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05-19 Sarah Raplee – Riff on 7 yrs. Of SPAM & a Giveaway

Saturday, July 11, 2015


Beverley wearing one of her knitted sweaters
while clinging to a large globe in Nuuk, Greenland

“The rhythm of life is a powerful thing….” Just recently I was transported back to my old school drama days by the lyrics of this old song I heard on the radio as I was driving to teach a writing class in the centre of Melbourne.

Though I couldn’t remember how it continued, I definitely remembered the way the words and music fired me up when I was a15-year-old drama student.

The rhythm of life really is a very powerful thing and of course there are so many more ways it can inspire us than through music.

Such as knitting.

When I am overburdened, I find the soothing rhythm of Continental knitting, which my Norwegian mother-in-law, Elsa, taught me, calms my mind.

I was twenty-nine and a disinterested knitter who’d learned the “English” method when I arrived in Norway for the first time, having met my husband-to-be, Eivind, a few months previously when I was running a safari lodge in Botswana’s Okavango Delta. He was a bush pilot whose job was to fly tourists around the many safari lodges dotted around the area that were only accessible by small plane during the tourist season when the floods arrived, attracting the game.
My current project, a kofte I'm knitting for my ten-year-old
(based on a traditional Norwegian sweater.)

After a whirlwind long-distance romance I went to live with Eivind in his thatched cottage by a flood plain before Eivind was offered an airborne geophysical survey job in Namibia. Having spent five years in Botswana he accepted as he was ready for a change, so a couple of weeks holidaying with his parents in Norway while we waited for our one-year survey flying contract to begin in Namibia seemed like fun.

Unfortunately things didn’t work out as planned and as the weeks stretched into months of delay I found the frustration of waiting was eased by my mother-in-law’s endless patience in teaching me to learn to knit and how to speak Norwegian. The calm, repetitive method of working two colours per line to create the seemingly complicated patterns of the Norwegian sweaters I started making was really soothing as we became increasingly worried by the fact that months of no earnings had depleted our savings, forcing us to cancel our wedding in Australia.

Thankfully just before Christmas at the end of ten months of waiting our contract eventuated and after marrying on very short notice in the beautiful Akershus Festning, the chapel at Oslo castle, Eivind and I flew to Windhoek, Namibia, to spend the next year of our lives.
My "office," a Cessna 404

I was known as the ‘knitting operator’ due to the many fairisle sweaters I created in between working the computer in the back of the low flying aircraft; for after setting up the coordinates for the pilot to fly each line, I could knit while monitoring the survey data during long straight lines of more than 100km. It was a wonderful opportunity to knit – and to plot.

The twenty years since my marriage have been filled with change and new challenges as we’ve worked in aviation in more than a dozen countries.

While it can take time to make friends in new places, writing and knitting are always at hand to satisfy my need for company and to keep my mind occupied.

Perhaps I’ve been overstimulated by so much moving about the world, but I find I’m happiest when I’m writing in two or three genres at a time, and working on at least two knitting projects.

At the moment my hot Regency romance, Cressida’s Dilemma has just been published under my Beverley Oakley name, while the next is a Georgian-set ‘dangerous liaisons-esque intrigue called Wicked Wager under my Beverley Eikli name. It’s about to be released by Harlequin’s Escape Publishing while my 1960’s set illegal diamond-buying romance with lots of suspense set in the mountainous African kingdom of Lesotho, where I was born, is about to make its way into the hands of my editor.

Mixing up the genres might not be a sensible strategy in that it no doubt dilutes my readership but it’s wonderful to have three different types of story to throw myself into, depending on my mood at the time.

Just as it is to be able to knit a calming, repetitive pattern when I’m in a meditative mood and wanting to pot-boil my story, or whip out the double pointed needles for a challenging pair of reindeer-emblazoned socks, it’s great to have the first draft of a roller-coaster thrilling ending to throw myself into if I’m feeling edgier with my writing, or to make the most of the quiet when the children are asleep to do some serious editing.

The rhythm of such things really is a powerful thing and, as the words of the song go on, “puts a tingle in your fingers….” Unfortunately, I’m unable to Google the rest of the lyrics as I’m at the family cabin in South Australia’s beautiful Clare Valley with no wifi but I’m with my Norwegian sisters-in-law and you can guess what our chief occupation is: knitting, chatting and drinking coffee which Norwegians love to do.

And every time there’s a lull in the conversation my mind darts off to poor Cressida in Cressida’s Dilemma who is going to unusual lengths to discover if the rumours are true that her husband is having an affair; or to Celeste who has just discovered that her virtue is at the heart of a Wicked Wager; or to Phillipa in 1960s Lesotho who has discovered she really is in love with the bush pilot she rejected but who has now gone off to marry someone else.

What fires you up with the rhythm of life or soothes you when you need it?

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Judith Ashley said...

We're so glad you could join us today, Beverley! What adventures you've had. I didn't even know there was an English and a Norwegian way of knitting. I'm sure I learned the English way (unless there is a separate Irish way) given my ancestry.

When I was much younger I loved or at least seemed to thrive on drama. Somewhere in my mid-late 30's, I decided that there was enough drama around me and that I didn't need to be part of creating it.

I've always used books to mirror what's happening now. Right now I'm reading several Phillipa Gregory books that have been in my TBR pile for several years. I'm also doing some serious reflection on my own life. I read lighter romance when I'm in challenging situations. I read mysteries when I have a block of time to pretty much finish it in one or two sittings. I read non-fiction when there is a topic I want to learn more about.

Hope you have some pictures of the Clare Valley on your Pinterest page so I can "visit".

Diana McCollum said...

Hi, Beverley, (waving from Bend, Oregon, USA)

My what a wonderfully varied life you live. All the wonderful places you've lived and visited, I'm so jealous!

What fires me up is learning something new. I took a web class a couple of years ago and loved it. That was something I never thought I could do. I am passionate about creating stories, painting pictures and crochet. I do knit too. I once knitted a cable stitch sweater for my husband. It was quite a project and took a really long time. I think that is why I prefer crochet. Crocheting sweaters, hats or mittens seems to go a lot faster. Good luck with sales and welcome!!

Paty Jager said...

What an exciting life you have lived! Having something as constant as knitting in your life, I'm sure has helped you transition at each location. It's interesting about the different types of knitting. My mom was taught how to knit by a Portuguese woman who didn't speak English. She looped the yarn around her neck and only moved her thumb to cast the stitches. It was mesmerizing to watch her knit. My mother-in-law knits how she was taught in the Netherlands and it is a bit different too. I love the Norwegian sweaters. Congrats on all that you have accomplished and good luck with your books!

Beverley Eikli aka Beverley Oakley said...

Hi everyone,

Sorry for appearing so silent. The long comment I wrote yesterday after my return from country South Australia hasn't appeared here, I've just discovered. What a shame!

So, I'll begin again by saying I'd love to have seen that Portuguese woman knit, Paty, and I hope your husband loves and regularly wears the cable sweater you knitted, Diana.

And Judith, I love Phillipa Gregory, too. In fact her name inspired the name of my 1960's heroine in my Lesotho illegal diamond buying romance which I'm about to pitch at the Romance Writers of Australia conference in August.

Thank you so much for having me here today. I'm so sorry it looked as if I hadn't been around. I wrote much more yesterday but I'll leave it at that in case the gremlins are out again :)

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Judith Ashley said...

LOL, Beverley, your second post showed up four times! Blogger gremlins at work recently so know it wasn't you.

Thanks again for guesting with us!