Craft Corner: Knitting for Fun and Survival

Whether you’re using the finest angora wool or repurposing the yarn from a sweater taken off the back of a dead comrade, knitting is a fun, relaxing way to create useful items that can help you survive the Apocalypse. Here are a few ideas of items you can make while wiling away the lonely hours by a campfire:

Fingerless Gloves – These fashion accessories are a great way to keep your hands warm while leaving your fingers free to pull the trigger. They’re the perfect accessory for the distopian fashion statement you’re making; they’re easy to complete, feel cozy, and look rugged. Make them sassy by adding a fringe, decorating them with beads, or interweaving your stitches with the bleached knucklebones of your enemies.

Scarves – Keep your neck warm and safe from zombie bites with a thick, plush scarf! You’ll really appreciate the versitility of a scarf when you need a rope to scurry down a concrete wall, and they’re the perfect choice when stoppering a door to keep out deadly gases. Handy hint: choose dark colours, which hide blood stains better.

Satchels – It’s true, a girl can never have enough purses, and you can knit your own to carry everything from make-up and books to ammunition and wrenches.

Blankets – Why stick with yarn? Slice plastic bags into strips and knit them into a strong, lightweight blanket that will provide warmth and protection from rain; so handy on stormy nights when you’re huddled under the ruins of a bridge! And, because plastic never degrades, your blanket will last 1000 years, even after a nuclear holocaust. Your great-great grandchildren will appreciate this heirloom piece as they struggle to survive another merciless winter.

I suggest always taking your knitting with you. Knitting helps increase your manual dexterity, and your crafts can be cherished gifts for warlords and nomadic traders you might meet in your travels. Not only will you appreciate the hobby when you need a quiet moment to unwind, but knitting needles make fantastic weapons. I suggest a size 4 straight needle for puncturing the neck of a maurading wolf-beast, while a thinner size 12 works well for jabbing a zombie in the eye.

 

Happy knitting!

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Kick-ass Mothers

At the end of the world, it might be a good idea to take along your mom. As anyone who’s come face-to-face with a mama bear knows, there’s nothing quite so focused, driven, and deadly as a mother protecting her offspring. A few examples include:

Sarah Connor – Sarah Connor takes motherhood to a whole new level – one that includes semi-automatic machine guns, grenades, and biceps that can crack nuts (and I don’t mean the kind that grow on trees). In Terminator, she’s a timid, fearful woman who exemplifies the archetype of the Maiden, but in Terminator 2, she’s grown into a fierce, resilient and resourceful warrior. Protecting her son is Sarah Connor’s primary reason for being; her mission consumes her, separates her from her sanity, and makes us want to watch more.

Ellen Ripley – in Alien and Aliens, the theme of motherhood appears again and again, but a pivotal scene cut from Aliens revealed that Ripley had a daughter whom she lost. To quote Entertainment Weekly:

“Weaver had been bitterly disappointed by her experience with Alien’s first sequel, Aliens, after Fox cut two minutes of footage she considered crucial to Ripley’s relationship with the space orphan Newt.

”I think (Aliens director) Jim Cameron is sort of upset with himself that he let that happen,” she says. ”It was a little scene after I woke up. I’m sitting in this fake patio, and Paul Reiser comes in and says, ‘I didn’t want to tell you before, but your daughter died two years ago, and this is all I have left of her.”’ Reiser’s character then handed Ripley a picture of the daughter she’d left at age 10, who had become an elderly woman during her mother’s space travels. (The photo was actually of Weaver’s own mother.) ”I based her whole trauma on the fact that she’d lost her family. She’d paid horribly for her success in surviving the alien.”

The grief that Ripley carries catapults her into protecting Newt, who then calls Ripley ‘Mommy’ at the end of the movie. The penultimate battle of Aliens – between Ripley and the Alien Queen — is essentially two mothers, squaring off and protecting their children. WATCH OUT!

The Bride – while not exactly apocalyptic, Kill Bill 1 & 2 gives us The Bride, a mother on a mission: to exact revenge on those who have made her life hell. She succeeds in her quest, and discovers that her daughter (whom she presumed was dead) is still very much alive. The movies conclude with the Bride and her daughter laughing and leaving to start a new life: freed from the bonds of her vengeance, the Bride can construct a happier life as the archetype of the Mother, no longer needing to identify herself with the archetype of the Killer.

Boudica – what list of fierce moms would be complete without a nod to Boudica? While the other mothers on this list are characters of fiction, Boudica was born in approximately 25 AD, a time when the armies of Rome had invaded the British Isles and were destroying the Celtic way of life. When Boudica’s husband died, she was whipped and her daughters, raped – and in reply, she raised a massive army, set fire to cities, and almost drove Roman forces from Britain. An estimate 80,000 people perished. Even when her defeat was imminent, she did not relent, but fled; some sources say she killed herself so that she wouldn’t be captured and taken to Rome for display.

Lesson of the day: never underestimate the power of Mom.

Survival Shelter Survival Tips

Here’s the situation.

The end is finally here. The world as we know it is coming to an abrupt conclusion. I don’t know the reason. Take your pick: zombies, disease, meteor, whatever. Doesn’t matter.

What DOES matter is that you’ve been fortunate enough to be given space in a survival shelter. You’ve taken refuge in the underground fortress, the doors have been bolted, and the whole thing has been hermetically sealed. Outside, storms rain fire upon the land and the seas are boiling, but inside the shelter, you and 899 strangers are able to wait out the blasts, snug as bugs in rugs.

Wait a second. Eight hundred and ninety-nine strangers? Living in… what… something like 135,000 square feet? Jebus, that’s only 150 square feet for each of us! You can’t even take a city bus without getting frustrated at the smelly old man sitting too close to you, and the woman with the screeching baby, and the drunk teenager vomiting in the back seat. Crap! How long are you stuck in here?!?!

FIVE FREAKING YEARS?!?!

Okay, so a few ground rules will have to be established. It’s the only way we can insure we’ll all make it through. Plus, it’ll be hard to repopulate the planet if, upon release, every person flees from the crowd, desperate for solitude, and no one wants to speak to each other again, never mind have sweet sweet apocalypse nookie and make babies.

Suggestions for Surviving the Shelter Experience

(1) Farting in closed spaces is now culturally accepted, considering everywhere you go is a closed space. Get used to the funky smells of your neighbour’s gut microbiota, especially after bean night.

(2) The ugly carpet is only going to look uglier as time passes, but once you go insane, you won’t care about the decor, so that’s something to look forward to.

(3) The people who live in the room next to you? The ones who are coping with stress through copious amounts of rutting, even though a mere curtain separates you? When they reach orgasm, I bet they’d love to hear you scream along. That’d be fun!

(4) Get a few people together and start an amateur dramatic society, then act out your favourite scenes from thematically-relevant movies like ‘Apocalypse Now’, ‘Road Warrior’, ’28 Days Later’ or ‘Armageddon’. Shake it up by making them musicals.

(5) It’s okay to pick your nose and eat it, but don’t expect any kisses.

(6) Water will be strictly rationed so showers are no longer an option, but it’s easier to stomach the stench of body odour if everyone pretends its the newest fragrance from Gucci.

(7) Only flush toilet paper down the toilets. Please please please remember this rule, now more than ever.

(8) That woman with the annoying hyena laugh? The one you hear late at night, echoing through the halls? I hate to break it to you, but that’s actually you. Doesn’t the carpet look intriguing tonight?

 

Note: I wrote this post, and the next few blog posts, for a long-ago website called ‘The Girl’s Guide to the Apocalypse’. This site led into an anthology called ‘The Girl at the End of the World’, which is coming out in July from Fox Spirit books. I’m re-posting my end-times blog posts here, because they’re lots of fun and I’m particularly proud of them. I’m looking forward to sharing more info with you about the upcoming anthology, which is a thing of post-armegeddon beauty. 

Full Steam Ahead!

I’m less than 24 hours into 2014, and already I can see that it’s going to be a busy year.  Good. I like to be busy.  When I have free time, I’m never quite sure what to do with myself, and I get a little gloomy.  Here’s what we have on the calendar:

(1) I have a short story appearing in Fox Spirit’s ‘The Girl at the End of the World’ Anthology, coming out in February.  Competition was fierce, and I was pleased as Punch to be accepted. Not so pleased that I took a stick and beat anyone’s head in, of course; I was able to keep the violence to a minimum.

(2) Then my novel ‘The Tattooed Wolf’ will be released by Hic Dragones Press in late February or March, and goodness, that’s going to be exciting.  Nothing fills my heart with joy quite like werewolf mythology. Awoooooo!

(3) Then, sometime in late summer, the sequel to ‘Bucket of Blood’ will be released. I’m not saying too much about this yet, as the manuscript is not quite finished… the title ‘Bucket of Blood’ didn’t appear until that book was done, so perhaps the working title of this one will change, too, once it’s complete. Who knows? But I’m having fun writing it and the preliminary feedback from my cadre of trusted beta readers is promising.

So be forewarned: there’s going to be a strange intersection between lycanthropy, Canadian history, steampunk, and apocalyptic fiction in my blog posts this year.  It should make for a lively mix.

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