This Year

I’m perhaps a little late to the “2016 round-up” train, but I guess there’s no harm in plowing on with it!

I’m checking in here after my first visit to the Glasgow Women’s Library – I applied to join their book group last month, and this is the first sessions I’ve been able to make it to! We were reading Herland, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, a very interesting early 20th century utopian novel. I’m hoping that going along will help me continue to challenge my reading, especially when it comes to reading non-genre fiction, which can be a bit of a weakness of mine.

This year, I will also be embarking on an alphabet reading challenge. In knitting, we use the term “stash-busting” to talk about trying to work through all of the unused yarn in our house… I guess I see this second challenge as a stash-bust for books, hoping that finishing B and saying “what do I have in the house by a C-surname author” will lead to me reading more books I already own instead of hoarding new ones.

I’m still working four days a week, and have a dedicated writing day. On the one hand, it’s been really good to have a dedicated writing day, and I have been writing every week. On the other hand, it’s somewhat frustrating to have a tantalising view of how much more creative work I’d be getting done if I could afford to spend less time working for money.

I realise this is a common problem in non-professional writers – but I suppose that doesn’t mean I can’t now understand it emotionally instead of knowing about it logically. Especially since I often feel self-conscious about how much I write – for me a carefully squeezed out 500 words, some of which I may backtrack on next time, is a good session, and more than 750 is a great one. It would take me over a year to write another novel from the start, and that’s assuming I write every week and don’t spend time and words deleting, re-doing, re-planning.

I am taking a break from my novel, since I’ve been having trouble editing it, and have been having fun writing a new – well, what began as a short story but is beginning to look like a novelette, at least. I’m hoping I’ll be able to return to my novel and finish it by the end of the year, but writing this right now I’m not sure if that will happen. I worry that I’m somehow missing my novel’s “moment” by doing so. When I started writing it in 2014, setting it in 2011 was only a few years back. The world has changed so much in 3 years – at what point to have to begin working in periodising it, or rework it for the new contemporary?

I shall leave off with a few pictures of my current on-the-needles knitting. I am hoping to finish at least these two projects by Edinburgh Yarn Festival, which I’m very excited for – I’ve finished a lot more knitting in the past year than I remember, and I’m looking forward to going back!

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This pattern is The Love Of Spiders, by Melanie Berg. It’s knitted in a mix of Rusty Ferret Yarn Doll (the purple) and Rainbow Heirloom Solo Light (the black). I wanted to challenge myself to knit things with ~more than one colour in them~, and this is one of the results. The colour combination is also, perhaps, partially a result of my abortive plan to knit a three colour shawl in black-white-purple to make something patterned after Miss Muffet from Undertale. Alternately maybe it’s just my teenage emo kid heart coming through. I’m listening to Welcome To The Black Parade right now, guys.

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Another result of my attempt to do more with colour, this is the Anchor Steam by Thea Colman in two different colours of A Verb For Keeping Warm Pioneer that I picked up on holiday. For the non-knitters: this may look less complicated, but is harder. The Spiders shawl uses only one colour per row because of Witchcraft Reasons. In this one, you need to switch colours within the same row. And that is TERRIFYING (or at least, seems so until you try it. Then it’s okay.)

I will update after Edinburgh Yarn Festival to fulfil the craft side of this blog – and with luck will be able to report that I’ve finished my new story, too.

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Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2016

I almost can’t believe it’s been a whole week since I was at Edinburgh Yarn Festival. It’s been my first big “knitting event” and it was a lot of fun – everyone there was exceptionally lovely, and I picked up a lot of yarn and had a good time with the friends I went with. I’m looking forward to hitting up the Indie Burgh Yarn Crawl in June, but for now let’s show you what I picked up!

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Three skeins of Skein Queen Desire Bounce, and my adorable Edinburgh Yarn Fest logo project bag. It’s pictured as the beginning of a Distinction by Caitlin ffrench. It’s been my first ever colourwork project, and it’s so much fun! It’s come a long way since I cast it on a week ago, you can see my latest project picture on my Ravelry page.

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Two skeins of DyeNinja High Twist Merino Fingering, and my Edinburgh Yarn Fest tote bag. The blue is in the Queen Magrat colourway of DyeNinja’s special Discworld colourways, I was very excited to pick up the last skein she had for sale. I’m most likely going to knit this into a Byatt by Karie Westerman.

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Two skeins of Border Tart Blue Moon Merino Fingering, and a copy of the festival’s exclusive Wool Tribe magazine. I saw a few stalls selling yarn dyed with indigo at the festival, and thought I’d get in on it while it’s trendy. I’m still not sure what I’m doing with these – I might make a second Byatt, depending on how I feel after the first one, or I might make something else entirely – I’m sure I won’t struggle to find a project for this gorgeous pair. I am planning to make the Stevenson Cowl by Gudrun Johnston from Wool Tribe at some point, though – and I’ve already bought a few skeins of Jamieson’s to get me started.

I feel like I’ve been existing on wool fumes since I left – I’ve spent more time solidly working on the Distinction in this past week than I think I have on any other project, and I’m so excited to see my other gorgeous pickups as finished objects.

I was amazed at how it managed to have such a relaxed atmosphere despite half of the event being a sales hall – people were happy for you to browse and touch yarns, and respected if you said you were still planning your budget or wanted to see everything before laying down cash. I think the difference from, say, comic conventions I’ve been to is that most of these people seem to have online or physical stores that are doing fine – this event isn’t the only chance they’ll have to sell wool, whereas at a comic convention things can feel a little weird when you’re browsing the creator-owned comics and the creator in question obviously needs people to buy things so they can at least make back their table cost. I also ended up in a lot more casual chat than I ever have at a comic convention – telling people their scarves look nice, or asking what yarn they’re using, and having people do the same back to you, gave it a real tangible sense of community. I’m already looking forward to next year!

December Crafts – Emmer Shawl, Honey Cowl, Lapsang Hat

The past few months have been both good and bad for my knitting. On the plus side – I’ve been working on a few different exciting patterns at once, and managing to make at least a few hours a week to work on them. On the down side, oh god my wrists hurt so much I seriously need to space these out more (she says, using her sore wrists to play Dragon Age and write blog posts – okay so I can’t entirely blame knitting for my woes).

Emmer Shawl

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Pattern: [x]

Particularly eagle-eyed readers will recognise a much smaller version of this shawl in the photograph on my first reading round-up post. The first shawl I ever made took me a year. This… is the second shawl I’ve ever made. I’m going to generously assume I’ll take the same amount of time. I bought this wonderful hand-dyed wool from local yarn store Queen of Purls as a treat for myself in some beautiful autumnal colours. By my estimations, it may in fact be finished and ready to wear next autumn.

Honey Cowl

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Pattern: [x]

I’ve been working on this one on-off for a few months. I love the mustard yellow wool I’m working in, it looks great and feels squishy, and the simplicity of the pattern means it’s easy to knit while sitting in class or watching television… but the simplicity also means I don’t feel very challenged by it, which is how I ended up with two other projects on the go at the same time. I’m looking forward to getting back to it and hopefully finishing it soon.

Lapsang Hat

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Pattern: [x]

I left this one until last since it may be my favourite thing that I’m working on at the moment. It’s in super chunky yarn, so it knits up very fast, and since I took a bit of a break from knitting over the summer it’s nice to be making something that looks great, is fun to work on AND I’m going to finish pretty quickly. I’d seen a few friends making Tea Collection hats before, and since I got to pick up some of the Ginger Twist Studios yarn those patterns are designed for at an event at Queen of Purls, I decided it was time to make my own.