Tag Archive | writing

Disappearing Act

No, YOU ran off and disappeared for a month!!

Okay, yes, it was me. And while I realize most of you probably didn’t notice my lack of posting, I did. I missed writing; I just got caught up in the spring madness of band and choir contest, concerts, finals, junior prom, ACT/SAT, plus work and knitting and reading, oh my! I guess that’s my way of saying life got in the way, and today I’m pushing all that aside to make time for writing again.

Maybe it’s because that I’ve got a little seed of a story that’s trying to get out. I’ve been working on it here and there, and it’s new and exciting and that’s kind of all I’m going to say about it right now. But I think writing leads to more writing, you know? And every time I come back to it, I remember how much I love it. I went and saw Andrew McCarthy recently as he toured for his new YA novel, and he talked about how when he started writing, he had this little epiphany, “OH! There I am!” And that’s me, when I write. Lately I’ve been feeling sort of lost, because I didn’t have the wholly creative life I was living before I went back to work. I’ve been feeling like I’d let got of a big part of myself, and I want to try to get it back. I don’t regret going back to work, really: I love my co-workers and have found some wonderful new friends, and to be honest, the salary is very helpful given our old-house/almost-senior-year-kid life. But I want to try harder to find the balance, to bring back that creative energy that filled my days before. So! Long-winded way to say, I’m back!

First, I have to show off just one photo of my gorgeous girl from her junior prom. Like most prom experiences, the actual event didn’t quite live up to the expectations and there were a couple of hitches, but they looked stunning and had a good time, and that’s good enough, I think.

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I’ve been gone too long to talk about everything I’ve knit in the past month, but my focus has been socks. Yes, I’ve become a sock knitter, I admit it. I have three completed pairs and have figured out how to make a sock that fits the way I like. I joined my first KAL, with Raveler FluffyK (from the blog The Corner of Knit & Tea). My goal is to complete two pairs of socks, and I’m pretty close to finishing the first.

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This is my first foray into socks with a contrast heel/toe/cuff and I’m pretty much in love with it. My only problem is figuring out when to break for the heel to ensure good contrast, but that’ll come in time. And did I mention how much I adore self-striping yarn?? OMG that’s a reason to knit socks right there! It’s just so magical. I knit these at work during lunch, and non-knitters’ eyes get big when they see what the yarn is doing. “But how does it make the stripes??” Magic, my friends. Magic. This yarn is Aurora Fingering Weight from Tumbleweed Yarns and it’s a joy to knit with. Soft but not limp, great stitch definition, and super-saturated colors. Oh yeah, self-striping sock yarn is going to be my new obsession. For fall I’m totally going to make some fingerless gloves too. Anyway, this sock is ready for the heel, so I’ll get that all done this weekend so the foot will be ready for mindless lunch break knitting next week. This pattern is Vanilla Latte and it’s fantastic (assuming you enjoy ribbing).

Speaking of FluffyK, my other main WIP right now is a cowl pattern I’m test-knitting for her. I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to say, but I will say I’m enjoying the knit and so far the lace pattern is turning out beautifully. The pattern calls for around 450-500 yards of DK, and I was so good that I shopped from my stash! I’m using Berroco Fiora in a gray color called Tybee, and I think this will be the perfect spring/fall lightweight cowl.

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I’ll keep you updated and show you the FO as soon as I can, and you can watch her Ravelry design page for release info. The pattern is called Wood Sorrel.

Okay, well, I didn’t really plan this out to be a FluffyK-themed post, but the other thing I wanted to show off is the new yarn I got in April. Yes, she spins yarn too, and because I begged pathetically she’s my friend, she spun a skein especially for me. It was the only skein of yarn I purchased in April, and it was totally worth it.

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Isn’t it stunning?? The colorway is named Sinister Foxy and it’s all wound and ready for me to cast on, as soon as I have the time! If you’re jealous, you can check out her Etsy shop here. She’s also a tech editor and prolific knitter, so she doesn’t have a ton, but it’s all OOAK and beautiful. And heck, while I’m at it: find her on Instagram as fluffykira. She posts lots of pretty things!

This was fun! Thanks for being patient with me, friends. I’ll be back soon, because I do want to share the progress on my Harvest cardigan. But for now, it’s a beautiful morning and I have much housework knitting to do. Happy Saturday!

Back to work?

It has been four years since I left my last full-time position, and, maybe surprisingly, I’m ready to go back. I have been home when I was needed most, I’ve gotten my kids past the most critical stage and now that my daughter is old enough to start driving herself around, I can reach for more. I wouldn’t change anything about the last four years. It was absolutely what I needed to do.

But this is what I need to do now. I miss contributing something vital to the world, something on a bigger scope. I miss being part of a team that’s working together to make the world a better place, one step at a time. I love my creative endeavors, but they’re small, low-impact, solitary. I miss collaboration. I miss using my brain to learn new things and then helping others learn those things. I loved being a trainer, loved helping my peers and staff grow. I loved making a difference in clients’ lives. I’ve got these writing skills, and I feel like I could be using them in so many more ways. I could make an impact in the community…and that’s thrilling.

In no way do I mean this as a criticism of stay-at-home parents. I’ve done it in two long stretches now, and appreciated it both times. Parenting is a huge responsibility, and I admire and respect those to do it full-time. I *know* it’s a job, and a hard one. But it’s also a personal choice, and what works for one family may not be the best choice for another. It was the right choice at that point in time.

But now, my kids have grown up a lot. For that matter, I’ve grown up a lot after all the things I’ve faced the last four or five years. I have more to give, and I want to make a bigger difference. I will still knit, though I might focus more on what sparks my creativity and less on custom orders. I will still write and work on getting my book published. I will still proofread for other writers, though it might take me a little bit longer. But I want to do more. I want to challenge myself. I feel like this is my second wind, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.

 

I’m a good girl

You’ll be pleased to know that I stayed focused and got a lot of “must haves” done yesterday! (Or maybe you won’t, but let’s pretend, just for fun.) I made my list of chores for the week and half are already crossed off. Sure, they’re the easier ones, but it’s a start. When I can do that, get a workout in, AND get some work done, that’s a good day. I finished the first pass through the sci-fi book I’m proofreading (it’s the sequel to Mostly Human by Antoinette Houston. I’m not a sci-fi person but I have fun reading these.) and I got a few rows done on the mermaid blanket during Jeopardy! and I even managed to do some fun knitting before bed, starting another set of fingerless gloves. IMG_6084I needed another travel project, and these are perfect.

Now, I need you guys to send me some willpower: I’m going to the yarn store with the mother today. She wants a scarf to go with a certain dress, so we’re going together to pick out a color. I really really need to be good and not come home with extra yarn, so please send good mojo, or juju, or whatever. And tomorrow, I’ll be sure to show what I come with anyway. Sigh.

Here, have a couple of pupdates: IMG_6081Jack follows me around all day long. This is what I have whenever I’m working in my craft room.

IMG_6083And this is why my couches are a wreck. Both of them are in front of big windows, and the puppies have to keep watch whenever possible. I guess I’d rather have happy puppies than pristine couches. (Not sure the husband agrees.)

We had big storms yesterday and last night and this morning everything is bright and shiny and sparkling. Even the power lines have little rainbow droplets. Hope your day is bright too!

The Yarn Harlot Speaks

Have you ever had an experience that was so fantastic, so true and honest, that it speaks to you right at your core? That it leaves you feeling high afterward? Maybe the word verklempt applies here. That was me last night, after spending the evening at the Knitting in the Heartland event. It was AMAZING. No other word for it. I can’t believe I even considered not going. It was my first knitting conference and now I know how wondrous it is to be in a big room filled with people who speak your language, who understand what knitting means, that it’s not just an idle hobby. It’s so much more.

I mean, I walked into the hotel and there were people in the lobby just hanging out, knitting. Not one, but several. I got in line with all these other nice women who were friendly and helpful, and they were knitting! Or if they weren’t, I could see the yarn in the project bags they were carrying. I think they said there were 300 attendees. IMG_5653As I waited, a nice knitter sat next to me and we chatted about our knitting and friended each other on Ravelry. Then the magic truly began: Stephanie began her speech.IMG_5654

If you ever have the chance to hear her, GO. She is hysterical, so down-to-earth and casual and then she’ll drop these lines and have the whole room laughing. Plus she’s Canadian so she says things like “arse” and “eh” and it’s not an act, it’s just her and it’s delightful. She had me in tears at one point from laughing so hard. But it was more than just the funny stuff. It was about the “more”: How generous knitters are. How smart and persistent and creative we are. How knitting does wonderful things for our health, particularly our mental and emotional health. It was about self-esteem. She talked about how we need to own our power as knitters, embrace our talent and skill. We need to stop belittling ourselves before we can expect others to stop belittling us.

One of my favorite parts was when she pointed out often we deflect compliments of our knitting by saying “it was easy”, or “I just followed a a pattern”. Yep. I do that. No, she said, just say “Thank you.” Because it wasn’t easy. It took time to learn the skills, to practice to a point to where you can correctly follow the pattern to create that piece of art. To take it further, it takes creativity to match yarns with patterns, to put together color schemes and stripe sequences. It’s NOT easy, but we sometimes think it is because we love doing it so much. Like Stephanie, like so many other women, I am guilty of low self-esteem much of the time. There are a lot of things I don’t do well. It’s hard to be a mom–I mean, it’s great, but you don’t get a lot of validation that you’re doing a good job on a daily basis. It’s hard to be a writer–the writing is great but sharing it and being rejected sucks. So for her to tell me that yes, my knitting is beautiful, that it speaks to my talent and skill, well. I needed to hear that. Maybe we all did, because after the speech, I had women stopping me to tell me how gorgeous my Hitchhiker was (I wore this one. Loved it, except it gave me a rash where it touched my neck. Oops.) and I practiced saying, “Thank you!”

Okay, so the talk (which lasted an hour and a half, including questions) was fantastic, but then she signed books, and I’d brought one with me, of course. When I got up there, I mentioned that she’d tweeted me and told me I should come, and that I was so glad I had, and I could actually see her face light up with recognition! And then she was gracious enough to allow me to take a selfie with her. IMG_5656See? Amazing. Sighhhh. I want to move to Canada and live next door and be her best friend. (Except that’s really hard, apparently, moving to Canada. They don’t let just anybody in.) Heck, I want to BE her.

That would have been enough. That experience made the long drive in heavy traffic and construction worth it. But there was MORE: the market! However, this post is long enough, and that one will be equally long because OMG the market! Yes, I bought stuff. Probably too much. Tune in tomorrow to see what I got!

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!