Monday, April 30, 2012

#knitting: cardigan finished


Knitting for a gallery by Leanne Dyck

I'm gearing up for...

Each year I like to present something new--beyond my ever popular baby sweater. So, this year, inspired by the adorable dresses I saw at ArtCraft last year, I've decided to use this cardigan pattern...

reduce the size and knit little girl cardigans. The first one is almost finished.

This one is a little quirky. The other two will be a little more conservative.
When I design I consult the Standards & Guidelines for Crochet and Knitting complied by Craft Yarn Council of America. Although this is a very helpful document there are some things it doesn't included. For example, the width of the sleeve. So I searched the web for a free girl's sweater. I found one and used the information provided to determine how wide I should make the sleeves I was knitting.
Change is in the air.
I've decided to reduce the number of times I blog each week--from five to three. Each day will have a theme...
Homespun Monday--who am I without a pen?
My Author Journey Thursday--reading, writing, submitting, networking
Guest Post Friday
These changes will go into effect this week. I hope you continue to enjoy this blog.
Next post:  May 3rd:  discussing Sleeping Tiger by Holly Robinson

Friday, April 27, 2012

Guest Post Author Leanne Prain

Leanne Prain writes...

I am the author of two DIY books Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti (co-authored with Mandy Moore) and Hoopla: The Art of Unexpected Embroidery. Both books are publishined by Arsenal Pulp Press.

Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti (Arsenal Pulo Press, 2009)is the definitive guidebook to covert textile street art. This full-color DIY book features 20 kick-ass patterns that range from hanging shoes and knitted picture frames to balaclavas and gauntlets, teaching readers how to create fuzzy adornments for lonely street furniture. Along the way, it provides tips on how to be as stealthy as a ninja, demonstrates how to orchestrate a large-scale textile project, and offers revealing information necessary to design your own yarn graffiti tags. The book also includes interviews with members of the international community of textile artists and yarn bombers, and provides resources to help readers join the movement; it’s also chock full of beautiful photographs and easy step-by-step instructions for knit and crochet installations and garments.

Hoopla: The Art of Unexpected Embroidery (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2011) showcases those who take the craft of embroidery where it’s never gone before, in an astonishing, full-color display of embroidered art. Hoopla rebels against the quaint and familiar embroidery motifs of flowers and swashes, and focuses instead on innovative stitch artists who specialize in unusual, guerrilla-style patterns such as needlepoint nipple doilies and a ransom note pillow; it demonstrates that modern embroidery artists are as sharp as the needles with which they work.
Full-colour throughout and bursting with history, technique, and sass, Hoopla will teach readers how to stitch a mythical jackalope, needlepoint nipple doilies, a ransom note pillow, and mean and dainty knuckle-tattoo church gloves, and encourage them to create their own innovative embroidery projects. If you like anarchistic DIY craft and the idea of deviating from the rules, Hoopla will inspire you to wield a needle with flair!

Author links
Author site:
Yarn Bombing blog:
Twitter: @leanneprain

How/why did you start to write?
I was a voracious reader as a child – both my mother and grandmother worked in a public library and I'd spend most of my after-school time at the library reading anything and everything I could get my hands on. I remember trying to starting a school newspaper in grade two and entertaining my class with my stories about backwards cartwheels in grade four. I was an incredibly shy kid but my written stories always received attention from my classmates and my teachers. I had a pretty rich internal world as a kid, so writing has always served me. It allows me to process my ideas and form connections between disparate subjects.

How did you become an author?
I became an author in 2009 when Arsenal Pulp Press approached me about the idea of Yarn Bombing. I had pitched it as mock project in a graduate publishing plan. When I came up with the idea of the book I thought it was funny and absurd and that crafters would love it, but no one would ever be interested in publishing it in real life – it was too offbeat. Little did I know...

What was your first published piece?
I think it was probably a column I wrote for my hometown paper about high school being over for the year. My first paid piece of writing was a collection of reviews for a website called 120 Seconds that the CBC published in the late 1990's.

What did you do before embarking on your writing career? Was it an asset to your writing? How?
Before I became a published DIY author, I studied creative writing at UBC and spent a lot of time writing fiction, poetry, and screenplays. I graduated with a BFA in creative writing and art history. I followed that degree with a publishing diploma and have worked as a graphic designer for ten years. Being a graphic designer has been an incredible asset to the non-fiction books that I write – I use my graphic skills when I style photographs, draw pattern diagrams, and create my own marketing pieces. I also have a graduate degree in the business of publishing and I think this has given me a good understanding of how the book business works – from distribution to rights to sales. I feel really lucky to have had formal education in both the creative and business side of publishing.

What inspires you?
A legal pad to write on with a black felt tipped pen, a hot cup of tea, a great craft blog, a good memoir, a trip to the fabric store, doodling, cooking a great meal, sleeping in, thrift shopping with a good friend, listening to the CBC and NPR, and even, working...I tend to get my best ideas when I'm involved in another project.

Please share one of your successful marketing techniques
I love twitter. While many people would call it a marketing tool, I also think that it's just a great way to learn new things and get to know more about other people. I've used it to befriend other authors, get travel trips, interact with journalists, accept speaking engagements, and just chat with people about things we have in common.

Who taught you to knit?
While I grew up in a very crafty household and learned to sew at a young age, I didn't learn how to knit until I was 25. My friend Janet taught herself to cast on and do the knit stitch from a kid's book. I was sick one day so she came over and taught me. I learned how to purl, and taught her this in return. Then we formed a stitch and bitch so we could learn from other people. Mandy showed up to a meeting, which is how I met my co-author.

What knitting method do you use? Continental or English or...?
Continental – sort of. I sort of do this strange thing where I twist each of my stitches when I knit – I'm left handed so I'm always sort of doing my own thing in order to make the stitches work. Mandy introduced me to Knitting for Anarchists which is a great book which encourages everyone to knit in their own way. It doesn't matter how the stitch is made, just that you make it. This is one of the things I love about subversive crafting - there are no rules. I'm a colour-outside-the-lines kind of gal. 

What is your favorite stitch pattern?
I'm a fast knitter so I like things to be simple. A good k2 p2 rib is my favourite thing to knit. I love the look of seed stitch but it is too hard on my poor wrists. I love the way lace knitting looks, but I prefer to knit things a bit mindlessly. I like to knit and watch movies – which you can't do with lace knitting.

When is International Yarn Bombing Day? What happens? Where?
International Yarn Bombing Day is on June 9th this year. Joann Matvichuk of Lethbridge, Alberta invented International Yarnbombing Day, which was first observed on June 11, 2011. but knitters all around the world participated. The basic idea is that everyone goes out and yarn bombs on the same day. They take photos of their work and post them online to share their creations. Mandy and I worked with a group of ten other knitters to cover a statue here in Vancouver.

Do you attend fibre festivals? Why? Why not?
I have attended a couple of fibre festivals. I find them really educational and you get to meet knitters, spinners, and weavers. All good types of people. And there usually is a lama or two on site – and I never miss an opportunity to see a llama.

What are you currently knitting?
Since the books have come out, I do a lot of crafting with other people in workshops, so it is has become a guilty pleasure for me to create something just for myself. Right now I'm creating some long fingerless gloves in a deep red merino wool and sewing some pillows for my apartment. When I'm finished, the next project will likely be a yarn bomb, June is coming up fast!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Mayne Island library by Leanne Dyck, tour guide

Welcome to Mayne Island, BC. I know you love books so boy do I have a destination for you...

When I moved to Mayne Island the library was on the main street where  Sunny Mayne Bakery Cafe is located now. It moved across the street to its present location in 2004. 

 I volunteered at the library for a few years--mainly at the front desk but also as a children's storytime reader. The librarians are mainly volunteers with one paid librarian. 

Let's step inside so you can look around...

This is how it looked when I sat in this chair.

A few years ago the library had a major facelift, but it still has one of the best views on the island.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

#reading: Sleeping Tigers by Holly Robinson

Jordan O'Malley has everything she ever wanted:  a job she loves, a beautiful home, and a dependable boyfriend. When her life unravels after a breast cancer scare. Jordan decides to join her wildest childhood friend in Sna Franciso and track down her drifter brother, Cam, who harbors secrets of his own.

When Cam suddenly flees the country, Jordan follows, determined to bring him home. Her journey takes her to the farthest reaches of majestic Nepal, where she encounters tests--and truths--about love and family that she never could have imagined.

Funny, heartbreaking, and suspenseful, Sleeping Tigers remind us all that sometimes it's better to follow your heart instead of a plan.
(from the back cover)

Buy Link

Next post:  photos:  Mayne Island library
Next tuesday:  discussing Sleeping Tigers

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

#writing: awards, conference, contest

First a red faced apology, I think I told you that I was going to be attending the Arthur Ellis award night. Yes, well, I didn’t. The Arthur Ellis award night will take place in June, in Toronto. I won’t be there—although, I do hope to attend this event in the future. What I attended last week was the Arthur Ellis shortlist evening. In fact, during this event, I sat my second panel as a published author.

 I won’t talk to you about my butterflies. What I will do is give you a brief review of the event that was held at the Vancouver Public Library. During our panel discussion, we explored many topics such as our writing life, the state of reading and social media. I came down heavily in favour of social networking. Even though I had to admit that it can be a time suck. However, I’ve recently become involved with Google+—and I’m in love. As I live on a remote island, networking with fellow authors as well as others in the publishing industry is a challenge. Google+ enables this connecting. After our brief panel discussion, we read the names of the authors and publishers on the shortlist. If I were worth my salt as a reporter, I would have collected these names and shared them with you. Unfortunately, I’m a fiction author and not a journalist and so the most I can do is provide a link ( Oh, yes, and I would like to introduce you to the other authors that were involved in this event.

Roberta Rich
Stephen LeGault

Photos by Byron Dyck

And in other news…

Pulled from my email inbox…


Dear Leanne,

The final tally is done and the winners for the year 2011 have been announced. I managed to get 2nd prize (for poetry) and 3rd Prize (short story) at the Interartia literary competition sponsored by the Inetrnational Art Academy and the Foundoulis Observatory in Athens Greece.

It makes this man's day.

Cheers to all,


One-day writers’ conference

Write on the Beach
Sunday June 10
9:15 AM to 5 PM
Beecher Place, 12160 Beecher Street
Crescent Beach, Surrey
Keynote:  Transformation in the Book Industry
By Margaret Reynolds, Association of Book Publishers of BC
The Power of Story in Fiction & Non fiction by Lois Peterson
Poetry in Prose by Loreena Lee
Writing for Magazine by Ursula Maxwell-Lexis
Inspired to Write by Don Hunter
$60 Federation of BC members; $76 non-members (before May 10, 2012)
$75 Federation of BC members; $90 non-members (after May 10)
Students—half price
Registration: enquiries:  Ben 604-535-2977


The Victoria Writers’ Society 11th Annual Writing Competition
Categories:  fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry
Entry fee:  $15 members, $20 non-members
Deadline:  May 1st

Next post:  reading:  Sleeping Tigers by Holly Robinson

Monday, April 23, 2012

Free knitting pattern: foot thong by Leanne Dyck

Knit something eye-catching to wear on the beach this summer.

Finished triangle panel:  4" [10.16 cm] wide x 2" [5.08 cm]high

Tension:  4 stitches = one inch over seed stitch on 4.50 mm/US 7/UK 7 knitting needles

Needles:  one pair of straight needles in the size needed to obtain tension

two double pointed needles to make I-cord

Yarn:  approximately 50 yards of cotton worsted weight

seed stitch (over an even number of stitches)
row 1:  knit one, purl one--repeat to end of row
row 2: purl one, knit one--repeat to end of row
repeat rows 1 and 2 for pattern

Triangle panel (make 2)
Cast on 16 stitches
Work in seed stitch for one inch [2.54 cm]
Decrease two stitches every row until two inches remain
Knit two stitches together
With threaded darning needle, pull thread through remaining stitch

With double point needles, cast on 2 stitches
Consult: How to make I-cord
Make six I-cords 1 inches [2.54 cm] long and two 28 inches 
[71.12 cm} long
Sew the three shorter I-cords on the three corners of each triangle.
Thread the long I-cord through the three loops.

Wear as depicted in top photo.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Guest Post: Silly Me by Kenneth Weene

Silly Me,
By Kenneth Weene

Every time I publish a novel, people ask me if it's autobiographical. "It's so convincing," they say.

Silly me, I tell them no, that I create those novels from my imagination. 

The first novel, Widow's Walk, was about a widow and her grown children. Autobiographical? I don't think so. The second was, I admit, closer to home. Memoirs From the Asylum: yes I am a shrink and I did work in a psychiatric hospital, but no I wasn't a catatonic schizophrenic watching an alternative world unfold inside the crack opposite my bed. 

Now my third novel. Tales From the Dew Drop Inne. A novel about the people who make their psychological home in a neighborhood bar: certainly nobody is going to ask if I'm an alcoholic barely hanging on. Oops! Wrong! That's exactly what I've been asked. Even good friends who know that I almost never drink have asked. "Boy, Ken, you must have been quite a drunk in your day?" "How often do you go to AA?" Comments and questions like that.

I'd be insulted if it weren't such a great compliment. I must be writing well or people wouldn't believe it so readily. I've thought a lot about it, and I have a new answer. Maybe the silly thing has been trying to tell people that my novels aren't autobiographical. 

Are my books autobiographical? Of course they are; when I create those worlds, those characters, those feelings, I put a bit of myself into the process. Writing so it matters requires authenticity - not about events but about emotions. I draw on who I am to write who those characters are - yes, even that catatonic schizophrenic woman and poor Captain, the central character of In the Army, one of the chapters from Tales From the Dew Drop Inne. You might like to sample that chapter. You can listen me read it. 

Writing for me draws not on my autobiography but on my human essence - on my ability to connect to that which is in all of us. Are we not all the same? Are we not all more nearly human than otherwise?

Here are some essentials: 
Tales From the Dew Drop Inne is available in print and for Nook and Kindle. The print purchase link is 
A quick blurb about the book:

"Tales from the Dew Drop Inne" reads like a darkly humorous sitcom. The tone is both heartfelt and deliciously irreverent, showing that one does not need to hate humanity to appreciate the humor of life. Here are tales of drifters, alcoholics, religious renegades, veterans, and drag queens set in pub that is at once a confessional, a circus, and a psychiatric hospital. --Marina Julia Neary, author of "Martyrs & Traitors: a Tale of 1916"

Book Review: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

In Extremely Loud and Incredibly close we follow nine-year-old Oskar Schell as he seeks to live on after his dad's sudden death.


theme:  the power of the brain to develop strategies to cope with the emotional overpowering events.

character development:  the first thing we experience about Oskar is his mind. Throughout the entire book, we continue to be impressed by his intellect.

Written in such a way that you don't read the book--you live it. It becomes part of you.

Haunting quotes: 
'Even though I knew that there were 161, 999, 999 locks in New York it didn't open, I still felt like it opened everything.' (p. 200)
'She said, "I know about this building because I love this building."...
"What is it about this building?" Mr. Black asked.
She said. "If I had an answer, it wouldn't really be love, would it?" '

Impression:  I cried on page 291. Did you? Will you?

Final thoughts:  Some readers have been upset with the writing style--lack of traditional paragraph structure, etc. However, I think that this treatment is appropriate. It shouldn't be easy to read this book because it wasn't easy for the narrator to tell his tale.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

#writing: Deception (short story)

            He spoke to her, touched her. A cool hand of longing traced down her body and made her shiver.
            Why do I feel like this? What’s wrong with me? This is wrong. I should stop. She knew she wouldn’t; she knew she couldn’t. She was his. He possessed her.
            Annie longed to stroke his cheek, kiss his lips, melt in his embrace.
            So there she sat upon her bed—alone with him. Her nose buried in the book. Annie turned each page in eager anticipation. Her imagination was a world they shared. To her he lived, breathed.
            She’d found him in the school library. The book was tattered. How many years had he waited for her? Annie shuttered to think. It wasn’t important. What mattered was that she had found him.
            She longed for their life together to continue. So she turned the pages very slowly, savouring each word.
            Annie had excused herself immediately after breakfast. “I have to make my bed and fix my hair,” she’d told her granny, pushing back her chair. Annie hadn’t lied. Those tasks needed tending to; but what she’d wanted was to spend more time with him.
            Granny would never understand. How could she possibly? She’s way too old. And she thinks I’m a good girlher darling angelic granddaughter. Granny doesn’t really know me. She only knows the shadow illusions in which I hide.
Next post:  reading:  discussing Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Monday, April 16, 2012

knitting: preparing inventory for a gallery

Each year I knit inventory for a seasonal gallery (ArtCraft) on a big sister island (Salt Spring). Last year my baby sweaters sold out. : ) Based on this popularity I was determined to be better prepared—with more sweaters—this year.
My goal:  20 baby sweaters.
I calculated that I would have to knit—between the months of January to May—five sweaters per month. I judged this to be an obtainable goal.
First I organized my stash into sweater kits and bought more yarn.

Then I cast on and set to work. However, shortly after my needles began to click I began to encounter problems. My years of intense knitting have created wrist problems. This pain limited my stitches. Then a new passion caught my muse’s attention. Writing stole knitting time.
Recently I received a wake up call email from ArtCraft gallery—inventory was to be delivered to the gallery on June 7th. Hmm, June. It’s April. I have three months. Three. My needles began to fly. Here’s what I have right now…

And this is what I’m currently knitting…

I’ll keep you posted as I continue the battle…
Next post:  Short Story:  Deception

Friday, April 13, 2012

Please welcome Author Laura Sherman

When did you first know that you were a writer?

I can tell you that when I was in high school, I loved to write short stories, but I would have never predicted I'd be a professional writer. I had too many red marks on my essay assignments! I planned to be an engineer.

I went to college and got a degree in Civil Engineering, but soon figured out that it wasn't for me. I started a little jewelry business in LA and then moved to Florida.

In 1999 I hooked up with a friend and started producing low budget uplifting movies. I wrote a screenplay called In The Open, which I produced for $7000. A few years later I started picking up writing odd jobs here and there.

It was only in 2003, when I was nine months pregnant with my first child, that I received my first real ghostwriting offer. It was quite a surprise and I was thrilled. When I completed that book, I knew I was a writer!

What was your first published book?

I cannot tell you the title of my first book, because I am a ghostwriter. If the client doesn't give me a credit, I cannot mention it. So my first published piece must remain a mystery.

My first book, which bears my name, is Joshua's Missing Peace - A Mother's True Story. This is a story of a mother's search for the truth about her child's illness. I ghostwrote this book, but in this case I received my first cover credit.

The first published book that I personally authored is Chess Is Child's Play. This book teaches parents to teach young children to play chess, even if they themselves don't know how to play! Now parents can teach their preschoolers to play, giving them an advantage throughout their educational experience.

What did you do before you were a writer?

Just before I realized that I could make a living through my writing, I was a mortgage broker! I really enjoyed helping people get loans. My experience came in handy last year when I was hired to write hundreds of articles on mortgages and real estate. I could give insights and personal stories that few other writers could offer.

I find that as a writer I can use what I learn in other fields in my writing. Whether I'm writing fiction or nonfiction, my past careers come in handy!

What inspires you?

I find inspiration in many places, but one of my guiding principles is that I want to help people through my writing. When a client first approaches me with a concept for a book I ask them what their message is. It is important to me that any book I write benefits the reader in some way.

The next generation is another inspiration. I feel a strong duty to help children through my writing.

Please share one of your successful marketing techniques

I am just starting out in this area, but I have had a lot of success through Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook. I love social media! I have built many strong relationships through these sites and continue to receive a steady stream of book sales as a result.

Parting words

I believe that almost everyone has a book inside them. I encourage you to write and write and write. And then write some more! If you have a good idea for a book, but don't know how to proceed feel free to email me. I'm always happy to give a little guidance!

Laura shared some good news with me regarding her most recent book Chess Is Child's Play

Hi!  I have some good news!  We just finished the Chess Is Child’s Play book trailer and the publisher has the book in his warehouse.  I know that my interview will be coming out on Friday.  I wanted to see if you might embed the trailer from youtube:

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Blog Facelift

I’m a planner. I like to evaluate what’s working and what isn’t. Then make necessary changes. Recently, my writing projects have been demanding more and more of my time. This has robbed this blog of attention. Change was demanded. Change will happen. After May 1st, I will blog three days a week instead of five. But don’t worry. I’m working hard to keep everything you, I, we like about this blog.
Homespun Wednesday (who I am without a pen—knitter, islander, amateur photographer, music fan, etc.)
My Author Journey Thursday (the books I’ve read, the things I’ve learnt, the opinions I hold, the progress I’ve made)
Author Feature Friday (author guests plus…)
I hope you’ll continue to join me on this wild ride.
Next post:  Please welcome Author Laura Sherman

Monday, April 9, 2012

photography: craft show

Treasures awaited shoppers last Saturday, April 7th

Do you wish you'd been there?
Take heart, a little birdie told me that there will be an encore in September. And many of these crafters with others will participate in the Mayne Island Farmers' Market. Shop at the 'sneak-a-peak' sale on the May long weekend.
Next post:  writing:  finding a publisher:  Grit City, Publisher's Desk