15 April 2018

Prior Planning Prevents Messy Results

Slots warped for shawl on 25 inch heddle

I haven't done any weaving in a while, in months, really. When I got out my loom there was an unfinished project on it. I settled in to polish it off, not remembering much about the yarn except it was yak, and very thin. Several warp string breaks later I swore to never try THAT again. I managed to finish the project with much grumbling and get it off the loom.

As I got ready to warp my loom for a new project, I made a startling discovery. My living room had shrunk! At least that was the way it seemed. I had to rearrange some things, because my warp peg was attached to my desk, and the warp I had to put on my loom was 120 inches long. 10 feet of warp. That's halfway across the living room. Since I wanted to make a wide shawl, I needed lots of yarn. 25 inches of yarn across my loom and 10 feet long. I measured twice with my trusty carpenter's tape measure, put my loom in place and started warping.

To warp the loom you have to tie the yarn onto a dowel at the back of your loom, pass it through the rigid heddle, a contraption that has very thin reed like structure about 4 inches high, the reeds have holes in them to pass yarn through, and in between the reeds are narrow openings called slots. You pull the yarn through the slots doubled, then cut the far end and thread those yarn ends through the holes. Just know it's semi-complicated and involves math. 
I have 300 slots and holes that need a yarn threaded through them. I do the 150 slots first. I pull the warp thread through a slot doubled, walk my 10 feet to the warping peg and put the loop over it. I walk the ten feet back and do it again. And again. Until I have 150 loops over the warping peg. The warping peg is a piece of thick dowel set in a wood block that you clamp to your table top. I must not have clamped the peg down well enough, because about 26 loops in, the peg came off the table. My precious looped yarn was in a heap on the floor. Many four letter words were uttered, causing the dog to cock his head and beat a hasty retreat outside. I very carefully ran my fingers through the yarn loops, straightening the threads, reset the peg, cranked it down tight, and put the loops back over. I got lucky. It didn't really tangle and fell in a nice pile. 

Warping peg holding yarn loops.

Since paranoia is just good thinking, I tied some spare yarn around one side of the loops, so if it fell, they wouldn't tangle. I did this every 10 loops or so, having this horrifying vision of the peg popping loose again when I was on thread loop 149. I did NOT want to start over. 26 loops in it didn't seem that daunting a task, at 149, four letter words wouldn't have been enough. It survived, I survived, and I'm on my way to making the 150 loops into 300 yarn ends for weaving.

Moral of the story? I got sloppy. Overconfident. I strayed outside the moment. I had done this so many times, I didn't stop to think of what could go wrong. I failed to plan for the inevitable loss of luck that kept me from running into this problem before. Life is funny that way, giving a gentle nudge of a lesson to see if you're paying attention before lowering the boom. I'm paying attention now. I'll incorporate some new measures into my weaving practice to avoid failing big time.

What are you doing on autopilot that you should pay more attention to?

01 April 2018

Welcome to National Poetry Month

It's April, time for Poetry everywhere! To kick off your poetry month, we have a brand new issue of Gyroscope Review. This is our Third Anniversary, so naturally this is the Annoversary Issue - with a special theme of Threes.

Our Spring 2018 issue is the largest single issue we’ve ever produced. We are pretty proud of this big fat issue. You can purchase a print copy HERE, a Kindle version HERE, or find a free PDF version HERE. Three places to read us.

All funds from the purchase of print or Kindle editions helps fund Gyroscope Review‘s website and Submittable submissions system.

As an extra special bonus to National Poetry Month, Gyroscope Review is publishing an interview a day with 30 different poets. 30 chances to see what makes poets tick. Or twitch. Stop on by Gyroscope Review every day to read a fresh, new interview.

What will you be doing for National Poetry Month? A poem a day? Following poetry prompts? (Gyroscope Review offers a new poetry prompt every Sunday, on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.) Writing when the inspiration strikes? Reading your favorite, or a new poet? Let me know in the comments. We hope to see some creative well crafted poems from April in our slush. Go forth and create!

11 March 2018

Listen Up - Poet's Edition

There's lot's of great poetry readings on YouTube. Not only do you get to hear poets read their own work, but you can see how it's done when it's your turn to get up in front of the crowd.

25 February 2018


Wallbanger headed for the designated load bearing wall.

I'm in my winter reading phase, where all my free time is spent reading either fantasy novels or other types of fiction. I used to read every novel from beginning to end, no matter how pathetic the plot. As I got older, I got less patient. Some books turned into what I termed 'Wallbangers".

Ever read a book where the main character was too stupid to live? But somehow bumbled his/her way through the novel saved by the sidekick or Deus Ex Machina? The heroine who digs herself in deeper and deeper when just shutting up would help her out tremendously? The villain that doesn't quite know how to villain properly? All about on par with the movies where teens split up to roam through the evil woods or haunted house separately. Are You Stupid??

Apparently the answer is yes. When my eyes were better, I read paperbacks. I'd get a sinking feeling when the protagonist started off Chapter One an idiot and didn't improve by Chapter Six.
In the back of my mind was the thought, One more stupid action and I'm so done with you…
The moment of truth arrives. I can't take it anymore. I fling the book across the room toward a wall designated for just that purpose. The book is now a wallbanger. As it collapses to the floor, so does my interest in it. I am done. I will not read any further.

A few hardbacks went that way also, but since I spent more money on them I was more careful about what I bought. Trusted authors. Then came my Kindle. E-books presented a special dilemma. I wasn't about to throw my expensive toy against the wall. With the rise of self-published novels, the opportunity for wallbangers grows exponentially. It's not quite the same when you punch the 'delete from device', then 'delete from carousel' buttons.

The books haunt you. The wallbanger books and their authored kin follow you across Amazon like a persistent puppy. "You bought this book by this author, now buy 7 more continued stories in the same universe, with the same substandard hero."  No thanks. To solve my need to let the book know how I felt, I have a stand in paperback. It's shabby and old, but ready for me when I delete my e-book and need to vent. It makes a satisfying whap against the far wall. If I could get that same thunk-flutter-thud sound when I push delete on my Kindle, I'd be a happy woman.

11 February 2018

When I Want Your Advice I'll Research It

Writing involves a lot of other books than the one you're trying to start. Or finish.

A drawback to being a writer is having way too many how-to writing books. As if the books could impart a template that would enable you to sail forth and write prodigiously. The smarter books call themselves simply, 'Guides". The ones I give side eye to are the ones that proclaim they are, "The Ultimate Guide". I'm not sure anything is the ultimate guide to writing.

Part of the problem is people are different. How many times have you seen the argument about writing by the seat of your pants as opposed to being an outliner? Both have their strong points, and I get irritated with books that tell me I have to be one or the other or I'm doing it wrong. Their method is best because…. Maybe it's because I hate being told what to do, but these books never sit well with me.I started out a pantser, but have seen the value in some outlining. Compromise. It's not just for toddlers anymore.

Here's a little secret. I'm not a fan of writing prompts. I know some people swear by them, but I have enough ideas rattling around in my brain that doing something else seems counterproductive. So naturally, I force myself to do one now and then. I don't want the ideas in my head to get complacent. This is the same reason I make myself write poetry forms occasionally. Or a short story – and I hate writing short stories. All my ideas want to be books. Except when they want to be poems. It gets confusing, but that's part of the cat herding process of writing.

It's good for a writer to embrace opposites. I'm not the most organized person in the world, so I read organizational tips in books with interest. I'm looking for the magic bullet that will organize me out of chaos. Hasn't happened yet, but still I keep looking. Every new writing book might hold the key to keeping myself on track – and knowing what version of a poem is where. On the other hand, working in disarray often leads to some exciting discoveries. "I wrote that? Huh. It's not bad."

I'm not discounting all advice, I just like to be selective. So I sit with my highlighter and cherry pick what I need or what applies to me. Or what I want to try. I have a vague notion I should rip those pages out of the books and put them in a binder. Once I get over my horror of deliberately defacing a book, I might just do that.