Archive | March 2016

The Yarn Harlot Commands

Well, that was an unintentional break from blogging I took this week! I’d been enjoying my habit of almost-every day, but Monday and Tuesday I fell into revising my novel. I was at the end and it was going really well and I just couldn’t pull myself away. Plus, there’s not much to say about that. I was writing, it was fun. But I made it to the end, and the first draft is complete and now it’s been set aside to simmer for a little while.

Tuesday night I got another rejection, the 5th. I also pulled out the manuscript I sent to agents a few years ago, and found all the query letters and responses. I got two requests for fulls, as well as some personal feedback from sample chapters, and the overwhelming theme was “It’s good, but not good enough.” So yesterday I didn’t feel like blogging. Instead I moped and knitted, finding comfort in my yarn. And I finished my Color Block wrap and it’s so marvelous. The tails are even woven in; it just needs blocking.IMG_5630And I know, at least I’ve submitted the books. And the fact that I got the requests, not to mention actual thoughtful notes from agents, should be encouraging. That’s what I’m trying to focus on today. I’d like to think I’m a better writer than I was ten years ago. So that’s the manuscript coming up next. I still love that story. I still think it has potential. Let’s see if I can get it to better than “good enough”.

Here’s something my knitting friends will appreciate: this weekend is the Knitting in the Heartland conference, and the keynote speaker is Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. SQUEEE, right?? I bought tickets for me and my Knitting SIL months ago. Then she and her family planned a vacation…the SAME weekend! Whatever. Poor planning, if you ask me, but she didn’t. Anyway, I was thinking about having to drive 45 minutes each way on crazy highways with construction and in the dark (I’m not a fan of those things), and going by myself, and starting to talk myself out of going. I tweeted about it, and this morning, the Yarn Harlot herself had replied to my tweet! IMG_5634There you have it. I have no choice. When the Yarn Harlot says you should go, you should go. So I will go and I will take my knitting and there will be lovely friendly knitters there AND those of us attending the keynote address get to shop from the vendors afterward! I will have plenty to blog about this weekend, that’s for sure.

I’ll probably take my Hitchhiker with me. It’s going more slowly than the previous ones. Maybe I’m finally getting a little tired of the pattern. But yesterday, instead of getting retail therapy at a yarn store, I shopped my stash and found my next project: IMG_5635It’s going to become a Tailwind Shawl; I just need to work out the sequence of the striping before I cast on. With any luck, I’ll have progress to show you tomorrow!

Good Wrap, Bad Hat, and Writing

We’ll call this Making Progress Monday. Look what I did yesterday!! IMG_5622I’ve got just a little bit left of that medium gray, and then it’s the last color and my Color Block Wrap will be done! It knits up so much faster than I expected, but it probably helps that I spent yesterday watching TV and knitting. I started Ken Burns’ Civil War documentary, and fell in and couldn’t stop. Total binge day. This was perfect knitting for it too, mindless enough that I could keep my eyes on the screen most of the time. I wish I could have watched the whole series but I have two episodes left and the hubby says I have to wait and watch them with him. Sigh. Fine. Whatever. Maybe I’ll finish it tonight.

And the wrap was actually the second thing I worked on yesterday. I started out making a hat with some purple wool, because I needed a break from all the gray and wanted some color. It was easy to make, knit up quickly, and I like how it looks here: IMG_5620But this morning I put it on a head to take photos for this post, and…well. I kind of hate it. IMG_5624It’s not the pattern’s fault at all. I love the zigzags and the way the decreases look, but it came out so much more slouchy than I expected.IMG_5625I’ve made hats with this much slouch and they’re fine, but it’s not what I wanted this time. I’ll try it on my own head to make sure, but I’m thinking this one will be frogged and redone with fewer stitches and/or smaller needles.

I made progress with the writing this weekend too, on Saturday while my family was off camping. I took a break from the memoir I’m querying and instead focused on my novel. It’s the first one I wrote, probably the closest to my heart, and all I have is a printout from an old computer. So I’m typing it up and revising heavily as I go, and I was on a roll on Saturday. I was deep in a writing trance and got over 6000 words done. Granted, it’s revision so maybe not as impressive as pouring out that many new words, but I’m delighted anyway. I’m over halfway through it, and once it’s all typed up, I’ll leave it alone for a while and let it simmer again. I recently read Stephen King’s On Writing, and that was one of the pieces of advice that really struck me. (Sidebar: I loved his book; it was interesting and honest and smart. I didn’t learn a whole lot I didn’t already know about writing, but it made me feel I was doing the right things, and most importantly, it made me want to WRITE.) Anyway! I know this novel will need another big revision. I already have thoughts of what I need to add/change etc on the next go-round, but I’ve learned from experience that it’ll go more smoothly if I come at it with fresh eyes. I’ve also learned that I enjoy the writing part much more than the querying agents part!

One last thought: there’s been lots of buzz around Instagram lately, lots of posts asking people to “turn on notifications” so their posts don’t get lost, lots of anger that Instagram is changing their algorithm. I love Instagram the way it is, but I’m not freaking out about it. If nothing else, I have to accept that it’s a free app, and it’s a business, and they have to do what they feel is right for their business. We let them know what our thoughts are on the change, and now it’s up to me to adapt or move on.

In the interest of adapting, today I went through the accounts I follow and unfollowed several of the celebrity accounts, the bigger accounts I can see elsewhere or just don’t enjoy that much. Now my Follow list is a carefully curated list of crafters/knitters/dyers/makers (and friends of course) so whatever photos show up in my feed, I’ll be happy.

I’m a small fish: I don’t have a lot of followers and I’m excited when I get 20 likes on a photo, so this algorithm change might kill what little feedback I do get. And if it does, well. That will suck. And I will either keep posting photos because it pleases me, or I won’t. I have a new Ello account (I’m bonnyknits there too) and I might start using that more than Instagram eventually. But I’m going to be patient and give Instagram a shot. And while I do, I’m going to be generous with my Likes and comments, especially with the smaller makers/crafters. I really do think it will be okay.

I’ll leave you with my buddy Jack. He was so happy the hubby took the kids camping this weekend because it meant he could sleep next to me as long as he wanted! IMG_5610Happy Monday, friends!

Kindness Helps

I have to start by thanking you for the encouragement you gave me yesterday (and have given me in the past)! Each comment made me smile and bolstered my spirit, and I appreciate the thoughtful support so much. It’s things like this that make me think the world is made up of mostly good people, and we’re just the quiet ones most of the time. But look at the knitting community, the writing community, heck, look at Jenny Lawson’s (The Bloggess) wonderful tribe supporting those who suffer with mental health illnesses. I’ve come across so many truly kind, generous, caring people. It pleases me. Let’s keep it up. It doesn’t cost a thing to be kind, right?

Okay, so, what did I do with my peaceful day yesterday? I did revise my query letter, and I’m quite pleased with it, and I sent it off to four more agents! Once that was done, I felt I had earned some knitting time, so I settled in with the puppies and my Color Block Wrap. It works up FAST! IMG_5616I sped through the second color and onto the third in one evening. I’m not convinced the stripes are as big as the ones in the pattern so I might measure it this morning and make sure it’ll end up a wearable length. Just in case I need to frog, I haven’t trimmed my long yarn tails yet. However it ends up, it will be the coziest scarf/wrap ever.

IMG_5613For now, the puppies and I would like to wish a happy Easter weekend to those who celebrate, and a happy regular weekend to those who don’t!

Getting Over Rejection

Let’s play Bad News/Good News. Which do you want first? Bad? Okay: I’ve now gotten four rejections on my memoir queries. They’ve all been very kind and gentle, but they’re still No. The first was fine, the second was disappointing for a moment, the third was a deep breath, and the fourth kicked my butt for some reason. I really was expecting this, but apparently that doesn’t make it easier. Those rejections, combined with the knowledge that memoirs are hard to sell and have to be extremely unusual and compelling, had me thinking I should scrap the current manuscript and rewrite it as fiction.

But, good news: after several days of extreme self-doubt, I feel ready to get back to work. I have more agents to query; I might as well get through the list before giving up. I had a very kind friend who offered to read my query letter and synopsis, so I’ve got some strong feedback to help me as I revise. My family is heading out for the day so I’ll have some quiet time to really focus…if I can resist the call of my knitting.

I finished the newest hat yesterday; it was a super quick one. IMG_5606The pattern is called Sneaky Snakes and the easy 4-row lace pattern made a nifty squiggly pattern. There are only three decrease rounds so you definitely want to make sure you’ve got a long enough body. I like how mine ended up.IMG_5607With that done, I made some more progress on my Color Block Wrap. I’ve got the first block done, but I only made it to 65 stitches instead of 69. It’s fine, though. IMG_5608It’s delicious to knit and I’m looking forward to moving on to the second color tonight. It will be my reward for revising my query letter!

Two Hats Done, One Begun

As expected, the kids’ spring break has interrupted my knitting/writing/blogging processes, but at least there is a little bit of knitting going on. And today our calendar is empty so both children are still asleep at 9 a.m. and I am stealing the time to catch up with all of you. Of the four projects I started last weekend, two are now complete! First up is the Hot Pink Waffles. IMG_5594The pattern was written for DK, so I lowered the number of stitches to cast on with this worsted weight, but not enough. It’s a little looser than I would like, but it will do. It fits well enough on my noggin.IMG_5578The girl and I went to watch Room with my mom yesterday, and I got this hat up to the decreases while watching. It was a good movie, grim but moving, definitely wonderful performances. I still liked the book better.

I also finished the bulky ivory hat, and there’s more of a story to that one. There’s a book out called Weekend by Jen Geigley with fabulous bulky-weight patterns. I love them all. She had a sale on it recently so I splurged and bought the book, and decided the hat Sliver would be my first project. But I didn’t really like the dropped stitch “run” so I just omitted it. I had some super bulky yarn and the right size needles, and no, I didn’t test for gauge because it’s a HAT and it will fit someone and I almost always knit to gauge anyway.

Not this time. I cast for the size medium and knit away, and it looked small but I ignored it. When I picked it up yesterday to finish it, I decided to face the truth and put it on my head. It was definitely NOT a size adult medium. It was easily a child-size hat, but long. I thought about frogging and starting over with the XL, but realized I didn’t have enough yarn. So I frogged back about an inch of the body and finished off a cute little kid hat, and added a pompom because pompoms are adorable and I had exactly enough yarn left. IMG_5583Maybe I knit more tightly than Jen, maybe my “super bulky” yarn wasn’t as bulky as hers, I don’t know. But I still love the hat, and I still want to make an adult version at some point. But for now, I’m going through the book to decide which pattern I want to try next! Until I decide, I cast on for another lacy cotton slouch hat, this time in a peachy pink. IMG_5592Yesterday was National Puppy Day but I didn’t have the time to blog, so Grace and Jack will send you belated happy puppy wishes! IMG_5586IMG_5589

Four New WIPs

I kind of went crazy this weekend and started some new projects. Not just one, a few. The first is my fourth Hitchhiker. This one is for a former co-worker and a good friend, someone who was kind enough to read my manuscript and give me some feedback. She picked the yarn and I’m providing the manual labor. Fortunately, she has very good taste. IMG_5404The yarn is Araucania Huasco, a lovely crispy Merino. It’ll be my first fingering weight Hitchhiker but it’s going quickly enough. Still, I got a bit tired of the skinny yarn and tiny needles and needed a bulky fix. So I started this. IMG_5548Simple beanie in super-bulky wool on size 15s. This was so super fast to knit…but the sad part is that I got to the decreases and realized I have no size 15 DPNs and couldn’t finish. Joann doesn’t carry them in the store, but thankfully we’re testing Amazon Prime so I’ve got a set ordered that should arrive tomorrow. But just that hat wasn’t a long enough break from the Hitchhiker, so I *finally* cast on for my Color Block Bias Wrap in Chateau. IMG_5547Um, this yarn is AMAZING. It’s a bulky blend of 70% alpaca, 30% bamboo, and it’s a chainette yarn so it’s incredibly light and fluffy. I don’t even care that it’s spring and I’m knitting with alpaca. I might in a couple of weeks, but for now, this will be fantastic evening knitting.

Finally, this morning the girl had an early morning orthodontist appointment to have her braces removed (hooray!). Early, like 7:30. On spring break. Ugh. Anyway, I had a bag ready to go, and in my bag I had yarn and needles to start a new hat. I’m thinking it will be for me but I always think that and I never keep it. Still, I’ll pretend. IMG_5549I’m doing another Violet Waffles hat and using HiKoo Simpliworsted, a bouncy squishy merino/acrylic/nylon blend. It’s one of my favorite yarns, and I think it will make a great lightweight hat. But seriously, hot pink is a really hard color to photograph.

I managed to almost double my WIPs in two days, but I’m okay with it. I now have a nice mix of projects to meet almost any need. I’m not sure how much knitting I’ll get done this week, having both kids home all week for spring break, but it will surely be more than the writing/revising I’ll get done (which will be none, I’m guessing). And maybe that’s just as well. I’m up to three rejections, and each one stings a little more. So it might be best for me to take a break and not think about it for a while. Today, I’ll do that by taking the girl on a belated birthday-shopping trip. Maybe I’ll take the hat knitting with me!

Purple Moonstone Wrap

I finished my wrap last night, just in time for a short blast of cold weather before spring hits for good. I thought I’d woven in all the ends but in taking photos this morning I saw two I missed. And it needs to be blocked: the point keeps curling up. Plus, I didn’t have enough yarn to do the i-cord edging, so I can either leave it off or add it in a contrasting color (maybe the odd color lot from this yarn?). I haven’t decided yet. Will it keep the edge from curling? What if I block it and then decide I want to add the i-cord, will that be ok?IMG_5531I love how big it turned out! I wanted it to be more like a wrap than a scarf, and that’s what I got. I cast on 175 stitches, using two strands of worsted held together and size 15 needles. IMG_5532Another nice thing: I found those interlocking foam mats at Aldi yesterday, a set of 4 for $10, and of course snagged a set. The ones I have were “borrowed” from my husband’s basement workout space, so they’re not exactly in the best of shape. This way I can return his and use pretty new ones!

Now I’m back to three WIPs. One is the Because I Love You Wrap, which I haven’t re-started after frogging. Not sure why I stalled on that one. I also have another Hitchhiker waiting to made as a thank-you for one of my early readers. She picked out really pretty rainbow yarn for it too. Maybe that will be my weekend knitting!

I’ve been reading a lot more lately too, and am in the middle of Stephen King’s On Writing. Fabulous book, that is. Don’t know how I missed it all this time. I’ll definitely need to get my own copy of that one.

Enjoy your weekend, friends!