Costume – Poncho Design

This is a friendly reminder that this post may contain spoilers for my 2018 Masquerade Costume.  I’m trying not to put in spoilers, but you may be able to piece together what I’m making.  Read at your own risk.

One of the main pieces I have to construct is a poncho in camouflage colors. It is essentially a large rectangle with a neck hole and a hood.  Easy enough design.  The trouble will be making the blotches. There are a lot of yarns pre-patterned in camouflage colors, but they won’t pool the colors in large areas.  That’s yarn-speak for none will create large blotches for the look I want.  So that means I will be using multiple yarns and a pattern. This is where I get creative.

I found a pattern that I like online, except it had a logo in the middle of it.  Etsy is a godsend to crafters. I contacted the creator of the pattern.  She was happy to sell me a copy without the logo.  Pattern in hand, I went to Michaels to purchase yarn.

A lot of people ask me if I use high-end yarns in my costumes.  I would love to.  However, given the yardage required, I have to stick with cheap acrylic I can purchase on sale, usually at Michaels or JoAnns.  I grabbed the yarn colors listed on the pattern and came home.  I looked at my reference picture.  Turns out the pattern is four colors and I picked a six color pattern.  Oops.

Time to dig in and start some design work. I downloaded a four color camouflage pattern online.  I overlaid a grid graphic, so I  now have my pattern.  Another trip to Michaels and I exchanged the yarn for the appropriate colors.

Because of how the grid falls, I decided to crochet it instead of knit.  It will allow me to make changes on the fly much more easily.

Now I’m ready to begin the actual construction.  First I have to finish the second of two baby blankets and a few amigurumi for gifts and things I’ve promised. Then it’s onto the costume.  This time I plan not to be crocheting furiously as a step on stage.

Word Output

I’m proud of my word output, minuscule though it may be.

I’ve written over 8,400 words in the last two weeks.  I know that doesn’t sound like a lot for most professional writers.  In fact, I know it’s not a lot.  I listen to podcasts where people talk about a daily output of 1,000 to 2,000 words a day.  In fact, I heard one where the person (humble)bragged about being able to write 5,000 words per day.  Makes my average of 560 per day seem rather anemic.

That is when I stop, take a step back, and remind myself of a few things.  The people who I’ve heard talking about writing massive quantities of words and put out multiple books a year are people who write as a full-time job.  They have a supportive spouse and family that they can depend on.

Me, I’m juggling my day job, caring for my mother, and behind-the-scenes work of self-publishing all on my own.  And did I mention that Sherbert likes to help me write?

Sherbert “helping” me write.

So, yeah.  I’m not going to be one of those people who put out a book every three months.  At this point, I’ll be lucky to put out a book a year.  My day job isn’t going away anytime soon.  My mother, knock on wood, won’t be either.  So I’m learning to not compare my output to people who can sit in front of their computer for eight hours and do their job.  Those people put out multiple books a year.  Does that make me a failure to only be able to do one book a year?

No, it does not.

Now once I start publishing, things may change.  I’m fumbling around right now, learning everything as I go.  And I know there are a few tricks I could use to up my output. But here’s the important thing.  I get to decide what success is.  If it’s writing 840 words a day, good.  If it’s writing 8,400 words a day, good.  If it’s writing one word a day, good.  It’s all up to me.

What I’m Working On – July 2017 Edition

Well, June and most of July was a loss because of illness and the website issues.  So here’s where things stand.

  • Chaos Wolf, Jordan Abbey Novel #1 – Urban fantasy novel. Currently being read by the developmental editor.  Working on the non-story elements it will need (cover, blurb, etc.)
  • Chaos Hunt, Jordan Abbey Novel #2 –  Urban fantasy novel.  Still on hold until Chaos Wolf is complete.
  • Fan Fiction Rewrite – Paranormal romance novel. This is a “new” project.  Taking another pass at stripping out the TV series elements to fit it into a shared novel universe.  Rereading and leaving notes about elements that need to change.
  • Hummingbird –  Short story.  I think I’ve figured out how to fix it.  I haven’t had a chance to actually rewrite it.
  • Lucy Harker, Vampire Hunter –  Urban fantasy novel.  No forward movement on this yet.  Debating on starting over from the beginning to fix several tonal disconnects.
  • Project Fang – Paranormal romance novel.  Co-written with a friend.  Still paused and will be for the foreseeable future due to real life issues.
  • Radiant Shadows – Urban fantasy novel. Co-written with a friend.  Also paused while we figure out a schedule for working and complete an outline.
  • Thin Red Line – Urban fantasy novel. Co-written with a friend. Still plugging away at it.  Once we have the rough draft done, we will begin a rewrite to eliminate the head hopping.

Pardon My Dust

So you may have noticed some changes around here.  It’s more than a new WordPress theme.

I’d been having problems with my website for the last two weeks.  PHP errors, 500 errors, and 404 errors plagued me. I had been diligently following the web host’s  instructions to fix it.  Nothing seemed to work, except for the one they claimed would fix all my problem.  Upgrade to a virtual private server for more money.

I pointed out, repeatedly, that my traffic levels were low, I hadn’t added any plugins or new content other than text posts.  My site had been stable for over three years. They stood firm.  I needed to upgrade to a virtual private server if I wanted my problems to go away.

I found a different solution. I’ve switched to a new host.

So far the switch is going okay.  I was able to import the text from my blog entries without a problem.  I’m still working on the pictures.  This gives me the excuse needed to redesign my costume gallery.  I’m sure there are a few pesky broken links I will need to root out. I hope to resume regular posts next week.

Costume Creation

Sorry this is late.  Still dealing with technical issues.

I had an idea the other day.  Most of my blogging focuses on my writing.  But when I’m at conventions, I’m primarily known for the costumes I wear in the masquerades.  Hand knit and crochet, they are a labor of love that people want to know more about.  I always promise I will blog about them, but usually remember just before the convention I am going to attend.

This year, remembered that I want to blog about it at the the time I was coming up with the costume concept.  So once a month, I will post where I am on working on the costume, including pictures, ideas, and thoughts as I’m working on them.

Here’s my promise.  A lot of people don’t want to know what I am wearing before I step on stage. And I want to honor that thrill of seeing a costume for the first time without any preconceived notions. I will be posting pictures, referring to materials and patterns.  I will talk about how this pieces is giving me finger cramps.  Most likely any person paying close attention will be able to figure out what I’m making.  However, I will do my best not to say the name of the costume until it has been in its first masquerade (usually BayCon).  After that, I will post pictures of me in the costume and any awards it has received, like I usually do.

So if you don’t want to know anything more, stop reading now!

Because of the time involved in knitting a costume, I have to start about a year out because I know I will be distracted with other projects.  Plus while some pieces can be sewn in a day, knitting and crocheting will take a much longer time. I’ll jot down ideas throughout the year, but June is when I have to start seriously planning the costume for the next year.

For the 2018 costume, inspiration struck on June 24, 2017.  I had an idea to do Tinkerbell or Janice Rand from Star Trek, but I wasn’t really feeling either of them. Then I had an idea looking at pictures of Carrie Fisher.

That sparked my interest.

Scrolling through costumes she had worn, one jumped out at me.  It isn’t as fancy as the costumes I’ve done in the past, but I think it would make a striking stage presentation.  To pull it off, I will need a to make a poncho and a hat and/or wig.  I will also need to modify a pair of boots and a pair of pants.  This doesn’t sound like a lot compared to other costumes I have made, but since I will also be busy with a book release (I hope), simple is better.

So now I need to figure out exactly how I’m going to pull this all off.  But that’s my next post in about a month.

2017 Goals Check In

I meant to do this last week, but because of various health issues (both mine and my cats), I ended up pushing it off for a week.  So here we go.

  • Write more consistently every day – I am going to aim for 500 words a day with fewer non-writing days.
    • Not even close. According to my Word Count Spread Sheet O’ Doom, I averaged 102 words a day.  Because of illness, I’ve missed more writing days to date this year than last.
  • Read more books – I’m setting a goal of 40 for 2017.
    • As of the end of June, I’ve read 21 books so far.
  • Submit the final draft of Chaos Wolf
    • Changed my mind and started the self-publish process.  Chaos Wolf is out for a developmental edit and I’m filling out the paperwork for a cover.  More on that in a future post.
  • Write more short stories
    • I rewrote one short story, and I think it’s going to be rewritten completely again based on feedback I’ve received.  I’ve got ideas for more short stories, and I’ll wedge them in between the novels I’m working on
  • Rewrite the first draft of the second Jordan Abbey novel Chaos Hunt.
    • Haven’t started it yet.  Once the developmental edit for Chaos Wolf is done, I’ll get back to work on this one.
  • Transform the fanfic story into an original story
    • This is going to need an extensive rewrite to fit it into a something I’m interested in participating in.  More details in another post.
  • Finish the draft of Lucy Harker, Vampire Hunter
    • Not quite there yet.  I had to stop and do research, but I’m diving back in.
  • Tweet and Facebook more
    • Working on it, but with the day job, I feel like the conversation is long over by the time I see it.  I did hook up my Twitter to post to my Facebook at least.
  • Find a writing group either online or in realspace to join.
    • Done a little research.  The problem is that the ones I’m interested in are during times I can’t attend, and I don’t have an interest in founding one myself.

In summary, I’m on target for some things, and others I still need to work on. We’ll see where I am at the end of the year.

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