Wordless comic 2: Reading

The first thing I did when I graduated earlier this Fall was read a slew of novels that were on my list. After years of reading studies and articles, it was nice to come back to reading fiction. For me, reading is an emotional investment in the lives of a story’s characters, and it’s the willingness to stay with those characters, come what may. I often have to be ‘ready’ to take on a new novel for this reason. Sadder stories, in particular, have a way of lingering and leaving an imprint long after the last page has turned. What gives stories the power to live in us, in this way?

I drew a series of “self-portraits” of myself reading. I merely wanted to learn to draw a cross-legged figure, but ended up with several similar charcoal sketches, each one a slight variation of the next. I decided to take them and digitally re-arrange these little me’s to show what a really good book can sometimes do — move readers through different states, and maybe even leave them, ultimately, with a heavy heart, but also richer, somehow.

Enjoy your weekend. Wishing you creative coziness.

Ribbon of characters

Happy Monday! This drawing came about one night. Keeping in mind Ivan Brunetti’s advice to build characters out of basic shapes, I found myself tinkering around with different ways to create an easily drawable figure that does not rely on any reference images, a figure that I could be creative with. Sketching, I found a knack for drawing these characters using my 0.3 Copic Multiliner pen, and enjoyed drawing lots of them. They came one after the other until I had an interesting community of 56! — bear gals, mice gals, rabbits, kitties, crickets bats…

I learned that, if you stay open, you can let a doodle grow into a daydream that unspools according to its own logic. I also learned that creating variations of the same figure is one of my favourite ways to work (or, in the words of my partner, “you like to draw lots of small things”). I guess that’s one way to put it; the picture reminds me a bit of the Where’s Waldo books I loved as a child. To draw with that level of density of the page! 🙂

So, until next time — lots of small things.

Click on image to zoom in

6 super quick (and free) mini-stocking patterns to knit

Happy Wednesday. I hope your week is going well. This is a repost from 2017 (time flies!) that is for the holiday knitters — a review of 6 different mini-stocking patterns for your holiday crafting pleasure. These patterns are all free, knit up in a pinch, and as far as I’ve checked, are still available on Ravelry (save for #6 which was taken from a book). Enjoy!


The past week has found me getting my holiday knit on, combing through Ravelry’s collection of mini-stocking patterns and trying my hand at a few. My usual writing table has been temporarily transformed into a workshop strewn with yarny bits, coloured pencils, the odd DPN, and darning needles which tend to roll into their favourite hiding place: under all of the other mess. I now appreciate the true meaning of trying to find a needle in a ribbon-paper-and-tape stack.

But. If you’re pressed for time and are looking for a last-minute holiday knit, I’ve found that mini-stockings work well. The patterns are easy and can be worked + finished up in an evening (I am a slower knitter, so the speedy-stitchers among you could zip one off in no time).

The Patterns

I worked 6 different patterns.

sock FO 3 -
stocking 5.jpg

1) Gemma Towns’ Mini Christmas Stockings  turned out to be my favourite pattern of the lot. Striping, a contrast colour on the cuff, heel and toe, and ample space for stuffers — what’s not to like? Worked on DPNs, the heel is shaped through a series of short rows. Quick Kitchener-stitch to graft that toe. Easy peasy.

2) Kat Mcab’s Small Holiday Stockings are a fun take on the mini-stocking, and they knit up really fast with minimal finishing. The stocking is worked in the round and is shaped with a set of increases. The simplicity of this pattern allows you to personalize or customize it easily. Only the bottom of the stocking requires a quick seam: a kitchener stitch graft or a 3-needle bind-off.

3) Jean Greenhowe’s pattern for Mini Christmas Stockings is worked flat. The stocking is shaped through increases, and the seam is sewn up the ‘back’ (the right side of the ornament in the picture). I thought that this pattern made for the most traditional ‘stocking’ shape, but am discovering that I’m a bigger fan of DPNs than I am of seams! This pattern walks you through different variations for colours and striping.

4) Juliet Bernard’s Christmas Stockings are quite special: worked on DPNs, they feature a ribbed cuff, some variations of easy colour work to choose from, and a full slip-stitched heel and gusset. If you’re looking to bring some 3-D sock-realism to your holiday decor, this pattern is it!

mini stockign WIP.png
Gusset realness!

5) Beverly Leestma’s Mini Knit Stockings are worked flat, include short-rows for heel-shaping, and are seamed along the front of the stocking. This pattern produced the tiniest of the stockings (a mere 2.5″ from heel to cuff when using worsted weight and size 6 US needles). The pattern has variations for striping and working heel & toe contrast colours.

…and 6) comes from the pages of Joelle Hoverson’s Last-Minute Knitted Gifts(2004) – the Sweater and Stocking Minis pattern. True to its word, the book provides a range of 11th-hour knits. This one is under the category of “2-hour projects.” It knit up so fast, I was able to finish the stocking in the library and did not need to bring the pattern book home with me (there is a lovely room in the library with a high, domed ceiling, a real fireplace, and huge windows that let all the light in. It is perfection for knitting). This one knit up the lumpiest, though – my mistake: the heel uses a few yarn-overs during the short-rows and my attempt to close up all the holes while finishing up left some bumps in the fabric. Lesson learned.

…and I-Cord Hangers

When attaching hangers to the stockings, I first tried a crochet slip-stitch chain, but found this flimsy and shapeless (see stocking #2 above). What my heart desired (and what it got) was an i-cord loop. I-cords are so much fun to make! They make for a very sturdy hanging loop for heavier things, too (if you’re interested, you’ll find a tutorial for making a 2-colour i-cord at the end of the post).

For each ornament, I worked a 2-colour 4-stitch i-cord on size 2 DPNs, then sewed the ends together to make a loop.

I-cord composite
Making an I-cord: just 4-stitches slid along a DPN produces a sturdy column of stockinette.

I attached the loops to the stocking corners, and with that, a first batch of stockings was ready!

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What do you think of these different patterns? Are you putting in the last stitches on a project or two? I hope that this week finds you warm and well, and recharging your holiday energies wherever and whenever you can.

Openness to change

My past attempts at writing comics or creating graphic narratives have fallen on a bad habit: I tend to wait until a fully formed idea arrives. I want to see the lead up and the punchline before taking to my inks and pens. This is an understandable preference for certainty, but the result of this is having very few strips or stories to speak of! My aspirations do not match my output.

I had recently heard of an exercise in Ivan Brunetti’s Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice that’s designed to help build comic-writing fluency. I really enjoy Brunetti’s writing on comics; he emphasizes simple forms and shapes, and the first time I saw his work, I had an emotional response that made me nostalgic for all the picture books of childhood. His approach makes crafting comics feel democratic and doable. The challenge he assigns is as follows:

a) invent a character using basic shapes
b) draw them with an object and in a place, performing an action (4 panels)
c) demonstrate the motivation (2 panels) and consequences of the action (2 additional panels), creating a simple wordless narrative (the exact sketchbook exercise can be found here).

Feeling rusty, I decided to try a shortened version of the exercise. The visuals came together quickly. I started with a playful doodle of a juggler using a charcoal pencil. Then a basic set of images came, and I drew them out. The text suggested itself much later on, while editing the images.

The result: An important drawing and writing lesson that I needed to hear about staying open to change — specifically the changes that take place on the page. Strange, I feel like this strip is reflecting on itself, making me an eavesdropper into a third-person conversation. But let us talk about sentient strips another time! Here’s the comic:

Until next time, wishing you creative contentment and openness to the marvelous magic of the blank page!

School of fish

I hope your week and Monday are off to a smooth start. I’ve returned to my paints recently. I had been a bit sheepish with the gouache for a while(!), but decided to return to my desk and open myself up to whatever wanted to be done.

These fish flooded into the frame somewhat unexpectedly one night. And the coral came after (the disappearance of coral has been on my mind). These fish are reminding me to stay in the flow.

a site revamp

And… the site has been spruced up. I am tinkering with using this site as a portfolio for my work. The homepage now has some new artwork up and the portfolio has been reorganized and streamlined. The short comics and sketchbook links are, as before, primarily visual pages. And the blog is where I will continue to spill too many words on an assortment of projects. I did this mainly to give myself a placeholder and to encourage more work. Let us see what the time ahead will produce.

Wishing you many hours of creative joy this week. 🎨