Monday, August 29, 2016

Lessons I have learned...

What a year this has been. I thought editing prose books was hard - US versus UK spelling, it's versus its, from versus from, orphans and widows! But editing my first knitting book has taken editing to a whole new level, maybe even a new paradigm!

Completing two knitting books in short succession was not ideal - I was editing one while writing the other. And knitting both in the round and flat at the same time hasn't been helpful!

But in the end, I just have to admit I am not perfect (far from it!) and a few errors have crept in. I am sorry. I apologise unreservedly if you are frustrated and annoyed because you have already invested time in your project and you now need to redo it. I remember being frustrated by this myself in the past.

My tip, which I think is worth charing, is whenever you pick up a book - from a shop, from the library, form a friend - always check online to see if there are any published errata (fancy word for corrections!). I have found this has saved me time in the past.

My undertaking to you is to keeping aiming to produce books and patterns that have no mistakes in them. In the meantime, if you find a mistake, please tell me.
happy knitting, Gillian

ps the errata for my Hats to Knit book can be found here.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

It feels like, and indeed is, a long time since I updated this blog. No excuses - just life and three books that got in the way. I have been rating knitting books and I have to say these are some of the hardest writing projects I have ever undertaken. Designing is easy - I just get hold of some needles and choose some yarn and start. Capturing what I create is hard enough, but editing all those numbers and abbreviations! I really have new admiration for knitting pattern designers.

In June 2016, my very first knitting book will be on bookshop shelves.
Hats to Knit features 27 original designs for modern and classic hats. There are also embellishments to adorn the hats (patterns included). I hope you will like the designs as much I do.

Hats to Knit will be in shops in June, or you can preorder it from:
Australia: Fishpond
Australia: Wheelers
International: Book Depository

There will be a series of events to launch the book, which I will let you all know about once we have the final details.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

I have been creating hats - using odd balls of wool and various techniques. There are plenty more to come...

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Old Worlde Knitting

I was recently introduced to this book, which was published in 1915. Remarkably it is still available in public libraries in New Zealand. The wife of the then head of state wrote a book of some 192 pages of knitting patterns - all of them useful and many with wartime application.

Working my way through the book, I was struck by a couple of things - one was the pattern for a cholera belt. A cholera belt? Thankfully the book and google explained its usefulness. The cholera belt was worn around the midriff to protect individuals from contracting cholera. They were right, cholera was linked to the mid regions of the body, so the intention to draw heat and moisture from this area might have seemed logical. The reality is that cholera is a water- and food-borne bacteria. It is one of the few bacteria that can survive in the acidic gut - bad luck. Consuming water and food contaminated by faeces is the mode of transmission, the belt could not possibly have any effect.

When the soldiers went to India they were encouraged to wear the belts and change them frequently when they became wet with perspiration. One can only imagine what ti was like to wear itchy wool next to the skin in that heat. Remember, there were no possum blends, or soft merino yarns on the market. 

The other distinctly different feature of this book are the lack of pictures and well, scant instructions. The book tells you to increase 9 stitches evenly across the row and you are expected to be able to manage the calculations. Women of last century were clearly more competent in mathematics than we of today - we who require explicit instructions - knit 8, increase by knitting into front and back of stitch and repeat. And many of us need pictures to show the increase - those women did not, they just knew what to do.  The final proof will be in the knitting. I am planning to make a few of the items. I shall start with a cholera belt - you just never know when you will need one!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Children, Education and The World

I awoke  this morning to the news that a young girl in northwestern Pakistan had been shot in the head by the Taleban for daring to assert her right to education. Yes, she was an activist, you can read some of the blog that she started to write when she was just 11 years old here, but is shooting her really going to achieve anything but condemnation? As I write this, the news agencies are reporting she has undergone surgery to remove the bullet. No doubt many are praying for her recovery, I wish her this and hope her spirit has not been extinguished. 

Also, this evening a radio documentary told me about the corruption in provincial South Africa that sees money supposed to be spent on schooling misappropriated and children forced to attend school without textbooks. Whilst other people are ordered to shred, yes SHRED, brand new textbooks for goodness only knows what reason.

Education, is it not the right of all people, young and old?

But in the midst of this news day, I received an email from a wonderful American woman. Let me share her story. About six months ago, I received an email from this lady asking me how she could get hold of a copy of my book The Stuck There Forever Boat which is a story about global warming set in Tuvalu. 

It seems that this visionary grandmother and her six year old granddaughter, Peyton, had decided to travel the world through books. They pinned up a world map and armed with a box of red dots and a library card started to read books from different countries of the world. They placed a dot on their map to represent each one as they went.  Since the book is now sold out, and a reprint undecided, I sent her one of my few remaining copies. As well as a copy of Curly From Shirley about a dog in post-quake Christchurch.

Their "read around the world" is complete and they have created their own book about the journey. Peyton and her grandmother have kindly agreed to allow me to share it here. This is a reminder of the value of reading, of love and of a journey. In a few short months, this little girl has received an loving gift, of joy and education, much more than the other girls I started writing this blog about. 

Where is the equality in this world? Thanks goodness that some children live in a free world, where education and reading are valued. And perhaps more importantly. have loving older relatives to show them the way.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Applying (unsuccessfully) for grants

I have become accustomed to success with my health research grant applications. Usually 9/10 that are submitted are successful. So my first foray into applying for writers grants was always going to be interesting. I knew it would be harder; it was. I knew I would be competing with some pretty serious writers; I was. And most importantly, I knew the world would not end if I didn't get the grant: it didn't.

So what was a I applying for? It was one of the Copyright Licensing NZ's $35,000 non-fiction grants. The winners are amazing authors, with amazing projects. Congratulations to them.

But I won also. As part of the process, I was required to write a full proposal, with chapter outline, and some sample chapters. "It would be helpful to have letters of support from a publisher"  the application form read, so I did.

Now I find myself holding a pretty good book proposal; I have a couple of key individuals all queued to help; and most importantly, I have a publisher who says they are still keen to explore publishing the book.

So an unsuccessful grant has a positive lining and I don't think I have wasted a single minute (or in this case days) of my life. Although, I do not deny that the money would have made the writing easier.

As Bill Cosby said, "in order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure."

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Something to yarn about

Last year, I entered a local knitting art exhibition and a group of women who call themselves "THE MATAYARNAS" who live in a small town called Matakana, not far from where I live, entered a series of wine cozies. A wine cozy, is literally a cover for a wine bottle with similar attributes as a tea cosy, but with none of the thermal properties. Of course it has thermal proporties but they are nowhere near (or even at all) useful. So I left the exhibition scratching my head ever so slightly. Lovely as they were....

Fast forward a year when The Matayarnas' creative leader, Sharleen Greer, prompted me to enter a competition she was guessed cozies! They had a category that challenged you to create a cozy that represented a local vineyard or wine. Well, that got me going - Ascension Vineyards' Passion? Takatu Poppies? Vestil Vrigin? Ooooh the opportunities were endless.

Takatu Poppies was my first entry. A crocheted base with knitted wool flowers and beads on wire.

Omaha Bay Vineyard was my second. It is all crocheted and includes a green hilly landscape with, blue bay, and grape vineyards in the foreground with glass bead grape bunches.

These are the very first wine cozies i have eve attempted and I was surprised to receive a merit award for both. I am inspired to start again for next year.

All of the cozies (and there are some truly magnificent pieces of art) will be on display at The Vintry in Matakan for the month of September. What a great reason to visit and sample a glass of their wonderful wines.