Wrapping up December, 2018 with a wee gallery of memories! I got in a bit of Yule shopping, knit a whole lot, took a trip to the southern half of Northern Alberta, and dusted off some really rusty crochet skills. Not bad for a month filled with family events and last-minute panic knitting!
Today’s plans? Settling in with a new book, knitting on a sock, and cuddling up under a warm blanket.
Long, long ago, I mentioned that the first couple of adult books I remember reading (or at least, remember being caught reading by adults who were probably right in assuming I was too young to be reading them) were novels by Stephen King and Jackie Collins. I still like scary books. The home library has expanded over the years.
One of the highlights from Christmas 2017 was Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt. I’m currently reading through it and enjoying the heck out of it. I’ll have to remember to write a review of it once I’m done.
Because I was fairly young when I started reading scary books, I’ve developed a short list of rules for reading them.
Not before bed. Pretty self-explanatory. This rule has saved me many times from nightmares.
Not when home alone – at night. Because nothing freaks you out more than hearing the furnace kick in when you’re all alone in the house at, say, 3am. Heck, I don’t even need the added incentive of a horror novel to make me paranoid – I’ve been known to hear snow falling off the roof and think someone’s trying to break in. Best not to make the paranoia worse.
If it’s getting to you, do something else. This is the last-ditch effort of someone who can’t use stairs or go into the basement because House of Leaves OMG WHAT.
Trust me, having a few rules helps. Update them as necessary. When I was 10 years old, the word “ghost” near bedtime used to trigger nightmares for me. So I started substituting the word “it” for “ghost” whenever I was reading in bed.
Then, sometime around 1987, Stephen King wrote “It“.
That didn’t work out very well.
I write a lot.
Oh, I may not write here, but trust me, when I get into a groove I write like a hypergraphic squirrel on cocaine.
I generally don’t talk about writing. For me, it’s a lot like fight club. The first rule about write club is you don’t talk about writing. Most likely because I’m self-actualized enough to know that I’m hardly an expert at this, and I’m more likely to follow a plot bunny down a rabbit hole than steer someone in the right direction.
A friend’s tweet this past week made me think about how long I went on hiatus from writing fiction, and I figured it was about 18 years. 18 years, people!! That’s a lot of time! How does one go from daily manic scribblings to nothing? I wrote when all I had were lined paper in three-ring binders. My grandparents gave me one of those funky typewriters with a pre-correct window when I was a teen. My parents bought me a 3rd-hand 8086 computer that ran on DOS and 5.25″ floppies when I was in my early twenties — all because I would hog the “family” computer with my furious scenecrafting. How do you stop doing that?
It’s easy. You get laid off from your first creative job out of college and find work in the tech sector. It took 18 years of trying to be technical at both work and home before I realized that it was burning me out. Now work is for work, and home is for writing, piano, knitting, and drawing. Not necessarily in that order (though I do try to make my word count every day). Keeping those two things separate has really helped my mental health. Really.
The husbeast is also a writer. He insisted on having a space of his own since he’s easily distracted. The folks who owned the house before us had an office on the second floor and a craft room in the basement. We decided to keep the status quo, and he moved his writing gear into the office. He has a pretty nice view of the garden. We recently relocated a sofa from the living room to his writer’s den, so he now has a place where he can write and stretch out to read.
My ‘studio’, however is in the craft room in the basement. It’s dark, and chilly, and packed with everything that doesn’t have a place elsewhere. It’s less an office and more a hidey-hole. I have two old IKEA desks and one of the two original hutches for book storage. The attached magazine rack is great for filing temporary paperwork and things I’d like to have within reach. The attached whiteboard has a tendency to become non-erasable, so I use it just for magnetic reminders. There’s a repurposed armoire or pantry that was left with the house that serves as storage for art supplies and computer storage, and a tall plastic drawer pedestal full of skeins of yarn.
The room was originally intended to be a washroom. There’s a fixture for a toilet hidden under the far desk. I’d say that the basement was finished with the idea that it could eventually be turned into one-room flat. We’re more the single-family type, so for now it’s a rec room, yarn storage, and studio. My office is great for those middle-of-the-night writing sessions, but not so great on nice sunny days when there are green things budding on the trees. I’m pretty sure that when summer comes, I’ll be retreating to it just to get away from the inevitable repressive heatwave. I’ll slip down the stairs, slink into my office, turn on the lava lamp, and hide from the heat.
Today is not that day.
I camp out at the kitchen table on my laptop and watch the birds at the feeder while I write. There are green things starting to take over the trees, and plants in my window that catch the sun and shadows in interesting ways. I get to see the neighbour let her dog out into the backyard, and hear the folks next door playing loud music while they fire up the grill.
I get the bulk of my writing done in the evenings before work, so I move around between paragraphs, starting dinner and getting food on the table while mulling over the next scene that will take me from point A to point B. It’s a fairly zen method.
I also keep a few creative distractions lying around if I’m not fighting for space on the table. My knitting output has suffered greatly since I decided to shoot for a 1000-words-per-day goal. That doesn’t mean that I can’t do a couple of rows while I mull over the direction a scene is going. I’m also trying to clear my Goodreads queue, so I’m working through the books still on my current list. Every so often I get distracted by something like Hellboy or a new novel, but otherwise I’ve been doing well at sticking to my goals.
It makes me wonder, though…what do the creative spaces of other people look like? How do other people organize their craft? How does it fit into their lives?
If you have any answers, feel free to add them to the comments. I’d love to know 🙂
I am a master at procrastination. It’s the reason why this blog is updated so rarely, and probably the reason why the novel I’m working on will be outlined to death. It’s the reason why I haven’t posted any knitting…because after having two weeks of vacation time, the precise amount of knitting done was zero.
That last one sounds hard to believe, but it’s true. I actually have a negative knitting status, as I ripped out the heel of the sock I was working on so I could put in an afterthought heel. Sometimes striped socks need to stripe on, uninterrupted. The heel was an interruption. Thus…away with the heel.
Nothing appeals to a procrastinator more (no, really…I’m supposed to be analysing a series of outlines before getting ready for work).
Where do you go to decompress from the world?
Once upon a time, that answer would have been Azeroth, but now? If I’m not watching Father Ted mysteries while I spin, I’m probably holed up in my tiny wee office/studio playing The Sims.
If given $10,000, what would you do with it?
If there are no strings attached other than “actually do something with this and not put it into an RRSP?” Pay off debts, pay off the car, put money on the mortgage. Because I’m a pragmatic soul in search of a future where I can afford to eventually retire 😉
What is one major renovation you would love to make on your house?
I think the next upgrade to the house includes a makeover in our garage. It will depend on a
coffin chest freezer and my Dad’s kitchen renovation.
What is one movie that you love and didn’t expect to love?
Donnie Darko. Because there are only so many six-foot-tall
imaginary invisible bunny rabbits (Harvey) to go around.
What is the oldest knick-knack you own and what is its sentimental value?
Knick-knack doesn’t include furniture, right? Um…I have no clue. Seriously, as much as I like antique things, most of our tchotchkes are fairly modern.
Do you own any books you keep out of obligation, but actually hate?
Nope. I have books to which I am indifferent, but none that I actively hate. Most people who buy books for me have an idea of my tastes.
How many countries have you visited outside of the one you live in now?
In a time when you didn’t need a passport to cross the border, I went swimming in the United States. Granted, I don’t really remember it because I was about six or seven years old (we lived in British Columbia and there was a good beach right across the border).
Have you ever read only part of a book, but claimed you’ve read the whole thing?
No. I’m not ashamed to admit when I can’t finish a book. Usually it’s because I get distracted by another, more exciting book. Possibly with a prettier cover and….don’t judge me!
Have you ever spent a lot of money on something? What was it?
I have a mortgage in suburban Calgary, Alberta. If that’s not expensive, I don’t know what is. And no, we don’t have a view of the mountains.
If you could change your name, what would it be?
I have no need to change my name. It changes all. the. time. You grow up with a name like Meredith, you come to realize that if there’s a new way to mis-spell a name, someone will find it. Trust me on this.
Last Saturday I apologized for not having a picture of hats in action. My sister-in-law has remedied that situation.
I think they rank right up there as two of the best knitwear models ever. They also provide great quality control, as they live in one of the colder quadrants of Canada. Chances are pretty good that there will be more hats (and mittens, and scarves) in their future.
I refuse to knit them socks (and sweaters) until they stop growing. Even Auntie has her limits 😉
I knit a couple of hats!
I actually knit them a while ago, but I was waiting until they landed in Yellowknife with their new owners before I posted anything. You see, one of them is an early birthday present and the other is a belated birthday present. Unfortunately, while I have a picture of the duo in their new hats, I do not have permission to post it (it’s pretty informal). If, however, winter action shots of the hats in use come my way with permission to post, I shall happily do so.
This is what happens when Auntie Maire sees her niece and nephew wearing commercially knit toques in family pictures. Seriously.
Georgia’s hat is Baa-ble Hat by Donna Smith, and Milo’s is my own variation on The Force Awakens Hat by Mrs. Luedeke. As always, I can’t help myself from messing with a pattern. I added a Y-Wing fighter, the Rebel Alliance logo to the first row of icons. I added Boba Fett (because he’s awesome), and Darth Vader to the top, and got rid of the light saber-ish thing. Last, I used “May the force be with you” instead of branding the hat to the movie. Essentially turned it into a general-purpose Star Wars Hat. Because that’s the way I roll.
The only things these hats are missing are wonderfully ridiculous pom-poms, and that’s only because I wasn’t sure the kids would want wonderfully ridiculous pom-poms. They’re at an age where pom-poms can be a point of contention.
So I will patiently await a publishable action shot of the hats and the final word as to whether pom-poms are go.
ps: I also made yarn. But that’s a whole other story.
With my love of knit socks, it’s no wonder I’ve gravitated to mittens. I particularly love stranded mittens, but I’ll happily knit away on a pair of cabled or plain mitts as well. Small projects seem to be my forte. While I’ve knit at least one sweater, mostly to prove I could, they’re not my current obsession.
This is knitting that isn’t going into the Yule Gift Pile for next year. Once in a while, I have to make something for myself and the husbeast. These are for me, mostly because they’re way too small or girly for him!
I will note that he works in trucking and delights in wearing colours not generally associated with diesel fuel and testosterone fumes just to piss off his co-workers, so girly really isn’t a problem for anyone but me…because I don’t always want to share.
2♥s Beat As 1 mittens
First up, a pair of 2♥s Beat As 1 mittens by Yvette Noel. Lovely cable mitts made out of Burgundy Cascade 220 Superwash Sport. At least, I think that’s what I made them out of because I lost the ball band. Hopefully that will be less of an issue this year, because most of the ball bands that went missing did so when I cleaned up my little craft cave in the basement. Now that it’s relatively clean down here, I should hopefully be able to keep track of my ball bands.
The mitten was the December “Pattern of the Month” for the “I Make Mittens” group on Ravelry. I was very happy to take part because the mittens are lovely! I think that my only minor criticism is that cables are slow-going for me, like speed bumps to my knitting. Maybe that’s a good thing, and maybe I should try to slow down a bit more, but there’s always that part of me that says…
These look finished, but they’re not. I can tell because they have a provisional cast-on in bright pink yarn. Gorgeous Ruba’iyat Mittens designed by Heather Desseraud. I plan on lining them, so while the pretty exterior is done, the interior linings are still waiting for me to decide what colours I’m going to use, and whether I’ll just use leftover sock yarn or some other yarn that I’d intended to use for mittens but found were a little difficult to work with. Updates will be posted when I figure out where I’m going with this!
I honestly meant to update well before now, but while my intentions were good…my followup was crap.
The knitting content has been almost non-existent on the blog for a while, so I will offer up an apology for anyone looking for knitting and finding everything else. My knitting has had a tendency to go in fits and starts the past couple of years. First it was a full-out sock obsession that went into overload, after which I took some time off from serious knitting. I really did burn myself out. The past two years, I’ve recovered in just enough time to get the Christmas Knitting over and done with before sinking back into well-earned break that turned into extended sabbaticals.
So I’m going to try and do better this year. Maybe space out the Christmas knitting so that it’s not all being hurriedly done at once.
Excuses aren’t knitting, however, so here we go!
These were the first socks completed, sometime in June. I was experimenting with tighter gauge and had knit them on 2mm needles. They fit my foot, but they were somewhat too snug — so they are a perfect fit for my mother-in-law, Sheila. The tighter gauge will ensure that they will last a long time and stay nice and cozy.
Socks for my own Mum! These, too, were at a slightly tighter gauge, but for a bigger foot. They were knit from the toe-up using a Fleegle Heel. I couldn’t tell you what the yarn is, but it felt like it was possibly a Zitron/Trekking product from the feel of the yarn. The colour, however, doesn’t seem to be part of that line. Ah well…it was still a good knit 🙂
Mittens for Dad! I had made mittens for everyone *but* him last year, and I really wanted to make sure that he had warm hands for this year. They were started last year on boxing day, and I managed to get one mitten finished before putting them aside. Picked ’em up again at the end of November, finished the second mitten, then moved on to the liners. The liners look pretty similar for both mittens, with the greet at the finger tips. I had two small balls of very similarly coloured Trekking (if not two dyelots of the same colourway), which I used for the liner closer to the openings. The fingertips are some leftover Cascade sock yarn. Dad assures me that the thumbs are the right length, and since my only worry was that I’d knit the thumbs too short, I guess we can call these a success!
A set of mittens for my co-worker Lila, who loves Tolkein and the Peter Jackson version of Middle Earth. She caught sight of these over my shoulder one day when I was glancing at Ravelry, and mentioned how she’d love a pair. She has knitters in her family, but getting them to make anything for her is a trial. These are my birthday/Christmas gift to her. The background is Kroy and the design is actually an acrylic baby yarn that was chosen mainly for the glittery bling that magic doors require. The wool in the Kroy will keep her plenty warm, methinks.
Socks for my father-in-law, Don – aka “why do I keep losing the ball bands?”
The yarn is possibly ONline Supersocke 100 Forest Color, but I can’t be 100% certain as…well…I lost the ball band. Probably when I cleaned up my office earlier this fall. Oops. Again, stripey goodness. It keeps me amused.
Last, but certainly not least, a scarf for my sister-in-law, who can be rather difficult to shop for. She apparently loves the scarf, however, and I’m not surprised…it’s 2 skeins of Malabrigo Mecha in the Lotus colourway. 100% Merino goodness! I used the 1-row scarf pattern, and it worked beautifully with the way the yarn was dyed.
Next time, I’ll try to show a couple of the other projects I’ve been working on but haven’t had time to post quite yet!
Today’s Spooky September Challenge was supposed to be my favourite campfire story, but anyone who knows me well enough is aware that I don’t camp. I haven’t been camping for about fifteen years now, and that last time was supposed to teach me about all the awesome things I’ve missed out on, not being a camper. It was cold and rained almost the entire trip. Seriously. We had to go back into town to get a tarp because nobody brought one. Not my best weekend – only salvaged by good company.