Tuesday, January 27, 2015

what I've been up to...

The last few days have been a whirlwind.  The professor has a very busy term, teaching two upper level classes, so he needed to do work on the weekend.  Didi (my mom) came from the US to visit and play with twins.  One of the twins has a whopper of a cold, which means it is likely only a matter of time until the second one gets it, or the grown-ups get it.  Oh, and nobody ever sleeps through the night, have I said that before?! :)

Meanwhile, my essay, Building Jewish Identity -- for preschoolers, came out.  Suddenly, I had people I did not know (at preschool pick up, of course! where else do I go?) telling me that they were reading my work.  This was a surprise.  To be honest...a lot of the time, I write something, and I never hear a thing afterwards!  Sometimes there are negative comments, but this was totally different.  It was positive. 

Then, Maclean's magazine published a truly game-changing piece about racism in Winnipeg.  The author of that article quoted me, based on this essay I wrote for the CBC back in November.  More than anything, I am so glad that people "heard" what was being said in that important article--and I see lots of discussion about racism in the media here, in emails people send, --and who knows, maybe out on the street.  (I haven't been out much, what with the twin preschoolers, the cold virus, the lack of sleep, etc.)

The most interesting thing about all this is that I haven't been especially worried or afraid.  Back when we lived in Kentucky, if I wrote a piece with anything political, controversial, or religious in it...I often heard about it. I received hate mail, or weird phone calls.  It was really disconcerting and scary sometimes.  It did not stop me from writing or wanting to make positive change, but it did make me wonder if it was safe, if it was worth it, and whether I should keep writing. Who knows, maybe I am just too busy to worry here, but luckily, lately, the positive feedback has outweighed anything else.

Recently, I've felt like it is worth it to keep doing this writing thing.  At the same time, I've been working on a new knitting design.  This has been fortunate, because when somebody wakes me up every 2-3 hours, I find it much harder to formulate any kind of argument or point...hence the delay in posting here...but knit?  heck yeah.  I can still knit.

Even if I didn't design, this always has benefits.  People in Winnipeg will always need woollies. :)  

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

childcare in Manitoba

My CBC opinion piece on childcare in Manitoba came out yesterday evening.  Here's the link:
Manitobans want more child-care and we want it now

This time, I love the title. :)

One of my goals is to try to make a positive difference in the world, and of course, that can feel daunting.  For many years, I taught...religious school, adult ed., high school, community college, even grad. school seminars.  Recently, while I've been corralling twins, I haven't had much of an opportunity for teaching, although I occasionally manage to offer a fiber arts class.   When I did teach, I felt that helping students, one person at a time, was really meaningful.  I struggle sometimes to find that same meaning when I am exclusively writing and designing...sometimes the topics aren't life-changing--but occasionally, things work out.

It's been great to get a chance every now and then to comment on something that I hope might affect change.  I sometimes write on religious issues. At times, much of my work is in the knitwear design/hand spinning world. Yet, it has been really exciting lately to have these pieces on the CBC online.  Many times, I don't get much response from what I've written, but at least it is a soapbox to describe what I hear from other parents of young children, new moms, etc.  I love that part of what I do.

I'm reposting the links here so that if you're interested, you can be part of the conversation.
Thanks for joining in!

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Saturday, December 27, 2014

New Article & Boxing Day Sale!

Here's my latest article on the Manitoba CBC website:
Gifting Experiences--Not Things

Note: That's the title I gave the article when I submitted it...but while the article itself is largely what I wrote, editors usually choose the headlines.

My article talks about making things for people, volunteering and sharing experiences with those you love instead of buying lots of wide screen TVs.  In terms of experiences, I want to enable people to make things, of course! Until December 31st at midnight (EST), my knitting patterns on Ravelry are on sale.

20% off all my patterns with the coupon code:

Since my patterns are in "cost of a cup of coffee" range anyway, I think that counts as purchasing something towards a positive knitting experience.  I did start the sale itself on Boxing Day, but due to the winter break demands of preschooler twins (one with the sniffles), I've been delayed in posting here.  If you'd like up-to-the-moment info on Ravelry sales, please consider joining my Rav group. It would be wonderful to see you there...and if the group were a bit more talkative!

I'd also like to wish everybody who reads this a warm, happy and healthy 2015.   Wishing you all good things in the year to come.

Take good care,

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Distal: again?!

 The temperature dropped.
The sun sparkled off the snow.
I raced outside to take better photos of my handspun shawl...

 About 14 photos later, my camera stopped working.

It was too cold!

(my hands, without mitts, got a little cracked, too.)

So here it is, about -14C (9F), warmed up from -21C this morning.
 Look---there I am, shooting the photo!

Happy Hanukah!
Stay warm. :)

PS: Last night was the first night of Hanukah.  Not only did our twins sing the blessings (first time!) but they sang two songs that they learned at school, too.  It was great!  Almost as great as the wooden train set they got as a present...but not quite...

PPS: And the takeout fish & chips (fried in oil) was pretty good, too.  That was Mommy's gift!

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Distal #2 and another article

 Here's my most recent CBC opinion piece...this one is positive, for a change.  (feedback seems to indicate that while readers want positive pieces, editors don't usually want to publish them!) 
Ode to Winnipeg Tradespeople

Also, here's my second crack at Distal, my newest pattern.  This is my handspun yarn, a 2 ply Harlequin and longwool.  The fiber and yarn are at least 15 years old, I think.  It's been marinating in stash a long time! The pattern is on sale for 20% off until midnight tonight on Ravelry, as well.  The photos are terrible because we had a fog advisory all weekend.  When you can't see the tops of any of the high-rise buildings, it does not seem like a good time for a photo shoot, so I stayed inside. The yarn is a rich, textured red and someday maybe we'll catch a better shot of it.

I'm also almost afraid to say this...but we're all virus-free at the moment and I've almost stopped coughing from the last one.  This has resulted in several nights of reasonable sleep (only one twin wake up last night!).  It seems too good to be true.  On that wholly good note, I'll leave it before things get out of hand.  It's only a matter of time before the luck runs out.  be well!  Stay warm! 

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Monday, December 08, 2014

Distal sale and more

When I finished and posted my new pattern, Distal , last week, I felt a big let down.  Although I've been slowly working on several other knitting projects, I missed the rush of producing something new, something creative, and--most of all--something fast.  The solution was two-fold:

First, I cast on again.  A new one!  Hurray!  This time, I used a hand spun heavy worsted weight 2 ply yarn (4 sts=1" on a size #8(5mm) that has been marinating in my stash for a long time.  From notes I took in the pre-blog days, I think this was one ply Harlequin wool and one ply of Wensleydale or Lincoln long wool.  The Harlequin was a soft, marled brown/gray/white yarn that I spun woollen and felt would not last long on its own with any sort of hard wear; hence I plied it with something more durable, coarse and spun more worsted style.  Then, I dumped it into the dyepot and fell in love with the deep textured color that emerged.  I saved about 800 yards of this stuff--forever.  Well, not forever, but best I can tell, I bought these fleeces from 1997-2000.  I think this yarn has been in stash for 15 years.

Second....I decided to offer a sale.  Follow this link to get 20% off Distal from now until December 15.  (sale ends midnight, EST)  I'm hoping to sell a few patterns.  Based on rough estimates (cost of tech editing, yarn price, my time @ local minimum wage, etc.), I need to sell about 35 patterns at $5 to break even.  So, if you're tempted, please, knit a Distal!  It's fast!  It's a good gift...and it's on sale for even less than $5, too!

Last up, I had another essay published this past week on our local CBC website.  I'd clarify, before you click over, that I wish the income disparity between rich and poor in our society wasn't so great...but as long as somebody is going to earn $300,000 for a lecture, well, it might as well be an elder with amazing professional experience--that is, a woman with sound credentials.

That's most of the news from here.  We've been passing around cold viruses mostly...I'm thinking we should rename Autumn or Fall to "Getting Cold" or "Falling Sick" or maybe just "Virus?"  :)

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Thursday, December 04, 2014

Distal: A Shawl for Winter


adjective: distal
  1. situated away from the center of the body or from the point of attachment.
    "the distal end of the tibia"
A while back, my professor was doing some research concerning the distal-less gene in butterflies and moths.  I must have proofread a paper draft or attended a lecture...but in any event, I learned a new word. (definition above)
About a week and a half ago, I picked up some lovely Létt-Lopi yarn that I bought last winter at a yarn fire sale. ($1 a ball!)  I had three skeins in the same color and dyelot.  I also had an idea in mind.  My mom wove me a wonderful shawl out of my handspun brown wool yarn several years ago.  She wove it on a triangle loom from Hillcreek fiber studio.  I've worn it to death and it is beginning to pill and show its age.
I wanted a handknit version--and I started knitting. Maybe 10 hours later, I had a shawl.  It was stunningly fast for me, given the twin lifestyle around here.
Here's the result.  I cast on Monday and I bound off on Friday.  It was blocked and ready to go by the middle of the weekend, and the pattern practically wrote itself.  My lovely tech editor, Donna, reviewed it at the speed of light.
I present: Distal -- a shawl for wintertime...#10(6mm) needles, about 327 yards of Aran weight yarn, and only a few hours of knitting...a perfect combination for this time of year.  Published on Ravelry yesterday; wore it on my dog walk at 7pm this morning.  Knit fast!  Stay warm!


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