23 September 2009

Puppy hippy knitty news

So. I dropped past the Surgical Bookings office at the hospital today, just to see where I was on the waiting list for my hip replacement (cos using crutches all the time is getting old real fast).

And they say "Well, you're Category 3a, so it could be a while yet ..." - WTF? Uh. NO. I very sweetly ask (honest, I didn't get mad, ask Dotter!) if they could check that, as I'm supposed to be Category 2a (ie much more urgent, condition deteriorating). And sure enough, there, tucked away in some file on their wretched computer, is the letter from my surgeon from July ... which they hadn't done anything about.

So it's been fixed, and I have a rough date : November. Even if some Category 1 (ie super urgent) patients come onto his list, it'll only push me back a little. So the soonest would be in 6 weeks, the latest in 10 weeks. I'll still believe it when I see it.

Yay for hospital bureaucracy, hey?

On the knitting front I've finished these :

I wasn't aware that with ribbed socks it's a good idea to change to a smaller needle size for the ankles - they are rather baggy around there, unfortunately. But it's my own made-up-as-I-go-along pattern, so only myself to blame! Kaffe Fasset's Regia sock yarn, utterly stunning colours, and a joy to wear :)

And this is nearly done too, a Super Ben cape for my nephew Ben. I've actually finished the cape, it just needs an i-cord tie for the neck, and washing / blocking.

He's nearly 4, and - more importantly - is about to become a Big Brother. This is for him when his new baby arrives in a few weeks. I haven't done intarsia for ages, this one was fairly painless. Pattern is from New Knits on the Block (Rav link).

Young Petal had a play date with her sister Alexis last week, after being brave at the vet (heartworm vaccination). She's a whole 1.3 kg now (about 2.8 lb), and the vet thinks she's unlikely to get all the way to 2 kg! Much smaller than our last chihuahua, Lily.

The book is basically all done now - yaaaaaaay! They've even updated the Product Description so it's (gasp) accurate. I still have to write content for the online 'cheat sheet', and 50 more cryptograms for Wiley marketing to use, all by next week, but the worst of it is over :)

And I had a delightful birthday last weekend - thank you everyone who sent greetings and birthday wishes and cards and everything! Will do a separate post to show off the birthday goodies :)

16 September 2009

1 Across Chart

A quick note : the chart for 1 Across on Knitty is a JPEG, and rather difficult to read, as there are so many little squares! I've put my original PDF chart, which is in vector graphics, and will print very clearly, up on my web site, which you're welcome to download and print out.

Back to the book - the main editing round (Author Review) had been done, I've caught up on sleep (mostly), and just have minor edits / corrections and suchlike to do now ... It's still rather unbelievable that I wrote a whole book (well, minus two crucial chapters by Mark!) in 13 days, tested all 351 puzzles in 4 days, and did the Author Review in 3 ... no wonder I'm a tad tired at the moment!

Last but not least - Petal is discovering the great outdoors, now the weather's warming up! OK, I admit the grass needs a mow, but still - she's crazy cute tiny, isn't she??

12 September 2009

1 Across Beanie

Finally, folks, it's up! My 1 Across Beanie pattern is on Knitty! Very exciting day! And welcome if you've popped over from Knitty - lovely to see you here!

Doesn't Dotter look stunning in that white wig? She was actually bald at the time, having recently shaved her head for the Shave for Cure event (Leukaemia Foundation).

You can sew on letter beads to make your very own little crossword, too! OneLook is a great online resource which can help you figure out interlocking words, if you're so inclined.

This is a fast knit, you could do it in an evening or two, and the stranded knitting really isn't that hard - honest! You only have to count stitches for 4 rows, as the second row of each 'line' in the crossword is a duplicate of the one below. Eight rows of Fair Isle all up.

I've also included two chart variations, one for the British-style of crossword, and one for the American-style. What's the difference, I hear you ask?

Well, American-style crosswords have nearly every letter 'checked' - they appear in two words, an across and a down. So these grids are mostly white letters with a few black. British-style crosswords have a lot of unchecked letters – in any given word, generally just half of the letters are cross-referenced by another word. These grids have a lot more black squares.

I hope you enjoy the pattern! I've been playing around with how to effectively knit crossword grid designs for some years now, and am happy with how well this one's come together. Just a bit of fun :)

OK, back to the book - I got the proofs this morning, and have a whole three days (4 weeks is more typical!) to complete the technical and editing review of the book ... but regardless of all this, I refuse to miss Stitch n Bitch this afternoon!

10 September 2009

Cover job

Here's the draft cover for the new book! I really like what they've done - the bit of code in the lower right hand section is one of the ciphers I wrote in the Cypher of the Rose Croix (a Masonic cipher). The bit they've highlighted in red reads "one thing" (it's an extract from a full message within the book).

It's rather awesome to think that something I drew on my light box, with my calligraphy pen, and scanned here in my office at home is going to be printed on thousands of books ... !! The whole process still blows me away.

This week has been testing ciphers, going a bit cross-eyed from it. I probably won't have time to test all 350 puzzles, but have done over 180 so far. I'm checking the hand-written / hand-coded puzzles as top priority, as they're more likely to have errors. Have picked up some good ones, too, which now no-one will ever know about, ha ha ha! Well, apart from my editor Sarah ;)

And once the layout comes back from Production, it'll be into more serious proofreading and editing. We'll probably have a whole three days for this (as opposed to the usual 3-4 weeks on a normal book!). Any day now ...

In the mean time, yes, I've had a LOT of sleep, spent good parts of 3 days in bed, finished a novel I started reading a month ago, watched TV, knitted, cooked meals, and even gone shopping. It's all good :)

ETA : Just to clarify, I didn't design this cover, it's all done in house at Wiley. They just selected one of the ciphers I'd already written for the book and did cool things to it :)

05 September 2009

100% delivery

Well, I made it - just. 100% delivery with 15 minutes to spare. That milestone was 4 am on Friday morning (2 pm on Thursday for my editor). I worked 21 hours straight that last day (7 am Thursday to 4 am Friday) - and spent all of yesterday in bed recovering! I think I've worked around 250 hours in the past fortnight.

The killer was that I thought I'd finished all the puzzles on Wednesday night, only to wake to an extremely apologetic email from my editor saying the decision had been made to add another 50 puzzles, all of which had to be supplied that day, along with all the Hints, Answers, and edited text chapters. They were all anagrams and cryptic clues, thankfully (quicker to write), but still - I only barely made the deadline.

There is still a week of editing and proofreading ahead, also on a compressed time line, but I've got the whole weekend off (bliss)!

The book should be out in November - a super fast turnaround for all concerned! A book like this would normally take 7-9 months from start to book on the shelves, not 2.

The title? Cracking Codes and Cryptograms for Dummies (ISBN: 978-0-470-59100-0). With a theme of conspiracies, the Freemasons, and secret societies. This book is very cool – my coauthor Mark wrote three conspiracy stories, and I encrypted the stories into a whole slew of different types of ciphers (letter substitutions, real Masonic ciphers, Caesar shifts, Rail Fence ciphers etc). So to read the stories you've got to crack the ciphers! There are also heaps of quotations as cryptograms.

Wiley have also asked for another 50 puzzles, which will be used in marketing the book and on the Wiley web site, so that's pretty excellent too - no mad deadline for those, we've got til the end of the month (I think my brain would have exploded otherwise).

The reason for the INSANE schedule? Wiley want to 'ride the wave' of interest in Freemasonry and cryptograms which is likely to be generated by the release of Dan Brown's next offering, The Lost Symbol, on 15 September. It's rumoured to be about the Masons...

You know, I've never read any of his books ... LOL.