Sunday, May 31, 2009

CONTEST CLOSED I don't know about you but I need a contest



How about 2 skeins of Elann Peruvian Baby Lace Merino in scrumptious Irish Moss?

Fibre Content: 50% Baby Alpaca/ 50% Fine Merino
Made In: Peru
Care: Hand Wash Cold/ Dry Flat
Gauge: Lace Weight (2/22)
Yardage: 550 m (600 yards)
Size: 50g (1.75 oz) ball

And entering is a snap: just send me an email here or here at barbarabretton AT gmail DOT com with Irish Moss in the subject header and I'll do the rest.

The winner will be announced Wednesday night, June 3rd.

Good luck!!

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sock Summit - a minor rant

What in the name of Elizabeth Zimmermann is wrong with some people? I just finished reading Yarn Harlot's blog posts about Sock Summit registration and the problems/triumphs associated with it and I swear to you the top of my head almost exploded.

Stephanie and Tina have accomplished the impossible. What they've done with the Sock Summit is nothing short of miraculous. Do you have any idea how hard it is to put together a conference? I know of organizations that have been brought to their knees by the logistics involved in bringing together one or two hundred like-minded people for a weekend. I know of organizations that have wisely handed off those same logistical nightmares to professional conference planners because the details and disasters are beyond the ken of mortal men and women.

And this is with some organization capital backing them.

Things go wrong. Servers crash. Websites get all pissy. Not everyone gets the class or room or rate he or she hoped for. That's life. It isn't the fault of the conference coordinator. It's just the luck of the draw.

I'll say it again: Stephanie and Tina are miracle workers. The Sock Summit is going to be the knitters' Woodstock. We'll be talking about it years from now (and pretending we were there too.)

If you don't know the details, visit Yarn Harlot and read her fascinating, exasperating, amazingly clear-headed and even-tempered account of what happened. And send up a cheer for Stephanie and Tina and the Sock Summit.

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Brenda Novak's auction nearing its end

I just wanted to remind folks here that Brenda Novak's auction to fight juvenile diabetes closes tomorrow. "Romancing the Yarn" has a great gift bag on offer. It's filled with books and yarn. There are lots of other fabulous things to bid on (including a pair of handmade earrings donated by yours truly, along with an autographed copy of my latest book Music of the Night).

Click on over and put in your final bids! Here's the link:

It's a very worthy cause!


Thursday, May 28, 2009

I have a problem

Actually I have lots of problems but just one I want to share tonight.

I finally finished the #*@*!& spiral socks for Goldisox that had been bugging my behind for months and the sense of accomplishment was exhilarating. It's been so long since I'd finished anything (okay, so I finished a book and some proposals but I'm talking knitting here) that I was really quite full of myself for a few hours.

And then reality (bane of my existence) hit and I started calculating exactly how long it takes me to make a pair of simple socks. Big mistake. At the rate I knit, it will take me about five years to make the gift socks I'd planned to make for the 2009 holiday season. Even if I knit them with super-chunky yarn on telephone poles.

Why am I so slow? I know I don't put as much time into the process lately as I'd like (hand issues and time constraints) but when I do I swear I poke along like a little kid meandering down a dirt road in the middle of the summer. I actually STOP after every round and admire my handiwork. What's up with that? Am I so exhausted from all that stockinette that I need a breather every 48-72 stitches? Am I so fabulous a knitter that even the most basic stitch deserves applause?

I think you know the answer to those questions . . .

And then it hit me that I'm putting the same damn expectations on my knitting as I put on my writing. I'm playing the comparison game and trust me when I say nothing good ever comes of that.

Way back in the mists of time when I sold my first book, my editor (the incredible Vivian Stephens) told me to run my own race. Every writer has a natural pace, she said, and honoring that pace will do more for your creative health long term than just about anything else she could think of. She was right. I'll never be the fastest writer in town but I'm still producing 27 years after my first sale.

So why am I torturing myself over my turtle-like knitting speed? I'm actually embarrassed to share my slowness with you guys and you know all my dirty knitting secrets. A pair of socks might take a month of hour-a-day knitting. Maybe more. A sweater? Well, I knit one for Goldisox in a month but that was top-down with chunky Highlander. A worsted weight sweater might have taken me into retirement.

It shouldn't embarrass me. But, damn it, it does. I try to tell myself it's because there's so much beautiful yarn out there and so many fantastic patterns that if I don't ramp up the speed I'll never get to a fraction of them but I suspect there's more to it than that.

I've been working under deadlines for so long now that I impose them on my knitting, the one place where they do NOT belong.

Any other slow knitters out there?


I forgot to share the LACED WITH MAGIC video. Hope you enjoy it.

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Crocheted Baby Kimono and Birdie

Here's a little crocheted kimono top and baby bird I made for my cousin's Rozanne's imminent gender-unknown munchkin. These pieces particularly please my frugal soul, since they're made from the remnant yarn from Kevin's Christmas socks. :-) It's self-striping, soft, and silky. Sorry I didn't write down the yarn name!

I really love the way they turned out. Kimono pattern is improvised; baby bird is courtesy Craftypants -- I used her wing modification on the original pattern. Easy, but a bit painstaking to get the shaping right. Lots of counting!

Now the next question is what to make for baby Ursula, born three-and-a-half months early, coming home from the NICU in a few weeks... Any suggestions on what's particularly helpful to parents of a preemie?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Le Wrath di Khan

Absolutely no knitting content but if you love Star Trek (or hate it), love opera (or hate it), you'll definitely love this video.

But beware: you might hurt yourself laughing.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

How not to lose your mind

Our northern New Jersey newspaper The Star-Ledger offered 20 ways to "Keep Your Mind Sharp". Since I constantly worry that my mind is becoming ever duller, the headline caught my eye. Professor Paul Nussbaum of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine lists various activities one can engage in to exercise the old gray matter.

Guess what No. 8 was? You got it: knitting! Evidently, using both hands works both sides of your brain which is a good thing. And as the journalist points out, knitting is a great stress reliever.

So if you can't remember where you put your car keys or, even worse, why you were looking for them in the first place, grab your needles and feel your mental muscles flexing.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Can you have too much fun?

I'm never content to just have one project on the ol' needles. Restless excitement to do lots of neat things at once always hits me, and next thing I know, I'm casting on something new.

Here's an update on my current projects: Four squares I've finished for the Knit a Square charity.

Simple garter stitch and colorful 100% wool, I think these will piece together nicely into part of a blanket for a child in South Africa. This has been my take-along project, and I've done most of this knitting at my kids' school events, doctor visits and etc. I'd like to do at least 20 of these (1/2 a blanket).

Below is the Wash's Sweater (Big Damn Sweater) from Firefly. It's my reward project for hitting daily word count goals on the current novel.

I'm loving the sweater. A very easy pattern, and nice cables and double moss stitch to spice it up. I can't wait to get it done. The novel (book 4) is coming along nicely and will probably be done before the sweater. (I can't believe book 2, Magic in the Blood came out 2 weeks ago, and is in stores now. Time doesn't fly, it jets!)

Next up? Toys for two different auctions to raise money for authors who are struggling with serious health issues. I love making toys, and so far I've offered to knit the auction winners one of these toys:

Ala & Ela's Little Faye Bear, Susan B. Anderson's Elefante, Alan Dart's Jultomtar & Teeny Tomte

I'm trying to think of a "western" themed toy to donate to the second auction. Any ideas?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

We Have a Winner

Congratulations to Sara B. of NH, who is the winner of the cream Soie Bambou. It ships in the morning, Sara, with love.

And watch this space tomorrow, everyone, for another contest.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A New Project - Already

Best laid plans always interfere. I got news yesterday that my sister-in-law has a serious heart condition that is going to necessitate (almost certainly) open heart surgery within the next year. Not only that but the surgery will happen states away from home.

My helplessness has already morphed into a sense of purpose. I'm always cold in the hospital and being far away from home would suck on top of it all. We won't even go into the scariness of it all. I decided to knit a oversize stole for her that she can have at the hospital if she wants.

This means it needs to be acrylic to stand up to the washing and such. Easy care is a must. I also wanted a rich color, not a pastel or even-vaguely hospital-ish color. During lunch I surfed patterns at Ravelry and found one called the Crescendo Shawl. If I make it a bit wider than specified, it should really cozy and big enough to snuggle in.

A trip to the local yarn store was undertaken after I got off the evil day job and I found a lovely color in Bernat Satin called Wine Country Heather. (The color doesn't show well in this tiny image, sorry.)

Having discovered there is a weekly knitting hour at work during lunch and being graciously invited by my work editors, I am going to start working on it and see if I can get it done ASAP to deliver to her. At least it can stay in my office at work - it's great working with people who understand the need to knit a row as a substitute for ripping someone's head off!


Sunday, May 10, 2009

I'm New Around These Sticks....

Thanks for the warm welcome, ladies! I found this blog very much by accident (okay, I WAS procrastinating from a synopsis I need to work on by surfing knitting blogs) and was very happy to see more knitting authors!

I'm a writer with technical books published under my legal name and multiple genres of erotic romance epublished under my pen name. I'm in the process of writing like mad and trying to break into New York at the moment but, most importantly for this blog, I KNIT.

I am actually multi-crafty -- I make jewelry, knit, crochet,... Way too many to admit to. *blush*

I only taught myself to knit about two years ago because I was sure I needed yet one more hobby. I didn't anticipate how much I'd like it or how addictive it is, though. With the help of the internet and a few handy knitting "how-to" videos, I learned continental knitting and I was off and running.

I've made a lot of wash-cloths, scarves and hats and recently decided to give lace a whirl. When I wanted something not too fine, I decided on the Hemlock Ring Blanket by the wonderful Brooklyn Tweed. I'm in the seemingly endless round of binding off the thing now. I did it in a sunny acrylic I happened to have in my stash because I didn't want to waste really expensive yarn on something I wasn't sure I could succeed at. This means blocking the thing is a huge unknown at the moment but, hey, I'll enjoy it!

Yes - I realize I'm conflicted, thank you.. :)

This is the center of the blanket. I need to be better at taking photos of projects in progress.

I'm trying not to start new knitting projects until this bind off is done. Otherwise it may linger forever as a UFO. Of course I used my own rules-lawyering ability to convince myself it was okay to work on a crochet project too - I'm making some cotton shopping bags for grocery shopping from a 1970's pattern. I'll try to take some pictures of them when they're more than a strip of ecru-colored cotton.

I'm happy to be here and will enjoy having a place to talk about all my knitting adventures!


CLOSED! I Feel the Need for . . . another contest!

WINNER: Sara B., New Hampshire (chosen 5/13/09)

Words have been scarce lately, haven't they? I've been too busy sneezing and moaning my fate. Yes, knitters, The Flu - Round 2 came to visit and knocked both Goldisox and me flat on our butts. I swear I'll never get another flu shot again.

Want to know how I can tell I'm really under the weather? The knitting stops cold. I haven't touched my needles in two weeks and I'm starting to get all twitchy. Lots of reading though which was delightful. Me and my Kindle spent a lot of quality time together while I zoomed through a book a day. Pure bliss!

Anyway, you don't want to know all about my bizarre reading habits (Barack Obama, Mary Higgins Clark, Diane Mott Davidson, Robert Wagner, Cloris Leachman, William Styron, Larry McMurtry--should I go on or is your head spinning?) You're here for the knitting and I'm not going to disappoint you.

What would you say to winning a cone (yes, a cone!) of Elann Soie Bambou in a gorgeous celadon green?

Here are the stats:

Fibre Content: 65% Silk/ 35% Bamboo
Made In: France
Care: Hand Wash Gentle/ Dry Flat
Gauge: 23 st/4 inches 3.75mm (US 5)
Yardage: 624 m (680 yards)
Size: 227g (8 oz) cone

You know you want it. You know you already have plans for it. Just sent me an email here with CELADON in the subject header and I'll do the rest. The winner will be announced Wednesday evening right here.

And don't despair if your name isn't chosen. There's more Soie Bambou to come!

Good luck!

(The pattern for the pink shawl can be found FREE on the Elann site. Click here.)

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Welome Maura Anderson!

I am delighted to welcome Maura Anderson to Romancing the Yarn! Maura writes in a variety of genres and will be along shortly to introduce herself.

You can read more about Maura on her website. Best of all, she's a knitter!

More writers = more knitting which means more fun for all of us.

Maura, we're glad you're here.


Monday, May 04, 2009

The bidding has begun!

I wanted to let everyone know about a fun auction which benefits a worthy cause. Author Brenda Novak's 5th Annual On-line Auction for Diabetes Research is now live and runs through the month of May. You can bid on autographed books, jewelry, critiques by editors and agents, vacations, and a whole host of other fabulous donations from the publishing community and beyond. Last year the auction raised $252,300. Her goal for this year is $300,000. Here's the link to the auction's home page:

Romancing the Yarn contributed a gift bag of all the goodies below. If you'd like to bid on it, look under the category "Gift Baskets and Collections" or go to Item 1361520. There's already a hot bidding war going on because it's got such great stuff in it.

I also donated an autographed book with a pair of earrings I made myself. Look under "For Readers" for Item 1341683 if you're interested.
Just browsing through the listings is a lot of fun and anything you spend goes to a very worthy cause.

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Friday, May 01, 2009


Thank you, everyone, for commenting on my first post! With the help of a random number generator, the winner of a copy of MAGIC TO THE BONE and MAGIC IN THE BLOOD is...

Catie! Who said:

Oh I so want to learn how to knit...somewhere in between writing, reading MAGIC TO THE BONE, painting, scrapbooking, and all the rest of that crap we call living. :) (I never would have guessed a bad-ass urban fantasy writer like you was also a knitter Devon! Cool). :D

Catie, please contact me at devon(underscore)monk at yahoo dot com with your address and I will mail both books out to you, pronto. ('cause that's how us bad-ass urban fantasy writers roll, yo.)


If you get the chance, I think you should absolutely give knitting a try. It is fun and easy to learn!