Monday, February 28, 2011

Knitting tutorial: Hank's having a ball

Okay, so, you walk into your favourite local yarn shop. Look around, and find it. The perfect yarn. Trouble is it looks like this...

You can't knit with it in this state.
Question: how to transform a hank into a ball?
Step 1: untwist Hank and lay him on your lap.


Step 2: Find an end.

Step 3: Make several loops.


Step 4: Begin to form a ball.

Step 5: continue winding...


Don't stop until you have a ball.

***
Web Tour
I'm being featured on Charlene Wilson's blog. Please visit me here
***
An article has been added to the www.markhamvillagewriters.com site. I'm one of the Guest Writers.
***
Shayne Leighton's Playlist Of Light and Darkness is featured on the Decadent Publishing blog
***
Work in progress
Word count: 31, 043 words
A new sentence: I swallowed my fear and stepped off the curb.
***
Next post: Free Tuesday: The saga of my overbite

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My writing and knitting news

I've got a jumble of news to share.
In local news...
This article (written by Laurie Kay) was on the front page of The Islands Independent (a newspaper that is distributed to most of the southern gulf islands)

Mayne author releases second book
*
Mayne Island's Leanne Dyck plans to store her knitting needles in the very near future as she embarks on her new career as a full time writer. Dyck has just released her second book, The Sweater Curse, described as a paranormal, contemporary thriller, about a young and aspiring knitwear designer who must re-examine her life to escape her potential destiny in hell. Dyck's first mystery, released in 2009 is an exercise in character analysis and intrigue set in the islands off the BC coast. Maynely A Mystery has a 'read to the end feel' that's particularly inviting to islanders who can relate to the unique lifestyle with a taste and thrill of the paranormal woven in.
*
Though released after Maynely A Mystery, Dyck had actually started writing the darker toned The Sweater Curse first. Along with tossing in a lure of the paranormal, the latter provides readers with another twist; it's an ebook.
*
Also known as digital books, ebooks are image-based productions readable on computers or other digital devices. Dyck says there are many benefits to being an ebook author including speed of publishing, and world wide readership.
*
During an online interview with The Islands Independent Dyck added that though Decadent Publishing has the right to publish The Sweater Curse as an ebook, she retains the right to publish her work traditionally, either through a separate publisher or as a self-publish endeavor. Authors are also paid a percentage of the sales for books on line.
*
Dyck says The Sweater Curse has allowed her to include her thriller within an already existing body of knitting-themed literature. Her recent ebook also lets her explore character in depth yet again, something that is emerging as a keynote element of her style. And like The Sweater Curse, now Maynely A Mystery is available as an ebook.
*
Dyck is definitely excited and confident about her new career that represents a bold step up in her own character development. She says she keeps daily business hours, a level of discipline not always easy for writers or islanders, and has already half completed a Young Adult adventure loosely based on her own experiences as a Katimavik volunteer. She's also started the sequel to The Sweater Curse.
*
Dyck plans to release The Sweater Curse in a limited edition paperback soon and is welcoming pre-orders. She can be reached at email: leanne@oknitting.com or mail S21, C4 Mayne Island, V0N 2J0
***

Internationally
I recently received this beautiful magazine in the mail.

'KALEIDOSCOPE, published since 1979, explores the experience of disability through literature and the fine arts. Fiction, painting, sculpture, poetry, nonfiction, book reviews, and theater are all featured in various issues.
*
Unique to the field of disability studies, this award-winning publication expresses the diversity of the disability experience from a variety of perspectives including: individuals, families, friends, caregivers, and healthcare professionals, among others. The material chosen for KALEIDSCOPE challenges and overcomes stereotypical, patronizing, and sentimental attitudes about disability.'


I'm very proud that my creative non-fiction is included in issue number 62.
***
Now, here at home, in knitting land.
Those, familiar with Olavia's hand knitting patterns, may recognize this pattern as Summer Sunset. It was very popular, and in fact it was the last pattern I sold--before closing my knitwear design business.
I enjoy wearing this sweater, and last year re-designed it and came up with...

I like this cardigan, but...
I'm not thrilled with the Stockinette stitch roll.
I thought I would be, but I'm not.
I decided to try again, and came up with...
I love this combination of 1 x 1 rib and Stockinette.
I bought five balls of Patons Decor (70% acrylic/30% wool) and set to work.
I thought I had sufficient yarn. However, as it turns out I didn't.
Notice how it rolls in at the opening.
Yeah, well, it isn't suppose to do that.
I need a facing.
I don't have enough yarn.
If I lived in the city I could go and buy more yarn. Unfortunately, I live on an island and I want to finish this cardigan. So, what I'm going to do is use navy.
I'll take another picture once I'm done--wish me luck.
***
Web Tour
Knitwear designer Stephannie Tallent interviewed me here
Decadent Publishing is very supportive--case in point Yup, there's more than one reason why I'm proud to be one of the authors in the house.
***
Work on work in progress
Word count: 30, 520 words
A new sentence added: Well, actually, their last name was Brimbley, but they reminded me of the TV Waltons because they lived on a farm and there was too many of them.
A word about how I write: What I like to do is write new passages, scenes, chapters, in the order they come to me. Then I devote sometime in reviewing them. In this way, I maintain the story's flow, discover holes, and regain inspiration.
***
Next Post: The first part of a two-part interview with author Rachel Haimowitz

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Sweater Curse Podcast (Ch 1: 5)

Would you like to hear me read more from chapter one?
Today, please enjoy Chapter 1: part five.
I hope you're enjoying listening as much as I'm enjoying reading.








Podcast Powered By Podbean

If you've missed any of my previous readings (Prologue, Chapter 1 part 1, 2, 3 or 4), you can find them on the Podcast page
http://sweatercursed.blogspot.com/p/radio-show-podcast.html

In this reading, you will hear me read an Icelandic word--"elsken min". Translated from Icelandic into English it means "my dear". How's my pronunciation? Would my amma (grandma) and afi (grandpa) be proud?

***

Work on work in progress

Word count: 30, 184 words

A new sentence added: Soon not a crumb remained and our stomachs groaned with excess.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Overcoming Writers' Block

Me: Recently, I've been engaged in life and have little time to write.
You: Sounds like an excuse. If you want to write, you find the time.
Me: Yes, but, what if it's something more. What if, it's writers' block. What...what...do I do then?
You: Why don't you read this article you wrote...
***
Take Note


Piss off! You heard me. Leave. I don't want you around. I don't have anything for you--no money, no booze, no nothin'. Isn't it bad enough that I'm trapped in this tin piss can without you tormenting me? I don't need you. I don't need anyone. I'm just fine on my own, thank you very much. I don't need your help. I don't need your pity. If you stay, one of the two of us is going to get hurt and I can guarantee it won't be me. So get the hell out of my house! Why are you still here? Are you deaf, dumb, and stupid?
*
He found the note on the breakfast table. There it was beside his scrambled eggs and toast. He picked it up and read it out slowly. It was Saturday--he had the time.
*
He smiled. Smiled--at such a note? Was he insane?
*
Maybe. He did, after all, love a writer. That required some degree of insanity.
*
Yes, he smiled. He smiled because he knew her writer's block was over. The clouds had lifted. The sun shone. The birds sang. All was right with the world. His wife was back at work. She had once again found her muse.
*
"Did you read it?" she enquired, with a kiss.
*
"Um, yes, well, yes. I did."
*
"Well, what do you think?" She beamed inquisitively.
*
"It's rather, well, strong."
*
"Yes, I know, isn't it? I'm not sure where it fits yet. Sometimes it's like assembling a jigsaw puzzle. Only you don't have to find all the corner pieces first. You just have to find a piece."
*
Yes, he had to admit, it did help to be a little insane.
***
Oh, yes I'm very familiar with writers' block. So, familiar, am I, in fact, that I've devised ways and means to overcome it. These strategies have worked for me--I hope they work for you.
*
Release: One word leads to another. So grab a pen and write the first thing that comes to your mind--how cute your boyfriend looks in jeans; what you love about your new job; the weather. Write.
*
While you write, don't worry about word count, grammar or spelling. Simply allow words to pour out of your pen uncensored. The only goal here is to relax and release.
*
Pep talk: It's often beneficial to seek the advice of others who've faced the same obstacle. So, talk with or read the books of fellow writers to discover their strategies.
*
Helpful books are Steven King's On Writing, James Scott Bell's Plot & Structure, Nancy Lamb's The Art and Craft of Storytelling.
*
Set goals: As a member of a critique group, my self-imposed expectation is that I have something to share at each meeting. If I don't, my peers will know. For me, this external means of accountability is a strong motivator.
*
Other sources of motivation may be a daily word count or a weekly blog post.
*
Change of scenery: Sometimes unblocking can be as easy as going for a walk. Physical exercise allows my brain to work, while the rest of me is otherwise engaged.
*
If I consciously think about my writing at all, I focus on my reader.
*
I have to write--I don't want, I can't disappoint them. They're counting on me.
*
I return to my project refreshed and ready to write.
*
*
All writers face it, you will overcome it--believe in yourself.
*

Monday, February 21, 2011

Knit, Knitting, Knitted tutorial--tails

Update:  This blog has transformed from a knitting/writing blog to a writing blog.

Did you know that your knitting has a tail?
Yup, it does.
Once you've finished putting your stitches on your needle, you will have two ends of yarn trailing from these stitches. One of these yarn ends will lead from the stitches to the ball. This is your "working yarn". The working yarn will be used while you knit. The other yarn ends will not be attached to anything. This is the "tail". The tail seems only to be around for the ride and it's not to be trusted. Indeed the tail is sly. It needs to be watched. If not closely supervised it can create all kinds of mischief.
Like?
It can make stitches disappear.
It can disguise itself as the working yarn.
The first problem can be avoided by ensuring that your tail is long enough not to pop through the last stitch. Leave a nice long tail. Unfortunately, this long tail can create the second problem. You see, it is easy to mistake a long tail for the working yarn. Fortunately, there is a solution for this problem as well.
Put an anchor on your tail.
I tie my tail in a figure 8.
***
Web Tour:
I want to spin yarns--not dance with grammar.
I've done a few interviews. One interview question I've encountered is what time period would you like to visit. I've answered the 60s.
Yesterday, I changed my mind. Now I want to visit Shakespeare's England.
Ah, you think a romantic time.
Um, yeah, but that has little to do with it. What appeals to me is the freedom with English. Shakespeare was able to play loose and easy with English. This delights me.
I've been in and encountered many discussions lately about grammar...maybe too many.
*
Also please visit me here
***
Work on work in progress
Word count: 29, 869 words
A new sentence added: I have to agree, to do otherwise would expose my jugular vein.
***
Next Post: Writing article: Overcoming Writers' Block

Friday, February 18, 2011

Please welcome author S.R. Claridge

Today, I'm delighted to interview S.R. Claridge.

How/why did you start to write?

The very first thing I ever wrote was a poem. I was 13 years old and my grandmother had recently passed away. We were very close and I was heartbroken when she died. I wasn't able to put my feelings into verbal patterns at the time, but it spilled out easily in written word. From that point forward, writing became my avenue of dealing with the ups and downs of life.

How did you become an author?

I had some poems published in the early 90's and then lyrics, a greeting card a short story. These were things I didn't really pursue and even though I won a contest here and there or something was published...I never thought of myself as an "author".

I think I realized I was an "author: when I received a publishing contract for my first novel.

What was your first published piece?

My first novel was NO EASY WAY.

Where was it published?

It was published by Vanilla Heart Publishing

How long ago?

October 2010

What did you do before embarking on your writing career? Was it an asset to your writing? How?

I've always been a creative person, so the regular career world was unsatisfying to me, even when I was successful. I have a BA in Psychology so my first job out of school was in Social Work. When we moved to Los Angeles, I managed two temporary staffing firms, which was rewarding because I got to help people find jobs. Most of clients were Vietnamese so we had to learn a little of their language which was challenging. To this day I can still remember the staffing office telephone number in Vietnamese. One of my favourite jobs was working at a Nursing Home...until a man named Bert died while sitting next to me...that sort of freaked me out and made me realize this wasn't a long term career choice to me. I've been in sales, which I absolutely hated, and owned a tanning salon, which was fun. After I birthed my two kids I started a childcare center and ran that for several years. This was by far the most physically and emotionally demanding job I'd ever held, but rewarding in ways I can't explain.

What inspires you?

My faith in God and my family

Please share one of your successful marketing techniques?

Marketing is by far the most challenging aspect of being published. I participate in every promotional opportunity I can, but I think the most successful avenue is word-of-mouth. As in any industry, you have to get your product into the hands of people you think will enjoy it...and if they do, when they do, they'll tell two friends...and they'll tell two friends...and so on and so on. : ) As my publisher constantly reminds me...successful marketing is a marathon not a sprint.

Thank you for having me on your website today. It's been an honor and a pleasure. I am writing a mystery series called "Just Call Me Angel". Boo one of that series is now released in ebook and will be out in print next month. The name of book one is TETTERBAUM'S TRUTH. Here is a video trailer:
*
Buy Links
AMAZON TETTERBAUM'S TRUTH kindle edition
AMAZON TETTERBAUM'S TRUTH paperback edition
*
Please join me at my website: www.authorsrclaridge.com
Twitter: SRClaridgeWrite
Facebook: Author S. R. Claridge

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

From my Valentine

This Valentine's day Cupid's arrows were flying high at a local restaurant where all the couples ate. I'm told that the food was delicious and the atmosphere fun. Notice I said, was told. I may have guessed from those two words that I didn't attend--and you be right.
Why, wasn't I there?
Due to in climate weather, my Valentine was stuck over on the mainland.
Is he missing me? I wondered as I watched TV as I knit and then read a chapter of The Innocent Man by John Grisham.
***
Was he thinking of me...
Yes, from the time he left work to when he finally fell into bed, he devoted all those hours to hunting for and making my Valentine gift.
My hero battled torrential rain, and uncooperative cardboard to create...


Adorable!

Only one, of many, reasons why I love him.

Author reading of The Sweater Curse (Ch 1:4)

I'm pleased to present this serialization of The Sweater Curse.

Today, I offer more from Chapter one (part four)








Podcast Powered By Podbean

Remember, if you missed the Prologue, Chapter 1: parts 1, 2 or 3, you can find them on the Podcast page.

Happy listening!

***

Work on my work in progress

Word count: 27, 946 words

A new sentence added: Sobbing, she clung to him, their lips meet and they kissed.

***

Oops, two posts today instead of one. Please, come back at 6:oo PM PST and read about my Valentine's day. : )

Next Post: Surprise! A new FREE knitting pattern

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Freedom in Chains by Deena Remiel

I'm honoured to have a guest blogger today, please welcome Deena Remiel.

Human Trafficking is a global, insidious crime. Everyday a child, a woman, a man is sold into slavery--whether for work, drugs, or for sex, it is happening all around us. Even to families we know. One young woman has been rescued from her years of captivity by a brave champion, Dottie Laster of Laster Global, Inc. To commemorate the 6 months anniversary of her freedom, and to bring about awareness, I present her today, FREEDOM IN CHAINS, a short story. Blinders off.
--Deena Remiel
http://www.deenaremiel.com/
http://www.millionkids.org/
http://lasterglobal.com/


FREEDOM IN CHAINS
by Deena Remiel

I am born. Without forethought. Without intention. Without love. I am thrust out of a darkness so warm, sheltered, and secure. Thrown into another kind of darkness so cold, exposed, and depraved. I cry and reach out, instinctively, for a mother's love that should be there, instinctively, and is not. I learn instead to reach inward. I learn to design my own world in a corner of my mind. I learn not to cry.
*
Bad things happen when I cry. Bad things happen always...when you're not intended.
*
In my world, it's best to be invisible. If She can't see me, I'm forgotten for a while and safe from the brutal attacks on my fragile heart. I know She can't help herself yet, and I forgive her...over and over. She is Mother. If He can't see me, my body is safe from unwanted, unwarranted intrusions. I just can't be invisible long enough, though. I know He can't help himself. He tells me so as He hurts me and cries...or laughs.
*
No longer a person, but a receptacle for other people's basest desires, I exist. I am pissed on and passed on to innumerable faceless people who don't see me, a precious child, but see me, a thing to be exploited. This is not my choice, but I have no voice. It was stolen sound by sound, thread by thread, each day sucked up more and more by the vacuum my family surrounded me with, veiled as "protection".
*
My name is Freedom, and it was my birthday, once.
*
Freedom's not my real name, but I chose it on that one birthday. The one that was actually remembered. The one that made Mother angry at remembering, angry at me. My birthday dinner was Rice Toasties and milk. My birthday gift? I got visited by Him and his friends. As my body was repeatedly invaded, I made plans for my revolution, my escape.
*
To freedom.
*
*
Today is the dawn of my revolution. Mother isn't home, and He's too doped up to lift his head when I walk into our apartment. So I gather my few belongings and walk right back out, never looking back. The streets have to be safer than where I have been for the past fourteen years.
*
I walk along the bustling city streets of my town, seeing everything just a bit differently than I had only minutes before. I see, for the first time, because my head is up and not turned down in shame. The store windows sparkle brilliantly in the sunlight, just for me. In upstairs apartments, window shades are pulled down and then up to let in more light. But I know they're really winking their approval at my decision. My heart is light, my cheeks lift, and I touch them. I am smiling. What a strange feeling.
*
Awareness and attention to detail assault my brain like a battering ram. There's an old lady with wrinkled tissue paper skin pushing a shopping cart, but I know she's not shopping anywhere. I see her lips moving but nothing's coming out. There's a pack of boys, acting as if they owned the corner they were hanging out on, whistling after pretty girls walking by. Some of the girls give them nasty looks, while others ignore them altogether.
*
I notice the smells. The sweet, succulent aroma of the flowers from a flower shop is tucked away in a little box in my heart labeled "sweet things". Next, I smell pizza. I know pizza. I eat it a lot. My nose wrinkles in defiance of the familiarity. No more pizza for me! I smell garbage. I know that smell, too. It perfumes my apartment. It creeps into my nostrils and lingers. I put my hand to my face and smell my skin. Anything is better than the smell of where I came from.
*
Darkness is inevitable. Hours fly by in a dizzying swirl of sights, sounds, and smells. More swiftly than I would think, the insipid darkness descends upon the city. I am tense, anxious. My stomach grumbles. I haven't considered where or what I might eat. I haven't considered where I might stay. I haven't considered how I might pay for anything. I simply haven't considered. My thoughts wander as I stand frozen in the middle of the sidewalk. I am now one of those people, the street people, who lay on benches or cardboard boxes on the ground. It's still better than who I was before.
*
An unnatural breeze, sour and rank, wafts over my face. I know that smell, and a shiver snakes its way up my spine and clenches hard at my neck. It is Him, and my stomach roils in abject humiliation. My revolution, only in its infancy, has been suppressed. I am tugged and pulled and squeezed by his cruel hands. And he smiles at the people we pass on the way to his car that He left parked in the middle of the road. He calls me an incorrigible teenager to mollify the onlookers while shoving me into the front seat, and they respond with an understanding glance. But they don't understand! I scream that I'm being kidnapped and they shake their heads disbelieving me, believing Him instead. How can they believe Him instead of me? His right hand forms a manacle around my wrist as He drives one-handed all the way back to the apartment. I am barraged with insults and curses and threats meant to intimidate me.
*
They will work...for a while.
*
A closest, a very dark closet with some matted carpeting, becomes my home, and I am chained by my ankle to the floor. But not before my whipping, not before cigarettes are burned into my flesh, and not before I am reminded of what my only purpose is on this earth. I don't know what day it is. I only know day from night when the door opens and I'm given a sandwich and water. And when They come to fetch me.
*
In the darkness I hear them scheming. I know they have to send me to school. It's the law. But they won't until I'm healed. Mother told me she called me out sick so the police won't come. They've told stories to everyone at school about how difficult I am at home and how I'm a habitual liar. Mother told them she's getting me into counseling because I hurt myself intentionally. My teachers don't believe them. Do they?
*
I am scheming, too.
*
I am finally set free to go to school. I have no clue what's going on in my classes and no friends to ask. I'm never there enough to string concepts or friendships together. My stomach is cramping, so I ask to see the nurse. Denied. I 'm only allowed to have stomach cramps in between classes. I see my assistant principal at lunchtime and decide to approach her. Maybe she can help me. We go to her office and she leans back nonchalantly in her seat and stares blankly at every tale I tell. I even show her the scarring from the cigarette burns and the chain marks around my ankle. I'll look into this, she says, as she walks me out. I turn around to see her shaking her head and tossing her notes into the wastebasket. She doesn't believe. They've gotten to her. She's one of Them now.
*
The end of the school day brings no relief, as He is there, waiting for me in his car. He waves me on and I can do nothing but obey. Mother's gone. On and on, my days blend together. Every day the same routine--chains unlocked, get ready for school, go to school, go home, chains locked. Sometimes He comes, sometimes his friends, sometimes it is people he doesn't even know. I am His meal-ticket. I am His drugs.
*
I am His.
*
He has a computer on the table in the kitchen, right next to the pizza boxes and dirty paper plates and cups and empty beer bottles. While in my closet I have been busy. I have found a way to get out of my chains and back in them again. Malnourishment has its advantages.
*
The front door slams shut and I wait. I listen. There is silence. Boldly, I remove the chain from around my ankle and I stretch. Reaching up for the doorknob, I hesitate. What if He's testing me and He's really laying in wait, ready to pounce? What if the door is locked and I can't get out? Enough of the what-ifs, I scold myself. What if you just open the Goddamn door?
*
I do, and I am alone.
*
Energy hums through my body as I rush to the computer. Now what? I search for freedom. I had been in Civics class once where the teacher taught us about human rights violations around the world. He had mentioned human trafficking and children being sold into slavery as a couple of examples. I remember hyperventilating and being sent to the health office. I retched and dry-heaved for a while and then she sent me back to class. Only other people get to go home when they're sick.
*
Human Trafficking brings up 9,000,000 pages to view. I only need one to confirm that I am what is called a victim. It takes a couple more clicks and I find my savior. Someone actually saves people like me, victims of unspeakable human rights crimes. I quickly write down a phone number, put it in my pocket and return the computer to exactly the way it was before.
*
I hear loud cursing and laughing coming from the hallway. He's back, and he's got company. Scurrying like a mouse, I scramble to my closet, close the door, reattach the chain to my ankle and curl up in a ball. I say my nightly prayer, "Please make me invisible tonight." Tonight, it works. His company is female. Poor woman.
*
At school today, I skip out of English. I borrow some kid's cell phone. Okay, I steal some kid's cell phone and race outside to make the call. The call of freedom. My finger trembles as it pushes each number. It knows this is my last effort to be free. The thrumming of my heart threatens to drown out the voice on the other end.
*
Hello?
*
*
I am born. Again. It is a long row I hoe with many ruts and boulders in my way. Nightmares and depression replace my former reality. But I have people in my life now who help me plant the seeds of strength and trust and happiness. People who show me what it is to be treated with human kindness. People who show me I am deserving of such. The evil that bought me when I was but a child has his own shackles to wear now in his own "closet" for the next forty years. It should bring a smile to my face, but that's still hard to do.
*
My name is Freedom, and I had a birthday once. I named it my Freedom Day. My Freedom Day dinner was a real steak, a baked potato, green beans and a Coke.
*
My Freedom Day gift? My new life.
*
*
(c)Deena Remiel, 2010. All right reserved.
*
*
Web Tour: Today, I'm visiting Olivia Starke's blog
*
Next Post: Podcast: Author reading of The Sweater Curse

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day (a short story)

Happy St. Valentine's Day! Let's celebrate!
*
The Way Of It (written in 2005)
*
Dawn's light sneaks through a wood framed window. The light reveals a humble but practical kitchen--warmed by a wood stove. In the middle of the room stands a small wooden table. On the table rests two coffee mugs and a vase of flowers.
*
Two women sit at the table in sturdy wooden chairs. Liz is in humble dress. Her head bowed over her knitting. Her hands fly masterfully through the stitches. Arabella wears silk and lace her hands bejeweled.
*
"Only say the word and I will rescue you from this...this..." Arabella scornfully examines her surrounds. "This pace."
*
Silence.
*
"Elizabeth, you can't be happy here. We were not born for this."
*
The needles click.
*
"He's so very course...uncultured...curde--an awful man. I can't believe he brings you joy. He labours in the fields...in the fields." Her voice pierces. "His clothes smell of it. You deserve better." Her voice tears down the humble cabin setting it a blaze.
*
Silence.
*
Finally, Liz looks up from her knitting. Her eyes are full of love. They rest gently on Arabella. "Dear sister, I know you want the best for me, but your ways are not our my ways."
*
"What?! Now you enjoy poverty. You're deluded."
*
"Please, listen. I know our way of life must seem strange to you. You know fancy dress balls but not the passion of a kiss shared under the harvest moon."
*
"Like a common labourer. I would not stoop so low."
*
"I'm proud to work side by side with my man in our fields."
*
"What has this man's work brought you? Look at your hands--hands which once danced over ebony and ivory. Look at them. They are gnarled and ugly!"
*
"We work hard. We are building a future. You think he is crude, but you don't know him. The way he makes me feel. I am free. I can breathe. He wakes me early to share in such delights: the birth of a wee lamb, the tuneful singing of the birds, the sweet smell of fresh cut hay, the warm glow of the first light. He gives me gifts of finery--the wild flowers that grace our table. He is faithful, kind, hard working and he loves me. You should find such joy, such love."
*
"If you won't listen to reason. I can't help you." Arabella flees from the table.
*
Liz bows her head. The needles click on.

***
Web Tour
Last Friday I was thrilled to find my picture on the front page of my local newspaper. To see it, please visit: http://islandsindependent.p2ionline.com/flip/sitebase/index.aspx?adgroupid=134175&view=double&FH=735
*
Today, I'm visiting Ursula Grey's blog , please visit me there.
***
Last minute decision, I've decided to take Monday off and keep this post up for Valentine's day. Our knitting tutorial will continue next Monday--February 21st
Next Post: Tuesday, Feb 15th: Special guest author Deena Remiel

Friday, February 11, 2011

Please welcome Knitwear Designer Holli Yeoh

I'm a knitter and a fan of cute kids--so it was only a matter of time that I would be drawn to Holli Yeoh's website
If you haven't been, you need to go. I'll wait.
See what I mean?
It's my pleasure to introduce you to the designer, Holli Yeoh.
Welcome, Holli

Please tell our readers, who taught you to knit?

I was taught to knit by my mother when I was five years old. I remember carrying my knitting around the neighbourhood that summer while I was working on my first project--a baby pink scarf. I don't honestly remember if I ever finished it but I do remember that several of the rows were a dirty grey because I must have been knitting with grubby hands. I also remember counting my stitches at the end of every row and then running home to have my Mum fix my dropped stitches.

What knitting method do you use? Continental or English?

I was taught to knit in the English method. I've marvelled at how quickly Continental knitting can knit and I've tried to change my style a few different times, but I'm too impatient to put in the practicing time while my hands are getting used to the movements. I do sometimes purl in the Eastern manner--wrapping the yarn around my needle in the opposite direction while holding the yarn in my left hand. This twists the stitch on the needle, but I fix that on the next row by knitting into the back of the stitch. I find this combination knitting results in better tension but it does slow me down.

What is your favourite stitch pattern?

For production or mindless knitting (like when I'm watching a movie or I'm at the playground with my son) I like simple stocking stitch. I don't have to look at what I'm doing so I'm freed up to concentrate on other things. I enjoy almost every kind of stitch though the simple process of knitting gives me such a sense of peace and fulfillment.

What is your favourite yarn?
I love working with wool. I like the really squooshy soft ones for their tactile sensation. I love yarns with a nice twist to them and the stitch definition they provide. Tweedy yarns are lovely for the little flecks of unexpected colour. I've been working with fingering weight or 4-ply yarns for the past several years and I really love the drape and hand of the fabric they create.
Is there a needle size that you prefer to work with? Bamboo, plastic or metal needles?
Addi Turbo circular needles are my go to knitting needles. I have over 30 of them and it's never enough. I use both the standard and the lace tips depending on what I'm knitting. Because I like knitting with lightweight yarns that means I use small sized needles. A 3 mm size (approx. US 2) is my favourite size. I have 13 of them in my needle inventory. And yes, I do keep a needle inventory because I have so many ideas, samples and projects on the go. I can't remember where all my needles are at any give time.

Why did you become a knitwear designer?

I've always created. I majored in crafts (jewellery, ceramics and textiles) in art college and received my degree in Fine Arts. I was working as a jeweller, both teaching and designing and was feeling uninspired. We wanted to have a baby and I felt that the toxins I was exposed to at the jewellery studio were just too risky. Knitting was my passion though and it was consuming all of my free time. I decided that it was time to apply my design skills to knitting.
It didn't occur to me that I had no instruction or experience in knitwear design. My art college education gave me a good grounding in design in a general sense and I applied that and my common sense to figuring out how to design knitting patterns. There were few resources at the time although now there are many books on designing your own knits.

Tell me about your first pattern?
Because I was completely consumed with my new found motherhood and babies, it was natural that my first design was a baby sweater. At a knitting retreat in 2001 one of the knitters introduced me to self-patterning sock yarn. I was smitten, but I wasn't interested in knitting socks.
Because I was pregnant and had babies on the brain, it occurred to me that a baby sleeve is about the same circumference as a sock. The computer generated striping sequence of the yarn should work on a sleeve and also cardigan fronts which were again used a similar number of stitches. Self-patterning sock yarn would look great knitted into a tiny sweater. That's how Candace, my first published pattern came into being. It was designed as a present for a friend's baby who was born six months after my baby was born.
Where did it appear?
I first published Candace myself in 2003 and it's available for purchase on my website. Ravelry and I wholesale it to yarn shops. It also appeared in the 2005 Accord Knitting-Pattern-A-Day calendar.
Since then I've had patterns published in the online knitting magazine, Knitty.com and Twist Collective as well as in print in Amy Singer's No Sheep For You. I've designed on commission for yarn companies as well as self-published several more patterns myself.

Do you attend fibre festivals?
I've attended the Victoria Fibre Festival several times and a local event at Surrey Museum called Pic-Knit. I really enjoy the opportunity to interact with the knitting public. I would love to attend some of the major events and festivals in the United States, but family obligations have made it difficult to manage.
Have you taught knitting classes?
I love to teach knitting workshops and share techniques and tricks. I've taught locally in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island and every summer when we visit my parents in Edmonton I reach at the local yarn shop, River City Yarns. I would really like to travel and teach more. Meeting new knitters and sharing what I know with them is very gratifying. It also provides me with an opportunity on what knitters need help with in patterns and how they think.
I'm also encouraging a whole new generation to knit by teaching classes at my son's school as part of their noon-hour programs.
What are you currently working on?
I'm juggling a lot designs at the moment and they're all competing for my time. Unfortunately that makes me less productive! I have four children's sweaters in various stages of completion. All of the calculations are done, most of the writing is done, the samples are almost finished, they still need to be photographed and tested. I have several adult designs that need to make it from the sketchbook to the spreadsheet to the needles.
What is the most rewarding aspect about being a knitwear designer?
Completing a design is always designing. I love seeing it come together as I planned or altered along the way. It's exciting to see knitters' reactions to my designs to see if they understand what I'm trying to communicate with them. Being able to spend my days immersed in the knitting--both the physical knitting and the planning and making it work part--are immensely rewarding.

Challenging?
Marketing and paperwork are definitely challenging for me. I would love to be able to just create and have someone else swoop in and spread the word for me and do my books.
Thanks so much, Holli, for visiting me today. I wish you much success with your career.
***
Web Tour
Author Chelsea Cain writes Yes, My Daughter Is Normal: Trails of a Thriller Writer Mother
Find it here
***
Work on work in progress
Word count: 27, 754 words
a new sentence added: A box of tissues was commandeered and I was stuffed like a Turkey.
***
Next Post: Happy Valentine's Day

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Sweater Curse reviewed by Lou Allin

The Sweater Curse: A Modern Edda
*
Leanne Dyck has crafted a tale as exotic and existential as Danish author Isak Dinesen's. Her novella begins in a Ship-of-Fools fashion, with a bitter voice in some mysterious waiting room beyond the grave. The speaker, Gwen Bjarnson, returns us to her childhood years in Bloudous, a small town in northern Manitoba with a major Icelandic population. Her sweet and easy-going father is a simple farmer, but her mother is an ambitious doctor bent on pursuing her career.
*
Gwen finds solace in the love and care of her Auntie Oli, who shows her the art of crafts. "Knitting wove us together." But dark forces will take the family from their safe haven to Vancouver, where her storyteller dad falls quickly into alcoholism. Stubborn but vulnerable Gwen is torn between two worlds, the tradition of her common-sense, hardworking forebears and the demands of the modern life with its soul-crushing and superficial definition of success. To marry? To go to university? To become a fashion designer and master of wools, colours, and patterns? Or to drown one's sorrows with liquor and the "sweet breath of Mary Jane"? In the creative atmosphere of Kitsilano, where "anything goes", love may come to Gwen, but is she ready to receive it? Temptations come at a price.
*
Overhanging this brooding and complex story is the time-honoured tale of the Sweater Curse. Knitting a sweater for a man who is not yet a husband will bring tragedy. Creating modern characters against the fateful background of the sagas, Dyck gives them free will to choose their own destinies. This book defies genre definitions as it finds its unique place on the fiction shelves. Here's hoping Leanne Dyck returns many times to the intriguing roots of her family's past.
*
Lou Allin
*
*
She Felt No Pain (RendezVous Press, Oct. 2010)
That Dog Won't Hunt (Orca, Oct 2010)
On Kindle: A Little Learning and Man Corn Murders
***
Tracie Bell wrote an interesting blog about Symbolism in Fiction, read it here
***
Work on work in progress
Word count: 27, 569 words
A new sentence added: My face fell; she picked it up and we went for a walk.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Author Leanne Dyck is interviewed

Flipping through the MayneLiner Magazine, I found this article written by Mayne Island resident Bill Maylone.




Art On Mayne
Knitting to Novels

In January, Leanne Dyck, a long time Trincomali Community Arts Council member, published her second novel, The Sweater Curse. Leanne is well known for her original knit designs which are often seen in exhibitions or comfortably wrapped around herself or other Mayne Islanders. Writing and knitting are lifelong passions for Leanne, but since 2003, when she had her first article published in a Canadian knitting magazine, she's gradually focused more on writing than knit design.

She explains the differences between the artforms: "Knitting is expensive--the cost of wool, and especially the time and materials you waste in correcting mistakes adds up. I still love to knit, but writing is just a pen and a piece of paper."

"It's also a profession I can do while I'm sleeping. I sometimes dream parts of a book I'm working on--literally the words become clear in a dream. Then I have to wake up, grab a notebook and record the ideas, otherwise they'll be gone in the morning. I'm very self-critical, but when I'm asleep, the critic inside me is asleep too. It makes it easier to express myself, because I'm not restraining myself at all."

"I like writing because it's a way of thinking about things that are important to me and analyzing personal issues. There's a lot of myself in my new book, especially what it's like to be an artist and how that's perceived by society."

For Leanne neither knitting or writing came easy. "I've struggled with dyslexia all my life. Reading and writing are difficult. Also in social interactions, I have to really think about what's an appropriate response in a given situation--what are the right words? As an author, I'm grateful to have beta readers, critique partners, and a team of editors. Even though it's taken me many years to fully understand my disability, I now view it as an advantage in my creative pursuits."

In a book called, The Gift of Dyslexia (written by Ronald D. Davis, an expert in the field), there's a chapter called 'Creativity'. Davis explains that the creative drive is stronger in persons with dyslexia. They possess enhanced creativity and curiosity. While dyslexics have difficulty learning to read or interpret words, they think visually, intuitively and multi-dimensionally.

When Leanne was eight years old, her mother started to teach her to knit, but she realized she wasn't the right person for the challenge, so Leanne's grandmother picked up the stitch, so to speak. With her grandmother's patience and encouragement, a warm bond was formed, as well as the groundwork for success. When Leanne was eleven, she join 4-H and was happily surprised to discover that with her skills at knitting, she was accomplished at something other kids struggled with.

Leanne had to develop strategies for confidence. For example, "When I'm in front of a group, I become a different person--it's hardly me at all. I can actually feel my father, who died ten years ago, standing behind me. I speak the way he would speak in the situation. It's almost like I'm channeling him, that he's speaking through me."

When she and her husband, Byron, moved to Mayne in 1999, she was happy to be welcomed and accepted by the island's artistic community. Besides being a dynamic member of TCAC, she's found lots of helpful criticism and encouragement from the island writing group. Other inspirations? "I love John Steinbeck and John Grisham." On teaching: "I wouldn't teach writing, and I don't like criticizing other people's writing. I feel like I still have too much to learn, but thanks to the writing group, I'm becoming more comfortable in supporting other writers with their work."

You can visit Leanne's website at www.oknitting or acquire The Sweater Curse from Decadent Publishing www.decadentpublishing.com


Each month Bill interviews a Mayne Island artist. I was thrilled and honoured when he interviewed me.
***
Next Post: Podcast: author reading of The Sweater Curse (Chapter 1: part 3)
***
Web Tour
Rachel Firasek interviews Author Karen Dales here
10Q Tuesday with Tina Marene Ordone here
Valerie Mann writes about her involvement in Decadent Publishing series Run Devil Run here
Strut by Susan DiPlacido Book Trailer

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXXoiNJwGYg
***
Work on my work in progress

Word count: 26, 886
A new sentence added: A strong lavender fragrance filled my nostrils as I crawled on my belly over the threshold.