a writer gets needled

While at the writing conference this Saturday, I sporadically pulled out my knitting. Between classes or waiting for pitch sessions, the needles and the yarn were a calming influence.

Plus, knitting told me something about myself that I did not know.

I showed up as instructed ten minutes before my pitch session and took a seat surrounded by other writers, many of whom were either reciting to themselves or were reading off much-edited index cards. I’ve been there, but hey, I’m an old pro: I wouldn’t be nervous! I hadn’t even bothered memorizing my pitch because I wanted it to sound conversational and heaven knows I’ve assaulted enough friends with it that it’s practically memorized as it is.

So there I was, using size zero needles and fingering weight yarn while waiting for my pitch session, and only when I began to knit did I realize how badly my hands were trembling. As in, I had a hard time getting the yarn over the needles.  Right.  Totally calm, that was me.

(Yeah, that “calm” veneer felt more like what happens to a wool coat in the company of 5000 starving moth larvae by the time I got in. Feel free to laugh at my expense. I certainly do.)

I was knitting the “tiny sock pattern” from The Unique Sheep. It turns out that  this sock is about the size of a quarter.  I knit it kind of as a good luck charm, finishing it right before my final pitch session, and then strung it to hang from my conference badge. Tiny socks and tiny shoes are my good luck charms. Later, someone asked me how she could get the pattern, and I just handed the pages to her.

Prior to one session, as I was knitting, another writer said to me, “Oh! Can I see that!”

I handed it over. She took the spare needle and sighted along it, weighed it in her hand, and then said, “I bet you could kill a man with this.”

I love writer conferences. I replied, “I’d probably use a size five straight needle for that.”

(NOTE to all law enforcement who read my blog: I don’t actually own size five straight needles.)

Therefore I have to recommend bringing knitting needles and yarn to your next conference if you’re a writer.  At the very least, you might hand some other aspiring writer a murder weapon, and at the best, you get the world’s tiniest sock.

PS: When I got home,I handed it to Kiddo#2 and said, sadly, “I’m sorry. I put this in the hot water wash, and it shrank.”  She laughed and said, “No, that’s not true!” and the looked at it and said, “….really?…”  I’d post a picture of it, but someone seems to have absconded with my tiny sock.


  1. littlehouseofpenguins

    Check Kiddo#2’s dolls, if she’s into those? It would probably make a great doll sock. 🙂

    It’s always fun thinking up weird murder methods, isn’t it? I remember watching a TV show where somebody died on a knitting needle, only in that case it was (sort of) by accident, as they tripped and fell onto it.

    1. philangelus

      Ivy will know this,but I think people do die from knitting needles through the chest wall. They can easily puncture a lung. In fact, if I turn up dead, one of the most likely suspects will be Kiddo#4 having dive-bombed onto my lap and driving a sock needle between my ribs.

      Kiddo#2 swears she has no idea where it is. I’ve used a flashlight and looked all around the area where I last remember leaving it. I think it’s just GAWN. 🙁

      1. Ivy

        Yes, there have been such cases. In a famous one a while back a woman fell while holding a wooden size 8 and impaled herself in the stomach. She had to demand her daughter, and then the paramedic, not remove it, but just bring her, needle and all, to the ER. The attending physician said if they had pulled it out, she would have died. There are a few cases every year of someone fatally stabbing themselves with their needles during a car accident.

        It’s rare. Once in a while someone will step on a dropped size 0 or 1 in the night and cut a foot. I have a friend with a scar on her thigh from sitting on a needle.

        1. Ken Rolph

          Yikes! I’m sticking with latch hooks.

          1. Ivy

            You get more such cases with pencils. 😉

            I used to latch, but I haven’t done it in a long time. I should get back to it.

    2. cricketB

      From the opening to Castle: “There are two kinds of folk who sit around and think about how to kill people – psychopaths and mystery writers. I’m the kind that pays better.”

      (You’d like the show. Watch it from the very beginning if possible.)

      1. Ivy

        I have some of it–DVR? DVD? AVI? I forget what I did after I recorded it. Anyway, the beginning looked really formula. Step one, show some random scene that ends *shock* on a dead body. After the first time, maybe the second, it’s not a shock, it’s a game of “Where will the body be hiding this time?”

      2. Ken Rolph

        Castle is a confection. I love it. Except when they go down that route of the all-knowing serial killer who is personally aiming at the detectives. I hope the show is not jumping the shark.

        We just had those episodes this month. After the first one ended with the explosion in Beckett’s flat* I said to my wife, she’s in the bath. Then they immediately showed a trailer for the next week’s episode.

        Funny how TV series let you interpret shows from external evidence. On some of those murder series with older guest actors every week, you just know that the guest star is either the victim or the murderer. The actual writing of the show is kind of incidental.

        *Or should that be Beckett’s apartment?

        1. cricketB

          That’s part of the fun of it — how they play with the formula, when they break it, how the characters relate within it. The writers have a lot of fun with it.

          No, I don’t think the show is jumping the shark. The explosion was mid-season. They just wrapped season two’s shooting, and are renewed for a third. I don’t know if it’ll get a third, though — there’s only so much you can do with the tension between them. On the other hand, they’re not balancing it on a thread while wearing a straight-jacket, so there might be hope.

          Besides, how can one not want more of Captain Tight Pants / Captain Hammer?

          1. cricketB

            Make that don’t know if it will get a fourth. (My Enter key is possessed. It adds typos.

  2. capt_cardor

    I’m not sure why you are surprised that a sock has disappeared into the sock dimension. Happens all the time.

    1. philangelus

      Yeah, but this one STARTED as only one sock. I thought being solo would render a protective effect against getting sucked into the hozone layer.