Friday, January 29, 2010

Countdown to rumpusing

Max is with the test-knitters now and officially has her own pattern page on Ravelry.

I rather like the cover page.
I rather like all of it, actually, but it remains to be seen if the pattern makes sense. This is one of those times when I'm afraid I'm secretly writing gibberish and no one's had the heart to tell me.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

I don't even.

I'm going to throw some numbers at you.


This is how much a friend on Ravelry just donated to Doctors Without Borders (MSF) to win a custom short story from me and a gorgeous necklace from FrkHansen (who will soon be opening an Etsy shop for her jewelry, upon fear of tackling by the herd of Ravelers who now covet her work).


This is how much another Ravelry friend donated to MSF last night to win a custom colored pencil piece from me and another gorgeous FrkHansen necklace, which his fiance is now planning on wearing for their wedding. (425 is also about the number of times I've had to fan my hands at my face to keep from crying out of joy and gratitude since this whole thing started.)


This is the amount of money that has been donated to emergency relief funds at places like MSF and the Red Cross from the Completely Pointless and Arbitrary Group Group's charity auction in the last three days, as of the most recent update to their tally. It's not a lot when compared to the big picture of all that Haiti needs now and in the coming months, but coming from a group of this size, it's amazing.

And what's as amazing to me as the numbers is the good nature of the people I've been interacting with on this auction. Not only has there been an astonishing amount of generosity, but even in the most heated bidding wars, everyone has been friendly and supportive of one another whether they're winning or not, never losing sight of the fact that this is all for a good cause. (And of course, this being the group that it is, there have also been copious pervy jokes and tangents about selling our dogs for necklaces.)

I've spent most of this weekend staring at my computer screen, trying to put together the words for how astounded, grateful, and proud I am about what this community is doing - and how lucky I feel to be a part of it.

I still don't have those words.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Read this.

An absolutely perfect rant on gay subtext, the need for GLBT heroes, and how slash fiction plays into that.

My favorite passage:

I want those main characters to fall in love and make out because it means that fans of their characters will have to come to terms with their gayness, exactly like they would have to do in real life. It's one thing to start out a book, like Swordpoint and Havemercy did, introducing your main characters as gay from the start. Because from the outset the reader knows, the reader can choose whether they approve, or tolerate, or whatever. They can put that book down and walk away.

But reality doesn't let you choose. Reality is when your best friend turns to you and says, "the thing is, I'm gay," and your entire world turns upside down.

The most empowering aspect of slash for me is that it takes beloved, known characters, and strips away their heteronormativity. Yeah, countless people have accidentally discovered Harry Potter slash on the internet, and gone "ACK MY EYES" and hit the back button as fast as they can, but that also means that for half an instant, countless people were forced to grapple with the idea that someone they loved was gay, even if that someone was a fictional character. And maybe they didn't get it, but maybe that moment brought them closer to acceptance or tolerance or empathy.

Fiction has always been vitally important to me. When I was growing up, TV shows were my safe place to retreat to when life sucked. But there were virtually no queer heroes in them, and those few queer heroes who existed had either no romantic interests or romances that ended in tragic deaths. I stayed deep in the closet until late college, and looking back, I wonder if part of that was due to the influence of the stories I loved on TV. When your safe place tells you, "There is probably no one like you, and people like you only die horribly anyway," it's hard not to take that to heart.

This is why GLBT characters end up in my own writing often. This is why, two years ago, when a central character in the novel I was writing surprised me by starting up a same sex relationship in a subplot, I pulled it to the foreground. Because it needs to be text, not subtext.

I'm writing myself a new safe place. With any luck, someone else will find themselves in the heroes here, too.

Friday, January 15, 2010

ATTN: Ravelers!

If you're on Ravelry and you'd like to help a good cause and get some neat swag in return, check out the Completely Pointless and Arbitrary Group group's CPaAG loves Haiti and wants to help thread! It's a charity auction and an entertaining read, too. I had to push back my lunch break today because I couldn't tear myself away from an auction of canned jams and fruits, and I wasn't even bidding.

I've got
two things up for auction: a custom drawing (penciled or inked) and a custom short story. If you're on Ravelry, go check it out!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A cavalcade of hats

It started with Kiah's hat. That's the one that opened up the flood gates.

See, I'm not a hat knitter. I swear I'm not. I actually don't really like knitting hats. But when I find a hat pattern I really enjoy, it pushes the Temporary Insanity button in my brain and makes me think I love knitting hats and want to marry hats and raise a whole family of woolly little hats with names like Hatthew and Margarhat. This is a serious affliction.

Because when it happens, like it happened with Kiah's hat in Ysolda Teague's Icing Swirl Hat pattern, it gets...scary.

Like so:

I've got chills just looking at it. That's my former roommate Abby dressed as Mary Tyler Moore on Halloween, sporting another Icing Swirl that I knit her in a few evenings.

And this, knit a short while later, is a Ribbed Beanie in Malabrigo Chunky for my landlord. (Which my landlady nearly fell over praising. I tried to explain to her that it was just a plain black ribbed beanie, but that had no effect.)

Then came the (blurry) colleague retirement hat - Helping Hat, Knit Picks Swish Bulky.

And a bastardized Icing Swirl for me, knit in my own thick and thin handspun (the first stuff I spun on my wheel) with colorwork and a thick brim. It's become my default winter hat because it's so warm, but it's not terribly pretty.

Then a shortened Scotty's Hat in Cascade 220 for my mom.

A last minute "Did my mom just trick me into saying I'd knit Opa a hat for her to give to Opa for Christmas?" hat, improvised in leftover Malabrigo Chunky.

A Fish Hat in Cascade 220 for my brother, shown here pouting about his impending digestion.

And finally, my first project knitted entirely in 2010, a happy, sunny Icing Swirl Hat for myself in Cascade Baby Alpaca Chunky. Pictures don't do this hat justice. It's such a bright yellow it's like wearing a miniature sun around - perfect for January.

This, I hope, is where the hatalanche ends. I've texted hats to let them know it's over, and I'm moving on to the sweaters that have been sitting unfinished in my craft area since October.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A letter to 2010, with visual aids

Dear 2010,

Where is my flying car? I was told by now there would be flying cars, and so far you have disappointed me. Hell, I'm not picky - a hoverboard will do in a pinch. But something needs to fly me to work.

Especially since 2009 left this in front of my door:

I'm not even going to show you what's on the stairs.

I don't mean to speak ill of your brother, 2010, but you've gotta admit, he had kind of a jerky sense of humor. I mean, trying to trap me inside my apartment with a layer of ice on the welcome mat, just days after Christmas? The welcome mat. Come on.

And before that, when 2009 killed the hard drive on my laptop in the middle of a semester, in the middle of several writing projects? And then, less than six months later, when he killed the logic board while I was in the middle of a novel revision? I had the same instructor both terms, so I couldn't even use "my computer ate it" as an excuse without looking like a liar.

So many people I know labeled 2009 the Year of Suck, I can't even count them all. And parts of the year really sucked for me, too. But there were upsides, especially in the realm of projects.

2009 was the year that I finished my first novel that wasn't about Tiern. It was the year I designed my first knitwear pattern (and the second, which I swear I'm still working on!). It was the year I started spinning and bought my lovely wheel, Mal, who's still one of my favorite things I own. It was the year that rekindled my love of fan fiction, which in turn brought a weird sense of balance to my writing. It was the year I got my own apartment, which immediately filled with wool and notebooks.

2009 was also the year I met scads of friends online - most notably on the Very Longest Thread on Ravelry, an epic chat made up of people so friendly and accepting that they made me feel supported in everything I did. (Here's to a millionth post in 2010, Fredizens!)

So, 2010. I think we need to sit down and make some agreements.

You see this shiny little MacBook Pro? His name is Tony Stark, and he's less than a week old. His external hard drive (not pictured because the stacks of CDs I've been importing into iTunes are hiding it) is Jarvis. Please keep them in good condition through the following year. 2009 was a total fucker to me regarding technology. Don't be like him.

This is the manuscript I finished in late 2009. This year, I want to clean it up to the point where I can send it out to literary agents. I realize that whether or not it piques their interest is totally not up to me, but maybe you could give them a little nudge? This is the first time in my life I've had what feels like a genuinely salable novel in my hands, so if ever there was a time for me to have stunningly good luck regarding the publishing industry, this year would be it.

In 2010, I'm going to finish a couple of different novels. One is a this young adult fantasy thing that shouldn't take long - maybe January and February.

The other is the final book in the Fantasy Series What Ate My Life (not pictured due to sheer bulk). I've got a couple other projects I'm interested in writing, but these are the main two. If I get them done during you, 2010, I'll be ridiculously pleased with myself. Please don't prevent me.

I'm going to finish my Sylvi coat during you as well - preferably before it gets warm again. It's been sitting on my desk so long that apartment wildlife have begun to view it as a natural part of the landscape.

Now, 2010, I'm not going to bog you down entirely with major goals and pressure.

For instance, can we just agree that spinning is awesome and should continue unhindered? I won't make any goals for spinning in 2010, because I want nothing more than to keep enjoying it.

And mittens! I'd love to finish these Cotton Reel Mittens I've been knitting, but I don't actually need them until maybe next fall. Also, they don't have to be of any particular quality, since I'm new to colorwork, the yarn is all scraps, and I kind of love the idea of having a pair of idiosyncratic but adorable mittens.

And I would like to DIG UP A DINOSAUR! But that's not a major deal, either, as you can see.

So far, 2010, I don't think you have anything to worry about. You've been doing a pretty good job. I kicked you off at an awesome New Year's party, dancing to ridiculous music and wearing a fedora. I've gotten a lot of sleep in your first few days, and even so I managed to catch the sunrise yesterday morning. I watched The Princess Bride with the Fredizens and started reading the book aloud to Hobbes (something I've been meaning to do for years).

And there was doodling!

And a great discovery!

(Dunking the cookies in Nutella cancels out the ridiculous "health" notion they advertise and makes them totally NOM.)

So, 2010, I think you'll be fine. Keep being laid back and fun. Don't let anything major break. Be kind.

And for the love of all that is good and holy, don't listen to 2009. He's a bad influence.