Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Knitting Socks

Some of my readers know I occasionally jog off the beaten path while researching odds and ends for my books. One of the things I like to do is give my heroes/heroines offbeat hobbies or interests. When I do, I make sure I know something about that facet.

And I start the "research" waaaaay before starting the book. For instance in the current wip~Copper Cauldron~the heroine will teach another one of the characters how to harvest and process acorns for food. If you're interested in my research adventures regarding acorns, check out the Acorn Adventures page on the blog column to the right or click HERE.

My current adventure involves knitting socks. I've knitted in the far past (more than thirty years ago) but never socks, and never have I knitted "in the round" or used double-pointed needles. Casting on was quite an experience. Actually, it made me feel like I had twelve thumbs. But as you can see from the picture, I'm well on my way to knitting a pair of warm ankle socks. I figure I can use them for slippers this winter.

I once had a reader ask why I get involved in my little reader projects. Why not just read about the stuff on the Internet?

I could. But there are always things you don't know unless you try it yourself. For instance, if I based my knowledge of shotguns on the movies, I would never know about the kick you get when you shoot--especially if you're a woman. The first time I shot one, I was fourteen and weighed about eighty pounds. That sucker put me on my butt in the mud about six feet from where I started. Bam! I had a bruise on my shoulder for a week.

If I never shot a handgun, I wouldn't know how heavy it is. Or how difficult it is for the newbie to hit what you're aiming for. And ammunition...a picture in a book doesn't tell you how it feels to hold it in your hand.

Riding a horse for the uninitiated can be terrifying. If you have height issues like I do, it feels like you're sitting on top of a house. And speaking of houses, how many writers have ever stood on their roof and looked out over the neighborhood? It's one thing to write about a burglar watching a neighborhood in the night. It's entirely different to crouch on your roof and check out the night yourself.

Watching an ultralight plane sail through the air isn't the same as being up there with the wind whipping at your face. Rolling down the runway, willing your motorized kite to lift, lift, lift off the ground or praying you won't crash when you land gives you a different perspective.

Touching a llama is not the same as looking at a picture. Starting a fire with flint is completely different than reading about it. Roofing or siding a house requires skills I'd never thought about until I did it myself. Fixing the toilet is simpler than I imagined. And climbing a mountain and looking over the land...well, trust me, there's a different feel to that.

Research aside, I'm insatiably curious. I want to know for myself. Feelings, touch, smell, taste all matter. Authenticity matters. How can you know how your back aches when you're doing backstrap weaving unless you've done it? How can you know the delicacy required or the hours necessary to create a calligraphy piece unless you've tried?

I'm always wondering. What about this? What about that? So at sixty-two, I'm knitting socks. I figure I'll have them finished by next month so I can wear them for my birthday. Sixty-three, here I come.



  1. I think it's cool that you try so many of the things you write about. :)

  2. I vividly remember your acorn research...who could forget that?