Wednesday, January 25, 2012

An interesting speaker, and an important message

Over at my early childhood education blog, I posted a video from Youtube by a very interesting educator, and writer. I viewed a talk by him, posted by Tess Michaels, "Tessa Rose Natural Playscapes", and liked what he said so much that I looked him up on Google.

Sir Ken Robinson, has written several books on education and the creative process, and his most recent book is Epiphany, the story of a ballet dancer/choreographer. It sounds like a highly interesting book, and examination of creativity.

This video is long - 16 minutes, but he makes some good points, and is as well a good speaker. I think you may enjoy this.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Crochet cover for my Kindle

My thoughtful son, Paul gave me a wonderful gift at Christmas - a Kindle. This is so like him, he has always planned and carried out thoughtful gifts for me.
I hadn't thought of purchasing a Kindle, and I do love books - but I wondered if he had this in mind in the fall, when he started talking to me about Kindles.

Paul felt I should have it the week before Christmas, and gave it to me then - in our small 2 person family, we have been pretty informal about the process of gift giving, we're not too hung up about the where and when.

I am thoroughly enjoying reading on the Kindle - it took me abit of time to get used to reading books on the screen, but I have found that with time, the experience is no different from reading a paper book.The kindle just recedes into the background, for me.

So, I decided that to protect the Kindle, I would order a cover, and chose one through Amazon, made by Eforcity in light blue, for only $6.95, which was within my personal budget for accessories, and a surprisingly good price.

Before it arrived I decided to make a crochet cover for the time being. I used some yarn I had - and think it turned out well.

After starting on my project, I decided to search other ideas for Kindle covers on Google. My favourite one was at a wonderful and friendly blog called Mama's Little Monkeys. Amy's cover was like mine, but she crocheted hers in one piece (which I decided to do as well, after reading her blog post); she used a more complicated stitch; and she lined hers with felt, as well.

I enjoyed reading at her blog and plan to visit often. I'm so sorry, I still don't know how to share by way of making a link - so I am posting her tutorial following this post.

The Kindle book cover arrived last week, and it seems to work good. I understand there is some concern that some covers could damage the screen, this one seems fine.

I use the crochet cover as a "sweater" to protect it from the very cold temperatures when I take it to work on the bus. :)

Arthur is fascinated by anything that I give my attention to, and here he is taking a good look.

The first book I purchased and read was "Magic Hour", by Kristen Hannah, and I found this a very good read. Hannah is a very good writer, and I plan to read more of her books. Since then I've read 3 1/2 more books which is actually more than I have been reading lately.I used to be quite a fast reader, but this year I had slowed down. Not this month though.

Presently I am enjoying the newest  book by a very favourite writer, Gish Jen, called "Town and Country".
I enjoy being able to search for books with the Kindle store, and have found the newest books from writers I love. As well there is an extensive free collection of Kindle books, and I've downloaded some old favourites. I'm looking forward to rereading "Little Women", which is the first book I remember reading as a child, and truly loved.

Umm - my two "Guardians of the computer" - or my Muses,  or whatever...I can't write my posts without them. Generally Herbert rests  his substantial head on my right wrist while I type, while Arthur loses interest quickly and goes away to sleep.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!
Happy Chinese New Year!

If you would like to read Amy's pattern for a crochet Kindle cover, just continue reading below!

Crochet Kindle Cover--Free Tutorial

Here is the crochet Kindle cover tutorial from Amy at her blog, "Mama's Little Monkeys". If you click on the small title in blue, you can visit her blog.

Crochet Kindle Cover--Free Tutorial: Hey all! This is my FIRST EVER crochet pattern! So, please, be kind! And PLEASE, PLEASE feel free to leave any comments, suggestions, corrections, etc! I will be doing this again with a different yarn to make sure it doesn't make a tremendous difference. Keep in mind, I've only been hooking since the summer.. :)

Basically the stitch is from Coats and Clark pattern found HERE. If you can do this stitch, you can alter this anyway you need for your E-Reader, Tablet, etc.

I chose to line this with some scrap felt because even though it was a gift for a friend who rarely takes her Kindle away from home, this stitch does leave little 'holes' in it, and I thought the felt would be an extra touch of protection. The stitch itself is quite fluffy so that helps a lot. Again, the lining is optional.

This is intended for the original keyboard style Kindle, I do not know the dimensions of the other kindles, nooks, etc. But you can easily adjust the pattern for your item.

This pattern is free, and please feel free to share (and correct if it's wrong.) And by golly if you can make some money selling these bad boys are a derivative there of, go for it. A link back would be nice yarn karma for you though :)

Let's Get Hookin!!

Yarn: Vanna's Choice from Lion Brand. Any Worsted Weight should do fine.

Hook: US Size H

Gauge: I admit, I never look at, read, or care about gauge. I'm crazy like that. My Kindle was my gauge. According to the original pattern I based this on:

GAUGE: In pattern, 5 puff sts = 5”; 9 rows = 4”. CHECK YOUR

GAUGE. Use any size hook to obtain the gauge.

*Special Stitch Notes:

Puff Stitch: Puff: Work (sc, 2 dc) in same st.

Chain 17. (this is based on MY original Kindle. If you have a larger or smaller device, you should do a few rows and hold it up to your device to check gauge.)

ROW ONE: 2dc in the 2nd ch from hook.

*skip next 2 ch, puff stitch in next ch;* repeat from *across to the last 3 ch, sk 2 ch, sc in last ch, turn.

ROW TWO: ch 1, 2 dc in 1st st. *skip 2 dc, puff st in next sc.* Repeat from * across, skip last 2 dc, sc in turning ch, turn.

Repeat row two until you reach Row 36 OR your desired height.

You are making one solid piece of 'fabric' that you will fold up and 'around' the kindle, allowing for a flap. For my Kindle, yarn, hook, and crochet style, I did a total of 36 ROWS. Please check this against your kindle, you may need to add or take away a few rows.

Fasten off and weave in ends.

At this point you can decide if you want your side seams showing, or on the inside. I wanted mine in the inside.

Lay your piece flat down and make a 'pocket' for the Kindle by folding the bottom up to about Row 14 or 15. You can adjust this for your preference, you are merely deciding how far down you want your flap to go. By "folding" on Row 15 or so, that leaves you about 6 rows as your "flap".

SS or SC the side to close your pocket on one side, about 30 rows. I did the SC. Fasten off and weave in.

Repeat on the other side to make a pocket for your kindle to slide into. (do not fasten off yet)

I wanted my SC seams to be on the inside, so I then turned it all rightside out. (this stitch looks pretty from both sides).

Since you didn't fasten off, you can now SC along the edge of the flap (OPTIONAL). If not, you can fasten off and weave in here.


I chose to insert a felt lining because this was for a friend, and this puff stitch is beautiful, but does leave little gaps. Should she spill something on the kindle, I wanted that little extra protection. I used felt because A) it was easily available in my home B) it doesn't fray much C) I could hand sew it all and didn't have to drag myself off the sofa.

Cut a piece of felt or similar fabric to fit inside your new crochet cover.

I folded mine and hand sewed a blanket stitch along the long side and bottom. Use any hand stitch you feel comfortable with.

Insert the felt lining directly into your crochet cover. Using a blanket stitch or similar hand stitch, hand sew the lining in the crochet cover. You can sew all the way down the sides and bottom, I did not, I only sewed the 'top' portion around the flap.

Secure the ends of your thread, and you're almost done!

Decide the placement of your button the OUTSIDE of the cover. Thanks to the stretchiness of this yarn and the looseness of this stitch, you have buttonholes inherently in your yarn! Find a good place for the button and hand sew it on! (Tip, when hand sewing shankless buttons, place a pin in between the two holes as you sew the button on. Remove the pin when you're finished sewing the button and you now have a little more 'room' for the button to move, without making it unsecure.)

Weave in any yarn, insert your kindle and go!! :)


PLEASE feel free to leave any corrections, comments, oopsys, "you're totally wrong" comments!! If I did something wrong in the pattern, I really do want to fix it. Like I said above, it is based solely on the scarf pattern by Coats and Clark. I merely adjusted it to fit a kindle. This is a beautiful stitch pattern and can be used in a variety of ways!

Find me on Ravelry!

Happy Hooking!! :)


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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Two Hands, One Handed

I think you will find yourself smiling, after listening to this song posted by Matthew Vaughan, today on his video log, Rise Up Singing.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

We are having spectacular weather in Saskatchewan

This snowman was made by some of the children at the daycare center where I work. We didn't have enough snow before Christmas for snowmen. :) Generally the temperature is too cold for snowmen in January.

In Saskatchewan, people tend to be serious when it comes to winter weather. We need to be, because our cold weather can be extreme and dangerous.Anyone who needs to drive long distances in the winter will carry blankets, matches, and other safety provisions, because if caught in a winter storm, it's necessary to stay in the car, and wait for help. Freezing to death in Saskatchewan winters, is a sad and not uncommon tragedy.

We tend to face the winter temperatures with gritty forbearance, and we all have our tales of severe weather experiences.

I can recall for you one personal winter experience which might allow you a sense of  Saskatchen winter.

 I left work one evening in February, 2006, for home. I hadn't been aware of the weather from inside the school library where I was working, and I left quite late. I waited for my bus home, for more than one and a half hours, in a temperature that I later learned was -76 degrees with the wind. It was a blizzard, and  the winds were often up to 70 km. As well it was very dark, and difficult to see due to the blowing snow.
(Oops! I need to make a correction here. I've been thinking about the temperature I'd given as -76, which would not be possible. I believe that the coldest recorded temp. in Saskatchewan was Jan. 1, 2005 at -50 Celsius or -58 F. I think that, on the evening I was stuck waiting for my bus, the wind was 76 km., and think the temperature may well have been around -40. Not sure what that would have come to with the wind chill factor. I looked up some of the world's coldest temperatures, and I believe that the coldest recorded temperature was approximately -89, definitely not in Saskatchewan.) :)

While waiting I was undecided on the best action to take - should I wait, or try to walk abit? This day I had worn a skirt, so I was not dressed for the weather, and I became very cold, but a sort of  grim determination seemed to set in for me, as well as a feeling of fascination and awe.  

The buses had difficulty getting around, and two buses simply made a short cut in the route, so didn't come to get me.One bus did finally come for me, at around 7p.m., and I got home within an hour, after being picked up. Our city bus drivers usually tend to be a hardy lot, determined to drive through most weather conditions. I'm not alone in having stories like this to tell, and I've certainly had similar experiences in other years as well.

. The average temperature for January in Saskatchewan is -10 to -22 Celsius. More often it is much colder than that. In 2004, the average temperature for January was -34 C., and in 2005 the temperature was between  -38 C and -28 C. (2005 was a memorably cold winter here).

Today our temperature was 3 degrees above. The forecast is for warm weather through the next week too.Weather forecasters seem to be agreeing that this winter is setting records for warm temperatures, and it looks like there is no cold weather to see ahead.

I took a few pictures on my way home from work today.The snow is melting, and water is laying in the streets which is so unusual for here, in January. It feels remarkable.The people I know are enjoying this warm weather, with abit of disbelief. I think we can be forgiven for our delight in the warmth.

Here is a sight we don't often see in the middle of winter - we have had very little snowfall thus far.

We had brisk winds today, up to 50 km. But the temperature at 3 above was warm.

Water lying in the street like this is unusual for the middle of winter in Saskatchewan. It does occur but it is rare.This was taken a little after 5 p.m. just at the sunset, and the light seemed very gentle, and almost springlike.

As you can see, I can't quite get over the phenomenon of all the water in the streets.

There seems to be a spring like quality to the light. I wonder if it is caused by the warmer temperature.

I have lived in Saskatchewan for most of my 56 years, and I am abit awestruck by our January. We have had warm spells in our winters but this is very unusual.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The "Boss"

Herbert is a gentle soul. He came into my life in 2004, when I was overwhelmed with a mouse problem. I'd tried to trap the mice, but still could hear them scrambling in the walls of my very old house. This house had cracks in it's foundation, and we lived near a school field, so naturally the field mice seemed to see the house as an ideal place to inhabit.

Here is a funny little drawing I did for a story, but it shows abit of what this old farmhouse looked like. It was moved to it's lot in the city in the late 1940's, and we bought it in 1997, and it wasn't in the greatest of shape, but somehow we fell in love with it.By 2004, it needed quite abit of TLC, but at the time I wasn't able to do much, although we did patch some of the foundation.

I had been without a cat companion for 2 years, so decided it was time to find a cat who might also be a good mouser.

I found Herbert through the Humane Society. I had thought I might look for a smallish black female cat, but when I saw Herbert he was the one for me. He was a large ginger coloured male cat, who had been waiting for  a long while for a home, and seemed patient and somewhat dignified.

I transported him home in a large closed box, and he was very unhappy about this, crying loudly on the ride back. When we got home, and I opened the box, he leaped out, and sat quietly taking in his surroundings. He seemed unconcerned about the presence of Rocky, my largish Sheltie, and just seemed to take us in his stride.As well, he proved to be very friendly, and jumped right up and perched on my shoulder, which surprised me as he was already quite a big cat at 13 pounds.

That night he killed one mouse, and actually led me to it in the basement, almost as though he was saying, " I know what my job here is." Through that winter he managed to kill around 9 mice. We never really had a mouse problem after that winter - and I give credit to Herbert for that.

I lost my dear Rocky, a few years later, and since then we had a few changes in our family of pets. We had a wonderful sweet dog, for one year, and a stray cat as well joined our home. Herbert has always been accepting and calm with the new animals. Our family now is made up of Herbert and Arthur (the little stray, now a 13 pound beauty of a cat).

I have thought of Herbert as "The Boss", among the family of pets in my household, for some years now, due to his calm, accepting nature. I think he's kind of "cool" too, like Bruce Springsteen who is known as "The Boss" .

Herbert and Arthur spent one day, this week, playing with a large paper bag, but the next day the bag was definitely owned by Herbert, who has been sleeping on it on and off now for two days.There has appeared to be no contest over it - no fighting between the two cats. As usual Arthur, the younger cat by 8 years, seems to just defer to Herb.
I think he shows excellent judgement, and the fact that he defers gracefully to his elder, so often  makes him a good and sensible cat in my estimation.