Thursday, December 24, 2015

White Christmas in Saskatchewan

We've had steady soft snow for the last day and a bit so it will certainly be a white Christmas here in our little corner of the Canadian Prairies.  We generally get snow in the form of high winds and nasty temperatures but this snow is like someone gently shook a snow globe.  As with everything else about this winter so far, we'll take it.

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate!  May the love and joy of the season be with you all!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

get them while they're young

One of the core philosophies that guided my life as a teacher is that learners must see themselves as learners.  To that end, a child must believe that he is a reader to become a reader; she must believe that she is able to succeed before she actually succeeds.  A positive attitude is crucial to learning.

We know that instinctively when our kids are very young.  We make a big deal out of our little ones learning to walk and talk; we encourage them as they develop fine and gross motor skills.

I certainly see this theory in action when I teach new spinners.  Children pick it up much more easily than most adults.  I think it's because adults have the mindset that it will be difficult to learn and kids don't have any preconceived notions about learning this new skill.

To me, this is a no-brainer as I groom my granddaughter to learn to spin.

When she sees me spin (which I often do when she's here because she needs to see me as a model for spinning) she asks if she can spin on her Ladybug wheel.  We have to set her up at the fireplace hearth because her legs aren't long enough for her to put her feet on the treadles from any chair.  I push the drive wheel and she holds the leader yarn.  In her mind she is a spinner.

Yep, it's best to get them while they're young.

Sunday, December 20, 2015


Of course the extremely mild fall temperatures couldn't last here north of the 49th parallel.  We haven't had deep freeze weather yet but we now have enough snow to cover the ground and some fog has given us these lovely trees covered in hoar frost.

Friday, December 11, 2015

a sad day

Our fibre community suffered a huge blow yesterday with the loss of friend and mentor, Deb Behm.  She was a gifted fibre artist, teacher, writer, and friend.

Deb taught fibre arts in our community for a long time through city programming at the library, as the Resident Fibre Artist at the Neil Balkwill Arts Centre for more than 20 years, as an active member of the Regina Weavers and Spinners Guild, and through Golden Willow Natural Fiber shop classes and drop-ins.  And that long list just hits the highlights of her involvement in our community.  She also taught for Olds College during Fibre Week and was a contributor to Spin Off and Ply magazines.  She earned a SOAR scholarship to the Spin Off Autumn Retreat in California a few years ago and while there was honoured with the Gisela and Bill Evitt Scholarship which is awarded to individuals who work with children and youth, teaching them how to spin, knit, weave, or felt.

Deb was also a student and teacher of yoga and she used her fibre practices as meditation opportunities.  This is evident in her beautifully written blog, Heart Like a Wheel.  Click the link to see her last post when she knew cancer had returned.  I reread it today and it made me cry.  Further browsing on her blog will demonstrate her clever and sometimes irreverent humour and her interest in social justice.

I remember Deb telling me about visiting with her friend and spindle maker extraordinaire, Ed Tabachek, at Olds Fibre Week each year.  Ed would bring new spindles in the trunk of his car and Deb said that she loved to get a chance to see and buy some in the parking lot before he set up his booth in the vendor area.  Ed recently succumbed to cancer too and I hope that he and Deb can spin together again where pain can't touch them.

Deb loved spiders and bats.  I knit this square as part of a throw that her friends made for her in November as a 'warm hug' from us.
Farewell, my friend.  You will be missed.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

so excited!

This special little girl is so excited!  December is a big month for her because she has a birthday and Christmas two weeks apart.  It's hard to believe she's only been in our lives for three years.

She must be in a growth spurt because she is a little noshing machine.  The other day, when she was starting on her second mandarin orange, she told me, "I am literally hungry."  

it's got to be El Nino

So here we are in December and we're still having October weather.

This afternoon was 7C (45F)!  To put that in perspective, the average high for this date is -6.5C (21F) and we usually have some good sized snow banks by now.

Most people around here are not complaining.

The public library has hosted a Maker's Fair the last couple of years and the Regina Weavers and Spinners Guild participates.  As we were carrying our wheels and looms in and out of the library on the weekend, while wearing summer shoes and light jackets, we remembered driving through a snow storm to last year's event.  

We introduced a lot of people, mostly children, to spinning and weaving. It always amazes me how quickly children learn these skills.  They don't have the mindset that it will be difficult which is what gets in the way of most adults when they get started.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

thoughts about socks

Thoughts about sock heels, specifically.  

My go to sock is a top down sock.  I can knit it without paying particular attention.  It fits my foot well.  I can use the old Sock Wizard software that we still have on the aging desktop PC.

Sometimes, though, I feel the need to experiment, to give my brain a chance to make new synapses.  Although I've done toe up socks in various ways, I've never been totally happy with the way they fit my feet.  I have very narrow heels.  When they measure my feet in shoe stores they always tell my foot is a narrow AA and my heel is an even narrower AAAA.  

The sock that fits my heel the worst is this one Pretty yarn but there is way too much room in the heel.  Short row heels are a bad fit too.  I have decided that a flap and gusset heel is best because it draws the yarn in nice and snugly.

I knit this sock with the Sock Wizard program for a toe up sock.
The heel turn seems to take many more rows than the top down patterns so that it curves over the heel and pushes the flap higher on the back of the heel.  There's a little pooch of knitted fabric just under the heel flap which looks sloppy on my heel.

I wasn't sure if the Sock Wizard pattern was a typical example of a toe up heel turn and flap so I decided to knit another toe up flap pattern.  I looked at a lot of patterns and decided that David's Toe Up Sock Cookbook looked like a good one.  I also did the calculations for the Queen Kahuna Crazy Toes and Heels book (which doesn't seem to be available any more) to compare to the numbers that came out in the Sock Cookbook calculations and the ones that the Sock Wizard program did based on my measurements.  Here's the result:

Hmmm.  Almost the same.  I did both with German short rows rather than traditional wrap and turn methods but  I'm not sure how it would change the shape of the heel turn.  There is still too much fabric for my skinny heel.

Here is a sock that does fit well.  The top down heel flap fits great.  I don't count rows for the heel flap but just knit it until it's square and it fits every time.

Now I have to decide if the heel fit on the toe up socks is something I can live with or if I will frog what I've knit and try again with my tried and true top down pattern.

What would you do?

Thursday, November 12, 2015

still no snow

It's a rare year when we don't have snow on the ground in mid-November.  October was mild most days and downright balmy a few of them.  We went to a wedding in Saskatoon on Thanksgiving weekend.
(That's as dressed up as you will ever see Dan and I.  I had to buy makeup just for the wedding as I never wear it otherwise.  Berlyn and I had a great time on the dance floor later in the evening but I didn't get a picture of that, unfortunately.   I was too busy dancing!)

Patrick, the son of our closest friends Allen and Rhonda, married his lovely Michelle.  Patrick and his brother Ross spent so much time with us while they were growing up that we consider them faux sons so it was a very special wedding.
The groom's proud mom and dad.

  They couldn't have had a nicer day for a wedding if they'd special ordered it.  Between the ceremony and the reception Dan and I walked downtown and saw a reader board that said it was 28C (82F)!  Mother Nature smacked us with cold rain and intense wind the very next day just to remind us that it wasn't summer any more.

However, the weather warmed up again and the kids had a lovely Hallowe'en evening for trick or treating.  We have had some light flurries that didn't last but no major snow events yet this year.  There has been talk about El Nino giving us a mild winter but we'll see about that.  Mild is relative at best.

We have two willow trees in the back yard that love to hang onto their leaves as long as possible.  Most of the time they lose their last leaves into deep snow banks where they stay until after the thaw in the spring.  This year one of them is already mostly naked and the other's leaves are fluttering down a bit more every day.  Dan is happy that he is able to clean them up before the snow flies this year.  I took the opportunity to take some photos in the back yard last weekend while he was taking a break as I snapped pictures of the dogs.
Notice that the grass is still green!

The cast of critters around here hadn't changed.
 Cooper and Robbie took the time to pose for me but Austin and Bentley were too busy digging for mushrooms in the tree roots.
 Those mushrooms cause upset tummies if they eat too many so I have to limit their time outside.  Covering the mushrooms is at least one reason in snow's favour but it's the only one I can think of at this point.  We'll enjoy the lack of snow for as long as we can.

Saturday, November 07, 2015


My neighbour took her two granddaughters, ages three and four, to see The Wiggles in concert a couple of weeks ago.  During intermission, she was sitting in the stall of the busy public washroom with both kids in tow.

The three year old decided that three's a crowd in the bathroom and said, "She needs privacy.  Give her some privacy!" and then unlatched the door which swung wide open.  Grandma couldn't do much about it and the kids didn't know how to latch the door so there was a large audience of onlookers waiting for a free stall until one woman calmly walked over and closed the door for her.

Toddlers.  Got to love them!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

I remember summer

The first flakes of snow blew around in the gusty wind today.  It was cold enough that I wore my winter parka in the backyard with the dogs.

 I would rather think about summer so here are a couple of little video clips of a special little girl having fun with the dogs in our backyard in August.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

How to Reduce the Number of Those Nuisance Phone Calls

1.  Answer call from a credit card call centre with the usual, "I'm fine, thanks" while toddler grandchild chants, "I wanna say hi!  I wanna say hi!  I wanna say hi!"

2.  After finding out that the credit card company wants to lend you money, ask caller if she will talk to said grandchild.

3.  Watch grandchild nod at the phone while caller tries to carry on a lengthy one-sided conversation with a 2 year old.

4.  Thank caller for talking to grandchild then ask her to hang on a sec while your four dogs bark at someone walking outside as if only they can save the world from scary pedestrians.

5.  Politely refuse the loan offer and hang up.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Well Preserved

So, I'm back after an unplanned year and a half absence.  I don't know why I stopped writing this blog.  It just happened.  Maybe I was busy, maybe I was tired, maybe I got lazy, maybe it was because blogs seemed to wane with the increased use of Facebook.

I don't consciously have the definitive reason for abandoning it but I have a very good one for starting  it again.  The dear little girl who was a baby in the last post is now an almost three year old who is charming, bright, and beautiful.

Dan and I love her more than we could have imagined.  

A number of years ago I bought a book titled "Grandmother Remembers" and gave it to my grandmother to complete.  It's a scrapbook type of book with prompts for completing the pages, much like the books that people complete for baby's first years.  I'm so glad that my grandmother took the time to complete it!  It captures glimpses of her life that I wouldn't have otherwise (such as the charming tidbit that, before she married my grandfather, she thought that he had nice hair and he was popular) and is one of my most cherished possessions.  I only wish that my mother would have completed hers before her passing. 

My granddaughter deserves to not only have my grandmother's memories but mine too.  They should be well preserved for her, the poignant and mundane alike.  I want her to know me and have snapshots of my life.  I want her to know how much we and the times we live in are alike and different.  I want her to know how incredibly precious she is to us.

So, this blog becomes a modern version of "Grandmother Remembers".  Its format and writing style won't change from what I've already blogged.  It will be great if it has readers and makes connections with others, as it has in the past.  But it will really be for her, in much the same way that I hope some of my spun and knit items become family heirlooms.

spun from Bee Mice Elf BFL/Silk Club fiber in the 'Well Preserved' colourway.