As with most knitting project, I finished this one at 1 am. But I’ve never discovered something wrong after finishing.

So help me out, late night knitters.

I just did the Damask pattern (find on Ravelry) which I love and is gorgeous. With beautiful yarn.

And the shape is…not the one in the picture. It’s my first bottom-up shawl so I have no idea what the math involved is, but instead of being a standard triangle, with the last stitches evening out to form a flat upper end, the upper portion ended up pointed, so it was a triangle, but with the last stitches making the point, rather than the point being the bottom of the edging. With blocking I can open up the lace just fine, but I can’t get it into anything like a flat-top shape. When I straighten out the top, the bottom curls up in a bag-type shape as the hem tightens. It’s like there aren’t enough stitches for it to open out–but I followed the pattern exactly. Nor does the bottom edging have the kind of wavyness that the picture does. (Edit to add, here’s a pic of the weird-ass shape I blocked it into, which is not pretty or right, but the best I could do.)

Does that make sense?

What’s more, given that B-U shawls decrease stitches as they go up from the bottom edge (which I gather is intended to actually be the border of the whole piece once it’s finished), I can’t see how you’d end up with any other shape but this one, yet no one else seems to have had trouble getting it into flat-straight-top-edge/curvy-bottom-pointy-triangle edge.

What did I do wrong? I love this pattern and this designer and want to do more bottom-up shawls, but not if they end up shaped like sort of trapezoids. This is still wearable, I think, but given the work involved I’m disappointed and don’t have any idea what I could have done wrong. At no point did I seem to be doing anything but what the pattern told me to.


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Jason over at Apex Publications announced this morning A Thing I have been keeping fairly quiet for awhile.

As of November, I will be stepping down as editor of Apex Magazine.

It has been a long and fascinating experience, often rewarding, always educational. I am not leaving due to any personal or professional issues–it was entirely my decision and certainly surprised everyone else involved. The fact is, I’m tired. I’m tired, and for the last seven years I have been saying yes to every project and proposal that crossed my plate, paid a little, and wasn’t completely against my code of artistic ethics.

I can’t keep that up anymore. I have to start practicing No Magic, and protecting myself from overwork–because I have overworked myself so hard in the last year that I am psychically hobbled. I have to start having boundaries and making hard choices, or I will burn out hardcore and there will be no more Cat. While on tour I edited Apex and taught an MFA student and wrote short stories–it was too much. I have not, historically, been kind to FutureMe.

So I knew several months ago that I wanted to lay Apex aside–I am not an editor at heart, it is difficult work, very different than writing, and though I am proud of the authors I’ve discovered and particularly of the Arab/Muslim issue and userinfotithenai ‘s wonderful story that flew so far, I want to concentrate on my own work, and editing a magazine will make you question every tiny choice you make in a story.

I knew I wanted to go, but I wanted to choose my replacement, I wanted to pick someone who would carry on the inclusive and high-quality standard I established and not tear the place down just as I’d gotten it working so well. And I was having fried chicken slathered in hot sauce in Chicago one day and talking to Lynne Thomas, who’d just found out about her Hugo nomination for editing Chicks Dig Time Lords, about how she wanted to break into fiction editing someday, and it clicked. I asked her then and there, both our fingers covered in bright red sauce, if she wanted to take over Apex.

The next day she said yes, and we cyber-marched over to Jason to tell him the news.

I am proud of my 18 months (that’ll be the magic number, in the end) at Apex. I believe in and stand by the work I’ve done there, and I have learned a great deal–which is what I’d hoped to do to begin with. I hope you all have enjoyed the space I’ve made there–editing is often invisible work. In my heart, when I took the job, I told myself I’d give it a year and see how I felt. I’ve given it more, and I feel happy–but glad to move on, and confident that it will continue in the vein I’ve established.

I want to thank my slush readers, who were my heroes, and invaluable, and userinfojustbeast , who served as poetry slush editor and will be departing with me. And Jason Sizemore for giving me the opportunity.

As a goodbye, thre will be a story from me in Lynne’s first issue. She’s going to be great, and I hope you’ll all join me in welcoming her.

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

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This is to say that I will be attending Anthocon from November 11-13 in Portsmouth, NH.

You should, too, and here’s why.

We don’t have an SFF con in northern New England right now. We have an anime con in Portland, a comics con in Bangor (and a comics festival in Portland), and the Boston cons, but we don’t have a geeky book con. I want one. I want my region to have something awesome like Readercon, that’s easier for me to get to and will bring out the crowd near where I live so that I can make friends without driving for hours to a distant con.

Northern New England rules. We are boss. We deserve a sweet con. And that’s why, even though I’m so tired I can’t see straight, I’m going to this con, to invest in it existing and growing, so that when I am not tired I can have a hometown (sort of, it’s not in Portland but you can’t have everything) con. You get the fandom you make.

So come with me! A con is only as awesome as the people who attend.

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The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making debuted in May at #8 on the NYT list, an extraordinary result for a little crowdfunded book that began on this very website almost exactly two years before. Thank you to all who read, bought, donated, and supported this long, gorgeous journey. We’ve only just begun.

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I think part of the habit of blogging–and it is a habit, one that can be developed and one that can be lost–is when you have a thought, writing it down before you forget it or decide it’s dumb or get distracted by doing other things. Overthinking, but not so much you decide it’s too much effort to write it all out, not so little that you have nothing to say.

I’ve been blogging for a decade–sometimes I’m better at posting and sometimes I’m worse, but when I’m worse it’s inevitably because I’ve been saying: "I should post about that" a lot without posting. That and the sheer energy of essay writing can feel overwhelming when, say, you’re on a book tour. This is where Twitter tends to come in, for me.

Blogging is not a dying art, really. It’s just that most of the people who wanted to do it did it and are still doing it in their own sections of the internet or started and couldn’t maintain it. New bloggers go for shorter and shorter posts, but there are still new Big Bloggers that crop up. It’s just that, like any industry, the boom is over, and now it’s tough to break in.

Which is all to say that I’ve been thinking about this series of essays all night and into the morning. So I’m going to post about it instead of idly Tweeting at midnight. Because it’s a habit and you have to maintain it or it goes away. The piece is about The Office and actual management dynamics. Because the author is a genius but very bad at tagging (hey, me too, tagging is boring) and/or interlinking a series of essays, I will now pull them all together nicely for you.

The Gervais Principle: Part I
Part II: Posturetalk, Powertalk, Gametalk and Babytalk
Part III: The Curse of Development
Part IV: Wonderful Human Beings

Don’t say I never did nothing for you, because this is sheer genius-level stuff. It’s also one of those beautiful things that comes out of blogs–this isn’t long enough to be a book, and in a magazine only a certain section of people would even read it–and it’s too long for a magazine, really. But blogs give us these gems sometimes, and it blows me away.

So yes, this is about how actual offices work, actual companies, and it gives terminology to a very observable phenomenon. (Companies are run by sociopaths, managed by the clueless, and staffed by losers–not in the sense of them being social or psychological losers, but in the sense of having entered into a losing economic proposition, ie wage work, in order to obtain safety and benefits while finding life meaning elsewhere. All companies need the clueless section, but when it swells, as it inevitably does, to make up the mass of the company, the losers and the sociopaths depart for other shores, leaving a wreck behind to stutter along.) It also makes me realize why Jim is the most emotionally affecting character on the show–he is the only one who is becoming, rather than in a holding pattern. Ryan, too, I suppose, but Ryan is awful while Jim is a becoming labrador of a person. So whether he will become a player is interesting in a way that Ryan is not, because Ryan is all about being a player. Anyway.

The essay is also about how social capital is traded, a subject endlessly fascinating to me, and endlessly relevant to the blogosphere, which basically runs on social capital without personal presence/charisma to provide lighter fluid for it. Also, given the geek obsession with reputation economies, social capital in the geek world is almost on a level with actual capital at this point. Rao says all of this better than I, and it’s his riff, so just go read it.

And then come back and think about how terrifyingly applicable this is to the Borders situation.

Seen through Rao’s lens, this sad and compelling article is a textbook rundown of how a company that started out with sociopaths (founders) and losers (people willing to work low-wage jobs in order to be involved with books on some level and have that Empire Records style community, to make that bad economic but good social bargain) was eaten from the inside by the high-performing clueless until there was nothing left, not even a bargain for losers to make.

I find myself wondering how it applies to my world–which is ostensibly made up of many sociopaths (authors) working in isolation and then outsourcing all production to a (hopefully benevolent, sometimes not) company or companies (which have their own pyramids). But at cons I often feel that we are a distributed work team, and our product is science fiction and fantasy as a genre, as a whole. In which case, where do each of us fall in that joke-but-not-really-a-joke pyramid? Is it even applicable to us, given that we are independent contractors (yet also employed by huge corporations to greater and lesser extents depending on the number and depth of contracts at hand).

I suppose it’s easy for me to find this kind of analysis fascinating instead of chilling because I’m lucky enough to not work in an office environment. But how humans behave is never not interesting, and I do so love connecting television and movies to the mythic and the real.

I’m curious what you all think of it, both in terms of the text of The Office and of Real Life ™, and if you’re an author, how you think it applies to our sphere.

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