Friday, April 13, 2018

What's going on over there?

 Just before we got Sadie, I thought--I'm about to finish a knitted tunic!  (It's a Nutkin variation in navy Briggs & Little Tuffy yarn, designed to stand up to hard wear in our household.)  However, the tunic features pockets, and my house keys often wear holes in knitwear pockets.  So, I sewed two little pocket inserts on my sewing machine out of matching cotton fabric remnants...but the tunic isn't done yet.

Since getting Sadie, it's been all about managing our new dog, our new dog with our old dog, twins, and household.  Yesterday I did something crazy for myself. I went to my physio (physical therapy) exercise class.  I crated Sadie and left her at home for about an hour and a half.  When I got back, her brand new wire crate looked like this:
Shed pushed out the tray on the bottom, cracked and chewed it, bent the crate wires, and shredded towels and sheets that were both above and below the tray.  Oh, and she finished the peanut butter in her chew toy Kong, in case you were wondering... (Yeah.  Not good.)  So, we've got a dog with (note irony) a little separation anxiety and some crate issues.

Since yesterday: We've bought a plastic hard sided, smaller crate.  I've taken Sadie to the vet for a once-over, and for the short term, we're getting some nice drugs to help her calm down so she can be in the crate for a little while at a time, or to sleep in at night.  --Ain't no way I am leaving this dog alone in our house, free range, if she can do this to a crate.  We're doing more walks (vet approved, even though she just had spay surgery on Wednesday) and more training.

And last night, with the first attempt at calming drugs, new crate, etc., she was only quiet and calm on her own in the crate from about midnight until 5.  I am tired.

So, new dogs cost a lot of money!  Last month, I had a marvelous run of pattern sales over at Loveknitting.com.  I was so thrilled!  Then, April came, and drum roll....on both Ravelry and Loveknitting, I have sold a total of ONE pattern this month.  ONE!  So, when the fees are taken out of that?  It's worth about the same amount as ordering a single cup of coffee at a coffee joint.  I emailed the Loveknitting folks, and it turns out they wrote something in a March newsletter that encouraged people to do a pattern search--and this helped knitters find my patterns.  Since then, Nada.

To boost business, I took out a Ravelry advertisement for a few days.  Lots of people are clicking on these ads...So this is a pitch.  Are you a knitter?  Do you like knitting my designs?

If so, please share your projects on Ravelry, link to my design pages, and feel free to talk up patterns you like to your knitter friends.  ...Cause I have an expensive crate-eating dog over here....and I'm going to need more sleep before I can begin even thinking about writing more articles and patterns this week!

This Soft Basket, featured in this photo, is currently filled with dog toys at our house.
Stripe Freestyle, in the ad below, is currently in use--the 6 year old in the photo is wearing it today at school!

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Welcome Sadie!

We brought home our new Gordon Setter mix dog, Sadie, yesterday.
  She is about a year and a half old and weighs around 60 lbs (27 kilo).  She's just gotten fixed so is requiring a fair amount of attention, as any new dog should!  Winnipeg Animal Services Agency said she was a stray.  We know nothing other than a birthday,which may be a guess.

Potty training--yes, I think she was, but I do not know what words were used. I tried all the likely English ones and a little French. She could have been trained in Cree, Ojibway-Cree, or Mandarin, for all we know.
Crate training was clearly not a strong suit.  She has already bent some wires, torn up sheets and puppy pads and raises heck when crated. She even sings (not just barking) like an opera singer. (Common bird dog trait, especially in young lively ones.). She does settle down eventually.  We did not sleep a ton last night. :)
She is quiet and clingy when loose in the house with us.  She wants to be near her humans and cuddling with them all the time.  I am the top favorite, but she definitely likes her male family members. too.  Sally, our 13 year old pointer mix, is mostly ok with things.  She missed Harry, our dog who died, and seems glad for company.  She does get annoyed occasionally (who wouldn't!?) and lets Sadie know it.
Sadie is currently resting next to me in my office...she is extremely worried about losing me (entirely understandable, given her recent shelter experience) and stays close all the time.  Last night the Professor had a dinner meeting.  I bathed both boys in the bathroom by myself with the new dog in the room, too. Crowded!

She is a gorgeous big dog, very gentle, and really loving.  Not good at all walking on a leash yet, that is something to work on.  It's hard to see in these photos, but she is very narrow, tall and long.  A 42" crate was the right size.  
After the boys were in bed, Sadie helped me do chores in the kitchen.  She helped move around a dish towel that we used to clean up after she had a big drink of water and dribbled everywhere.
It was very hard work.  Here she is,in the middle of our (not very big) kitchen.
Please join us in giving Sadie a warm welcome home.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Taking steps towards future...

So, this year, my kids needed multiple pairs of mitts, as always...someone's always showing up with wet or (momentarily) lost mitts at the last moment.  -And by the way, they are still wearing at least one pair of mitts, snowpants, parkas, and hats to school every day.  The high is -1C today (just below freezing) and the low for tonight is -10C. (14F)  It's currently overcast and...flurrying.  However, with someone sick at home from December until April, my knitting output has been limited.  The latest has involved the Professor and both twins, three separate illnesses, as best we can figure out.  Between three guys, four sets of antibiotics, one allergic reaction, some fevers, some unexplained ongoing stuff...it's been a heck of a winter for illness around here.
This is the year when I began to see how longterm investments pay off. :)
...Meals I put into the freezer for later, bulk buying that worked out when I couldn't get to the grocery store or we didn't do laundry, the whole nine yards of planning ahead for a "rainy day."
These white mitts are the top layer for a cold day.  Underneath are these are a pair of The Hole Inside Mitts and a homemade mitt liner. (to keep things dry and windproof.)  Where did the white mitts come from?  This, friends, is a pair of size small women's mitts.  I spun and knit these for myself while I was in university.  They are probably 23 or 24 years old, give or take.  (I was the kid who brought her trusty Ashford spinning wheel to the dorm.  Really.)  These have never been fancy, show off mitts but have been worn, off and on, for years.  This year they got nearly daily use for a while.  They looked a bit dingy, so I washed them.  That's it.  Medium wool, spun into a chunky single, knit using an old Penny Straker mitten pattern.
Many of my projects are in use throughout our house.  I don't "see" them most days, but on a winter like this one, I began to notice things I've made--and use-- again.  I am beginning to update some of my Love knitting patterns. Some of them used small batch yarns that are hard to get, and maybe I could make suggestions...so I'm doing it, a little at a time.  Here are some examples:  I noticed the Ploughed Acre Socks had a project over on Ravelry worked up in a widely available yarn, Dream in Color Smooshy.  They look great!  So, I've updated the pattern to suggest that yarn.
My Zafu cushion is still hard at work in our house.  It's currently in use as one of my twin's "quiet corner," which involves a big old box, a dark sheet, the cushion inside, and some special quiet toys to keep him busy while he's hiding out in there.  The cushion has been well used and loved.  The Churro rug yarn wears like iron!  However, it's hard to find, Churro is a rare breed wool. Several people have worked up this pattern on Ravelry.  The most interesting options include yarns I hadn't thought about.  They include: multiple strands of mill end yarns, three strands of Red Heart Super Saver (an inexpensive, hard wearing acrylic yarn) and more.  I don't usually use acrylic, but I can really appreciate the reasoning of this knitter...she wanted an inexpensive project with lasting results--and she planned for everyone to put their feet on this.  So, she wanted to make something easily washable, too.  Everybody makes choices based on their household's needs...I get that.
One of my pleasures as a designer is watching others quietly create different and interesting versions of an idea that first came out of my head long ago.  Each pattern available as a weird eternal life that I love seeing as it evolves...and some of the originals also have staying power!
Thoughts like these have been heartening during this winter.  There have been days when I did not feel well enough to knit, or could not manage much knitting after doing all the chores by myself.  (The professor was down like a fallen tree for a while, he was really sick.)  However, if I looked around, I realized there was plenty of knitwear around the house to buoy us forward.  We have extra handknit afghans for those days on the couch, and a felted sweater blanket as an extra layer on the bed.
I wish this long winter were over already and everyone in our household felt better!  In the meanwhile though, planning ahead for that unknown future need seems to be serving us well.

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Thursday, March 29, 2018

Kids Speak Truth to Power

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Art and Science about Wool

I also played with photos of Woolly-a kid's design that is available on both Ravelry and Loveknitting.com.  I am still learning how one adjusts photos and designs to make line drawings...it was fun experimentation.

My husband, the professor, wanted to pass along a new study about sheep and curly hair research here:
Merino Sheep provide Clue to Curly Hair

And now I am back to spring break with little boys and getting ready for Passover!

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Monday, March 19, 2018

Is knitting design art?

I would be the first to say that I like to make useful things.  Things that become well-used, well loved, and worn until they wear out.  this has been true about many (but not all!) of the sweaters I make for my twins.  This year, for the first time, I wrote patterns for something I was doing anyway.  The patterns themselves were untidy and needed work before I published them (a lot of editing!), but the sweaters have been workhorses.  The sweater pictured here, Stripe Freestyle, has been worn perhaps every other day since I finished it.  The professor washed both Woolly and Stripe Freestyle the night before last, and I set them both out to dry (doing a little stretching and reblocking) on the basement playroom floor.  Then, last night, I used the Gleener on them --AGAIN--to get rid of as many pills as I could.

This AM, the sweaters were back in rotation and two little boys headed out the door to grade 1 in the same sweaters. It's hard to argue with that level of enthusiasm.

There are a lot of technical writing details to writing or knitting a pattern, and these were no different than any other.  However, I am terrible at doing sketches of my designs.  This deficit often keeps me from pitching to magazines or yarn companies' call for submissions--it just takes me forever to do the sketch, and since these pitches are all a gamble, I don't often do it.  I don't know if someone will choose my rudimentary sketches, and I'd rather just get to knitting the sweater and writing the pattern.  My architect father-in-law showed me an app long ago that turns a photo into a sketch, and C4LA sitting around on my iPad ever since.

I decided to play around with the photos of Stripe Freestyle to see what it looked like.  The funny thing is that Woolly sells more patterns (so far) than Stripe Freestyle...but Stripe Freestyle is more useful on a daily basis.  It is getting more wear.  So, what makes a sweater more usable, more beautiful, more serviceable than its sibling?  They both use the same yarns and were made at the same time, in roughly the same size...

I think that it has a lot to do with the personality of the person choosing the sweaters...Woolly's owner feels that many more of the handknit sweaters fit him and are acceptable to him.  Stripe Freestyle's owner, twin A, basically would live in his sweater, day and night, if he had the opportunity.  Nothing else compares.

I am enthralled by the ease of clicking a button, doing a little editing, and getting these sketches instead of the photos.  Does it make anything art?  I don't know--but as long as we end up warm in the winter time as a result of the sweaters?  I keep knitting and designing.

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Friday, March 09, 2018

Fierce

I think you'd have to be fierce like a lion to be a fundraiser in the Jewish community.  (Note homemade lion Purim costume for emphasis...he wore an orange -handknit-sweater and a pair of pants with a big handmade tail, too...!)

I read this article about harassment of women who work as fundraisers in the Jewish community, published by the JTA, and it really bothered me.  I followed it up by writing this opinion piece, which was published by the Jewish Independent this week:
A need for ethical guidelines
(My working title was something along the lines of: Ritual Sacrifice?  Or sacrificing fundraisers?)

On the broader topic, I've written little so far that specifically addresses the #MeToo movement.  That isn't because I have nothing to say.  I have so much to say that I don't know where to start.  The problem is so pervasive.  The worst part is that I haven't encountered a single woman who doesn't have something to say about this, based on her lived experience.

For me, it seemed so clear when I had a brief conversation at the dining room table with my mom and she said something like "Oh, what's coming out now is only the tip of the iceberg."  We talked about how we'd handled it previously, often with laughter. For a long time, all you could do is talk about the harassment or awful unwanted attention/physical assaults with your female friends and family and---laugh.  It was embarrassing and awful and...there was little one could do to fix things. Bringing up these issues in public only resulted in shame. It potentially also drew more abuse--as if we, as victims, caused this unwanted male attention, touch or assault. (If I'd only worn something else, sat in a public area, taken a different train...the list goes on.) This movement is a first step in a long process.

As a writer, I feel obligated to amplify unjust things as I can.  I am not fierce or as brave as some of these professionals who spoke out in a way that threatened their livelihood...but I owe it to them to step up and help.

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