I was putting Pav’s harness and lead on for a hurtle late this afternoon while listening to the weather report on the radio. Dry for the rest of the evening and overnight, said the radio. Pav and I stepped out the door. It was raining.
I’ve spent way too much time looking for good Hampshire-flood photos for you. Is it because flooding, managing or trying to manage the floods and beginning in some cases to clean up after floods which may yet return is still very actively going on that the photo record of all the hoo-ha is such a mess? You google for ‘Hampshire’ and you get Gloucestershire, Dorset, Somerset and Wales, with a little Kent and Surrey thrown in. Not that Gloucestershire, Dorset, Somerset, Wales, Kent and Surrey haven’t been flooded too—poor old Somerset is in a bad way—but I wanted to show you Hampshire. Anyway you can troll through here—or not. These are all at least 2013-14—I think—although with the occasional disconcerting ‘historical’ flood photo, which may or may not be in Hampshire either. I found a really good Hampshire flood photo gallery but before I got too happy fortunately I noticed it was from two years ago. I don’t even remember flooding two years ago.*
Anyway. It’s already too late for Short Wednesday. Maybe we’ll have Short Thursday.
. . . bad weather IS claustrophobic, and inside with three hellcritters, one in heat and a bit too interesting to the others is definitely a major trial.
It was a lot more histrionic than a BIT too interesting. But she’s now OUT of heat and . . . Chaos doesn’t believe it. Darkness, while still inspecting her carefully every time she reappears, is reverting to his previous attitude, which is, Bark! There’s an interloper! Bark! Remove her at once! Bark! —Siiiiiiiigh. I was HOPING that there might be some positive long-lasting effect on their relationship as a result of that hideous recent ninety-four year stretch when she was on high spectacular heat and Darkness was her slave . . . but I guess not. Siiiiiiiigh. Meanwhile there is an effect on her relationship with Chaos . . . he doesn’t believe she’s off heat and keeps trying to hump her. Mind you, he’s humping the wrong end and he’s never got his—ahem—tackle out, so it’s not exactly Sex As We Know It Jim but it still must frelling stop. Arrrrrrrgh. The slightly funny thing, if I were in a mood to be amused which I am NOT, is that Chaos was a lot less bothered by the whole situation than Darkness was. Darkness was out of his tiny furry mind. Chaos was la-la-la-la Chaos, although he was happy to stop eating to keep his brother company. ARRRRRRRGH.
We convinced our old cat to come in during severe weather and she’s now convinced that–if she’s indoors–someone should be . . . paying attention to her anytime she’s not dozing. . . . Yowwwwwwl. Yowwwwwwl. Yowwwwwl. One critter is driving me frantic several times a day . . . I cannot even imagine three critters sharing the house with me.
Three critters keep each other company. This is why I brought two puppies home seven years ago. This does not always work out perfectly to plan (see: happy to stop eating to keep his brother company) and introducing a new one to an established hierarchy is always tricky, even if you’re not bringing a girl into a household with two entire males. But for a human prone to guilt resisting the huge mournful puppy-dog eyes is easier when your single dog is not alooooooooone every time you go out for a cup of tea with a friend.
Diane in MN
There probably is a way to adapt a bigger gauge pattern to a smaller gauge—isn’t there?—but in the first place it would require MATHS and would be beyond me and in the second place . . . I’d run out of yarn.
I do this kind of a lot because I knit tight and I substitute yarn, so getting gauge is not guaranteed for me. The arithmetic doesn’t go beyond multiplication and division, but you can find knitting calculators online that will do it for you. Here‘s a pattern conversion form that should do what you want.
Oh, cool. Thank you. I think.** I like the part about how all you do is fill in the first bit and it does all the rest, but I haven’t finished my swatch yet so I don’t know what unexpected tentacles may lie in wait. I have found the needles that make the right fabric however: 8 mm, so a whole two (or four, depending on how you’re counting) down from the recommended 10 mm. Hmmph. Yarn manufacturers. They know nothing.***
Deep v neck. Less yarn. Three quarter sleeves! Less yarn! Cropped!
Perhaps a dickey?
Yes, yes! A dickey! What a good idea! There will be enough left over for at least one mitten!
Deep v neck. Less yarn. Three quarter sleeves! Less yarn! Cropped!
At this point, I’m not sure there’d be much point left to knitting a bulky-weight pullover…
Snork. It must be hard, living a life of such strict rationality. Not one of my challenges.
There’s a very good Lion Brand pattern for a top-down raglan-sleeved cardigan, knitted in one piece (the sleeves are knitted downwards later), which is pretty much infinitely adjustable. Cast on enough stitches to go round your neck (high- or low-line), increase at the raglan points till big enough to fit round your chest at armhole level, put sleeve stitches onto holders and join up the gaps, knit downwards till long enough. Put sleeve stitches back on needle and knit till, er, long enough. Add a button band, either knitted separately and sewn on, or picked up along the front edges, if you want buttons.
So you leave yourself a ball, or two, for the sleeves (depending on how long you want them), allow another one for button bands, and you can knit the cardi till you run out of yarn!
Yes, I was thinking I’d look for a top-down for that reason—that, in fact, I need to overcome my circular phobia and learn to love some basic top-down thingy because I am a relatively small narrow person and short waisted with it and I’m pretty sure I could learn to squeeze a basic top-down thingy out of slightly too little yarn, which would be very nice. Do you have a link for the Lion Brand pattern? There are a million gazillion Lion Brand patterns and I tend to lose the will to live on their site pretty quickly. Also so many of their patterns are extra-large and up. When it’s some ordinary person on Ravelry who has created a pattern and she’s a 48” chest and her pattern is for 46-50” this seems perfectly reasonable. When it’s a frelling commercial yarn site, even though the patterns are free, it seems to me perverse that when you look at what they mean by ‘small’ it says 44”. Um. No. That’s not small.
Now you’re going to tell me there are pattern converters for this problem too.
. . . Meanwhile. It’s raining again/still. What a good thing wool stays warm when it’s wet.
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* I remember five-foot-of-water-in-the-cellar 2000-01 very clearly.
** But I also knit tight and . . . substitute yarn? You mean there’s some other way to do it? You mean some people actually USE THE RECOMMENDED YARN? ::stops to fan herself::^ This comes up with me perhaps more than with better knitters: for some reason easy patterns tend to assume you’re going to use cheap acrylic or acrylic-mix-but-mostly-acrylic yarn. Noooooo.^^ You do get fancy yarns that suggest a simple pattern that will leave the effect up to the yarn, but not so much the other way around. Or maybe I just read the wrong magazines.^^^
^ Although that may just be another frelling hot flush
^^ The hellhound blanket is acrylic but they’re allergic to wool AND I AM NOT GOING TO WASTE MERINO ON CREATURES WHO ROUTINELY CLAW UP THEIR BED TO MAKE IT FLUFFY.
^^^ And so far as I can tell it’s a publishing rule that a knitting book shall not be issued till all its recommended yarns have been discontinued.
*** Nothing in comparison to someone who has been knitting erratically for about three years and hasn’t FINISHED anything but a few leg warmers and some baby bibs.
Morale is not high. I won’t say it’s at an all time low but it is not high. I am not, as you will have surmised, Street Pastoring tonight; I’ve been obsessively following Hampshire weather reports all day—those of you who follow me on Twitter will have seen a few RTs on the subject*—and when the wind started up mid-afternoon right on gindlefarbing schedule** I sighed a heavy sigh and emailed Fearless Leader that I was staying home tonight. I’m being a good responsible citizen, ratblast it, the cops keep tweeting ‘if you don’t HAVE to go anywhere STAY HOME.’*** I don’t even know if there was enough of a team left to go out; I know we’d lost more than just me.
I’m not quite sure what I have done today besides get wet to the skin† in the company of various (wet) hellcritters and feverishly look for more weather reports.††
And listen to the wind. I am not looking forward to the last hurtles of the evening.††† The rain is coming in sideways, in this wind, like spears, and I swear the points have been sharpened. May we at least continue to have electricity. And hot water. And an Aga to dry and re-dry and re-re-re-dry wet critter towels.
I hope we don’t lose any more trees.
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* And anyone who hasn’t seen the photo of the Winchester Cathedral crypt ISN’T PAYING ATTENTION since it’s a big favourite with the media at the moment for a symbol of South England Under Water: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-26186875 ^
^ Mind you, the cathedral was built on a marsh, so there’s a certain amount of hoisting by own petard going on, as it has gone on for the last thousand years. Very sturdy marsh, that one. And surprisingly forgiving of large piles of stone. Maybe it was less of a marsh in the eleventh century.+
But we in New Arcadia are NOT built on a marsh and we object to all this superfluous water cluttering up the place. There’s nowhere to put anything down. Like a dog, for example.
+ The cathedral was also a good deal smaller to begin with. They kept adding bits on.
** Why can’t the frelling meteorologists be wrong about something you’d LIKE them to be wrong about? How many times have you got caught in rain/sleet/hail/yeti invasion because the weather report was for clear and mild and since you wanted it to be clear and mild you were a little foolish? Arrrrrrgh.^
^ Of course over here it’s a major piece of cultural history that the meteorologists—and one TV presenter in particular—missed the Great Storm of 1987, worst in three centuries, and forecast a little wet weather and some wind. La la la la la. Hope everyone had their small dogs and children on short leads.
*** Alternating with a tweet saying PLEASE DON’T TAKE CLOSED ROAD SIGNS DOWN THEY’RE THERE FOR A REASON. Duh. Good grief. I will certainly go have a look down a closed footpath^ but in daylight at walking speed you can see before you get into any difficulties, and you also won’t stall out if water gets up your tailpipe. You may have to carry your short-legged companion through the swirly bits.^^ But take closed road signs down?! At very least, if you’re going to be a sovereign idiot, put the sign back after you’ve driven through it toward your fate.^^^
^ Although Pav and I had an epic hurtle this morning because we went down to the river and turned the other direction and it never occurred to me we’d be able to keep going. . . . I now have a pair of yellow All Stars that will take a week to dry out. At least I remembered the plastic bags over my socks today. Practise makes perfect.
^^ I do know that currents can be dangerous. Trust me, I’m timid.
^^^ Oh yes and when you have to ring up to be rescued be sure and mention that you drove through a closed road sign so they can put you at the bottom of their list.
† I have two raincoats and they’re both sheeting wet.
†† Well I’ve done some knitting. Got some lovely big fat gauge 100% merino wool on insanely cheap sale and then bought a set of 10 mm needles when I discovered that that is approximately the ONLY size I haven’t already got, 10 mm being the recommended needle size for this yarn, and I was already trying to decide whether I was going to make this pullover or that pullover out of it^ since I’d bought this book on sale a little while ago, as I settled down to make my swatch. I like making swatches. It doesn’t matter if something goes wrong, it’s just a swatch. Which is why my swatches never go wrong. I save going wrong for the pattern.
AND I DON’T LIKE THE FABRIC ON THESE NEEDLES. THEY’RE TOO BIG. THE FABRIC IS TOO OPEN AND LUMPY.
So now I get to start over with 9 mm and 8 mm and . . . just by the way . . . with finding a new pattern. There probably is a way to adapt a bigger gauge pattern to a smaller gauge—isn’t there?—but in the first place it would require MATHS and would be beyond me and in the second place . . . I’d run out of yarn. SIIIIIIIIIIGH.^^
^ I’m really good at starting projects.
^^ Furthermore I think I have to make a cardigan.+ I was just thinking this morning that my two woolly brown cardigans are the sand end of brown and I need a chestnut end of brown. This yarn happens to be chestnut.
+ Deep v neck. Less yarn. Three quarter sleeves! Less yarn! Cropped!
††† I have a cranky hellterror underfoot as I (try to) write this blog. She’s forgotten our epic hurtle early today and WANTS MORE ACTION. She couldn’t get back indoors fast enough however when I took her out for eliminatory functions and indoor action is limited.^
^ Especially since she’s still a little too interesting to hellhounds+ so I am forced to stimulate her brain by long down which tends to need fairly regular upkeep.++
+ Who still are not eating enough to keep one-third of a slow elderly hamster alive.
++ No, lie down. No. Lie down. No. Lie DOWN.#
# She actually is at the moment. Don’t anyone breathe loudly or make any sudden gestures.
I NEED A NIGHT OFF.*
So let’s have a LINKS NIGHT.
First: Peter’s EMMA TUPPER’S DIARY, one of my and many other people’s favourites of Peter’s, HAS BEEN REISSUED.
And here he talks a little about writing it:
Second: Lightspeed (e)magazine has reprinted HELLHOUND in their February issue:
You have to scroll down the left-hand column—it is there, I promise—and while of course all of you have already read it in FIRE—there’s a lot of other good stuff in Lightspeed’s virtual pages, and you might find the McKinley author spotlight amusing. You’ll recognise the voice from this blog. . . .
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* Pav is definitely starting to come back out of pheromone hell and to revert to nice normal manic hellterror status—she brought me a toy this morning for the first time in about ten days—but the hellhounds don’t seem to notice. They still aren’t eating, there’s still way too much moaning and they still dash back from hurtles or into the mews to check that she’s still there. And having pranced through the door like Hackney ponies on the way to the carriage driving finals, once they’ve established that in fact she is still there they go all floppy and pathetic-swain-like and IT MAKES ME CRAZY.^
^ The superfluously bizarre thing is that they are all over me for their sofa time. I thought it at least possible that they would be so committed to guarding the hellterror’s crate against alien invasion+ that they wouldn’t want their sofa time with a mere [menopausal++] hellgoddess. But nooooo. They’re all over me like a cheap suit or Miss Havisham’s wedding veil.+++
+ See previous blog post. You cannot be too careful about these things.
I once bought a 16 yo gelding, not knowing he’d been gelded only 6 months before. After a lifetime as a breeding stallion. (These little secrets sellers keep…) He was quite aware of everything’s ovulation and/or heat. . . .
. . . .”Hi, glorious wonderful female person! Am I not beautiful? Am I not gloriously male? Would you not like a hug?” He was gentlemanly about it . . . But there were no mistaking the source of the interest. Fluttering nostrils, upraised lip, and all. That’s how I found out that he recognized (with a slight difference in the behavior) ovulation separately from menstruation.
If I’d paid attention one of mine# might have told me when I was ovulating since I never knew. One of the things this body had trouble with was the whole female-cycle thing, and I was on the Pill## for way too many years### but I love the idea of Rhythm Method by Stallion.
Do any other male domestic critters do this? Given that there aren’t that many stallions around to begin with a lot of women who’ve worked with them will mention this interesting aspect of the experience. But you don’t hear about it with dogs, for example, and there are LOTS and LOTS of entire male dogs cluttering up the landscape. I had already started menopause when I brought the hellhounds home as puppies and most of my dog life till then had been with girls.
I knew an entire male cat once—who was also a prodigiously, gloriously male creature—who was extra-snuggly when you were menstruating, but I didn’t see him often enough to be sure that this wasn’t him reacting to you being curled up in a little ball of misery, and I was on the Pill when I knew him, so he wouldn’t have had a chance to check me for ovulation.
# I never owned one of these glorious creatures; I just did things like muck out their stalls, hang out with them and—when I was lucky—ride them.
## which back in my fertile days kept you unpregnable by suppressing ovulation. Dunno if they may have figured out other tricky methods since.
### My experience of female-cycle specialists—most of them men—became the strong foundation of my profound loathing for the medical profession.
++ NOT MY FACE. GET OFFA MY FACE.
I’ve just spent my blog-writing time hacking at an interview with http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/ which is reprinting Hellhound—which I will attempt to remember to link to when it comes on line. Although all of you have OF COURSE already read Hellhound in Peter’s and my FIRE stories a few years ago . . . and the truth of the matter is that you’ll also have read everything I have to say in any possible interview some time in the last six years on this blog, in most cases several times, if you’re one of the stoics that have either been here from the beginning or, on insomniac nights, read back to the beginning. But it might amuse you to reread some of it. I think I’m getting harder to interview as I get older. I HAVE NO CLUE WHERE MY INSPIRATION FOR A STORY COMES FROM. I HAVE NEVER HAD ANY CLUE WHERE STORY INSPIRATION COMES FROM. But the frantic desire to say something remotely responsive to some nice person who is paying you money* to reprint an old story may result in some rather strange non-answers.
And speaking of how totally hopeless I am as a self-publicist, and of links . . . the UK ebook of SHADOWS became available over a week ago. Have I . . . erm . . . mentioned this? Maybe I did and I’ve just forgotten. I can’t give you a link—you’ll have to go strive with amazon.co.uk yourselves—first because I do not go near my own pages on amazon, Goodreads or any other site where readers congregate and talk about books and never will, unless someone holds a gun to my head, which I would be very, very grateful if they did not. Secondly because I do use amazon, cautiously and guardedly, and I haven’t had any trouble with its denying my existence and cancelling my credit card lately and I would like this happy conjunction to continue. It’s one of those oppressively clever sites that recognises you the minute you sign on however—so far as I can tell wherever you sign on from: it took your virtual fingerprints with your name and address back in the day—so if I send you a link, I’ll be linking you to my account. I don’t want to log out to do it because I guarantee we would go through the you-do-not-exist-your-password-does-not-exist-and-your-credit-card-is-a-hellterror-chewtoy experience when I tried to log back in again—I’ve been through this—and I would find this wearisome. Just as I found it wearisome the last time it happened.
But the SHADOWS UK ebook came out on 5 December. So any of you foolish enough to be waiting for me to tell you it’s there waiting for you—this is how I keep eating: you would be forgiven for assuming I would tell you in an expeditious manner that a book of mine is available for purchase—IT’S WAITING FOR YOU. Go and buy several copies. Good Christmas present.**
And now for the piece de resistance:
Some splendid person on Twitter posted this and because I am a moron I forgot to write down who it was. If it is someone who reads this blog THANK YOU SPLENDID PERSON. I laughed and laughed and laughed . . . and then I went and punched a few holes in the wall because it is so true. It is so true it’s almost not funny.
For example, there’s a variation to number two, where the person the author is talking to says, oh, have you read X? You must read it! It’s just like your book Y, ONLY BETTER!!! —I still cannot begin to imagine what this person was thinking of. Since it happened to me***, and the person who told me to read X because it was like my Y only better, was a bookseller in a bookstore. Quite a large and famous bookstore in fact. And . . . I have as a result never read ANY of the novels of the author of X. Because I am a cow, and an easily traumatised, unfair-grudge-holding cow. Mooo.†
Number four also includes that the person is going to offer to split with you sixty/forty if you write up their great idea because the idea is the important thing (which is why they’re retaining the sixty percent) and you already know how the writing thing works so they don’t have to bother. There are advantages to living in a small unidentified town.††
And number seven: ARRRGLE ARRRRRRRRRRGH ARRRRRRRRGLE. Possibly my pet peeve of pet peeves: readers that do your book down because it isn’t the book they wanted to read.
Number fourteen: I came in from trying to answer an interview question about my writing process. . . .
* * *
* Sure it’s a modest sum. The point is it’s any sum.
** There is a way to send ebooks as Christmas presents, right?
Oh. Cool. I might even be able to do this.
^ I have NO IDEA why this isn’t appearing within my account. Amazon just likes yanking me around. I knew that.
*** And this is one of those stories long-term blog readers have read before. It haunts me. Well it would.
† Also, you know, life is short and there are a lot of books I’m never going to read. I judge books by their covers too. Do I want to have to look at this cover in my house? No? Great. Don’t buy it. I have too many frelling books already.
†† And yes, it would take you about thirty seconds to break my alias, if you really wanted to. But that I alias everything does suggest that I don’t want to be found, doesn’t it?^ So don’t bother to email me and suggest coffee. No. I don’t drink coffee anyway.
^ It’s also fun. How else would I get to invent town names like Sagging Dormouse or Smedley-on-Cucumber? They’d never let me put it in my fiction.
I really need a night off.* So I thought I’d leave you with two Exciting Announcements and a few links.**
Peter’s IN THE PALACE OF THE KHANS has been nominated for the Carnegie long list:
And just in case you haven’t already bought your copy, here’s a reminder:
The ‘buy now’ takes you to amazon.uk but amazon.com and Barnes and Noble have it as well.
And SHADOWS is coming out in the UK:
EBook 5 December
Paperback 2 January
The cover will look pretty much the same and the blurby stuff has been rewritten but it’s still about Maggie and some very peculiar shadows. It should be available for pre-order by now.**
And if you wish to be encouraged, possibly inspired, but not to say hectored, pleeeeease read this:
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* You know there are several people out there who have offered guest posts and then disappeared. . . . Just thought this might be worth mentioning.
** You’ll have to look the link up yourselves. I don’t go near the Robin McKinley pages on amazon.
*** Or if you want to be reminded of my back catalogue you can read this: