The Earth Stripe Wrap

Earth Stripe Wrap by Kaffe Fassett in Rowan 42, image Copyright Rowan Yarns The Earth Stripe Wrap is striped shawl designed by Kaffe Fassett and knit in ten shades of Rowan Kidsilk Haze. It was published in Rowan magazine #42 (Autumn/Winter 2007/2008). The image to the right is from the original magazine – I found it online but the copyright on the image belongs to Rowan.

Given my love for KSH and my admiration for Fassett’s use of colour, I’ve always wanted to knit this piece. This week, I finally cast on.

The biggest challenge with this piece is that some of the colours of KSH specified in the pattern have been discontinued and are no longer available. (Whenever a knitter is DISO (desperately in search of) KSH in Jacob, you can make a good guess that he or she plans to knit the Earth Stripe Wrap.) Rowan has published an updated version of it as a free download on their website, which substitutes new colours, but I wasn’t that crazy about all of their changes. Let’s have a closer look.

The original pattern specifies the following colours:
A – Hurricane #632 – available
B – Jacob #631 – discontinued
C – Elegance #577 – discontinued
D – Drab #588 – discontinued
E – Candygirl #606 – available
F – Meadow #581 – discontinued
G – Majestic #589 – available
H – Trance #582 – available
I – Jelly #597 – available
J – Blushes #583 – available

This wrap is knit with two colours held together in a stripe pattern that repeats over 186 rows. The way the colours are combined changes the appearance of each colour in each stripe, which is part of Kaffe’s magic.

The discontinued colours aren’t shown on the Rowan website anymore, and here’s where Ravelry completely rocks. Knitters photograph their stash yarns and post the pictures to Ravelry. Even given the inevitable differences in lighting, over 50 images of the same yarn, you can get a good idea of its colour. You’ll need to log in to Ravelry to follow these links, but it’s free to set up a Ravelry account. Here’s the Rav link for stashes of Meadow, for example, which proves to be a pale silvery green. (There are 600 pix, but you don’t need to look at them all!) Three of the discontinued colours – Jacob, Elegance and Drab – are muddy browns or greens. Elegance might be called bronze. Drab is a medium greyed brown. Jacob is a bit elusive, as it seems to be particularly changeable in various lighting. (That’s probably what KF liked about it.) It’s similar to Drab but also a greyed brown, maybe a little warmer in tone.

Updated version of the Earth Stripe Wrap by Rowan yarns, copyright Rowan Yarns 2017In the new version of the pattern, Rowan has made these substitutions:
B – Anthracite #639, which is a medium cool grey
C – Bark #674, a medium to dark brown
D – Drab #611 (apparently reintroduced with a new shade number, which suggests that the colour is slightly different. I don’t actually know.)
F – Ghost #642, which is a pale silver.

You can see the current shades of Kidsilk Haze on the Rowan site, right here.

Anthracite and Ghost are unexpected suggestions, to my thinking. To use cool greys instead of a mucky warm brown and a green is going to change the overall hue of the wrap. The newly photographed version does look more cool in colour. It’s still pretty, but it doesn’t have that “moors in the mist” look of the original to my eye.

So, I dug in the stash.

It turns out that I had some Elegance in my stash, which was a complete bonus. I didn’t have any Drab, but I had some Putty, which looks pretty similar to me. I couldn’t quite envision the green of Meadow with the other colours, so I used another company’s silk/mohair blend: Elann’s Silken Kydd in Aloe, which is a silvery green but more green than silver. I had a chat with a yarn store owner about Jacob and she remembered it well, suggesting Bark as the closest substitute.

So, my colour combination is:
A – Hurricane
B – Bark
C – Elegance
D – Putty
E – Candygirl
F – Aloe
G – Majestic
H – Trance
I – Jelly
J – Blushes

A quick peek through the projects on Ravelry also revealed that many people needed an additional ball of Majestic, using three balls instead of the specified two. Since I had to buy this colour, that was good to know in advance.

I put each colour of yarn in its own ziplock with one corner snipped off the bottom and the end of the yarn fed through that gap. Each ziplock is labelled with the letter of the colour, so I don’t have to try and figure out which mucky brown I should be using. In bright light, I can see the differences, but I often knit in the evening, so this works better. I think it’s imperative with a project like this to have a system for dealing with ends as you go. Weaving them all in at the end would be a nightmare (and for me, a job that just wouldn’t happen). I’m weaving mine in as I go, but some Ravellers used Russian Joins as they went. I find that a join makes KSH a bit stiff, so would rather weave them in as the soft fluidity of the finished piece is part of what I like so much about knitting with KSH. That’s a personal choice.

Deborah Cooke's prep for Earth Stripe Wrap

The wrap is designed to be knit entirely in stockinette stitch, then a round of double crochet is worked all around the perimeter. This is probably to keep it from curling. There’s also a lavish fringe added to each end. I’m not much for fringes and don’t want to do the crochet round. I decided instead to work the first three rows in moss stitch, as well as the first three and last three stitches on each row. And to give the shawl edges some weight, I’m adding beads. These are Rowan/Swarovski beads in the turquoise that matches Trance.

Here’s my progress so far.

Earth Stripe Wrap in progress, knitted by Deborah Cooke

What’s fun here is that you can see the blending that results from using two colours at once. The lowest pink stripe is Blushes with Majestic, a rose with the blue-grey. The next pink stripe has two combinations – there’s one row of the bright pink, Candygirl, with the dark brown, Bark, then three rows of Blushes with Bark. The two three-row bands with Blushes are different pinks, because of the second colour used with it. It’s fascinating. There are two combinations with Jelly, which is a vivid apple green – in the lowest one, it’s knit with Trance for a single row, which is a light teal (right above a single row with Trance and Hurricane, a darker blue). Right below the needles, Jelly is knit with Elegance for two rows–that’s one of those golden browns. Again, we get two very different shades of green. I’m finding this an addictive knit because it’s so fascinating to watch the colour combinations develop.

What do you think?

The Nutcracker Reimagined & Claire Delacroix

You all know about the upcoming Christmas anthology, The Nutcracker Reimagined, but you might not know the work of all the authors involved in the project. I thought it would be fun to do some virtual introductions.

bestselling author Deborah Cooke, also writing as Claire Delacroix

I’m Deborah Cooke and I also write historical romances as Claire Delacroix. Mostly, they’re medieval romances because that’s my favorite historical era. My characters often tell stories because I’m fascinated by why people choose one story over another. These might be folk tales or fairy tales. They also could be chansons, like those sung by the troubadours. Invariably, they reveal something about the character telling the story.

The Beauty Bride, first book in the Jewels of Kinfairlie series of medieval Scottish romances by Claire DelacroixA good example of that is my medieval romance, The Beauty Bride. Rhys is a gruff warrior and an outlaw, a man who needs a bride but knows nothing about courting a woman’s favor. He thinks having a wife (and getting a son) is a simple matter of marrying a woman and consummating the marriage. Madeline, who is less than impressed that her new husband refuses to confide in her at all, soon helps Rhys to realize that it isn’t going to be that simple. Intent on convincing her to stay with him but not knowing how to charm her, Rhys tells her stories instead. Madeline quickly realizes that each story told by Rhys reveals a little bit more of his secrets. When Rhys’ past catches up with the pair, he’s determined to deal with it himself and save Madeline–by then, Madeline isn’t nearly so ready to lose the husband she’s come to love. The Beauty Bride is a free read and a good way to give my books a try.

The Nutcracker Reimagined, a Christmas romance anthologyMy story in The Nutcracker Reimagined is The Mercenary’s Bride and it features another warrior and knight. Quentin was sent away from Inverfyre for defying the command of the laird himself, the Hawk of Inverfyre. I like that he couldn’t resist the temptation of teaching the laird’s daughter the arts of war, that her request trumped her father’s command. 🙂 Quentin was determined to earn the means to ask for Mhairi’s hand in marriage (he thinks a warrior maiden will suit him perfectly as a wife) but everything comes awry at the beginning of this story when he is robbed and left for dead in Spain. He blames the Hawk for his situation and vows to somehow return to Inverfyre to avenge himself and his loss. His innate honor hasn’t deserted him, though—he foils a plot to kill the Hawk’s lady wife, acting on instinct, and is invited into Inverfyre as a guest. Mhairi’s kiss dismisses the last of his bitterness, reminding him of the man he used to be—and convincing him to become that man again. He undertakes a plan to rid the forests of Inverfyre of the rebels hunting the Hawk and his kin, never imagining that he will win the sweetest prize of all. At Christmas.

The Mercenary’s Bride is book #1 of my new series of Scottish medieval romances called the Brides of Inverfyre. It will be available first in the Nutcracker collection—which will be available for just 30 days and is priced at 99 cents—along with nine other Christmas romance novellas. After that, it will be available in its own edition.

The Nutcracker Reimagined is specially priced at just 99 cents and is available for pre-order now. It will deliver on October 19 and be available only for 30 days.

Pre-order your copy today at these portals:
Buy at iBooks Buy at Amazon.com Buy at Barnes&Noble Buy at Kobo

The Last Highlander Disappears

The Last Highlander, a Scottish time travel romance by Claire Delacroix (writing as Claire Cross)If you’ve been looking for my Scottish time travel romance and romantic comedy, The Last Highlander, you’ll have discovered that its digital edition is currently unavailable.

This morning, I thought I’d tell you why. 🙂

The main reason is that I’ve been invited to participate in an exciting project. This  requires The Last Highlander to be in Kindle Unlimited, which means that it can’t be available anywhere else while it’s available through KU. I’ve removed the book from sale now, to make sure it has time to disappear from all the portals that are fed content by the big portals. After this is all done, I’ll republish The Last Highlander. So, you can expect to find Morgan and Alasdair’s story widely available again in the new year.

I’ll tell you more about this project and give you links as soon as I can!

How Charming

You probably remember my tutorial on making mini-books as charms for Romancing the Capital. At RTC, there’s a treasure hunt in which readers try to find participating authors to get a charm. (They’re given empty bracelets at registration).

Book Charms made by Deborah Cooke

I really enjoyed making these charms and got excited about getting most of my book covers on charms. There are some left from the conference and I remember that some of you were interested in them. I’ve listed them for sale in the store, and put a small charge on them ($5 plus free postage), not because I hope to make money on them (I won’t) but to put a dint in the cost of postage and that of my assistant filling out customs forms for each package.

Finished Book Charms by Deborah Cooke

They’re in two categories because there are so many variations. There’s a new category in the store called The Hoard – you’ll find the Claire Delacroix book charms here, and the Deborah Cooke ones here.

Finished Book Charm by Deborah Cooke

Romancing the Capital 2018

Eve Langlais is hosting Romancing the Capital, her fabulous annual reader event, again in 2018, and I’ll be attending one more time. Registration is open and the list of attending authors is posted on the site. In 2018, RTC will be from August 2 – 4. It sounds as if I’ll be teaching a longer workshop on Thursday, an intro to publishing for new writers, as well as all the fun events at the conference itself. Registration for this event sells faster every year, so don’t miss out.

Romancing the Capital 2018

Look for a pre-order form for books closer to the date, and remember that the booksigning on Saturday is open to the public.

I hope to see you there!

Wingspan Shawls

Earlier this week, I promised to show you the Wingspan shawl that Josée gave me at Romancing the Capital on the weekend. Here it is, and the pin she made for it:

Wingspan shawl crocheted by Josée Giroux 2017

Isn’t it lovely?

Here’s the Dragons panel at RTC, with all of us wearing the shawls Josée made for us. From the left, Coreene Callahan, Eve Langlais, myself and Milly Taiden.

The panel discussion on dragons at RTC2017 with Coreen Callahan, Eve Langlais, Deborah Cooke and Milly Taiden

What’s really interesting is that her shawl is Tunisian crochet. I’ve also made this pattern, but I’ve knit it. I used Noro Silk Garden Sock for mine and here it is:
Thanks again to Josée for the beautiful shawl!

Wyvern’s Outlaw

The next book in the Dragons of Incendium series is Wyvern’s Outlaw. I revealed the cover at RTC Ottawa last weekend and now it’s up for pre-order for November 29 delivery.

Wyvern's Outlaw, book #4 of the Dragons of Incendium series of paranormal romances by Deborah CookeRyke wants nothing more than to escape the space pirates of the Gloria Furore and go home to his young son. He’s pretended to share their views and has worked his way up the ranks to co-pilot of the Armada Seven, commanded by the most vicious space captain of all. The capture of Princess Anguissa and her ship, the Archangel, is a moment of triumph for his superior—except that Anguissa never plays by anyone’s rules. In a flash of dragon fire, she incinerates most of the crew and takes command of the Armada Seven. Ryke is spared, but he’s not sure why—what plans does the beautiful dragon princess have for his future? And what will she demand to grant his wish of returning home?

Coming November 29!

Pre-order available at these portals – the Amazon link will be live at the beginning of September:

Buy at iBooks Buy at Barnes & Noble Buy at Kobo

Bride Quest II New Editions Available

The Countess, book #4 of the Bride Quest series of medieval romances by Claire DelacroixThe Beauty, book #5 of the Bride Quest series of medieval romances by Claire DelacroixTo give the Bride Quest books a consistent look, there are new covers for The Countess, The Beauty, and The Temptress. The interiors were updated as well.

I took these three books off sale while the update was in the works, but they’re available at your favorite portal again.

If you bought these books before in digital editions, you’ll be able to download the new editions as updates. At some portals, they’ll be delivered to your device automatically. At Amazon, you may have to request the new edition be delivered to your Kindle. Contact their customer service if it doesn’t come through automatically.

The Temptress, book #6 of the Bride Quest series of medieval romances by Claire DelacroixThe Bride Quest II Boxed Set by Claire DelacroixThe Bride Quest II bundle has also been updated, as well as the print editions of all three books. There are new versions available for sale in my online store, both print and digital.

Phew! Another job done!

More Relationship Tropes

Here’s my last post on tropes in romance novels and in my books. Since we’re down to the bits and ends, this collection of tropes is a bit of a mixed bag.

Protector – one of the protagonists volunteers or is assigned to protect the other, and romantic entanglements ensue. This also manifests in historicals as Guardian/Ward, in which the legally assigned protector of the heroine of minor age develops romantic feelings for her.

Guardian, #2 of the Prometheus Project of urban fantasy romances by Deborah Cooke The Crusader's Vow by Claire Delacroix, book #4 in the Champions of Saint Euphemia series of medieval romances.

Holiday – the book is set during the holidays, often at Christmas but other holidays are possible, too.

All or Nothing, book #4 of the Coxwell series of contemporary romances by Deborah Cooke A Berry Merry Christmas, a holiday contemporary romance novella by Deborah Cooke, writing as Claire Cross The Rogue, book #1 of the Rogues of Ravensmuir trilogy of medieval Scottish romances by Claire Delacroix The Snow White Bride, third in the Jewels of Kinfairlie series of medieval Scottish romances by Claire Delacroix Something Wicked This Way Comes, a Regency romance novella by Claire Delacroix and #1 of the Brides of North Barrows

Homecoming – also called Reunion, one of the characters returns to his/her hometown. The other protagonist might have been there all along (Friends to Lovers or Second Chance at Love) or could also have arrived recently.

Third Time Lucky, book #1 of the Coxwell Series of contemporary romances, by Deborah Cooke The Frost Maiden's Kiss, a medieval romance and third book in the True Love Brides series by Claire Delacroix The Crusader's Kiss, #3 in the Champions of St Euphemia series of medieval romances by Claire Delacroix The Crusader's Vow by Claire Delacroix, book #4 in the Champions of Saint Euphemia series of medieval romances.

Kidnapping – another one that is popular in historicals. One protagonist (often the hero) abducts the other and romantic entanglements ensue.

The Beauty, book #5 of the Bride Quest series of medieval romances by Claire Delacroix The Warrior, book #3 of the Rogues of Ravensmuir trilogy of medieval Scottish romances by Claire Delacroix The Rose Red Bride, book #2 in the Jewels of Kinfairlie series of medieval Scottish romances by Claire Delacroix The Crusader's Kiss, #3 in the Champions of St Euphemia series of medieval romances by Claire Delacroix Guardian, #2 of the Prometheus Project of urban fantasy romances by Deborah Cooke Rebel, #3 of the Prometheus Project of urban fantasy romances by Deborah Cooke Wyvern's Warrior, #3 in the Dragons of Incendium series of paranormal romances by Deborah Cooke

May/December – the hero is older than the heroine by more than a few years. When the heroine is older (as in Love Potion #9, An Elegy for Melusine and Wyvern’s Mate) the trope is called Cougar.

The Crusader's Handfast, #5 in the Champions of Saint Euphemia series of medieval romances by Claire Delacroix Kiss of Fire, a paranormal romance and first in the Dragonfire series, by Deborah Cooke Kiss of Fury, #2 in the Dragonfire series of paranormal romances by Deborah Cooke Kiss of Fate, #3 in the Dragonfire series of paranormal romances by Deborah Cooke Winter Kiss, #4 in the Dragonfire series of paranormal romances by Deborah Cooke Whisper Kiss, #5 in the Dragonfire series of paranormal romances by Deborah Cooke Darkfire Kiss, #6 in the Dragonfire series of paranormal romances by Deborah Cooke Flashfire, #7 in the Dragonfire series of paranormal romances by Deborah Cooke Firestorm Forever, A Dragonfire Novel and paranormal romance by Deborah Cooke Love Potion #9, a paranormal romance and romantic comedy by Claire Delacroix An Elegy for Melusine: A Medieval Fairy Tale by Claire Delacroix Wyvern's Mate, book #1 in the Dragons of Incendium series of paranormal romances by Deborah Cooke

On the Rocks – the hero and heroine are in a relationship that is falling apart, but over the course of the book, they make it work again.

One More Time, book #3 in the Coxwell Series of contemporary romances, by Deborah Cooke The Rogue, book #1 of the Rogues of Ravensmuir trilogy of medieval Scottish romances by Claire Delacroix

Secret baby – the hero and heroine have conceived a child, but he either doesn’t know about it or doesn’t realize the child is his. This trope is often combined with Second Chance at Love. (Spoiler alert on these two books!)

The Rogue, book #1 of the Rogues of Ravensmuir trilogy of medieval Scottish romances by Claire Delacroix Double Trouble, book #2 in the Coxwell Series of contemporary romances, by Deborah Cooke

Time Travel – the hero and heroine are from different times.

The Last Highlander, a Scottish time travel romance by Claire Delacroix The Moonstone, a time travel romance by Claire Delacroix Once Upon a Kiss, a Scottish paranormal romance by Claire Delacroix

Phew! That’s it for my list of tropes in my books. If you think I missed any or forgot to put a book in a specific category, please comment here and let me know.

What is your favorite trope of all?

Home from Romancing the Capital

I just had the most wonderful weekend at Romancing the Capital, Eve Langlais’ reader event in Ottawa, Canada. This was the third year for the conference, and it was the third time I’ve attended. The pictures below were taken by Jess Ripley, who photographed the event.

This conference starts with a half-day of panels about writing and publishing. I taught one panel called “I’ve written a book – now what?” which was Eve’s title and a HUGE topic. She had to come and tell me to stop as I was running long. (No matter how carefully I time a workshop by reading it aloud, it always takes longer to deliver in person.) And here I am. 🙂
Deb Cooke's workshop at RTC2017I was on two more panels that day. One was about negotiating with publishers and agents, with Coreene Callahan and Darynda Jones:

Negotiating with Agents panel at RTC2017 with Coreene Callahan, Darynda Jones and Deborah Cooke

And the second was on the choices available to authors, being traditionally published, indie or hybrid, with ‘Nathan Smith, Elle James, myself and Milly Taiden. It was so interesting to hear all the differing perspectives.Publishing Panel at RTC 2017 with 'Nathan Smith, Elle James, Deborah Cooke and Milly Taiden

I was on two fun historical romance panels: the first was with myself (as Claire Delacroix), Sharon Page, Anna Markland and Barbara Devlin.

Historical Romance Panel at RTC 2017 with Claire Delacroix, Sharon Page, Anna Markland and Barbara Devlin

The second was with Anna and Barb again:
Historical Romance panel at RTC2017 with Anna Markland, Claire Delacroix and Barbara DevlinI had help at my Knights vs. Dragons puzzle session, from Sharon Page (who continued to wear her tiara, but it really suited her), Mary Ann Abraham and Amy Ruttan. We put together puzzles in this session of my book covers and there are prizes – for the very first time, one of the puzzles was finished by Sophie and her team. It was the new cover of The Princess and I was blown away that they completed it in just 45 minutes. I loved seeing the cover 24″ high, too.

Knights vs. Dragons at RTC2017 with Sharon Page, Mary Ann Abraham, Deborah Cooke (aka Claire Delacroix) and Amy Ruttan

We also had a panel discussion about Dragons! From the left, Coreene Callahan, Eve Langlais, myself and Milly Taiden. Notice that we’re all wearing beautiful crocheted shawls (oops. Eve must have taken hers off. The room was very warm). The pattern is called Wingspan and the reader who created them for us – along with custom dragon pins – was Josée. What a treat and a lovely surprise! (Doesn’t Milly look like she’s making trouble?! She is so cute!) I’ll give you a better look at the shawl on Friday.

The panel discussion on dragons at RTC2017 with Coreen Callahan, Eve Langlais, Deborah Cooke and Milly TaidenI was particularly spoiled at this conf this year. Dayna and Sylvie brought me a personalized gift box with goodies inside. Eniko and Mary Ann made me an armband with a dragon on it and a pair of those wonderful ear wires that look like dragon ears. Eniko also made me a dragon egg of my own. I also finally met both Amanda and Mary, who have been big Dragonfire fans for a long time. they were the first readers to tell me that they were getting Dragonfire tattoos and I saw their matching tattoos this weekend. Mary blew me away by dressing as the Wyvern for the costume ball. That’s the first time anyone has dressed as one of my characters and told me about it, so I got a bit sniffly. 🙂

There were so many great moments. I got to hug Felicia, another Dragonfire fan. Haidee and her daughter came to the conf again this year, which meant more hugs. Brigitte realized I was also Claire Cross and brought her Berkley trade copies of the Coxwells from her keeper shelf for me to sign. (More hugs.) Sharon Page and I (as always) ended up having nachos together, drinking wine and talking about publishing. It’s become a tradition. 🙂 I finally met Barb Devlin and Anna Markland, two historical romance authors I’ve known for ages online. I met the president of ORWA and have my fingers crossed that we’ll work out a date for me to teach at the Ottawa chapter soon. I know I’m forgetting people and apologize for that – it was an awesome weekend, filled with fun.

And then there was the booksigning. As always, it was terrific at RTC – so many books and so much fun! I shared a table with Ashlyn Chase, but once the doors were open, we were too busy to chat. The first pic is before the doors were opened and the second is after.Deborah Cooke (aka Claire Delacroix) at the booksigning at RTC2017

Deborah Cooke (aka Claire Delacroix) at the booksigning at RTC2017 As in the past two years, Romancing the Capital 2017 was a completely amazing event. I’m really hoping that Eve Langlais decides to host this reader conference again next year. It’s such fun, and we’re getting used to seeing some familiar faces each year – as well as meeting new attendees! As a complete bonus, I came home with plot bunnies. I’m excited to be planning out a new project.

Now, here’s the wonderful part: to celebrate RTC and so you can live vicariously, I have TWO reader registration bags to give away. They’re jammed full of goodies! Please comment on this post and tell me what you love best about reader conferences. If you haven’t ever been to one, tell me why you’d like to attend one. I’ll pick two winners at the end of August. Because the bags are bulky, this contest is only open to readers in the US and Canada. Good luck!