Tag Archives: Steve
Steve got cold. So I made him a sweater. Actually, truth be told, I wanted to practise a few new knitting stitches I just learned off the all-knowing Internet (see below in italics), so I started this knitting swatch** – and then I thought, I don’t want to just make a random useless piece of knitting, so I turned it into a bear sweater. Steve seems to appreciate it.
So, in case you’re wondering, here’s a very rough pattern:
- knitting worsted yarn, 3.5mm needles (I purposely use smaller-than-intended needles, else my knit is very loose)
- Back and Front:
- 24 stitches (sts) cast on in “flexible German cast-on stitch” (which in German is called “Norwegian”)
- 6 rows in rib stitch
- 18 rows in stockinette stitch (I did all the purl in Eastern stitch, for a Combination stitch*)
- Front: shape collar a little bit by leaving the middle stitches on the needle in the last couple of rows instead of knitting right across. It’s not a very good system; you could just not bother with the shaping, too.
- Join 8 sts on each shoulder with Kitchener Stitch
- There are 8 sts left each on the front and back. Pick up 8 sts between them across each of the shoulders for a total of 32; divide onto double-point needles. Knit 2 rounds.
- Bind off with the Stretchy bind-off.
- Join the side seams from the bottom about half-way up with Mattress stitch.
- You now have a sleeveless sweater that you could make your bear wear as is, or you could carry on to add
- Pick up 20 sts along sleeve hole (I ended up picking up 18 and making a couple of extra in the first round)
- Knit 8 rounds stockinette
- Knit 4 rounds rib stitch
- Bind off with stretchy bind-off
- Tidy up loose ends, make bear model sweater for social media feed.
- (*A note on “Eastern stitch” or “Combination stitch”: I discovered it by a fluke quite recently, courtesy of one of the Offspring. I despise regular purl stitch and avoid it as much as possible, as it’s both awkward and I can never get an even tension on it. The Eastern purl does away with both of those problems for me. However, it makes the stitches lie backwards on the needle, so you have to adjust the corresponding knit stitch by knitting into the back of the loop instead of the front. Easy enough to do, and the result is very effective.)
So there you are – now your bear, too, can have his very own stylish winter sweater. For Steve, it was just in time – the thermometer suddenly dropped by some 15° over the weekend, and the winter we thought we weren’t having this year hit us in the back of the knees with a vengeance. Warm sweaters and socks are mandatory.
Life, the Universe, Stuffed Bear Sweaters and New Knitting Stitches. Keep warm out there!
**Another note: so you don’t get the impression that I’m some kind of amazing knit-wit who regularly crafts fantastic stitchery, let me just say that my knitting is haphazard and goes in very irregular spurts. I’ve been known to take years to get a project done, because often I won’t touch it for months on end (I’ll tell you about the nine-year-sweater some other time…). Then suddenly, usually with the onset of cold weather, I might get bitten by the knitting bug, and off I go again for a little while, until my knitting enthusiasm fizzles out for another stretch. Also, I do plain knitting – one colour (or preferably, lots of colours all in one ball of yarn) and as much basic knit stich as possible so I don’t have to pay too much attention. I’m a lazy and irregular knitter – but I have fun with it, which is the whole point. One of these days I’d love to learn how to spin…
Steve is giving me dirty looks, guilt tripping me because I haven’t posted anything on this blog in, like, forever.
Well, my excuse is that I was sick over the holidays. Two nasty bouts of flu in the space of a month. And then, somehow, I just didn’t get back on the horse…
Steve’s having none of it (stuffed bears can be so demanding!). But there I was yesterday, looking out the picture window at the view of the lake, a thick white cloud hanging so low over it it feels like I’m sitting in a kettle with the lid clapped on.
The cosiness of December has given way to cold, muck and dreariness, and it feels like I haven’t seen the sun or the blue sky in weeks. (“There is no sun. … There never was a sun,” said the Witch. “No, there never was a sun,” said the Prince, and the Marsh-wiggle, and the children…) All I want to do is to curl up on the couch with my fluffy reading socks on my feet and my fluffy reading blanket over my lap, reading a fluffy novel.
And then it all of a sudden struck me: maybe that’s just what we’re meant to do this time of year? Maybe so many of us feel tired and unmotivated in winter because it’s the time when we’re supposed to sleep. This is, in fact, the midnight of the year.
Or, rather, winter solstice is midnight. I learned in Physical Geography class some years ago that the hottest time is actually just after the zenith, and the coldest immediately after the nadir. So, the hottest time of day is around 1:00 or 2:00 in the afternoon, and the coldest time of night an hour or two after midnight – once the temperature has had time to catch up with the amount of sunshine the earth got (or didn’t get, as it were). If you correlate the cycle of the year to the hours of the day, then right now, January 18th, is about 1:50 AM.
And what else are you supposed to do at Ten-to-blinkin’-Two in the Morning other than sleep? Human beings are diurnal – we’re awake in the day, and sleep in the night. At least that’s what we’re designed for, notwithstanding Mr Edison and his light bulb which screwed us all over with its perpetual artificial daytime.
And so maybe that craving for fluffy socks and blankets and books is, in fact, quite normal and healthy, and ought to be indulged as much as possible. You know how, when your kids get up in the middle of the night, you roll over and just sort of grunt at them “Go back to sleep!”? Like that.
So bring on the socks and blankets and Pride and Prejudice. I’ll talk to you in the morning – umm, I mean in spring.
Life, the Universe, and the Midnight of the Year. See you when the sun comes up.
Punctuating dialogue seems to be a bête noire for a lot of fiction writers. Never mind what word you should use for describing your character’s utterance – he said, she yelled, it whispered, I answered – the real question seems to be, do you capitalise it or not? Which punctuation mark goes on the end of the sentence, inside the quotation marks, and what goes outside?
It’s not really that hard. Dialogue in fiction, I told the Offspring when we were homeschooling, is like speech bubbles in comic strips (I made them transcribe lots of Garfield comics to practise, poor things). The quotation marks are the speech bubble (somebody is saying something); the text is what goes inside the bubble (here’s what they’re saying); and the little pointy tail on the bubble is the speech tag (this is who is talking).
So if you picture your scene as a comic strip (or call it “graphic novel”, if that makes you feel more grown-up), all you need to do is put those speech bubbles in place and write down what you see.
The thing to keep in mind is that the speech bubble, pointy tail and all, is one unit. What that means is that speech and speech tag are one sentence, and you punctuate them accordingly: the speech tag is in lower case, because it’s the middle of the sentence. It’s easy to figure out: “he said” can’t be a sentence in its own right, ever – so you don’t capitalise it when it comes after a speech.
So here’s an example:
“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” said Steve the Bear.
Easy speech tag, lower case. Question marks and exclamation marks stay just as they are, at the end of the sentence inside the bubble, so we know that the speaker is asking a question or exclaiming.
One slightly tricky case, however, is the period at the end of a speech. Because the speech and the speech tag are one sentence, English punctuation converts that period into a comma inside the quotation marks, and puts the period at the end of the speech tag instead.
“Why on earth would you want to do that? That’s weird,” she said.
If you want to expand the speech tag, the period goes on the end of the expanded part, because it’s a part of the sentence:
“Why on earth would you want to do that? That’s weird,” she said, frowning at him.
This is the thing that trips people up the most, that comma/lowercase convention. The thing is that if you capitalise the word after the speech, you’ve started a new sentence – you’ve chopped off the pointy tail. A lone “He said” is just as disconcerting as a free-floating pointy speech bubble tail.
You are, of course, free to start a new sentence after a speech – often, a speech tag isn’t necessary; it’s clear who speaks without the pointy tail. And in that case, you want to keep the period as a period. Here, for example, I could say:
“Why on earth would you want to do that? That’s weird.” She frowned at him.
Another thing that’s a bit tricky is interjected speech tags – the speech tag in the middle of that sentence package. You read the first part of the speech, then look at where the tail is pointing, then read the rest of the text in the bubble. But once again, we’re dealing with one sentence here, so the speech tag is set off with commas, and what comes after a comma is always a lowercase letter.
“You’re right,” he said, “it was a silly idea. Never mind.”
If you break up the sentence inside the bubble with a speech tag, lowercase the letter in the second part of the quotation. If, however, your speech tag comes between two complete speech sentences, the second sentence still starts with an uppercase letter, just like it does inside the bubble:
“You’re right, it was a silly idea,” he said. “Never mind.”
And there you have it. Punctuation of direct speech, caps and lowercases, and Steve the Bear waxing Shakespearean on me.
“I can only blame the heat of the day for it,” she said, wrinkling her forehead, “it’s pretty toasty today.”
“You just can’t take compliments!” yelled Steve from the back of the couch. “Besides, bears don’t mind the heat.” His voice got quieter as he rolled down onto the couch cushions. “Have you seen my notebook? I’m sure I left it somewhere around here…”