Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2015

Wednesday Wake-up

Merry Christmas!

This week and next week won't have much on the way of articles due to the holidays, but I wanted to say Merry Christmas to you all, and hope each of you a happy holiday season.

Wednesday Wake-up

Illness and Characters

When we think of illness, for most people, the concept of a child fighting leukemia, or an elderly loved one in a hospital bed comes to mind. We don't think of the other, shall we say, mundane illnesses which affect people day in and day out.

These thoughts, and how to portray them in books, have come to mind recently for a variety of reasons. Partly because on writing boards I follow on Pinterest there have been links concerning them. One of them, Mental Illness in Fiction: Getting it Rightis on Dan Koboldt's page, and I found it enlightening considering mental illness isn't common in my family.

On the other hand, physical illness does run in my family. I have family with Fibromyalgia; I have family with chronic migraines. There are the normal heart and cancer issues, but in those cases (for the most part) prevention is key. Knowing someone has a family history of cancer or heart issues simply means the individual takes care of themselves and remain alert to warning signs…

Fiber Friday

So, I heard there was a new Star Wars film coming out today. As I'm writing this, it's around 6 A.M. EST meaning there have been at least two showings at most movie theaters here. I'm as much excited to see the film as anyone else, though I haven't bought any tickets yet.

Still, films, especially the geeky films tend to be my favorite genre. I like historical and I like mysteries, but science fiction and fantasy, well - they have special places in my heart, and not just because I enjoy the genres (which, I do).

I first noticed the beauty of fiber arts in films with the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. At college, my friends and I discussed the fashion as well as the plot lines. Personally, while I loved the look of Arwen's and Galadriel's gowns it was Eowyn's clothes I felt the most practical.

Not long after LOTR was released, the Harry Potter series began, and whereas LOTR had woven items (seriously, look into the elven cloaks Frodo and Sam wear throughout the se…

Wednesday Wake-up

Change of Focus

This past Friday and Saturday were the official end of the 2015 fair season, for me at least. It's been a good year, but now things shift into winter, and I pull back from the fairs to focus on writing.

We all go through this ebbs and flows of life, and the same is true for writing. I've found I have two seasons of heavy focus on weaving or writing. During the winter months, when I have few fairs to attend, I focus on writing. It's a good time to do research because I want to be stuck inside with a warm fire and research is a perfect excuse.

On the other hand, during the summer months, I also want to be where it's cooler and libraries provide air conditioning. In addition to air conditioning, more activities happen in the summer months providing more opportunistic for research.

I find spring and autumn to be the two times of the year I tend to weave more. In the spring, I'm gearing up for my fair season while in the autumn, I tend to weave scarves and wraps for the…

Fiber Friday - Fair at Canalside

I'll be up at Canalside today and tomorrow for the Holiday Edition of the Saturday Artisan Market.

Looking forward to the last of the warm weather we're having here in Western NY, and while I realize winter's just around the corner, I'm going to enjoy the warmth while I have it.

Hope to see many of you there today or tomorrow.

Wednesday Wake-up

Hello, December

According to the news (not to mention just looking outside) we still have no snow! For those who enjoy snow, I'm sorry if my glee is too much. I enjoy not having snow, especially after the winter from last year.

As I enjoy my snowless December, I consider how weather affects communities. Here in the Great Lakes region (especially on the Eastern ends of the lakes) we have a weather system called Lake Effect in which the lakes produce their own weather, primarily in the form of snow. Lake Effect is the result of the geography which in turn affects the area around them. For example, the areas closer to the lakeshores, both Erie and Ontario, have a mild climate perfect for vineyards. Even a half-hour inland, and vineyards are impossible.

If you're writing science fiction or fantasy (especially stories in which you have to build a world), the geography plays an important role, though often unseen. We know the logical ones - mountains have snow, tropics have heat, but how do those …

Fiber Friday - Projects Renewed

Over the summer, I posted an article about new fabric I wove. Finally - almost six months later - I'm able to finish it up, though the hemming still needs to be finished, the product is finished.

Once again, I followed the Empire (Regency) Dress pattern I utilized for a previous shirt, and it turned out fairly well. I did have a few problems with the gathering at the front of the bodice, but other than those minor technical difficulties, the dress proved easy enough to weave.

For this dress, I wove using the larger 20" loom, providing less hassle when it came time to cut the fabric. No matter how much I try, I'll always wind up wasting fabric, but the point is to provide as little waste as possible - handwovens force me to do so.

The one surprising aspect to making the top, I didn't expect, was the difficulties around the bodice. While it isn't easy to see in the photograph, the top part is lacy whereas the lower half is more solid. I like the variance in the textu…

Wednesday Wake-up

NaNoWriMo - Day 30

All right, take a deep breath and relax. It's over,  or will be at 11:59 PM. You've made it through another #NaNoWriMo. Congratulations.

I'd offer a glass of wine, but all I can offer is a photo of the gift. Oh well. Now is time for congratulations and celebrations. I know when I finish a novel, I'm always up for a celebration. I've taken a long journey, and it's come to an end. There have been tears and laughter, but all in all it's been fun.

If you aren't finished, keep writing; if you are finished, take a break. You deserve one. Besides, it will take a couple days (I usually give myself a month) before you can start to edit. This way it allows me to "forget" what I wrote so I can look at it with fresh eyes. If I start editing while writing - beyond the simple clarifications and spelling errors - I tend to become sidetracked. Giving myself a month of time between, normally while writing another book, allows my brain time to disengage.

So, no…

Wednesday Wake-up

NaNoWriMo Day 23

The final week is upon us. Time to set your goals, reach them and relax. I hope everything has gone well for you. My book has taken unexpected turns along the way (even with the general outline done). I love writing because even when I have everything somewhat planned out, things still surprise me.

It might seem like there's no way you can finish, but take heart, and keep writing. It isn't the finishing that's important right now, it's the writing. Just keep writing. If you don't make it to the end of the novel, keep writing until you do. You have an excellent running start now so you can finish.

It can still seem endless, the writing process even after 50,000 words. For a few of my novels, that's the half-way point, but it takes time to write, to edit, to evaluate, and the writing stage is the first part.

Take a deep breath, and write.

Fiber Friday

This past week, I got a new sewing machine. Yeah! Now I can sew again! Over the past year, my sewing machines have been breaking down, partly because they're old, and most likely because they haven't been serviced in a few years. Now, granted, I could easily have taken them to be serviced, but the last time I went looking for a foot for my sewing machine, I was informed my sewing machine style would be defunct.

Best to purchase a sewing machine where I could still find parts, I thought.

This one happens to be a Brother sewing machine, and previously (including the ones from my grandmothers) have all been Singers. It's been different getting used to little things like where the reverse stitch button or foot lever are. I like the new machine - it works well, came with several different computer features including some fun stitches I've been playing with.

It isn't easy to see with the photograph, but the bag has a vine type stitch on it which is one of the built-in st…

Wednesday Wake-up

NaNoWriMo Day 16

Halfway through #NaNoWriMo! Hurrah! How are you doing with the writing? Keeping the word count up, or were you able to plug several more words in each day?

I happened to hit the half-way point (25,000 words) Saturday morning which was a blessing because Sunday was a long day, and by the time I returned home, I didn't want to write. I'm back at it this morning, and already made the word count for today.

Keep writing. Even if it seems to be struggle, the discipline's good. It doesn't matter if you hit the 50,000 mark or not - the point is that you've sat down each day to get your word count. You've disciplined yourself to write, and believe me, disciplining myself to write everyday is a hard job. You can't wait for inspiration to hit because it's fickle. You have to write, even if you write badly, write because you can always edit well.

Keep writing!

Last Fair of the Season

Tonight and tomorrow I'll be back up at Canalside for the last show of the season. I'm looking forward to this weekend - seeing regulars and meeting new people. Hope many of you can come to Buffalo's Canalside.

NOTICE: Found out this morning that this has now been moved to December 11 & 12 due to the high winds in Buffalo, not to mention the flooding and all that. I'll be up there on the 11th and 12th, so I hope to see you there.

Wednesday Wake-up

NaNoWriMo Day 9

How's the writing coming for #NaNoWriMo?

I passed the 10,000 word mark over the weekend, so I'm feeling pretty well at the moment, although there are moments when I feel nothing's going to be written. With this book it has a lot more to do with the research I still need to do than with anything else.

The early stages of writing tend to fall into two categories - extreme ease or painful plodding. The plodding doesn't mean we haven't done research or developed the character or even know what we're doing, it's just part of the process.

We haven't hit the writer's high where everything coalesces into synchronicity and the world opens before us. I've likened the plodding part as priming a pump - the water is there, but we simply have to keep working at it until it begins to flow. On these accounts, the best solution is to shoot for the minimum word count and stop once it's reached.

The ease portion tends to be a gushing well where we have to funn…

Fiber Friday - Ancient Patterns

The past two weeks, I've focused on why I enjoy Ancient fashions, and where I gather my ideas. This week, I'll focus on how I take the idea into a finished product. Now, for those wondering, I don't have anything specific at the moment I'm creating (sewing machine's down); neither do I have fashion sketches, so I am limited on what I can show.

All that being said, however, I have played around with the ideas. The simplest design to duplicate with handwoven fabric is the t-shaped tunics of Europe and the Middle East. These provide the underpinning of most styles with various external elements such as togas added for protection, status or both.

The photograph to the right shows one of these simple shapes in the form of a poncho - in this case one with sleeves, and more squared. I've recently added a lower panel around the waist to lengthen the overall shape providing a tunic. Still, this style, when adding the bottom, does create the same shape of many t-shaped …

Wednesday Wake-up

NaNoWriMo Day 2

For all those who've taken up the #NaNoWriMo challenge, I hope your first day went well. This first week is the best time to write as most as you can since the excitement is there, but remember to pace yourself. I think it's a little like cross-country - you sprint out of the starting gate to find a good spot then you relax into the run until the final sprint.

Finding the time to write is often the hardest part of NaNoWriMo partly because it's smack-dab in the middle of the holiday season, beginning with Halloween. Not only are we planning how our main character will rescue her friends, but we have to cook Thanksgiving Dinner, buy presents, and prepare for the madness that is Christmas shopping.

I've found ways to sneak my writing into my day, though. Some do work better than others, and it depends on your personality.

Wake up early/Stay up late to write when no one else is around. Sounds crazy, but I wake up around 5:30 every weekday morning to write. Weekends are opti…

Gathering Ideas

Weaving and fashion are two of my favorite topics. I was always the child who wanted to know how something was done, ultimately to see if I could recreate it myself. When I learned to sew clothes at the age of twelve new possibilities opened before me, but I quickly realized I didn't have the necessary skills to create what I wanted, To a point, I still don't, but as problems arise, I learn how to navigate them and try something new.

When I'm working on fashion, one era I return to is the Ancient Times, partly because the clothing is suited to handwoven fabrics. Granted, all fabric up to the Industrial Revolution was handwoven therefore even the brocade and velvet of the Renaissance was handwoven, but the current topic is the Ancient World.

I tend to gather the ideas from two general fields: historically accurate and historically inspired. Normally, I begin with a vague idea of a style I want to emulate. Sometimes I can find a pattern for that item. Case in point, the pho…

Wednesday Wake-up

7 Days to NaNoWriMo

Sunday begins NaNoWriMo, and I've been preparing for most of October for my novel. Last year, I winged the novel, and made the deadline, but this year, the novel's set in a culture I know very little about, so I've had to do some research leading up to the November 1.

What are some of the things you need to consider as you enter into NaNoWriMo? I can think of five things that helped me start down the novel path. These are all elements connected to the story, and are useful to have in place.

Main Cast: Having the primary characters at least fleshed out (gender, race, age, occupation, goal) helps settle down the atmosphere of the story. You might have a goth college cheerleader and an unemployed workaholic, but their goals are going to be different. If one is the protagonist and the other the antagonist, their goals will most likely clash. POV: Point of View is not necessarily the main character's point of view. One of the best examples is the Sherlock Holmes series in wh…

Ancient Inspiration

I freely admit to loving ancient fashions. To me, I like the look of the flowing garments or the elaborate outfits because, for the most part, they look comfortable. When I discovered handweaving, especially the fashion aspect, I had new respect for ancient fashions, and wanted to include the patterning into my own repertoire.

It's been a work in progress.

When I found Women's Work: the First 20,000 Years,* I was more than pleased over the discovery. Barber's book focuses primarily on weaving, the history and social aspects. A few items touch on the fashion, but it isn't her primary focus.

For me, however, finding out how items were made helps explain the reason behind the structure of the clothing. Sometimes, people's views of the process seem to be off slightly - for example, I read an article where the author described the reason for the loose fashion of ancient times being the result of people not wanting to cut their beautiful handwoven fabric. Believe me - if…

Wednesday Wake-up

Sticking With It

Have you noticed the "You Know You're a Writer" motifs on the Internet?

I have to admit I have more ideas floating around my head in any given time than I have people I talk with on a regular basis. Ideas tend to foster ideas, and any number of them might suddenly break forth with the right amount of information to create a story.

Add into the mix all the novels, stories or plays I've started and haven't finished then I have even more items. Fortunately, most of these items sit patiently in the background content to be ignored until their moment has arrived.

One element of writing I find difficult is knowing when to stick with the story, or when to back off. In fact, I recently had this problem with the second novel in the Shamrocks series with Orfhlait. I wrote one book, which I was planning on having as the second book, but turned out I needed the intermediary novel (planned on being released later as 1.5 novel). As I started writing the novel, I also realized …

Fiber Friday - Double Double Toil and Trouble

I purchased double heddles for my rigid heddle loom about five years back, but haven't gotten around to trying them yet. The biggest reason was simply confusion, which often leads me to not try something. Personally, I dislike attempting something I'm not good at, and by good at I mean I understand what's happening.

Back in August, a lady at the Saturday Artisan Market asked if I made baby wraps, which I didn't, but wanted to try. When I spoke with the lady who owns the weaver store, she said the weavers who do baby wraps use a 24 epi which I didn't have on any of my looms. Until I remembered my double heddles, and realized that 12.5 dpi twice equaled 25 dpi, and my reason to experiment was born.

In the photograph (and even looking at the warp) everything looks green, but it's actually two different colors - peacock and mustard. It's warped up in a log cabin weave, so I'll have to see how it looks when it's woven, but it should be interesting.

The h…

Wednesday Wake-up

Plot and Character

Happy Columbus Day, everyone. Hope you're enjoying the lovely fall weather (unless you happen to be in the Southern Hemisphere where I hope you're enjoying the lovely spring weather).

It's almost the halfway mark to NaNoWriMo, and I have yet to sign up, but I will soon. One of the ways to help you prepare for NaNoWriMo is to flesh out the structure of your novel. There are two primary types of approaches to writing a novel one is plot-driven and the other is character-driven.

Plot vs Character Driven
Plot-driven are those novels which the plot line is the most important element. Genre fiction such as mysteries, romance and action-adventure often fall into this category because the characters don't matter as much as Action A happens to lead to Action B which concludes in Action C.

Character-driven are novels where the character is the most important element and situations revolve around the character's actions. Most of the literary genre falls into this category.


Fiber Friday - Mug Rugs

Just a note - tomorrow is the last Saturday Artisan Market for the season. Hope many of you can stop by Buffalo NY's Canalside.

Speaking of Buffalo, I'm working on a new idea, which will be debuted tomorrow at SAM.

This is one band in the mug rugs I'm making. Buffalonians love their Buffalo, so the mug rugs have bands with Sabers' and Bills' colors. Eventually, I'll start making ones with other cities on it, once I see how everything goes.

I've made mug rugs before, but usually they haven't done as well as I had hoped. Partly because I knitted a few and the mugs tended to topple over (very bad situation) or they weren't large enough. In the new design, they're large enough to hold a mug and a dessert plate - perfect really.

So what are mug rugs? Well, the definition is as varied as people. For some, a mug rug is simple an larger coaster suitable for a mug. Others define it as something large enough for a mug and a cookie. Others define it as a p…

Wednesday Wake-up

The First Step

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."  Laozi, Ancient Chinese Philosopher What is it that you want to do?

At my church, we've been discussing the topic of faith, and how to grow stronger in our faith. Granted, not everyone in this world is religious, nor is everyone reading this wanting to grow in their faith, but we do want to change our lives for the better.

Each of us wants to become a person different than what we were yesterday whether that means more kind, more creative, more independent or something else. For me, becoming a better writer usually tops my list. I want to create the novels people love, and write the things which inspire others to write.

One of the things I look forward to is having someone come up to tell me that reading one of my books changed their lives - how they looked at things, or encouraged them to be a writer. Do I want to make millions of my books - sure, why not; but reality does indicate I won't. I can, however t…

Autumnal Inspirations

Happy October! This is my favorite month of the year because there are birthdays and Halloween - what could be better? Also, for the most part, the weather's nice - always an added benefit.

I love having an excuse to wear scarves since I make so many of them, and need to model them (oh, wait, another excuse!) Personally, I tend to wear the cooler colors (blue, green and purple), with my favorite color being purple, specifically aubergine (eggplant), partly because I like the color, and partly because I like the word aubergine.

The warmer colors (red, yellow and orange) tend to be colors I rarely wear, but I like Halloween. The scarf above was one I wanted to attempt to make, and the first foray into Fibonacci number sequence. I learned a few things from it, and have attempted other patterns more recently.

One of the best parts of autumn, for me at any rate, is seeing the fall colors. I live in the Northeast, so Fall Foliage is everywhere, and it provides a way for me to see color …

Wednesday Wake-up


I signed up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for the first time last year, though for the past three years or so, I've actually written a novel during November.

This year, I'm looking forward to writing again as I found the time fun. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to be as involved in the writer's group I was with because of injuries and a snowstorm, but hey, that's life.
If you want to push yourself to write the first novel, or if you're feeling stuck and need the motivation, I'd encourage you to sign up for NaNoWriMo. There's plenty of time to find a story idea, and begin developing it out, and the people at NaNoWriMo provide resources to help as well.

Helen's Back

Before going into the great news about Helen (the loom), I want to remind everyone that I'll be at Appleumpkin in Wyoming NY tomorrow and Sunday. If you're in the Greater Niagara Region, and looking for something to do, come by and visit the Bridgette ni Brian booth right next to the Village Hall.

Onward to the good news - Helen's back! For those new to the blog, Helen is one of my two floor looms inherited from my grandma. To follow the story so far, visit these two older posts here and here.

What had started out as a good idea ended up being a not-so-great-idea, and Helen has sat alone for the better part of the past year with a warp waiting to be used while we tried to decide how best to string her up again. Finally, my enterprising younger sister came up with an idea - parachute cord or the interior therewith.

Having cut open the parachute cord, we were able to utilize the interior strands to thread up Helen. As you can see, she's up and working again. She's st…

Wednesday Wake-up

Missing Time

Sometimes, the hardest part of writing is publishing - if that is the path you choose. When I was in college, wiser heads than mine reminded me that it wasn't easy to be published, and I should try some other avenues first.

When I started submitting my novels to publishers, they suggested I write for magazines first to develop a name. When I submitted stories and articles to magazines, they enjoyed the items, but weren't looking for anything at the moment.

All of this is wise and wonderful advice, but difficult to navigate a particular path. What I wish someone had told me was to focus on the missing time. The time where nothing happened in the novel's storyline, but time passed. The story that everyone knows, but happened before the novel's timeline.

Missing time is a spot to develop story ideas either into shorter stories or novellas. It's the murky part of a story where characters and events happen, but not within the context of a novel. It also can be a wonderf…

Come by and Visit

I'll be at Canalside in Buffalo NY tomorrow for our second-to-last Saturday. Due to the storm coming through, do make certain to check to see if we're going to schedule either through my Bridgette ni Brian Facebook page (here) or the Saturday Artisan Market's Facebook page (here)

Wednesday Wake-up