Friday, March 22, 2019

Year-end Knitting Review -- with added photos!, Tolkien Reading Day, and Lara Lacombe's New Release

Knitting round-up for year's end!

Last year I didn’t really set any knitting or other craft goals, except to not let them fall completely by the wayside. I mentioned that I needed an excuse to knit something as a gift...and a couple of friends got pregnant!

I did manage to knit a couple of Christmas gifts however: a hat and a set of leg warmers!

Some of my other posts throughout the year:

A Poem and a Few Songs for Burns Night, and ROW80, Including Knitting
Playlists, IWSG Day, Knitting in Public, and Elephants!
Kait Nolan's New Release! Also, New Mittens and Blog Plans Till January...
ROW80, A Completed Project, and The Enchanted April (a finished baby blanket)

ROW80 End of Round Wrap Up, and Visits to Yvoire (France) and Gruyeres, plus Photos from Vaud (Switzerland) (another finished baby blanket)

Why I didn't knit much:
I completed my second year of graduate school, and this guy came along:

Another friend also had a baby this year, and a group of mutual friends put together two quilts, one for each of us.

Here’s me starting to embroider my name on the square I contributed:

Here’re some photos of both quilts taken by the friend who did the finishing work:

Here’s what I wrote when I first shared a photo of the quilt, on the day I received mine:
I always say that one of the best parts of having read Outlander all those years ago was having joined the Forum and become friends with so many amazing people. This is a beautiful instance of that joy. Baby is kicking in happiness
PS close up of Kedi, because his and Austin's story was the first one I started on after I joined the Forum, following a two-year drought, and I'm still amazed by how many other characters have come to know him over the years.
And here are the photos to date:

1 month

2 months

2 months

2 months

3 months

3 months

3 months

4 months

4 months

For this year my goal remains the same, to simply knit something sometime.

My other ongoing goals are to:

1. Think about buying expensive wool to make, slowly, methodically, and properly, a gorgeous design by Kate Davies This is ongoing, and mostly on the backburner. But last year I read Handywoman by Kate Davies, and I’m currently enrolled in the Knitting Season club, which features a new pattern every week. I haven’t had time to make any, of course, but am storing them all up for later, and really enjoying the essays by Kate that accompany each pattern release.

2. Pick up crochet again, but I'm still stumped by the double crochet stitch. I need to watch more YouTube videos

3. Organise all our photos and print a few, especially for the grandparents
I have finally caught up with this! Now the trick is to not fall behind again...

4. Bake more!
I have been more successful at this lately. I’ve been baking every weekend! And I've made bread for the first time ever! I'll write up a separate post of that.

Lara Lacombe has a new book out!

Ranger’s Baby Rescue
“Who kidnapped Emma Foster’s baby?
When her daughter is abducted from her Texas home, Emma Foster turns to Matt Thompson to help her. Matt and Emma work together to retrieve little Christina from the clutches of traffickers. But it will be a race against the clock for the ranger and the nurse, who must risk it all to save the innocent infant…”

I love the way this story dives right into the action, yet from the start the reader has a clear view of who the characters are, what events have shaped them, and what they hope for the future. Both Emma and Matt are hesitant to take a leap, to hope for something between them, especially while doing their best to save Emma’s daughter.

If they can trust their emotions long enough to let go and open up to each other, all sorts of new possibilities might lie ahead. As they continue to work together to rescue Christina and keep her safe, an opportunity finally comes up for them to reveal their feelings. I was on tenterhooks waiting to see how they came together! Plus, I could completely relate to having to do everything with a young child in tow; all the baby-related scenes were very realistic!

Next Monday is Tolkien Reading Day!

This year’s theme is Tolkien and the mysterious...

I’ll either reread The Notion Club Papers, or some of the art books, featuring such lovely mysterious drawings as these:
The Shores of Faery

The End of the World

The first round of A Round of Words in 80 Days has ended!

I haven't gotten as far along in my edits of The Handful of Time as I'd like. Mostly this has been due to being ill and choosing sleep over editing time, but still! If I could do even a couple of sentences a day... It would be nice to have it done by the end of the year. Slow and steady wins the race!

Which crafts have you been exploring?
Do you enjoy reading suspense novels?

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Kait Nolan's New Release! Also, New Mittens and Blog Plans Till January...


(thank you to Magali Studer for the drop cap!)

Following my happy announcement from a few months ago, the due date is fast approaching! I'm going to be rerunning a few classic posts on the blog from now until January; I'll miss some Insecure Writer's Support Group posts and checking in for A Round of Words in 80 Days, though I may try to note some updates in comments. And my Books Read in 2018 post will likely be delayed!

Meanwhile, I've been reading some good books!

One is a classic, Catalina by Somerset Maugham.

The other is a new release by Kait Nolan!

"Just a fling," she said...

Tess Peyton wanted to do something fun and reckless and wholly out of character. A steamy weekend with a Scotsman seems like a plan. When her Scotsman turns out to be a good Southern boy, that's a minor deviation. Then one night turns to two, two turns to more, and suddenly she knows she's in way over her head. This is why one should always stick to the plan.

"Bachelor for life," he said...

But that was before all of Mitch Campbell's friends, cousins, and even his little sister started pairing off like someone was building an ark. No wonder he fell, and fell hard, for his "no attachments, no last names" European fling. And just when he's ready to tell the woman of his dreams that he wants to change that arrangement, she disappears, leaving him with no means of tracking her down, and a big ol' hole in his heart.

And then Fate stepped in...

Because, guess what? The guy Tess ran out on in Edinburgh shows up at family dinner. He's her dad's new wife's brother's son. What does that make them? It makes them "on again," according to Mitch and the explosive chemistry between them. Tess feels it too, along with a side of awkward, continued uncertainty, and some kind of stomach virus that seems to bother her most in the mornings...

How can a book be both sweet and hot at the same time? There are few stories that can pull off that trick, and this is one of them!

It's evident from the start that Mitch and Tess are ideal for each other, and it's fun to see everyone in Wishful, one after the other, noticing their obvious attraction, even while they're trying to deny it. But there are obstacles to overcome, including the barriers they put up of themselves, in their misguided attempt to do things in the "right" way. I won't reveal how they come to their senses, but of course there's a happily ever after!

As an aside, I loved the organization in this book as well -- mention of stationery had me drooling over some of my own favourite items, and I love the way most of the couples and important characters from previous books are all mentioned, with updates on their lives. As usual, though, any of the Wishful books can be read as a standalone -- though I can't imagine reading only one!

I've also completed a quick knitting project!

Mittens in progress

Mittens done

Mittens modelled!

What are your long-term plans and ideas?

Friday, September 14, 2018

ROW80, A Completed Project, and The Enchanted April

ere's another knitting project I've completed!

Besides the one or two projects that have sat on needles for too long now, and have no hope of ever being completed, this means I haven't any knitting in progress at the moment. I'd like to knit some mittens for winter, and start a great big ambitious Fairisle project, but we shall see.

(Thank you to Magali for the drop cap!)

Besides, that wasn't part of my original ROW80 goals! Here's sort of how I phrased my September goals on thelitforum:

Things I think about:

Knitting -- I have ideas for two new projects, and one project that's almost completed. No pressure on this goal [g]
Editing -- two novels (The Handful of Time, Captive of the Sea) still need to be worked on. Plus there's that short story anthology idea... Not a priority right now!
Writing -- I should still be plotting Amelie's story in preparation for NaNoWriMo, but all I'm really doing is writing the new novella, tentatively entitled Summer Blaze.
Blogging -- I need to blog in advance to cover the months of October to December. I really need to catch up on comments!
School -- I'm still registered in the Master's programme, but have arranged not to have any courses this semester. First course for this year coming up in January!

Actual goals:

Keep up with blog posts and edit the novella to the point where it's ready for beta readers.

There it is. I've got about five previous blog posts that have collected comments -- I'm coming around to all of you, I swear!

In the meantime, I had reason to look up this blog post just now, and I really feel like rereading this book. So I'm reposting the post! From the 2012 Blogging from A to Z Challenge:

Enchanted April, by Elizabeth von Arnim.

"Eager to escape the dreary February rains of 1920s London, four women agree to rent the small medieval castle of San Salvatore for a much-needed vacation on the Italian Riviera, and each in turn is seduced and changed by the special place."
Sounds like such a simple premise... I've just discovered that The Enchanted April is available on Gutenberg! No need for me to tell you any more about it, you can read the lovely sweet story for yourself.

I was in my teens when I first read this book, and I've stayed in love with it all these years all for this paragraph:
"Rose clasped her hands tight round her knees. How passionately she longed to be important to somebody again--not important on platforms, not important as an asset in an organization, but privately important, just to one other person, quite privately, nobody else to know or notice. It didn't seem much to ask in a world so crowded with people, just to have one of them, only one out of all the millions, to oneself. Somebody who needed one, who thought of one, who was eager to come to one--oh, oh how dreadfully one wanted to be precious!

All the morning she sat beneath the pine-tree by the sea. Nobody came near her. The great hours passed slowly; they seemed enormous. But she wouldn't go up before lunch, she would give the telegram time to arrive..."
Actually, I think that this quote is the reason I love to write romance.

Are you writing during NaNoWriMo this year?
Which books have stuck with you over the years?

Friday, August 31, 2018

Handywoman by Kate Davies, A New Film, Kill Your Darlings, and ROW80

am experimenting with a new drop cap today, from a gorgeous alphabet by a Swiss designer!

I've got three recommendations to share, of a book, a film, and a blog post on how to kill your darlings (a phrase from Stephen King).

The book is Handywoman by Kate Davies

"Paralysed by a stroke at the age of 36, Kate Davies' world turned upside-down. Forced to change direction, Kate took a radical new creative path. Handywoman tells this story.

This is not a book about Kate's triumph over adversity. Rather, it is her account of the ordinary activities and everyday objects that stroke and disability made her see differently. From braiding hair for the first time to learning how to knit again; from the lessons of a working-class creative childhood to the support of the contemporary knitting community; from the transformative effects of good design to developing a new identity as a disabled walker; in this engaging series of essays, Kate describes how the experience of brain injury allowed her to build a new kind of handmade life. Part memoir, part personal celebration of the power of making, in Handywoman Kate reclaims disability as in itself a form of practical creativity.

Kate Davies is an award-winning knitwear designer and author writing on many topics from disability and design to textile history and women’s history. She’s published nine books about hand-knitting, lives on the edge of the Scottish Highlands and is inspired by her local landscape every day."

This description doesn't give a sense of the full breadth of the book, which touches on inspiration, creativity, good design and the need for intuitive designs in all of our lives and surroundings, plus celebrations of Shetland and of crafting in general. And Bruce the dog! I was moved and inspired by many passages in the book, and would recommend it for everyone, whether you're looking for community, ideas, elegance, travel, the history and meaning of braiding, medical treatment, or simply something unexpected. And, of course, knitting!

I've still never successfully completed a Fairisle project. I keep drooling over patterns and wool and saying "someday", when I don't have school or young kids or stories to write or... But There is no someday. I simply have to start.

Have a scroll through the gallery of the book on the Handywoman site.

The film is as-yet-unmade and is called The Night They Unleashed Hell.

Follow the twists and turns of it's production, and the vagaries of filming in Canada, England, and Switzerland, on the Facebook page of The Night They Unleashed Hell!

As for killing your darlings, I came across a post by the Thesis Whisperer on 5 Ways to Kill Your Darlings. Two that I haven't tried before but seem like they could work really well are:

"1) Use that strike through tool. You know – the one that does this neat thing. Back in the day, way before word processors were invented, we used to be pretty good at the old strike through for dealing bits of text that weren’t quite right. Then someone invented liquid paper and it was all downhill from there. The strike through function enables you to keep the text where it was and use it as a reference as you write around it. You can always un-strike through if you decide the original was better and you’re right back where you started, no harm no foul as they say.

2) Move the questionable text to the footnotes. This technique works on the principle of out of sight, out of mind. The footnotes give you a place to let the words go gently into that good night as the poet Dylan Thomas once said. By the time you come to your final polish you are usually in the position to pull the trigger and kill those darlings because the words clearly aren’t needed anymore."

As for ROW80, I'm at 15,000 words in the new novella, Summer Blaze. Two scenes and the epilogue left to write, before I can edit some more!

Why, of course I have a YouTube playlist for it already!

Which inspirational book have you read recently?
How do you kill your darlings?

Friday, June 22, 2018

ROW80 End of Round Wrap Up, and Visits to Yvoire (France) and Gruyeres, plus Photos from Vaud (Switzerland)

End of another ROW80 round! I'm not ready!

My goals and progress seems to have gotten a bit scattered since the last round. The full set of goals and their various stages of completion look like this:

enter handwritten edits to The Handful of Time (working title) and reread: still trying to finish this

query Druid's Moon: haven't done this yet

query The Charm of Time: I did! No bites...

keep editing Mystery at Bertram's Hotel (working title) on paper: I finished this!

enter handwritten edits to Mystery at Bertram's Hotel: not started yet because --

enter handwritten edits to Captive of the Sea: a new goal, because Harlequin have put out a call for medieval romances

do required research for stories and come up with proper titles

back to school!: this is what took up most of my time. But I'm all done my first year!

think about short story anthology: I did a cover mock up. It needs work

I'm also really far behind in updating my list of books read (see below)...

knitting: I started and finished two craft projects, a quilt square and a blanket. Then I started another blanket:

new baby blanket

finished blanket

a handful of books spirited from my grandmother's house, which I used to read and reread often
(among all the other books I'd still like to bring home with me from her house!)

apologies if you can't read the story -- I see it's available online! The Gift of Understanding by Paul Villiard
 have a tissue or handkerchief handy!

There are many, many good articles in this March 1965 issue of Reader's Digest

As for not meeting all my goals, part of it has been due to school, part due to general tiredness from my announcement, and part thanks to visits from family and friends!

Some quick snaps (apologies for the photo quality and the fact that not all of them are right side up. The latest Windows has no photo editing programme, and I don't have any dedicated software. I didn't put any of these through any filters on my phone, either):

We went back to Yvoire, France (on the ferry!), and I got to visit the Garden of the Five Senses for the first time:


the garden of the five senses, with separate areas filled with flowers for smelling, tasting, touching, etc.

the loveliest smelling roses I've smelled in a long time
there was also jasmine, lavender, sage, and many other lovely scents that were new to me

soft flowers

road down to the lake

view of the castle from a rooftop restaurant (the 13th Century church, off to the right, didn't fit in the frame, unfortunately)

back on terra firma

And we visited Gruyères for the first time in all our years here!

alp horns!

how it used to look, back in the 1930s

the church, from the castle

H R Giger museum (but we didn't go in!)

castle, from the church

more interesting arches

tiny hole-in-the-wall restaurant, in a building that's hundreds of years old and used to be where the village goats were kept (attended by the Bonnets Rouges, or Lutins, little elf/goblin-like creatures)

seasonal views of the mountains, which we couldn't see at all, given the overcast day

Added shots from our canton:

La Coudre Bed and Breakfast. This place would be perfect for a writers' retreat!

Lavaux vineyards from the train

Have you visited anywhere new recently?
Which flower scent is your favourite?