K is for Knitting: Pagan Blog Project 2013

(Note: This post was actually published on October 3, 2013. I’m placing it here for purposes of searchabitity.)

I started knitting because of scarves. My first project was an enormous scarf in four shades of cheap acrylic yarn. Somewhere in the middle of all those acres of stockinette stitch, I discovered the amazing meditative quality of knitting.

I’m no good at emptying my mind. The minute I cease all activity and try to sit still, my brain enters squirrel on speed mode. But when knitting was a new activity, and therefore difficult, it absorbed all my focus–and crowded out every thought except my needles and yarn. After an hour of knit and purl, I felt refreshed, calm, and centered.

Of course over time I became proficient at knitting, and the repetitive stitches ceased to absorb my attention enough to quiet my thoughts. Now if I want to clear my mind I have to do something like elaborate cables. The nice thing about this is I get really beautiful end results from my meditative practice. (Though admittedly, 25 cable-knit tarot bags is an embarrassment of riches).

And now my mind wanders when I do boring knitting–but this is useful too. Repetitive knitting is a fantastic magical tool.

You can use boring knitting as a focus for a mantra or affirmation. Repeat it as you knit: the knitting will keep your hands busy, and the longer you knit the more you’ll enter that trance-like state where ideas take root so easily. I think smaller projects are best for this kind of chanting.

Taking the idea further, you can knit a spell. Choose fibers and colors that represent your intention for the finished object; you can also research stitch patterns that seem to symbolize the desired result of your spell. You can chant to yourself as you knit, focusing on the energy you want to create. When you’ve finished, you’ll have an intensely charged object for yourself or someone else. This is especially wonderful for healing magic on behalf of someone else. And they will have the pleasure of wearing or using the object you created. So as an example: say you want to knit a healing scarf for someone you love who is going through a long battle with illness, and this person loves the ocean. You could choose very soft yarns in colors that remind you of the sea, and you could choose stitches that create a wave like pattern. As you knit you could visualize your loved one wearing the scarf at the shore, in good health. When you aren’t working, you can put the project on an altar with healing stones and plants, and a picture of the recipient. It’s very simple magic, but it could affect you very profoundly.

Knitting is one of those wonderful ways to bring your spirituality into your daily life–and yarn is pretty.


The Liar and the Beach

I say “liar” for two reasons: one is that I promised to blog about our trip to the coast on Tuesday, and here is is SATURDAY and I’m just now getting around to it. The second reason is that I read Justine Larbalestier’s Liar, and let me tell you–you should read it. It was really quite extraordinary, and I think it deserves all the buzz it’s receiving. It is smart and sad and thought provoking, and I’m not going to tell you anything else at all because the less you know about it the better it is to read it. Go read it.

So! The coast. The hubster and I went to Manzanita, which is a lovely little town on the coast 13 miles south of Canon Beach. It is charming and a bit touristy, but in a more slow paced sort of way, and is generally less crowded than the larger tourist towns. Also, the beach itself is beautiful–BIG, with lots of large pieces of driftwood, and a beautiful view of parts of the Coast Range.

Of course, there are TWO book stores, several places to get coffee, and there’s a store that sells yarn, tea and chocolate.  Also, there’s a natural food store and a naturopath and energy workers. This means that Manzanita has everything I need to be happy in life, and I’m campaigning with the hubster to retire there. Or, more specifically, just OUTSIDE of Manzanita, so I have room for  a garden. The houses in the town are all stacked pretty close together.

Here is a beautiful wool woman that is almost life-sized. She hangs on the wall in the aforementioned yarn, tea and chocolate store:

Is she not amazing? The face is especially wonderful.

We had such a perfect day. The weather was unusually warm and sunny. We had ice cream and walked around the shops. We went in the tiny little book store with the eclectic selection and used book offerings. We walked on the beautiful beach, and I picked up so many stones that the pockets of my sweater drooped. The hubster laughed at me. Then we had lunch at a little bar/pub/restaurant, with yummy seafood baskets. Then we walked the beach some more, picked up more stones, and then headed home, tired, full, and relaxed. Here’s one more beach shot, just because I know you want it:

Beautiful, beautiful day.

On the Twenty-Third Day of NaNo: Or, I Smell Chocolate Covered Crack

I had another short attention span day. This means I accomplished almost nothing.

I acquired a new addiction; the forums on Ravelry. Dudes, there are KNITTERS talking about URBAN FANTASY NOVELS. There are people showing off projects inspired by their favorite fantasy novels; addictions within addictions, like chocolate covered crack. For example? Oh I’m so glad you asked. How about Bella’s Mittens? I am knitting these as soon as I decide on a yarn. Yum. Also lots of Harry Potter knits. This makes me want to create projects based on my favorite books. I wonder what I could knit from The Mortal Instruments trilogy? Better not get too carried away though, I have friends who desire plot bunnies. Have y’all knitted anything inspired by your favorite novels? I want to see! I’m SUCH a knitting voyeur, knitter’s do the most brilliant things!

I also worked a little more on my own patterns for the plot bunnies and the drawstring pouch recipe. A  very little more.

I knitted a little bit on my Chrysocolla scarf, which was meant to be my NaNo knitting project but took second place to the plot bunnies. It looks all wobbly right now, inevitable when one of the yarns is drastically thick and thin; I think blocking will help. (Random aside: You know how there’s that site for car disasters called That Will Buff Out? Is there a knitting one called “It Just Needs to be Blocked”? If not, there should be.)

I wrestled with the plot of book two; there are a few points that are ESSENTIAL that I am having trouble figuring out. Hence all the knitting and haunting of on line forums. When I’m trying to shake plot details loose, I do weird obsessive things. You know I’m getting really desperate when I start cleaning the bathtub with baking soda and a toothbrush. I’m not that desperate yet. I hope not to get there any time soon.

I read several chapters of Rosemary and Rue; I’ve heard the book praised highly, but so far I am not in love with it, and I’m approaching the halfway point. Maybe that will change? There must be some reason everyone seems to love it so much. I’ll keep y’all posted.

I went for a walk, sans whining hubster, and was captivated by the holly tree at the end of the road (or rather, the point where the road turns in to a private driveway where I may not enter): I keep meaning to take my camera to get a picture of the gorgeous red berries and glossy dark green leaves. So pretty.

And later I get to go to Writing Buddy Laura’s house, where we will brainstorm, and I will be her NaNo cheerleader since she is not yet finished with her NaNovel. That is always fun!

Although I accomplished next to nothing, it was a relaxing day.

For those of you still in the NaNo trenches–you can do it! I am sending you finish-the-novel-on-time vibes. Go! Write! Win!

On the Eighteenth Day of NaNo

I made it to 95,000 words! I am 5,000 words from my goal, and I’m pretty sure I can finish the manuscript in that many words. If I finish early, I am considering working on some short stories until the month is over, but I might just work on the outline of books 2 and 3. I’m sure I won’t really decide until the last possible minute. I can’t wait to start editing, but I know I’ll be better off letting the rough draft sit and cool off a little before I start poking at it.

I started working on writing down my method for creating a drawstring pouch from any kind of yarn available. It’s not exactly a pattern–it’s more of an instruction manual for how to make your OWN pattern from whatever yarn you have available. I think it’s going to take a long time, but I think people will like the results.

I realized that I never really mentioned on this blog that I’ve re-opened the Etsy shop on a very limited basis–just patterns for the Knitted Goddess for now, and when I get the plot bunny pattern written, and the pouch instructions written, those will be in the shop too.

I also realized I never told y’all that I’m on Ravelry! I know I have a lot of on-line friends who knit, so if you’re on Ravelry, come find me! My user name is MichelleSimkins. Yes, that’s right, more ways to stalk me. I make it so easy. I hope that will keep away the really scary people, who will lose interest when they realize that there’s no challenge.

On another note, I had SO much fun at the write-in last night. There were several people, we did some word wars, and we talked about YA fantasy novels, my favorite favorite genre! Our municipal liaison–who I liked a lot!–was there with her son, who was reading Leviathan. I really wanted to steal his copy, but I was afraid I wouldn’t be allowed to come to write-ins anymore, so I refrained.

That’s all I’ve got today, y’all. Maybe tomorrow I’ll write a little review of Maureen Johnson’s Devilish, which I finished reading last night.

Happy Writing!

On the Sixteenth Day of NaNo

I passed 85,000 words! Only 15,000 to make it to my goal of 100,000. I can, of course, write more, if that’s necessary. Of course, a lot of the words I’ve written I already know will have to go–scenes written, and then I thought of a better way to write them. But have I deleted them? NO WAY!  Crap counts. And you do not delete during NaNo. I’m going to Writing Buddy Laura’s house tonight, so hopefully there will be word wars, which will hopefully lead to a slightly higher word count.

Sonja. Like Red Sonja, Minus the Leather Bikini

I finished the final plot bunny! Meet Sonja, the Red Plot Bunny of the Apocalypse. And can I just say how good it felt to do that? I inserted that picture in to this post and didn’t swear ONCE. I love you WordPress!!!!

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that minutes after I finished Sonja, I had an IM conversation with Writing Buddy Laura that resulted in a much better final climactic scene than I had plotted out before. The Knitted Plot Bunnies, it seems, appease the literary plot bunnies, causing them to smile upon me. Which means, of course, that I will have to knit more. The Drama Princess wants one, my writing buddies all want one . . .  so, it seems I am safe from the bad variety of plot bunniesfor a while.

Also, there are some new bloggy things to tell you about.

First, I am still in the process of remodeling my sidebar to include all the links I love. It’s an ongoing process! So if by some chance you  keep track of my links–not sure why you would, but in case you do . . . they’ll all get up there eventually.

Second, if you look to the right of this post, under the “search” box, you will see an “e-mail subscription” option. That’s right, for ease of stalking, you can get an e-mail whenever the blog is updated. I have tested it on myself (no animal testing at this blog, thank you very much), and the e-mail shows up pretty immediately once I publish the post.

Third,  speaking of stalking, I’ve made it ridiculously easy; my Twitter tweets are on the sidebar as well. So you can just hang out at my blog all day and feel like you’re hanging out with me! Except if you were really hanging out with me, I would make you tea. On the other hand, you would be forced to listen to my Iron and Wine playlist over and over again, so you might be relieved that you’re not actually hanging out with me. Unless you like Iron and Wine as much as I do.

And finally, since putting in that picture felt so good, I think I’ll do another one, just because I can:

And Plot Bunnies All in a Row

On the Twelfth Day of NaNo (A Stream of Consciousness Ramble)

I made it to 75,000 words. This is 3/4 of the way to the goal I set myself, and we’re not quite two weeks in. I’m almost freaking out because I’m afraid I’ll be finished TOO early. And where’s the fun in that? And I suppose I could start writing the second book of the trilogy, but I don’t have a very solid plan/outline for that one. I know, I know, this is not something to complain about. I’m not complaining, I promise . . . I’m just pondering. Do I just stop? Do I launch in to book two flying by the seat of my pants? I think I proved to myself last year that pantsing it might be fun, but does not produce a manuscript that is worth editing.

Remember the plot bunny trouble I talked about yesterday? Well, I started working on the knitted plot bunny again, and–Eureka! Plot problem promptly solved, in a manner which pleases me very much. So now I am officially superstitions about the plot bunny knitting. I have not finished knitting the Red Plot Bunny of the Apocalypse yet; when I do I’ll post pictures. But probably not here.

One of my main characters surprised me with her awesomeness in a tight situation. I love her more than ever. Hooray for badass girls. If I can not be one, at least my character can. What’s funny is that she does her share of pining–impossible love can do that to a girl–but she still takes care of business. Even when she’s not sure what she’s doing. That is a quality I admire and am trying to cultivate in myself. Maybe she will give me some tips.

And speaking of pining, there are two very interesting posts on the subject floating around the blogosphere this week that I quite enjoyed reading. On is a review of Shiver, which I haven’t read yet, but am mildly curious about. I read Stievfater’s Lament, and . . . it didn’t do it for me. But I am still curious about Shiver. Even after reading this review by The Rejectionist, which talks about all these YA fantasy novels out these days with really pathetic female main characters. The other is by Diana Peterfreund, who knows all about badass girls. This post, I totally identify with, and it seems particularly relevent right now, given the events in my NaNovel. And while neither post may be relevant for you, you might like to read them anyway.

I practiced some very artful procrastination today, in the form of cleaning my living room ceiling fans and washing my shower curtain.

I went outside and took pictures of pretty things today. But since Blogger handles photos about as gracefully as a zombie handles greased brains, I won’t be posting any more photos here. No, I’m not bitter, not at all! HA! I will post them at my other blog, once I get it reorganized to my satisfaction.

On the Second Day of NaNo

The hubster brought me tea in bed.

I got to 10,025 words.

I gained a deeper appreciation for the power of the outline.

I ate too much Hippie Dippie Popcorn (with honey, salt, pecans, and coconut flakes).

I made a killer chicken broth and vegetable soup.

And I completed Camille, The White Plot Bunny of the Apocalypse.

All in all, I’d call the day a rousing success. How ’bout you?

To make Hippie Dippie Popcorn:

Pop your popcorn. I do it on top of the stove, with olive oil, but I’m sure air popped popcorn would work.

Drizzle over however much honey you want–I use just enough to make everything stick together.

Add a generous helping of salt–I used really high quality Celtic Sea Salt.

Add a few hands full of chopped pecans

Add a few hands full of unsweetened flaked coconut.

Mix carefully–a wooden spoon is good for this, because it doesn’t crush up the popcorn too much.

Place in a big oven proof bowl or pan, large enough that you can stir without spilling everywhere.

Put in the oven at 200 degrees for one hour. Stir carefully about every 15 minutes.

Enjoy! This is SO, SO delicious! Yum! Although it does tend to all stick together after it cools a bit.