What’s all that in a writer’s head?

If you were to slice off the top of a writer’s head (and I really hope you wouldn’t) to peer inside, you might see a bustling galaxy; no stars or planets—instead, a whirling mass of words and phrases and story ideas.

Is it any wonder most writers are considered to be on the cusp of insanity?

We writers share a common bond that separates us from the rest of the world: We are madly in love with words. We love to hear them and see them and say them. We love to discover brand new ones and when we do, we roll them around and around on our tongues like a fine piece of chocolate. Most of all, we love to express them on paper or screen

I know I don’t just speak for myself when I say that a day does not pass that I don’t have a story concept brewing in my mind. It’s in my DNA, like eye colour or blood type.

So if that’s the case, why aren’t Indigo’s shelves collapsing from the weight of my thousands of best-selling novels?

Well, it’s like this…Time is my enemy (excuse!). There is never enough of it (excuse!). Not only does my job suck the bulk of it dry (excuse!), my family and other responsibilities suck up the rest (excuse!). When I retire, I’ll have lots more of it, so that’s when I plan to knuckle down (excuse!).

The fact is this: there will never be enough time. That’s just the way life is.

But I do want to write. I yearn to write. The words in my galaxy are always pounding away at the hatch in their struggle to escape. After all, I find plenty of time to read the work of other writers. I find time to pursue my other creative endeavors. I find time to watch House Hunters International, for Pete’s sake. But do I write every day? Not really. Could fear be at the root of my excuses? Fear of failing at the one thing that truly defines me? Maybe that’s it. (Excuse!)

One of the first rules all writers learn is that we have to force ourselves to sit down and write every single day; better yet, at the same time every day. It doesn’t matter if in that moment we have nothing worth writing about. All that matters is that we make the effort to sit in front of a blank page with a pen or keyboard at our fingers. Discipline = habit. Get in the daily habit of opening that hatch and releasing those pent-up words and they’ll eventually fall into place. They may even form a constellation that marks the beginning of a brilliant novel or short story or poem or article.

There is only one way to fail and that is to do nothing.

No more excuses.

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Simple crocheted newborn sweater & pants set

Although my “baby” is almost 28 years old and my prospects for any grandchildren are nil at this point in time, I still love crocheting baby clothes. I tend to get bored if I don’t see results quickly, so small-fry patterns are ideal for someone like me. Bonus—I always have great baby gifts on hand whenever I need them!

Below is a newborn sweater and pants set that I made recently. Both pieces are easy enough for a beginner to make and I’ve provided instructions below in case you want to give it a try.

Newborn Sweater
Comprised of 18 small squares, each square is created from just the first two rounds of a typical granny square pattern. Super fast and easy.

baby_sweater dotty squares

Materials: 9 mm hook; one ball of white worsted weight yarn; one ball each of two contrasting colours of yarn (I used lime green and teal); yarn needle for weaving in ends. Square is 3” x 3”. Make 18 squares (I made 8 teal and 10 lime green).

Square:
Using one of your contrast colours: Ch 4; sl st to make a closed ring.

Round 1: Ch 3 (counts as first dc); 2 more dc in ring, ch 3, *3 dc in ring, ch 3; repeat from * twice more. Sl st with first dc to close. Switch to white yarn.

Round 2: Sl st over to first ch-3 space; ch 3 (counts as first dc), (dc, ch 3, 2 dc) in same space (first square corner made); dc in each of next 3 dc’s; *(2 dc, ch 3, 2 dc) in next ch-3 space to make second square corner; dc in each of next 3 dc’s; rep from * twice more. Sl st with first ch-3 to close.

Once you’ve made 18 squares, lay them out as shown in the photo below.

baby sweater1Using your yarn needle and a basic sewing stitch, and working on the wrong side, fasten together 4 rows of three squares, which will comprise the back and front of sweater. (e.g. Row 1: teal-green-teal; Row 2: green-teal-green; Row 3: green-teal-green; Row 4: teal-green-teal).

Then stitch your Row 1 and 2 together to make a block of 6 for the front and do the same for your Row 2 and 3 to make a block of 6 for the back.

Using two shoulder squares to connect the front and back, start with your front block. Fasten a teal square to the green square at one side, then fasten another teal square to the green square at the opposite side. Then fasten the green squares of the back block to the each of the teal squares. The center opening is the neckline. As you can see in the photo above, I single-crocheted lime green around to finish it.

Sleeves:
Take your last 4 lime squares and stitch together 2 rows of two squares. These are your sleeves. Take one sleeve and center it to the teal shoulder square as shown. Use markers or safety pins to temporarily fasten, then use your yarn needle to stitch it in place. Repeat for the other sleeve.

Once your sweater looks like the layout below, fold it in half (wrong side out) at the shoulder/sleeve center points indicated by the red lines. Then line up the sides as indicated by the blue lines and sew blue-lined edges together.

baby sweater2

To finish, turn right side out and single crochet one round around the edge of each sleeve, and along the bottom of sweater. I used teal.

 

 

 

 

 

Matching tie-front pants:
5.5 mm hook; teal, lime green and bit of white yarn.

I used a simple pants pattern from the Mama That Makes site: http://mammathatmakes.blogspot.ca/2013/05/lil-pants-free-pattern.html

For your convenience, I’ll repeat the Mama That Makes pattern here, in the order of the colours that I used to match the sweater, and with a couple of small tweaks of my own.

Round 1: Using teal yarn, chain 42. Sl st to join but don’t twist the chain.

Round 2: Ch 3; dc around, sl st to join.

Round 3: Repeat Round 2. Fasten off. Attach white.

Round 4: Using white, ch 1; sc in each stitch around; sl st to join. Fasten off and join lime green yarn.

Round 5: Using lime green, ch 3, dc in each stitch around, sl st to join.

Round 6-10: Ch 3, dc in each stitch around, sl st to join.

Round 11: To begin first leg hole: Ch 3, dc in next 21 stitches; skip all the rest and sl st to join to top of first dc.

Round 12-16: Ch 3, dc in each of 21 stitches around, sl st to join. At the end of R16, fasten off and change to white yarn.

Round 17: Using white, ch 1, sc in each stitch around. Sl st to join. Fasten off and join teal yarn.

Round 18: Using teal, ch 1, sc in each stitch around. Fasten off and weave in ends.

Second leg:
Join lime green yarn to unworked stitch near center back of R10. Repeat instructions from R11 to create second leg.

Wasteband tie:
baby_sweater & pants dotty squares1Using whichever of the three colours of yarn you’d prefer, chain a length that will fit the wasteband with enough length left to tie a bow. Then single crochet one row in each chain space. Fasten off. Use your yarn needle to weave the tie around between dc stitches in the wasteband. You can add tiny pom poms to each end of the tie, or tie on a bit of yarn to make tassels, as I did. Tie a bow and you’re finished.

Introducing…The next Sports Illustrated cover model

otis poses1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well…even though he is a dude and he has no breasts and could use some major manscaping, he is magnificent enough to scoop the next Sports Illustrated cover, no?

otis poses3

 

 

 

 

 
Meet my man Otis who, in a brief moment of abandon, permitted me to shoot him as he posed before a window, hoping to attract any “birds” passing by outside.

After the photo shoot, he grunted a few answers to my interview questions (he’s much like Keith Richards—often difficult to understand) and then promptly turned his back and sauntered away before I could properly finish the interview. Such a rock star.

otis poses2

Interview with Otis M., next SI model and cultural icon

My nickname: Oats, Oatie

My peeps would describe me as:
Devoid of morals, always ready to roll onto my back when I see a hand…any hand; aloof, yet surging with passion at the sight of a full dinner bowl or a chunk of fine cheddar; a trifle lazy, lounging around on cushions all day with one eye open while I watch the old lady work, but afire with piss and vinegar at the sight of the old lady manipulating a yarn ball.

Advice I hear constantly but choose never to heed:
“Otis, NO!” or “Get away from those plants!” or “GET DOWN from that table!” or “Get out of there!” Take your pick.

If you look in my personal basket, you’re apt to find:
(1) a couple of fugly cloth mice that I wish were real so I could rip their beady little eyes from their heads; (2) one of those preposterous DOG sweaters that the old lady forced over my head JUST ONCE—After the ruckus I raised, she finally got with the program—MY program—It’s always MY program. Capeesh?; (3) a ball with a bell in it that gives me a raging headache; (4) a stick with some feathers glued on it that just pisses me off because it reminds me that the old lady won’t let me outside to get at some REAL feathered friends; (5) a fabulous crocheted string that the old lady made for me to rip around the house with; (6) a spider I captured the other day and am saving for continued fun at a later date.

My celebrity crush is:
Paws down—it’s Pussy Galore from that James Bond movie that I watched with the old lady.

My favourite treat is:
(Sorry folks. No answer. Otis has left the building.)

otis walks away

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To end this thing today on a more creative note, here’s a poem I wrote about a cat who isn’t keen on monkeys.

Monkey

I was just an itty bitty boy,
When Gran made me a special toy,
A monkey made from bits of sock,
Companion, though he couldn’t talk.

Monkey shared my trundle bed,
His tail curled ‘round my sleepy head,
Kept the boogey men at bay,
All through the night, till break of day.

One morning Mr. Puss, our cat,
Chewed the tassel clean from Monkey’s hat,
Carried it to his hiding place,
Left a ragged hole near Monkey’s face.

Grandma cooed and dried my tears,
Eased my heart of all its fears,
Was Monkey now in awful pain?
Would he ever be the same again?

When I awakened from my nap,
Monkey wore a brand new cap,
Fresh tassel of red upon his head,
Fixed up and propped upon my bed.

I squealed with joy and hugged him near,
His monkey grin stretched ear to ear,
While Mr. Puss appeared to doze,
One wicked eye on Monkey’s nose.

Meet Lavender Teddy! (And a dead princess)

My inner child was crying out for a new toy, so I decided to crochet a teddy bear. I used the sweet P.J. Teddy pattern by Stephanie at All About Ami. You’ll find the free pattern at this link: http://www.allaboutami.com/post/9376917122/p-j-teddypattern 

I wanted a larger toy, so I used a 4.50 hook. Results were approx. 9 inches tall.

I also just used cheapie cotton yarn: a ball of lavender and a ball of variegated cream with bits of lavender, turquoise, and pink in it.

For the face details, I gathered a bit of lavender, black, and white felt; a bit of black floss for stitching the mouth detail; some lavender thread for sewing on the felt parts; a bit of ribbon to adorn the top of her head; and four tiny heart-shaped buttons for the tummy.

Below are some photos in case you want to try making your own.

violet bear1violet bear2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

violet bear3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cute isn’t she?

Her rounded tummy reminded me of a poem a wrote a few years ago about the dangers of carbs (tongue in cheek):

An Ode To Bread

Once upon a time,
There lived a princess in distress,
Her amply padded body
Couldn’t fit a single dress.

No matter how the seams were stitched,
The straining threads would burst,
The tailor’s ears blushed crimson
While the princess shrieked and cursed.

She’d wander ‘round the castle,
Emitting moo-like moans,
Swathed in velvet draperies
And spitting chicken bones.

No matter how she struggled,
No matter how she tried,
Her tummy always triumphed,
Whether baked or boiled or fried.

One fine day, she noticed,
As she passed the pantry door,
A freshly baked assortment
Of cakes and breads galore!

With eyes as wide as pie pans,
She quickly tiptoed in,
Saliva dribbled o’er her chin,
Her taste buds were a-spin.

She gulped and gorged and gobbled,
And as she wolfed a loaf of bread,
It caught within her windpipe.
She choked till she was dead.

The moral of this verse is:
If fresh-baked bread’s your vice,
It’s wise to just avoid it,
Unless the damn thing’s sliced!

 

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