Friday, August 21, 2009


I should be cleaning house today. Should be. However, on days such as today I don't want to do anything but sit and write or knit. I have a knitting pattern that I need to work on for one of my books. It's not that difficult, but it sort of niggly and needs to be fiddled with to make the pattern repeat nicely in 84 stitches. And I need to figure out what yarn to do the hat in as well. (Perhaps that should have been the first step, but I at least know I want to do it in a worsted weight yarn on size US 8 needles, so that helps limit things.) So I sit balancing delightful fun creativity with dust bunnies and dishes. The Practical Person would not be sitting here at the computer blogging about why she doesn't want to do dishes and should really be working on her pattern that needs to be finished. a Practical Person would instead be trying to get the dishes done quickly and sweep up the dust bunnies so that she could sit and sketch and chart and sample as well as have clean dishes to eat off at dinner time (although I'm actually considering Chinese take out which means I just need to wash chopsticks, right?)

Unfortunately (?) I am not a Practical Person. I'm a writer and a knitter. And it is raining. The soft plinking on the windows of raindrops is a coy reminder that I would much prefer to be sitting here considering what chapter is really missing in Echo's book or playing with needles. It sings out, "Come write, Lorna. Come write" with every tapping on the window that mimics the tapping of fingers on a keyboard. Then it whispers, "Knit, knit, knit" as the wind swishes a soft spray against the window, reminding me of bamboo needles rubbing against each other.

I believe I am going to be a Not Practical Person today and just pay the kids to do it all and be satisfied that there are still some dust bunnies dancing around the legs of furniture and that the dishes may not all be perfect.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

True friends!

Sometimes you don't realize how good of friends you have nor how much your friends think of you until you receive something totally unexpected in your life. For me it was my friend Lori and a package that she created from goodies she picked up at Sock Summit. She knew how much I was missing it and this little treat was almost as good as going (but not quite, I didn't get hugs or the ability to squish all kinds of fibery goodness!)

Nothing says "I love you" like receiving stitch markers made from ninjas, kitties, and flying monkeys. Why ninjas, kitties and flying monkeys? Why not! For some reason there is some secret connection between knitting and flying monkeys that I haven't quite understood yet, but that I am not willing to dismiss just because it doesn't all make sense.

Everyone needs a superhero. Even knitters. Perhaps especially knitters. So who better to be a knitter's superhero than Alex Miller. Mild mannered high school kid by day. Tireless knitting savior of the world by night (who just happens to knit). If you are a knitter and you haven't found your way over to Handknit Heroes then march yourself right over there and get a subscription. Then you, too, can make super cool dude handknit glasses just like Alex's! I can't wait to cast these babies on. Who knows? Maybe I, too, can become part of a league of superheros. I can wield knitting needles with the best of them!

This was the cream of the crop, though! If asked what knitting superhero I would want to be when I grew up (realizing of course that I refuse to ever grow up) I would state without a moment's hesitation that I would be Anna Zilboorg. I have to admit right here that I assumed that the woman was dead. I mean her books weren't published that long ago and they were out of print and selling for four or more times their original prices. Nothing had been published since 2004 and in the knitting world that means only one thing. You are dead. So when I found out that she as going to be at Sock Summit I about flipped out. So, my friend Lori found a copy (at her local yarn shop no less) of Socks for Sandals and Clogs she bought it for me! Then she took it with her to Sock Summit and actually asked Anna Zilboorg to sign it for me!


Now I just have to convince myself to finish the two pair of socks I already have on needles before breaking out the yarn and casting on yet another pair of socks. And I need to make those truly cool goggles for my night time superhero adventures.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Fiction into Actuality

Sometimes when I write something I will go back and consider whether or not the completely made up bit of fiction I wrote is actually plausible. In my latest series, which is about a race of vampire hunters, I was writing about one of my male characters. He's a bit edgy (or at least likes to think himself so). In my mad dash of writing I said, "His tanned arm sported a new tattoo. An ambigram that read Vamp in one direction and Hunt upside down." I read that through a few times wondering if it could be done and amazingly it can. I love when something I make up can become something real. My children joke that I will have it etched into my own skin someday. Perhaps if this series gets published.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Admit it you've all done it. Perhaps you've never heard the term before, but you've done it. Procrastiknitting. What is procrastiknitting? It's that project that you want or need to complete but there is something (usually small) that is keeping you from finishing it. For instance, I have a Clapotis that I started quite some time ago. It's been sitting in its project bag for several months because I messed up on one row. Yes; one row. I just need to back out one row. Actually it may not even be an entire row. It may just be a few stitches, but I just don't want to deal with it, so as much as I really want to finish this love orange and pink wrap, I can't get past this procrastiknitting. I've been procrastiknitting on a pair of socks that I am making for a friend (we are trading pottery for knit goods) because I am bored with the pattern. It's near drudgery to work on because the pattern is too familiar.

I know that when I have to do something that is all stockinette or garter stitch that I yawn and tend to procrastiknit. Sure, I can do it with my eyes closed (and I have), but it doesn't engage my brain enough so it isn't something I want to do so it gets procrastiknitted. Projects that I have to do as samples for my classes get procrastiknitted until I am approaching the deadline and then I finally pull them out and get them done. I also will procrastiknit if I have a pattern that doesn't make any sense the first few readings through and end up throwing it in a pile to deal with later.

Just like mundane procrastinating, I know I shouldn't with my knitting as well. However, there is no solution other than to just get up and do it. So why are you reading this blog? I'm sure that there are some knitting projects that you are procrastiknitting finishing. So go do it. Go pick them up and finish those projects. Meanwhile I found this new sock pattern I'm going to go cast on.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Gratification after a long toil

There is something gratifying about finishing any work you do. Whether it is a pair of socks or a poem or finally making biscuits that don't pass as hockey pucks. Last month I wrote the first book in a new series in a matter of eleven days. That felt really good. However, this week I finished a book that I have been toiling on for over a year and a half. It wasn't that I don't love this book. I do. I love the MC and the plot is engaging. However, it kept getting set on the back burner in favor of more fun and jovial pieces or with a book that came like wildfire and demanded to be written. But this past week I sat down and looked at this book again and the story finally came tumbling out until I got to the end. And the end surprised me. (I love when that happens.)

There wasn't the overwhelming "YIPPEE! I finally finished!" like so many of my books have been. It was more of a contented, "It is done." A warm feeling that you did a job well. I actually had an almost sad feeling that I had gotten to the end of the story and wasn't going to be visiting the characters except to edit or revise the story. There was nothing new for me to learn about this character and in a way it was sad. But in another way it was fulfilling to know that I had somehow made the MCs' lives whole. It doesn't always feel like that when I finish a book. Maybe because I write so many books in series that there is always more to find out about one or more of the characters as time goes on, but when writing a novel, a book that has a beginning, a middle and an end, you are through. Sometimes reading the words THE END at the bottom of your page can feel so final yet so content at the same time.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Pity Party Reprieve

Yesterday I was really feeling down about not being at Sock Summit. I pouted for most of the day. I wrote for a while (nearly four thousand words) but then got halted by trying to find pictures of what I was missing. So I decided to go to the bookstore instead. For fun I wondered over to the knitting books just to see if they had anything new (which is rare) and found out that they did! Sitting right there on the shelf were about eight copies of the book Knitted Socks East and West by Judy Sumner. It is an entire book of socks with a Japanese inspired theme. The socks are knitted with everything from a very fine lace weight (on size US 3 needles) to chunky (on size US 9 needles). They are fresh and innovative and very very fun. I immediately came home (book in hand) and dug out some nice bright pink Debbie Bliss Cotton Cashmere (a worsted weight yarn) to make the Obi socks, which are heel-less, toe-less, foot-less yoga socks (they have a band - or obi to go around the foot to keep them in place.) They are knitting up quite quickly (almost ready for the "non-heel").

I'm having a lot of fun with this sock and a new technique (at least for me) called a pkok (which I call a peacock). It is made by lifting the third stitch on the left needle over the first two stitches then knitting the first stitch, yarn over, knit the second stitch. It gives a totally different look to a mock cable and is quite fun to do as well. And I'm quite sure that today pictures will start rolling in on the various blogs to prove to me that Sock Summit was very crowded, very hot and I would have had a very miserable time. (Please, just let me live in my fantasy.)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

More Writing Prompts

Some days I just get stuck. I can't figure out the next sentence much less the next word. I may know where I want my character to go, but I just can't figure out the correct words to get the plot going again. That's when I turn to writing prompts. I have two that I like to turn to as they have short little writing prompts that sometimes jolt my thinking even if I don't complete the exercises. The first is called (the very unoriginal) Creative Writing Prompts. These are quick little exercises and you don't even have to click on them. Just hover your mouse over a number (pick one randomly) and the writing prompt will come up in a little speech bubble. The other is Meredith Sue Willis' writing website/blog. There are around one hundred fifty different exercises. Some of them are helpful some aren't. I do like that she will have you write about a picture. You can describe what you see or the emotions you feel from looking at it. Sometimes there is action to write about while other times it is still life. This is very helpful to me because there are times that I will have an image in my head that I am having a hard time putting down on paper.

It's tough when you get stuck. I'm not always sure what is worse; staring at a white screen with a little cursor blinking at you demanding that you type something or to be somewhere when you can't write but your characters are demanding that you do.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

I'm not "there"

"There" being Sock Summit. I was going to go. I wanted to go. And the way I knit socks I should have gone. But I didn't. Instead I stayed home and was a parent and didn't spend close to a thousand dollars to go play and learn and shop with hundreds (thousands?) of other sock knitters and designers.

So I'm following them on Twitter, not that they have updated much this week! Grrrr. And I'm checking out the few really cool people who actually are posting updates and pictures over on the Ravelry website. I'm sure that various blogs will be greatly updated post the summit, but it sure would be nice for those of us that couldn't attend to be able to see a little of the goodness that is happening as it actually happens.

I have no desire to even knit the pair of socks I should be working on.

But I'm writing. And it is going fairly well. Susan (my MC - Main Character) is getting ready to return home and face the realities of what she left there. I've been anxious to get to this part. I love it when I finally get to write a part in a book that I have thought of often. It's like watching a much-loved movie and you just can't wait for the part where Joe Fox looks into the window of the coffee shop and realizes that his secret correspondent is his rival. That transformation in his thoughts about her is wonderful and I love that part of the movie every time. (For those of you who are scratching your heads, go see the movie with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks (no, the other movie with Meg and Tom. No, the other movie with Meg and Tom. You know, You've Got Mail.

And now I would like to take a moment for our sponsor, The Save Function. Yes; Mr. CTRL S. You know the one. The one you always forget to press then walk away from your computer and come back later to find your cat napping on top of it, having rewritten the entire last three pages with her butt. There's no recovering it. There's rarely the ability to rewrite it. The second draft never flows as nicely as the first. You forget the subtle nuances of banter that your characters had or you can't recall if your character was seeing her life flash before her eyes or watching the scene play out in slow motion. Or maybe it was both. Or maybe it was neither. How can such tragedies be stopped before they happen? CTRL S. That's it folks. Just move your left hand pinkie down to that CTRL button and then press the letter S with your left ring finger. Takes one hand and approximately .847 seconds. About the same time as it takes to type a capital letter A. You, too, can have one for the low low cost of remembering to just save! Save your document. It will save your sanity. (Do not ask my why that rant got started.)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

It's all in what you write

I realized around four o'clock this morning that it wasn't that I was distracted from writing, but that my writing was distracting. Let me explain. No, that would take to long. Let me summarize. I wrote a book in ten days. Lots of words in a few days. The story flew. I knew that this was just the first book in a series, so I decided that I needed to write the next book. Right? Well, maybe. But I truly don't know the entire story of my next book. I know who I want it to be about and I know what basically needs to happen. But it isn't all worked out. Not like I need it to be. I still want to write. Still need to write. But looking at Carlos' story and not knowing how he was going to get from the library to the end of the book (which would be at least 50,000 words worth of stuff going on) was not working. But Susan tapped me on the shoulder at four forty-five (right as I was about to get back to sleep) and said, "Psst. You know, I really like that you have written that new series. It's a great story and if I were a real life editor I would sign you in a heartbeat. However, you seem to have forgotten that I exist and I'm sitting here dangling in a Catholic confessional. Could you please get back to my story. I really want to see if I end up with this guy or if my story is going to end with my life as boring as when the story began." (If you haven't picked up on this Susan is a character in one of my books.)

So I went back to Susan. (Everyone will be happy to know she is no longer dangling in a Catholic confessional.) And the words flowed again. It's nice to know that your mojo/inspiration/muse/talent/desire hasn't left you. Sometimes you just have to take a break from what you feel you need to do and concentrate on something else.

I think that is true with knitting (or fill in your favorite) projects as well. Sometimes I will be knitting along and I can barely make it through a row. I have no inspiration to work on the project at hand. It usually isn't difficult and doesn't take much in the way of brain power to do. Sometimes it is simply endless rounds of stockinette stitch in the round on a pair of socks. The kind you could do in your sleep (or a dark movie theater.) But for some reason it is like molasses pouring on a winter day. That's when you know it is time to switch projects. Pull out that sweater you were working on a few months ago or cast on a new hat. Dig through your stash and find those four balls of Plymouth Kudo and realize that there is a pattern out there calling it's name or crack open that new Cookie A book and design yourself something to go with that sock yarn you purchased on the yarn crawl three years ago.

Things just flow so much better when you are wanting to work in them rather than when you feel you have to.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Distracted by all things

Today has been one of those days where I have been distracted by any and all things. I got up this morning, did my thirty minutes of Wii Fit and then sat down to have my breakfast and check my e-mail. That's when the distractions started. Something in my e-mail prompted me to go look up something and then my Rice Krispies got soggy. I ate the blueberries around the mush.

I hopped over to Ravelry to look something up and then had an angry cat demanding her sip of milk. Now before anyone gets upset, let me explain. KiKi is over sixteen years old. She's quite deaf (can hear high pitched noises), her vision is starting to get a bit blurry, and she startles quite easily. We've also recently gotten a new kitten (a sweet darling little part Manx/gray tabby) who hasn't learned that a glare, a hiss and being knocked into the next room means "leave me alone" from our alpha princess. Her lap of milk in the morning is part of her daily routine. She expects it and gets quite put out if I decide to have eggs or oatmeal or a bagel. Her serving size is about a tablespoon and it is demanded. I oblige to keep from being killed in the middle of the night.

Of course after my royal chewing out by the Queen Supreme of All Catdom, I realized that I had less than an hour to get myself and Emily (my oldest child) out the door for our local Wednesday morning SnB. (That's Stitch and Bitch for the unenlightened.) I showered, woke Bubblegum Head (her hair is currently a delightful bright pink) and we ran to the bookstore, assuring the one other person who ventured out in the hot and muggy Florida "sunshine" that we were indeed on our way, albeit late because, well, I got distracted because I found a Wii Fit strategy guide and was delighted to find out that after I log 100 hours in playing Wii Fit my little piggy will turn gold. (This wee Wii Piggy has yet to turn gold.)

When we finally returned home I sat down to write, but of course realized I was too hungry to write so I went and made myself some lunch. Ate lunch while watching my children play Wii Fit (OK, it's new to us, so very distractible.) I again force myself to go write. Can't. I read the group boards on Ravelry. I read the news. I check the weather. I check the mail (the real kind that someone actually delivers to your house). I then get this fantastic idea that I need to work on the quilt that I have neglected for the past four years. It's completely pieced and I even had the batting on it, it just lacked a backing and the actual quilting. So I piece together the backing and get it all sandwiched and pinned. I sit down at the sewing machine and realize that I've never actually quilted with this machine before. I can't get the large spool to sit like it is supposed to on the spindle which is supposed to hold the giant spools of thread. So I find smaller spools of thread. I then decide that it would be a good idea to load a few bobbins ahead of time. (This part isn't so much distraction as time-saving in the world of quilting, but nonetheless, it did halt me from diving right in.) Finally I have the right foot on, the quilting table installed and I set to work. I'm just free-styling the top and pretty satisfied with the way things are going. I'm whistling away. When ...

The bobbin carriage goes all cablooey! Parts are going everywhere. I stop and open the machine up to discover that maybe I should clean my sewing machine more often. (I've done one half of one of twelve squares on the quilt.) I clean it. I reassemble the bobbin carriage. I get everything put back the way it is supposed to. I continue. I get through three and a half squares when the bobbin carriage goes cablooey again and the needle bends in half. (The bobbin carriage has had a running problem, but it has not given me any problems in two years with all kinds of weights of fabric.) I change the needle I reassemble the bobbin carriage. I decide I need a drink. I settle for water as there is no good wine in the fridge and one really shouldn't drink and quilt (just as someone shouldn't drink and knit or drink and write - although the latter is rather amusing the next day.)

Water reminds me I have to go to the bathroom. The bathroom is reached by going past the computer. Perhaps I should check my e-mail again. And Ravelry. Oh, and I just thought of something I could put in my book. I start to write. Someone says something about dinner. I go cook. Then eat. Then decide to do a few more minutes of Wii Fit which turned into forty-five minutes. Finally it has quieted in the house. The boy is in bed. The girls are quiet in the living room (TV or a game or something.) So I sit down to write again (after again checking my e-mail and the news). And I write (drum roll, please): Carlos tried to smile, but it didn't come out very well. "There are...

There are what? There are enough minutes left in this hour for me to go blog about what I have not accomplished today. Maybe I should just go to bed. I'm sure once I am there, something will interrupt my sleep.

P.S. Google spell check does not like the word cablooey.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Love to Teach

Today I have a knitting class to teach. I'm the local knitting instructor at my town's Jo-Ann. I'm not going to get rich teaching these classes, but I gain something more from them. To put it simply, I love to teach people to be creative. Since knitting is something that I am passionate about it makes sense that I would want to share that passion with others. Today's class is a Knit 101 class. In two and a half hours I will be teaching five willing soon-to-be-knitters how to cast on, knit, purl, and cast off.

There is something fulfilling to see a new knitter have that light bulb go off in their eyes when they catch on to the longtail cast on or when they figure out on their own the difference between a knit side and a purl side. When I take them on a tour through the yarn department of the store and watch their faces when I toss them a ball of bamboo and silk or a superfine merino and they go "oh this is nice!" that is my greatest payment. When I see them at the store looking for their next project it makes me plum giddy. I have spread my psychosis love of fiber creating.

Of course I don't tell them that this is an illness that they just paid to receive. Soon they are going to be hiding yarn in bins under their beds and deciding that the sofa cushions don't need pillow forms in them and make just dandy hiding places for stashed yarn (Thank you Yarn Harlot for that suggestion - not that I would do anything like that). They will make "arrangements" in flower vases because they have more knitting needles than spaces for them in their handy dandy needle case that they purchased thinking they would never fill it. They will find themselves on Ravelry at all hours of the night looking for that perfect summer cardigan or a fantastic pair of socks. (Ravelry links) They have no clue that in a year they are going to be paying an astronomical amount of money to go on knitting cruises, knitting trade shows or conference on nothing but socks! All because they decided on a whim one day to take a $35 class at their local Jo-Ann and ran into a crazy lady in hand knit socks with a pink bucket hat on her head. (More Ravelry links.)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

It is done

The escaping to write theory didn't work to well. It might have except for Mr. P. I'll explain. I had gone to the bookstore and taken up a seat in one of the quads of chairs that are in the cafe. I had me strawberry Italian soda sitting on the coffee table in the middle and pulled out my knitting. It was like a homing beacon for Mr. P. (not his real name). Mr. P. is an older man with wild bushy gray hair and a beard that can best be described as grizzly. He always wears this gigantic wood cross around his neck. It's huge. He also always wears some sort of t-shirt that has the word GOD or JESUS in equally enormous letters. I have no problem with people expressing their religious beliefs. I just wonder sometimes about this man's obsession with his own (and if you could meet him you would agree it is an obsession not simply a fever.) So yesterday it was a GOD t-shirt and he sits down across from me and watches me knit. And then he starts talking. "What are you doing?" "Is it hard?" "How did you learn?" Then he tells me how his mother made an afghan once and his sister stole it from his rightful inheritance. I continue knitting. Then he asks me if Jesus' mother may have knit. I explained, patiently, that most likely she wouldn't have as we have no extant (had to explain that word as well) pieces or tools from that region or time. I return to knitting. Then he wants to know if I would teach him. I smiled as nicely as I could and said that I was a professional instructor and he could go to JoAnn to sign up for classes. I decide that my knitting is too distracting for him and maybe if I were curled up in my notebook he would get the message and leave me alone.

I pull the notebook and pen out of my bag and set to writing. Things are flowing, but there is that weird feeling that you get when someone is watching you. Sure enough Mr. P is staring at me. I don't make eye contact. It's the first rule of the wilderness when encountering wild animals. I scribble some more. The words are finally starting to flow. I'm in my groove. I reach for a word that is escaping me momentarily, causing the pen to cease its flow of ink on the page and Mr. P says, "You might as well write a book." I give him a tired smile and say, "I am. I came here to get away from distractions so I could write." He doesn't get the hint. "So is it a book about knitting?" I try not to sigh. "No, it's a fiction novel." I click the end of my pen a few times and start writing again. His voice interrupts the flow again. "You shouldn't write books about fiction. You should write about things you know."

I pretend I have a telephone call and then sigh because I'm being called away.

I return home. It's actually quiet here and there is no annoying person asking me questions as though he is my friend. And then my daughter calls and tells me that there is this fantastic sale at a clothing store and she needs some clothes. I go and find that there really is a good sale going on and $42 later and eight pieces of clothing in a bag, I finally make it home. I just make it into the book and am finally enjoying where I am going with the story when the children remind me it is dinner time. When did that happen? Sure enough it is six o'clock. I stop, get dinner (thank you Publix for rotisserie chicken). I decide to take a break (as though I really need one) and watch last week's episode of Saving Grace. Finally around eight o'clock I return to the computer. At eleven thirty-eight I type the words THE END at the bottom of my last page. 54,846 words in ten days.

Now the editing begins.

And today I'm making cheese.