I Feel Okay, But Not Okay

I can’t concentrate to read or write, really. Which is bumming me out. I have two thoughts–I don’t want to start anything before I see if I die on Thursday and Holy shit, what if I die on Thursday and my Nashville book isn’t done?

Both thoughts then send me on this spiral of “I could die on Thursday. Better go ahead and listen to so Old Crow Medicine Show until I’m really fucking Kurt-Vonnegut-level depressed at the state of the world.”

So, instead, I’ve just been crocheting like a motherfucker, which just lets my mind dwell on counting a lot and not thinking about death.

So, I have two observations about that–it sure is easier to learn to do the broomstick lace stitch on Red Heart Yarn (I think because the strands stay so distinct from each other?) and with three loops per stitch, not five.

Ha, you know, I kind of feel like I’m in some kind of perpetual waiting room. Not doing anything, so I’m not busy when I need to go do something.

Anyway, that’s my life lately. But Thursday is the day. So, there it is.

The Red Baby Afghan!!! Of Doom!!! Or Something!!!

I took this picture so that you could see how I covered up my fuck-up with the lace part pulling way in compared to the half-double-crochet part. I didn't have enough yarn to do a frilly border, but what I did was to go around once with a single crochet, but when I hit the lace, I did a triple crochet, which built out that part. Then I did a simple triple-crochet/chain-one border on top of that. The sides are not quite square (though I may be able to pull them squarer when blocking) but the gap isn't glaringly obvious.

I took this picture so that you could see how I covered up my fuck-up with the lace part pulling way in compared to the half-double-crochet part. I didn’t have enough yarn to do a frilly border, but what I did was to go around once with a single crochet, but when I hit the lace, I did a triple crochet, which built out that part. Then I did a simple triple-crochet/chain-one border on top of that. The sides are not quite square (though I may be able to pull them squarer when blocking) but the gap isn’t glaringly obvious.

Update on the Broomstick Lace Baby Blanket

Though I settled on three rows of broomstick lace as a decorative element, I ended up doing about seven rows just to get the three rows right. That shit is hard! Well, no, doing it is relatively easy once you get the hang of it. But trying to figure out where you’ve fucked up and how to rectify it? That’s hard as shit. I just kept tearing out and redoing until it worked, though I can’t say why it finally worked when it did.

And now I’m in this situation where the half-double crochet part is wider than the broomstick lace part, which, duh, now in retrospect, of course it would be. And I’m not quite sure how to fix it. Blocking will help some, but I think the other important thing I’m going to do is to put a really ruffly border on it, so the shorter rows aren’t as noticeable.

Still in love with that red, though.

It’s Going to Hit 100 This Weekend

Which means, if I procure a shower curtain, I can block the Kool-aid afghan out in the back yard. I really hope it doesn’t run.

I have done my first row of broomstick lace on the red afghan. I really, really like it. I’m going to do three rows. I love the color of this yarn, but I’m not really digging the yarn. It’s a little too stringy, too cotton-feeling, even though it’s mostly acrylic, wool, and nylon. So, I’m glad I got something lovely, but, eh, now I know I don’t like that.

I finished a draft of this year’s October thing. It’s not really scary. It’s just weird and funny. And it doesn’t take up all thirty-one days, but I’m hoping I might have something special on the 31st, just for y’all.

So, well, fuck. I guess I’m about wrapping up everything I need to have wrapped up before the surgery. I wish that made me feel better, but it kind of doesn’t.

It is Marvelous

This red.

I’m about halfway done because I have all this nervous energy but I can’t concentrate to read. I want to sit on my end of the couch and be as small as possible, as tuned out from the world as possible. Just me and this red blanket.

Maybe not a Whole Afghan of Broomstick Lace

I think I’m going to do a simple half-double crochet and just accent it with broomstick lace, because doing a whole afghan that way for my first attempt was probably too ambitious.

But holy shit, the baby blanket is going to be red, because they had this red at the yarn store that is like… Oh god, I don’t even know. It’s dark and and rich. It’s a kind of red that, if blood were this color, you’d forgive vampires.

And I finished the Kool-aid afghan, with the exception of the little problem of how to block it, which should be funny.

Broomstick Lace

Tell me if I’m biting off more than I can chew here, but I’m thinking why not send the lavender baby blanket to the family I know will get a kick out of it and making a different blanket for my cousin. A broomstick lace baby blanket. It would be my first foray into lace making of any sort. But I did a test swatch using a pen instead of a broom stick and it seems pretty easy and the results are pretty dang cool looking.

And I’m going to finish the Kool-aid afghan up tonight, for sure, so I need something to do while I’m fretting about upcoming events.

The Lavender Afghan is Done

The purple afghan from the front, with green border.

The purple afghan from the front, with green border.

This was a small enough afghan that I could have sewn it together, but I love the way the seam looks on the back.

This was a small enough afghan that I could have sewn it together, but I love the way the seam looks on the back.

And then this gives you a good idea of how the green is just a lovely hint on the front. Very pleased with how this one turned out.

And then this gives you a good idea of how the green is just a lovely hint on the front. Very pleased with how this one turned out.

When You Can’t Do a Lot, You Do What You Can

purple afghan

This is for my cousin’s baby, due in November. These are the same squares from the Kool-aid afghan (which still sits unfinished for want of a clean sink) but with five rows instead of four. I picked these colors because that light lavender was our grandma’s favorite color and the dark purple makes it little boy-ish. I ran out of both yarns, though, so I have to go back to Haus of Yarn and hope they still have the same dye-lots. Plus, I think I’m going to connect it with gold, just to break it up a little. I want it to seem sleek and blocky, not dire.

Cats are Weird as Hell

So, here’s where things stand on the Kool-aid afghan: I have three seams and a border left. I have the skein of yarn I need to finish it, but I need to pre-shrink the skein like I did all the others or it bodes trouble in the future, which means the Butcher needs to do the dishes so that I have a clean sink in which to soak my yarn. So, I thought I’d whoop some of the last bits of yarn together into a square which could, with what was left of the white yarn when I’m done with it, become a baby blanket for my cousin A. and her pending son.

The orange cat has adopted that afghan. He is, right now, squeezed down as small as he can get so that all his paws and tail fit onto that tiny half-done project and he’s sleeping on it. You’ll remember that the dog tried to adopt three red squares from the big afghan, so apparently, Kool-aid and wool is just irresistible to my pets. And that baby blanket is… probably not going to be sent to an actual baby.

But the other baby blanket! So, you know how I talked about doing the Kool-aid afghan with different amounts of color? Maybe not. But anyway, I’ve decided to try it with the baby blanket. I got two different purples and each square has a different amount of each purple. I’ll show you pictures when I get more squares done. But I think it’s going to be super neat.

Also, I got flowers yesterday from “Mina.” I had thought maybe it was just nm, misunderstood, but then I got to thinking, perhaps Mina Harker? Or someone here who needs to be thanked. I don’t know that I know any Minas but, if I do, thank you.

Also, my dad is convinced that all of my health problems are caused by my dirty bathroom. Which I find hilarious, considering that my health problems include–PCOS, sleep apnea, that fungus shit in my eyeball, that infected lymph node, and now this. Four out of which started before we moved here. Which I suppose goes to show you just how powerful and dangerous my dirty bathroom is–it can go back in time and bite me in the ass.

Raise your hand if you’ll be surprised that my Phillipses and H.P. Lovecraft’s Phillipses turn out to be the same. Me, neither.

And yes, I somehow ended up apologizing to my mother so that she would stop being upset that she upset me. And yes, I know that this is ridiculous. And yes, I am going to outsource most of my talking to them to the Butcher for the next little bit. But I also want to say that a hard, weird part of this has been just how traumatic it is on them. I just feel like I’m letting everyone down. Not just them, which I know is bullshit, but I feel so bad about putting this on the other people in my department, making them pick up my slack when one of them, especially, is so new.  I just hate that I can’t be more definitive–that I need her to do x on these dates and y on these other dates. I don’t know what will come up because I don’t yet know when I’ll be gone.

Which is the other thing that’s kind of stressful–they talked to my doctor on Monday and she was like “Yes, do the biopsy!” and then they faxed her all the paperwork she needed to fill out and she hasn’t gotten it back to them. So, no biopsy scheduled yet. I just want to have a plan and institute it. The waiting around for everything to fall into place is really stressful. But in that regard, it was good to talk to my dad because he’s really familiar with hospitals and he was all “Well, if they sent the fax to her office Tuesday morning, but this is her hospital day, then she’s not going to get to the office to fill it all out until late today, if not until Wednesday morning. I don’t think she’s dropping the ball at this point. It’s more likely that it’s just bad timing.”

If you look to the left on the afghan, you can see that I'm three seams and a border short of being done. I'm also out of white yarn. Oops.  But can I just say that I love how this has turned out? I'm putting a very, very simple border on it, just something to make the edge uniform and to provide a little support to the seam. Then I have to figure out how to block it. I'm thinking--warm, sunny day, shower curtain out in the grass, wet afghan on the shower curtain. But the chance of bird poop makes me nervous.

If you look to the left on the afghan, you can see that I’m three seams and a border short of being done. I’m also out of white yarn. Oops.
But can I just say that I love how this has turned out? I’m putting a very, very simple border on it, just something to make the edge uniform and to provide a little support to the seam.
Then I have to figure out how to block it. I’m thinking–warm, sunny day, shower curtain out in the grass, wet afghan on the shower curtain. But the chance of bird poop makes me nervous.

It’s Like an Eye Test for Your Heart

I don’t have an equal number of squares of each kind done yet, but this will give you an idea of the three options I’m thinking of. I’m torn, but I’m curious what you guys think:

Random mix

Random mix

Spectrum with one kind of square in the lower left corner

Spectrum with one kind of square in the lower left corner

Spectrum with a different square in the lower left corner.

Spectrum with a different square in the lower left corner.

Is This the Best Thing in Nashville?

Last night, I had dinner with K. and B. over at the Mad Platter and for dessert, I had the Elvis… the Velvet Elvis?… the Black Elvis?…. Well, there’s only one Elvis dessert, so that one. They slice it thin and it has some kind of pretzel bottom crust and then a kind of brownie/torte/cake/pudding layer of chocolate and then a peanut butter mousse layer, and it’s just soaking in this blueberry sauce, so that it tastes really sophisticated and like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It may be the most perfect dessert I’ve ever eaten.

When I got home, the dog was carrying around my squares. In his mouth! Not gnawing on them or anything. Just carrying them gently around the living room. And then he apparently hid two in the couch. He apparently has just come to love the squares and wants some for himself. I don’t see how this doesn’t end with him attempting to eat the squares, but it’s annoying and cute in the meantime. I was hoping that this could lead to me teaching him to pick up the squares when I drop them and hand them back to me, but that doesn’t yet appear to be the case. When I’m done with the afghan, I may make him up a square in the left-over bits and we can work on teaching him to retrieve something that doesn’t cause me to have to cry if he ruins it.

Also, I think there’s been some forward movement on Project X. Please keep your fingers crossed extra hard for me.

Unconstipating

I sent out everything I needed to send out. I processed my feelings on the Nashville book–paralyzing fear that I have no business doing this and I’m going to miss out on people who should be in the book because I don’t know enough coupled with it being really hard to write about people who are really sick fucks, but not acknowledged as such. Not that it’s easy to write about sick fucks in general, but there’s something easier about a sick fuck everyone agrees is a sick fuck.

I had a beer Saturday night (Tennessee Brew Works–hit them up for deliciousness), so I spent most of yesterday feeling like shit, which sucked because I had a lot to do. I just need to accept that my drinking days are over, but it’s so stupid. One beer and I’m hung-over? WTF?

And I feel pretty sure I don’t have enough white yarn to finish the afghan, which is a little frustrating, since I got so much! Anyway, I’m trying to decide if I want to do some kind of rainbow-ish effect–to give the afghan diagonal stripes–or if I just want to go with a random pattern to the colors. I’m still probably a couple of weeks away from needing to decide, though.

Taste the Rainbow

Taste the Rainbow

Here’s what each of the squares in my afghan will look like. I’m really pleased. I love this yarn so much. I know I say that. I wish I could get a picture that would capture just how beautiful it is, the way the plies wrap around each other is just about the most pleasing thing to look at. I can’t decide why. I like my cheap-o acrylic yarn, don’t get me wrong, but there’s something about wool that just feels more magical.

I am completely drained from yesterday. My meeting with the artist went great. I worry that I don’t seem excited enough, when really, I’m just kind of overwhelmed that this is even happening at all. Like my needle is buried in “excited.” I can’t really seem more excited, even though I’m really thrilled. When she starts putting the prints together, I’m going to go get to see her studio! And she’s going to make sure that there are crows tucked in the book. We’re hoping to have books ready for the Proto-pulp show in September, but, if not, we’ll at least have some prototypes to show people. And, holy shit, you guys, of course I want you to buy my book, but if she sells the art separately, some of you are going to fall over for the spread that’s poor Tom, just a skeleton entwined with the roots of a tree.

The reading went very well. I think the other guy who was there and I were both kind of on the same page, that we were there to support Sara and to make her day go well. And I think she felt that it did go well and that she was well-loved and I feel like that’s also about all you can ask of a book signing. I did laugh, though, as I was coming home because all of Sara’s people are people I think C. and his wife would really enjoy and I’m was like “maybe my job here is just to try to figure out how to make these people run into each other.” I mean, we had an awesome argument over Hamlet. I can’t remember what about, but people toasted at some points and slammed their fists on the table emphatically at others and what more do you want in a fight about Hamlet?

I said the truth about how I felt about Project X as true and straight-forwardly as I know how to be. I don’t know if it will make any difference, but I have now done everything I know how to do.

Now I need to come up with a grocery list.

Porch Yarn

The orange really is the best part. There’s a lot of green, but there’s a lot of green because there’s a lot of red. Which I think is kind of weird to give to a Jewish couple, since red and green make Christmas, but I tell you what, red also makes a hell of a lot of Kool-aid flavors, so, if you want to make it feel balanced, you need some green.

And the wool just smells to me like something holy. Still a lot of barnyard in it (not in a poopy way) and Kool-aid. It’s just really lovely.

Now it just needs to dry.

porch yarn

Koolaid Afghan Dilemmas

I ran out of white, so I did up a bunch of colored squares that I can add the white border to later and in doing them up, I discovered that not all of the Koolaid powder had come off the yarn.

So, I need to soak these squares–all 13 of them–in cold water and then set them out to dry someplace where the dog won’t eat them. I am unsure of where that is.

Dreams, I Have Dreams

I have three goals:

1. To have a short story published at Tor.com.

2. To have a book published by someone other than me, a someone prominent enough that I can go into my local bookstore and see my book on the shelf.

3. To be on a real panel at the Southern Festival of Books.

I balled up the second skein of yarn last night and made three squares with it. It’s marvelous. I hope I have enough yarn coming, though. I always fret about this, and I think we all know I will continue to through the whole afghan. I had planned on making it 10 squares by 14 squares, but I think I can cut it down to 10×12 if it looks like I’m going to run out of white. Anyway, here are the squares we have so far:

The first square.

The first square.

The second square

The second square

Thoughts on the Kool-Aid Afghan Yarn

You can either think of it as dumping Kool-aid on wool or you can think of it as using powders to manipulate which light wavelengths reflect back to your viewer's eyes.

You can either think of it as dumping Kool-aid on wool or you can think of it as using powders to manipulate which light wavelengths reflect back to your viewer’s eyes.

The wool I found at Haus of Yarn is perfect. It’s very natural feeling and looking. It has a kind of homey vibe. It just seems like the kind of yarn someone would hand-dye in a very half-assed way. But they only had five skeins! But they will order me more. So, my goal for this weekend is to get the yarn dyed (check) and then work up some squares so that I know how many more skeins I need so that they can get them for me. I dyed four and left one natural because I want to do a border on each square, so that it doesn’t look exactly like the one I did for B. I’m only now trying to decide if I want all the same sized colored parts or different. See, each row of a typical granny square has three rounds. So, I could do some squares where the colored part is only the first round and the rest are white, some squares where the first two rounds were colored and the last is white and some where all squares are colored.

I’m leaning away from that, though, because I’m trying to strike a balance between the business of the variegation and my desire to not make the whole afghan seem too busy. I want it to be cheeky, not tacky. So, in order to pull that off, if it’s possible to pull that off with bright, fruity colors, I think the trick is to give a person’s eye a place to rest–the white space. And to give the eye some uniformity. You might encounter a lot of variation, but it will be in a regular, predictable pattern.

Ha ha ha. I probably worry too much about the aesthetics of something no one else experiences as an aesthetic object. But man, I really love to sit around an imagine how an afghan is going to look and then I love to see how it actually turns out. It brings me such pleasure every time I piece one together on my bed and am like, wow, damn, I really love this.

My dad asks me all the time about selling my shit, but it’s so ridiculous. I mean, for an afghan I make with just yarn you can get at Walmart, my materials expenses run me $50 and then, if I even paid myself minimum wage, it probably takes me sixty hours to put one together. And something like this–wool is a lot more expensive and the labor costs expand once dying is included. And the idea of charging people hundreds of dollars for afghans that I make? It just seems ludicrous.

I mean, don’t get me wrong. If some rich person came along and asked me to do them up a Kool-aid dyed afghan, I’d sit down and actually figure out what it was costing me and go ahead and charge them the $500 and think nothing of it. But I guess what weighs heavily on my mind is that our culture kind of values handmade things–especially handmade things that are made by women–as being some kind of frugal alternative to real things. You can have a real shirt, or your mom can sew you one. You can have a real blanket or I can crochet you one.

But those are only more inexpensive choices because our work is not taken into account.

And I guess my feeling is that I’d rather do this as a gift to people I care about and feel like we all got value out of it–me, because I got to see if I had predicted in my head a good form for the afghan to take, and the person who gets it, because they got a gift–than I would want to do it as something that needs to pay for itself, because I just don’t believe you can actually get paid what it’s worth. Even on Etsy, I don’t see an afghan for more than $200.

And, like I said, looking at the yarn they’re using, their materials costs are probably less than $50, so, if you never account for labor, $200 is a nice amount.

But it does make me feel, overall, like, if you’re not getting something out of it yourself, it’s not worth it.

Another Kool-Aid Afghan

I think a wedding is worth the effort. So, today, I need to track down blue, green, grape, and yellow Kool-aid, since I still have a ton of reds and oranges. Plus a trip to House of Yarn for wool yarn.

I tell you, I didn’t realize this Hachette/Amazon thing was having any effect on me, since I don’t buy a lot of books (me and the library, man), but when I thought about buying a whole afghan’s worth of wool yarn, the first thing that crossed my mind was “That much money could do a local shop good. I shouldn’t waste it at Amazon.”

So, there you go. I’m a hippie.

Ta-Da, The Red Afghan is Done

The Red-headed Kid is mere moments from getting it. As always, the thing I like about this afghan is just how different the front and back look. Two afghans for the work of one, which, when you’re crocheting is about the opposite of how it usually works.

red back red front

Another Red Afghan

The stress continues and will until at least Tuesday. There’s some bewildering stuff going on over which I have no control, so I guess let’s just think positive thoughts about how nice it would be if everyone got back exactly what they put out into the world.

My other old grad school roommate is having a baby. I started on an afghan for her last night because I needed something simple to do while I was watching Sleepy Hollow–a show I love and fret about all the time. Which means the Red-Headed Kid’s afghan is sitting here, maybe still just an hour from completion. But maybe tonight.

Anyway, I’m making the baby a simple red afghan, probably with a navy blue border, though, if I don’t have enough red, it might also have to have a blue stripe.