Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Shopping. And then more shopping.

In case you were wondering why I've been too busy to post lately.

I managed to find the last few things for Trev yesterday. If I hadn't been so exhausted, I'd've opened a bottle of champagne to celebrate.

For some reason, I've found the shopping especially difficult this year. Usually, I pretty much know what I want, and go get it. This year, I've found myself wandering around numerous large shops in agonies of indecision, unable to find what I wanted, and equally unable to think of something else that would do instead. I've been to Forbidden Planet three times, when usually one trip will suffice. And I've been to Oxford Street, two local high streets, and Brent Cross (a large shopping mall in north London).

Never mind the time off work. I need time off from the shopping!

Monday, December 05, 2005

All NaNover For Another Year

For those of you wondering how NaNo went - very well, thank you! I had so much fun I did it twice.

I finished the first one, albeit with a slight problem in the middle which I plan to solve by dint of research which will consist of reading more techno-thrillers and perhaps watching a few bad movies, eight days early. So I wrote another. Think Gerry Anderson meets H.P. Lovecraft, with a splash of Star Trek. It seems to me this second one better embodies the true spirit of NaNo, having been thought up completely at the last minute. And it contains Giant Space Squid.

My thanks to Theresa Nielsen-Hayden for the Evil Overlord Plot Generator which allowed me to come up with a plot in an afternoon, and Seventh Sanctum for providing all the names.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Wanted: Tiara

Knew there was something else I meant to post yesterday.

Monday was another of Pat Cadigan's Borders nights - the guests were Farah Mendelsohn and Justina Robson.

Justina says, and others corroborate, that writing goes much better when wearing a tiara.

Must get one.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A NaNo-ing We Go

This week, I have been mostly writing.

Some of you may know that November is National Novel Writing Month. This isn't strictly accurate - it's international. If you haven't heard of it before, the idea is to write a 50K word novel draft (or more) during the month of November. I think mine will be a complete draft at about 60-ish, which isn't bad for something destined to come out finshed around 90K, considering the draft is almost entirely plot and conversation, with very little description. (This is partially the result of fast drafting, and also partly because it's set in San Francisco, and I need to find out what the locations look like before I can describe them. At the moment, it's all a bit vague.) I'm about 40K in.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Toasty for Typing

Originally uploaded by Flyingsquid.

The finished product. Actually, there are a pair, but I needed the other hand to hold the camera. I'm really pleased with how they came out, especially as I had never done the double-pointed tubular knitting before. They fit! My hands will be toasty warm when I'm typing this winter.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Day Of The Dead

Originally uploaded by Flyingsquid.

I made this in 1999 for the London Quilters millenium show. It's based on the Aztec calendar (whose millenium has yet to come) and Mexican folk-art, including a candy-coloured Day of the Dead skull.

It's called "Significant Days". Not everyone has the same ones.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Jack, By Himself

Originally uploaded by Flyingsquid.

Halloween Activities

Originally uploaded by Flyingsquid.

I don't usually like cooking, but this year I did something I've always wanted to do and made iced sugar-cookies for Halloween. Boy, are they sweet. So sweet they make your cheeks hurt when you bite into one. Maybe that's why Mom was never into icing them when I was a kid.

The icing was fun though. To get the black, I thought I could just mix some of each of the four food-colours in my set - blue, red, green, yellow - well I did the white, then made the rest orange, then thought it would be easy to add a bit of green and get brown. What I got, no matter how I tried, were various shades of vile green which would have been ideal if I'd been making iced zombies. Then I had the genius idea (if I do say so myself) of adding cocoa powder. Result: perfect colour. And the black cookies will make you even more hyper than the other ones!

They are presided over by Jack, who I carved earlier. The Cyberman is just always there though.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Worship the Knitting

they're awed
Originally uploaded by Flyingsquid.

See how the little fluffy creatures worship their idol. If they are good, one day they too will get to be knitting...

This week, I have been learning to knit on double-pointed needles. I'd never tried it before, but in the bundle of knitting needles passed on from my grandmother to my mother to me there are several sizes of double-point sets. And I'm still feeling bitten by the knitting bug. So I searched around on-line until I found some advice on and and found a pattern for fingerless gloves, which the onset of fall weather has reminded me that I need, and set to.

I believe the interesting spiral-effect in the towering idol is due to my having got the stitches twisted when arranging them after casting on. It's pretty cool how the knitting stands up all on its own.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Knitting and Stiching

Yesterday I went to the Knitting and Stitching show at Alexandra Palace. It was very hot inside. I ran into another quilter I know, and she said to me "why do we do this every year?" And I found it difficult to answer, except that last year I didn't go, and really felt like I'd missed something. This year it felt more like a trade-show than an art exhibition. In addition to the main trade-hall, half or more of the exhibition hall was occupied by people selling things. I came out feeling as though I'd been on an airplane - something was wrong with the air pressure in there.

Notwithstanding all of the above, I came out psyched to do more art. I saw beautiful and inspirational objects, and spent far too much money, some of it on what I am convinced is the perfect knitting pattern for all that wool I bought back when I worked in a haberdashery* shop and could get it at a discount. (The pattern I bought for it two years ago having turned out not to be the perfect one after all.) I got it home and discovered I'm missing the two sizes of needles I need to knit it on. These are probably the only sizes in the world I don't actually own.

I really liked mariko tagawa's little creatures. I also spent ages drooling over Claire Johnson Knight's sketchbooks, but a quick google hasn't revealed any of her art or embroidery on the net.

*For those of you in the States, haberdashery here is not menswear, but fabric and sewing-related items.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Vomit and Ooze

Last night, I finally made it to one of Pat Cadigan's readings at Borders. The guests were Cory Doctorow and John Courtnay Grimwood. It was all interesting, but for me the high point was the bit where Pat admitted to projectile vomiting her novels onto an unsuspecting world, while Cory claimed his just oozed out from under his door.

This was during a discussion of how Cory likes to publish beta versions of his novels in serial form on the net, whereas neither Pat nor John could ever imagine doing such a thing. Later, down the pub, I wanted to make a profound point about how this may not be so much a difference in willingness to let unfinished drafts be read as a difference in perception of the net, but the woman next to me spilled her drink all over the table, and by the time it got mopped up, the conversation had turned to other things.

It seems to me that some people (Cory, for instance) regard the net as a community of largely like-minded people, most (though spectacularly not all) of whom are well-intentioned and intelligent. So that for him, putting writing on the net is not all that different from showing it to his friends. He just has a lot of friends. Whereas others (Pat and John) regard the net as a thing used by people who are mostly strangers, of the sort one wants only to see one's best work, lest they judge you by something you yourself are not yet happy with. I haven't yet figured out where I stand on this.

In other news, it's a good thing I remembered my camera the other day. This morning, walking across the Heath, I found they had taken the table down and were about to go to work dismantling the chair, with a large crane and a camera crew in attendance.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Photoshop Is Not Involved

Originally uploaded by Flyingsquid.

This appeared last spring. (I've been meaning to blog about it for ages but have only just got round to taking a picture.)It sits just past the steep bit of Parliament Hill, on Hampstead Heath. For scale, there is a person (who just handily happened to be standing there) at the right of the photo - you may need to click and look at the full-size version to see.

Teenagers are reputed to have been caught having sex on the table-top. What I want to know is: how did they get up there?

Also, it looks OK, in a surreal sort of way, in my photographs. In person, it's hideous, and spoils one of my favourite views. I believe it's not a permanent addition, though.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

A Little Friend

Originally uploaded by Flyingsquid.

We have a big hanging paper lampshade in the front room. It's wide in the middle, but narrow top and bottom, which generally prevents moths this size from getting in. It does not, however, prevent them from braining themselves in the attempt.

This little guy kept landing on me for a rest between attempts. After much dodging about trying to photograph my own shoulder, I persuaded him to sit on my hand instead.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Anthea and Carrie-Anne

Anthea and Carrie-Anne
Originally uploaded by Flyingsquid.

That's Anthea on the left. She's bubbly and outgoing, and always lets everyone know exactly what she thinks. On the right is her cousin Carrie-Anne, who is one of those quiet ones you have to watch out for.

They're not best friends yet, but they will be.

In case you wondered if I'm writing a story about them, the answer is yes. Only I'd quite like it to be a graphic novel.

That's Sprat in the background, keeping an eye on them for me. (And they're standing on the ironing board, hence the strange green flower under Anthea's feet.)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Spreading the Love

Maureen's heart
Originally uploaded by Flyingsquid.

The hearts I swapped for have all arrived. Here they are for you to admire. I had a little trouble with the colours on this one - some of the fabrics are shot silk, which is hard to photograph, it turns out.

This is addictive. Must make more hearts!

Rosemary's heart

Rosemary's heart
Originally uploaded by Flyingsquid.

Rosemary and Maureen's hearts arrived the same day. I got home from an unusually long, hard day at work to find them waiting on the ironing board ready to cheer me up.

(Doesn't everyone put un-opened mail on the ironing board? No? I keep my ironing board set up behind the sofa, where it makes a handy repository for far too much junk.)

Sandie's heart

Sandie's heart
Originally uploaded by Flyingsquid.

I've received these three beautiful hearts, in return for mine. You can see the kind of workmanship I'm trying to live up to!

Pieces of lace and fabric came with them. I'm thinking of making an album of the hearts, with quilted fabric pages, so I'll probably use as many of these bits as I can on the cover.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I Heart Crazy Patchwork

lavender heart
Originally uploaded by Flyingsquid.

Another Heart

purple heart 1
Originally uploaded by Flyingsquid.

This was the first one I made.

Heart 3

purple heart 2
Originally uploaded by Flyingsquid.

I haven't put up any crafty posts for some time, so here's what I've been working on since getting back from Scotland. While goofing off at work web-surfing, I stumbled across Chains Of Hearts on Yahoo. It's a group for swapping 6" crazy hearts. I'd never done crazy patchwork before, but I had all the materials and embroidery threads, so I couldn't resist joining.

These are the first three I've made. The embroidery toys are happy to be played with again!

Monday, August 29, 2005

One Last Post About Worldcon

Originally uploaded by Flyingsquid.

Because, after all, I shouldn't leave out the parties. The above was taken at the Xerps party, easily the best I went to. Also the only one not held in a large, brightly-lit function room. I don't know, I find it hard to get into a party mood in bright light.

They've got my vote for 2010!

Monday, August 22, 2005

And Then The Convention

Right, enough about the sightseeing. What we really went to Glasgow for was Worldcon (the World Science Fiction Convention, for those who don't know) after all. It was fantastic, and huge, and exhausting, and for the whole week afterwards, I kept checking my watch every hour, wondering where I had to be now.

I probably did too much. I know I tried to, but Trev did (mostly) succeed in making me pause for things like food. I am awed, and informed, and inspired, most especially to actually send more stories out. I do have a confession to make. I went with the intention of trying to meet editors. There were certainly enough of them present. I chickened out.

I can think of two reasons for this. One is that I get very shy among large crowds of strangers - and there were about 4,000 people at this thing. Of whom I knew, oh, maybe a dozen, at a generous estimate. But that's not the main reason. Really, it's the fear that if I go up to an editor (most of whom seem to be men my father's age) and say "Hi, I've written a book" they'll give me a slightly disbelieving look and say something along the lines of "Have you? That's nice dear."

I know I'm not giving them a fair chance here. It's just that when I used to tell people I was Chair of London Quilters (which I was for two years, stepping down a year or so ago) I'd get such looks of astonishment and disbelief that I've been forced to conclude that I look a) far too young to be/have done any such thing, and/or b) too flaky.

I'm reminded of when my mother, at around this same age, ran for City Council or some such thing, and failed to get taken at all seriously, for much the same reasons. Of course, looking flaky might not be so detrimental to a writer.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Music Room

music room
Originally uploaded by Flyingsquid.

I walked in here and was instantly nine years old again. Don't go bringing any little girls in here. You'll never pry them out.

What you're looking at is the piano, incidentally.

Dining Room

dining room
Originally uploaded by Flyingsquid.

This was Trev's favourite room at House for an Art Lover. It's impressive, but I prefer the dining room at Mackintosh's own house, with its more subdued colour scheme. The end wall, seen at the right in the photo, has a large painting of pink roses on a bright blue, to my eye clashing, background. I couldn't help wondering a teeny bit if it was really what Mackintosh had intended.

It has the same inhabited feeling as the Mackintosh House. I kept expecting someone in period costume to walk in and be startled at our outlandish appearance.

House for an Art Lover

House for an Art Lover
Originally uploaded by Flyingsquid.

House for an Art Lover was designed by Mackintosh, but not built until the 1990s. If the Mackintosh House is a dimension-warp, this one is a time-warp. This is my favourite view of the exterior, looking towards the front entrance.

I Want To Live Here

Mackintosh house
Originally uploaded by Flyingsquid.

Looks pretty surreal, doesn't it? This is the outside of the Mackintosh's own house, which has materialised inside the Hunterian Museum in such a way that bits (such as the front door and windows) stick out.

Despite being interdimensionally entwined with an art museum, the place feels lived-in. You expect the Mackintoshes to walk in at any moment.

Once again, I have no interior photos, but the Hunterian Museum has a virtual tour .

I mean it about wanting to live here.

Art School

Originally uploaded by Flyingsquid.

Our Mackintosh Feast began with the Glasgow School of Art. Most of my photos of the outside didn't come out very well - this one is the best. The GSA's website has a virtual tour with some good pictures of the inside.

Have I mentioned yet that I have a new favourite architect? You have to take a guided tour here, which turns out to be a very good thing, or at least it does if your guide is as good as ours was.

Trev and I both agreed that it must be inspirational to study here. I mentioned to my boss (who is from Glasgow) that we'd been, and he said that in fact, he has taken classes there, and it was. You can imagine my envy!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Same Machine But With Motion-Blur

machine blur
Originally uploaded by Flyingsquid.

Marbles Wanted

Originally uploaded by Flyingsquid.

This giant marble machine was my favourite thing at the Science Museum. For an idea of scale, the balls are about six inches in diameter.

I want one.

science museum

science museum
Originally uploaded by Flyingsquid.

This is probably the best photo of the whole trip. We went to the science museum on our first day in Glasgow. It's pretty much geared for children, so we had fun being ten again.

We also saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on the Imax screen. I am now forever spoiled for watching movies in normal cinemas.

*spoiler alert*

Neil Gaiman says on his journal that the new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is really Willy Wonka's story, not Charlie's. He's right. It's also a fantastic movie. (The real show-stealer is Deep Roy, as the oompa-loompas.)

Saturday, August 13, 2005


As some of you may know, the reason for the long break in posts is that I've been up in Glasgow, at the 63rd World Science Fiction Convention. The con was terrific, and we managed to fit in some sight-seeing as well, including lots of Charles Rennie Mackintosh architecture. The detail above is from the back wall of the Scotland Street School.

There won't be as many pictures up here as I would have liked - I'm still getting to know the digital camera, so while many things came out better than I would have expected, pretty much all of the low-light ones came out too blurry for even Photoshop to rescue. Clearly, I need to experiment more with the manual settings.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

With Unflattering Promptness

My rejection letter from Tor has arrived. It's the short form one, so of course, I'm left wondering why it's not what they're looking for. I mean, it could really not be something they have an opening for at this time. It could be that the writing is atrocious. If the latter, I'm sure that's not something any publisher ever says in a rejection letter.

I'm going with the assumption that it's just not their cup of tea, and sending it on to the next publisher on my list.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

It's Never Too Small To Use

scrap balls
Originally uploaded by Flyingsquid.

These are made from the bits too small to use for patchwork, mostly seams and hems.

They're fairly decorative. And you could use them to practice juggling, I suppose. (I can't. I suck at juggling, so the chances of me accidentally throwing one of these rather solid balls at, say, the TV are just that little bit too high.)

The truth is, I can't stand not to use the whole shirt.

Raw Materials

Originally uploaded by Flyingsquid.

Here's what I've been doing over the weekend: cutting up old shirts. These are cotton, not flannel, though you may notice a certain colour theme! I've actually been collecting them for a couple of years. I have enough now, and also, I need a new hand-sewing project.

The quilt they're destined for will be a large feathered star, with lone stars in between the points, and bits of lemoyne stars here and there.

It will have applique in the centre and around the edges, but I haven't designed that bit yet.

Friday, July 22, 2005

News from the Book Front

I've just gotten back the postcard I enclosed with my submission to Tor. It says my synop + 3 arrived on July 14th. As I sent it back in March, I take it this means they aren't kidding about it taking 4-6 months to reply. It's taken them pretty much exactly 4 months to open it. Which is what I expected, given they also say not to query to see if they got it until 4 months after you've sent it.

So now I get to start worrying about whether they'll actually like it or not.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Tiny Stories

I've just submitted a story for Bob Podrasky's Tiny Stories collection. It's exactly 101 words long, including the title, and contains psychedelic mice. I'm pleased with it.

You too can play - they'll take submissions until August 5th. Rules are here. And here's one I wrote earlier with gorgeous illustration by Lisa Snellings Clark. Be sure to read the other ones while you're there!

And now I can go back to reading Lisa's blog without feeling guilty for not having done my story yet.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Flannel Star

flannel star
Originally uploaded by Flyingsquid.

I told you I'm obsessed with these. This one is made of flannel, mostly old shirts, one bathrobe, and a few nightgowns. I asked my parents for all of their worn-out flannel shirts and got this amazingly colour-coordinated lot. The bit in the centre is from my favourite shirt from when I was ten, which I never would let my mother throw out. See? It came in handy.

I pieced this over thin fabric, instead of paper, which will stay as a permanent part of the quilt. It worked pretty well. Flannel is a lot more slippery and difficult to work with than I would have guessed, and I think pulling off papers would have caused too much unravelling of the seam allowances.

The star measures a metre or so across, and will form the centre of a larger quilt. I'll put a border of the red flannel around it, and then more strip-pieced strips, like the ones used for the corners.

It's already unbelievably soft and cuddly, without even being quilted yet.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

What It's About

At last night's Zokutou meeting, I somewhat disastrously attempted to explain what the novel currently nestling in Tor's slushpile is about. This is in preparation for Worldcon, in case I should happen to find myself talking to someone who wants to know. I may be in trouble here. If I can't explain it to people I'm used to babbling on about writing to, how am I going to cope with people I've only just met?

It might, of course, have helped if it hadn't been far too hot last night to consume alcohol...

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Stars Are Ours

Originally uploaded by Flyingsquid.

Today I thought I'd put up a quilt photo. I made this last winter for my mom & stepfather. Trev really hated to see it go, so I'm working on a similar one for us now.

The stars are 12" square, string-pieced on freezer paper. Variations on this pattern seem to have been really popular mid-20th c. I'm finding it a bit addictive myself.

Monday, July 11, 2005

About sums it up really

Originally uploaded by Flyingsquid.

Seeing as I live in London, I was pondering what to post about Thursday. I myself was writing all morning, and didn't even know anything was happening until I noticed how bad the traffic was, halfway to work on the bus.

On Saturday, because Trev is into military history, we went down to see the MOD's Living Museum in St. James's Park. Down Pall Mall, they had a row of vintage vehicles on display. Many of them bore this same slogan. Sometimes I'm really proud I live here.