Friday, October 28, 2011

What do I do with this?

I've not been feeling like starting anything in the past two or three days. I guess the completion of several big projects -- Little Loki, the Sea Glass Cowl and my book -- has taken all my energy. None left over for starting new things. Now I've had a day to get over the joys of finishing my book, I need to start looking forward. I know the next writing project I'm going to work on, but the knitting front, not so much. I have that ball of Mochi Plus that's going to be a hat, just as soon as I can work up the enthusiasm for casting on (I hate making hats; love wearing them, hate casting on for them) and my Mini Who is languishing in its baggie,

Anyway, I'm going to be thinking up a new, exciting, knitting project this weekend, in the hopes that beginning something brand spankin' will inspire me to pick up some of my old projects. So I need some help deciding what to do with this:

I've got three stitch dictionaries in the queue from my local lending, and I'm going to pick one up tomorrow morning. I'm thinking shawl, but I don't know if I want to go with my standard rectangular or if I want to take a risk on a circular or triangular design.

I'm not sure. I doubt I'll go triangular -- I don't think I need a giant arrow pointing down my back to emphasize what a massive badonkadonk I've got, thank you very much -- but a soft, rounded bottom shawl might be ok. Too bad I don't know how best to work that shaping. I also don't know how to deal with a circular shawl. I mean, you have to fold them over, unless you want to put it smack on top of your head and make like an end table. They just seem too fiddly.

But a rectangle, now. That's flexible. Spread it out a bit, go full on shawl for warmth. Fold it over, bunch it up, wear it as a scarf.

Sigh. So many choices! I'll just have to sleep on it a bit longer.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Laus Deo, it is done.

My part of this massive book problem is done. It's put together, all the stories are finished to my satisfaction and it's formatted fit to go through the software translation device.

Unfortunately, the project is also delayed.

See, my friend -- who is going to edit the stories to make sure I'm not completely self-delusional and they don't suck like a massive open chest wound -- has a friend who apparently just loves to line edit. Journalism majors, heh. Anyway, he owes her a favor and she asked if he'd line edit my book for me. You know, just so I don't look sloppy and unprofessional with my open chest wound sucky book.

This additional editorial process not only means I'll have a slightly better book going out than I had going into the process, but that the drop will be delayed.

Oh, well. If it's another week before I get it back, I can have a "Book Launch Party" with my knit coven the night before. We aren't meeting this upcoming week due to the holiday, but weeks after are fair game.

Oooh. That sounds almost professional and authorly. A Launch Party.

I'll have to make favors.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Still wiggin' out up in here.

Because I find autumn leaves soothing...

Tuesday is the big day.

In addition to it being my New Year's Day, it's the day my first (self-published) book goes live on Amazon.

It is, more than anything else, an exercise in letting my words walk the wide world without my hand to hold. I have no human children, but it's similar -- on a much smaller scale -- to what I'd imagine a parent feels the first full day of school for their child. What if they miss me? What if I miss them? What if they don't make friends? What if they aren't as smart as I think they are? Who will love them as much as I do? What do I do if someone is mean to them or bullies them?

Ok, ok, I'm probably overstating things, but I'm still frightened. The book is a collection of my short stories and they're very personal and beloved to me. What do I do if everyone who reads them hates them or laughs at them? I'm trying to develop a thicker skin here -- purposely setting myself up to fail, so when I do and subsequently survive it, I'll learn that failure isn't the absolute life-ending situation I'm imagining it to be.

I just don't know what to do. I'm freaking out like crazy here -- I've been imagining horrible things happening to me all week long. I get so neurotic when a big event comes up. I can't help it. I need to do this if only so the next time I put something out in the world I don't get anxious like this. I'll still get anxious, but not to this degree. It will be almost routine.

Deep breath in, hold it, long slow exhale.

I can do this.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sea Glass Cowl

I got bored today while watching Poirot on DVD. I had time, I had some yarn, I got myself busy. Then I went shopping and came back and finished being busy. And at the end of the day, what have I got?

A cat! No, I joke. Yoda's just being fuzzy and cute there. See the drapes behind him? He lurves that window. And then it takes six washes to get him off the curtains. Meh.

Anyway, here's what I really have:
A new cowl! I actually took a picture of it on, since it's pretty anonymous lying on my chair there.

I love those colors. It's my Mochi Plus. I like how it turned out, even if it felt a bit like a bugger-up while it was being worked on.

Do you want to know how to make one for yourself? It's easy!

Sea Glass Cowl

One skein Mochi Plus (aran, 50g, 95 yds)
Four fingers on your non-dominant hand, two on the dominant one, occasionally your non-dominant thumb for anchoring and tensioning your knitting

Finger knit an approximately four foot long strand. Test this around your neck, make sure it loops twice loosely. Don't know how to finger knit? Here's a wonderful Knitty tutorial on the subject. Basically, you're using your hand as a rake loom -- each finger is a peg. I begin with my tail in the palm of my hand and wrap behind my pointer, in front of my middle, behind the ring and around the pinkie, then carry the yarn across the front of the pinkie, back of the middle and around the front of my pointer, dropping my yarn to the back. Wrap around in a figure 8 for a second row then, starting at the pinkie end, lift the bottom loops over the top of your finger and drop them to the back, in sequence. For some reason, in that tutorial, there's a picture of her with three loops on her fingers, and I am not quite sure why -- ignore that part, I guess. Once you have dropped your bottom loops to the back of your hand, do another figure 8 wrap around and repeat. Easy-peasy.

Yes, using aran weight yarn will make a very loosely knit strand -- for a tighter knit, adults should finger knit with a bulky yarn. Finer yarns will produce knits that look like you used a fingering yarn with size 10 needles. Do not panic, this is as it should be.  

Special Note:  Once you start a strand, you really can't stop until you get to the end. I mean, you can, you can slide the live stitches onto a holder and then put them back on your fingers again in order, and eventually as part of this pattern you will, but it's problematic. It's best to just set aside a solid 15 to 20 minutes to work on each individual strand and finger knit like the wind.

When you come to the end of your strand, don't cast off. Slide the four stitches from your fingers onto a stitch holder. Cut your yarn leaving a long tail, at least 8 inches long, and put it aside. Finger knit another three strands of the same length, sliding each and every one onto the holder with the first. You should have some yarn left over. Cast on and knit a fifth strand, a little longer than half the length of the other four, closer to two-thirds of the longer strands length. Don't bind this one off, either, and slide onto its own stitch holder. Set aside-aside, as in away from the other four. (I didn't, as you'll see in the pictures below, but I've got a super long stitch holder. Please yourself in terms of the arrangements you make.)

Secure the stitch holder on something so you can braid the strands, like so:

I braided mine by wrapping the rightmost strand (A) around the one immediately to the left (B). B goes all the way around A and then over the top of C. C goes around the top of B and D. D changes places with C and becomes the new C. Repeat from the right to left again, over and over until you get to the bottom. OR figure out your own braiding pattern. In either case, braid rather tightly in the middle -- it will get loosened up after it gets bound off and you putz around with it a little. Pinch everything together, then take it all back to a chair so you can bind off in comfort.

I didn't take pictures of this part, but what you do is take the loose loops of the first strand off the stitch holder and slide the stitches back onto your fingers, making sure the yarn tail is hanging off your pointer finger next to your thumb, as if you'd just finished knitting. Pick up one of the cast on ends (it doesn't matter which one) and find four loops to slide onto your fingers above the other row. Use your long tail to wrap your fingers once in the figure 8 pattern and then pass the bottom two loops over the tail loops (in essence, knitting the ends together -- sort of a three needle bind off without the needles). Bind off the single row of loops left on your fingers in a normal fashion and tie the bind off tail and cast on tail together for extra security. Repeat with each of the four finger knit strips. Your cowl will now be four feet in diameter. Put it on, double it up to make sure it fits around your neck, and then remove as it is. This will ensure it's long enough when doubled up to pass over your head. Mine was, so now we consider the short strand.

Wrap the short strand around the doubled up cowl in a spiral fashion, securing said cowl in its doubled-up form (think in terms of tubes: The doubled up cowl is wrapped in a loose spiral tube of finger knitting). Knit the ends of the short strand together as you did with the first four strands. I left my knots in -- the point to the thing is to look a bit rough and rustic, plus I'm a bit sloppy anyway with the finishing. You've seen my work, you know how I am. Anyway, you end up with visible knots like these:
I simply trimmed mine down as far as I felt safe doing so and then pushed them all to one side of the cowl. This side goes to the back, under my hair. Not that they're really visible -- the thick and thin nature of the yarn and super loopy nature of the finger knitting tends to hide things you don't want seen. Bless.

Here's a nice shot of the colors:

And there you have it: The Sea Glass Cowl. A tribute to the kindergarten style of knitting. Perfect thing for a lazy Sunday afternoon. It reminds me of those gimp bracelets (the plastic lacing is called gimp; don't come at me for the name) that we made when I was in grade school as friendship bracelets. Just softer and prettier and in a less obnoxious color-theme. Of course, if you love florescent colors, choose your yarn accordingly. 

And yes, I still have my teddy bunny on my bookshelf. Gunderson got me through many a long dark night when the boogey man was hiding in my closet and/or under my bed, and we don't even talk about what was hiding in my mirrors! -- he's a friend, not a stuffed frippery! You don't just throw your friends away

Heartless jades.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The trials of photography.

Do you know how hard it is to get a cat to pose? Yoda isn't about the pimp swagger, which is sad because he really is very beautiful. I'll have to take my phone up to bed tonight -- he gets seriously adorable when he snuggles. And I guess it's awful cold on his paws lately, what with the weather change, because he's been all up in my face this past week. It's cute, and he's soft as a bunny, but it makes my eyes itch.

Ah, well. C'est la vie!

I was supposed to work today on my fiction stuff, but I've had the megrim today, in all meanings of the word. Between the headache, the aura and the exhaustion, I'm beyond it all. So I just gave up on the day earlier, had a lie down and just now got back up.

To get myself back in the saddle (although which saddle I mean I have no idea, nor do I know if the particular saddle is of any importance at all), I have decided to start a new knitting project. I think I'm going to frog the scarf I started with my Mochi Plus and go with the finger knit idea. I'm going to use one of the balls for a hat -- something with a tight band, so it sticks to my head, and a loose cap, so it doesn't smoosh my curls completely -- and the second will be a finger knit scarf. I want to make an infinity scarf out of finger knitting, and I have a cunning plan for connecting the top of my knitting to the bottom. I'm curious to see if the process will work as well as I think it might.

If it does, you all will be the first to know. Since I have precious little else to do and blogging, while technically a nonsense activity, I suppose, gives me a sense that I haven't completely wasted my day, I'll probably be blogging a little more often.

Oh, oh, oh, I knew I came on here for a reason! I want to pimp my favorite writer: M. R. James. It's the time of year (for me, I know Christmas is traditionally the time for ghost stories but they fit just as well in the October time, at the end of my year) to pull a compilation of his stories off the shelf and read them.

I had a realization when I started going through the foreword of my favorite edition of his tales (not all of them; I have them all, but this book is merely a selection of his 'best', if there could ever be a 'best of' when considering his stories) -- I love his writing. I love the way he uses words. In his own, slightly over-blown Victorian way, he's just as spare and elegant with language as Fitzgerald. There's the ornate style of the time, yes, but he's stripped it down a bit, heralding a more modern style of writing than was prevalent at the end of the 1800s.

When I work at finding my voice, I often find that I tend to write in that sort of high-British Boarding School voice -- because I love M. R. James and his style. I talk like that. And then I suppress it mightily, because too many people say that no one likes to read stories written in that voice anymore.

That makes me sad. It's a beautiful style, and I should be allowed to use it. Granted, it means I'll lose some of my American readers (if not all),

I'm still working on it. Work in progress, so my thoughts are a bit disjointed (the migraine isn't helping, either.) What I'm trying to say is, writing in my own voice is fraught with tension for me -- it's unstylish, but when I try to write in the more active, American style voice (which I have, if only because it's how you have to write for AP) it comes across as tense because it's inauthentic.

I wonder what would happen if I just let my voice go to do what it wanted?

And go read some M. R. James. He's kick-ass fabulous. I mean it! 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Yet more screaming out here!

This popped out of my knitting today, with a little help. And look, just look at what was left behind in my lap:

Look at the beading on the second half! Such beautiful asymmetry! Such beady wonderfulness!

It's so strange, really. To have finished it, I mean. You get into the middle of the thing, wading knee-deep in left-leaning mesh, and you feel it will never end, but suddenly...the needles spring free! The scarf falls to your lap, and you are left with nothing to do but block the thing and weave in ends.

I'm a bit at sixes and sevens, I must say. What now that the thing which has been, to a certain point, the only project in my life in which I had total confidence is done? I'm not sure what to do next.

Strange lassitude aside, I've got some leftovers.

 That's a massive ball of yarn there, just in case you weren't familiar with the size of my weird man hands.

I also have beads leftover. These in silver and the one token blue (which I'm going to string on something and use as a necklace) from the three tubes originally opened and used. It's been so long, I'm not sure where the other three tubes are -- I know I've kept them, I just don't know where. Well, maybe that's what I'll do with the rest of my day.

But that yarn ball had me curious. Just how much yarn is left over?

European bakers, drug dealers and knitters all have one thing in common, what is it?

Metric scales. After that whopping great scarf, nearly six feet long unblocked, I've got 50 grams of sock yarn left. By my measure, that's about 250 yards. My friends weren't kidding; I could make a pair of matching wristers. And I may, when my eyes have recovered from the trauma of knitting on a dark day with black yarn.

The exhilaration has worn off, lunch is now two hours late and I feel in need of food and, perhaps, a nap. Then I'm going to soak the scarf, pin it out and dry it out for the wearing. I've got my rust-proof t-pins around here somewhere.

Something else to look for in addition to the three tubes of beads.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

In case you heard the screaming where you are....

around one in the afternoon-ish, here's why:

 That is the last of my left leaning mesh! Woohooo!

Yes, there's two safety lines in there. Yes, I have security issues, why do you ask?

Anyway, I got to the end of my mesh section and tested all my stitches by pulling on the fabric. Everything was secure, nothing started running so I did this:

I took two of the security lines out. The one in the center of my mesh is still there -- my momma didn't raise no fools -- but the other two are free. Well,...

I left one in at the end of the mesh. So right now, there's two safety lines in my knitting -- the one in the center and the one at the end of the mesh. Still and all, that's one fewer than there was before, and, most importantly, the mesh is done!

I wish I had a bottle of wine, I'd get snookered and do a secret Little Loki happy dance. I cannot believe I've finally gotten to the end of the endless mesh. Sigh.

Only one thing left to do:
Get started on the beads!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I hate it when the weather changes.

 It's the start of orange tree season! I loves me some orange trees.
Not that I don't like new weather. I do, I love new weather -- particularly when we arrive at the beginning of  Supposed To Be Cold season (we have two seasons in these parts, Supposed To Be Cold and Supposed To Be Warm, which is why I always laugh when someone says they won't move south when they retire because they "like having seasons." What seasons, for the love of qiviut?!?!?) I love the first half of Supposed To Be Cold. But the change, the actual process of going from STBW to STBC, gives me headaches. I've been battling a rather nasty one today, as a matter of fact. As I was trying to function and write despite the feeling that my head was being slammed repeatedly in a metal drawer, I realized my tolerance for pain has radically dropped since I had my wisdom teeth pulled. The magic of the little brownish pink pills has made me weak, I suppose. So I began  to frantically toss my desk drawer like a robber on the clock, looking for my bottle of magic beans. No love. I start moving things on the shelf of my desk complex where my drive sits, trying to find the bottle. Again, no love. I knew there were some pills in my purse (insurance against facial swelling from days of old), so I got one out, swallowed it and came back to my desk to await the magic.

And then I just about slapped myself silly. Here's my desk as it was this afternoon (taken only moments ago; I swear I haven't touched anything but the sticky note pads):

Oh, my. What could that ever be sitting right in front of my monitor?

Maybe I should have slapped myself. Not that it would help, the Advil is helping (my headache is no longer pounding, it just feels like my sinuses have been filled with lead shot), but slapping myself around would not help. I will blame the loopiness on the pain. Yeah, that's it, the pain. Because I'm totally not blonde or anything like that. *facepalm*

In other news, the work situation may be looking marginally more hopeful today. I just have to not screw up an interview I've got on Friday and hope for the best possible outcomes. Which is, really, all anyone can do -- hope for the best possible outcomes. Control is a seductive illusion, and giving it up is hard, hard, so very, very hard to do. But I understand that, while I can control myself and my reactions, I cannot control others or their reactions, either to me or other events.

I hate that aspect of life.

I also got some work done on one of my fiction projects. Precious little else to do today, really. I've got that and a non-fiction project in process, and a second fiction project that's on hold until I get my first one done. It's a trope that your first fully-realized piece of fiction sucks, and I want to get that out of the way before I work on the one that I really, truly love. In the hopes that it won't suck, if you see. I figure I can use any help I can get when it comes to writer juju and rituals.

Writers are very superstitious, you see. I suppose all artists are. Because we know, deep down in our heart of hearts, the art isn't coming from us. We're just transcriptionists of something that floats out in the ether. So we do all we can to raise the best antennae we can muster and hope we get the best signals to transcribe.

Despite the fact that I've been worrying myself sick and cross-eyed the past three or four days, I managed to get some work done on Little Loki. I'd show you, but seriously, do you need to see three more inches of left-leaning mesh? If you do, might I recommend therapy, because, dang, that's strange. I mean, it's my scarf and even I'm having trouble working up enthusiasm for looking at any more left leaning mesh.

But I'm thisclose to getting to the end of the left leaning mesh (and, oh, the parties we'll have then, my friends) and finally, finally!, gaining the tail section, which is chocka-block full of beady, stockinette goodness. And then the cast off. And then the blocking and the wearing. *shudder*

Is it wrong of me to feel more enthused about wearing my Little Loki scarf than I ever have at the thought of an actual man? I know I'm a yarn pervert, but I hadn't realized how much of a yarn pervert I was. Then again, I can honestly say that Little Loki is absolutely perfect for me -- seeing as how I designed him (well, took the transcription on the coolest scarf inspired by a movie villain ever) and then made him my very own self -- which is more than I can say for the poor guys who had to endure my presence in the years I was pretending to be Little Miss Business Suit.

I wonder if I can send them apology cards after all this time, that had to have been a trial....

Monday, October 10, 2011


I learned tonight not to make hasty assumptions.

One of my knit coven members (we had shockingly few members present tonight -- four, at our peak numbers) brought the following tonight:

 It's Lion Brand -- one of my go-to yarns -- in a color called "Catskills". The picture hardly does it justice, in person it's quite...quite. Catskills. Not an image you can bring to mind with that candy yellow, hot pink, screaming purple melange up there, is it? I posited that perhaps it's actually inspired by some high Victorian, steam-punk, Moulin Rouge inspired bordello in the Catskills, not the mountains themselves. That theory, oddly, was shot down. I thought it was a good one. Anyway, I learned my lesson that it's unwise to mock -- see, here's where assumptions get tied in with the tale. I assumed that since, in skein, it's a bit cat-barf-after-Christmas-when-the-bows-vanished, it would knit up the same. However....

It's actually quite beautiful. Yes, there are still eye-wateringly bright spots in there, but overall, the softer colors mute the effect of the others.

You know what they say happens when you assume. Granted, I won't go so far as to say that I completely fell in with the entirety of the saying, but I did feel a bit sheepish for making the assumption itself.

So just because a yarn looks like a hot mess in the skein, don't assume it will knit into a hot mess. It might just surprise you!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Freakin' the frakk out.

 Random pretty picture from Cedar Bog, because readers like pictures.
I love you, isn't that nice of me?

I'm trying to remain calm, but it's hard. Something has changed in the last three days with regards to my working situation, for the much worse. I'm hoping I can pull a rabbit out of this hat, but I'm getting really worried that I've stupided myself into a big problem.

Think some positive thoughts for me, or at least send me a comment telling me to get off my lardy bottom and do something already. I may need some encouragement to get out of bed on Monday -- the fear is very strong.

Anyway, in other not freaking out matters, my friend and I went on a local ghost tour last night. I love ghost stories and tours, if only for the history that you get in them. We toured her neighborhood (it's got a fairly long and exciting history) and it was coooool. She's a bit horrified by the terrors perpetrated in her 'hood in the Bad Old Good Old Days, mostly because her house has been there since nearly the beginning of the town and centrally located. Her fear is that some of the seriously bad actors of the Day might have visited the people who lived in her house, and that gives her some serious psychic ick. Personally, I'd see it as a sort of special cachet, to have had a seriously evil person in my house, particularly if the person who lived there at the time lived to report the encounter.

I value her different perspective, even if I wouldn't be quite so squeamish. Everyone mentioned on the tour has been dead for at least 40 years (and the one in particular that gave her the willies has been dead for over a century), and it's not like they've got Evil Cooties that can linger or anything. If anything, I'd think it would be a selling point to a certain type of buyer, you know?

Sigh, but what do I know -- I am not, nor am I ever likely to be, a homeowner. I have no idea of the realities of real estate.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Of trees and leaves.

Today was my weekly walk-and-eat-pizza with my friend and her two sons. She's one of my writing friends (and a cater-cousin, actually; my mother has practically adopted her so she can get some extra grandchildren), and it's nice to get out and get some air and synthesize some Vitamin D with someone who understands the rigors of the craft herself from practical application. I mean, I've got friends who are writers, too, but none of them are doing the freelance thing or write for money (other than cater-cousin). When I whine, they take it as an indication I need to change back to a desk job, she understands I'm just engaging in your typical office-place whining. Heck, she works for the same place I do, she whines with me.

Just like being back in an office.

Anyway, we found some autumn beauty today.

She also informed me (correctly or incorrectly I do not know, but I choose to accept her statement as reasonable -- let me know if she's got it wrong) that the trees in Europe don't do these beautiful colors. The leaves just go brown and fall. It has something to do with the wide swings in temperature we get (from 55 F to 85 F from midnight to 4 in the afternoon), which I thought were only good for degrading pavement (I do know that most Europeans don't get potholes like we do -- the ones big enough to break your axle or lose a small dog in -- and I hate them for it. Or, rather, I hate my parents for being American and subjecting me to such concrete depravity.)

Is that really so? Are you denied the glories of popsicle orange (I didn't see any on our walk, but the orange ones are my favorites), screaming yellow and hot reds just because of the crappy climate we have here?

I loved these leaves, the red is just glorious. And they look so perfect, as if each one has been hand painted in preparation for the fall. Soooo pretty.

And we aren't even at peak color yet! Since I have the free time, I might even go to the scenic bits of the state and fetch back some pictures of color. Just because it's incredible, and if anyone out there doesn't get it first hand, they at least deserve to see it second hand.

And if there are any botanists out there, does anyone know what THIS:
is? We pass it weekly, and she sees them daily on her walks (we walk in her neighborhood, due to the proximity to the world's best pizza) but doesn't know what they are. They've got the bright red branches and purple berries smaller than grapes. She was wondering if they were elderberries, but I really am out of my depth here. I kill plants just by thinking about getting one, I try to avoid thinking too much on matters plant. It's very pretty, though.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Vacations never last long enough, you know?

Although some can last too long. Not this one, no, but some. Mexican cruise, I'm thinking of you.

Picture heavy post ahoy: I'm putting in a jump cut.