Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A new article and a holiday week...

I just had a new article come out on the CBC.

It's about Winnipeg's urban density and pollution.  The image they matched with the article, above, is what the light pollution in Winnipeg looks like from above at night.  Wow, that's bright.  If city regulations were tightened up a bit, it might make living in close quarters an easier (quieter?!) experience.

...and we're having a long stretch of time off.  Preschool is over, camp will begin in a week or so, and I am mostly busy with twins.  Plus, two of us are still sick...and one of those is me! (Coughing is not improved by hazy smoke from Saskatchewan and NWT forest fires,either...)

We did go to the Canadian Classic sheep show on Friday, and yesterday we got to visit a friend's farm and enjoy the company of some Shetland sheep, a horse or two, a llama and some chickens.  The professor got me a gorgeous Romney/Texel fleece as an anniversary gift this year..17 years of marriage...  I think he's figured out that every year is the fiber anniversary. :)

Alas, my hands have been too full holding on to four year olds to snap sheep photos, too.  Hope you are having a good Canada Day/July 4th/first week in July!

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Friday, June 19, 2015

a drive-by post

It's been a busy time, complete with a a bunch of vaccines (dog and kid), some stitches being removed (from Harry the dog, he had surgery last week, he's fine) and a kid's nasty ear infection.  I've been rushing around from the vet to the pediatrician's office today.  I am beat!

However, here are a couple new articles, one on the CBC online about the province's recent cosmetic pesticide ban...(no secret, I'm in favor of the ban...)

Local food, dandelions, and harvesting the lawn

Another article came out last week, about finding different avenues to prayer.  I actually called it "Davening with the angels," but it's the same article here, under a different name:  (davening means praying in Yiddish)

Finding holiness in different ways

Finally, in celebration of 3 different family birthdays this month, our upcoming 17th wedding anniversary, and the release of my new eBook-- Three Ply--, all my other Ravelry patterns are on sale until June 28th.  They are all 20% off with this coupon code:

OK, that's the news from here!  I'm off to go make tempting breakfast foods for a kid whose ears hurt a lot...and he feels nauseous and hates the taste of the new antibiotic so much that he is yelling "THROW IT IN THE GARBAGE CAN, MOMMY!"  at the top of his lungs.  Gotta admire the volume he achieves, I guess...

Makes writing about dandelions, or better yet, being outdoors admiring them, very appealing about now.  :)

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

New Pattern and new eBook!

Here's a portion of what's been going on behind the scenes here!  This announcement will hopefully be going out as a press release today...and these have already been (quietly) launched on Ravelry, too!

Introducing a new Yarn Spinner Story + Pattern --Riverbend Garden Hat. The new Yarn Spinner Story + Pattern series allows readers who knit (or knitters who read) two pleasures at once: downloadable short fiction on Ravelry, accompanied by a pattern that stands on its own. This is a sweet combination for thinking knitters, particularly ones using a tablet or smartphone.
An adult learns his mother’s biggest secret.
Riverbend Garden: A Love Story, features a middle-aged man as he rediscovers the familiar is not what it seems. A mid-20th century teacher, a loving mother, serious gardener and knitter, Dickie’s mom lived an unremarkable, but lonely life. Yet, she has time for one last story; of a dappled river bend garden, an empty marriage, a widowhood, and a student whose love transforms all boundaries.
This story pairs with a hat to fit everyone, from a small child to a grown man. It’s a fast project; knit with super bulky or a doubled worsted yarn. Make an extra to keep others warm; Dickie’s mama would want you to pass one on.

Want more stories?

Three Ply, the first Yarn Spinner Story+ Pattern eBook, is now available for Ravelry download!  It includes three patterns, for a hat, mittens and a cowl, and three stories: Riverbend Garden, as well as The Hole Inside and Knitting for Mother Earth. All three patterns are also available individually for download on Ravelry.
The Hole Inside offers unrequited love from an independent knitter. On a business trip, she’s invited to a knitting group. Settle into a coffee, a college town, and an unsettling surprise from the past.
-Paired with a stranded mitten pattern in 7 sizes, from 2-4 years to XXL
Knitting for Mother Earth catches a young woman on a commuter train. She alerts a fellow passenger to potential danger…and in the aftermath of attempted terrorism, builds a strong bond through knitting.
-Paired with a super bulky cowl pattern, ideal for hand dyed or handspun one-of-a-kind skeins.
If you'd like to check out this new eBook deal right away, click on that "buy now" link, below!  ($15 for three stories + patterns--a discount of more than 25% off the price of the individual patterns.)
As always, thanks for checking out my new design. :) Joanne

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Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Spindle article in Spin-Off!

This issue of Spin-Off Magazine, the Summer 2015, has my article about spindling in it!  It's called 'Slow Spindles?  7 tips for making more yarn.'

 Here are some outtakes--photos that the Professor shot that did not make it into the article.  He took these in the dead of winter.  It was so cold that his camera would freeze up and stop working...Meanwhile, the editor asked if we could catch some shots of me spinning outside!  (Not on your life.  At -20C or below, I require double mitts, and you can bet I am not spinning outside!)

If you have a copy of the magazine, you will see one shot with a spindle on a white background.
That is snow.

Luckily it is warm and green here now.  Whew.  Just when I thought winter would never end...

This is a "spindle" basket, ready to go: I put it over my arm, loaded with fiber, and wander around spinning.  Works very well while watching twins or helping at the Manitoba Fibre festival!

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Monday, June 01, 2015

A birthday... and more

My boys are four years old today.  Here they are, modelling my new hat design (pattern to be released soon!) and blowing funny kisses to the camera.  Thank you to everyone who has helped us make it to four years old!

I haven't blogged lately, in part because just keeping up with life seemed hard.  I had some weird snafus; things that got lost in cyberspace, didn't get published, stuff like that.  Nothing major, I let it go, but it meant some things I wrote, time and energy got lost along the wayside.

Recently, I've focused on my work efforts here.  Several readers have asked me to send links to my articles and this allows me to do it one place.  I've started publishing knitting patterns more regularly again after a long hiatus, and the blog allows me to announce them, too.

I'm excited about this focus on my work life, which I'm slowly regaining. On a good week, I get maybe 10-15 hours a week to work. The thing I can celebrate as the boys turn 4 is getting back a little of my professional freelance life back as well.  Twins are all consuming, and in a place where it is hard to access childcare and we have no nearby family, I sometimes spend weeks or months trying to manipulate all the household obligations so I can find time to write and design.  Preschool and summer camp (X two kids) become essential.

Regaining that chance to think, write and produce is crucial for me to be a financially contributing household member and a happier, self-actualized person.  I think this also probably makes me a better mom.  (Now, if only I could get everyone to sleep through the night.  I am bushed!)    

So here's to four!  Here's to new designs, articles, ideas, and creative outlets for all of us!  (The boys' favorite gifts this year included a lot of creative play toys: ukelele, a kid-sized banjo, lego train and rocket sets, balls, books, a play silk, and other wonderful surprises)

Recently published in the Winnipeg Jewish Post & News, on community belonging and ownership:
Building and revitalizing Winnipeg’s Jewish community

Recently published on the CBC Manitoba website--on enforcement (or not) of Winnipeg bylaws:
Navigating Winnipeg parking driving cycling bylaws a dizzying affair

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Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Woolly wash!

 It's suddenly spring-ish, and time to wash our woollies.  I always try to do a wash of our mitts, hats, etc. before tucking them away for the summer.  I love the moment where all of this hard work, these handknits and handspun garments, are clean and dancing in the warm breeze.  A good once-a-year image!

Moths are attracted to dirty wool, so our wool should get cleaned now and then. :)

Here's a close up of two different pairs of Due North Mittens.

These are variations on The Hole Inside Mitts.  The one on the right is all handspun, hand-dyed purple and natural brown finnsheep wool.

Here are the special order handspun mitts  (placed last fall by a twin with a fondness for a special flock of sheep!) with a stripe from Margaret's Shetland gray wool.  These show hardly any wear, but sadly, will likely no longer fit the twin in question in the fall.

What else was on the line?  Handknits/handwovens by Didi (the twins' grandma), Slippy the cowl and some gorgeous green wool scarves from Ireland, used for wrapping up preschoolers' faces when it is -40 out.

Also this week, another new column of mine came out:
Young people are interested in social justice...let's engage them

(Again, definitely not my title.)  The way this is framed, it sounds as though community elders must condescend to younger folks to get them involved.  On the contrary, I believe Gen X, Y and Millennials are already reaching out to make change...their elders need to acknowledge it and make space for them in established institutions.  If you want to meet someplace, why not your place of worship?  If you make it too hard to gain entry into your building, we'll just meet at Starbucks (or wherever) instead...
Suddenly I'm humming..
People get ready, there's a train a-coming...You don't need no baggage, 
You just get on board

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Monday, April 27, 2015


For those of you who have been blog readers a long time, you may remember that I used to write on separation of church/state issues when I lived in Kentucky.  Oddly, that was good training for an article I wrote last week...and it came out on Saturday.  Here's a CBC opinion piece on why I think there is no such thing as a "secular prayer" and why I think it shouldn't happen at city council or at the Manitoba legislature.  Turns out that the Canadian Supreme Court thinks that too!

Like a prayer: Rethinking traditions at city council

In other news...our radishes are coming up, little bitty green things, in our raised garden beds.  Both boys had the sniffles so we spent a lot of the weekend playing close to home.  This playing alternated with small boys throwing cranky tantrums.  We also attempted a trip to Fort Whyte for their Earth Day festivities.  It was gorgeous weather, very crowded, and a bit hard to maneuver with two hungry, cranky and sniffley guys.  We did see pigs, chicken, rabbits, bison, an owl and a snake, lots of geese and other birds and lots of touchable wildlife taxidermy (which I found gross, but the boys loved).

The most interesting part of the visit, for me, was the Pioneer Sod House.  here's a link to some photos.  I had never been inside a sod house--I believe I have seen some collapsed ones out on highways as we drove someplace, but this was a real live example.  We have a great kid's book:
The New Land: A First Year on the Prairie

That helps us explain to the boys what the first European settlers on the prairie experienced when they came here...and it has a sod house in it.  What a rush it was to see light dawn for both three year olds as we went into a real (very small) sod house.  We all wondered what it would be like to spend winter in one.  Very close quarters!

I also recently came across some Manitoba legal codes from the 1870s that said which belongings could not be confiscated in case of bankruptcy.  Luckily, a spinning wheel and weaving loom were stipulated as among the essential items that could not be taken.  Whew.

Of course they were absolutely necessary to keep the family warm and clothed, but also?  for mental health reasons....

OK, that's enough prairie talk for today!  Have a good one. :)

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