Women in Horror Month 2018

Women in Horror Month Challenge

I’m so excited. February marks the 9th Women In Horror Month. People are always shocked that I read, watch and write horror and that it’s been a passion of mine for years. There is an assumption that women don’t ‘do’  or ‘get’ horror but that’s simply not the case. For example, did you know Kathryn Bigelow (yup, THAT Kathryn Bigelow) co-wrote and directed a vampire move? And American Psycho, a film massively lauded for its nuance as well as its gore factor was directed by Mary Harron and let’s not forget that The Babadook continues to be voted one of the most frightening movies since it’s release in 2014. Not only was it written and directed by Jennifer Kent but stars the effervescent Essie Davis (as an aside, are you as excited as I am at the rumours of the Miss Fisher movies?). And that’s just movies! Many people laud Mary Shelley, but there are so many more I need to add to my already bulging TBR pile, including many from this list collated by MentalFloss.

The Challenge

To celebrate, I’ve created a daily challenge which I hope you’ll all join in with. I’ve broadened it a little to include science fiction and fantasy, mostly because it gives me a good excuse (as if I needed one!) to rewatch some of my favourite movies and reread some of my favourite books, as well as discovering lots of new genre books, films and games.

There is (hopefully) a nice variety of things to do during the challenge, from discussing your favourite ‘Scream Queen’ to movie reviews which either have a female protagonist or are directed by women. I’ll be adding a few short stories for ‘Short Story Saturday‘ but feel free to add links to your own work. I have also planned a few fun craft projects which I’m hoping

How can you take part?

It’s easy! Each day I’ll be posting here, with links on my Facebook, Instagram or Twitter so simply get in touch with your comments, suggestions or photos. I’d love to hear from you about your favourite female-led characters and adventures as well of course, as directors, authors, designers and more. And don’t forget to share your pictures of your attempt at our ‘Monster Makes’ on Make It Monday.

I hope you’ll join me in making this ‘Women in Horror Month’ a truly frightening, fun and gruesome celebration!

Make it Monday: St Brigid’s Cross

Finished St Brigid's Cross

Saint Brigid is one of the patron saints of Ireland. There is speculation that she’s a continuation of the pagan goddess for spring and certainly, she is now associated with the protection of animals and her feast day falls on Imbolc, the start of spring. She is also the patron saint of poetry, arts and crafts which is one of the reasons I was interested in marking her feast day and making a Saint Brigid’s Cross.

Scissors, string and raffia to make St Brigid's Cross

The cross itself is traditionally made from straw, but because we didn’t have any we used paper raffia, which worked fairly well, although next time we would glue the pieces together once they were in place to stop them moving around so much.

Pieces of raffia

We measured  30cm pieces of raffia and the toddler was very excited that she was able to cut them. I then folded the strands in half, leaving us with sixteen strands of raffia measuring 15cm. Then it was on to weaving! This proved rather more fiddly than I had anticipated, probably due to the raffia not being as stiff as straw would be and the pieces kept moving. I found it helped if I placed the cross on the table and held the centre, twisting it as I added more layers. Unfortunately, because it was a little fiddly, the toddler did lose interest and I was left to weave on my own.

Weaving a St Brigids Cross

Most of the instructions I looked at were the same, with the central four straws woven together to form a square, then additional straws added to build up the cross. You can add as many ‘layers’ as you want, but I chose four, one for each member of the house. Here’s the link to Colorful Crafts whose instructions I used. I found them very clear and there were lots of photographs to follow. There are loads of different shapes which can be woven and next year we may try a triangle or star.

Did you celebrate Imbolc or make a St Brigid’s Cross? Let me know in the comments below.

‘My Wandering Uterus’ Wandering onto your bookshelf soon!

Cover for My Wandering Uterus

I’m very excited to announce that my short story ‘In Search of Sorrow’ will be published in an anthology titled ‘My Wandering Uterus’, edited by Kate Laity and H Byron Ballard with the stunning cover by SL Johnson.

My Wandering Uterus

The history of the wandering uterus is very long, starting in the Greek period. It relates to ‘women’s maladies’ whereby any illness or ‘hysteria’ experienced by a woman would be linked to her uterus. Greek physicians, including Hippocrates, believed that the uterus was a free-floating creature, an ‘animal within an animal‘, which would cause different symptoms depending on where it was in the body. Indeed, the term ‘hysteria‘ was coined to describe the action and symptoms of women, and comes from the Greek word for uterus ‘hysterika’. This paper by Terri Kapsalis on the Literary Hub looks at the history of the Wandering Uterus and how belief in women’s hysteria has perpetuated to the modern day. Kapsalis argues that the idea is so ingrained in our collective psyche that it will frequently be used to dismiss women’s role in society, undermine their skills and negate their freedoms. It’s a very interesting article and I recommend you take a few minutes to read it.

In Search of Sorrow

‘In Search of Sorrow’ is a short story, featuring my new leading lady, Sorrowful Jones. I’m really excited to explore her world more fully and am planning a series of short, interconnected stories which I’ll publish later this year (hopefully!). I don’t reveal too much of Sorrowful’s back story here, but she’s a traveller who is searching for women in need of her help. I’ve drawn a lot on our own travels when building the world of Sorrowful Jones, from her poncho which is woven with animals like those I saw in Peru, to some of the more supernatural ideas from Japan and South East Asia which I’ll explore more in the book.

I’ll keep you updated as to when ‘My Wandering Uterus’ will be published and also my progress with the rest of the book. I can’t wait for you to join Sorrowful Jones and me on the road.

 

How many scarves can I knit from one ball of wool?

Rowan wool

How beautiful is this Rowan alpaca wool? I bought a ball with my first royalty payment from Fox Spirit Books and if you can fall In love with wool, well that’s what happened. I decided I needed to find the perfect knitting project for such a pretty wool. However, I couldn’t settle on just one pattern and ended up trying several before finally creating my own pattern. Keep scrolling to see my different attempts and my final scarf.

Rowan wool
Look at the detail in the fibres!

The First Attempt

Knitted scarf by @bluebeaglebaby

I was relatively new to knitting so started with this simple stitch (knit one, yarn over, knit two together, repeat) in order to make a scarf. But quickly realised one ball of wool would produce a very small scarf. Back to the drawing board!

The Gallatin

Knitted scarf by @bluebeaglebaby

This is easily one of my favourite knitting patterns. From Kris Basta the Gallatin Scarf is fairly simple and quick to knit, I’ve even made some for gifts. Armed with my needles, I bought another ball of the alpaca wool and set to work. I was pleased with the final result as the detailing at the bottom was really pretty. However, unlike the pattern which uses a fine wool, the alpaca wool is chunky which meant it didn’t drop as nicely as the others I made. So I ripped it out and looked for a new pattern.

Learning to Knit Hearts

Knitted scarf by @bluebeaglebaby

Apologies for the photo from my Instagram feed (@bluebeaglebaby) but the house ghosts have moved the original. I kept seeing this heart scarf pattern and was very keen to try it. It’s a lovely pattern and I made a version in a chunky red wool for a friend but as you can see from the photo, the alpaca wool curled at the sides and refused to lay flat so it was once again ripped out.

Things Get Frilly

Knitted scarf by @bluebeaglebaby

This was my first attempt at writing my own pattern. Still relatively new to knitting so it was a very simple pattern but I wanted to try a new edging technique and create ‘waves’. I was pleased with the final result, although the edges curled in, as frequently happens with stockinette stitch and I also really liked the frilled bottom: it will be a technique I use again in future patterns. However, the finished scarf was shorter than I’d hoped which I was surprised about as it’s 150metres of wool! Due to the length and the curled edges, I decided to keep looking for another pattern and ripped it out again.

If you’d like to try the pattern, here it is:

  • Using your chosen wool and appropriate needles, cast on 60 stitches
  • Stockinette stitch ten rows
  • Stitch two stitches together for the entire row, leaving 30 stitches
  • Stockinette stitch ten rows
  • Knit one, yarn over, knit two together for the entire row
  • Stockinette stitch ten rows
  • Repeat to desired length
  • After your last set of knit one, yarn over, knit two together and ten rows of stockinette knit one, make one using your chosen method (I like the knit front to back method but yarn over would also work). You should now have 60 stitches
  • Stockinette stitch ten rows
  • Cast off and weave in all the ends.

Simple! Hope you like the pattern. It’s not been tested so if you have any queries, comment below and make sure you post photos here or tag me on Instagram (@bluebeaglebaby)

Then I Learned to Crochet

Crochet scarf by @bluebeaglebaby

Over the summer I learned to crochet. For some reason, crochet was a skill which I struggled to learn, with most of my attempts looking like weirdly shaped clumps of wool or sort-of triangles. Luckily I found some really useful YouTube channels and the very helpful Planet June website which has helped me enormously.

I’ve quickly fallen in love with crochet and find the range of things I can make very inspiring, from appliqué which I use in creating greeting cards, hats and scarves (I made a Sarah and Duck inspired set for my daughter) and assorted Amigurumi. My daughter loves my creations and keeps asking me to make her different creatures, from a sea cow (another Sarah and Duck inspiration) to a wolf. I’m hoping to perfect my pattern, then more of my amigurami creatures will be offered for sale in my shop.

But back to the scarf. It’s worked completely in half double crochet stitch and you just need to know how to increase and decrease. As with my other patterns, it simple, quick to make and easily customisable. Below is the pattern for the headband but to make the scarf, simply add twenty stitches. Use chunky wool and a 6mm crochet hook.

  • Chain 10
  • HDC in second stitch from hook (9)
  • Chain 1 and turn. HDC increase in first and last stitches (11)
  • Chain 1 and turn. HDC increase in first and last stitches (13)
  • Chain 2. HDC into second stitch from the edge of your work, creating a gap. Chain one, then skip a stitch and HDC into the next stitch. Continue to the end of the row. You should have a row with 6 spaces
  • Chain two and HDC into the first space (ie. through the hole, not into the stitch). Chain 1 then HDC into the next space. Continue to the end of the row
  • Continue until the piece measures approximately 45cm but try the headband on and adjust to fit your head accordingly
  • When the piece of long enough, Chain 1 then HDC in each of the stitches (not the spaces this time)  (13)
  • Chain 1 and turn. HDC decrease in first and last stitches (11)
  • Chain 1 and turn. HDC decrease in first and last stitches (9)
  • Bind off and leave a long tail for sewing the ends together
  • Sew the edges together and decorate with your favourite buttons.

For the scarf, the pattern is the same except the row after the increase or decreases I did a row of HDC. Hope you like the pattern. It’s untested but if you do make it, leave a photo below or tag me in on Instagram (@bluebeaglebaby)

Crochet scarf by @bluebeaglebaby