Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Novel Knitting

So I'm back to writing fiction again after a 5-year hiatus that coincides with my complete obsession with knitting. I had previously had a very intimate relationship with knitting, and then took a 5-year break during which I spent a lot of time writing and merely nodded to knitting once a year on the occasion of a baby shower. Five years ago, I became a knitting stalker. No one has staged an intervention or presented me with a restraining order, but it's only a matter of time.

The knitting obsessiveness came in response to losing my writing voice. Writing was torture, my internal critic sat on my shoulder and bellowed into my ear with an megaphone, "You SUCK!" and nothing I wrote -- even emails -- sounded like me. I wanted to remember what it was like to do something creative for the pure fun and joy of it. So I came back to knitting, and I came back hard.

Eventually, my voice did come back, and I found myself writing more and more, but still not fiction. This fall, when I decided I wanted to write fiction again, NaNoWriMo sounded like a great idea to me, except for the part where I didn't actually have an idea for a story. I had an idea for a character, but I didn't know much about her. I had no ideas for other characters, no idea about setting, plot, nothing.

Turns out that when I have to write 50,000 words in one month, there's no time to think about what to write, and no time for my internal critic to haul herself into a comfortable spot on my shoulder and dish out negative self-talk. I owe the world to the guy who created Write or Die. If I hadn't had that program reminding me to keep writing (no thinking!), I wouldn't have made it.

So that was November. I let the book marinate for December, and signed up for a "Working on Your Novel" class at the Loft that started a couple of weeks ago. I knew I would need concrete goals and deadlines to work through revisions on this book, and the threat of public humiliation if I didn't meet goals, because I have the least amount of discipline of any person I know. Big personality flaw, but that's who I am.

Turns out that most of what I wrote will be thrown out (no real surprise), but the good part is that I have characters, those characters have external goals and internal conflicts, which means I can have plot and character arc (always good news).

One of the things I do to get the theme of the book nailed down - what it's really about - is to make a collage of the characters, the setting, and main plot points. I have collected a lot of photos and little objects that represent the book, but I want to do something else, too.

This book has knitting in it - one of the characters is an indie dyer and her grandmother/great aunt (not sure which yet) has a yarn shop she's ready to retire from. While the book doesn't center around the shop, this older woman is the catalyst for the chain of events that is the plot and she is very important to all the other characters, including the antagonist.

I want to keep my two creative processes joined, so that when I take a break from writing to knit, the knitting keeps me in the world of the story. To do that, I want to knit something that represents each character in some way.

So, for example, the older woman--Franny-- has lace curtains hanging in her kitchen. So I'm knitting a lace curtain. Not a full size one -- I would go insane doing that -- but a smaller one, shorter, and with fewer multiples, so I can get the thing done.

"Rose Leaf" Design
First Book of Modern Lace Knitting, by Marianne Kinzel (this book would have been new when Franny made her curtains).
Yarn: Coats Opera 30 crochet cotton (the pattern calls for #60 crochet cotton, which is not half as thin, it turns out, but is harder to come by, so I settled for #30, of which Needlework Unlimited had plenty of, in lots of colors, and which seems fine enough to me)
Needles: US 1/2.25mm

For the hero, who I named Hank, even before I knew there would be yarn, I need to knit a pair of socks - the socks the heroine sees him pull on when she first meets him. Something interesting enough that she would notice them, but manly enough that a guy like him would wear them. He's a Mr. Fixit guy with carpentry skills, on a break from what he normally does to earn a living (professional poker player). He's having trouble moving forward in his life because he keeps trying to fix the past/keep things as they've always been. So I need a sock pattern that fit his personality.

The heroine, Penny (not crazy about this name, I'm open to suggestions), has never knit before, but will learn how. She's all about the future, wants to forget her past and where she came from. She's also an expert in deceptive language. I have a scene where she's in the shop, having walked for quite a long distance in heels and she has blisters. She puts on a pair of felted slippers on display in the shop which are shaped like cowboy boots. They're not conventional, which scares her, because she's pulled herself up from a financially strapped background, and she works hard to fit in and not appear different. But she loves those slippers. I want those slippers. I may have to design them myself. Don't you think red cowboy boot slippers, with needle-felted swirly designs on the leg would be really cool?

(Edited to add photo below)

Only felted. A search of Ravelry reveals that there are crocheted cowboy booties (not felted). Clearly, this is a void waiting to be filled.

The indie dyer (I'm calling her Sookie) needs something funky - either an asymmetrical cardi, or a funky shawl or hat or maybe fingerless mitts that make A Statement. Something that represents her artistic self and independence, and uses color in a unique, but beautiful way. This is going to be hard for me. Unique color choices scare me, because I have some color vision deficiencies.

Sookie has a love interest, a more traditional guy who owns a downtown bar. I'm thinking some sort of subtle scarf that could be tucked into the neck of his wool overcoat. Like Henry, only not Henry, because while that is a terrific looking scarf, I think I would poke my eyes out with my needles if I had to knit it. On the other hand, there's nothing that says I can't knit a very small Henry scarf. Considering the size of the lace curtain I'm knitting, I could get away with a scarf about a foot long and 3 inches wide. Hmmm.

The heroine's brother is a young guy - never went to college, but smart, works manual labor jobs, a nice guy, but with simple tastes. I'm thinking a watch cap. Navy blue, maybe gray. Or maybe he's not like his sister. Maybe he doesn't care what people think about the way he looks. Can't decide.

The antagonist is another older lady, one who needs to control her world. She's getting something made of acrylic.

The heroine's mother is awful. So awful I don't know if I can even knit for her. She's the kind of person who would find fault in anything you knit for her. The kind of person who'd rather have a lottery ticket than a hand knit anything. Huh. That's interesting. I'll have to use that.

So I'm looking for pattern ideas. Anyone?


Nancy said...

Immediate first thoughts of a 'drippy' shawl for Sookie, brother sounds like a secret argyle man (!)and the red cowboy (felted) boots with white swirls and a blue star! All ideas subject to change, of course!

Rox said...

Hmm. Secret argyle, eh? Interesting. What do you mean by a "drippy" shawl? Like there are things dangling from it?

Nancy said...

I see a shawl with very long, sharp points; and, perhaps something hanging...

rrubduck said...

a Regicide in muted colours for Sookie's love interest, perhaps?

and something along the line of the salad scarf for her, if that isn't too funky for her?

they should both be in ravelry, Regicide I think is one of Franklin Habit's, the other one I am not sure about.

I would love to read the book when it's finished (or even before) btw!

如此的 said...

If you can not be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.............................................

Anonymous said...

This kit includes felted knit cowboy boots: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/town--country-slipper-kit---country

If you just want the pattern (so you can do it in red), they almost always release the patterns separate from the kits once they sell out.