Doodle knitting

Some people doodle with pen and ink. When I pick up
those tools, I actively sketch some nearby object or person or scene—not
doodling, which I think of as having busy fingers and an almost disengaged

I doodle with yarn. Often my doodles end up serving useful purposes, but the
time when I’m actually doing the stitching has the mental flavor of putting one
line after another without much investment in the process.

While I’m working on the incredibly thought-absorbing and detailed work of final layout for Ethnic Knitting Discovery, my knitting needs to be at
the doodle level. All of my brain cells are occupied elsewhere.

That’s the reason why, although I’ve been tagged by my friend Susan for an
“Eight Random Things” meme and would like to play, I won’t be thinking about
eight random things or other people to tag until I’ve got the layout done.
Anyone who has not been tagged for this one and wants to be (or has been and
wants to have another go), let me know. It’ll be next week before I get around
to this. Assuming I actually get it done, it will also be my first meme

It’s amazing I’m writing a post at all. Except where points and picas are
concerned (those are the measurement systems for layout), today I can’t think
as far as the number eight (much less twice: for items and for tagging). I
think I need a break from the layout but I still have no undrained brain cells.

(I did finish the proofreading for High IQ Kids yesterday and sent off the marked
pages today. That was an extra 362-page project to fit into the week. The book
looks good. I’m especially pleased with the open design Free Spirit managed for
the layout despite the magnitude of the project. There were 508 manuscript pages and 125,000 words. The finished product is nicely readable. However, the references needed a lot of additional attention. The
goal was "excellence, not perfection," so the job’s complete and I
retain a slim grip on sanity.)

The goal on this layout pass of EK1 (shorthand for Ethnic
Knitting Discovery
) is to get the book within the planned and announced
160 pages. The rough layout was 170 when I started this go-through. As I
reached page 33, the layout was two pages longer. Sigh. By the time I hit
60-something, it was four pages shorter. Yay! Now I’m on page 102 and the total
is still 170 and I still have 10 pages to condense out of it. Sigh. As
I get into the back half of the book, I have fewer pages to work with, which
makes my goal of reaching 160 increasingly less likely. Layout is weird,
though. I might make it happen.

Most publishers, as I’ve noted in previous posts, would cut material. That’s undoubtedly wise. I’d
rather not. I like what’s planned to be in this book and don’t want to cut a
project, which is basically the only way to get 10 pages out . . . other than
layout magic.

If I add pages to accommodate my desire not to cut content, the printer will
make more money and the author and publisher will make less. I can’t just raise
the price by 10 percent to cover the extra printing and paper costs. The price
has already been set. Because of the way book distribution works these days,
both price and page count had to be announced a good seven months ago and
advance orders are being placed on the basis of that information. The buyers
don’t mind if you add pages (I’ve done it before). They may object if you cut
pages. Like most of us, they don’t mind getting more for their money.

Even now there’s no way to tell exactly what will happen with the layout in
the last half of the book, in large part because we don’t have about eight of
the final illustrations—and illustrations make a huge difference to layout. So
I’m forging on, solving problems as I get to them and hoping for a not-so-small
(exactly 10-page) page-count miracle.

My modus operandi: What is the ONE thing that I can work on at THIS
MOMENT that will make the most difference to all my projects in the long run?

The current, immediate problem that I’ve been punting since last fall
(because it hadn’t reached the top of the list of answers to that question
until today) is that I don’t understand the reference drawings for one of the
techniques in EK1. Thus we don’t have final drawings.

This connects to my current doodle knitting, which consists of:


  1. My blue socks from Colorjoy! LynnH’s hand-dyed TipToe sock yarn. These are coming into the home stretch. They are simple socks with Priscilla Gibson-Roberts’ nifty short-row heels and toes, knitted in a yarn that continues to delight me with every stitch.
  2. Larger swatches for two of the pages of Ethnic Knitting Discovery. I want the scans of actual fabric to match the charts and there aren’t quite enough repeats in the swatches that I have. I’ll need to block these tidbits, but they’re completed.
  3. Another pair of socks in Opal 4-ply, a ball of which I picked up at Knitting With Class in Sitka, Alaska. (That link comes from Rosemary Brock’s amazing Textile Links pages. Long-lived and astonishingly useful. I miss Rosemary from my Spin-Off days!) I started more socks because my first pair of LynnH socks is at the k2/p2 stage and I figured I could get some toes done in bits of time that would accommodate the amount of counting attention required for short-row maneuvers (I do have another ball of LynnH’s yarn, but I’m saving it . . . ). These socks will be at the totally brainless level by the time my LynnH socks are finished, so I’ll still have an autopilot project handy. I’ve never knitted with Opal before. I’ve never knitted with most sock-specific yarns, because I started knitting socks before there were many yarns available that were intended for making socks. Lots of the new sock yarns seem to be Merino-based, which seems odd to me because I can’t imagine them lasting very long on my feet. Merino = nice sweater. Socks = wool from breeds with sturdier fiber. Kristi tells me the Opal socks should last nicely. She also tells me that the Interweave special issue on felt will not be on the newsstand until July 17, which has saved me from looking for it sooner.
  4. A sample of two-color knitting so I can ask my daughter to take photos of my hands as references for two drawings for Ethnic Knitting Discovery that are still missing. The page in the middle of the photo is the page whose layout I can’t complete until I resolve this. I will skip over it and work on later pages, although they can’t be truly worked up until I get this segment set. Building a book is like building a brick house. Each layer rests on the previous one. I will say it’s a whole lot easier to design a straight text book with no critical illustrations or technical information!
  5. The weird blue thing (unnumbered) is a yarn bra, a gift from inexplicably blogless Kris. I’m wondering if I can use one to simplify the yarn management for my sock-knitting technique (one sock from the inside of the ball, one from the outside, knit until they meet in the middle). Dunno yet.

Background 1: The printer gets paid before the house gets
repainted. It’s a matter of priorities, although very soon the house-painting
needs to be bumped up the priority list somehow. The need has been at
"critical" for two years already.

Background 2: When I have to choose between cutting material and
giving future readers of a book the best experience possible, I go with the

Quote of the day:

    "Tension is a prerequisite for creative living." Agnes

Tension is also required for knitting, doodle-type or more elaborate. And,
as I keep learning, it is also an unavoidable component of independent publishing.

(The quote comes from a page-per-day calendar called Wild Words for Wild
My niece started us on this calendar several years ago by giving us
one for Christmas. It’s become a regular part of our lives: the daily page gets
ripped from the pad and tucked into the edge of the bathroom mirror every
morning. About one out of ten is a true keeper, and the rest are at least
amusing or odd. The calendar doesn’t give much background on quotees. It was
fun to do a quick look-up on Agnes Meyer and discover who she was.)

  • Reading for
    brains that are preoccupied with layout but need a break: Lean Mean
    by Janet Evanovich.
  • Movie for same type of brains that also need respite from 95-degree heat (F;
    = 35 degrees C): Ratatouille, matinee.

Okay, enough escape. Back to the pages.


1 thought on “Doodle knitting”

  1. Thanks for the link to Agnes Meyer, fascinating.

    I love Opal yarn, it washes up soft and fluffy but wears much longer than the merino stuff (which is so soft I use it anyway, but you are so right about its limited lifespan). There are other sockyarns that may last longer but maybe none are as soft.

    And I hate to break it to you, but I bought the Felt issue Thursday at Rae’s (one of my LYS’s).

    May you find 10 pages to magically disappear without disappearing any material. I’ve been a secretary enough to know how impossible that goal can be. Crossing fingers for you here in Michigan…

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