Friday, September 23, 2016

the Cubby Imp

On Sesame Street, there is a segment called Abby's Flying Fairy School.  The one I can't get out of my head is called "the Cubby Imp."  Essentially, there is this lonely guy who lives beneath the cubbies at school, and he steals people's stuff.  The characters at the fairy school have to get into his little lair and retrieve all their belongings.

The thing is, our household is usually pretty good at keeping track of our stuff.  I have the same keys my parents gave me to their front door when I was eight.  I hate losing things.

When I was pregnant, over five years ago, we did a bunch of painting and moving stuff around.  Substantial parts of my fiber arts life got moved around, including my floor loom, and I was just not physically able to sort it out then.  Plus, a lot of it was still in boxes from when we'd moved the year before, because that was how I'd stored it in my office.  It's a pretty easy leap from there to conclude that I have not had loads of time to tidy since having my twins, either. :)

Since then, things have been shifted and reshifted.  I am preparing to teach at the Manitoba Fibre Festival next week.  (Please come!  It will be super!)  I have all my students' bags stuffed with goodies, and all is well except for one thing.  I cannot find my tahkli spindle.  Now, you can teach about support spindles and cotton spinning without this spindle, but I just don't wanna.  I have this spindle and its little bowl, dang it.  I do.

I think the Cubby Imp took it.  AHHHH!  Actually though, I know that I have brought it as a demo spindle to other classes I've taught.  I wonder if it got left somewhere, like at a spindling class I did last winter.  Or, more likely, I brought home everything after the workshop and dumped it in my office and thought...I'll just sort this out later.  The thing is, I am exhausted after my workshops are over, and then I have to jump right into Mommy gear, and I lose track of things.

This never happened before I had twins!  

(Clarification...I was tired after teaching workshops. I had clutter... but I cleaned up and knew where things were...nearly all the time.)

A kind friend (the one that reviewed the spindle, above) is going to bring hers so I can show everybody what one looks like at my class.  AND, I still have a week to look for the darn thing.  However, it seemed like a good opportunity to start cleaning up.  I am trying.  Still, I am plagued by feeling like this darn spindle has disappeared because of fairies, or cubby imps or something.  It kills me that I have lost MY tahkli.  I don't even want to buy another.  I want to find the one I misplaced, you know?

--If you were a student in one of my spindling classes recently and read this blog (like, in the last few years...), did you see my brass tahkli spindle with the little brown pottery bowl it spins in?  When did I last have it!?

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Kindergarten, summer's end, new and old projects

We're still playing outside every chance we is still warm enough, too.  While the twins are at the same school for starting kindergarten, they have been absolutely worn out by the start of school.  In fact, we've already had our first virus, which involved one fever, a lot of nose blowing, some coughing, and use of our new plaid handkerchiefs (a gift from Daddy, the Professor).

As the temperature cools, we will have to start going through all our very special treasures.  These involve "dinosaur bones," shells, rocks, and more, all piled up on the windowsill of the porch.  Pretty soon, we'll be either taking in the most special ones, or redistributing the ones that need to find some rock friends in the garden somewhere.

It would be a bad idea to leave these on our porch (near the glass window) in the wintertime.  The winds are big, and nobody wants to sort through rocks to play when it is -20 or colder anyhow!

  We also migrate in our plastic animals:
We do a lot of categorizing, sorting, playing and reorganizing our animals.  It is amazing how interesting this is to one of our twins:  Do you think his dad is a PhD in Zoology who spent a lot of his grad. school time sorting fruit flies?

I have been knitting (forever!) it seems on a ribbed cardigan.  This is a design I did for Knit Picks in 2006 or so.  The copyright long ago returned to me, and I decided to reknit and republish the design in a different yarn: Berroco Remix, a recycled yarn that is really interesting.

However, the design, while not complicated, has been hard to do while chasing boys this summer.  It has shaping, and a stitch pattern, and button bands.  The short version is that I have already knit THREE button bands because one was just not up to par.  Turns out that in August, supervising twins at the wading pool-- is a hard place to make a really precise and tidy button band.

Keep your eyes out for the design --coming soon! --though its release has been slower than I'd hoped. It's called "Plum Ribbed Cardigan."  It is, indeed, plum in color, but the joke is that I meant it as a Southern's full of ribbing. (plum ribbed)

After all that purple, you might just see a pair of small socks, worked up in Patons Kroy sock yarn.  These guys travelled around in my purse for months, and I'd knit a row or two when I had a moment.  It's always good to work ahead on the little boy wool sock front...because winter's always coming around here. :)  Might as well cherish this late summer/early fall sunshine as long as I can!

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Monday, September 05, 2016

Gimli-a week away at the beach

We slipped away from Winnipeg for a few days in August to visit Gimli.  There was a lot of confusion amongst twin five year olds about where we were going.  Most of our travels are across the border to the US, to visit our families.  So,  although the drive was only about an hour and a half from home, one of our guys kept asking....Is this Canada?  The other kid got Gimli mixed up with Italy somehow, perhaps because I was reading a Food & Wine magazine about Italian food that we'd been talking about.

The short answer?  Nope, not Italy!  We rented a cottage to experience it.  Most of the locals here seem to go away to a family cottage in the summer time, so we wanted to try it.  On the plus side?  We had more room than a hotel, we had access to a deck, grill, kitchen, washing machine and dryer, etc.  On the minus side?  Mommy  (and occasionally Daddy) is in charge of all the food at the cottage and all the clean up, just like at home.  That part was a lot of work.  Luckily, we tried out several restaurants in Gimli, and greatly enjoyed eating out.  I think we ate fish every single day--Gimli is on Lake Winnipeg, which is an enormous resource for fresh water fish.   including, by the way, most of the fish that goes into the jarred gefilte fish in North America...

We also did a lot of exploring.  The guys went fishing for the first time, and the spot the Professor chose just happened to have a big copse of plum trees.  Not sure if they were wild Manitoba plums or "feral" trees that had sprung from one planted tree, but I picked plums, washed,and froze them, and can foresee chutney happening once school starts.

We went to the attic of the local Municipal building, (which used to be the school building) to visit with the Huldufolk, Snorri and Snaebjorn.  These are the little 'hidden' people, derived from Icelandic folk traditions, who raise mischief and are only seen by children and 'true believers.'  We read a story about them by Kathleen Arnason.  The lights flickered, the floor creaked, and it was definitely magical.  At least one twin told us he did not believe in these things on the way there.  On the way back to the rented cottage?  He was a true believer in the Huldufolk. :)

We participated in the annual "treasure hunt" on the beach, too.  Kids search the sand for toy coins (with help from their parents) and a list of local shops all agree to take the currency.  We scrounged up a total of $4.50 or so, and with that and a twenty dollar bill from Mommy and Daddy, everyone got a special toy from Tergesen's, the 100 year old general store.  (I returned later, by myself, for a luxurious 20 minute shopping spree-- to buy one gorgeous canvas messenger bag, a skein of Icelandic Einband yarn, and copies of these huldufolk stories that had so captivated my kids.)

There are murals out on the Gimli seawall and we passed by this one of our new friends Snorri and Snaebjorn (and their friends from Iceland, Freya and Fjiola) and had to pose.  I think you'll be able to figure out who the huldufolk are and which ones are the twins?

Finally, we spent some time out on the beach.  The winds were pretty brisk, which caused a lot of waves.  (This is a seriously big lake.  It has waves.)  So, twins did a lot of digging in the sand and searching with Daddy--the professor-- for fossils and lucky stones.  Mommy (me) spent most of the time parked on the sand, using every body part to weight down our beach umbrella, play tent, and other sand toys and belongings.  There wasn't a lot of swimming, although there was wading on one calmer day, with two sets of fancy floaties involved.  I strongly suspect that all the boys had a better time with the rocks, since the professor can identify a lot of the fossils, and at least one of my twins is a budding paleontologist...
We've been home now for a couple of weeks, and things have been busy.  Packing and unpacking for this trip, keeping everyone fed and occupied and safe from his brother, has been a pretty full time occupation.  Plus, we fit in apple picking, trips to the zoo, visits to the little free libraries and more... I'm pretty worn out.  However, tomorrow is the 'meet your new teachers' day at school, and we start back for real, for our first day of kindergarten, on Wednesday.

I think the boys are ready for school, and it definitely will be like vacation for me to have a few twin-free days when school starts.  Work--back at my computer-- or getting our household in order again?  ...begins to sound like paradise.

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Friday, August 19, 2016

Introducing Nanodistal!

 Celebrate the dog days of August with me...with the Distal Trio.

Put DistalGigadistal and Nanodistal into your Ravelry shopping cart by the end of August, and spend only $10!  That's $5 off, and it's a chance to knit every version of this Distal Trio at a big discount.  Cause it's summer, and I like treats when it's hot out. :)

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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Permission to Experiment--on PLY's blog

Giving ourselves permission to break the rules is a luxury.
Often, when I teach spinning, I hear a newbie say “Am I doing this right?” or “Am I following the rules?” I usually call the entire class to attention to address this issue. If we focus on human history, we have to acknowledge that as a species, we’d have gotten way too cold (hypothermic even) and died out in the wilderness if there were only one way to spin. Ever since we stopped exclusively wearing animal skins and started producing textiles, folks have been spinning.

....Want to read more?  Visit PLY magazine's Blog to read this article!

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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Societal Supports...and reinventing mini golf

Here's my most recent CBC opinion piece.  It's a serious one, about some of the violence we've been facing daily and where it might come from.  (and we face it both in the media and in the world...)
Avoiding the boiling point: Society must help prevent violence

That is a sharp contrast to our household August activities here, which involve a lot of unstructured play time.  Turns out we really needed time off--from camp and school.  It's a lot of hands-on parenting time for me.  I alternate between loving being outdoors and with all this creative kid energy, and feeling like I might explode from frustration and boredom...not getting to work, make dinner, do anything by myself or even get to the bathroom while managing twins.  :)  (a normal parental response, I expect!)  I am often trailing my guys while carrying my knitting or a spindle or my iPad.  It can sometimes be hard to keep up with work email while managing the finer points of play and arbitrating conflicts.

A few days ago, we were out in the yard, and the guys created their own version of mini golf.  We'd played it last December in Florida, and apparently, if my twins have a few kid gardening implements, you spill out a toy bin or two, and the front walk?  You can create a golfing course.  Who knew?

Today, my lovely professor has both guys off at a park, racing around on their new bikes with training wheels.  This is a good break and a distraction--I'm having some more interrupted sleep- 2 and 3 AM wake up sessions with little boys- and I had so hoped we were over this already!  (at about 4.5 years old, my guys finally started sleeping consistently through the night.  Except for lately.)

 I needed a bit of twin-free time.  I canned 5 pints of bread and butter pickles...and wrote this.  A fabulous chance to catch up a bit.  The refrigerator now has 4 lbs less in the way of cucumbers, and I had a moment to connect with you.  For the moment, it's all sunshine, and it's all good.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

from afar

I have been celebrating from afar.

Back in 2014, I wrote about Hillary Clinton's visit to Winnipeg.  At the time, it seemed amazing to me how quick the reporting and the name-calling became inappropriate.  Somehow, if a well-respected, well-known man visits and his speech demands a high speaking fee, it is not always news.

Unfortunately, in the last couple of years, the rhetorical race to the bottom has been speedy, with lots of horrible, inappropriate, undignified things being said... but now, I think it is safe and ok to say that I am thrilled that a woman has gotten the Democratic party's nomination for president.

It's been a quiet month around here, lots of medical appointments and things to take care of, but I woke up this morning and I still wanted a little something.  A celebration.

Yesterday, we celebrated at home because the Professor helped host the twins' summer camp for the day.  They had a visit to the biology department, the greenhouse, the museum, and to sit in a real life university auditorium and hear their daddy talk about his work with bugs.  The boys were thrilled.   Their dad was pleased.  We ate dessert on a weeknight--ice cream and sorbet--and celebrated.  (And yes, my boys play with their Bug Finger Puppets...and your kids can, too!  Download a pattern on sale and get knitting your own dragonfly!)

So, I wore Gigadistal with a dress I'd made and new leggings with flowers on them!  I went out to lunch with a friend who is an amazingly capable person (and mom of five kids...).  I wrote like crazy and I am hopeful that at least one and maybe two new articles will come out soon.  I am trying to make the most of my work time, because camp ends on Friday!  Full-court press twin summer activities begin right afterwards....and we'll be playing soccer, going to the wading pool, trying out our bike training wheels and generally having fun outside, I hope.  Have I mixed my sports metaphors enough for now?  (klutzy writer here, SO not a sports-fan...)

So I am ending July with a celebratory flash sale on Ravelry.  Get 20% off all my Ravelry designs until the end of July with this coupon code:

I hope your meadows are full of Doug the Dragonfly and not Manny the Mosquito.  Maybe at night you will see Luna the moth?

And all the time, we can celebrate that the first woman has earned the US presidential nomination.  No matter your politics, it is a super first for equality and equal representation under law.  It's about time.

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