How Do I Create?

The second chapter of Pep Talks for Writers (germane Amazon Link!) is about the circumstances that one uses when one writes.

One of the things that Faulkner talks about is planners versus “pantsers.” “Pantsers” are people who line up their characters/subject/whatever and just write and see where it goes. Planners, well, that’s pretty self-explanatory.

I’ve always sort of done both. Back when I could let my mind wander on the job, I used to get a lot of writing done. Sometimes I was at the photocopier or the fax machine or sorting documents to send to shareholders containing the annual report, or waiting for a report to upload to a database or whatever.

I could use that time to say, “Sally’s memory won’t come back until she’s home, but her home burned down 20 years ago. Should I just make her an amnesiac forever? But I really want to restore her relationship with her brother. The graveyard. She sees her parents’ graves and that’s what triggers her memory. Subconsciously, being ‘reunited’ with them is coming home and. Oh, yes, that’s perfect.”

And then I’d go home and write the scene. And, yes, that is a scene I wrote. It was in a Dark Shadows fanfiction that I’ve just realized I might be able to scrape the serial numbers off of and remix. Well, technically, I realized that I could do that when I was thinking about this chapter while unraveling the first blanket* and then I sat down and wrote all this out. But potato-potahto.

So I guess I’m more of a planner, but there are definitely surprises in the process of the planning. I’ll be prewriting something and a new character will pop up where I’m not expecting it and I’ll have to incorporate that new character, things of that nature.

The chapter ends with a challenge to mix it up a bit. And I guess that my experiments with dictation might count for that. I could also maybe get Evelyn to sit down and have a writing day sometime. She has a picture series in her that I’ve been trying to get her to commit to because just maybe that will be the thing that brings her financial success.

At the very least, I want the books (about her Jack Russell mix dog) to be out there in the world.

*I know that a couple of posts ago I said that I was going to make those blankets into a new blanket, but now I’m thinking about knitting a coat out of them. The threads have all seen better days, so it would have to be a casual sort of coat. Also, I definitely plan to work two threads of each color so that it comes out sort of heathered. And also having four strands should mean that if any one (or even two) wear out, the whole thing won’t fall apart. I hope.

I’m Getting Back Into Knitting

I was a very heavy knitter back in the day. I used to knit in front of the television, I’d knit while talking to friends. I’ve even brought my knitting to the movies. I have probably dozens of knitting books. 28. I just counted them.* I also subscribed to Vogue Knitting for years** and I used to pore over women’s magazines in the checkout line looking for knitting patterns and if I liked the pattern I’d buy the magazine, cut out the pattern and put them in one of those sticky photo album pages. Then there were the patterns I downloaded from places like the Berroco and Lion Brand yarn companies’ website.

I’m not sure why I stopped knitting. Moving to Texas didn’t help. I need a severely limited number of warm sweaters down here. I have so much yarn that would make beautiful sweaters and no sweaters to make.

Years ago I found Project Linus, a charity where people make blankets to be given to preemies or to children who have suffered losses or trauma, and so I started knitting blankets for them. I kept knitting blankets for several more years, even though I no longer knew how to get them to the charity.

Then. Hm. I think I decided that I wanted to make sweaters for Mila and all of her foster sisters, but I couldn’t get motivated.

I know one of the things that happened to stop me knitting. Well, first, I stopped watching TV. So there’s that. Also my dad stopped parachuting. I used to knit all the way to and from the jump site.

Well, on Christmas, my dad and I were watching It’s a Wonderful Life and I decided to dig out the Project Linus blankets I was working on. Turns out I was almost done with one of them — a pink, blue, and purple one that was a larger version of a blue, yellow, and green one I did a few years back and that looked almost like a plaid. It doesn’t look so plaid-y when it’s larger, but the blanket is still pretty.

Then I found one that I was working on based on the trapped-bar pattern scarves from the Harry Potter movies (the ones that they unveiled in Prisoner of Azkaban). I couldn’t find the rest of the yarn for it, though, so I unraveled it and will start it over on a slightly smaller scale.

I also saw a commercial for a knit weighted blanket and I was playing around with ideas for that for a while. I weigh about 125, which means that the standard adult weighted blankets, at 15 pounds, are way too heavy for me. Since cotton yarn feels pretty heavy, I dug out some Lion Brand CottonEase and am now playing around with it. I’m working a strand of yellow and a strand of, like, turquoise and will see how that works out. If it’s too light or too small, maybe I’ll put it in my container for Project Linus.

Recently I’ve gotten pretty heavily into several YouTube channels and also some Amazon Prime series, so I figured it’s not television, but it’s pretty close, so I’ve been knitting in front of them. Speaking of YouTube channels, I need to see where I am in my Content Creators series.

I went through my yarns years ago and sorted them by color, but that was undone ages ago and so I think I need to go through them again.

For today’s Germane Amazon Link, I bring you the source of some of my favorite patterns, as well as the book that had me take my first stab at knitting sweaters all in one piece, which is now how I knit, well, pretty much everything I can knit in one piece: Fishermen’s Sweaters: Twenty Exclusive Knitwear Designs for All Generations, by Alice Starmore.

*29. I forgot the dog knitting pattern book I have in Kindle format.

**I was considering seeing if I could make Vogue Knitting magazine my Germane Amazon Link, but apparently Vogue Knitting is not available for Kindle. Hm.***

***Oh! Vogue Knitting has its own app! Would it let me access back issues? I’d love to be able to access back issues. I love my old magazines, but they’re awfully dusty.

I Need to Get Back to Knitting

Or crocheting or embroidery or something. The Wheel of Time series is starting in less than a week and I always used to knit or crochet in front of the television.

I have a bunch of projects that I’ve started and that I haven’t touched in ages. I started a sweater for Mila from Seamless Knits for Posh Pups that I need to get back to, particularly since it’s starting to get nippy and I want to take her out walking in the autumn weather.

I’ve bought some glass beads towards making a weighted blanket, but the yarn I wanted to thread it onto (the yarn from the blanket that I’m unraveling) is just a little too thick. I was going to make that blanket a gigantic mitered square, but I now have another blanket that’s falling apart, so I think I’ll use a slightly smaller needle and make a big square from the center out. Unraveling those blankets will take quite a while and I want to wait until it’s colder to go back to that project.

I was thinking about making a sort of string bag out of black crocheting cotton and fishing line. I haven’t decided whether I’m going to knit or crochet it, though.

I’ve been trying to get to the dog sweater pattern book that I have on Amazon, but my typing fingers have been a pain today. You’ll know by the time you get down here if I’ve been able to get to it, since it’ll be today’s Germane Amazon Link, but I figured I’d point out how frustrating it has been.

Reduce, Reuse, Recyle . . . Embellish?

Back in the fall, I began a project of unraveling a cotton blanket in order to make a new blanket out of it.

I have always had trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. And I do mean always. When I was little, I would sleep in what my mom told me was 15-minute increments and it was driving her crazy. So she asked my pediatrician, who suggested she spike my bottle with whiskey. I . . . don’t even know.

When I was ten, I had an EEG. My third grade teacher had never had a child as distracted as I was. She thought I was having absence seizures.

Two years later, my best friend convinced me to join the girls’ summer softball league. I was not at all athletic and she assured me that it was all just for fun and I’d enjoy it.

I did not enjoy it. In fact, I didn’t enjoy it so much that the rest of the team invited my best friend to join them in ganging up on me. She took them up on it and so for however-many weeks it was, I was all by myself with no one to support me (my mom’s best friend’s daughter didn’t even support me). One of the girls decided to try to trick me into believing that I could be the hero of a game if I’d steal home.

For those who don’t know baseball/softball lingo, that means to just run towards home plate from third base when it’s not actually time for the people on the bases to move. I’d been telling them that no way was I going to do that, because I knew that I’d never be able to do it and that it would just expose me to more ridicule.

Still, they kept on me. Every game, “This is the one where you’re going to steal home.” “Not going to happen.”

Finally, I decided that the only way to make it stop would be to just do it and let them laugh at me. But I wasn’t going to make it look like I really was going along with it, so I just walked off from third base towards home plate.

My mom thought that this was the result of some kind of brain malfunction. She didn’t ask me what happened or anything. She just called my pediatrician (a different one from the one who suggested she spike my bottle) and scheduled a brain examination.

Anyway, I needed to be asleep for the test, so she kept me up all night and then gave me . . . a sleeping pill of some sort before we left the house. They hooked the electrodes up to my head and left me alone in a dark room.

My mom says that the tests show that I was awake the whole time, but I really only remember waking up once when someone opened the door to look at me.

But still, between the sleep deprivation and the sleeping pill, you’d expect that not even someone opening the door would have woken me up, right?

And it wasn’t just those things. I always had trouble sleeping. I tend towards bimodal sleeping anyhow, where I go to sleep and wake up about four hours later, and then go to sleep after having been up for maybe half an hour.

I talked to my first psychiatrist about my sleep problems and he suggested that maybe I had sleep apnea, but I think that would’ve shown up on the EEG. My psychiatrist suggested that if I had sleep apnea I would snore, and both Thomas and Alex assure me that they’ve never heard me snoring.

So, my psychiatrist suggested that maybe I’m having trouble regulating my body temperature at night. He suggested that I try turning the air conditioning down a degree or two at bedtime and that worked really well.

My dad moved in with me ten years ago (!) and he gets cold way easier than I do, so we stopped having the temperature drop farther at night. Then my insomnia came back.

I have recently remembered the conversation about my body temperature, and so I started sleeping on top of my covers. That works really well.

I’ve also heard good things about the weighted blanket, but the only one I like, which is knitted out of cotton, is $200 for more weight than I need at my weight. So now I’m thinking that when I make this new blanket, I’m going to thread glass beads onto the blanket as I go. Probably one every other stitch and one every other row, so that there’s some space between the beads.

I will, of course, not be able to sleep on top of this blanket. It’ll be far too bumpy for that. But just maybe it’ll have that weighted blanket magic and sleeping under it will give me a good night’s rest.

I haven’t finished unraveling the old blanket, but I am starting to cast the new blanket on so that I can see how it works out. I’ll make posts once I have some pictures of the work in progress.

In Gratuitous Amazon Link news, we have The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up the Marvel Universe, by Ryan North and Erica Henderson.

Weighted Blanket, Take 2!

I know. I just started the first attempt last night. I had today off, and so I got a few rows finished and, “Ow!”

That’s the sound of my hands cramping up from trying to work three strands of yarn on that loom.

So, for my second attempt, I’m going to try using one strand of yarn but adding weight with glass beads. I bought a pound of assorted glass beads at a craft store. Since the beads are assorted, I decided to try pure cotton yarn in beige. I thought that the beige yarn may be unattractive, but at least it won’t clash with the beads.

I haven’t started knitting yet. My plan is to figure out how many beads I need by using about half of them on the first skein. Then we’ll cast onto my largest circular needles and work a few rows that way. Then if it works, I’ll keep going. If it doesn’t work, I’ll drop back five and we’ll try something else.

I’m hoping to work a kind of long day tomorrow, so I may not get much knitting done. I may not even finish up putting the beads on the yarn tomorrow.

I should have some kind of update ready by the weekend, though.

Gratuitous Amazon Link? I’m glad you asked. I’m still back in 2017, hip-deep in the Discworld. We’re going to skip a book because of body-shaming, and go on to Feet of Clay, the summary of which kind of sounds familiar, but doesn’t give me the creeps like the summary of the previous book did.

Health? Crafting? Social Media? IDEK

This is probably about all of the above and I’m going to try to make it quick because it’s 11:00 and I have tomorrow off, but I’m going to see about going in to catch up on filing tomorrow.

I keep getting

That’s the middle of the story. Let’s try starting here: For my entire life, I’ve had trouble sleeping. I’ve been screened for apnea several times and I had an EEG when I was a kid (my mom thought that my behavior from bullying was the result of some kind of neurological disorder) and my brain waves were odd (they apparently indicated that I was awake despite being both sleep-deprived and also having been given some kind of sleeping pill) and I’m sure that if I had sleep apnea, something would have shown up that day.

Years ago, one of my doctors suggested that I may have trouble regulating my body temperature at night and he suggested that I turn the temperature in my house down at night to see if that helps, and it really pretty much does.

Now there’s the fashion for those weighted blankets that are supposed to help with difficulty sleeping and I’ve been tempted by them, but (a) body temperature regulation problems and (b) those things are actually too heavy for me. The blanket is supposed to be 10% of your body weight and they apparently assume that their user is 150 pounds (68 kg). I’m 120 (54.4 kg). I’d be crushed by a 15-pound (6.8 kg) blanket.

I recently saw an ad on Facebook for a cotton knit weighted blanket that promises that you won’t overheat under it because cotton and knit. It’s $200 and is still too heavy for me, so I’m trying to figure out how to make one myself.

So, to that end, I bought one of those knitting looms and am making a prototype out of cotton blend yarn. If this ends up being workable, I’ll get 12 pounds of pure cotton yarn and we’ll see what we can do.

I just finished casting this on and my hands were cramping up a bit, so I decided to take a break and post about the project. Once I’ve got enough on my prototype to see if it’ll work, I’ll cast it off and take a picture then post it here.

Oh, and now that Evelyn and I are both vaccinated for COVID, I may be having her over for dinner and a movie and I might get some more work done on the sweaters I’m making for Mila and Evelyn’s other dogs. More on that later, as well.

And, since I’m posting this on my desktop computer, time for another Gratuitous Amazon Link. We’re back into the woods on the Discworld books again. Today, we have Interesting Times, another Rincewind book. I read this, like, almost four years ago now, so I’d have to refresh my memory on this one. I read the summary and it kind of sounds familiar. I probably need to read all of those books again. Someday. I’m still pretty burned out on them right now, though. Additionally, this link may or may not be to the novel. The paperback copy clearly says that it’s a stage play based on the novel, but the Kindle version doesn’t, and the “look inside” feature on the Kindle version is clearly the novel. I don’t feel like investing $5 right now to see which it is.