Archive for the ‘inspiration’ Category

future career on hold

January 13, 2014

I returned to work recently and was talking to a friend. I was this close *holds fingers millimeters apart* to not returning. I said all sorts of bold words, even going so far as to boast about the possibility of me writing porn to not return.

“You know,” says I, “all that 30 Shades of Grey.”

She thinks a minute while I’m talking and then corrects me. “It’s 10 Shades of Grey.”

She talks some more and than I realize something. “Hey! It’s 50 Shades of Grey!”

So I guess writing that erotica for cash money is pretty far off if I can’t even nail down the title of what I’m aiming to copy. *headdesk*

On a similar note, I did get some good notes on the bit I wrote.  Which is a relief.  Because writing explicit scenes is not like writing about space travel.  (Only a couple hundred? people have experienced space travel.)  And people do like to compare with their own experiences.  So, I’m glad I’m not so far out there as to be unbelievable/unreadable.

Clapotis progress

November 11, 2013

So I’ve been knitting away on the scarf.  (And to take a break from the scarf, I’ve knit a hat.  But that’s not what’s important here.  I just needed a gift for someone and I liked the pattern.)

I’ve been scared to death of making this scarf.  I ripped back a couple of times already.  I was more than half-way done and I was contemplating yet another rip back.  There are important, serious reasons for it.  I made one edge a bit too tight.  I consulted with a couple of other knitters and they assure me that it’s hardly noticeable and if it bothers me by the time I finish knitting it, it will probably block out.  Blocking out, as anybody knows, is a lie.  It’s just that when people say that, they mean that when you finish knitting it, you’ve got a finished product and even if the urge is still with you, you won’t have the heart to rip that sucker out.  They’re probably right, at least for me.  (It’s negative knitting.  It rips out the heart as well.)

But the reasons why I’ve been so hesitant about this project (I hate ripping out, but I have no problems with it here) is because I want it to be perfect.  I’ve just never had an item that mattered to me like this – most of the time, I’ve knit and been done with it.

Part if it has been that the yarn is among the most expensive I’ve ever bought.  (It’s pretty good yarn.)   I’ve been thinking and longing for this scarf since I saw it, months, maybe years before I actually started knitting seriously.  I’ve got a facebook post about it.  (I just checked, dating October 2012, a month before I took that knitting class.)  It’s almost as if all the knitting I have done up to this point has been to gear up for making this scarf.

This thinking is stupid.  The scarf is not that hard to make.  It’s a bit of an exercise in patience, because it is a long scarf/shawl/stole, but it’s nothing like an entire outfit of colorwork in skinny yarn with teeny-tiny needles.  It’s just in my own head.  There’s a new-to-me technique of dealing with alternating multiple balls of yarn (because, hello expensive hand-painted yarn that is only related to each other skein in the same colorway like I’m related to my second cousins) which is sort of a pain.  The idea was terribly intimidating.  I’m over it now, though.  (I’ve got 3 on the go at once, but can’t figure out how to do a fourth.)

clapotis3balls

If you’re wondering, the scarf is turning out pretty well, otherwise.  I’m really enjoying the knitting and the yarn is lovely.   I’m trying to get into the headspace of letting the process go on and not getting in the way.  If the product doesn’t turn out well, it’ll be fine.  Nothing in the world will be much different.  I might go ahead and buy more of this yarn to make another one.  That would be it.  The sky will not fall, my children will be the same, and I will have a finished scarf that is slightly below my dreams but as good as I could have done at the time.

I’m dealing with the force of my own expectations here.  I don’t know where I get off expecting so much.  I’m working on it as I’m working on this scarf.   Think kindly of the crazy lady in the red scarf, please.

pop goes the…

July 11, 2013

I was thinking about that song recently.  I always thought that the “weasel” in the song meant another animal, like the monkey.

Well, boy howdy, I was wrong.  I was looking something about yarn and skeins and winders in Wikipedia, as you do, and I came across the entry for spinner’s weasel.  It’s a device that allows you to wind a pre-determined amount onto a wheel (a skein).  The important thing in that entry is the part the says the device goes “pop” after the amount is reached.

Voila! Pop goes the weasel.

I was so excited when I read that.  (I would be leading you on to say that is the agreed definitive meaning of the phrase, as it is under some dispute.  However, it was better than what I thought it meant, which indicated some violence done to a mustela.)

genderbending

June 28, 2013

I’ve been getting into a new fandom recently.

It’s on the small side, and there isn’t a lot of genderbending fics out there.  (Internet rule 63 – if it exists, there is genderbending.)  I’m not hugely into genderbending, but I do find it interesting, especially if done well.  Anyway, I was wondering about this lack and went through some mental exercises, because I immediately got snagged on it.  But the thing is, it also made me really uncomfortable.

Main characters are male.  The one who’s POV we follow is a guy in his middle-30’s who is a career superhero – let’s call him K.  K’s career is in the dumps, he’s in the cusp of being replaced by a  younger guy (the other main character, whom we shall call B), he’s been a widower for some time, his daughter is back in the small town he grew up with his mother.  K’s also a bit of a drinker, he doesn’t cook, he’s socially oblivious and loud.  I’m trying to make him a woman, and suddenly, all of these traits which are acceptable in a man become more difficult to accept in a woman.  (Which just goes to show how entrenched I am in gendered thinking, I guess.)

I don’t think I’m alone in this.  A woman who drinks a little, is devoted to her job to the exclusion of her child and yet is unsuccessful at said job, has no domestic abilities, and can’t handle herself socially (but has a really big heart) would be much more harshly judged.  I judge that characterization quite a bit.   Same personality, different genders/sexes, different reactions.  Each one of these things, especially the child piece, I find difficult to accept in a woman.  (I mean, I find this sort of hard to accept in a man, but less so.  I think I just failed feminism.)

( It kind of sort of brings up a comparison to Cagney and Lacey (I think the Sharon Gless character, Cagney?), and while I never really watched the show, I was definitely aware of the characters.  Maybe I’m thinking about that because there aren’t a lot of other shows that feature two women as protagonists (as opposed to two men, or a man and a woman).)

I think it’s easy to make the foil character, B, a woman, perhaps too easily.  B is career driven, calculating, sort of mean to the main character, revenge-driven.  It’s funny because those things are unlikeable in either gender/sex, but somehow, less likeable in a woman.

Eventually, though, they learn to work together through the Power of Friendship and Trust.

I may actually write this, but it would definitely only be an exercise for me – a little bit to see where I could take the story, a little bit to see if I could actually do it, and a little bit to see if I can get over myself and my gendered way of thinking.  I’m leaning toward the theory that if something makes you uncomfortable, you should write it, because there’s going to be a lot of juice there.

One thing’s for certain.  Nobody, maybe not even me, is going to like it.

And that’s a bit of a shame.

(W thinks I just put too much thought into it.)

knit vs fic

May 30, 2013

Why fanfic is and is not like knitting.

In a way, knitting fulfills a similar role to writing.  It’s a nice hobby, it fulfills a creative urge, and I get to make things I show to people.

But it’s not the same.  With knitting, I have a physical object.  I have, as yet, (knock on wood) to abandon a project without making the final decision of frogging it.  I’m not embarrassed about it, hell, I even have a local group I take my projects to.  (Knitting, for whatever assumptions other people might have about it, usually doesn’t involve assumptions about poorly executed pr0n (regardless of the actual existence of said pr0n.))

As for writing, well, I’ve got a double sh8tton of unfinished work.  Things I know I might never finish, for whatever reason.

I’m hip-deep in a story and I’m wrestling it into shape.  I don’t know if I’ll ever make this story presentable.  The way to finish is unclear, there is no pattern.  It’s easier to avoid, fewer people to show it to, harder to get into, and it’s best if I do it alone.

So right now, while I’m between projects, I’ll get to wrestling this story.  What happens, whether or not I finish, regardless of how much effort I put into it, is another question.

AU of my life

May 15, 2013

As I ripped back most of the hat I was making, I realized that in an alternate universe, I would never have to rip back a top-down hat.  I would make it fit perfectly, the first time.  (I have ripped back a lot since I began knitting – so if you really calculate it out, I have probably actually near close to twice the yardage that is present on my Ravelry page.   That’s a heap o’ knitting.)

And in that alternate universe, I would never make a mistake.  Never make things too long or too big or too small.  I would never yell at my children.  My kitchen would always be perfectly clean.  My laundry always done, always neatly folded.

Then I realized something.  That other me would probably have an enormous head for all of this perfection and I would probably hate her.

It’s for the best that I will continue to mess up, just so I can still relate to myself.

crafty kids

April 27, 2013

You know what I love about kids and crafts?  They just do it.  There’s no “why” or “what good is this for” or “what am I getting out of this?”  You give them something to make, and they tend to make it.  (My kids are pretty young, maybe that’s why this still works.)

Kids get the whole thing about “making something.”   H isn’t super interested in the doing of it, but he’s interested in the end product and wants me to make him stuff.  J is interested in making a stitch or two and then she’s done.  But she likes to watch and try on the things I’ve made (hats for virtually anybody, socks for her father, mitts for me).  It’s pretty funny.  We both enjoy it.

I don’t know what happens to us as we get older and many of us lose that understanding of “making something.”  I did.  And where storebought and the status quo becomes desired.  And now that I’m back to making stuff without some voice in my head asking “why,” I’m a bit sad.  Imagine how awesome my knitting/writing would have been had I focused on it years ago.

Still, I’m making something now, my kids get it, and I’m good with that.

not alice starmore

April 24, 2013

I just finished reading Adrienne Martini’s book, Sweater Quest: My Year of Knitting Dangerously.  Basically, the author knits a difficult sweater and talks a lot of people during the time she does it.   The author is interested in why people knit, what is the meaning behind really designing a sweater, the community of knitting.  It was a good fast read in a topic I’m obviously interested in.  I liked it, but I had some thoughts.  Further, she talks about the designer – Alice Starmore, who is a star in the knitting world.  (I have some of her books, and they are inspirational, but I probably won’t be knitting any patterns from them.)  Martini (or the persona she presents in this book) is someone who is seeking validation for her choices, trying to learn more about a person (or a way of thinking) who is, ultimately, not accessible.   It’s a bit unsatisfying in that way.

I think a central concept of the book – whether or not any changes made to an item designed by someone, even an item as particularly detailed as the sweater of the book by the designer in question – it doesn’t sit well with me.  Because things as perceived by the designer isn’t necessarily going to satisfy the knitter.  (I suppose Martini could be doing this intentionally to the reader, but she doesn’t seem to be that kind of writer, nor this that kind of book.)

I’m not quoting this right – but I think it’s Stephanie Pearl-McPhee that says what is closest to what my own opinion: any changes you make to a sweater makes it less theirs and more yours.  (Like making an Alice Starmore-designed stranded sweater in exactly her branded 100% wool specially dyed yarns and colors as opposed to fiddling with sizing and pattern and color and yarn content.)

My thinking is that this relationship between knitter and designer, between concept and execution, is a collaboration.

Honestly, by virtue of having made the sweater, it is yours.  The designer, most likely, doesn’t have a relationship with you, ordinary consumer knitter (except by a few small types of impersonal transactions – sales, Ravelry displays), and it is unlikely they will ever see your work of their design.  But you definitely have a relationship with them.  (There’s got to be a word for that kind of mostly one-sided relationship.)   Knitting something that was designed by someone else reveals a bit of the contours of the designer’s thought process – even simple phrasing like “Cast-on in your preferred method” versus “Cast-on tubular, exactly like this link, or else the fit will be wrong.”

It’s a bit like fandom, really.  Someone presents you with their work (“canon”) and you love it so much that you want to participate in it (“fandom”).  (The knitting thing is all about participation, but some people by their very nature are just participators, whatever their “craft” – fic, art, what have you.)  And Pearl-Mcphee also says something about being very surprised about some of the ways/places her patterns have ended up (“not her vision”) – and I imagine much similar can be said for the creators of almost any popular media.

It’s multiple levels of transformation, some more faithful than others. (The stories I have loved and have gone back to over time are often not exactly the way I remember them.)

Part of my feelings have to do with being a creator of sorts, of writing fic – that what I imagine as fabulous and amazing doesn’t necessarily come out to be the same as I imagine.  (Translation 1.)  And then there’s the weird thing where someone else seems to like it – but maybe not necessary for the reasons that I like it (or why I wrote it)  (Translation 2).  And if they do a riff on it, then it becomes something else entirely, in my opinion, even though they think they’re being faithful to some aspect of it (Translation 3).  It’s interesting, and I want the stuff to be done well because if it truly is a story I don’t like for whatever reason – what does it say about my own work?  (Which I recognize is stupid – because really, it should be bout the pride and happiness of the writer who did that story as opposed to self-centered me.)  But this is all hypothetical.  If and when that does happen, I will accept that and try to be happy I inspired somebody else’s creativity because, really, what else can I do if I put my stuff out there?  If it truly gets to be a problem, I will take my stuff down and be done with it.

Now, perhaps the creators of canon see my fic as some awful misshapen acrylic Red Heart Supersaver in neon colors when they imagine their own canon to be, well, an Alice Starmore.

love letter to yarn

April 15, 2013

Dear Yarn,

When I first saw your picture on ebay, I thought it was a bit grainy and underlit.  I had never used your brand before.  Still, the two balls of you were a great price and the seller promised fast shipping and had good reviews, so I clicked.  When you came, I liked you so much better.  First of all, you were real and not some yarn scam.  Second, your colors were bright – maybe too bright for your original purchaser, but perfect for me.  Third, the dye lots matched.  I stashed you away for a good project because I was still working on something else.  And there you lay for the better part of a season.

On a whim, I plucked you from the depths of the big plastic bin and pulled you from the clear zippered bag your seller had sent you in.   You see, I had finished my last project and I was just thinking casually about something new.  Maybe socks.  I had been saving you, but what the hell.  It’s not like you were busy being something else.  And you looked marginally more promising than some of that other stuff I had in there.  (What was I thinking when I bought those?)

The pattern said use small needles, size 1 or 2 to get 7 stitches per inch.  Having been burned on size 1 needles with yarn of your size previously, I went to size 2.  I didn’t swatch.  F* that.  You were going to be toe-up socks and that was just the way it was.  I was sick of compromising for the sake of fussy yarns.  You weren’t quite at 7 stitches, but I could fudge it.  I worked with you, and you just accommodated me and all my ways.  And I began to love you.  Red, orange, yellow, and is that a hint of purple?  or is it brick?  stranded together shouldn’t work, but you were so good and so right, so soft, so easy to see and work with – it almost didn’t seem right.  The fact that you’re just a simple yarn, not even self-striping or a jacquard, didn’t matter.  Several inches just appeared, like magic.   I said something to W and he agreed.  You are a beautiful yarn and you make beautiful socks, even in this simple pattern, even for a beginner knitter like me.

I began to worry.  Maybe, maybe I should have used smaller needles, so the socks you make would last longer.  But I was afraid I would hate the process, and in turn, hate you.  I could see us together for a long, long, long time.  (I have even tried you on a bunch of times, unnecessarily so, as you turned from toe to sock.)

Darling, don’t be hurt if I stop right now and cast on the other sock in the size 1 needles – just to see if I feel the same way.  Maybe I was wrong to have started this – because the sooner I end, the sooner I stop touching and seeing and thinking about you.  It’s because I love you so much that I’m doing this.  I swear to you I will return when I figure out if I like you just as much in a tighter knit.  Maybe I will unravel you, but I will knit you again, I swear.  It’s only because I love you so much, and I want the experience to last so much longer, I’m scheming to find ways to extend the process.   This has never happened to me before.  I’m a complete product knitter – sure, I enjoy knitting, but I love, love, love finishing.  It is completely different with you.  I never want this to end.  Please be like this all the way to the final cast-off, which, I’m afraid, will come too soon.

Love,

Me.

p.s.  If you catch me surfing ebay to find more yarn just like you even before I’m at the gusset of the first sock – it’s because I love you just that much.

Meant to Be

February 19, 2013

Sometimes, talking to W is just the best.

I was saying something about how fandom loves Tony Stark (aka Ironman) and Steve Rogers (aka Captain America) paired up, romantically. It’s interesting to me, but I don’t know anything much about the background of the comics and I watched the movies half-asleep. I don’t mind reading some, even though it’s not my fandom, especially if the fics have been recommended to me. So I was just vocalizing my surprise at the EXPLOSION of fic when W says, “It’s obvious.”

Me: Why? (I am genuinely puzzled. I think the characters are interesting, but as I ain’t comix, I don’t know.)

W: Because bad boy/good boy dynamics, that’s why.

Me: (pondering) What? (Catching on) Oh. Oh! Oooooh.

He’s not even a fanboy, nor does he have the slash goggles (that I know of), but geez, he can sure cut through to the core, can’t he? (And I admire him for it.)

In knitting news, I finished his socks (and my second pair and my first toe-ups). It was almost a tragedy, as I had fitted the first sock on his foot the whole way – making him try it on every other row practically. The second sock I only tried on his foot a couple of times, so the ankle was bit tight. He said he couldn’t get it over his heel – but I was all, “GRR. You WILL put on this sock.  Even if I have to cut off the bind-off.” And he did, without cutting the binding-off, and he wore them the whole day, so it seemed okay. (Unless it was because he couldn’t take them off without fear of losing part of his foot.) He told me he isn’t going to be wearing them to work – they’re too short. He seems happy with them, though, so it’s a success.

I probably should have made the leg longer – if you look, they would have been close to identical if I’d made the first one (the one on the left) just a couple of inches taller in the leg.
wsock2

Edited to add: Yarn is Opal X-Large 8-fach, green-gray colorway.