Novel Teas and High Aspirations

When last I blogged, which I realize guiltily was about a month ago, I was waiting on the notes for my novel.

Still waiting. Which is really no big deal, in the larger scheme of things. I want my editor to take her time and be thorough. (I am trying to repeat this, as many times as necessary, until I relax.)

This lapse in writing has given me time to stew on my story and get a bit of headway into Book 2. Everyone, including my agent, my parents, my husband, and my readers for Book 1 (they simply just want to know what happens next) wants me to work on Book 2. According to my contract, the synopsis and first five chapters of Book 2 are due March 1. This alarms me. Not because I don't think I'm capable of writing so much new stuff in so little time (that I know I can do-- heck, the synopsis is already mostly done and I've written some good preliminary stuff) but because I don't feel like I'm in the proper mental condition to begin writing hardcore on the next part of my story. I'm in this terrible state of limbo, where I don't know if I'm going to have to make major changes to Book 1 or smaller ones. So as I dip my toe into the pool of Book 2, which is warm and inviting but will still take several months of hard laps to complete, I hesitate. My mind wanders back to Book 1. I think of scenes. I think of little changes I want to make. I wonder if F will want more of this character or that backstory, if she'll want me to cut 25,000 words or add 25,000. Either way, I would be excited, really. I swear. I try to imagine reading it as F does, and then my entire novel gapes open with the sheer possibility of all that it could be. And Book 2 fades from the forefront of my mind. I'm still treading water in Book 1.

Still, I tell myself, I should work on Book 2. I can't afford to waste time complaining about silly writerly things like limbo and burn my creative energy coming up with clever metaphors that describe my current situation. I need to WRITE. I'm getting mentally flabby.

When I first became a "serious" writer, I made myself get a ritual. When I was going to write, I retreated into my bedroom, where my computer desk was settled in front of a large window. I often slanted the blinds to block out the sight of the rabble of kids who were always hanging around the tennis courts below, and gazed up into th perfect blue sky. I made one cup of tea, Earl Grey, decaf, with milk and sugar, which I brewed in a special tea pot and drank from a special tea cup. In silence, I donned a long black sweater coat, sipped the last dredges of my tea, and began to write. I thought that if I dressed writing up in as much ceremony as possible, it would be easier. And, to some extent, it was. The ritual made me take myself seriously.

This Christmas, my dear friend Wendy sent me a package. It was tea, NOVEL TEAS, to be precise--tea bags with literary tags like "She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain" by Lousia May Alcott. At one point in my life, I would have squealed in delight at this incredibly sweet gift. Now, when I opened the package, I smiled at how thoughtful Wendy was to think of me, her "accomplished writer friend" as she put it, and I plan to thoroughly enjoy the tea, but it occurred to me that I haven't had a cup of tea in ages. When I wrote this novel, I always had to hurry and write before my son woke up from his nap. I had to get the words down before I had to see to dinner or the next mountain of laundry or stack of papers. I wrote in my office, at the kitchen table, in the classroom when my students were working on their own writing, I wrote with a voice recorder dangling from my rearview mirror on the perilous canyon road to and from Malibu, I wrote in a notebook on the shore of Jackson Lake, I wrote everywhere I could find space and time. I had no more time for ritual.

Funny how we change without noticing.

And now I tell myself: WRITE. My single New Year's aspiration: Write every day, shooting for the good ol' thousand words, until I get the notes and finish Book 1 and then finish Book 2.

There's a very cool story waiting to be told.

I think I'll have a cup of Novel Tea.

A-line Dresses for Mini Free Spirit

Here is a pattern for the Mini Free Spirit for an A-line dress. Actually, three dresses, each one with a different pattern stitch for the dress and different sleeve and neck treatment. All made with size 10 crochet cotton and a size 5 steel hook.

The link to the pattern is here:

And also on the left side of the blog page.

Have a safe and joy filled New Year, hopefully also filled with plenty of time to crochet :-)

Merry Christmas!

Finally the mini's are all dressed, just in time for Christmas. We are all wishing you a very Merry Christmas and blessed New Year. Hopefully the New Year will bring joy to all of us, and plenty of time to crochet :-)

These little outfits were made from an Annie Potter Presents pattern leaflet designed for Fibre Craft's 'Cindy' doll. Sadly, this particular pattern set is out of print, but my next project is to design a cute little A-line dress for Mini Free Spirit that can be accessorized with collars and sleeve options.

Below are Emily and Sarah, with their Labrador pup Cody, also wishing you the very best for the holidays and the year to come.

Enjoy the crochet!

Crochet Abbreviations

Someone just asked about how to read crochet abbreviations. I found a site that lists the most common US crochet abbreviations and what they stand for. The link is here:

And I have also placed it in the 'Links I Love' listing.

Once you know what the abbreviation stands for, you can go to this link from Crochet Pattern Central (also in 'Links I Love') to see how the stitch is made:

Happy crocheting to all of you, beginners and experienced alike. And, Merry Christmas :-)

Do you read Russian?

If you can read Russian, you are in luck. Here is a link (which can also be found in 'Links I Love') to a Russian crochet forum with lovely crochet toys and dolls. One of the members graciously translated the Free Spirit pattern to Russian and posted it on the forum.

Enjoy the crochet!

A Good Hair Day

I really do love making wigs for my dolls :-) As you can see above, I decided to make three different wigs for my warm brown Mini Free Spirit. She could not decide if she wanted to be a blond or a brunette, or how she wanted to wear her hair. So, I made a dark golden blond long-haired wig, a strawberry blond wig with two ponytails, and a brunette wig with one ponytail.

These wigs really are easy to make. The yarn does all the work; for these I used a very hairy worsted weight yarn. I also used a mohair laceweight yarn held with the worsted weight to add highlights to the hair, but this is not necessary. The hairy yarn give a wig cap that really doesn't need to be covered with yarn strands, so I didn't. For various ponytails or pigtails I just hooked a few strands of yarn in the appropriate places and pulled the yarn together with little hair clips.

I have not had any luck finding these yarns locally, so my best advice is to try A Child's Dream Come True, Magic Cabin Dolls, or Weir Dolls and Crafts, all on the web.

Below you can see how she looks in her different wigs.

Enjoy the holidays, and enjoy the crochet!

Seasons of Joy

The Christmas holiday, Holy Day, season has begun. For many of us who make our gifts, it probably began several weeks ago :-) It has been several years since I actually pounded the pavement shopping for gifts. Between the internet (let your fingers do the walking) and crocheting (more of the same) I've avoided most of this mayhem.

I say mayhem, and so it seems to me as people wait in line for hours for Target or Toys R Us or WalMart to open their doors so the latest 'must have' toy can be grabbed. This seems so strange to me, since most folks, and children, probably have trouble remembering what they received for Christmas last year. What are the things that stick in your mind?

The things I remember are the year my siblings and I decided to make our parents Christmas stockings; or the year we all pooled our resources and got our Dad a class ring from his college Alma Mater. One year Larry and I each recieved a collage of our favorite things, made for us by two young friends. We both still have ours...mine is on the refrigerator door.

I hope all of you can make lasting memories for yourself and your families this Holy Day season. It is a time to rejoice in family, life, light in the darkeness, and the birth of a special child. Celebrate, and find the joy.

And enjoy the crochet!