.

Here are some cheerful photos of the patterns I've already relaunched-I will try to post more as I go along!  (click on the photos to see bigger images)
I've also had this article come out in the Vancouver Independent:
A page of Talmud each day

Finally, January 27th is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.  

Many millions of people died in the Holocaust, including 6 million Jewish people.  (These were, in part, some of my family and perhaps yours, too) 

Please take time to remember the many people who were lost...Jewish family, friends, those with disabilities, LGBTQ*, Roma, political prisoners, and more. 

Let's work towards a more accessible, loving, tolerant and accepting world.  Never Again.

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Friday, January 17, 2020

Those McStrippits!

So, how did the McStrippits get their name?
(If you're just reading the blog for the first time, WELCOME!  Strippy McStrippit and Rosie McStrippit are knitting patterns that I designed.  Follow these links to learn more!)

 When I started designing these, I was endlessly knitting these strips when we were at piano lessons or outside playing or whatever. Nobody in my household could understand these "strip" things that Mommy was making. 

Eventually, I sewed the first design together and said to my twins and to the Professor, "Well, now we need a name for this thing."  And they laughed and said--"Obviously, Mommy, it is about the Strips!

Somewhere in this conversation, my husband the Professor brought up the story of Boaty McBoatfaceThis was when the British Navy had a "Name Our Ship" poll for a new research vessel.  Only, the one that caught on and won was Boaty McBoatface, which was really kind of not dignified enough for the Brits.  They did eventually name a submersible with this funny name though. (Scientists do make lots of jokes, but dignity has its place!) 

In moments, our whole dinner table was laughing with jokes about how if there could be a McBoatface, well, these were the McStrippit designs.  And so it was!
That is how the McStrippit designs got their last name.  The first name is based in some way on the particular design (Strippy was first, so, you know, there you go!) and the last name is to pay homage to a really funny boat name.

Rosie McStrippit is Rosie for two reasons.  The square neck reminded me of some Scottish and Irish dancing outfits.  When I was in elementary school, a classmate dressed up in her costume and did a jig performance for us. Her name wasn't Rosie but I've never forgotten the square neck of her dress--and Rosie struck me as a good Scots-Irish kind of name. Second reason is that I happened to knit the sample in a rose coloured yarn, but please, use whatever colour you like!  I am sure you'll still look rosy if you knit one.

Now that I've finished two of these designs-- (and a total of 15 strips!) I sort of miss having the strip knitting in my purse.  I may have to start another soon...

Last bits of news for this post:  On Ravelry, Rosie McStrippit is now available with an additional LOW VISION pdf.  This means that I've made it more accessible to those with vision challenges.  I hope to go back and revise other patterns in the future to do this so more knitters can try out my work.

Also related to accessibility, my article, Tips for Inclusivity, has gone live on the Jewish Independent's website today.  It offers pointers for choosing summer camps for kids with special needs.
Wishing you all good things-and a laugh! --Joanne

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Friday, January 10, 2020

low tech spinning

The big news today is that my article on low-tech fiber processing is featured on PLY magazine's blog!  Here's the link:
Low tech wool (and other fibres) prep

I'm proud to be included in this processing issue--via the blog!

I often encounter new spinners who are overwhelmed by the expense and complicated nature of all the tools and gadgets they think they must have to begin spinning.  In fact...spinning can be pretty simple and low cost.  This piece spells out ways you can use your hands to do the work-without the tools.

PS: I'm not ignoring all the upsetting stuff that is going on in the world right now.  Far from it, but I'm needing distractions so I don't despair entirely.  I hope this provides a helpful distraction.  In the meanwhile, believe me, I'm thinking about peace in the world--and rain in Australia.

PPS: How did Rosie McStrippit get her name?  Well, she's clearly related to Strippy McStrippit, made in strips, and there's a story about elementary school and Irish (or Scottish?) dance in there...for another time.

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Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Rosie McStrippit

At last, here is the next 'McStrippit' pattern!  Introducing..
.Rosie McStrippit!

Rosie McStrippit’s an A-line, square necked women’s tunic, in seven sizes with a trick up its sleeve. This is a bottom-up, simple sweater knit in pieces…eight pieces, to be exact. You’ll work towards a sweater that drapes and flatters while enjoying completely portable, simple patterned knitting that fits in a purse while you’re on the go!
Too tired to carry a top-down sweater project on your commute, to kids’ lessons or the doctor’s office?  These McStrippit designs are for you.
Rosie McStrippit requires knitting, purling, increases, decreases, and sewing up at the end. This design uses written instructions and a schematic. It uses a single strand of Aran yarn that knits at 17 sts sts = 4"/10 cm after blocking on a size US 7 needle.

You may wonder how I got all these photos...well, I had twin eight year olds and one very patient professor photo taking photos of me all at once on one sort of "warm" December day.  (They used an iPad, an ancient digital camera and a fancy camera that the Professor used to shoot all the photos for my first book,  Fiber Gathering.) There are also a couple photos indoors, and unless I am modelling, I took all of those.

I am very excited to release this sweater design, as it matches the dress that I made in the last post, AND I think it's a really useful concept for those of us who knit on the go.  I announced how long it took me to get everything online today---and how much I charged, per pattern, at dinner. One of my twins said, "But Mommy, that's not very much.  That's not anything like as much work as it took you to make it."

If I don't count any of the time I spent designing this, knitting it, grading the spread sheet for all the sizes, writing the pattern, editing the pattern, getting the pattern online (and it's here on Ravelry and here on 

Well, I need to sell 13 patterns at full price just to pay for the basic supplies: yarn and the tech editor fees.

How much does a pattern download cost?

$7 US

Having a little pouch of knitting with you while waiting at the doctor's office, the playground, piano lessons, the school bus stop?

Well now?  That's priceless!

I hope you enjoy knitting Rosie McStrippit as much as I did.
(I'll explain the name some other time...)

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Sunday, January 05, 2020

New dress, new year

Winter break has taken over my whole world.  Kids go back to the school tomorrow and I may be able to catch up again!  My late night sewing has turned out this new #100actsofsewingno1 dress with a lining rather than bias tape and inseam pockets.  I'll show you both sides!  It's Brussels Washer Yarn Dye, (linen blend) and the colour is called heliotrope, although I think it looks sort of like a raisin in gray light. I made this to match my new knitting design...more details soon!

We've done some fun things over break, including buying both twins new skates and trying them out at the local community centre arena.  This has been fun and included a few brief moments where I too wore skates again.  (It's been a long long time...)

Last but not least, my opinion piece went live on CBC-Manitoba today:
Mental stimulation amid child-rearing? You can do it if you try

To that end, I recently signed up to learn more Talmud.  I signed up for a 'Daf Yomi' email every day...learn more here.  Sign up here if you're interested.  To my surprise, it is all in English so far, so I am also using Sefaria, or at least I am--on day 1!  Happy Birthday to me!

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