Knitting a Novel: on and off the needles

Did I tell you that I finished my novel again? This isn’t the first time I’ve finished it, of course. The first finished draft was the equivalent of a scarf knitted up in open lace-work. Silky threads to hold everything together, but full of holes.

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A lace infinity scarf: cast on, enjoyed and cast off to be gifted to someone whose name I can’t say here, lol. I bought this beautiful silky wool at the Itsy Bitsy Yarn Store in Whitehorse.

When it was as ready as I could get it, I sent it out to my two critique groups and examined their comments and reactions for places where the tension was uneven, the weave too loose. Places where I’d dropped stitches, or gotten them twisted.

Then I took the framework and did it up again, weaving in the loose ends, picking up the dropped stitches. In that way, the novel went from lace to garter stitch. Sort of. These are very loose metaphors, you understand.

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Another gift for someone whose name I cannot mention here. 🙂 The pattern is Wheat by Tin Can Knits, knitted in Berroco Vintage Chunky wool that I bought at Knit2Yarns in Kamloops, BC.  It’s actually a lovely heathery dark forest green, though it looks pewter in the photo.

Garter stitch is nice because it has texture. It’s elastic enough so you can push it around a bit and yet firm enough to handle it. Easy to rip out and easy to knit back up again.

Then I sent it back for more critique.

Critique comments can be very interesting. Often times uplifting and exhilarating when the reader gets it and is obviously excited about what they’re reading.

Also interesting is when the reader giving the critique is annoyed because the character is not behaving the way they would behave if they found themselves in a similar situation. I love these types of comments because it means they’ve got the socks on their feet, are trying them out. They’re engaged in the story, and that means I’m doing it right.

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Socks, knit with Fabel superwash from my stash. Another Christmas gift to add to the pile. 🙂

Although there’s always the occasional reader who will try to push this work of speculative women’s fiction into the action-adventure genre, thus frustrating both of us, lol. I try to see these comments as a reflection of reading preference rather than a criticism on writing style, but it does sometimes make it a bit difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff, if you don’t mind a cliché.037

So anyway, what I’m doing with the novel right now is like blocking the finished scarf or sweater. Soaking it and laying it out to dry, pinning the edges straight, smoothing out any bumps or wobbles. I’m happy with it. I’m really happy with the ending, even if though I’m still fussing a bit with the final fit. Like putting the sweater on and shrugging my shoulders, seeing how it feels.

And now, are you wondering what’s on my needles at this very moment? Just what is keeping me company every evening as Mr. C and I binge-watch old episodes of 24?

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The Noël shawl. A name appropriate to the season, don’t you think? Also another project whose recipient shall go unnamed.

Lovely lovely lovely. My favourite so far, and my very first shawl. The wool is Hawthorne Fingering, from Knit Picks.

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What’s on your needles?

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A Hallowe’en Knitting Nightmare 

…is spending the evening trying to get a hank of wool out of its crazy 8 formation and into a ball I can actually knit with. 

Help!

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Meanwhile, I knit

Sometimes writing a novel feels an awful lot like waiting. And what does any sane person do while waiting?

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I’m trying to figure out the last chapter of this novel I’m working on. I mean, I know how it ends, I just don’t know how to get there.

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Sigh. I know.

It’s the words. I’m waiting for the words.

Meanwhile, I’ve been doing a lot of knitting.

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The Heebie Jeebies

It had been a dark and stormy afternoon, so after supper Sam and I decided to get out for a walk before it got too dark.  Or at least before it started to rain again.

It was kinda spooky, to tell you the truth…

The light had an eerie copper post-storm tinge to it and there was a strange moaning sound in the distance that lasted the entire 45 minute walk. If my name was Dorothy and I lived in Kansas with my Auntie Em, I’d be running for the storm cellar. It was  really weird. So weird that we actually turned around and went home, our imaginations in overdrive.

And then…

I looked across the lake and saw a bank of fog moving in. One by one, the lights on the other side went out as the fog came closer. No wait… that was a Stephen King novel I read. Sorry. 

I’ve only ever read three Stephen King novels in my entire life, do you believe it?..That foggy one (which I can’t remember the name of, his latest one (which I also can’t remember the name of), and The Dome. 

I’ve tried to read others, but just can’t get past the first 30 pages. Actually, I’m doing good if I get that far. Sorry, Mr. King. Maybe there’s something wrong with me.

For the rest of the evening I have another scary task to look forward to… Frogging this bit of knitting.  

Actually, my iPhone autocorrected that to frigging , which is about how I feel about it. 

No, scratch that bit of political correctness. What I really mean to say is fuckety fuckfuckfuck.

It’s my own fault that I’m about to rip apart several hours of work. Why? Oh, well, you know….because I didn’t bother to knit a test swatch first.

I’ll leave you with this serene picture of Sam not giving a damn.

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Finally, a quilt for the cabin: Garden Party by Blackbird Designs

I finished this quilt just in time to give it a good test drive during a short camping trip to Jasper National Park last week!

Columbia Ice Fields, Jasper National Park

Columbia Ice Fields, Jasper National Park

It’s so much fun having a quilt to photograph when you’re camping!

Columbia Ice Fields, Jasper National Park

Columbia Ice Fields, Jasper National Park

This particular project was a “Shop your Stash” challenge quilt hosted by the Good Time Quilters, one of the guilds I belong to.

Snaring River, Jasper National Park

Snaring River, Jasper National Park

We paid for the pattern, sight unseen last fall, then had the rest of the year to make something using the pattern as inspiration. The only caveat? You had to shop your stash. And did I ever!

sept-2016-017The pattern is Garden Party by Blackbird Designs. It’s a combination of piecing and applique, with little 3-D flower centers.

And, because I always try to learn something new with every project, I decided this quilt was a good opportunity to try out the quilt as you go method.  This allowed me to use up a whole lot of those small pieces of batting that are too big to throw away (because batting is so damned expensive!) but too small to back anything larger than a place mat. I’m not 100% sold on the method, but at least I’ve tried it. 🙂

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The backing is made up of miscellaneous bits and pieces of green & brown fabrics. What I’d call my ugly fabrics.

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Including this interesting piece:

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Mr. C. actually likes the back better than the front.  I guess there’s no accounting for taste, lol.

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It’s quilted free-motion style on my little Janome 2030 in what’s called the stipple pattern .

Folks, this was my very first attempt ever (ever!) doing free-motion quilting, and I’m pretty darned proud of myself. I didn’t quilt inside the flowers…as a result, they’ve puffed up a bit. I like the effect.

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And you know what? It’s 100% made from my stash. I didn’t buy a single new thing to make this quilt. 🙂 This makes my thrifty heart do a happy dance!

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It’s destiny is to live at our cabin at Fox Lake, in the Yukon, where I plan to spend chilly visits snuggled up in front of the fire for years to come. If you come visit, I’ll share a quilt corner with you.  But you might have to fight Mr. C. for it…

Mr. C. doing his sworn duty to uphold Nita's quilts

Mr. C. doing his sworn duty to uphold Nita’s quilts

Posted in applique, Blog Categories, Camping, Quilting, Quilts, Travel, Vacation | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

On the Needles: Knitting lace on the Snaring River

Mr. C and I went camping in Jasper National Park this week, where we discovered the Snaring River campground. 


The perfect place to plant my chair and listen to the rushing water, clicking needles and my own thoughts for a few hours.


Paradise! 

Posted in Blog Categories, Camping, Knitting | Tagged , , | 4 Comments