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.

I'm not saying my iPhone is having problems with the red, but it's totally having some problems with the red.

I’m not saying my iPhone is having problems with the red, but it’s totally having some problems with the red.

The Red Afghan

The one thing that I find very interesting about the red afghan I’m making for the Red-Headed Kid is that the 364 yards promised in each skein of yarn is, apparently, a best guess. I should be able to get thirty squares and three triangles out of each 364 yard skein, with room for one or two extra triangles. That allows for some variation in length and some variation in how I make my squares.

But the difference is actually much more substantive than that. I have a few reds that I got everything out of and still have enough for one or two more whole squares. And yet, last night I finished up a skein out of which I got thirty squares and two triangles.

It made me glad I’m not trying to write up a specific pattern, because it doesn’t seem like you can really count on the length being the length. But I’m excited to see how it all comes together, because there are enough reds to really get the tone on tone effect I wanted.

Projects A-Go-Go

So, I have kind of decided I’m not submitting anything for the rest of the year. I only have one thing out now and it’s a long shot, and I just don’t want to think about that stuff at the moment.

I have entered all my corrections into the Ben & Sue project and I have read through it and I’m less depressed about it than I have been. I’m going to ask a couple of people to read it and then I am also going to set it aside for a bit.

I’m working on a red afghan for the Red-Headed Kid, which should be cool.

I’m hoping to see more art from Project X.

And here’s what I’m turning my attention to–I’m going to try to write a children’s story. A spooky, ghostly children’s story, so that I have something to read to kids if I’m asked to come read creepy things to them.

I spent a lot of time thinking about what scared me as a kid and I have to tell you, it was the green pants with no one inside them. I could not read that story by myself when I was a kid. The picture of the pants riding the bike by themselves? Scared the shit out of me. I was terrified of accidentally seeing it. That’s what I’m kind of wanting to do. Something like that. I have an artist volunteering to illustrate it. But whew, I am excited and intimidated.

The New Afghan May Be Salvagable

I think the trick is going to be adding borders until it’s the right size. It is really pretty, but I’ll have to take a picture of the back and show you guys how hilarious it is. I mean, you all know how much I hate to tuck ends and I have made an afghan that requires tucking at the end of every single row.

I’m going to make an afghan for the Red-Headed Kid next. Fittingly, he wants it to be red.

I finished entering corrections into the manuscript. I’m going to give it  read-through when I have some quiet time and then send it to nm. I have–as you’ve probably noticed–really mixed feelings. When I’m reading the manuscript, I feel caught up in it, like, yes, this works. But when I’m just thinking about it, all I can do is fret and feel like it doesn’t, in some fundamental way, work. It may be that I’m just not there yet. I might not yet be the writer who can write that book.

But I don’t know. Maybe, also, I’m looking for an excuse to chicken out because the next part–sending it out to try to find an agent and getting rejected over and over and over again sucks so bad.

I think I may have managed to salvage the cooking pot of my grandmother’s I thought I ruined by burning beef stew in it. But I took oven cleaner to it last night and it seems to have finally gotten the carbon off the bottom.

Oh, and this will be exciting. My dad is planning on him and my mom going to Thanksgiving down at my brother’s. He doesn’t think that the Butcher and I can come, because they don’t have a table. So, the questions this raises are as follows. 1. Does my dad not realize that my brother is going to try to sucker him into getting my youngest nephew in North Carolina and bringing him down? 2. How much do you want to bet that he has NOT said that out-loud to my mom, because you know she would throw a fit at the idea of us not being made welcome at Thanksgiving? 3. How long between that phone call and another phone call in which my dad, having endured the “What the fuck”ing of my mom, makes plans for us to join them on Thanksgiving? 4. Do we want to join them? I don’t know. I do want to see that baby, though. And I don’t get to see my nephews often enough. And what are the holidays for if not being too cramped in inadequate places while people fight?

The Black, White, and Gray Afghan is Complete!

This isn’t the greatest picture in the land, but it lets you see all the important elements–how the border looks, how the seams on the back turned out, how you get just a tiny hint of red on the front. I’ll take a couple of pictures of it all spread out this weekend, in better light, but I couldn’t refrain from bragging now.

black and white afghan done

The Border is Going On

All of the pieces of the black, white, and gray afghan are in place and I have one round of the border done. The other round is about a fourth done. Then I just have to tuck the ends of the seems and wash it and it is done.

I am pleased. I’ll have pictures when it’s ready.

My only thought is that I’m still not completely satisfied with my attempt to do a tone on tone afghan. There weren’t enough different shades of black, white, and gray to quite get at the itch I was trying to scratch. I’m calling this a success with further experimentation needed.

And my Thanksgiving article is turned in.

And so I just have to come up with one last thing to write about for Think Progress and I am done with all my massive things for a minute.

I think this weekend I am going to go to the park.

The Afghan Hits a Snag

Two things lead me to believe I may not finish the black, white, and gray afghan. One is that I don’t have enough red to finish it. I have enough red to come very close to finishing it, but not actually putting on a border or, perhaps, securing the last row. I have ordered some more red, though, so this isn’t the project-stopping roadblock it might appear.

No, here is the thing that’s preventing me from finishing the afghan. I’m very close to being done. Just six more rows and then the border. This means that, to properly work on it, I have to spread it over my lap and let it drape over my knees. Last night, the Butcher asked me if I was crocheting or napping and I realized that I didn’t know.

I was, perhaps, crochapping or napcheting?

What I do know is that the afghan isn’t even done and the lure of napping under it is so strong that it may prevent the finishing of it. On the one hand, I am deeply pleased to have made an afghan so conducive to napping. On the other hand, the thought of the Butcher having to box it up unfinished and send it to Jess with a warning written on the outside of the box so that she doesn’t try to wrap up in the afghan while driving or trying to do her taxes, while I fight him for just a few more minutes in its comforting warmth makes me worried that I’m making an afghan too powerful in its napping to safely exist in the world.