C, D, 65K, and a bit of mechanical breakdown, plus knitting

Last month, E and F arrived on the scene riding on squares of gingerbread, courtesy of my daughter. Here they are again:

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C (Cat) and D (Dog, of course) showed up within the past week on similar conveyances.

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E, F, C, and D all arrived with their hats on fire, but they seemed to enjoy the conflagration. As far as one can tell with creatures made of wax. They’re all still smiling.

The AlphaSmart, new at that time, saw me through the November madness of NaNoWriMo, which I concluded with an official word count of 65,915. It’s possible that what I wrote will be worth editing, although it’s way too early for me to take a look and evaluate.

My next step in that realm is to figure out how to carry the NaNoWriMo momentum forward on my next personal writing projects. Although my current task is deciding which of the several possible projects I want to take on next. All of this personal writing happens in addition to full-time work, of course, so the decision involves lots of questions about balancing energy.

As I completed NaNoWriMo, I discovered a fantastic book on editing (a topic I care about more than most people) at our local independent bookstore, now celebrating its first anniversary. The book is The Artful Edit: On the Practice of Editing Yourself, by Susan Bell. You’re looking at an interlibrary loan copy, although I’ll be buying the one at the bookstore.

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Here are some tidbits:

  • "While we write into a void, we edit into a universe, however ravaged it may be." (p. 147)
  • "Reading breeds the power of an independent mind. When we read well, we are thinking hard for ourselves—this is the essence of freedom. It is also the essence of editing." (p. 183)
  • "It is bad enough for an editor to prune provocative phrases or ideas from a writer’s work out of fear they will offend; when writers do this to themselves, one might wonder why they write at all." (p. 193)

And a great quote from Paul Valery, located on page 8: " . . . if he knows well what he
meant to do, this knowledge always disturbs his perception of what he
has done."

Also in the photograph above: less-than-exciting but baseline-satisfying knitting. One is the pair of socks that I carry around with me. It’s proceeding apace; I’m about halfway up the ribbing for the legs (these are toe-up). Another is a V-neck cardigan I’m making from Crystal Palace Cotton Chenille for my acupuncturist, who helps me stay grounded and doesn’t tolerate many of the fibers that I prefer to use for sweaters (like those grown by animals). The swatch for this sweater, in a different color that was a second-choice option for the garment, turned into a scarf for the same person.  I forgot to photograph it before I gave it to her. On the sweater, I’ve finished the sleeves and last night started working on the body.

This is a time when I’ve used my swatch to tell me what I didn’t want to do. I’d thought this would make a good machine-washable sweater, and it would. I prepared my swatch (1 below) and machine washed and dried it. The machine washing/drying made the fabric pleasantly denser, but it also increased the stitch and row counts significantly and produced a ridged, almost corduroy-like, quality in the fabric.

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The ridging and density were acceptable. The increased stitch and row counts were not, because I have a limited quantity of the yarn.

So I’m working the sweater itself at the hand-washed gauge (2 above). The fabric’s a bit more supple and I’m likely to be able to finish the project with the nine skeins that I have.

Mechanical breakdowns, or tendencies in that direction

  1. Car, tow #2 in about a month: First was the starter. This was . . . well, I have a hard time believing that the clutch pedal is attached to the actual gear-shifting mechanism with a plastic clip. I know that plastics can be made to be extremely durable. However, this clip snapped in two, so one second the clutch controlled the transmission and the next second it didn’t. Fortunately, I had just pulled into the driveway at home when my foot pressed on the clutch to put the car into neutral and the pedal slammed into the floor with no resistance at all, nor any tendency to spring back up or do any of the other tricks that clutches are supposed to do. All is good again now.
  2. Microwave: dead. Fortunately, the next day a local store was having a double-discount sale on a top-rated microwave. It works beautifully.
  3. Washing machine: not gone yet. It’s been vibrating its way across the floor lately, though. I think the stabilizers that function to keep the drum under control when it’s rotating might have begun to wear out. It’s only about 25 years old, so I think this is premature. I don’t want a new washer. I want this one to work. There’s also a bit of water on the floor after each wash cycle—perhaps sloshing out from the wild gyrations. Not good, I think.

Much good fortune in this, however, in terms of when, where, and how mechanical devices have been breaking down, or only almost breaking down.

Minor updates on previously introduced topics, plus some unintroduced miscellany

Ethnic Knitting Discovery knit-along

Donna Druchunas is starting up a knit-along to go with Ethnic Knitting Discovery. (When I checked, there was a typo in the Yahoo group link on that page: to reach the Yahoo group, try this instead [fixed now at Donna’s site, too]; the group is a general discussion of ethnic knitting, but preliminary organizing of the knit-along has happened there. The knit-along may have several points of contact when it’s operating at full flow, perhaps including both off and on Ravelry, for those who are not, as well as those who are, already involved in that community.)

Donna announced the knit-along on her blog on November 1. Just over four weeks later, she tells me there are now 250 275 (25 more since this morning) people involved! I can’t wait to see all the variations that show up, because this is a design-along as well as a knit-along. Folks who signed up early voted on the project focus, which turned out to be Norwegian colorwork. The actual knitting will start after the first of the year with a small project that will serve as a gauge swatch, in addition to being useful in its own right.

Library Journal review of Ethnic Knitting Discovery

I still haven’t located a copy of this review that I’ve heard exists. The librarians’ copy of the issue is being routed and can’t be located. The online EBSCO database doesn’t have the December 2007 issue online yet, nor does the Library Journal website.

I’m late, I’m late. . . .

I’m behind on a design project for a 12/31 deadline, but I just got the yarn. I’ve swatched the stitch pattern in other yarn, but that’s not the same as working it out in the right fiber and color.

Memory problems (computer)

The manufacturer found a few sticks of compatible memory for my computer a week or two after I had to solve the problem. I had to remove all the original memory to install anything other than their proprietary build. I now have 2 GB of RAM (I did have 1 GB, in two 512 sticks) from another source (which, by the way, has terrific tech support). It works fine as long as the original sticks aren’t installed as well. I hate having a gig of RAM that I can’t use, but that’s what it took to fix the problem.

Words, writing, and publishing

Possible next personal writing projects

  1. Narrative nonfiction book on knitting (and other textile crafts) as survival techniques. Written: approximately 50,000 words. Interested: agent responded with great enthusiasm to the proposal, sent it around, and one editor/publisher responded positively, but needs a full manuscript to make a decision. Personal challenge: overall structure (i.e., to resolve this, I need bigger chunks of time than I currently have access to). The proposal included a structure, but the editor who’s interested wouldn’t require me to maintain strict focus on knitting, which was how the work had been conceived to be shopped around, so I could expand the range, which is appealing. But requires more groundwork.
  2. Narrative nonfiction book on general creative process. Written: approximately 60,000 words. Interested: me. Challenge: overall structure again, although this feels like a longer-term project than #1.
  3. Essay collection. Written: Plenty. Interested: me. Challenge: not much market for such things.
  4. Novel that I got an idea for during NaNoWriMo. Written: a few index cards’ worth. Status: want to do a bunch of research; have started lists of resources. Challenge: structuring time use to get this to progress steadily. This is probably the leading contender right now.
  5. Novel that I almost wrote during NaNoWriMo. Written: 65,915 words. It’s currently a metafiction about the process of writing a novel, although there might also be a real novel (whatever "real" is) hiding in the verbiage. it may also stand as metafiction. I’m way too close to it right now to tell.
  6. Any other project that I’ve currently forgotten about, like the narrative nonfiction about the educational system.
  7. All of the above: This is my usual technique for any projects. If I don’t have enough time or concentration for A, I work on B. If I am waiting for resources for X (interlibrary loan books, money for supplies, whatever), I work on Y. I try to keep some income-producing projects and at least one personal creative project going at all times.
  8. Something I haven’t thought of yet. Always a possibility.

Nomad Press projects

  1. Ethnic Knitting Exploration by Donna Druchunas (planned for October 2008 release): Have reworked all the charts and am doing preliminary editing and layout (I’m on text for chapter 5, projects for chapter 4).
  2. Cowichan Sweaters by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts: Have completed first full pass of charts and sent to Priscilla for review.
  3. Other books: Working on projects, tentative chart layouts, and general development.

Freelance projects

I don’t talk much about my freelance work for several reasons. The biggest reasons are that I don’t take on much outside work (my time’s very limited) and that the freelance jobs involve other people’s work for which I play a supporting role (not that I don’t do that for Nomad Press books as well, but those are different).

However, several cool things happened for coaching/editing clients in the past week.

One project, for which we just completed the proposal, has piqued the interest of an agent who could be a good match for the book. We queried last week, got an immediate positive response (rare indeed), and sent the full proposal; receipt has been acknowledged. Now we wait.

I heard that a second project that’s been in the works for several years will be published next fall. I’m looking forward to seeing it in print!

And a third project is in the throes of being shaped, and it’s coming together. Slowly, but then it’s a huge, complicated book, and at this point my major contribution is providing encouraging words while the writer wrestles with the material.

But all three have passed significant milestones that warrant major celebrations.

Almost ready to apply to grad school

My daughter is almost ready to ship off her applications to graduate school. This is a Big Deal. The first deadline is next week.

It’s been snowing all day—heavy, wet, almost slushy snow

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And now I’d better get back to work. On A, B, X, or Y.

C, D, E, and F are taking care of themselves.

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6 thoughts on “C, D, 65K, and a bit of mechanical breakdown, plus knitting”

  1. Wow, you’ve got so very much going on! I hope you are counting my book and its slow progress towards completion as one of your successful coaching experiences. You’ve been an absolutely wonderful and supportive part of this for me, and I’m so grateful for it!

  2. Oh, good! I’ll add yours to the mix. I am really looking forward to seeing what you are doing, having watched it “hatching.”

    I did forget two other books that I may be writing–nonfiction.

  3. too bad about all the mechanical problems…you sound busy in spite of it…love the snowy pics and knitted swatchs…makes me wish i could crochet or knit, but broke my wrist so i think i have to wait for a while unless someone has a tip or two for one handed knitting.

  4. Wow! And I thought I was busy. I used to waste my time trying to fit into a style, when my style of getting things done is to work within a schedule and within my time and energy limits. So I keep a lot going at the same time as well. Thanks for the reminder that I’m not altogether “cuckoo.”

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