I’ve turned my chair to look North, where a thunderstorm is slowly working its way down the lake. I sat knitting for an hour or so while Kelly napped in the cabin and listened to thunder rumbling in the distance, wind in the trees, the snick of my knitting needles, the pair of baby ravens learning how to talk as they danced in the sky around their mother.
We have been in the Yukon about five weeks now, ensconced in our cabin at Fox Lake, totally off the grid and being quite antisocial, to tell you the truth.
But I shouldn’t say we. I spent more than three weeks of that time here completely on my own while Kelly was away having an adventure of his own.
He was hired to ferry this beautiful vintage airplane to the Yukon from Sault Ste Marie, Ontario. I’ll tell you more about that in the next letter, I promise.
As consolation for not being allowed to go, too, the day he left, I stopped into TheItsy Bitsy Yarn Shop (yes, that is really their name) in downtown Whitehorse and treated myself to enough wool to knit myself a sweater in Heritage, from the Briggs & Little Wool Mill in Harvey, New Brunswick. The colour is called Fawn.
I hate to be a complainer, but I just have to tell you:
Too much hand quilting, knitting, typing, and gripping heavy weights at the gym have given me tennis elbow in both arms and caused the arthritis in my hands to flare up.
It’s my own fault. I let it go too far. I let it get away from me. I let it get to the point where it hurts to even pick up a cup of tea.
And that’s not all. Poor ergonomics in my sewing and writing life are affecting my shoulders, neck and back, which (not surprisingly) has worked it’s way down into the knees.
Because I’m a writer, I’m often at my laptop for several hours a day. If I want to continue, it’s imperative that I address the ergonomics problem.
Fortunately, I know what I have to do to fix it.
Yesterday I went to Staples and bought myself a properly adjustable office chair. My lower half notices the improved sitting situation already, but my shoulders are still complaining because the keyboard is too high.
In a perfect world, I’d buy a properly adjustable computer desk. But the reality is, we all have to work with what we’ve got. And what I’ve got is pretty small. My neighbour’s chicken coop is bigger!
Whatever modifications I make to my writing space cannot infringe on the rest of my very small house, and they also have to fall within my fixed-income budget.
Installing a sliding, adjustable keyboard tray (and new keyboard) under my sewing table and using my laptop like a desk computer may be the best solution.
The laptop can easily share real estate with the sewing machine. Both are lightweight & portable, and can easily be unplugged and set it aside to make room for the other. Mr. C will have the final say on whether or not the sewing table can be modified.
It may take a month or more, but getting back to my home yoga practice, doing physio & massage therapy for the elbows, and making these ergonomic fixes will hopefully take care of the worst of the problems.
Have you ever suffered repetitive strain injuries or dealt with ergonomic issues when sitting for long periods at the keyboard or sewing machine? Has knitting or hand quilting ever given you tennis elbow?
Did I tell you that I finished my novel again? This isn’t the first time I’ve finished it, of course. The first finished draft was the equivalent of a scarf knitted up in open lace-work. Silky threads to hold everything together, but full of holes.
When it was as ready as I could get it, I sent it out to my two critique groups and examined their comments and reactions for places where the tension was uneven, the weave too loose. Places where I’d dropped stitches, or gotten them twisted.
Then I took the framework and did it up again, weaving in the loose ends, picking up the dropped stitches. In that way, the novel went from lace to garter stitch. Sort of. These are very loose metaphors, you understand.
Garter stitch is nice because it has texture. It’s elastic enough so you can push it around a bit and yet firm enough to handle it. Easy to rip out and easy to knit back up again.
Then I sent it back for more critique.
Critique comments can be very interesting. Often times uplifting and exhilarating when the reader gets it and is obviously excited about what they’re reading.
Also interesting is when the reader giving the critique is annoyed because the character is not behaving the way they would behave if they found themselves in a similar situation. I love these types of comments because it means they’ve got the socks on their feet, are trying them out. They’re engaged in the story, and that means I’m doing it right.
Although there’s always the occasional reader who will try to push this work of literary science fiction into the action-adventure genre, thus frustrating both of us, lol. I try to see these comments as a reflection of reading preference rather than a criticism on writing style, but it does sometimes make it a bit difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff, if you don’t mind a cliché.
So anyway, what I’m doing with the novel right now is like blocking the finished scarf or sweater. Soaking it and laying it out to dry, pinning the edges straight, smoothing out any bumps or wobbles. I’m happy with it. I’m really happy with the ending, even if though I’m still fussing a bit with the final fit. Like putting the sweater on and shrugging my shoulders, seeing how it feels.
And now, are you wondering what’s on my needles at this very moment? Just what is keeping me company every evening as Mr. C and I binge-watch old episodes of 24?
Lovely lovely lovely. My favourite so far, and my very first shawl. The wool is Hawthorne Fingering, from Knit Picks.
It had been a dark and stormy afternoon, so after supper Sam and I decided to get out for a walk before it got too dark. Or at least before it started to rain again.
It was kinda spooky, to tell you the truth…
The light had an eerie copper post-storm tinge to it and there was a strange moaning sound in the distance that lasted the entire 45 minute walk. If my name was Dorothy and I lived in Kansas with my Auntie Em, I’d be running for the storm cellar. It was really weird. So weird that we actually turned around and went home, our imaginations in overdrive.
I looked across the lake and saw a bank of fog moving in. One by one, the lights on the other side went out as the fog came closer. No wait… that was a Stephen King novel I read. Sorry.
I’ve only ever read three Stephen King novels in my entire life, do you believe it?..That foggy one (which I can’t remember the name of, his latest one (which I also can’t remember the name of), and The Dome.
For the rest of the evening I have another scary task to look forward to – untangling this bit of a mess. What I really mean to say is…