Sunday, May 23, 2010

Thinking about my mother

" is inherently messy, complicated, cross-wired, an endless negotiation between interior and exterior, between the environment in which a human or an animal lives and its physiological and neurological state."

My mother wrote this in one of her notebooks. She kept a record of phrases and quotes to use later when she was writing.

Born in 1917, my mother passed away in 2004 at the age of 87. For many years, she journalled every day, and wrote articles. She also completed a romance novel (never published). A few of her articles were published in local newspapers.

I am in the process of organizing and transcribing her writings into my computer. Fortunately, she printed out things she wrote on her computers, since I don't know where the disks are or if I could download the material from them. I would like to assemble her writings into an autobiography some day.

I think my mother would have loved the advent of blogs and being able to publish online. She frequently encouraged me to write, she would be glad to know I am finally following her suggestion.

Online opportunities have also allowed me to publish some of my mother's material. Shreveport, Louisiana in the 1920s and 1930s gives a vivid view of where she grew up. Reflections: Luck speaks eloquently about how we can make our own luck.

I think my favorite is Memories in a Drawer (originally entitled "Emptying the Dresser Drawers") in which she paints a picture of my father's life by examining what he had in his bureau. (Note: the "youngest daughter" is me)

I feel like my mother is talking to me as I transcribe her words, especially when I am typing from her hand-written notebooks. Although I feel sad when I remember how much I miss her, it's a joy to hear her voice and share her thoughts with others.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival

Yesterday, my daughter Jen took me to the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival for Mother's Day. The one hour drive was delightfully spent chatting with my daughter, I was knitting, she was driving. Bright and sunny, it was a chilly, windy day. Many people commented about the cold, but I was much happier with a cool day than a hot and muggy one.

It was a fun event to go to as a knitter, but it also gave me a lot of ideas for my writing as The Boston Knitting Examiner. I had already written an article about the Festival before the event, actually being there gave me lots more info.

Different kinds of yarns were displayed in many varieties. Fibers included wool, alpaca and rabbit, many weights and styles of yarn, endless colors, and fibers in all stages of completion including raw fleece, roving, and undyed yarn.

It was also interesting to see all the products related to knitting. In addition to patterns, there were buttons, jewelry, spindles, spinning wheels, lotions, dyes, knitting machines and more.

Although there were lots of tempting items, I ended the day only buying a T-shirt. Jen got a drop spindle kit - something I had suggested she might enjoy. It included a simple drop spindle, some lovely dyed wool roving, and an instruction sheet. We enjoyed watching a demonstration of how to use a drop spindle. She also bought some alpaca roving in lovely multiple shades of brown.

Next week, on May 15 is the Annual Rhode Island Wool and Fiber Festival at Coggeshall Farm Museum, Rt. 114 Bristol, Rhode Island. For a list of more fiber and knitting events this summer, check out my article Summer 2010 Knitting and Fiber Events in New England.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Writing motivation

"What motivates people to write?" my daughter Heather asked me. "Why write about something other people have already written about?"

I thought about it for a moment. I talked about how writers use their own voice to express themselves. When you write, you choose what to put in and what to leave out, you organize it in a way you think makes sense. Writers infuse pieces with their own bias.

When I said those things, she looked at me and said "It's like a piano! There are 88 keys but there are infinite variations." Not only the combination of which keys to play, but rests, tempo, tone and more. When playing a piece that has been played before, each musician adds their own style to it, and each new performance will sound different.

I think it is a wonderful analogy. Putting things into your own voice - writing your own composition - helps give meaning to what you create.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Writing on Examiner

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I've been writing online for The Examiner. The Examiner has editions in over 100 cities. Each writer focusses on a particular subject.

I am the Boston Knitting Examiner. I write about knitting in general, and about knitting in New England (as far as I know there are currently no other Examiners in New England).

The Examiner suggests that writers post 3 to 4 articles a week. Articles can be of any length, articles are often relatively concise.

The articles I have been writing are a little more formal than blog posts, but not much more difficult. Three to four articles a week may sound intimidating, but I have found it easier than I expected. Between reviews of stores, websites and books, New England knitting events, techniques, patterns, charity projects and more, there is plenty to write about. As needed, The Examiner gives support and help to writers.

Examiners get paid based on page views and a few other parameters. They pay about 1 cent per page view. This may not sound like much, but it can add up - especially when you do some promoting. In contrast, other writing websites give upfront payments, but only pay a penny for every seven to ten views.

The articles written for The Examiner get published as soon as you post them. They don't have to be approved before they're published, and they are not rated. There are people working for The Examiner who oversee your work, but - so far - I've been given free rein to post what I want to.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Some New Yarn

I haven't bought any new yarn in a while, but I finally succumbed a few days ago. We were running some errands and I decided to stop by Michaels. Last week at the Billerica Library knitting group - The Libraryarns - one of the other knitters was working with a new yarn she bought at Michaels.

I found some beautiful colors I thought would look great in scarves. The picture below shows the yarn I purchased and the beginnings of a scarf I am making.

The name of the yarn is Impeccable and it's made by a Canadian company called Loops & Threads. It is a worsted weight acrylic, 3.5 oz/100 g and 192 yards/175 m. The texture is not as rough as some yarns, but it is not the softest either. I think it will work great as a scarf. With 21 stitches on size 9 (US) needles, it's about 5 inches wide. I'm not finished, but I think one skein will make a scarf about 5 to 6 feet long.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Charity Knitting: The Mother Bear Project

I just published a new article about The Mother Bear Project. Knit or crochet a bear to go to a child with HIV/Aids - this looks like a fun project.

My plan is to periodically feature a charity product. There are so many wonderful causes to donate to. It's a win-win activity, you get to enjoy making something for someone who needs it. What a great feeling - you know that you're project is being loved.

Do you have a favorite cause or project? Let me know, if I write about it I'll include a link to the website of your choice.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Happy Birthday Jen! and Olin College Open House

Today is my daughter's 19th Birthday! Boy, does time fly. Birthdays can be bittersweet for moms. It's so wonderful to watch our children grow and thrive, but I sometimes miss the little girl.

My youngest daughter and I went to visit Olin College today. They had an open house for prospective women students.

Many people haven't heard of Olin. It is a small engineering school in Needham, Massachusetts, and it has only had three graduating classes. It has an amazing program that emphasizes hands-on, collaborative, real-world projects. It is well-funded with amazing resources. Up until this year every student received a full tuition scholarship, it has been reduced to half for next year - but it's still an amazing deal. The kids leave there with an excellent education preparing them for just about any field they want to go into.

I posted an article yesterday called "Acquiring knitting needles and yarn without spending a lot of money" In these economic times, we need all the help we can get!