Saturday, January 31, 2015

Brandon Sanderson Book Signing

Last year I fell, headfirst, into Brandon Sanderson's cosmere.  It started by my stumbling upon his Mistborn trilogy and getting sucked in.  A few months, and several books later, I was moping about, waiting for the next installment after Words of Radiance.  Why you do this to me, Brandon?!

(on instagram and flickr)

I think these books resonated with me more last year because it was a rather bleak year.  Other worlds were a good escape and reading about deeds of heroism in the face of great obstacles always rings truer when you're facing some pretty big ones yourself, right?

When I saw that he'd be at Murder by the Book, in Houston, a few weeks ago, I knew I had to go with as many of my fellow junkies as I could gather.  That ended up being my husband and sister, toting a book for my daughter, who couldn't make it.  It was a good excuse to see my brother too.  So we had a good time talking at lunch before we even got to the book store.

I knew this event would be fun because I love his podcast, Writing Excuses.   It's so interesting, whether you are into creative writing or just love to read.  Brandon did not disappoint. He began the evening with a talk about whatever he felt like: that night it was society's prejudice against creativity for the sake of creativity.  This struck a chord with me because, as I have previously ranted, I hate that creativity is only seen as legitimate with commercial success.  It's just not so, people.  If you are creating, and being true to yourself, you are successful.

Anyway, he went on to toss a deck of geeky looking character cards to an audience member.  When she was done shuffling them, he held them up as an example of something completely new created with pre-existing ideas, ordered in a new way.  His point was that the process of creating a story doesn't have to involve completely new worlds and abilities and personality types created entirely by the author.  Sometimes you just take things you see around you and use them in a new way.  His example was that of driving down the highway and being cut off by another car.  You envision the offending car being blown to bits then think, "Huh.  What if everyone with superpowers used them for evil?"  It was just an example, but I do think it has something to do with the storyline of the Reckoners series, which he was there to promote.  When he comes up with an idea like this, it's often just a snippet and he builds the whole story around it, using his own "laws" for writing.  The most memorable quote of the evening was the newest of his laws:  In story writing, always err on the side of awesome.

He, then, launched into a really fun Q&A, fueled by the promise of a reward being tossed to you if you asked a question.  The reward was a character card, the closest thing to action figures he said he could get, with a link to a free excerpt of his newest story pre-publishing.  I wondered if he'd have any creative control or an advisory position on the set of the movie adaptation of Mistborn, now that it's been optioned.  He said... nah.  He is an exec. producer, which he admitted means little, but he will be allowed on set and felt like the producer wanted to stay true to the novels.  This is important to me.  I won't have this story mucked with.

He answered questions about the Cosmere, the world in which many of his novels happen simultaneously, and questions about his start:  he began writing at the age of 15, my son's age, and he wrote 13 novels before being published.  The thirteenth was Elantris, which I am reading at the moment.   He said at one time he was taking a class in computer code and it totally hi-jacked his mental ability to write.  It was interesting to hear how code writing and fantasy writing accessed the same reservoir of brain power.

At that time he was a student and working a part-time job as a hotel clerk, which he left when he got his first novel advance of a whopping $5000.  He was all in at that point.  Apart from writing, he teaches a course in creative writing at BYU.  (You can find his creative writing courses online, apparently.)  He got a really big break when he was asked to finish Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. He said it was the ultimate fan fiction novel.  This series will probably figure heavily into my 2015 reading list, as it's such a classic.  Also, I'd never heard of it before last year.

Besides an informative podcast (one of the few non-crafting podcasts I listen to), Brandon has an active blog with links to commentary on his books, chapter by chapter, at times;  links free ebooks; and links to pre-edited chapters from his books.  I don't spend too much time there because I don't like spoilers.

Aside from all of the traveling, teaching, and podcasting, Brandon is a freaking writing machine.  There are his novels, future graphic novels, writing retreats, and novels based on video games (Infinity Blade).  He seems to release multiple things a year and have multiple series going at all times.  This is why I'm lamenting reaching the end of the Stormlight series thus far.  The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance are two of my favorite stories now.  Like any good addict, I. Need. More.

Though I mourn for the next installment, he's always churning out something new to divert my attention.  Before the book signing began, he read an excerpt from a yet-to-be published novel.  Within moments he'd created an environment unlike any I'd ever read, with intriguing characters plunked down mid-storyline, to be understood slowly as the story unfolds.  One thing I understand after finishing Words of Radiance is that I can trust that he will make everything clear eventually, and that he is good at the slowly unfolding thing.

Then we got our new copy of Firefight (his newest young adult novel), The Way of Kings (from my favorites series),  Mistborn (which my daughter just finished),  and The Rithmatist (for my son) signed.  We are total nerds.

I think these Q&A events, like seeing the Firefly and Star Trek: Next Generation panels at Comic Con, are my version of attending the theatre.  I find them thoroughly entertaining and always leave inspired.  Unless it's the Nightmare on Elm Street panel.  That was just plain silly.

Monday, January 26, 2015


Just two more knits and I'll have knit the entire Island book.  When I do, I'll celebrate by wearing all of it: sweater hat, mitts, scarf, and cowl all on one day.  Matching is overrated.

This is Renfrew from Jane Richmond's Island knit in Voolenvine's McGuiness worsted in the Nevermore color way.  It's a purple-y grey, like the outside of an avocado.  (This base is discontinued, but the color way can still be found in her shop. )

I've been working hard on my re-knit of Drift's Ridge, this time without changing my gauge a stitch per inch, and Dragonflies.  But sometimes I just want to play with a colorful, hand dyed skein.

I knit this hat on the way to Houston for a Brandon Sanderson book signing with my husband and sister.  You will hear me geek out about this later.  It was a belated birthday gift, though we sort of call everything I want to do in January and February a belated birthday gift:

"I need this yarn.  You know I just had a birthday... "
"Can I get this record... it is a week before my birthday!"
"Oh, a pony...birthday!!"
It's expected of me.

Of course that can also play out like this:

"Sure, Michelle, I'll grab some non-stick cooking spray on my way home from work.  It is your birthday..."
"Wait, no, I scooped the litter yesterday, for your birthday."

You get the idea.  Birthdays are all about manipulation.  Like when my daughter hangs out with her fiancé instead of us, I can say," Did you guys have fun together for my birthday?"

I'm kidding, except for the yarn and record thing.

My daughter was a good sport to run outside and take these photos in blinding midday light when she had lots of homework to do.  Her reward was a free photo-bombing pass.

Okay, so Renfrew.  It's knit inside out, which feels like a special trick, and features a mock cable that I love.

It seems made for a  beautiful, semi-solid colorway.  I've changed my mind about what skein I wanted to use for this several times.  I usually only get hand dyed yarn for accessories, to save money, and I'd collected a few that could work.  I finally went with the more solid of the lot and am glad I did.

I used size 5 needles- always bamboo, these days, so my gauge isn't sloppy.  And I had more than enough yarn leftover for a good sized swatch to add to swatch blanket collection.  I'm about ready to photograph what I have collected for it so far.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Killing Time via Instagram

Some people play Candy Crush or Trivia Crack.  I play with photo apps.  Next week I'll dredge up my real, true double exposures from my instax and post a how to.  Hint: it's ridiculously simple.  By that point, I might have figured out how to do in-camera doubles.

(on instagram and flickr)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

My First Event

This is going to be a very fiber geek kind of post.  There will be terms like "Fiber Event" and "Knit Night" sprinkled throughout, and I will write with a wistful tone about both.  Don't say I didn't warn you.

I live in the farthest corner of Texas.  As in, "If there's a bright center to the universe, I'm in the corner it's farthest from."  I only read about Rhinebeck and Maryland Sheep and Wool.  For that matter, I only wear hand knits a couple of months a year.  Even then, I find myself peeling them off after a few hours because it's just so warm.

(more on ravelry, kollabora, and flickr)

We do have DFW Fiberfest and I watched their website for months to see when registration opened and class schedules were announced.  This was going to be an extravagant birthday present to me from my husband.  But I swear it filled up almost overnight, when I wasn't checking.  That was a bummer, until I saw that Madtosh was hosting Joji Locatelli and Veera Välimäki for Joji and Veera Knit America.

So I signed up for several classes and Knit Night and am using the class date as momentum to knit both Dragonflies and Twenty Ten, two patterns I've had queued up for freakin ever.

You're seeing my progress on Dragonflies.  Two years ago, I'd have been finished already, but my knitting time is much more limited and I may pull some late night cram sessions to have it done.  I don't know why I want to do this, I just do.  I guess I'd like first-hand experience with Joji and Veera's designs before sitting in on their classes.  It's weird that I haven't actually knit something from either one, though they are all through my favorites list.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Things I Did via Instagram

A random assortment of things I did in 2014 via my Instagram feed, and in no particular order:

I stared at dog paws

knitted a lot, duh.

visited with grandpas

 ran through chemicals

 packaged kitties... 

and let them package themselves

chatted with Grandmommy on the porch swing

accidentally dressed like my daughter's twin, a much older looking twin 

laughed with, not at, my husband

felt the greatest sense of peace having all of us together

captured the boy in all of his teenage awkwardness...

 then compared it to his babyhood and felt mopey

learned to eat meat, meat, and more meat for my health; but still haven't done much of the offal thing

entertained doggy guests and made my Grandmommy's secret pecan pie recipe 
that happens to be on the Karo bottle

 visited cousins at a football game and jumped every time the McNeese canon fired

embarrassed a dog

 embraced being a soccer mom

 peered over the shoulder of an artist at work

 plotted and planned more projects

and more projects

  built bonfires too close to the house

and participated in Knitting Books Read-a-longs

(my instagram and flickr)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Woolly Mammoth

I'm officially ready for anything this winter.  How I longed for Woolly Mammoth, by Allison Jane, during the freezing soccer tournament last weekend.   It was then that I decided I wanted to line the whole thing with fluffy loops.

The cap itself is knit in a neat looking broken rib stitch.  It was nice to make something so differently shaped than the usual things on my needles.

Every part of this was a good change of pace- the stitch pattern, the shaping, the loops, and the notions.

I used size 3 and 4 needles and the Knit Picks yarns I won in a giveaway: Biggo in Wonderland Heather and Swish Dk in Marble Heather.

I wasn't sure if lining the entire thing would affect the fit of the hat, but it doesn't seem to.  I tried to stagger the loops from one row to the next.  I like that they didn't have to be too precise.  I could just eye it and start working.

The finishing touch was to use a couple of my custom Big Bang Theory buttons, made by Wildflower Button Studio,  that I won last year in a knit- along.

(more on ravelrykollabora, flickr, and instagram)

This was my first accessory to try from the Holla Knits Accessories 2014 collection.  There is some really fun stuff in there!  I know I'm going to make Cedar Glen Mitts during the upcoming Holla Knits Knitalong.

Allison Jane also has a couple of new patterns out in Pom Pom Quarterly that I really like, particularly Cidre

My other post on Woolly Mammoth is here.