Saturday, January 10, 2009

Mission Completed: Book Thongs

I had a challenge for 2008 I completed (part of) in early 2009 -- to find ways to maintain my career while actively parenting. And by actively parenting, I mean, things I could do while one or both kids were up in my space, stuck to my heiney, yelling in the background, and so on and so forth.

This afternoon, I completed my first test set of book thongs. Bookthongs, for the few who might not know, are bookmarks constructed of a piece of string meant to go between the pages of a paper book with items on one or both ends that dangle out when the book is closed. I like to provide a little something extra when I do reader giveaways, and bookthongs seemed to be a worthy addition to my arsenal of reusable gift bags and crocheted gnomes.

I began this project over a month ago, when I figured out how to crochet with cotton thread and a teeny tiny hook. This involved much cursing and removing of glasses on my part, because I apparently need bifocals. Maybe. I mean, I'm not 40 yet. Exactly. But I perservered and now I can do this:

However, cotton thread is soft, so I tracked down an organically pleasing medium to stiffen the crocheted ends. I have tried both spray starch and school glue so far, and the school glue works best. Plus, nontoxic, cheap and already in my house, no shopping required!

Then came the beading part. In December, my local RWA chapter handed out accomplishment awards to its attending members at the holiday party, and everyone was encouraged to use the awards (little silver charms) to make bookmarks. Beader and writer Cherie Denis carted in a lot of her loot, and we all got a quick lesson in how to bead. I happened to have a bunch of random beads already (long story), so at least I didn't need to buy any when I settled in to make my own bookthongs. Not that I got off shopping-free -- I did need crimp beads, needlenose pliars, crochet thread, stuff like that.

Once I started beading, I realized I seriously, for real, need bifocals (OMG no! I thought it was a fluke!) as well as a lot of patience. Beads often have v. small holes, and the types of thread I was using (cotton crochet thread, thin hemp stuff) was not as cooperative as I would have liked. I can see the appeal of beading on wire and fishing line, since the thin, rigid material would much more easily slip through the holes. I did purchase a beading needle, but I lost it (with the kids' help) the first day I did any intense beading. Beading also requires a steady hand (due to the small holes), and I was often unsteady because a child was next to me, grabbing stuff, bumping my work surface or otherwise demanding attention.

But at long last, I did produce a number of bookthongs, which are going out to my lucky beta testers next week. Here are some of them:

What this has to do with goal setting--goals can be amorphous, big things that are hard to accomplish. It's good to set some goals easily within reach and have them be projects with obvious "start" and "finish" points. Your self-confidence will thank you!

Now that I'm done, I feel a pleasant sense of accomplishment, little inclination to bead for awhile, frustration with my failing eyesight, and a fear of walking barefoot through my kitchen in case that's how I locate that missing needle.

If you would like more information about bookthongs:

* Here is the simplest pattern for a bookthong I have seen:

* Here is one using fishing line by an author:

* Here is a more complex one that involves a little crocheting and a tassel:

* Here is an adorable crocheted bookworm thong:

* Here's one where they used ribbon:

And I'm sure I'll be giving them away myself periodically, so you can also try that avenue. In fact, maybe I'll be giving one away as early as next week. Right now at my blog I'm asking visitors what I should provide along with a download of my latest release, which is a "choose your own adventure" style novella from Red Sage Publishing:
I'd love for you to hop over and click the poll button! You have a few more days to make your preferences known.

Jody Wallace w/a Ellie Marvel
Megan's Choice -- Choose Your Adventure! *


  1. OMG, you crochet gnomes? Cool! Wanna see pictures.

    Thanks for the book thong pics and links. I've thought about making some, but haven't ventured into it yet.

  2. Cheryel, there's a gnome pic at my site at

  3. I love it!

    While I was at your site, I HAD to check out the book videos. Again.

  4. Your book thongs are too cool! And I've always loved your gnomes : )

    Oh, if you think your needle is on the kitchen floor (as opposed to possibly stuck fast in a carpet) try running a magnet across it. A bar magnet is probably your best bet--larger surface area. Tie it to a string so you can drag it instead of getting down on your hands and knees.

  5. I love the idea of the book thongs and it made me realize I could do something like this too because I weave! It was like a lightbulb coming on. What a cool idea!