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Let's celebrate summer!  Every year for maybe five years now, I've participated in the Canada KAL (Knit Along) by offering a discount on all my Ravelry patterns!  This year, I'm also offering four free patterns to folks who participate in knit along.  To find out more, check out the Designed in Canada Ravelry group here.

To cut right to the chase, my patterns are all on sale until midnight (ends CT, Canada and the US, on Canada Day, July 1st.  To get 25% off, just use the coupon code:
Cankal2019

Hint: You can use this discount even if you don't want to knit along with anyone else!
In other news...This past week or two has been a bit rocky.  I described some of it in this column I wrote for the Jewish Independent.  It's called Being positive can be hard.

Cause, yes, it has been a bit difficult to be positive.  My car still has two broken windows. We have had more than two weeks of sidewalk and street construction right beside our house.  Last, but not least, before we knew that the construction was happening, we scheduled a renovation job....and had insulation shot into the walls of our house.

On the good side, getting insulation into our 100 year old, empty walls, will be amazing in the winter time now.  Hopefully, when you stand by an outer wall inside our house this winter, it will not feel like the dementors from Harry Potter are sucking out your soul!  On the bad side, there was a lot of drilling, blowing, and other construction sounds to add to the jack hammering on the street.  It was a long few days.  (And we still have more renos happening in July.)  We've been hoping to do this work for a long time, so now I just have to grin and bear it!

I've also been doing a big editing job so haven't had a chance to write up a knitting pattern for a while...or frankly, think much beyond what we would have for dinner.  As a little palette cleanser, I took a ball of Japanese cellulose yarn that my brother-in-law and sister-in-law brought me back from Japan and I turned into this little crocheted pouch.  That wasn't enough though, I had to make a lining and a zipper, too.  It turned out ok, too!  Here it is, blocking, with a plastic bin inside to make it stand upright. Sometimes making something, from start to finish, and ending up with a useful item helps combat the feeling of chaos all around me...

Right as the insulation job was starting, we found out that they would not be able to drill all the holes on the outside of the house.  So, the professor and one of my twins worked all last weekend to move anything fragile or delicate out of the way.  This is what my office looks like right now.  There's just a bit of room on the edge of the futon, between the wheels and the loom bench, for me to sit while working, and if Sadie the dog is careful, she can sleep near me on the futon, or on my foot.  It's cramped.  (And it will all be moved again, after the walls are spackled and repainted.  It might be a while...)  Happy summer projects!

Check out my downloadable patterns and other writing at: http://www.joanneseiff.com
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 I recently had an article come out in Ply magazine!  The editors asked me to post about it on social media using this snapshot of my writing. (click on it to embiggen to read it)  I haven't received my magazine yet in Canada...but people have asked me for more info.

I first heard about it via a reader query on Ravelry, saying she liked the cowl I was wearing in the article!  (uhh, I didn't think I'd sent a photo with a cowl in it.)  Oh, she said, had I designed this lacy teal leaf cowl?  Could she purchase it?  Ummm...this is when I wondered if I'd lost my mind. Was it lack of sleep, the street construction jack hammering noise or something else?  I'd designed a lot of cowls, but teal?  Leafy? Lace?  Huh.

Turns out the photos featured with this article don't match anything I sent in my submission. (This happens to freelancers.) The woman featured isn't me, and not sporting any of the cowls, scarves, or shawls I have designed!  (Note, my designs work well in handspun!)  I use commercial yarns in most my design samples to make substitution easier for those who don't spin, but there is always plenty of info for spinners who want to supply their handspun for the patterns.

A friend noticed that the lady in the article didn't look like me.  (She's older, for one) She sent me some photos so I could see the article.  Here are some photos I took for this article that illustrate the messy cop process if you're curious to learn more...my cops look different from what I saw featured there. (These photos weren't published, I own copyright, so they're mine to use as I like.)
#1. Use scrap paper or a stiff bit of cardboard to wrap around the spindle.  Tuck the end of the leader so it sticks out of the bottom of the spindle, towards your hand, for easy access later on.  Wind solely onto the scrap paper for ease of removal later.  I started with blue so you can see the leader clearly in the next photo.

#2 As the cop progresses, wind on however you'd like, as messy as you want --the end result is a ball-- but make sure you can still see that (blue) leader yarn at the bottom so you know you could do a center pull ball for plying later.  Keep the cop on your scrap paper quill.


 #3.  When the spindle no longer spins consistently in the right direction, it's full and too heavy to work effectively.  Gently pull the (round) ball off the spindle shaft, holding onto those two ends.  The paper/cardboard quill inside should remain intact inside the ball.


#4.  Take your ball and wind the two ends together onto a nostepinde or distaff for ease in plying.  If you do not have this tool, you can use: A smooth stick, a yard stick, a pencil, another spindle shaft...whatever's convenient.  I tend to tuck the nostepinde under one armpit when I ply, so if that's your practice, make sure the stick is long enough for this to be comfortable. Armpit sizes vary!
Note: The blue leader is still visible, you can see where I pulled it out of the center pull ball to begin to wind the two plies together.

#5. To complete the plying, you're again putting on the scrap paper, leader at the bottom, and twisting your two plies in the opposite direction.  There were will be no leftovers as you are spinning from both ends of a single messy cop/ball rather than two separate ones.

#6.  If you're making a 4 ply yarn, you're ready to go with the cop on a piece of scrap paper...you can easily access both ends of the ball to ply again.  If not, slip the 2-ply yarn off the spindle: it's ready to skein up so you can wash and set the twist.

OK, that's the whole story!  You don't have to wind on in any kind of zen-tidy way!  Your yarn making will still work just fine.  I hope this is helpful...do leave a comment if you have questions and I'll try to check back to answer them.
All the best,
Joanne
Check out my downloadable patterns and other writing at: http://www.joanneseiff.com
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This photo features what the Canadian Oath of Citizenship SHOULD say if the government passes a bill to update it to meet one of the points in the Truth and Reconciliation's 94 calls to action

Here's a link to my opinion piece that came out today on the CBC-Manitoba website:

'What will you do to further reconciliation?' Canadians need to act on MMIWG inquiry's calls for justice

I wrote this piece in response to being asked this "What will you do' question. In responding, I was reflecting on how all the inquiries seem to request  many similar things from the people and government of Canada... And few or none of the-totally valid-points are being dealt with properly or promptly in response.

(In other--less important-- household news, it's Shavuot, my kids have had way too much ice cream this weekend, and they also did very well at their first piano recital.  There's a lot going on, all at once-as usual- at my house.)
Check out my downloadable patterns and other writing at: http://www.joanneseiff.com
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 During June, we have many hours of sunshine in Winnipeg.  We get up earlier and stay up later, and things seem very busy.  The birds are singing, it's bright daylight at 5AM, and we're doing all the things except sleeping enough.  Last weekend was especially busy, as these gentlemen turned 8.  Yes, eight years old!!  (Yup, they do not look like this anymore!  My twins have new hats....)

We were very busy with planting our garden, eating gelati with some of our favorite grown ups, and having a special kids' birthday at the university greenhouse last Sunday with a few kid friends.  Yes, the professor was loaned a key to the greenhouse and did the tours--there are a few advantages to having a biology professor dad!
I made cupcakes.  They tasted pretty good, but it is obvious that I did, indeed, fail the icing and piping section of the breads and desserts class. I took this course as a senior at Cornell...I'd already finished most of the coursework for my double major.  It was an elective at the Cornell hotel school. I can make a really presentable loaf of rustic whole wheat bread, but somehow, no one wants that with a candle in it on his eighth birthday!  Go figure.

On Monday, I worked like crazy, trying to catch up on my worklife after the big festivities.  This was complicated by the city's plans to fix some sidewalks near our house.  There was a lot of jackhammering. It's truly hard to write and edit when the house is shaking. 

Tuesday, I hopped in the car at lunch hour to run errands and looked in my rear view mirror.  I prepared to back out.  Then I noticed this.  It's not really clear if this was vandalism (and there is this kind of window breaking vandalism in our neighbourhood...) or if it was just the vibrations from the jackhammer.  Needless to say, I was a little shaken up.  (Note my very annoyed reflection in the glass there...)
The professor kindly brought the car to an autobody shop, where they treated my bright yellow, 16 year old Pontiac Aztek like it was a unicorn.  They told him there were no replacement parts in Canada, they don't make this anymore. It would take 3-4 weeks to get the replacement glass from Minnesota. And-- if it did not work out, well, they would have to total my-low mileage, entirely functional, reasonably fuel efficient- car.  (Please insert your bad words of choice here.)  Needless to say, we're going to try to make the repair work out.

In an effort to try to be cheery, despite the jack hammering outside, (AHHHHHH!), here is my latest article in the Jewish Independent:
See the light inside everyone

And, despite the sidewalk construction noise, the port-a-potty across the street, the workers leaving their lunch trash in front of my house....and smoking near my old wooden house, --even though we've got a fire ban going on--(it's dry as heck here), well, I'm trying really hard to see that light.

Note: Sometime soon, I will post about my new article in PLY Magazine's spindle issue.  Probably after the jack hammering stops...
Check out my downloadable patterns and other writing at: http://www.joanneseiff.com
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The Electric Company - Put Down the Duckie (with epilogue) - YouTube
The Jewish Independent has just published my article, "Put down "the ducky" in shul.
(Shul is a Yiddish word for synagogue, it's a place where we learn so the word also means 'school.')

This article is about how we sometimes have to put away our cell phones/social media in order to be part of a real life community.  And, you know, I cannot help myself, I'm referring to Sesame Street and using social media to make my point. :)

Enjoy the video, if you don't already know this fabulous Top Ten hit...  As someone who used to play saxophone, I can't recommend it enough!
Check out my downloadable patterns and other writing at: http://www.joanneseiff.com
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I finished the first pair of mitts from the Saltwater Mittens book.  While they were still waterlogged and drying on the (now cold) radiator, both my twins started an absolute brawl over who would get them.  Needless to say, I've started a second pair.  In case you have this kind of near bloody enthusiasm at your house, I've provided links to the book.

In other news, I have been busy at work on helping edit a new edition of a Diabetes health book....

However, it's tick season...so another writer asked me some questions-- she was doing a piece on Lyme disease in Canada.  Here's a link to the piece in the Toronto Sun.  (Yes, I'm that person who had Lyme disease...) I've written a lot about it, but it needs a lot more media coverage in Canada.  Bonus for writers and editors out there: I got to use the insidious in a quote.

We're preparing for a big birthday weekend--my twins turn 8 soon.  They helped me shop for favours yesterday at the dollar store.  It's going to be a blast...a bunch of kids in the university greenhouse.  Wish us luck that no one backs into a cactus!
Check out my downloadable patterns and other writing at: http://www.joanneseiff.com
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Here's my latest CBC article:
Can you see me now? Time to stop judging each other and value middle-age women
(Note: This ridiculous photo from the article is it's exactly how I don't want to look!)
Also? Happy May Long Weekend, Canadians!  We're getting in a lot of dog walks and play time...but it's definitely not warm enough yet to plant a garden in Winnipeg or anything crazy like that.  Maybe in June...
Check out my downloadable patterns and other writing at: http://www.joanneseiff.com
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The last few weeks have been frenetic around here.  Since before Passover, a month ago, I have been super busy--first with all the household preparations, as my husband, the professor, was out of town before the holiday, and then afterwards, with catching up on all the work that seemed to fall between the cracks.  I've been doing some editing, writing, and even some designing. 
Then, the news (shootings, floods, wars) has been fairly daunting, too--and after a while, a person feels run down.  My piece last week for the Vancouver paper, The Jewish Independent, as about this issue and how to do a little self-care in order to cope.  It's called Staying calm amid bad news.
One thing that kept me busy was getting ready to teach a handspinning class in our local fibre arts community.  I both love teaching and feel a bit out of practice...I started my career teaching full time, but now work almost entirely by myself.  That transition from 'extrovert' job to an introverted lifestyle has meant that sometimes I have to really psych myself up and prepare to do a teaching job.  I still love doing it, but I don't get to do it as often now.  
On Mother's Day, I joined five women who seemed as determined as I was to take time to enjoy themselves and learn something new--and the break did us all good!  
This first photo is of the bags of samples I created for the class: eight different kinds of silk, mohair and alpaca, all weighed and measured in a cheerful and reusable bag in spring time patterns, complete with lists of where to buy resources and more.  I also brought along my books to share for those who were interested in a signed copy.  
These days, many of my students seem surprised to hear that I did actually write books on these topics!  (Alas, although they are still for sale, fame is so fleeting!)  If you missed your chance to take a class on Mother's Day, you can, of course, always order the books online.  Here's a link to Fiber Gathering and Knit Green for good measure...If you live locally, I can also sign your books if you're interested.  (If you live far away, postage may be prohibitive.) 
Meanwhile, back at our household, the Professor and my twins did piano lessons, grocery shopping, and playing with our dogs on their own...and surprised me with flowers and a sushi dinner as a treat.  Sometimes a break from routine, some learning, and some time spent doing something you love... is a good thing! 
Check out my downloadable patterns and other writing at: http://www.joanneseiff.com
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Here is my latest article from the Jewish Independent.  It's called:

Goats out in the wilderness
I wrote it just before the synagogue shooting in Poway, but with only a couple of edits, it was sadly still relevant.  It's about people, goats like Azazel --and vulnerability.

The piece surprisingly, owes a lot to the research I did for Fiber Gathering, where I met a lot of goatherds, fibre goats, and learned a lot about how they raised them.

The first two photos here are from Crete, where people raise many goats in somewhat free range conditions.  At bottom, there's a photo of me making friends with a goat at a festival.  My husband, the professor, caught me talking to the goat and took my photo...about 12 years ago now!

Check out my downloadable patterns and other writing at: http://www.joanneseiff.com
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If you've been reading my blog for a long, long time, you may remember this post back in 2006, where I mentioned lead contamination in our yard in Kentucky.  This is a snapshot of our yard, including my Professor husband, setting out the paths in our very 'fancy' lead remediation so we could have a garden.

Around this time, in March 2006, I'd written a long, detailed article explaining how to deal with this lead contamination issue and what it meant for safety.  I could not get anyone to buy it!  However, I tucked it away. For years it bugged me because I really did want people to know about these issues.

Sad to say, heavy metal contamination isn't rare...it's relevant to Winnipeg, too.  My article came out today on the CBC-Manitoba website:
Time to stop kicking the can down the road on lead levels in Winnipeg's soil

I'm hoping someone in power will read it.  There's somebody at the U. of Manitoba in the School of the Environment who has the right equipment to test lead. There's plenty of public interest and people want to fix this problem so school kids can play during recess.  If they must sample more, they could dig samples, cover the costs of running the tests at the U of M, and have the answers very quickly.  If they can't afford a real remediation team with diggers?  I bet if you gave concerned citizens a chance, well, we'd be out there with our shovels to start the digging and we'd wear masks to avoid ingesting it.  This is just an unacceptable thing, to keep children from playing on their school field and to leave for someone else to deal with later.

In other, happier topics:  The sun was shining for a moment and we caught photos of a new design today!  I am excited about beginning to write it up.  No big reveal yet, but it solves the problem of portable knitting for those on the go but who want to make sweaters.  Hint: It is knit in seven (totally portable) pieces. There is sewing up at the end, but I don't mind sewing, so it works out ok!

Last but not least--please don't forget:
the Pembina Fibreshed is sponsoring my Spinners' Tasting class--it's a chance to sample mohair, silk and alpaca (and maybe more...)!  It's on Mother's Day, in the afternoon.
  Please consider signing up if you're a spinner in Winnipeg!

I'll leave you with a photo from Fiber Gathering so you can think about camelids (alpacas and llamas are camelids!) while you rush to sign up!

Here's a cashmere buck (that's a boy goat!), for good measure....
Check out my downloadable patterns and other writing at: http://www.joanneseiff.com
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