Category Archives: Books

Sewaholic Granville

Sewaholic Granville

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So! It’s finally spring in these parts, but I’m still obsessed with sewing blouses. I mixed things up by using a new (to me) pattern, the Sewaholic Granville. What appeals to me about Sewaholic patterns is they’re designed for women who are pear-shaped … smaller on top, curvier on the bottom. I wouldn’t say I’m small on top because I’m full-busted and frequently have to make full bust adjustments on my patterns, but I do have narrow shoulders so to get a good fit with blouses and dresses, I often have to buy a very small size to get the shoulder fit right, then adjust for my fuller bust and hips. My KwikSew blouses fit me well on top, but I’ve noticed there’s a extra fabric pooling at the small of my back and the hem could be looser around the hips. My hope was that the Granville would fit me better straight out of the “envelope.”

I put “envelope” in quotes because this was a pdf pattern. I’m just going to say it. I hate PDF patterns. I know some dressmakers love them (instant gratification) but I’ve recently made a resolution to not use them anymore because printing, taping, cutting, tracing … yuck, no thanks. That said, putting the Sewaholic pattern together went as well as it could despite my cat “hell-ping” me on the sewing table.

I made a size 12 with no modifications. I measured some key points on the flat pattern, figured the 12 would work, and started cutting. The fabric? Ok, confession. It’s quilting cotton. I stopped making clothes out of quilting cotton years ago, but when I saw this print while shopping with my mom this winter, I couldn’t resist. Pink and orange (my favorite color combo), and it reminded me of a Liberty print. It was also kind of loud. And my mother hated it. But it was $2.99 and had a nice hand, so all wins for me! (Yes, that my mother hates something usually makes me want it more. We have totally dissimilar tastes.)

I skimmed the directions, which were fine, but I mostly did my own thing based on what I learned in watching Pam Howard’s Craftsy class on shirtmaking. However, I did not flat-fell the seams … instead, I overlocked the seam allowance, then caught them with topstitching on the other side. Not the finest shirtmaking technique, but I figured if I sewed the pattern again, I’d do it with a higher quality fabric and do it right.

I was mostly happy with the results. The sleeve needs more ease, so I made a new pattern piece that includes a full-bicep adjustment, which should give me some extra wiggle room without changing anything else about the fit, which was perfect. I plan to make a couple more Granvilles with this adjusted sleeve. Stay tuned. Some other areas I need to work on include smoothing out the join of the collar band to the shirt and taking more care with the tower placket on the cuff. This was my first tower placket, and because the fabric wasn’t that tightly woven — quilting cotton, remember? — it didn’t come out that hot. 

I finished another sewing project last night, which I’ll post about later this week or next. My next sewing adventure is something easy … a pink and orange striped knit dress with the super-popular McCall’s M6886 pattern. This I plan to wear during our trip to Germany this summer. 🙂

Summer sewing with McCalls m6886

In other news … I’ve been working flat-out on our start-up business, Renegade Writer Press. Earlier this week, we released our first official title. More on this later, but reviews are coming in and they’re great. My business partner (and friend, let’s be honest) did a fantastic job getting this book done in record time. 

I hope you’re having a wonderful spring, too!

Hydrangea season

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I told my dentist last week that I see hearts everywhere. 🙂

The hydrangeas in the front of the house are spectacular this year, such a vibrant blue. Two years ago I had cut them back too severely so that last summer we only got a couple blooms.

I have not heard a peep (i.e. received any mail) from O since we dropped him off at camp. He had told me not to expect anything because he doesn’t like handwriting letters (the camp doesn’t allow computers/e-mail), but his counselor assured me I’d get a couple letters anyway. I’m trying not to get antsy about it … as long as he’s having a good time, that’s all that really matters. Plus the camp does a great job updating their blog every night to let parents know what’s going on. I can tell from the activities they describe that O is most definitely enjoying himself. He’s not super athletic but he’s “sporty” and loves to run around and participate in physical activities/games. They had a “marathon” the other night where kids could run a course through the woods, and I can guarantee he was ALL over that.

I’m picking him up this Saturday. I can’t wait to see him and hear all about his adventures!

Crafting

Melody and I are becoming fast friends, maybe even BFFs! Last week I took one of those “get to know your new sewing machine” classes at the dealership where I bought her. A lot of the class was fairly basic–how to thread the machine, how to wind a bobbin, etc.–but I did learn a few tricks and became comfortable with some of the advanced functions on the machine. Like buttonholes…as I said to my husband last night, I will never get sick of watching Melody sew a buttonhole!!! What used to be an exercise in frustration is now a matter of letting her do 90% of the job…my only task is to move the fabric around and press buttons. It couldn’t be easier.

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This week I finished the Roman shade for the dormer window in our bedroom and a pair of swimming trunks (Kwik Sew 3421) for my husband. I’ll talk about the Roman shades in my next post as I need to take photos. Both were straightforward projects, except for sewing the power mesh lining on the trunks. So slippery and fiddly and tricky to work with, especially when joining elastic around the leg holes. Luckily that part of the suit isn’t public. I used a medium-weight cotton twill I bought on sale at JoAnn’s for the outer fabric; my husband does not like synthetics, so cotton it is. Today’s job is to purchase a navy cotton drawstring to finish them off. The pattern, like all Kwik Sew patterns, is easy to follow. The only thing I would do differently is use my own way of inserting elastic in the waistband casing (sewing up the casing except for a 2″ gap, threading the elastic through as one long piece, sewing the ends, then sewing up the gap). The KS way is to sew the elastic into a circle then wrap the casing around it to sew it into place. Too fiddly for me!

Now it’s time for some selfish sewing. Today’s project is preparing fabric (lavender twill) for a my own pair of shorts.

I’m just over 80% done on the Pebble Beach shawl, which should be finished over the weekend at the rate I’m going. Each row is over 400 stitches long, and there’s a picot bind-off.

At last week’s knitting group I got my yarn to knit a 12″ x 12″ block for a blanket we’re making for an ailing group member. We get our choice of stitch patterns and I’m pretty happy with the one I chose. As soon as the block looks like a block, I’ll snap a photo. My goal is to have the block complete by next Thursday’s meeting.

Sequence Knitting got an excellent review at Knitter’s Review. Now I am tempted by Susan Crawford’s vintage Shetland knitting project/book, which is being crowdfunded. She has reached her goal, but is still accepting funding. I could have the book in my hands before the holidays, but honestly, will I really get around to knitting Fair Isle before then? I don’t think so.

I missed our Forrest family reunion and my Aunt Pam’s interment up in Vermont this weekend–my back was giving me trouble, then the car started making funny noises–but I did get to talk to my cousin Sherry at some length Saturday night. She said she sent an enormous amount of Aunt Pam’s yarn home with my father for me to have. Wow, I was so touched! I’ll probably pick it up on Saturday when I get O from camp…she says there’s a lot of it, so maybe I’ll have to make two trips. My Aunt Pam was a spectacular craftswoman; not only a first-rate knitter, but she painted, did cross-stitch and crewel embroidery, and quilted … and other crafts/art endeavors, I’m sure! At some point I will show you some of the projects she did. They are truly beautiful.

 

Sugar blues

O’s face looks completely normal now, not even a rash. The only itchy bits are on his arms and legs. We’re hoping everything will be healed up by the time he leaves for camp on Sunday.

Yesterday we went out to Target and bought what he needed to get him through two weeks at camp — mostly underwear and socks. We figure he can double up a couple days on stuff like shorts and sweatshirts, but not so much on underwear and socks. I also found some swimming trunks in his size for $6.50, so into the basket they went … saves me some time at the sewing machine this week. He was rather grumpy during our shopping expedition, as was I (sugar withdrawal), and we forgot to buy a couple extra beach towels. Otherwise we’re all set to pack him up … except for the stuff I have to sew.  Oh, and he needs a haircut. Hopefully we can squeeze in an appointment before the end of the week.

I survived Monday without eating any sugar. My sugar cravings hit mostly in the evening, so the last couple hours before bedtime were misery. As I was driving past Bedford Farms on the way back from the gym, it took every ounce of self control not to drive in there and order a cup of Muddy River ice cream … I would have dived in with gusto! I stuck with it, though, bypassing my evening cup of warm chocolate malt Ovaltine with more than a little regret. My thinking was definitely foggier yesterday … I’m hoping after a few days, I’ll be able to think a little more clearly. Just happy I’m not teaching this week; I’m not sure my students would appreciate my incoherent thinking!

A couple days ago when I was waiting for a prescription to be filled at the grocery store, I spent some time looking through the paperback books and actually bought one. I usually take books like this out of the library or buy them used, but I was so in the mood for a summer read. It’s a James Patterson bio/thriller called Zoo, and as usual with his novels, it’s fast paced and just what i need intellectually right now … meaning I don’t have to think too hard as I read a couple chapters before bed each night. The only problem is, I’ve been having disturbing dreams. The other night I dreamed a rabid bat attacked me, so I fed it to a flying skunk. (Yes, you read that right.) And last night marauding bears and tigers made their appearances … so I’m not sure this is the best reading before bed. Maybe I’ll have to finish it up by reading in the morning. (Just learned this book as been made into a tv miniseries, which I think I’ll skip.)

Crafting

Not much to report on the sewing front. Taped the pdf pattern for O’s board shorts together. Today I’ll be cutting out the fabric. I also signed up for a free sewing class in early July at my local dealer. She told me I probably won’t learn that much, but I figure if I learn a couple tips or two, it’ll be worth my time.

Pebble Beach shawl

Because of my sugar withdrawal yesterday, I had to rip back on my Pebble Beach shawl a couple times. (Missed a couple yarnovers, grrr.) It stinks when I have to rip back a row because now each row is over 200 stitches. Yes, I know I should use a lifeline, but weirdly enough I don’t mind tinking, especially when the yarn is easy to work with as this yarn is. It’s hard to see but the color of the yarn is starting to change from cream to pale mint. Lace is so not pretty before it has been blocked. 😉

One of the pattern books I ordered off eBay showed up yesterday. It’s from the 1960s, a collection of cabled cardigans put out by Reynolds yarn under the name “Mary of Holland.” I did a bit of poking around to find out who, exactly, Mary of Holland is, since the pattern book doesn’t say. The only thing Dutch about these sweaters are their names: Rotterdam, Utrecht, Dordrecht, even The Hague.

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The model on the cover looks a lot like my college friend Staycee. 🙂

I thought the cabled designs were really pretty. I’m sure my brother will deem them “Denchy.” 😉

I wear the crown

I now wear a shiny, new off-white crown. I’ll do you a favor and not show it to you. You know that urban legend that redheads need more anesthesia than normal because they have more nerve endings? It’s true … not for every redhead, but certainly true in my case. Two injections of novocaine and I was still feeling the pain. My mouth never got that numb, either. My dentist (who is great, I love her!) can’t get over how much I need. Enough to knock out an elephant …

Anyway, I have a working tooth, and that’s great. I rewarded myself with a quick stop at the bead shop down the street before I picked up O from his friend’s house. (See more about beads below.)

O’s poison ivy is getting a little worse. Today we tried aloe vera and cucumbers, as well as the OTC products I bought yesterday. The cucumber seems to help with itching the best, especially when we pureed it in the Vitamix, spread out out over his arms, and let it sit for awhile. Hey, gotta love a 59 cent treatment!

My brother called this evening and we had a nice chat. He’s out in Oregon as a “Hot Shot” firefighter, putting out blazes caused by lightning strikes and drought. After a couple weeks of fires (which translates into $$$ for him), he’s off to the coast for a few days for some R&R. I’m looking forward to him returning to the east coast this fall — we talked about doing an overnight hike up in the White Mountains, so I’m going to look into an AMC membership. (He wants to stay in one of the AMC huts.) I will definitely be staying away from Mt. Washington this time.  😉

Mr. Raccoon was back last night, trying to knock over our garbage bins. I know raccoons can be pests, but he’s just the cutest guy. Tried to get pictures for O, but when he heard me at the window, he took off.

Crafting

I’ve done some more “research” on Cecelia Campochiaro‘s new knitting book, Sequence Knitting. Ravelry has a page for the patterns contained in the book, which gives one a good idea of the types of fabrics that can be created, as well as photos of simple patterns for accessories. The hats excited me because some of my favorite winter caps are ones where the fabric seems textured. Example: Anne Hanson’s Fartlek.

I forgot to mention the other reason why this book appeals to me and that’s because Campochiaro works in the computer/tech field in Silicon Valley. She started playing around with binary sequences in her knitting and discovered that certain sequences produced interesting textures and fabrics. I’m somewhat left-brained and like math, so this concept *really* tickles that side of my brain.

Craftsy sent me an e-mail today that some classes in my wish list were priced at $19.99 or less until the weekend. One of them was Betz White’s bag making class, so I signed up for it.  I have some drapery fabric remnants in my stash that would make fantastic, hard-wearing bags. Tracy, your excellent results spurred me to sign up, so thank you!

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Another Craftsy class I’m taking is Laura Nelkin’s Knitting With Beads, thus why I stopped at the bead shop this a.m. (Nelkin is a dead-ringer for Annabella Sciorra … she even sounds like her!) When I was at Stitches East last fall, I bought a skein of cream and turquoise gradient laceweight, and I’m thinking it would look lovely as a beaded shawl. I also got the idea in my head to do another mohair cardigan, but this one with slip-stitch beading around the cuffs, neckband, and lower edge/hem.

ETA: Started knitting Helen Stewart’s Pebble Beach Shawl tonight with my gradient lace-weight. So far, enjoying the pattern!

Oh my aching tooth

I decided last night that I’m going to post more regularly, if only to keep a record of my days, so fair warning!

This morning O woke up with his face red and swelled up. A closer inspection showed tiny blisters all over his face, arms, legs, neck, back, etc. so the culprit was determined to be poison ivy. He and his friends spend a lot of time in the woods climbing trees and building forts, so it was only a matter of time before he ran into problems with this noxious plant. (We since found out the friend he was with actually had to go to the doctor today as his poison ivy was even worse.)  Poor O was in misery, so I gave him some allergy medication, then headed off to CVS downtown and dropped $40 on assorted creams, sprays, and washes. Once he applied them he felt much better, and after a couple hours, the swelling and redness had been reduced significantly. In the meantime, I stripped his bed of sheets, blankets and pillowcases and gave them a good long wash in hot water, and also did the same with the clothes he was wearing while he was in the woods. Although the oils in poison ivy don’t seem to bother my skin, I know repeated exposure can cause a reaction, so I made sure to use rubber gloves. That’s all I need, a new medical condition!

So … we had to cancel O’s hair appointment this afternoon, and instead he headed off to a friend’s house for a sleepover. I guess he was feeling well enough to go see Jurassic World with him tonight.

Tomorrow I have an appointment to get a new crown on one of my back teeth. My dentist told me the old one needed to be replaced, even though it wasn’t bothering me. I grit my teeth (no pun), shelled out the $1200, and last week went in to get a temporary crown put on … and darn, wouldn’t you know it, but I’ve had a toothache almost every day since then. I’m hoping when the new crown goes on tomorrow that the pain will go away. Tooth pain makes me exceedingly cranky.

We’re planning a family reunion for July 11 up in Vermont that I’m very much looking forward to, along with a memorial service for my Aunt Pam, who passed away in January. I started a private Facebook group to keep everyone posted about times and gathering places, and wow … almost 40 family members have joined! I often hear people complain about family reunions, but I love them. Part of it is I like knowing that I belong to a tribe, but it also makes me feel connected to family who have passed away and who I loved very much. Those memories are precious, and I think it’s important to keep memories and stories alive, moreso as I age.

Crafting

I finished knitting a feather and fan baby bonnet last night/early this a.m. (I couldn’t sleep because of said tooth) and plan to give it to my knitting group friend K for her daughter’s Girl Scout project (sending knit caps and mittens to Syrian refugees). I knit one a couple weeks ago with a pink ribbon, so this one I’ll festoon with a blue.

Feather and fan bonnet

I’m between knitting projects, except for a pair of “vanilla” socks, and am itching to cast on for a sweater. I did some swatching last week for an Amy Herzog/Custom Fit sweater (“Charlie’s Cardigan“), but haven’t yet mustered the energy to do all my measurements. Plus, I’m still waiting to see if anyone from my Thursday a.m. knitting group wants to knit along with me. Now I’m toying with the idea of knitting Meg Swansen’s Garland Necklace Yoke sweater. I have a bunch of cream Paton’s wool, and was thinking a delft blue wool would look nice as a contrast.

Last night during my late owl web surfing on eBay, I ordered two vintage 1960s Reynolds knitting pattern books I’ve had my eye on for some time. When they come in, I’ll do a review.

As for sewing, there’s nothing to report. Still giving Melody a wide berth. My husband left a pair of chinos and two shirts for mending on the back of my chair. (I love to mend/fix/repair stuff … it’s in my frugal Yankee nature.) These tasks don’t seem so daunting so I’ll get on them after my dentist appointment tomorrow.

Speaking of mending … I noticed that Jean Miles had ordered a new book called Sequence Knitting, which sounded interesting. About five minutes later, I stumbled upon a comprehensive interview with the author, Cecelia Campochiaro, on Tom of Holland’s mending blog. I think this is the Universe telling me I need this book. Sixty dollars is a lot but I like how the author put her book together, with a lot of care and detail.

Spring has … sprung?

You wouldn’t know it from first glance at our front yard. We didn’t get to do our final fall lawn cleanup because our first snow came early here in Boston, so there’s quite a mess awaiting me this month. By late March, we usually have a few croci but I have yet to see one poke up through the ground.

Or maybe I’m avoiding looking at the mess in our border gardens!

This winter kicked my butt, mentally and physically. I was sick most of March and still don’t feel like I have my energy back. That said, I’ve managed to get quite a bit of craft work done while recuperating and hiding out from the snow.

My big project of the season was mastering the tailored shirt:

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Kwik Sew 3555 women's shirt

 

Both shirts were created in Pam Howard’s excellent Craftsy class, The Classic Tailored Shirt, which I highly recommend if you have any interest in making (or wearing) custom tailored clothing. One of my strange fascinations is with men’s tailoring … I can spend hours watching YouTube videos about old Sicilian tailors or the future of Savile Row. When my husband and I honeymooned in Italy, I swear I was more excited about his getting a custom tailored jacket in Milan than he was.

A hand-tailored shirt can run into hundreds of dollars, and there’s usually a minimum order, which means unless one has thousands of discretionary dollars sitting around in a checking account, this kind of clothing is out of reach of most ordinary folks. I am definitely “ordinary folk,” but I do have some mad sewing skillz, so this winter I decided to master shirt-tailoring. My ultimate goal is to fit and create shirts for my husband’s wardrobe, and my interim goal is to master the details that go into fine shirtmaking by sewing shirts for myself. The pink shirt was my first attempt. It’s made of linen, which was lovely to press and sew, but a bit too ravel-ly for the flat-felled seaming I had to do. The blue shirt is cotton chambray, and I definitely improved on this second attempt. Each shirt took me about a week to complete; I would spend a couple hours each night on one facet of construction, such as cutting fabric, sewing the collar, or felling seams. This schedule worked out great for me as I never felt rushed or tired, and each night I could see my shirt taking shape.

The pattern, btw, is Kwik Sew 3555, view A.

I have been sewing since I was in junior high/middle school, and although I was always enthusiastic about creating clothing, I was never very good at it, simply because I had no patience and wanted to wear what I was making that night. Cue a lot of wiggly seams and ill-fitting attire. The turning point in my sewing career came when I started knitting. See, it can take months to knit one sweater and a week to knit one sock. However, sewing an item of clothing, even when I’m patient and methodical, can take just hours. Sewing feels F-A-S-T to me now, even when I spread those hours out over a week or two.

Still, knitting is my true love, and I’ve been knitting up a storm. Here’s a peek at a sweater I just finished but haven’t properly photographed:

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I’m using notions and trimmings from my stash, so I decided to go with the plaid, which ended up being a great choice for the thistle color of the wool, don’t you think? Very Highlander. 🙂

Some odds and ends … I have been thinking about a blog post entitled “Buying is Not the Only Way to Engage,” written by Samantha at A Gathering of Stitches. This part really struck me:

“Look at your stash. Yes, right now, go look at it, really look at it. Pretty nice,huh? Wouldn’t it feel really good to just pull it out, piece by piece and start using it? What are you saving it for? Don’t buy more, until you use some of what you have! Buying is dangerous. It is a temporary exchange. Once that thing comes home to you, you adapt to it and become de-sensitized to it, and it is no longer as satisfying as you thought it could be.  So you push that button again and buy something else…. A vicious cycle ensues…. “

I am guilty of this kind of behavior, thinking I can’t start a project because I don’t have the right thread or that my creative life would be so much richer with a Juki F600 on my sewing table. Samantha’s post made me realize how much possibility I have already, and it inspired me to get back into my sewing room and work with the riches I already have.

Next — a couple days ago I got a nasty paper cut on my left hand, which has now gone all itchy. I’m convinced I’ve contracted an MRSA superbug and will shortly be losing my hand … okay, I’ll stop with the drama. My research led me to this interesting PBS news report that a medieval treatment of garlic, wine, and cow’s bile can kill MRSA bacteria. Here’s the video: fascinating!

Lastly, are you watching Wolf Hall on PBS? I had a terrible choice Sunday night: Mad Men or Wolf Hall, and I went with Mad Men because I knew I could watch Wolf Hall later on my PBS app. When I was a kid, I was fascinated with Tudor history, and as an adult, I’m still a little nerdy about it. I watched the first episode twice, and next Sunday I’ll probably save Mad Men for another night. I’ve read the book, but have yet to read its sequel. On my reading list …

The fallout

We got about 6.5″ of snow yesterday–light, powdery stuff, the kind of snow that makes me twitchy for skiing. Unfortunately my skiing days are over (bad knees, sketchy back) unless the resort has long, gentle runs down the sides of the mountain as they do out west–I’m thinking Vail and Beaver Creek in Colorado. If I ever get the chance to visit Banff, however, this Vermont girl will throw caution to the wind to experience one last glorious run. One recurring dream I have is a happy one: I’m skiing down a mountain from the very top, and I’m doing jumps, moguls, and sharp turns effortlessly. The dream is always so thrilling I’m a bit sad to wake up and creak out of bed in the morning.

Speaking of creaking: tonight I have my second outpatient physical therapy appointment in Concord. Monday night I had my initial evaluation and the PT seemed impressed by my recovery. When he asked me to bend at the waist and try to touch the floor with my fingers, I surprised him by getting my palms flat on the floor without bending my knees. “Gymnastics team in junior high,” I explained. Which explained to him why my lower back has such a pronounced curve. He told me a lot of former gymnasts have this problem. The goal for these visits is to help me build my “core” to support my weakened spine.

Last night’s snowstorm had my husband coming home after midnight. The commute out of Boston/Cambridge earlier in the evening was longer than two hours for some people, so he decided to wait it out. The 35-minute drive home took him about an hour, which wasn’t so bad, but today he’s working at home.

Which leads me to a question: do any of you have spouses who wait until a car craps out before taking it to the garage for fixing? My husband does this and it. Drives. Me. NUTS. For months, now, he’s had this noise coming from the rear wheel wells. I asked him about it and suggested he take it in to our mechanic, but he insisted the problem wasn’t a major one … it was just a piece of metal flashing that would be expensive to remove and not fixing it wouldn’t hurt the car. The noise has gotten louder and louder, so I’ve kept at him. (“Maybe you should bring it over today since you’re working at home–I really think you have a brake problem,” says I, multiple times. “No,” says he, multiple times, “It’s nothing.”) It got to the point where when I had to drive to Connecticut for family stuff, I refused to take his car and rented one instead because I knew the problem was more than a loose piece of metal flashing.

Sure enough, when I woke up this morning he said the brake indicator lights had started flashing during his ride home  (meaning the car should not be driven at all!) so that’s why he was staying at home today. Yes, I rolled my eyes because if he had taken the car in months ago like I asked him to do, the fix would probably be a lot less money than it will be now.

I used to have a wonderful mechanic who worked on my Volvo and we would always get to talking about this and that when I brought my car in. He always loved working on my car because I took such good care of it. (214,000 miles until an au pair totaled it, grrr.) He told me that his female customers were much better at getting problems checked out and keeping up with regular maintenance than men were. He said my husband was his typical male customer. Interesting! So I’m off to rent a car later this afternoon. At least I’ll have wheels for a few days.

O has a short day today, and with DH home I won’t get as much done as I’d hoped to. My co-author Linda and I are writing a new book, which I’m very excited about. It’s called The Introverted Entrepreneur, about how introverts can develop, grow, and promote an online presence without crushing their souls. Both Linda and I are major introverts; I’m an INFP in Myers-Briggs parlance and off-the-charts introverted according to other psychological tests I’ve taken. We were talking about it and noted that we’ve succeeded by doing things our way, so we figured, Hey, there’s probably a lot of introverts out there like us who would like to know how we built our brand despite our hermit-like proclivities. Let’s write a book!

If you are an introvert and have an online presence (blogging, Etsy store, Internet marketing site), please contact me. I’d love to interview you for the book. 🙂

Tomorrow I plan to have some knitting to show off.

 

Thistle stole

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(Photos posted with kind permission of Mary Scott Huff)

Like most knitters on Ravelry, I am constantly adding patterns to my queue. The problem is there’s not enough time in the world to knit everything I would like to knit.

But now and then, a pattern comes along that stops me in my tracks, and I tell myself, “I must knit that NOW. If I get to my deathbed without having knit that, I will enter the afterlife with a very unhappy soul.”

Thistle by Mary Scott Huff is one of those soul-stirring patterns for me.

Huff is one of my favorite knitting designers, so it’s not really a surprise that I fell in love with this gorgeous stole. She specializes in colorwork, and her patterns are stunning. I’m pretty sure the pattern for Wedding Belle in her book The New Stranded Colorwork got me back into knitting.

What I love about the stole of all stoles: obviously the colors–the bright green edging, the multi-shades of purple. But that it has thistles, the national flower of Scotland, made it irresistible to my Anglophile sensibilities.

Huff writes in the pattern headnotes, “Legend has it that during the King Haakon’s Viking invasion of Scotland, the Norsemen tried to surprise the sleeping Scottish Clansmen. In order to move more stealthily under the cover of darkness, the invaders removed their footwear. As they crept barefoot, they came across an area of ground covered in thistles and one of Haakon’s men unfortunately stood on one. Shrieking out in pain, he alerted the Clansmen to the advancing enemy. The Scots then defeated the Vikings at the Battle of Largs, saving Scotland from invasion. The important role the thistle played was recognized, and it was chosen as Scotland’s national emblem.”

And while I’m not a huge fan of tassels, here they work. My stole shall have tassels, too.

I have to wait until January to begin this project as I have so much holiday knitting/sewing to plow through in December. I’ve sent my mother a picture of the pattern, and I’m sure I’ll be getting a gift certificate for yarn in return. My mother is such an enabler; I, on the other hand, encourage her! 😉 Meanwhile, I continue knitting up my Christmas gift list of cowls, boot socks, and hot water bottle covers and dream of Thistle.

Yarn along, May 22, 2013

What I’m reading: The Betrayal of Trust by Susan Hill. Not sure if this is the latest in the Simon Serrailler series of mysteries set in England. Just started it last night after a long wait for it at the library.

What I’m knitting: Satsuma Stripes by Sharon Matarazzo, a Breton-type sweater knit with navy blue and white sport-weight yarn. I think I’ll be finished knitting this on the weekend.

The weather: cold and rainy. A perfect day for knitting, reading, and tea.

It’s also our anniversary today. Fourteen years! Sometimes our wedding seems like it was yesterday, but then I look at O and realize all that’s changed in my life. 🙂

See what others are reading and knitting today in Ginny’s Yarn Along …

 

Getting stuff done

Sorry I’ve been quiet. I’ve been knitting away on my Aran sweater, some days accomplishing a lot, and others not doing much at all due to The Other Projects (see below). The back and one sleeve are done and blocked, and I’m at the quarter mark on the second sleeve. This leaves the two front cardigan pieces, knitting the buttonbands/neckline edging, then sewing it all up, which, frankly, I’m sweating over. Can I finish by March 17? It’s just under a month away.

So, The Other Projects. I’m giving up my office so that my son can have his own room. Technically he does have his own room right now, the biggest one in the house, but he shares it with my husband’s home office. And O is miserable in there. Let’s just say that my husband is something of a packrat and there’s just no room for O to spread out his toys, or even have a friend sleep over. The plan is, O will move into my office and have the space completely to himself, and I’ll move my books, fabric, sewing machine, and yarn to his old space and set up a little workstation for writing out in the livingroom. It’s not an ideal set-up for work, but it’s more important to me for O to have his own bedroom and some privacy. Plus, he’ll have his “own” bathroom downstairs, which he’ll share with visitors, of the course … and the cats! Anyway, these plans have led to purging and cleaning, which feels great, but is time-consuming.

Then The Other Project is that I’ve been revising a book for electronic publication. IRL I’m a freelance writer and author/co-author. Back in the early 00s, my co-author Linda and I published a book called The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success, with a small publishing company called Marion Street Press. The book ended up being a big hit, with great reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Investigative Reporters and Editors, The Writer magazine, and, happily, readers! We followed up with a second book, The Renegade Writer’s Query Letters That Rock, and a second edition of The Renegade Writer. Unfortunately, our publisher decided to sell his press, and the new owners were … well, let’s put it this way: We missed our old publisher, Ed, who was fair, honest, and dedicated to our books. Even though our books were doing well and we’d long earned out our advances, the new owners weren’t paying our royalties. Finally, we consulted with an attorney and discovered that non-payment of royalties violated the terms of our publishing contract so we could take full-ownership of the rights to our books. This was about a year ago.

Anyway, Linda and I have long been talking about updating The Renegade Writer, since the second edition was over five years old, an eternity in publishing. So I spent most of February going through the manuscript, and finally this weekend uploaded .mobi and .epub files to Amazon.com and BN.com and now The Renegade Writer 2.5 is live! (The Kindle version can also be purchased through most of Amazon.com’s international sites, which is awesome because the physical book was hard to find in England, France, Japan, etc.) It feels good to have it done and out there, although I’m fretting that I’ve made some terrible error, like forgotten to take out the Rickrolling link I put in to entertain Linda as she proofed, hee hee. (I’m not sure she saw it … either that, or she’s chosen to ignore my childish pranks.)

BTW, what is so bad about Rick Astley? He’s awesome! It’s a happy tune! So, the video’s a little lame, but it’s waaaaay better than Gangnam Style, which my son informed me this weekend is the most popular YouTube video ever with over a billion page views. Ugh.

So besides cleaning, sorting, editing, and uploading, I’ve been shoveling (more snow this weekend) and now O is out of school for February vacation, so that means playing Chief Entertainment Officer, unless I want him glued to Minecraft for the next five days. How is your February going?