31 August 2009

Can I play outside, sir?

I'm still alive, I think, although a certain touch of the zombie is noticeable ... into the 12th day of 15+ hours of work a day.

There have been hours of phone calls with my editors in the States, at all hours (I'm 14 hours ahead, which makes for a lot of midnight and 6 am calls), daily chat session 'meetings' with my excellent co-author Mark, endless e-mails at all times of the day and night (waking up for the occasional 4 am email 'meeting' is so much fun), reports and plans to write, a huge amount of redoing things, complicated plans and spreadsheets, writing text, creating illustrations, and - oh yeah - 300 puzzles to write, and check, and all this at speed and hopefully without mistakes!

I've only been out of the house twice in the past 12 days. This is pretty much all I'm seeing ...

The spreadsheet keeping track of all the puzzles and hints and so on is on my laptop screen, and the bigger monitor shows the artwork and text files. I've just cleared 190 puzzles, and first draft of my chapter for the first part (the 'How To' section) - Mark is writing the history and background chapter, as well as other important bits!

The official deadline is tomorrow, but it's not humanly possible ... my editors know I'm working as fast as possible. We're taking it day by day. This is a very unusual book, Wiley doesn't normally do rush jobs like this (once I'm allowed to I will reveal the title and reasons for the rush).

Good news on two fronts :

My Project Editor on this book is the superlative Sarah, who was my editor on Word Searches for Dummies - she is utterly brilliant, intelligent, on the ball, funny, and I totally trust her. We get on extremely well, and she and I think in very much the same way.

And late last week the Wiley Sales Team approved the book (PHEW) – this step is normally done first, and then the planning happens, and the contract is drawn up, and then you start writing. On this book we've done everything back-the-front - started with planning and writing, and then Sales approval, and contract will be sorted out this week (last of all!). Yes, there was a chance that we'd have done all this work for naught ... !!

Petal is keeping me company. She got a special package in the mail last week from LittleNeedles (a Ravelry friend), and spent most of her time playing with the packaging, just like a toddler ;)

OK, I must get back to You Know What now - catch you again when this is all done, hopefully by the end of the week!! I dinna think I can take much more, Cap'n ...

23 August 2009

We have a winner!

Thank you everyone for your kind comments, aaaaw shucks ;)

Yes, our winner is the lovely 2PAW! Yay! I'll be sending the book your way - soon-ish...

I don't have time to add photos or even scratch myself, let alone knit, or cook, or barely breathe at the moment, as I've just landed a new Wiley book deal with a truly DEMENTED deadline. As my co-author Mark said : "a whole great honking flock of geese insane."

A 336 page book with 400 puzzles (ciphers and cryptograms) in 10 days. Yeah, that's not a misprint. 31 August is the 100% delivery date 0_o In the past week I've had an hour of midnight phone 'meetings' with my editors in the States, and daily 'chat session' meetings with Mark.

Thankfully I have lovely, intelligent, on the ball, funny co-author in Mark, who is really excellent to work with. You can read a bit about him here and here. Yes, our book is linked in with Freemasonry as a theme ... more shall be revealed when this madness has passed!

If we survive ... !

Catch you all quite a bit later :D

18 August 2009

500th Post!

Here it is folks, ta dah! I made it to 500 posts! Who'd have thunk it?

When starting this blog in November 2005, I wasn't sure what I'd do with this newfangled thing. Initially it was a fun place to share knitting projects - and I was only newly back into knitting, after quite a few years away from the craft. I started to use my blog to 'treat' my rampant perfectionism, by taking the time to slow down and celebrate my small achievements (and I must say, I'm much better in this regard now).

Over the years (!) I've shared family bereavements, weddings, funerals, family joys, and sorrows. I've been quite silly now and then rather a lot. I've shared recipes, paintings, and even knitting patterns, once I'd figured out how to write them! I've shown you how I write my puzzles. This post even landed me a radio interview, which was only slightly petrifying! I'm now heading into "hip replacement" territory. There have been (and will continue to be!) puppehs (Lily and Petal, that's her below in mid-kill of a Pokemon toy).

And knitting, of course, continues to run through it all (Regia's Kaffe Fassett sock yarn, OMG! I'm so enamoured, I've knit a whole sock in a week, which is a record for me!).

But most of all? I've found friends, from all over the world. Generous, funny, intelligent, creative, and kind friends. Secret Pal partners who've become buddies. Pan pals who've become blog friends. Aussie friends who've moved overseas. Knitters from Australia and all over the globe who've become friends because we read each others' blogs. And the friends who I know in person, and meet up with at SnBs, or meet at Knitting Camp. You know who you are!

I've been inspired by the stories I've read, the fantastic knitting projects I've seen, your friendship - everything ... thank you!

So as my bloggiversary gift to you, I'll do a draw next weekend from everyone who comments on here, and send the winner a signed copy of my book Word Searches for Dummies ... on your marks, get set - GO! :)

11 August 2009

Mostly Cool

I've got a few things to share with you, just cos I find them cool, fun, or silly!

Cool : Mandarin Square pencils made with tightly rolled Chinese newspaper. They sharpen well with a normal pencil sharpener, and it's saving trees! You can get them from Pepe's Paperie (Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide). $7.95 for 10 pencils.

Fun : this is the outfit I'll be making for Dotter in upcoming months for her Year 12 Prom Formal in November (Bells is quite right, it's a formal, not a prom, my American upbringing sneaking in there!). She's a Jazzy Girl! Simplicity pattern 3629. It's a dress (white top with coloured skirt sewn together) and a long fitted vest over the top. Plus the cute little colllar and tie. Fishnet stockings, crazy shoes, white wig, and black hat to complete the ensemble - you know my girl, never one to shy away from the spotlight!

Silly : Petal loves to rip up paper (my very own shredding machine!) - last week I caught her selecting her victim from my recycled paper bin, and then going in for the attack!

Cool : I discovered these awesome Keepeez lids at Howard's Storage World last week. They're designed to replace plastic wrap for covering bowls / mugs / whatever. They're made from a very durable clear film, with a rigid plastic rim. You simply pop it onto a bowl (with a clean and smooth rim), and press down in the middle to push air out, and voila, it stays put!

Dishwasher, fridge, freezer safe, and can be used in the microwave for low temp things (not boiling liquids). I only got a little one to start with ($10.99 for 15 cm/ 6"), but I'm keen to get a 60 cm one to fit over my main big mixing bowls - I often make bran loaf which has to soak overnight, and I'd much prefer to use a reusable cover rather than foil or plastic wrap!

Cool : this photo just won a competition over at Electric Firefly! This is one of their gorgeous (30-50% recycled) plastic lamps (Nimbus), which I got at the OBDM earlier this year, being investigated by Petal. I won a new lamp, and chose an Orbital. This photo is now in their Product Gallery! The guys will be at the Old Bus Depot Markets (OBDM) this Sunday (16 August) if you want to check out their fantastic lamps in person.

Fun : Not just fun, but also important - Operation Beautiful. Leave positive post-it notes in public places (bathroom mirrors, inside a book, wherever) ... fantastic idea. Something Dotter and I will both be getting involved with!

Next post is #500, and the big competition! Stay tuned!

05 August 2009

Crutches Bag

Here's my Crutches Bag, one of the last 'post-surgery' things I need - it's very useful to have a little bag you can sling around your neck to carry stuff around the house, when you're on crutches for some time.

It's a simple improvised pattern.

Yarn : Cleckheaton Natural Cotton 4 ply, needles 3 mm or so. Something a little smaller than recommended for your yarn, to give a firmer fabric.

Cast on enough stitches to be wide enough - I did about 40. This bag was knit flat, and seamed at the sides - mainly to make the stitch pattern I chose easier. I love Chinese Waves, it's one of the first 'fancy stitches' I learnt; it's really quick to knit, and easy to keep track of too.

Chinese Waves :
Row 1 : (Knit 1, slip 1) across row
Row 2 : Knit
Row 3 : Knit 1 (Knit 1, slip 1) across row (ie offset the slipped stitches)
Row 4: Knit

In the slip stitch rows (#1 and #3) end each row with either k1 or k2, depending on how the slip stitches fall - ie you don't want the last stitch of the row to be a slipped stitch.

Knit til it's twice as long as you want the bag to be. Bind off. Fold in half, sew together side seams.

Knit a strap - I just knit it in garter stitch, 6 stitches wide. Bind off at desired length - and keep in mind it will stretch a lot once used. (I think my strap might be a little long.) Sew firmly onto sides of bag. Darn in ends. All done! Too easy!

Now get proficient at walking with crutches, and get better quickly, while carrying your worldly possessions around your neck ;)

04 August 2009

Happy Puppeh

Here's Petal with a Teeny Tiny chihuahua toy (Rav link) I made, and Dotter ... I swear she's smiling! Aren't her ears ridiculous?

And she seems pretty taken with my Vintage Hues One-Row Scarf as well! She's all the way up to 1.2 kg now (2.6 lb).

I have been knitting, but much of it is Secret Squirrel stuff, so I can't share yet ...

But I can tell you that I've got a pattern appearing in the next issue of Knitty! Only a month away! Eeeeee!