Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pinky swears are for grown-ups

There comes a point in every major creative project where I have to stop, assess just how deep I've gotten myself into this thing, and make some promises to myself to keep it from getting out of hand. Right now, I'm at that point with the Max hoodie. I originally intended it to be done around the time Where the Wild Things Are came out, but I only finished the sweater math today. It still needs formatting, test knitting, yardage math, quadruple number checking, and probably some sort of virgin sacrifice in order to work. The bones are done, but there's much fleshing out left to do.

So. Pinky swear time.

Promise the first: Max will be a free pattern. When I first started out, I told myself I would offer this pattern for free, and I'm going to stick to that. What I'm not going to stick to is my original reason for not charging - that I couldn't possible charge someone for a pattern I made. That's bullshit; I've been working hard at this and the result is going to be pretty cool. New reasoning: I'm doing this for the fun of it and to see if I actually can.

Promise the second: If I write another pattern, I will put more value in my own work. If I feel I've done the work to charge for it, I will. (I'll also make sure it's worth charging for, of course.)

Promise the third: I will only write patterns if it continues to be fun for me to write patterns. I'm having a blast right now! But if it ever reaches the point where pressure from someone else becomes the driving force of this hobby, screw it. Also, this will remain just that: a hobby. I'm not aiming to be a professional designer - I've already got enough financially insupportable aspirations, thankyouverymuch!

Promise the fourth: If I can work writing and pattern designing in together, I will. I've got an idea I'm really excited about, but I won't tell you about it yet, because it'll be awhile before I can do anything with it.

Them's the swears. Hopefully I'll have something more to show on this pattern soon.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

She's half right.

I went out with Abby and Kiah last night, to do stuff that former roommates who are now neighbors do, and Kiah was wearing the hat I knit for her the other day. I didn't blog about that hat, did I?

This hat was an accident. I had sweater scraps leftover, a dull afternoon at work, and a Ysolda Teague pattern promising a quick hat. It ended up being a color and pattern combination that I wouldn't really wear, but it matched the hat that Kiah'd been living in during the cold snap this fall. Also, it was meant to look like frosting, which is Kiah's favorite food group. Clearly, it was meant for her.

Abby wanted a hat like Kiah's to go with a Halloween costume she's planning, and I offered to make her one.

Abby: "Really? You think you could do that by Halloween?"

Me: "It only takes a few hours."

Abby: "But don't you have other stuff you're working on? Aren't you, like...knitting socks or something?"

Me: "I'm hardly ever knitting socks."

Kiah: "She's always knitting socks. She's always knitting seven pairs of socks at one time."

Abby: "Really?"

Me: "Nuh-uh!"

Kiah: "She's always knitting seven of everything at one time."

I protested this statistic mightly. But today at work, I realized I had four hats in progress in my bag. So I started gathering up my projects for a headcount.

Four hats.

Four pairs of socks, most of which have been hibernating for months.

And four sweaters.

Everything else is in ones.


In my defense, I'm still not knitting seven of everything.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Steeking: the final frontier

This post is rated MA for yarn carnage.

I cut my first steek last night. Here, let me show you.

Knitters: "Oh god! The horror!" (fainting)

Non-knitters and advanced, steek-happy knitters: "Uh-huh. And?"

I had no idea whether this would work. The yarn I'm using is superwash, so the fibers don't cling to one another like ideal steeking yarn does, and the edge certainly won't felt. At first, looking at all the little frayed edges, I imagined horrible unravelings and the ghost of the sweater haunting me in my dreams. But no - once I started picking up stitches and knitting the button band, the steeked edge very politely folded itself over and let me work. No unraveling!

The right side of the button bands looks just fine, aside from a slight mistake with the button row that I don't really mind.

This is the current state of the sweater:

I'm going to sew a thick line of ribbon over the steeked edge on the inside of the cardigan once all the ends are woven in and whatnot. I'll miss being able to flash those gory edges at people.

Friday, October 16, 2009

I have no plans to eat anybody.

I went to a midnight showing of Where the Wild Things Are last night and couldn't go to bed when I got home because I was still processing it. I'd known going into it that I'd enjoy the movie - based on the previews, it looked laser-targeted to my generation. I just didn't know how hard this movie would hit me. It wrapped its furry, clawed digits around my heart and squeezed.

Without spoiling too much, I'll tell you this: the driving force of Where the Wild Things Are is Max. The movie operated less on suspense than on Max-level want. Major events include things like the wild rumpus in the book - seemingly low-stakes events - and yet they came across as important, because they were important to Max. His POV is so, so strong. I understand why a lot of critics aren’t liking the movie - you have to buy into the kid’s logic. You have to remember what it’s like to feel that way. If you don’t, it’s a big, weird, pretty movie about forts and monsters, wherein nothing really happens.

I remember. I've been that kid. I've shared a room with that kid, too. For me, Max read as a perfect combination of my childhood and my brother's, and because of that, I bought into his POV completely. His story is simple on the surface. The critics are right, sort of - nothing much happens, at least not from a grown-up perspective. But if you let yourself get sucked into Max's head, the emotional undertow will pull you right in.

Anyway, since it's the opening day for Wild Things, I may as well post this. I was hoping to have a pattern available today, but I've been so sleep deprived lately that doing sweater math seems akin to designing a skyscraper. So, in lieu of that, here are pictures of the finished Max hoodie.

I wore it to the movie last night, because I'm a giant dork. Also because it's quickly becoming one of my favorite things in my wardrobe. The ears have a mind of their own, but I sort of love that about them.

The weather here has been jumping back and forth between freezing and rainy and freezing and snowy, so layering this thick wool hoodie with my favorite leather coat is making walks to and form work much more bearable. I don't want to break out the winter gear just yet, and this lets me put that off a little longer.

Plus, if anyone declares a wild rumpus at the intersection, I'm already dressed for it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

This happens too much between major projects.

Dear Muse, Powers That Be, or Creativity-Inducing Whoever,

I hate to be ungrateful for the sudden-onset rush of creative mojo, but I'm at work right now. If you could maybe send me some creative mojo while I'm not at work, that would be fantastic.

And also, if you could send it for a project that's not fan fiction, I'd appreciate it.

Oh, and not for a project that I don't currently have on my to-do list, either. That means both those currently in some stage of existence and those that haven't yet been put to text. Like, say, the Fantasy Trilogy What Ate My Life? That's in hibernation. None of that. And don't go poking me about sequels to Or Your Money Back, because unless a publisher picks that up and asks for more, I'm not doing them.

So, to recap, bad things to send me include:
  • fanfic
  • sequels for things
  • ideas for hibernating projects
  • strong urges to ditch everything and write between the hours of 8-5, Monday through Friday
  • everything you have been giving me, basically
Good things to send me include:
  • short story writing mojo
  • OYMB revision ideas/motivation
  • better time management skills
  • chocolates
Are we clear? Good. Thanks for your time.

Love (potentially),
a writer

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Test knitter is on it, and I'm working on sweater math.

Project logic is not like our earth logic.

This is my thought process when it comes to projects:

1. Do I have enough projects?
>No/No? (If No, proceed to 2.)

2. Do I have time for another project?
>Yes/No? (If Yes, proceed to 4. If No, proceed to 3.)

3. Hey, isn't there that time of day when I'm usually sleeping/eating/running errands/doing laundry? Couldn't I just cut back on that?
>What a brilliant idea!/Do it do it do it! (If What a brilliant idea!, proceed to 4. If Do it do it do it!, proceed to 4.)

4. Do this project. Am I dead yet?
>Yes/No? (If Yes, inform parents. If no, return to 1.)

So it shouldn't be any surprise that my project list for the next three months looks like this:
  • Revise Or Your Money Back
  • Research market for OYMB, including coming up with a list of literary agents to send it to
  • Draft query letter, synopses, and anything else needed for said literary agents
  • Various write-ups for OYMB independent study
  • Finish Sylvi coat (currently 1/3 done)
  • Finish Snapdragon Tam for me
  • Finish writing and sizing Max hoodie pattern
  • Design and knit a zip-up cardigan for my dad for Christmas
  • Finish a painting
  • Write a short story (or five)
  • Knit landlord a hat for Christmas
  • Knit landlady socks for Christmas
  • Knit my brother a weird hat for Christmas
  • Finish a Swallowtail shawl for my grandma for Christmas
  • Woodburn something for my grandpa for Christmas
  • Knit my mom a Scotty's Hat for Christmas
  • Semi-secret spinning project for my stepmom for Christmas
  • Super-secret collaborative Christmas gifting project
  • Work on Sum? (Probably not.)
Oh, and laundry, because I keep letting it pile up.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Wet sweaters and things

When I first started knitting, Bex (she who passed on the dreadful condition) helped me work up a list of supplies I needed to begin collecting: needles, notions, and yarn, mainly. As much as that list evolved over time, there's one incredibly useful item that never appeared on it: a spin dryer.

I'm in love with my spin dryer. I bought it for laundry purposes, but it's turned out to be one of the biggest sanity-saving devices in my craft arsenal. See, I'm also in love with sweaters. And wet-blocking a sweater on the very limited counter space in my studio apartment? Pain. In. The. Ass. Cooking becomes a nerve-wracking experience when you're worried about spilling chopped onions on the sweater you spent the last month knitting.

My spin dryer makes it a non-issue. Last night I decided to block a certain sweater I've been working on, which is over 1000 yards of bulky wool (read: holds water with camel-like, physics defying capacity). After two minutes in the spin dryer, it was almost wearably dry. I laid it out on the counter to block, and this morning there was just one slight damp spot left, where the fabric had been layered on itself.

The spin dryer is also wonderful for finishing handspun. Toss in a wet skein, and out comes a slightly damp skein that only needs to be placed somewhere safe to finish drying, not hung dripping in the shower. Since there's no agitation involved,the dryer can't felt anything, and it's so gentle on fabric I've tossed lace projects in there without worry. Definitely one of the coolest tools I own for knitting and spinning, and I didn't even mean it to be!

In semi-related news, I'm wearing my first sweater today. It's a year old as of last week and still holding up beautifully. Happy belated birthday, sweater!