So much has happened in the last few days that it’s hard to know where to start!
Book-wise, I was getting rather frustrated while waiting for the publisher to get back to me with some contacts to interview. Then it finally dawned on me (DUH!) that I didn’t have to wait for the publisher to set up contacts for me, I could reach out to people myself! So I put together an introductory letter, did some Googling to find people to interview, and started emailing people. To my delight, the vast majority of them have said yes!
The following people have said yes so far:
- Kaffe Fassett (legendary in knitting, quilting, and quite a few other fiber arts)
- Roy Underhill (who has his own PBS series on woodworking)
- Tim McCreight (author of fifteen books on metalworking)
- Jane Dunnewold (renowned surface design artist, and author of the seminal books Complex Cloth and Art Cloth)
- Yoshiko Wada (world expert in shibori dyeing)
- Archie Brennan and Susan Martin Maffei (legendary tapestry artists)
- Tommye Scanlin (also a very well known tapestry artist)
- Joen Wolfrom (a renowned quilter who has written several books on design)
That is eight people out of ten interview requests – which is not at all bad considering I only started sending out requests two days ago! I am super excited. I am planning to do 30-40 interviews total, so I am about 25% booked already.
I’m also pleased to say that I have found someone to transcribe the interviews – my friend and fellow weaver Laura Fry, who transcribed the WeaveCast podcasts, will be doing the transcriptions. Thank you, Laura!
My intent is to spend the next six weeks or so interviewing people, then take a couple weeks off for chocolate season (which will also give Laura time to transcribe the interviews), and then start writing like a maniac. I have ten and a half months to turn in the manuscript, so that will leave me eight months in which to write and polish the book. Taking out two months for polishing and slip-time, that comes out to 2.5 chapters per month. That is quite a task, considering I also have to read, take notes on, and organize all my transcribed material. So I think it is safe to say that, while I will continue working on it, Phoenix Rising will not finish next year. Too bad, but the book is also really important to me, and it has a much more pressing deadline.
Speaking of Phoenix Rising, I have made a small modicum of progress on the shadow weave warp. After breaking a TON of threads, I asked for help on the WeaveTech mailing list. Ian Bowers and Sara von Tresckow suggested sizing the warp with spray starch, which I did. After unsticking the warp and fixing some more broken threads, I kept having problems until I raised the beater slightly and also started double-beating to clear the shed for each pick. And lo and behold, I managed to weave an entire inch with only one broken thread:
That may not seem like much, but after all the struggles with this warp, it’s HUGE.
The next step after that was to knit up a test blank, wash and unravel it, and then weave a sample to determine how many rows of blank I need per inch of weaving. That will allow me to figure out the length of blank to knit for each panel – they’re about 32″ long and change color down their length. The colors in the weft need to change in the same sequence as the colors in the warp, so accuracy is important.
Since I just bought a new-to-me motorized knitting machine, of course the next step was to set up and figure out how to use the knitting machine. After much fiddling, I managed to get it assembled and working in manual mode (i.e. without motor). Fritz was kind enough to supervise, as you can see:
(You’ll notice he’s sitting exactly where I need to put the cone of yarn in order to actually use the machine. “It’s all part of the service,” says Fritz. 🙂 )
After I got it working, the next step was to plug in the motor. Mike helped me figure out the power etc., and we got it hooked up correctly. We turned on the motor and moved the carriage about a quarter way down the machine. Fifteen seconds later, there was a loud BANG!, and white smoke started coming out the back of the motor. Oops.
Mike thinks it might be a bad capacitor, which would be repairable, but we haven’t figured out how to get the case open yet. It might have fried the circuit board, though, which would be much more difficult (and quite probably impossible) to repair. I’m crossing my fingers that it’s repairable; we’ll find out more this weekend, when we finally have time to work on repair.
So that’s where I am. I have two interviews booked for Saturday, and three more next week – which doesn’t sound like much, but I want to spend some time researching each interviewee first, so I’m properly prepped for the interview. So I am basically booked for the week. I also have fifteen pounds of quinces, fourteen pounds of pears, and fifteen pounds of lemons that are begging to be made into various flavors of jam. That takes a back seat to the book, but I’m still hoping to get some of those done on Sunday.
Finally, Mike, my friend/critique partner Lieven, and his girlfriend Leslie and I all went out to The Plumed Horse (a Michelin one-star restaurant) last week to celebrate the book deal, Google, etc. Here we are in The Plumed Horse’s wine cellar:
I was quite happy when the mignardises (small treats to follow dessert) came out. I got this one:
They are mint chocolate macaroons, peach fruit jellies, and vanilla madeleines. Very tasty.
And, the cats. I’m grateful that they get along so well – in addition to chasing each other all over the house, they love to snuggle up to each other, as you can see here.
And that’s it until next time!
I am very impressed at your list of interviewees! I am jealous you getting to meet and talk with them; I bet it will be fascinating. Congratulations!
I hope you enjoy probing the thinking of these very creative people. I’ll be interested to see how you incorporate the material derived from the interviews into the book. Just to add my 2 cents: I think the Q&A format is the most boring trope in all of journalism, e.g.:
Creative Bigshot: [answer]
I also hope that your killer schedule doesn’t push you over into burnout. Take time for yourself, too. Remember: writers’ missing deadlines is pretty much expected in the publishing world. It’s probably different from scheduling satellite launches. 🙂
Tien Chiu says
Don’t worry, Ruth – I agree that Q&A is a terrible format for interviews. I’m planning to integrate it into the text of the chapter, I think.
My goal is to get the book in on time, but it is also to give some predictability to the timing. I should know by the end of December or early January whether I can hit that writing schedule without heroics – if not, I’ll discuss it with the publisher immediately. In my experience, except for things like satellite launches, show entry deadlines, and Black Friday, missing the date isn’t fatal if you can give people enough advance notice. Thus the project plan, so I can tell if I’m running behind. 🙂