Category Archives: knitting

The Convergence of Jane Austen, Digital Awesome, Fiction and Fan Knitting

Cover image of Jane Austen Knits, 2011

Click to see the projects

There were interesting things to note beyond knitting in yesterday’s issue of Knitting Daily which was about Jane Austen Knits, 2011. To read all about it and see pics of all the projects, click here.

  1. There’s a whole special magazine issue devoted to knits inspired by the work of Jane Austen.
  2. Part of the title is 2011. This won’t be the only one! While I believe it is the first, a call for submissions is already out for the 2012 issue.
  3. Perhaps most awesome to me, personally, and my obsession with the digital age: the digital download is available NOW, while the paper version is available for preorder (and the digital iPhone/Android type version–what would you call that?–is coming soon to Zinio). For so long I’ve been whining about ebooks coming out AFTER the paper version, and here’s some true instant gratification, the download available when it’s ready and a wait on the printing. That is just AWESOME.
  4. Oh, and also I’m pretty sure I was briefly introduced to one of the designers from the issue while in the yarn shop some months ago. Of course I don’t remember her name, since I suck at that, and I don’t know what project. But still I it gives me a certain–ooh, I met a published designer!–sort of happy. I’ll find out, though.
Cover of Charmed Knits

Harry Potter inspired projects

I totally love how much fiction and knitting have come together. Part of what was fun as the Harry Potter movies came out was waiting to see what kinds of knits the costume designers would come up with, and watching those translated by knitting fans on the Internet. Harry Potter not only inspired a whole lot of kids to read, the series inspired a whole lot of people to learn to knit. I don’t know how many threads and blog posts I’ve read of people fearlessly going out and buying needles and yarn to embark on a Harry Potter scarf as their first project.

Jayne Hat

Jayne Hat from Firefly

And it’s not just Harry Potter, of course. Dr. Who scarves are popular with knitters, and, most importantly, the Jayne Hat.

There’s also Pippin’s scarf and other LOTR patterns, and check out this Google image search for Star Wars knitting.

Pippin's Scarf, LOTR

Click for Pippin Scarf

I’ve been thinking there should at least be a Talent Chronicles pattern for “Kat’s Girly Scarf.” Maybe I should work on that.

Meanwhile, who’s out there? Any fan knitters? Has anyone picked out a project from Jane Austen Knits, 2011 yet? I’m looking at those little slippers and also wanting those fingerless mitts at the bottom to be a whole awesome sweater.

My Jayne Hat and sweater set for Blythe

My Jayne Hat and sweater set for Blythe

Blythe Hatmione from POA

My Blythe Hatmione from POA

P.S. Reminder to check out yesterday’s post about my prom dress contest if you haven’t seen it. The winner gets to be a character in the next book.

P. P. S. I made a page with an offer for booksellers. If you know anyone who might be interested, would you please pass the link? Thanks!

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#ROW80 Update and an online class review

How the week does fly by. Mission reset my sleep schedule has been total fail so far. Let’s face it: I like to sleep in. And it’s not even so much that I like to sleep so much as I like to laze around in bed in that half-dream state. Which is why that’s such a good time for getting into writing that I should really seize the opportunity. I’ll keep working on that.

So as far as getting back to my blog schedule, Sunday’s usually the day when I publish my weekly recommendations for articles that I save for you during the week. Only I haven’t been reading many articles this week and find I have no list.

There are, as I’ve mentioned, a ton of things I put off while finishing Heroes ‘Til Curfew. And it wasn’t so much about time–after all, I can only write so many words a day. (One day toward the end of the book I wrote 8,000 words and still found I needed to take some time to do something to wind down again.) Some of the things I put off were just an exercise in self-denial. Anyway, once the load of the draft was off my shoulders, one of the first things I found myself doing was signing up for Stephanie Japel’s Fit Your Knits course.

This wasn’t something I had looked for or looked into before. It was more something that popped up in my mailbox at a time when I just longed for something fun, something I could learn from (which is fun), and something that was not about writing or superheroes or teens or supernatural anything. (After I finish a Talent Chronicles piece, I always have to binge on period drama because it’s completely different. I’ve been spending a lot of time with Lark Rise to Candleford.) Anyway, the course was and still is, at the time of this writing, half price. So I gave it a go.

(Note: this post never comes back around to writing or fiction, so those of you who couldn’t care less about knitting are dismissed.)

Since I know I have a few knitters who stop by the blog, I thought I’d talk about it a bit. The production of the course is very well done and wholly professional. Craftsy.com is a nice platform, I had no technical problems, and it has some nice features. Stephanie Japel is a good teacher. This is obviously not her first time teaching. She knows what she intends to present, she’s clear, and the pace is good. Plus she’s personable, warm, funny, and a pleasant person to spend eleven videos with.

Another thing I’ll add about the way Stephanie was in course, with regard to measurements, is that she was really down to earth about it just being numbers. Just work with your numbers and let go of the hangups about what you or anyone else might think they should be. She talks a lot about how bodies are just bodies, they’re all different, the standard measurements we work with are–not reality. There doesn’t need to be shame involved and really, it shouldn’t be involved in the fitting process at all. Just get on with making something that fits the shape you are. I guess that as a former dressmaker I just really appreciated her attitude and that she tried to get that across to the audience.

The course itself is suited to those who have a good grasp of knitting basics and want to know more about taking charge of their own knitting. With regard to fit, however, it’s mainly just about shaping below the bust–covering both darts and side-seam shaping, and altering the length and taper of the sleeve. She says, more than once during the course, that alterations that will affect the sleeve cap are beyond the scope of the course. There is a bonus segment that deals a little with the concept of altering armhole and sleeve cap, but it’s mostly about why it’s so complicated. The other bonus segment in the program was about adding short row bust darts, something I hadn’t read too much on simply because…erm, I don’t need any extra room there.

The course materials mostly consist of a chart for recording your measurements and two of Stephanie’s patterns from Knitty.com (that is, patterns already out there for free). I supposed I would have liked to have gotten my hands on a pattern I otherwise would have had to pay for, like something fabulous designed especially for the coursework, or perhaps if the publishers of Fitted Knits had been willing allow something from that book to be used, it would have felt like added value.

One of the nice ideas present in the course was that Stephanie brought in a few different live models, pairs of women with very similar measurements around the body, yet were very different in height and build. That demonstrated clearly why simply choosing a pattern by bust-waist-hip measurements alone is hardly a guarantee of a good fit. I wish it had been possible to show finished knitted garments on those models. We were shown a number of sweaters which employed different types and degrees of shaping, but they were all shown on hangers. I think it would have been beneficial to say, “Here is Garment X, knitted according to the directions for Size M on Model A. Here is Garment X on Model A as it should fit, and this is how we did it.” I realize that would have taken a lot more work, more materials, etc., but it was something I felt the lack of as I watched.

As a long-time knitter, someone who buys books to read about techniques without intention of doing the projects, someone who knows how the math works, I was a little disappointed not to learn anything new. I wouldn’t recommend the course to experienced knitters who are confident and already comfortable making adjustments to patterns. I think what’s presented here is stuff most of us who can be described that way already know whether we’ve learned it from other sources or figured it out ourselves. Still, I found it very enjoyable and don’t at all feel like it was a waste of $30 or of my time.

For those who haven’t read empowering books about taking charge of your knitting and don’t yet feel confident making changes to patterns or developing your own, I’d recommend it enthusiastically, especially at this price. Yes, all of the information covered can certainly be mined free from the internet. But if you spend any time at all in knitting forums (or anywhere) with people constantly popping up to ask the same questions, you may get the idea that Googling for stuff is just not always fun. This course puts it all together in a quality production. If I had a knitter friend I felt was at this level, I would definitely consider giving the course as a gift.

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Holding Pattern

The good news: I’m publishing today.

The not as good news: I’m not totally sure about being live today, and won’t be until I have it all buyable right in front of me.

I’m very anxious/hyper/nervous/excited today, so please bear with me.

Kait, who actually said the other day “I love Adobe Acrobat!”, offered to do the PDF and whatever headers and stuff I need to file for copyright. (Actually, she’s ranting today about how formatting is not hard. Check it out.) But she had real work to do this morning so I must wait until after lunch for her awesomeness to finish doing my work for me.

After that, it’s upload city, baby, and I get to see if it’s really as no hard as she says. So far, everything I’ve done is really…not that hard. I just have to wait to see if it all blows up before I can actually talk about it.

While we’re waiting, if you would consider liking my new Facebook author page, that would really help me look less losery, thanks so much.

I should be doing more productive stuff. I have a list, but I haven’t opened it today. I’ve been thinking about printing with Createspace, doing some reading on that, asking for some experiences and opinions and stuff. My biggest obstacle really is that I have to go back to Robin for the rest of the cover since I only bought a front. Her price for that is really reasonable, I just don’t have a lot of money right now. I wonder if she’d accept this slightly used puppy who ripped through two skeins of pricey yarn this morning… Likely not, and I couldn’t blame her.

Anyway, see, this is the thing with the hyper. I get really rambly. I’ve got to go do something while I wait. I’ll get those links out to you soon!

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Filed under books, Hush Money, knitting, links, me me me, progress update, rant, romance, self-publishing, Talent Chronicles, writing

End of Days

Well, I suppose that once a month is better than nothing, and if I’ve been too busy to drop in here lately, at least I can actually add writing to my list of excuses.

Today is the last day of school for the year, and it started out as one of those days where everything goes wrong. I’ll spare you the details, but you can see the broken china for yourself. Bad, bad dog.

There’s Briar from an early morning photoshoot before Awards Day. It was a lovely, sunny, misty morning for pictures, and there she was all dressed up for graduation. I actually managed to get a few that weren’t blurred. Well, that one in the up right I had to crop out her blurred, flapping arms.

Also from that morning is the pic on the bottom right with my yard, allegedly in need of mowing, but given my non-standard nature, it pleases me to live in a field of clover. Honeysuckle is taking over the world as well, and all I can think is now nice everything smells when I venture outside.

Isn’t that pocket sandwich about the cutest thing ever? I got great bento stuff from J-Box. If you’re not used to paying for shipping things from Asia (like we crazed doll collectors are), it might be scary. But I was favorably impressed with my buying experience there and hope to order again soon. So much Hello Kitty, so few funds…

Speaking of why I’m poor, please don’t tell, but yesterday I put in my preorder application for a Unoa Sist kit. I know it was wrong, it just seems like they never come up for pre-order, and then you only find them already strung and sometimes with missing parts, and always for $100-$400 more than the original price. So really, it’s a savings. That’s what I’ll be telling myself when the invoice arrives. And I had nearly contented myself with no more doll orders this year. By the way, my Dollzone couple in the sidebar down there, they’ve arrived at Mint On Card, but my layaway runs through the end of July. I’m trying not to put it on my credit card early just to bring them home. I’ve bought from Lindsay before and have had nothing but good experiences with her.

Decimal, as you can see, is actually starting to look like a sweater. One I hope will be done by the time I leave to

GO VISIT MY CRIT PARTNER IN JUNE!!

I’m stupid excited about this. This will be my first away by myself since 2003.

Also exciting is that I’ve been writing kinda like crazy–for me, anyway–all the month of May and am about 24K words into my WIP with about 45% of my scenes completed and the rest outlined or at least sketched in. I’m hoping to finish my draft before I leave so that I can dump it on her for an in-person workshopping, in the hopes that she will feed me ice cream to make it easier to take. I’m optimistic. It’s a new life skill I’ve been working on. So I’m expecting it to come through without needing a complete tear down and hope to have Hush Money ready for consumption in the next 6-8 weeks. Obviously, I could be completely wrong in all areas and it could be 6-8 months but…I’ll let you know.

I always have a lot of things to talk about, I just keep forgetting to come here and talk about them. Note to self: put someone in charge of that. Poor Kettle. If I give her one more thing to remind me about, I don’t know what she’ll do. She’s been talking a lot about when she has kids…. Oh honey, you already do. Waah!

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Filed under bento, bjds, goals, knitting, progress update, word count, writing

The Soft Rains of April…

…are (almost) over.

If you’re not an a-ha fan, well, that’s a song title (as is the blog title).

I haven’t been around for a long, long time, so to catch you up, here are some pics from around my house the last few weeks. A lot of it’s been about food lately.

I’ve been doing the Menu Mailer from SavingDinner.com for the last 3 months and just signed on again for the next three. I held out for a long time, partly because I was really resistant to cooking things I wasn’t familiar with every night and having to go to the bother of making things I might not like. But what I found was that her recipes are geared toward busy cooks of any level, so there’s rarely anything complicated or time-consuming. The weekly menus are actually a collection of menus that meet different dietary needs, and everything comes with suggestions for accompaniments which has always been a stumbling block for me–I fear the vegetables. Since I started doing this, though, my cart is always full of produce and my husband has been really happy with the variety and the…vegetables.

So doing that has gone a long way to getting me out of the cooking (and general life) slump I had been in. Now that I’ve got the menu-planning, list-making, actually serving decent food thing back under control again, I’m starting to get back into making it “nice”.¬† I used to try produce attractive plates or serve family style in serving dishes instead of cooking pots, but for the last few years there have been a lot of cooking pots slapped on the table. (Even though, somewhere in there, I finally got a real table.)

This can be blamed on the fabulous Japanese housewifery of Ai Yori Aoshi (and perhaps the fact that the characters actually appreciate it!) And also on bento as presented at JustBento, and fantastic site that makes creating attractive boxed lunches look easy. Naturally I’ve been interested in bento off and on for some time now, as I already pack two lunches every day. But everyone’s bentos always had so much “healthy junk” in them, which is a turn-off for someone like me, and making things pretty just for pretty’s sake seemed like too much to ask of me until just recently. But when I poked around at Just Bento, especially reading through the Get Started Handbook and the 5-week Challenge, things started to click and I realized I could apply those FlyLady concepts of BabySteps and everything doesn’t have to be Perfect.

So I’ve been taking my baby-steps in bento and enjoying it. Forcing myself to grow up and eat some healthy junk. My goals right now are to make nicer lunches for daughter Briar, and to start making a healthier lunch for myself as part of my morning routine. (DH’s lunches are always made right after supper because he leaves so early in the morning.) I’m hoping to continuing the habit of making both of us girls portable lunches in the morning will keep us eating healthy and cheap through the summer.

Now, what else is in my picture? Two pictures of my sweater in progress. That is, or will be, Decimal from the Spring ’09 issue of Knitty. And it’s for me! I’m really enjoying this project. I bought the yarn at Loopville, a local yarn shop, and I try to drop by there once a week to hang out and work on it.

In sewing news, there hasn’t been a lot lately, but hopefully coming soon. I just bought a selection of fabrics and smocking patterns to work on for summer clothes for Briar who has grown out of/destroyed just about everything she owns. And I can’t find anything I really like for her in the stores. So hopefully I can turn these into some cuteness for her.

Not a lot of doll news either. There’s a picture of Dillon, my Lati Blue Rucas, and my STILL unnamed Minifee DES, both of whom recently received new wigs. The poor DES girl…before she gets a name she needs a face. Before I paint the face she needs a hair color. And I still don’t think this is the right wig for her.

And finally, to the writing content. I’ve been back to work on that, now working on a teen series that’s part of my overall urban fantasy (I guess) landscape. I’m coming up to the end of the first act on that, maybe 8 K words so far, and I suppose it’s going ok, considering how long it’s been since I’ve written any fiction.

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