Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘projects’

Several years ago, when my sister had her first baby, I knitted a surprise for his first Christmas: three ornaments in the shape of Weasley sweaters, each with a monogrammed initial, of course. Even my brother-in-law, who isn’t a Harry Potter fan, was delighted, and they’ve hung on the tree every year since.

Harrison, my second nephew, was born two and a half years later, and every December since then I’ve gotten a text from my sister, reminding me: we need another Weasley sweater. (She’s not a knitter, but she is excellent at reminding people about stuff.)

I finally got my act together this year and made Harrison his own Weasley sweater, to match the other three. I’d forgotten how easy and fun they are to knit. And how cute the final result is.

I’m thinking I need to knit myself one to hang on my own tree – maybe next year. (Also in Gryffindor colors, of course.)

In case you’re wondering, the pattern is from Alison Hansel’s Charmed Knits, though I used another knitter’s mods to make them top-down instead of knitting them in pieces and seaming them. Much easier, and so cute.

Read Full Post »

final form: Queensland Beach

Many of my knitting friends will tell you: sometimes a skein of yarn takes a while to figure out what it’s going to be.

Some years ago now, Sonia came to Boston for a conference, and we met up in the South End and walked around, eating pastries from Flour and talking about our lives. She lives in the Pacific Northwest and we became friends via Ravelry, but had never met in person before. She brought me a gorgeous crimson skein of Cassiopeia yarn from Pigeonroof Studios, and I immediately started browsing potential patterns.

The yarn has a bit of cashmere and silk in it – so it stretched waaaay out with the first pattern I used, Regina. I frogged that attempt and made a gorgeous Cocoon Cowl next, but I rarely wore it. (I like my cowls big and cozy in the wintertime, and this one was more on the small and dainty side.)

A few years later, I used some of the skein to make a Gin & Tonic hat for my friend Laura, but I’d had the rest of it kicking around all this time. But it has now found its final form: a cozy, cabled Queensland Beach headband.

I tried it out on our first proper snow day, yesterday, and I’m so thrilled with it. And it reminded me: sometimes you have to try a few paths/possibilities before you find the right one.

Read Full Post »

nanowrimo laptop chai darwins

We are deep into November: golden leaves, crisp blue skies, vivid orange sunsets (which come all too soon every day now). And I am deep into my NaNoWriMo novel, because November is the month when writers around the world pick up their pens (or open their laptops) and begin writing furiously, trying to draft a 50,000-word novel in 30 days.

Yes, it’s crazy. Yes, my wrists and fingers are sore. But it’s a heck of a lot of fun.

I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo twice before, writing a novel set in Oxford (mostly to assuage my deep homesickness) in 2008, and drafting a murder mystery, also set in Oxford, last year. This time around, I’m doing something a little different.

One morning this summer, I woke up from a dream about a combination pizza parlor and ballet studio, run by the same family. When I told my husband about it, he said, “That sounds like a young adult novel.” I came up with a title (Pies and Pliés) and put it on the back burner until November. Now, I’m in the thick of it, carving out chunks of time to write each day, in between job applications and freelance work and snapping pictures of leaves.

I love NaNo for many reasons. It’s a small but exuberant nonprofit run by fun people; it encourages school-age writers through its Young Writers Program; it provides writerly entertainment on Twitter for those of us plugging away at our projects. But mostly I love it because it celebrates creativity, and stories. The folks at NaNo believe passionately that stories matter, and they spend all year – especially November – encouraging others to put their stories out into the world.

There are several tricks to winning NaNoWriMo – “winning” being defined as producing 50,000 words on a new manuscript over the course of November. I’ve found it helpful to have an idea I’m really excited about, and to do a little noodling, a little plotting and note-taking, ahead of time. I haven’t worked from a detailed outline, though I know some writers do (and some writers simply open up a new Word doc and fly by the seat of their pants).

I also find it helpful, like Hemingway, to stop in the middle – of a scene, a chapter or a narrative event (not necessarily a sentence). Then I jot down a few notes so I have somewhere to start from the next day. And, most importantly, I’m enjoying the process. It’s fun.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo – or have you done it before? (Or attempted a similarly insane creative challenge?) I’d love to hear your stories in the comments!

Read Full Post »

tea keep calm mug pei

I love the “around here” posts that pop up periodically throughout the blogosphere. It’s always a true pleasure to get a glimpse into others’ everyday lives, and I like looking back at my own (sporadic) posts of this type – they are wonderful snapshots of certain moments in my life.

red leaves brown boots fall

Life is full and busy and rich (and sometimes stressful) these days, and I want to remember how it feels, in all its particularity. Right now – as of late November 2014 – I am:

  • drinking David’s pumpkin chai almost every morning, and breaking out the Yorkshire tea (with milk and sugar) when the temps dip below 30.
  • waking up to the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack and the hubs curled up next to me.
  • wearing dresses, tights and boots to work, jeans and sweaters on the weekends (with my beloved jade green coat).

katie hot cocoa red cup green coat

  • breaking out the handknit hats and fingerless gloves.
  • eating lunch with the hubs almost every Friday when he comes to Harvard Square.
  • listening to the Wailin’ Jennys, Kate Rusby, a set of jazz compilation CDs I bought in London more than a decade ago, and Sarah MacLachlan’s Wintersong album.
  • getting ready to break out the Christmas music.
  • plugging away at my NaNoWriMo mystery novel (47K words and counting – so close!).

computer mug nanowrimo

  • reading a wickedly funny publishing whodunit (out in Feb.) and rereading The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets (again).
  • looking at photos of my 11-day-old nephew, Harrison, and hoping he and my sister (who have both been fighting infections) get to go home from the hospital soon.
  • wishing I could be in Texas to sit with my sister and hug my parents. Living far away is hard sometimes.
  • burning a Leaves candle in the evenings.
  • starting my dozenth (at least) reread of Watch for the Light as Advent begins.
  • preparing for Turkeypalooza, our annual Thanksgiving potluck with friends, which means I am
  • buying sweet potatoes, pecans, evaporated milk and frozen rolls.
  • continuing my Christmas shopping (I like to start early).
  • cooking a lot of solo dinners (soup, pasta, fried eggs) and saving leftovers for the hubs when he gets home from work.
  • snapping photos of the autumn leaves and light in Harvard Square.

harvard yard autumn light leaves

catte street oxford

  • anticipating our annual Christmas trip to Texas even more eagerly than usual.
  • knitting baby sweaters for Harrison and others.
  • loving the glimpses of others’ lives I see on Instagram.
  • delighting in the weekly email exchanges with the ladies of Great New Books.
  • sipping a lot of chai lattes from Darwin’s, and the occasional peppermint hot chocolate from Starbucks, in a red cup.

darwins chai journal

  • snuggling down under the electric blanket and the quilts from our grandmothers in the evenings.
  • slathering on the hand lotion as the air gets colder and drier.
  • browsing the Harvard Book Store on my lunch breaks.
  • savoring apples from the farmers’ market before it closes for the season.

What are you up to right now?

Read Full Post »

NaNoWriMo 2014

 

books about words photo

I’ve said for a long time that I’m not a fiction writer.

I’m a voracious fiction reader – you only have to look at my book list to see that. I love a good novel, and I appreciate the skill and hard work that go into crafting a compelling story. But when I write, it tends to be essays or book reviews (and maybe one of these days, a memoir). I often find myself intimidated by the idea of creating an entire fictional world from scratch.

Enter NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo is a wild, gleeful, no-holds-barred burst of creativity – an annual challenge to write a novel, or at least a 50,000-word draft, in a month. It happens every November, with people around the world participating, and it can be tremendous fun. I did it in 2008, when I wrote a novel about an American girl who goes to Oxford. (Art imitating life, anyone?)

I hadn’t planned to do NaNo this year, but seeing the buzz about it online made me decide to jump in, fittingly, at the last minute. And I’m loving it – such a fun chance to break out of my usual writing box and do something totally different.

I’m drafting a murder mystery set in Oxford – both a fun new challenge, an homage to the detective novelists I adore (especially Dorothy Sayers), and a chance to spend (more) time daydreaming about my favorite city.

radcliffe square dusk oxford

So far I’m at 13,000-plus words and going strong. I’ll keep you posted.

Happy Friday. And, if you’re noveling, happy NaNo!

Read Full Post »

Late winter knits

After nearly a decade as a knitter and three winters in Boston, I’ve accumulated quite a pile of winter accessories: scarves, fingerless gloves, lots of hats. But as the gray-edged piles of snow linger and the cold temps refuse to rise, I keep knitting more of them. My two most recent projects are getting lots of use.

First we have Rosebud:

rosebud hat

I coveted this pattern for ages, finally bought it and promptly knitted it up in yellow – but it turned out way too big. So I tried again with this lovely purple skein of Madelinetosh Vintage. The colorway is called “Flashdance,” which suggests ’80s neon, but the color is rich and deep. It’s warm and cozy and I’ve been wearing it almost every day. I love the big braid on the side. (Ravelled here.)

My favorite yarn shop, the Windsor Button, is closing (sad day), so I stopped by the clearance sale and picked up a few skeins of yarn. My new gray Fluted Cowl is made of two skeins of Cascade 128 Superwash Chunky. (I wish I’d had three, but there were only two skeins on the shelf.) It, too, is warm and cozy, either worn long or doubled up around my neck. (Ravelled here.)

fluted cowl

fluted cowl

If winter’s still lingering where you are, what are you wearing to keep warm? (And when, for heaven’s sake, will it be spring?)

Read Full Post »

A wee raspberry cardigan

I did a lot of baby knitting this summer, including cardigans and other accessories for my nephew Ryder and niece Annalynn. I’m looking ahead to fall knitting (for me!), but first I had to send a wee sweater down to D.C. for my pen pal Jaclyn, who welcomed sweet Emily in August.

puerperium cardigan girl madelinetosh
Like Ryder’s, this little cardi is made of Madelinetosh Tosh DK (this colorway is called Tart). It’s also the same pattern, which is unisex, simple and adorable. Emily was born early, so it’s probably still too big, but she’ll grow into it and I like to think she’ll look stylish when she does.

Baby knits are so satisfying – they’re super quick and virtually guaranteed to turn out cute. If you’re a knitter, what are your favorite things to knit for babies?

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »