Knitting

My late grandmother was a talented knitter, but I never had the sense to ask her to teach me to knit while she was still alive. I asked my parents’ neighbour, a lovely lady in her late 80s, to teach me to knit and crochet. She tried several times but there’s a difference between knowing how to knit and teaching someone else how to knit. In the end she always asked me what I wanted to knit, grabbed the wool and knitted it herself for me. I love the things she knitted me as the result of these sessions, but that’s beside the point.

I tried to teach myself to knit using books and youtube videos. Each time I’d create a crooked mess and give up. Yesterday I sat down yet again, this time with a new book (the funny and lovely “Stitch n’ Bitch” by Debbie Stoller), and when four rows into my first swatch I blew it again, I stopped, searched for “common knitting mistakes” on YouTube and figured out where I had gone wrong. It took several videos but once I figured it out, I started over and managed to create my very first garter stitch swatch (20 stitches by 30 rows). I’m proud of myself for sticking with it, even though it really sucked at first. I only wish that my grandmother could have seen and critiqued it.

Knitting

Typewriters, pens, pins, and more.

My Pen Chalet exclusive Typewriter Retro 51s arrived this week, and the mint one is a perfect match to my Hermes Baby (and Hermes 2000) typewriter keys. I’m happy that I splurged on this pen and the copper Typewriter edition. They are both utterly unnecessary pens that make me smile without breaking the bank. I have 11 typewriters, but these are the first typewriter themed Retro51s that I’ve bought. I only slightly regret not getting the red one as well.

It was a virtual convention kind of fortnight, and in both cases the pandemic afforded me the opportunity to go to a convention that I normally wouldn’t have been able to attend. The fun and pretty well run one was the Disney Pin Trading 20th anniversary event. I’m not a huge Disney pin trader by far – I have pins from my Disney races and a few others that caught my eye, because I’m so aware of how easily I got fall down that rabbit hole. But I was curious enough about the behind the scenes of pin creation and well aware that is probably going to be my only chance to attend such an event that I enrolled. It was interesting and fun, and a generally well thought out event that didn’t feel like a “we’re doing the same thing only on zoom” kind of thing. I wish that I could say the same about Kubecon, the second convention that I attended. It’s a poster child of how not to run a virtual convention. Still I managed to learn quite a lot from the hours that I squeezed in, and I plan on catching up on more video sessions next week.

My first Disney Pin Trading Pins, from the DLP inaugural half-marathon weekend.

This weekend was stormy, so no long run today. I had about a month of perfect running weather so far, and it looks like I may yet make my 2020 running distance stretch goal of 700km run total this year.

In a fit of anger and frustration I created an “obituary” page for 2020 in my journal, but one that listed the bad moments of the year. It ended up taking four pages, but I managed to find something positive about most of the moments and events of the year, so it cheered me up.

TV (or streaming to be exact) has been one of the high points of the past few weeks. I don’t watch much of it, but “Ted Lasso”, and the new seasons of “The Mandalorian” and “Star Trek Discovery” have been great to watch. Also I’ve been playing “Pandemic Legacy Season Zero” and so far it’s excellent and distinctly different from its predecessors.

Typewriters, pens, pins, and more.

We are not amused

My brother’s cat was not amused when he tried to take his laptop back from her.

Sketched with a non-photo blue Pilot Color Eno 0.7 mechanical pencil and inked with a Pentel GFKP Sepia, Uni pin 0.5 sepia fineliner and Zig Mangaka 0.8 fineliner (for the writing) on an Artcoe Frisk Sketch Book. Could have done it all with one pen and no underdrawing but I’m experimenting with my setup at the moment.

We are not amused

How I Journal: A Sample

I decided to upload the pages from my journal entry today, as a sample and perhaps an inspiration for anyone wondering what to journal about. There’s nothing big or grand here, no deep felt angst, just small observations about my day that will bring it back to life later on. I made an effort to make my handwriting neater than it usually is, and I cut out a page of what happened later in the afternoon as it involved a family member suffering an injury and getting hospitalized, and I want to protect their privacy. Otherwise it’s a fairly standard entry. What’s missing is a title (added after the entry is completed and in this case not something I want to share) that summarizes the day. Oftentimes I glue things in instead of drawing something, and sometimes I just write in a rush and the page is just dense, messy handwriting.

I use a Moleskine Large hardcover, in some limited edition or another (in this case Pokemon Charmander), and a gel pen of some kind or another. Today it was the Karas Kustoms Ink v2 rollerball with Uniball UMR-85, my favourite refill. I don’t mind the show through, it helps me get through the fear of the blank page, and there’s no other notebook that has the Moleskine cover and internal design, so after years of futilely trying to replace it with something else, I just shut out the voices of the detractors and allowed myself to enjoy what I love and what works for me. Please do the same.

How I Journal: A Sample

Journal Comic: Cheap Art Supplies

Used a Bic Crystal ballpoint pen, a set of Stabilo Pastel highlighters and a pocket Moleskine sketchbook to create this journal comic. Was inspired to use things that I already had laying around, not in use, to fill in a page in a long abandoned sketchbook. I was actually surprised at how relatively well the highlighters worked here.

Journal Comic: Cheap Art Supplies

Bruni Embroidered Nesspresso Capsule

I decided to make an embroidered key chain as a birthday gift, which is why I practiced creating an embroidered Nespresso capsule keychain in the first place.

I used an embroidery hoop this time, as well as thicker fabric. The white fabric allowed me to pencil in my design for Bruni, the fire spirit from Frozen 2.

Not sure that you can see but his white belly is embroidered with sparkling thread.

The pieces ready for assembly: clean and crushed Nespresso capsule, cardboard backing and embroidered piece.

The back of the capsule:

The finished piece:

This turned out much better than my first try, even though there’s still room for improvement. This new fabric didn’t mount like I expected because it was thicker than I had planned and the result is the little gap you see in the bottom. I plan on making more of these, so I’ll hopefully get better with practice.

Bruni Embroidered Nesspresso Capsule

Deadlines, Challenges and NaNoWriMo

I was planning on doing a 30 day drawing challenge when Covid offered me an unexpected opportunity: a local sci-fi convention that usually commissions stories for a short story collection they publish each year decided to allow story submissions this year. The only catch was that the deadline was tight: two weeks.

I couldn’t give up on the opportunity, and I was looking for a way to kickstart my writing again, so I put my drawing challenge on hold and wrote a short story instead. I wrote first draft (about 4,000 words) in about four days, then polished it and sent it out to a beta reader. I got his input, fixed and rewrote some stuff and then sent it in.

Meanwhile November was approaching, and with it NaNoWriMo. Now I’m not a fan of NaNoWriMo but this short story experience as well as a great episode of the Writing Excuses podcast made me realize that:

a. I needed to get used to writing to a tight deadline.
b. I needed to get back to writing.

NaNoWriMo was a great excuse for that, even though I had no intention of holding myself to 1,667 words a day. I do plan to write everyday, and push myself as much as possible beyond my comfort zone. This became especially relevant when I got my story back from the editor with a request to rewrite large swaths of it. I had three days to rewrite and edit around 3,700 words, and it was a tough but rewarding challenge. Even if the resulting story doesn’t get published, I learned a lot from the experience, and I have a solid piece of work that I’m pretty happy with.

So what about my drawing challenge? I actually had about 5 days left on it (there were a few drawings that I made that are not something that I’m going to publish here), but I decided to extend it to 10 days, which I’ll do probably sometime in early December.

I am happy that doing 30 days of drawing instead of Inktober has provided me with an opportunity to really get to know my palette, to draw more quickly and without a preliminary pencil sketch, and to better understand what draws me to a scene and what makes it worth drawing.

I hope that 30 days of writing to a deadline will provide just as much insight, skill and experience as that.

Deadlines, Challenges and NaNoWriMo