A Missed Opportunity

This year I decided not to go to the writer’s conference that I usually attend. Now I am regretting it. I didn’t go because I have written so little this year that I thought it would be a waste of my money, that I should actually be writing before I go again. I set a goal to write a certain amount before the conference. I didn’t come anywhere close to meeting that goal, so I didn’t register.
But now I am wishing I had gone. This is the perfect time to be a writer. So much is changing in the world of publishing, making it easier for unknown writers to break into the market. I’m afraid that I may have missed out on some very important advice.

I’m hoping my friends who attended will pass on anything they learned. Hint….Hint.

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Excuse #1 For Not Wearing Makeup

There are some days when I’d rather not get dressed, do my hair or put on makeup. Now I have the perfect excuse for when my husband comes home and shakes his head at me.
This piece of information comes from my teenage daughter. Last night she was fixing herself some bagel bites. The oven timer went off, so she grabbed the potholder and opened the oven door. Immediately hot air hit her in the face. Without thinking, she closed her eyes. Unfortunately the heat instantly fused the mascara from her upper lid to her lower. Opening her eyes was only possible after prying her eyelashes apart with her fingers!

There is my perfect excuse for not wearing makeup!

To Write or To Knit, That is the Question!

So I just got home from the writer’s group I belong to here in town. And honestly, I haven’t written since a couple days after our last meeting. Why go then? For one, it spurs me on to write – even if it is for just a few days after the meeting. At least there is some writing that happens! Second, I love talking with other writer’s about writing. It’s so much fun! Why it’s more fun than actually writing!  It’s one of my favorite topics, besides what knitting I’m doing, of course.

Speaking of knitting, that’s why I’m not writing. I spend too much computer time on Ravelry or knitting blogs. That’s not to mention the hours of knitting I rack up each week. I finished making the Daybreak Shawl designed by Stephen West last week. It turned out beautiful, but is a little scratchy. I think it just needs washed. It’s sock yarn. That can’t be scratchy, right? Who would be willing to wear scratchy socks? I already blocked it and I’m not looking forward to washing and blocking it again. Blocking is an ordeal here because of one wool-crazy cat named Polly. I have to lock her out of whatever room the wet wool is drying in or she’ll try to eat it, which would not be a good idea with all the straight pins stuck in every inch of the shawl! So for now my shawl is hanging as a beautiful decoration out of reach of little paws. Maybe someday I’ll wear it.

I was asked by a friend to knit some Christmas decorations. Can’t say who or what because I’m sure theyre Christmas gifts. I’ve been working on them religiously. I want to have them done soon since she actually paid me to knit them. Does that make me a professional knitter?! Wow!

I also joined the LYS’s (local yarn shop) knitalong. We’re knitting together two hours a week. The project is a beautiful wrap out of the latest Interweave Knits magazine called the Everyday Wrap. It is full of cables and is knitting up beautifully. I can’t wait to wrap it around my shoulders!

One top of all that, Kelsey wants a pair of socks and leg warmers. Jessica wants a sweater for her doll. And I want to knit EVERYTHING in the Itty Bitty Toys book by Susan B. Anderson.

When to write?! I should have joined the NaNoWriMo. Like I have time for that kind of writing! Maybe next year I’ll set November aside as the month of finally writing that novel I’ve dreamed of writing for all these many years and take the NaNoWriMo challenge.

Two Hats

So you now know I love to knit. Most of my knitting either goes away as a gift or away as “what in the world was that disaster!”

Let me tell you the story of two hats….

I had this overwhelming desire to make two hats, two very different hats for two very different women, both suffering from the same illness, brain cancer.

The first hat was for my friend, Rachel. She is in the very last stage of life. Her hat is pink with breast cancer ribbons all around it. Rachel is a beautiful woman of 36. She made such a huge impact in my life. I’ve known her for seven or so years. Cancer has been a part of her life that entire time. Rachel has the most devious laugh, eyes that sparkle with mischievousness and a deeper trust in God than I will probably ever know. She’s a girly, girl who loves all the pink. She was very involved in the local breast cancer walk, in fact they retired her bib last Saturday. No one in Vigo County will ever wear her number. Rachel has perfect, red hair. I envy her hair. She picked it out herself and it tells you exactly who she is on the inside, fire and guts. Rachel’s always been a fighter, but this fight has gotten the best of her.

The other hat is made out of a Lorna’s Lace yarn in brown, orange, yellow and red. It’s for Lynette, my sister-in-law’s sister. I’ve known Lynette since I was a little girl. She just found out she has brain cancer and is fighting it with every ounce of her strength. Go Lynette! She took radiation yesterday and is on a trip today. Lynette is an outdoors woman. She does landscaping for a living. At the end of the day if you look at her hands you will see wrinkles filled with dirt, stained from pulling weeds and you’ll notice sweat dripping running down her forehead.

I love them both. So…

A pretty pink cotton hat for Rachel. A rugged fall wool hat for Lynette.

Bagknits

My name’s Beth, and I’m a knit-aholic. My daughter, lovely daughter, tells everyone she meets that I knit 24/7. That’s impossible because I’m typing right now and I do have to eat and sleep some. But she is pretty close to correct. Every free moment is spent knitting, listening to knitting podcasts, checking out knitting websites and blogs, etc. Unfortunately, I make no money with my knitting obsession and do spend a enormous amount of cash on it.

Bagknits is my Ravelry name. Ravelry is a social network for knitters, crocheters, and spinners (those are not bicyclists). Yes there is one out there just for us who love the feel of yarn.

I keep begging my husband for a sheep, goat or bunny. We live on a farm after all. But he won’t give in – too many years of feeding hogs when it’s either 10 degrees or 95 degrees. (It’s either one or the other where we live. 70 degrees doesn’t seem to exist.) I tried the “you won’t have to mow the grass” excuse. He just responded, “I don’t. I pay someone to do it.” I’d appreciate any ideas on how to change his mind.

So back to knitting. I’ve linked  in my blogroll to my favorite podcasters blog. Check her out if you love knitting. You’ll fall in love with her silly theme song. The line in the song about knitting at stoplights is me. I’ve actually done that. The honking tells you the light is green.

I’ve knitted hats, mittens, felted bags, scarves, dishclothes, and so much more. Right now I am working on my first apparel piece. It’s the tank top from Erika Knight’s book, “Classic Knits,” done in a 100% wool, super bulky weight blue yarn from Burly Spun. I like the title tank top better than vest, don’t you? The back is done. I’ve just started the front. My only fear is that it may be short. I’m long-waisted. I’m refusing to let that fear take residence.

I’m also working on a Loop Shawl design by Leah Bear from the book Sensual Knits. I’m using a 100% Baby Alpaca from Knit Picks. When I visited my brother in Alaska this summer, I found out he is allergic to alpaca. I’m hoping I’m not either, but my eyes do water some when I work on it. It’s psychological, right?

I just finished some pink socks with the breast cancer logo cabled into them for my local yarn shop, “River Wools”. They gave me the yarn and pattern. I knit the socks and gave them back. I think the socks will be sold at the local Race for the Cure and the money donated to breast cancer. They were the biggest socks you’ve every seen. I made them off the largest size. (I didn’t want to waste their yarn!) I think I’m going to have to secretly pay a friend money to buy them because I’m not sure there are feet that big. Oops!

I also just made baby hats and mitts for my two cousins who are having babies in October.  I used Dream in Color yarn for both. I’m in love with the cream with bits of pink and brown in it’s colorway. It’s called Petal Shower, I think.

So once again. I’m Beth and I’m a knit-aholic. I can’t stop knittng and I don’t want to either. Don’t send an intervention my way. I’ve got needles and I’m not afraid to use them.

The Ultimate Blessing by Jo Anne Lyon

For Christmas my dad gave me this book. (It’s even a signed copy!) I took a long time reading it because it’s one of those that you read a little, think a lot, read a little, reevaluate your life, read a little, confess much, read a little, share with someone, read a little, think some more. It took me quite a long time to digest it all. Thank you, Jo Anne, for writing this book.

Jo Anne Lyons started a ministry named, World Hope International, Inc. It’s an international relief and development organization. Today, Jo Anne a General Superintendent of the Wesleyan Church denomination.

So, a summary. Jo Anne writes about what it means to be blessed and about different types of blessing. Here are some chapter titles: The Blessing of Presence, The Blessing of Power, The Blessing of Holiness, The Blessing of Purpose, etc. It’s full of gripping stories about people she has met all over the world, encouraging words about how blessed I am and how I can be a blessing. Each chapter ends with a set of questions. So this could be a topical study guide for groups.

One of my favorite quotes is “If the life that God blesses is a life that is set apart, could that include being set apart to live amid the pain and suffering of the world, set apart to make a difference?” Another is a quote from secretary general of the United Nations from 1953-1961, Dag Hammarskjold’s book, , “Give me a pure heart – that I may see Thee, a humble heart – that I may hear Thee, a heart of love – that I may serve Thee. A heart of faith – that I may abide in Thee.”

But my favorite quote is the one with which I will end. Frank Laubach wrote in his book, “God, what is man’s best gift to mankind? To be beautiful of soul and then let people see into your soul.”

The Relunctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

I hardly know what to write about this book. I could not put it down. But I can not adequately describe it.

The entire novel takes place in a cafe in Lahore, Pakistan as a conversation between two men. But only one man, the narrator, has a voice. Literally everything in the book is told to you from the one man’s, Changez, speech. He tells his story, a troubling one, describes the scene around him, and reveals the action, as he speaks. I’ve never read a book from this perspective. It captured my attention and wouldn’t let go.

The content intrigued me. It pushed me to deep thought, to see an opposing view, one I’d honestly rather not think about.  I think the author would be pleased.  In an interview on his website, he said that “the core skill of a novelist is empathy.”  And like the title suggests, I was relunctantly empathetic.

I won’t tell any of the plot. But I would recommend the book to anyone who enjoys being forced to think beyond themselves and their own worldview.

“What Now?” by Anne Patchett

I fell in love with Anne Patchett’s writing after reading her book “Run” for a book club. “Patron Saint of Liars” and “Truth and Beauty” were the next two books I devoured.

“What Now?” is the fourth of her books I’ve read.  It is an essay based on her commencement address at Sarah Lawarence College. “What Now?” is a  small, beautiful book of advice to those just starting out and filled beautiful photographs.

Here are two quotes that spoke to me….

Maybe this is the moment you shift from seeing What now as one more thing to check off the list and start seeing it as two words worth living by.” (page 77)

As someone who loves to check off my list and then sit back and smile at the accomplishments, this is a new idea to consider. What would happen if I spent a little more time getting excited about what’s next? What if I spent more time enjoying the journey of doing instead of the just basking in the satisfaction of accomplishment?

And, “…there are some people who we grant the role of oracle in our lives and when they speak – rarely, gravely – we are well-advised to listen.” (page 90)

This made me stop and consider, “who is it that I listen to?” Who speaks into my life? Who are those people I respect so completely that when they speak, I listen? What amazed me is my answer. It’s family. My dad, my mom, my brothers, my sister, their spouses, many of whom have been like older siblings since I was just a child, my husband, my daughters.

I still have a special letter my sister, Barb, wrote to me way back when I was in high school. She was a mother of three small children. It’s chuck full of advice, even names of books to read.

Engrained in my heart are the words from a bookmark my sister-in-law, Felicia, gave me as a child. The bookmark is long gone. The advice, never far from my mind. Joy is Jesus first, others second, and you last.

I also have a letter from a Godly man, D.W. Lacy. He wrote it for my wedding. Now that I’ve been married for 18 years, I see just how wise his words were. (I’ll leave that for another post.)

My mom’s advice came through song. She was always singing while cleaning the house and it was usually, “In my heart there rings a melody, there rings a melody of love.” Or it was, “There is a balm in Gilead, to heal the sin-sick soul.”

I am so thankful for those “oracles” in my life.

Who are yours?

“Faith Like Potatoes”

This beautiful movie rocked my heart and mind. Sometimes I forget that God is still the God, that He works miracles, that He changes hearts still. If you can, watch “Faith Like Potatoes”. But be prepared to pay close attention. There’s strong accents and subtitles when the Zulu people speak. It is worth the effort though. Bonus: Africa is a beautiful continent.

It makes me want to run away from the “fakeness” of American culture, back to what’s really important: God, my faith, people, the land and hard work.

I’m Resolute

Why do we assume that one magical night can cause a change in ourselves? Do we believe that it takes that special calendar date to truly change? Or do we believe change is beyond our own will power? After these many years, I do believe it takes more than my will to change.  I’ve done enough trying on my own to change with little success. Mind you, there have been successes. But they have happened with great determination, coupled with accountability.

So it is with trepidation that I send out this new “resolution”. And I only do so because suddenly I am faced with the undenyable fact that I need exercise. The My New Food Pyramid website tells me I am overweight for my height. But my eating habits line up with what I should be consuming. Ugh! It’s the harsh fact that if I have any hopes of climbing Flat Top again this summer, I have to get in better shape.

So there it is. That dreaded “e” word. I hate that word! I’ll let you know how I resolve this issue as soon as I figure it out myself.

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