I’m a winner! It won’t be official until word count verification opens on the 25th, but still. I did it!

50,059 words. 153 double-spaced, 12-point type pages.

I crossed the 50,000 word mark Saturday night. Last word written? “Weird”.

13 days. That’s just crazy.

I spent some time yesterday on revising, but I think I need to take a little time away from it first. Writer-folks, is it normal to look at your draft and despair of it actually becoming something worth reading? Or is it just me?

Yep, I think I’ll let it rest for a bit. I have some knitting to do.


In late 2002, I was fresh out of Library School and still a new arrival to L.A. I only knew a few people, and none of them very well. I didn’t know the city at all. I had very little money. I had a tiny, tiny apartment and a PC that was on its last legs, although I didn’t know that quite yet. On that little old PC, I had started writing again, after taking a break following my graduation with a B.A. in Creative Writing.

On November 1st, I started writing a novel. I didn’t have a great idea. I didn’t have an outline. I had a couple of characters and a concept that had had two false starts already. So why did I start writing? That day, I read an entry on Neil Gaiman’s blog that pointed me toward NaNoWriMo.

I love the whole concept of NaNoWriMo. I know how easy it is to let those story ideas fade away without writing anything down. It’s even easier to write down the idea and abandon it when the writing gets hard. And it’s much, much easier to stop writing than to force your way past that Internal Editor that tells you that if your story isn’t perfect right away, then it isn’t worth writing.

NaNoWriMo gives the wanna-be writer a ridiculous goal: 5o,000 words in 30 days. If you want to finish, you have to keep writing. When the story stalls, you have to keep writing. When the story takes bizarre turns you never planned, you have to keep writing. When the story starts to look like just a bunch of clumsy words, you have to keep writing. There is no time to go back and edit. There is no time to polish up that prose. There is no time to lose momentum in research.

If you want to “win” NaNoWriMo, you just have to write.

I “won” that first year, writing 51,008 words. There was a beginning, a middle, and end. There was also a huge digression into what should have been an entirely different novel, and there was a character I referred to as a “brother ex machina” when he appeared halfway through.

Somewhere, I have a print-out of that story, that novel, and that is the only copy, since that particular computer crashed and went to Digital Heaven six weeks later.

I took on the NaNoWriMo challenge again in 2003 and 2004, but both attempts remain unfinished. The 2004 novel stopped at 32, 143 words. The 2003 novel met a sad fate. It exists as several “untranslatable” files.

And that was that. Until this year, when I got an itch to start writing again. When I saw a mention somewhere about the authors who would be doing the pep talks this year, I signed up just to get those in my inbox. And, of course, I couldn’t just leave it at that. So, on November 1st, I started a new novel. You can see my word count in the sidebar. As of this moment, I am at 42,012 words. Apparently, if I don’t write much fiction for a few years, it all comes pouring out at once.

It’s a messy first draft. I’ve shifted character’s traits and altered the timeline in ways I will need to go back and fix. I have things that need to be researched to round out my best guesses. But it’s a draft. There is an actual story there, on the page, instead of just floating around in my head. And, more importantly, I’m writing every day. For me, that’s the point: to get back into the habit of sitting down at the keyboard and putting words on the page (screen, whatever).

After November, I can revise. I can edit. I can turn this messy draft into a real story. I can work on the art and craft of writing something worth reading.

It’s not too late for you to join in.


Fear not, my yarn-wrangling friends, Points West has not been given entirely over to the running. (Actually, I haven’t run since Halloween. Since I’m registered for another half-marathon in late February, this is less than ideal.) It’s just that all the knitting I’ve been doing lately has been unbloggable. But you can now see two of those recent projects in the latest Knit Picks catalog: the Inferno socks and the Burst socks, both patterns available as IDP selections. Have I mentioned how much I enjoy doing those catalog samples? I get to try out different yarn lines and new patterns, and I don’t have to figure out what to do with the finished object. And I get paid for knitting. It’s kind of awesome.

When I haven’t been knitting up catalog samples, I’ve been frantically working on K’s poor neglected Christmas stocking. Yes, the one that should have been done for last Christmas. If I want it to be done for this Christmas, I absolutely have to finish the stitching by early December, so I can hand it off to K’s co-worker, who has graciously done the sewing-together part of the two previous stockings for me, and get it back before their Winter Vacation starts. I realized recently that in the entire chart, there are no blank squares. Every single little square on the front of that stocking has some sort of stitch in it.

K's Stocking in Progress
Argh! Faceless Santa!

While I’ve been cross-stitching and knitting up projects that come with their own yarn, my stash has been mysteriously multiplying. I accidentally caught two Wollmeise updates over at the Loopy Ewe (twitter can be a dangerous thing, my friends). I kept the yarn out on my desk for a while, just so I could admire it. And then I decided to clean my desk. When I went to put away the yarn, I discovered that the stash bins were completely full.  I honestly have no idea when that happened.

And yet, yarn keeps arriving. Saturday, I came home from the CLC Fall Gala (which was fabulous) to find a package waiting for me. It was the final TLE Club shipment for 2010, a package I had been awaiting since getting a spoiler about it on Ravelry during last year’s club.

Final 2010 TLE Club
The Best Club Package Ever

I knew the blue Bugga! was coming – that was the spoiler I saw, and it was what sealed my decision to go for the second year option in the Club. I didn’t know about the Entrelac stitch markers. I love Entrelac stitch markers. I bought some directly from her site early last year, and I use them all the time. Also, I am utterly torn between the cabled hat and the lacy socks.

You know, since the yarn bins are full, I think I might just have to wind up this yarn and make something out of it right away. I know, you’re very sad for me.

Saturday is Santa Day

There hasn’t been much knitting going on around here lately. I started the Couch to 5K program a few weeks back, which means I get up quite early to go running, which means I (usually) go to bed quite early, which means what used to be my evening knitting time now gets used up by things like checking my email while watching How I Met Your Mother.

And, of course, this:

Stocking #3 in Progress

Two weeks ago, it looked like this:

Stocking #3

And you thought it was slow going knitting a lace shawl.

This is the third of three cross-stitch stockings for our family. It was supposed to be done for last Christmas, but since I took more than a year doing the second stocking, that didn’t happen.

I am determined to finish it for this Christmas. And then, maybe I’ll knit myself a lace shawl.

What’s Cooking

K came into the kitchen early this morning to find me with a couple of pots heating up on the stove.

“What are you cooking?” she asked.

“Yarn,” I said.

I think she was a little disappointed. Especially after discovering that I managed to avoid boiling the pot over again, so I was unlikely to scrub the stove again.

Kool-Aid Pot

I decided that I didn’t like the colors of Cascade 220 I had on hand for the jackalope’s ears and paw pads. Also, I really wanted to try some Kool-Aid dyeing. And, I’ve decided that I want to knit up a baby jackalope, too, and I needed more brown yarn.

I’m fascinated by the way the water turns clear as the yarn soaks up the dye in the Kool-Aid pot. Tea dyeing leaves you a (big, strong, yarny) pot of tea after removing the yarn.

Yarn Drying

My yarn hanks are drying in the yard at the moment. I’ve finished the body and legs of the jackalope, so I need to get going on those paw pads.  This batch of tea dyeing gave me a much darker yarn, which is kind of neat. The red yarn is the result of 4 packages of strawberry Kool-Aid mix. I would have liked it lighter – I probably should have tried to get some of the Pink Lemonade flavor. Maybe next time.

Birth of a Blocking Board

When we moved into our house, we found a few interesting items left behind by the previous owners.  There was a shooting script for Goonies under the sink, there was a pile of scrap wood in the garage, and there were several spare ceiling tiles in the closet in the den.

K saw those tiles and thought, “Great, we can replace those water-damaged tiles in the den!”

I saw those tiles and thought, “Great, I can make a blocking board!”

Fortunately, we had enough tiles to do both.

After six months of staring at a ceiling tile in my closet, I finally got around to getting the other materials I needed.  A quick trip to Jo-Ann for fabric and tape, followed by a quick trip to the local hardware store for a staple gun (and staples), and I was all set to go.

Blocking Board Materials

I used Yarn Maven‘s instructions to make the board.

I started by covering the edges of the board with white Duck Tape™:

Blocking Board with Taped Edge

This was especially important because the edges were already starting to crumble. Then, I laid it face down on top of my fabric, stretch the fabric over the edges, and used the staple gun to fasten it in place. Voila! A blocking board!

Sweater Pieces Blocking

That’s a toddler size (2T) sweater, for perspective.  The lines are a little wavy; I might have stretched the fabric a little too tightly.  I have another yard and a half of the fabric and another tile (somewhere), so I’ll be making a second board soon.

One Stitch at a Time

Last week, I knit something.  I can’t show you (yet), but I can tell you this: It’s a test knit for Chrissy Gardiner’s forthcoming book, it was fun and fast, and I think it’s an excellent pattern for people who’ve been wanting to try toe-up socks but have been a little intimidated.

Okay, that’s all I’m going to say about that for today.  In other Secret Knitting News, the Knit Picks sample I knit back in July appeared in the latest catalog and on the Knit Picks site.

I haven’t been doing much knitting of late, since I’ve been trying to make some progress on “Santa’s Journey”, my Christmas stocking.  Here’s what it looks like so far:

Stocking in Progress

Santa is slowly materializing, right before my very eyes. I have realized that by working from the bottom up, I’m going to have a headless Santa at some point. I promise to take a picture.

Not knitting has not stopped me from increasing my stash, though.  I resisted all the new stuff in the latest Loopy Ewe sneak-up, but bought the first three skeins of Sanguine Gryphon’s Kypria series:

Sanguine Gryphon

Left to right, that’s “The Deep-Bosomed Earth” (#1), “Momos” (#2), and “A Fateful Plan” (#3). The three tags with paragraphs of the story are tacked up on the corkboard in my office.

I also scored some Yarntini at long last, courtesy of Sonny & Shear:


Those are “Designated Driver” and “4-8-15-16-23-42”. There are still a few skeins of each (and some others) available for sale, if you’d like a Yarntini fix, too. I’m pondering buying some more of the “Designated Driver” and making a shawl. If I ever get to actually knit again.

Now with Even Less Knitting!

The last several months have been interesting around here. We decided to try to sell our house and move a couple of miles eastward. We found a house we liked, and we had an offer on our house, and then one day into the escrow, the buyer pulled out. Our contract with our realtor expired, we waited a while, and then we went back on the market with a new realtor. We found a house we liked, and we got an offer on our house with a promise that there would be no problem finishing the escrow in 30 days.

Sixty-four days later, we closed the sale. Week after week, we thought we’d be moving in another week or two.  My knitting stuff was among the first stuff packed up (in an effort to keep myself from procrastinating on packing up the rest of the stuff, you see).

Since then, just about the only knitting I’ve been doing has been a sample knit for Knit Picks, which I can’t share until it appears in their catalog.

And, since it’s high summer, what else would I be thinking about but Christmas?  Last week, I started work on another cross-stitch stocking, this time one for me.  It’s a little more complicated than the one I did for Little Miss, with metallic threads and beads and something called couching that I may have done once before… in junior high Home Ec class.

A while back, I signed up for Summer of Socks.  Have I done any socks this summer?  No.  I started one, but I haven’t made much progress.

Soon to come: pictures of that cross-stitch and maybe some progress on the sock.