Tuesday, January 31, 2012

writing: I'm stuck


Problem:  During the early stages of a writing project, I grow discouraged with my lack of finesse.
My solution:  Give up—at least for a while—and move on to another project.
Roy Peter Clark (in Help) writes:
‘Lower your standards at the beginning of the process. Raise them later.’ He continues by quoting poet William Stafford. ‘I believe that the so-called “writing block” is a product of some kind of disproportion between your standards and your performance… One should lower his standards until there is no felt threshold to go over in writing. It’s easy to write. You just shouldn’t have standards that inhibit you from writing.’
Good advice. Words I should heed.
Are you looking for cures for writer’s block? Here’s some more advice: Overcoming Writers' Block
And for a different perspective, Laurie offers:  I Love My Writer's Block

Monday, January 30, 2012

free knitting pattern woman's sweater by Leanne Dyck


Flowers for Mary

This gentle blend of rib stitch and easy lace makes a flattering top that you'll love to wear.

Skill level:  beginner

Sizes:  S [M, L, 1X, 2X, 3X]

Finished Measurements:
Chest:  36 [40, 44, 48, 52, 56]
Length:  22 [22.5, 24, 24, 26, 26]

Materials:  4 [4, 5, 5, 6] light worsted yarn (each ball 168 yards/154 metres)
Recommended needles:  1 pair 4.50 mm (7 US, 7 UK), 1 pair 9.00 mm OR size to obtain tension

Gauge: 3 stitches = 1 inch
            4.5 stitches = 1 inch

 4 x 4 rib stitch (over even number of stitches)
Row:  knit four, purl four—to end of row.
Repeat row for pattern.

Moss stitch (over even number of stitches)

Row 1:  knit two, purl two—to end of row.
Row 2:  purl two, knit two—to end of row.
Repeat rows 1 and 2 for the pattern.
  
Note:  To shorten or lengthen sleeves –
alter at this point…
“* Work in 4 x 4 rib stitch for 8 inches (20.3 cm)”
To shorten, reduce the number of inches.
To lengthen, increase the number of inches.

Back


Cast on 80 [90; 100; 108; 118; 126] stitches work in 4 x 4 rib stitch for 13 [13, 14, 14, 15, 15] inches. 33 [33, 35.5, 35.5, 38, 38] cm
Change to larger needles and decrease 26 [30, 34, 36, 40, 42] stitches evenly across row 54 [60, 66, 72, 78, 84] stitches remain.
Work in moss stitch for 1 inch (2.5 cm)
Decrease 3 stitches at the beginning of the next two rows 48 [54, 60, 66, 72, 78] stitches remain.
Work in moss stitch for 6 inches (15. 2 cm)
This row:  14 [17, 20, 23, 26, 29] in moss stitch; decrease 20 stitches; 14 [17, 20, 23, 26, 29] in moss stitch.
Work in moss stitch for 2 inches (5 cm)
Cast off


Front


Cast on 80 [90; 100; 108; 118; 126] stitches work in 4 x 4 rib stitch for 13 [13, 14, 14, 15, 15] inches. 33 [33, 35.5, 35.5, 38, 38] cm
Change to larger needles and decrease 26 [30, 34, 36, 40, 42] stitches evenly across row 54 [60, 66, 72, 78, 84] stitches remain.
Work in moss stitch for 1 inch (2.5 cm)
Decrease 3 stitches at the beginning of the next two rows 48 [54, 60, 66, 72, 78] stitches remain.
Work in moss stitch for 4 inches (10.2 cm)
This row:  14 [17, 20, 23, 26, 29] in moss stitch; decrease 20 stitches; 14 [17, 20, 23, 26, 29] in moss stitch.
Work in moss stitch for 4 inches (10.2 cm)
Cast off

Sleeves (make 2)

Cast on 72 [76, 80, 80, 86, 86] stitches
Work in 4 x 4 rib stitch for 1 inch (2.5 cm)
Increase 2 stitches at the beginning of the next two rows. Increase to 76 [80, 84, 84, 90, 90] stitches.
Work in 4 x 4 rib stitch for 1 inch (2.5 cm)
Decrease 1 stitch at the beginning of the next two rows 74 [78, 82, 82, 88, 88] stitches
Decrease 1 stitch at the beginning of the next two rows 72 [76, 80, 80, 86, 86] stitches
*Work in 4 x 4 rib stitch for 8 inches (20.3 cm)
Work in Stockinette stitch for 2 inches (5 cm)
Cast off

Every attempt has been made to ensure that the instructions are clear and correct.  Please notify us of any errors so we may correct them immediately.

© Leanne Dyck, May 09

Friday, January 27, 2012

Guest Post: mystery author Debra Purdy Kong

How/why did you start to write?

I started to write because it was the best way I had of expressing myself. It began with journal entries, though I have to say that writing book reports in school was the only thing I really enjoyed and did well. After obtaining a diploma in criminology, I sold my car and left for Europe to figure out what I wanted to do back in 1979. I continued journal writing and wrote letters home, and then tried my hand at a short story. I also wound up sharing an apartment with an aspiring singer/actress who loved my stories and encouraged me to keep going. I loved the process of writing and editing so much that I took her advice.

How did you become an author?

I became an author after writing many drafts of my first mystery, Taxed to Death, and deciding to self-publish in 1995. It was a terrific learning experience. By the time I signed a contract with a traditional publisher for The Opposite of Dark, I’d had plenty of promotion and marketing experience, and had written three more mysteries.

Why did you decide to self-publish?

There were a number of reasons. Seventeen years ago, my sister had breast cancer. It was a difficult year, but one of the things I learned was not to wait for a lifelong dream to fall in one’s lap, but rather to make it happen, if possible. Who knows when any of us run out of time? Also, my husband was looking to start a small business on the side and liked the idea of publishing, so he financed the project while I learned how to do the layout, and so forth. I wanted to learn about book production and the business of publishing and promotion.

What was your first published piece?

My first published piece was a personal essay called “A Dancer’s Foot”. It was about my years of ballet study from age eight to sixteen. I didn’t enjoy the experience that much, and hated it by the time my mother let me quit.

Where was it published?

It was published in 1982, in a glossy little magazine from Ontario that was just starting out. They paid me $90 and I was thrilled. I thought, how hard could it be to write and earn money? Three years passed before any of my stories or essays were again accepted for publication. Two more years passed before I was actually paid anything, and I think that was in American stamps.

How did you find your traditional publisher?

It took over ten years to find a traditional publisher, (including two years spent with an American agent) and thirty-five submissions to publishers. One day, someone told me about a BC publisher who was interested in mysteries set in the pacific northwest, so I submitted The Opposite of Dark to her. A year later, I had a contract.

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

Before writing, I worked as a secretary for a firm of chartered accountants, which was where I met my future husband, and where I came up with the idea of writing about a young, overly enthusiastic tax auditor for Taxed to Death and Fatal Encryption. I never did use my diploma for career purposes, but the some of practicum and volunteer experiences have appeared in my novels and stories.

What inspires you?

Great writing inspires me!

Please share one of your successful marketing techniques

One of my successful marketing techniques was to join a forum for independently published authors on amazon and get to know people. They’ve given me some great marketing tips, but they’ve also bought my books and have reviewed them, which is always a surprise because I’d never ask anyone to do this. Happily, these efforts resulted in sales. So, I pay it forward and support indie authors when I can.

Parting words

When it comes to writing, success is a really hard thing to define. Sometimes, I’m not sure we should even try. For some, it’s publication credits, for others, success is determined by royalty cheques, or awards. For me, success is about tenacity and becoming a better writer; learning to listen to those who are trying to help. 80% of the one hundred stories, essays, and articles I’ve had published were initially rejected by editors who took the time to offer helpful comments. For me, writing is always about learning. It always will be.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Inspiration (short story) by Leanne Dyck


Leanne Dyck read the instructions over slowly. A true story about someone in my life...I could write about my husband...I have tons of stories about Byron. She gulped. But if I do he'd...he'd...never forgive me. He's so private. Her brows knit. But if I don't... Nervously, she wrung her hands. It's so hard to break into the publishing industry. Entering this contest might be my big break. What do I do? Think. Another story called her name. Her face softened. Of course... She crossed her fingers and pressed send.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Guest Post Author Marilynne Miles Gray

How/why did you start to write?
Starting as a teacher of language and literature, then as an editor of a peer-reviewed journal for professional educators and people in corporations, I’ve found it an easy descent into writing a novel.
I can credit a love for reading to my mother who read to me almost daily (just to get me to take a nap) when I was very young and frequent trips with her to the closest decent-sized library which was an hour by bus. Fortunately, I never suffered motion sickness on the bus – the rule was: no reading on the bus, please! To go into the ‘big-city’ library in Hamilton Ontario back then was awe-inspiring. I can relate to those who still do not have ready access to reading material.

How did you become an author?
I still ask myself: did I trip or was I pushed?
In grade school, I entered a writing contest that landed me a radio interview. It happened so long ago that all I can recall was the interviewer slipped in a trick question: “What did your parents tell you not to say?” I fell for that one big time. Poor mom and dad. What I had said was not all that bad but it was something that needed a sentence or two of extra explaining – why I wasn’t allowed pets. Made them look mean when they were anything but.
In high school, I wrote a prize-winning essay that landed me on an American television show that pitted young people against each other to see who could ask the most insightful questions of people who came from other countries and cultures.
To appear on the show, every so often, I would take the trip over the border from North Vancouver to the big burg of Bellingham to compete. Appearances involved some great coaching on the part of my teachers who donated time and interest in the development of their pupils. At the time, I had no idea I might be honing my writing skills beyond being on t.v.
One young Nigerian medical student I met on the show later came often to visit me and my family. We would feed him, of course but not Nigerian style. As I think of it, he could have given us some cooking lessons. His stories about the transition from hot Nigeria to cold and wet Seattle were both sad and funny. I sometimes wonder what will appear on the computer screen if I Google his name -- J.A., wherever you are, I hope all has gone well.

What was your first published piece?
I honestly don’t recall. Likely it was an art show review I wrote for The Ubyssey during my second year at UBC. While I’ve never lost my love of art, my tastes have broadened and changed so I now feel as home at a contemporary painting display as at a show of Renaissance art in some European gallery. (As an aside, my husband jokes: “Marilynne’s idea of a good time is a walking visit to a museum, cathedral and art gallery all in the same day.”)
At the time, I thought some of the art was… well, juvenile and ugly so my dilemma was: how to write about something objectively yet not insult the artist? There’s such a thing as killing potentially good writing (let alone art) with premature or wrong-headed criticism. Interestingly, according to some experts, premature and badly-conceived criticism is the #1 writing problem, not misplaced modifiers and clichés or other issues some writers might imagine. I cover the topic of premature criticism when I give writing classes: how to appropriately criticize and appreciate work whether it’s your own or that of others.
  
What did you do before embarking on your writing career? Was it an asset to your writing? How?
By the end of second year university, I was torn between taking a degree focussed on History and Geography or one slanted towards English Literature. I had already decided I didn’t want to go the PE (Physical Education) route, though that too was a natural given my ongoing interest in sports.
In the end, I opted for an Honours English degree at UBC. The English Department had a wonderful faculty, the likes of Earle Birney and Roy Daniells to name two great men. They could not only write but they could also teach and convey their love of the field. So, I was enticed by the fact the professors were warm and friendly (with perhaps one exception – an old curmudgeon … but that’s another story). The programme was respected across the country; classes were small, my marks were reasonable and I felt a growing love for the field. I added another year to do my Masters in Can. Lit. then another year to do my Professional year for a teaching certificate and went out into the world to teach for about 15 years.
The decision to become a teacher in my field is not one I regretted.
At university, when I returned to do doctoral studies, I was also a supervisor / career advisor of students taking their fifth year of teacher training. One of the most important insights for me as much as for them was the value of being flexible and creative as to where, when and how our formal studies can be applied in varied settings especially when we start out with the idea we want to take up profession ABC then discover maybe it’s been a mistake. It was hugely gratifying when a student understood their courses were anything but a mistake and that there were places in the world to now put the learning to happier and more productive uses.
Eventually, my husband and I left academia to start our own professional mentoring company as trainers, programme designers, and (for me) a writer of technical manuals and a newsletter –MentorInk -- that I recently laid to rest after almost 25 years non-stop.

What inspires you?
I could say ‘jealousy’ that other writers have managed to make their millions by publishing schlock. That would be true. To that notion, I can also add ‘a desire to leave a legacy of interesting, thought-provoking and well-written material’.

Please share one of your successful marketing techniques.
If I knew, I’d gladly share. This is my first non-fiction work. To this point in time, almost all of my writing (or editing) has been non-fiction for professionals, oriented towards career development and my specialty field of mentoring. Occasionally, I will do ghost-writing which is fun.
I’m familiar with methods that worked during the pre-ebook days but that was then and this is now.
I have a deep, dark, strongly-held suspicion that contemporary successful marketing is the happy confluence of luck, unbridled determination, unholy amounts of time spent massaging social media, and tons of energy.
For my first murder mystery – The Avid Gardener: grieving and scheming -- now nearing the completion of Draft #1 prior to its first edit, I’m hoping to learn the secrets (if there are any) from others who’ve gone before me and won over the world!

Writing tips
1. I spent a great deal of time examining different ‘writing websites’. How-to writing websites vary in quality from bad to very bad to reasonably useful (depending on the purpose). This is no news to most writers yet all too often we writers hope to find ‘the perfect website’ that just doesn’t exist.
One piece of advice? Spend a few hours locating five or six promising sites, each for a different purpose depending on your goals (how to get ‘unstuck’, character arc, and so forth). For a limited period of time visit each site for ideas and suggestions. Keep this activity to a minimum as you’ll find yourself spending more time doing this than actually writing and revising.
If, after a few visits, the value of a site seems to be questionable, keep on the hunt or give yourself a breather and consider another approach.
2. Create audio chunks of what you have written then play it back to your ‘inner ear’ or have someone who knows how to critique listen to the portion and give feedback. This has always been a method that is worth trying.
3. Develop a series of questions a ‘critic’ can ask you about different aspects of your writing. Asking yourself each question from your list has limited value. An external, competent person is a necessity.
4. Don’t think of someone who gives you five minutes of advice as your mentor. Five minutes here or there just doesn’t cut it. Mentors are people who help change our lives in profound, meaningful and positive ways.
A mentor is someone whose helping role varies according to your need. I know how the many mentoring factors come together having spent so long researching and helping others to develop mentoring skills to better effect.
If you have a mentor, (or wish to have one) keep in mind she or he may be a teacher one day, a sounding board another, an advisor on a third occasion, a coach the next time, a role model at all times. Mentors can play some two dozen different roles in the life of the protégé! Note that I did not mention the role of ‘critic’ as one the mentor plays.

Most recent book
My most recent work (2011) is an ebook: Mentoring A to Z as part of a series of books to wrap that part of my career.


FOREWORD
1,000,000,000,000 protégés can’t be wrong. Neither can the same number of mentors. That could mean some 500,000,000,000 or so relationships (love those numbers!) over thousands of years (give or take a few here and there). And each relationship unique! How is this possible?
Those are the words to an imaginary ad from a couple of years ago intended to catch the hearts and minds of the jaded who thought they had the mentoring relationship notion in a box, no surprises. After all, what could I teach them about mentoring that they didn’t already know? A great deal as it so happens and it didn’t take them long to see this fact.
Yes, everyone has a different opinion of what mentoring is, what a mentor does and the unfolding of the relationship. Yet, opinion isn’t good enough. What you need is solid understanding of what it will actually take for success. Some of the secrets to success are counter-intuitive. Others are overlooked. This book is based on my years of close-up field experience given to people around the globe who suddenly understood the need to fill in the many gaps between what they believe they know about successful collaboration and what will truly lead to success no matter what the field, the goal or the circumstances. 

Buy Link

Author links

Website
Facebook

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Writing advice: What I should have done

(Don't you wish that you could time-travel and give your younger self helpful advice. Today I'm doing exactly that.)

Dear younger Leanne,
You know those stories that you're working on. Well, you might think that you can just throw them out--unfinished. You may think that because they belong to you, you can do whatever you want with them. Well, you're wrong. You can't. You can't because they belong to me--older Leanne--not you. So, instead of tossing them away, you better file them away for safekeeping. You better or else...
Oh, yeah, and another thing. You might think that by writing all those stories you're just having fun. WRONG! You're doing important work. However, you're only doing half the job. You also need to get someone who can spell and knows grammar to edit them. Ask Mom she'll help you. Then you need to submit them to literary journals or short stories contests. Oh, yeah, and don't just do it once and think you're done. Don't just say, "Oh, well, I submitted it. I didn't win. I don't have to do that again." Don't think, I tried, failed and now I'm done. The only way you failed is by being done. Simply by continuing to submit your stories you're proving that you are a winner. If you don't continue working until the job is done, well then you'll leave all that work for me. And trust me, I won't be pleased.
Oh, yeah, and the most important thing. You may not think you're smart, but I do. I know how talented you are. And you're doing a grave disservice by not sharing your talent. So do it. Do it now!
Love,
Leanne

Friday, January 13, 2012

Guest Post Author Karen Wojcik Berner

How/why did you start to write?

I write to make sense of the world. I cannot remember a time when writing was not a large part of my life. Sometimes I think an event has not really happened until I write about it.

How did you become an author?

In college, I double majored in English with a writing concentration and communications. I had known since I became editor of my high school newspaper that writing was going to be my career, but after college, I didn't think I had enough life experience to write a novel, so I put fiction aside for awhile. Lack of life experience, plus the fact that money is required to move out of one's parents' home. I went to work in magazines for ten years.

Many years later, I had a very vivid dream about a woman that I could not shake upon waking.  Then a character popped into my head while I was in the shower, of all places, which was the only five minutes of quiet time I had with a six-year-old and an infant. What if these two met? I knew it was time to revisit fiction.

What was your first published piece?

My first published piece was a story for the local newspaper on a dance company coming to perform in my hometown. I was a sophomore in college and talked my way into meeting with the features editor having nothing more to show than clips from my college and high school newspapers. He bought the piece on spec, and I worked as a stringer with them for a few years.

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

Nothing. I have always been a writer and have been lucky enough to make a living at it. That is rare, I know, and I am very grateful. Throughout the course of the writing jobs, I have been an orchestra publicist, a magazine editor, a freelance writer, and now a novelist. All of those years writing and editing everything from a restaurant menu to editorials about the paint industry helped strengthen my fiction. The most important thing I learned is that no first draft is perfect. Everyone, from Shakespeare to Stephen King has written and rewritten so many times they cannot count.

What inspires you?

Everything inspires me -- a gorgeous full moon shrouded slightly by whispy clouds, people and their stories, decisions made that don't seem to make any sense. Material is all around us.

Successful marketing techniques?

A blog can be a very successful marketing piece. Think about it. A blog showcases your writing as many days per week as you choose to post.

When I was conceptualizing Bibliophilic Blather, I started thinking about what I can offer the community that maybe others could not. After all of my years editing, I thought that might be it, so I started Editing for Grammarphobes to help writers who need refresher hints. Who could possibly remember everything they learned in English class?

Flash Fiction Fridays showcases microfiction by authors of all genres writing on various monthly themes. It is fascinating and a great writing exercise, especially for those who write longer works. It has really helped me to focus on making every word count and cutting the superfluous.



Thank you so much for having me here today, Leanne.

Author Links







Thursday, January 12, 2012

You make your own reality...

It's up to you to cherish it...

15 Minute Miracle by Joe Vitale



Dalai Lama:  "Pleasure and pain come from your own former actions (karma). Thus, it is easy to explain karma in one short sentence:  If you act well, things will be good, and if you act badly, things will be bad.
***
Next post:  Please welcome Marilynne Miles Gray

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The story behind the design: book sweater by Leanne Dyck

Marriage counsellors say that most couples fight over money. I can't remember arguing over this topic. However, I can remember fighting over a book.

My taste in literature differs from my husband's. You may think that this difference was the source of our disagreement. You may think this but you'd be wrong.

One of the genres that my husband reads--and that I don't--is sci-fi. Interested in expanding my literary tastes, my husband loaned me a book. He takes very good care of his books--no folded corners, no crumbled book covers.

Flipping open the book, I began to read and, to my surprise, became absorbed. Hoping to indulge in stole moments of reading pleasure. I started carrying the book with me.

Weeks passed and I continued reading.

More weeks passed, until, finally, one day my husband inquired. "Are you finished reading my book?"

I produced the book. Being lugged around in my purse had permanently changed it. Pages were dog-eared and the cover was torn.

If looks could kill... "I loaned you a book and this is how you return it? I will never lend you a book again. Never. Unless you can prove to me that you will take better care of them."

No more sci-fi. No more fantasy. No more... I have to prove that I can change but...but...can I? I doubt it. Books will always end up in the bottom of my enormous purse. That won't change. But... but... No more sci-fi. No more fantasy. No more... What can I do?

I stewed over this dilemma for hours, days, weeks. I need...I need...to protect the book. May be I can... Yes, exactly... I grabbed my knitting needles, some yarn and cast on 45 stitches. I designed a book sweater. It proved to be the prefect solution. Now my books are protected. Now my books, like my husband's, look brand new. Now my husband doesn't hesitate to share his books with me.



Designing the book sweater not only saved countless books from abuse but also heralded further exploration in knitwear design.

Monday, January 9, 2012

knitting pattern: Book sweater by Leanne Dyck

Keep your books looking new. Even if they travel with you and end up at the bottom of your purse or backpack. Keep them safe from dog eared pages and torn covers with a book sweater.

This is the first pattern I designed.

Makes an excellent first knitting project.

Yarn:  Approximately 100 yards or less
Knitting needles:  4.50 mm/US 7/ UK 7
Tension:  five stitches = one inch

1 x 1 rib stitch (over odd number of stitches)
Row: knit one, purl one--to end of row
Repeat row for pattern

Stockinette stitch
Row 1:  knit--to end of row
Row 2:  purl--to end of row
Repeat rows 1 and 2 for pattern

Directions
Cast on 45 stitches
Work in 1 x 1 rib for one inch
Work in Stockinette stitch for six inches
Work in 1 x 1 rib for one inch
Cast off

Finishing
Weave in ends
Fold in half width-wise.
Sew sides--to form a pouch.
Weave in ends.

Variations:
Use two colours and work in stripes.
Instead of Stockinette stitch work in your favourite stitch--such as seed stitch.


More...

Friday, January 6, 2012

Please welcome Author Joan Donaldson-Yarmey

How/why did you start to write?
I have loved to read mysteries since I was a child beginning with Trixie Beldon and Nancy Drew. I graduated to Agatha Christie and Mary Higgins Clark as an adult. The way the clues were interwoven in the story always intrigued me and I decided I wanted write a mystery. However, it was many years of writing before my first mystery was published.  
How did you become an author?
I took many writing courses and through one of them had my first article published. I then carried on with travel and historical articles and seven travel books about British Columbia, Alberta, the Yukon and Alaska.
What was your first published piece?
My first article was titled “A Hawks Reluctant Flight.” It was about an injured hawk that my son and I found and how we took him home and cared for him. When it was time for him to fly away, he refused and remained in our area for many years.
Where was it published?
It was published by Western People a small magazine insert in the Western Producer, which is a rural paper for Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
How long ago?
It was published in 1987.
What did you do before embarking on your writing career? Was it an asset to your writing? How?
I have had many jobs but for my mystery writing, the fact that I am a travel writer helped. Write about what you know if a mantra of many writers and so I made my main character, Elizabeth Oliver, a travel writer. She gets drawn in solving mysteries while working on her articles. I have had many people buy my books because they can relate to the places described as she does her research.
What inspires you?
People who have succeeded at their dreams.
Please share one of your successful marketing techniques
I try to take part in as many writing events as I can. This way I get to meet others writers and advertise my books as well.
Parting words
I believe that reading is one of the best ways to learn the writing craft. You can feel what you don’t like about some books and what do like about others because reading is all about emotions.

Whistler's Murder
The Travelling Detective Series
by Joan Donaldson-Yarmey

Elizabeth Oliver has tagged along with her best friend Sally Matthews to Whistler where Sally is attending a science fiction/fantasy writing retreat. Elizabeth plans on spending the first week working on an article about Whistler for a travel magazine and then relaxing and enjoying being in the famous resort town for the second week. However, her well laid plan immediately begins to fall apart with the discovery of a body in a ndwly demolished house. Then she is again sidetracked when one of Sally's fellow students asks her to solve the mystery of her cousin's death and is then murdered herself.

Joan's blog:  The Travelling Detective Series

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Sweater Curse reviewed



I found it very difficult to put this book down once I started it, because the voice of lovely Gwen Bjarnson, already dead at the start of the book, drew me in immediately, and of course I needed to know how and why she had suffered such an unfortunate death. The plot moves along at a good clip as we learn about Gwen's early childhood. Her relationship with her father is especially touching, and we can fully believe that his death sends Gwen into a tailspin of grief and self-destruction. Eventually she falls into the arms of her seemingly too-perfect lover, Jay, a novelist who leads Gwen toward her true calling as a sweater designer. My only complaint about the story was that sometimes it moved too quickly--I wanted to linger in places, especially on Gwen's relationship with her parents, on her knitting, and on the unique elements of Gwen's Icelandic heritage. Overall, though, the book is so smoothly written that I just kept moving along with Gwen, wishing for a less tragic ending but compelled to follow her there just the same!

Reviewed by Holly C.


Monday, January 2, 2012

Knitwear Designers

In 2011 I interviewed six knitwear designers. These brave women create--out of pure inspiration--new directions in knitting. Is it any wonder that knitters love them.

I'd like to thank them for their generosity as we admire their creativity.

Stephannie Tallent's beautiful cables (www.sunsetcat.com)

Donna Druchunas author of many knitting books (http://sheeptoshawl.com)

Rosemary Hill's breathtaking lace (http://www.designsbyromi.com)

Holli Yoeh's adorable children's knitwear (http://holliyeoh.com)

Janel Laidman's must knit socks (http://beebonnet.typepad.com)

Sara Barbour's stylish designs (http://www.ropeknits.com)

Please visit their sites and tell them I sent you. : )

Happy 2012!
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Next post:  Blog plans for 2012