Shoot, y’all, I’ve also been up to a lot in the crafting department.
I washed my two afghans. There was no bleeding! Or at least, no bleeding onto other colors in the afghans. I wasn’t in the washing machine to see what was happening.
I’ve got five of thirteen octagons done. Here’s one of them.
I tried to dye some yarn with colored sugar. It didn’t go that well, but I salvaged it with some food coloring overdying.
And I’m working on spinning up my roving so I can make my wrap. And holy shit, is standing easier! It just takes so much less time. I drafted all this roving first and then just spun it as is. I’m no good at drafting while spinning yet, but that’s the next skill I want to accomplish. But I’m trying to hold off on doing so, because I need this yarn to be pretty uniform and, if I level up in the middle of it, it will be really noticeable in the final project.
I was pretty worried that I’d managed to fuck up this roving by trying to add “spots of yellow” which then appeared to turn the whole thing green and I was feeling pretty bummed about how weird a wrap would look with one purple stripe, one blue stripe, and then a whole field of green, but spinning it up, you can see a tone of blue and some bits of purple, so I think it will all look like it makes sense together.
On Friday I went over to the dedication of the new slave market historical marker dedication. What is there to say about it, really? Here is the first and most fundamental theft perpetrated against black people on American soil. We steal you. We steal your children. We steal your parents and all your loved ones.
And now the improvement is just that we steal your money and your culture.
Yesterday, I was able to hear the first part of Adia Victoria’s panel on the blues. It was her, Joshua Asanti, Ann Powers, Caroline Randall-Williams, Langston Wilkins, and Jamey Hatley all talking about the power of music and specifically the blues and what it means to have this art form made by black people now being pretty exclusively the domain of white people.
Randall-Williams said a lot of smart stuff, but I felt a little indicted by her comments about how much well-meaning white people like to preserve and curate and protect artifacts. She didn’t, I don’t think, mean it as an indictment, just an observation. But it felt true in a way that embarrassed me.
Mostly, I loved sitting in a room listening to people be so smart about art. And I spent my evening just listening to music and thinking about the things they said.
A thing I worry about, as a white person, though, is can we stop stealing? Can we envision a world, specifically a culture, in which we don’t plunder from others? Where we’re not raised to see that theft as the natural order?
What would it look like to be good people in meaningful ways?
Last night I went to hear Ansley Erickson talk about her book about schooling in Nashville. I was really struck by her willingness to call what happened/happens to black people in Nashville (and throughout the South) as theft and plunder (and her insistence on crediting Ta-Nehisi Coates).
And it made me think about the way “taxpayer” has been racialized. In our culture, when you hear “taxpayer,” you can rest assured the speaker envisions white people. So, if you are a black woman in public housing, you’re a welfare queen, living off the taxpayer. As if you’re also not a taxpayer.
But it also got me thinking of just how very much of our culture is white people trying to make sure no black people treat them the way they’ve treated black people.
Okay, whew, this was about a hundred times easier the second go-through. And those swirls, man. I just love them. I’m also patting myself on the back because I’m really pleased with the dye job. Each of the four different yarns in this piece fits together so nicely that I think it’s really tough to tell where one color ends and the others begin. Which is just what I wanted, since, obviously, things don’t verdigris in a uniform way.
The crows were out again this morning. A small contingency circled out and flew over us and it made me wonder if the dog and I are the subject of a crow lesson or a crow story. Like, let’s go look at these two blobs. You have nothing to worry about from them.
I wanted to make a blanket that looked like old pennies or at least reminded me of old pennies.
Here’s my first motif.
Look at those beautiful swirls! And how the variegation in the yarn does look like how copper discolors. And it’s so squishy and fun to touch.
I also ended up one stitch short on each side and I can’t figure out how. I’ve mostly convinced myself that the pattern is wrong. Round 13 calls for a pattern of five clusters, a front post triple crochet, and then two clusters. Seven clusters all together, times 8 sides is 56 clusters. Round 14 calls for four clusters, a front post double crochet, an increase (so two clusters), and then three clusters. But this can’t be right, because that assumes a base of eight clusters (seven plus room for my increase), but I only have seven.
Okay, I’m glad we talked this through. I’m right. The pattern is wrong. Hopefully it won’t throw too much off. The octagons will all be the same size. I’ll just have to see if I need to fudge the other shapes. I might be able to hide a one stitch difference in the seam.
Normally, we have a dozen or so crows in the neighborhood, but every autumn, there’s a big crow family reunion up on Lloyd. Hundreds of crows.
This morning, the crows were all in the process of moving from the trees that line the field behind my house to the trees behind the houses closer to the Fontanel. They were all hollering at each other and a few of them were flying back to check on the stragglers.
One group of stragglers came with a whole army of grackles. It looked like two or three hundred grackles escorting ten crows. (We always have grackles in the neighborhood and it always seems like a lot, so I don’t know if this is more than usual or not.) Once the straggler group of crows got situated in the trees with the rest of the crows, the grackles flew back across the road and settled in the trees on the south side.
At first, I thought maybe the grackles were running the crows off? But then three or four crows flew over to the grackle tree, spent a second, and then flew back to the crows, and no one chased them off. They didn’t treat it like some kind of act of aggression.
So, I really do think those crows and the grackles are friends and hang out together frequently. Maybe those straggler crows were the locals that are here all the time so they know the local grackles? “Come, meet the whole family! It’ll be fine. They’ll love you. We love you. Just come.” But then the grackles got to the reunion and were like “Oh, oh, wow. That’s a lot of strangers. We’ll just stay in our own tree. But we support you! Don’t let Aunt Judith’s passive-aggressive comments sting.”
I don’t know.
At the end of our walk, too, Sonnyboy turned back to me with such a silly grin on his face and, for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what was so funny, but I was sorry to have missed it.
I’m going to make an afghan for Busy Mom, once I get the one million afghans on my plate out of the way. But I’m running out of nice days, so I tried to get most of it dyed this weekend. These are dyed from the walnut in Busy Mom’s yard, acorns from my yard, and osage orange.
I’m at the moment trying to get a red for the seams out of Kool-aid and food coloring. I think that’s the thing that will prevent this from looking very boring and beige.
We’re tear-gassing children and still putting them in cages and separating them from their parents, possibly forever. I don’t know what to do to oppose this that would actually matter. When suffering is the goal, when being cruel is the whole point, what does any show of suffering matter? What does outrage matter?
I’m outraged and heartbroken and so fucking angry. But I don’t know what to do with it that would make any difference.
I spent yesterday doing just what I wanted to. I finished up a couple of writing assignments, dyed some yarn, worked on this afghan, picked out a pattern for another afghan, had a fire in the fire place.
I sometimes, maybe a lot of the time, have a hard time figuring out what I want to do. It’s weird to force yourself to practice figuring out what you’d enjoy.
But I do it because I want to be happy and I want to recognize when I’m happy.
The dog ate half a thin mint on Friday. He lived. But it freaked me out.
I have been asked to speak to a community group in February about the bombing project. I’m excited but nervous.
A thing that causes me a lot of anxiety is that I know there are going to be a ton of things in my book that are wrong. I just didn’t have access to the things I needed or the skill to get to them or I’m sure I’m misinterpreting things or just plain old missed things.
And I keep telling myself that I am wrong in the right direction, that at least I’m showing where people need to be looking. But I fret about it all the time.
I’m normally not the kind of person who has two projects going at once, but I wanted to see how my very own yarn worked up and I thought it might be easier to keep spinning if I had an end project that needed the yarn. So, I started a wrap for myself.
I’m pretty in love with it. It’s amazing how intentional the yarn looks–like, yeah, it’s supposed to have all these thin bits and these thick poofy bits–instead of me just not yet having drafting down. I kind of just want to look at it all day.
But here’s a farther away shot.
I don’t know why the cat has decided that, if there’s crochet photography being done, she needs to be in on it, but she ran in from the other room to be sure she was in this picture.
Sure, it’s still a little overspun, but my consistency is much better. I have a pattern for my wrap picked out and more fiber ordered so I have enough yarn for it.
Here’s a question I have, though. I was watching a video where a spinster went through all the different kinds of spindles she has and why she likes them and what she uses them for and she had a floor spindle and she said, “this is great if you want to sit down while you spin.” And I was like “want?”
Should I be standing?
I’ve just been sitting here like a dumbass.
I’ve also made some good progress on the blue areas of this afghan. It helps so much to have that filler there, just in terms of getting the afghan to behave like and afghan.
I still can’t decide about this afghan. I wouldn’t say that I like it, but I find it very compelling. I wish I knew what I was going to do about a border. Maybe I won’t do anything though. Maybe it’s fine like this?
Joshua Headley was great. His voice is lovely. His steal guitar player, though, man. I just want to say, I saw you. I saw what you were up to and good job.
Margo Price remains absolutely one of my favorite people to see live. There’s just something about her live show that puts me in mind of Barbara Mandrell, or at least how Mandrell made me feel when I was a little girl.
And Jack White was, of course, Jack White. The whole show felt like an encore, had that energy, at least. And the encore was even more of it. I especially appreciated that he encouraged us all to each build a condo, which, I mean, aren’t we all about at that point?
And I could feel the bass drum in my chest and it was marvelous.
Is there a difference between a shawl and a wrap? Now I’m kind of thinking maybe I won’t ply my singles and instead work them up into something I can throw over my shoulders at work.
Tonight I am doing the thing you would hope a person who publishes with Third Man would get to do, even though I’m feeling very anxious about it. I have work in the morning! I hate crowds. I don’t know what to wear.
But you get asked to shit like this, you say yes, or what if you don’t get asked again?
I devote a lot of energy in my grown-up life figuring out how to give myself permission to say yes to things I think are cool and no to things I don’t want to do.
Here’s yarn 2. It’s 100% better than yarn one, so it’s only bad, not awful. I love it. I was definitely able, through pre-drafting, to get closer to a more consistent yarn size. If you look carefully on the left, you can see the size I was going for in the whole thing.
I also think I’m overspinning, but I refuse to be too bummed about that until I see how this plies up. And until I get my fiber consistency better. One challenge at a time.
Also, I am sore as shit. My shoulders are basically like “fuck you, we’re never moving again.”
I’m very torn between plying this and working it up, as is, into a hat. Maybe I’ll wait to make a decision until I get the blue done.
I finished all the stars and I’ve started adding sky. All of which, in the original pattern, were flowers. Still are flowers here, if you squint right.
I’m going to try spinning again today. I dyed the plain roving that I bought, so I was waiting for it to dry. I found a handy tip on the internet that said that, when you’re learning to spin, you should use fiber that you find lovely because it makes your mistakes look interesting, not like you’ve ruined something.
I also found a video–I’ve been watching a ton of videos–in which the spinner, who also uses a drop-spindle, said, that, if you’re having problems drafting or getting how to draft, just draft everything before you spin. Like, before you even pick up the spindle. Just work on drafting your fiber first.
And I was like, oh, duh. I’m not being graded on this. I don’t even want to get very good at it. Like, I’m not setting out to become a spinner. I want to continue to be a crocheter who can dye and spin at a level acceptable to me, if I want to.
So, it’s cool if my skills are and remain fairly basic and rudimentary as long as I can get something that is what I want.
I don’t have to do this “right.” I just have to find something that works for me.
Ha ha ha, I’m genuinely not sure I can handle the pressure of there not being any pressure to be absolutely correct.
I’m starting to see why this was the imperative to come out of my latest nine nights.
I got my spindle and fiber in the mail yesterday so I spent two hours last evening spinning yarn. Whew, I suck at it! And literally every time I would say to myself, “Okay, I think I’m getting it,” I would fuck up again.
That being said, I really enjoyed it and can’t wait to try again. I thought the part that would suck the most is having to stop so often to wind the yarn on the spindle, but really, the part that sucks is that, if you draft wrong, you can’t fix it. Or, at least, I couldn’t figure out how to fix it, because I couldn’t see the problem until the twist was actually in.
And should I have set the twist in the single before I plied it? I didn’t. But it did come apart on me a couple of times while I was plying and I wondered if that was why. I mean, aside from the fact that my yarn is literally all the sizes.
Okay, but here’s the thing I can’t stop thinking about. When I started pulling apart the fiber to make it more manageable, I felt something so viscerally that it surprised me. A feeling of “rightness”? I guess?
And then, when I started to spin, I felt both like I had no idea what I was doing and that I had forgotten how to do this, because it had been so long. But something forgotten is not quite the same as something unknown.
I have never spun before. I know that.
But I felt, through the whole thing, the frustration of not quite remembering how to do this.
There’s been a lot of research into whether and how memories might be inherited–but as far as I know, mostly dealing with trauma and how traumatic events leave chemical changes in the body that can then be inherited and “remembered” by the new body in some way.
And when I think of how many women in how many branches of my family must have known how to spin for how many generations? I mean, really, I don’t think anyone further back than my great-grandmothers wouldn’t have known how to spin
Everyone else, whether good or bad at it, would have known how to do it. And some of them would have done it so regularly as to know it in their bones. The muscle memories would have been shaped since they were little girls. And then passed down and reinforced. For, what, thousands of years?
How could it not be sitting in my muscles, too?
I’ve been trying to suss out the connection–if there is one–between the disir, who are a category of female ancestral spirits worthy of veneration in old Scandinavian and Germanic traditions, the distaff–a large stick you tie your flax to while you’re spinning–and the dizz–which is a little circular thing that kind of looks like a button that you pull fibers through in order to get them off the combs and into a spinnible conglomerate.
Dizz isn’t in the OED. Distaff seems to have a kind of circular etymology. A distaff is a distaff, but maybe ‘dis’ is flax or spinning flax? But also, distaff refers to the female line in a family, so there’s certainly, possibly still, seemingly a link between the “dis” in distaff having to do with a lineage of women and the “dis” in disir having do with your ancestral lineage of women.
Wikipedia seems to think that the “dis” in disir goes back to a proto-Germanic word that basically means “to suck” or “to suckle.” If you look at how a dizz works on the fiber, you’ll see it kind of sucking and tugging on it.
I think they’re all the same thing. But it’s just a guess and a gut feeling. A muscle memory, if you will.
I stepped on a nail last night. I’m fine. My toe is a tiny bit tender, but it was right above my huge ancient callous so it didn’t even bleed. But I called my doctor to check and see when the last time I had a tetanus shot was anyway.
And now I’m wondering if I can use it for book promo. “JESUS CRAWDAD DEATH is so metal you’re going to get lockjaw!”
Ha, okay, I guess it’s not that great. But the book trailer is!
It’s weird to go from an afghan that was exactly what I wanted, and better, every step of the way to this afghan that I feel is kind of fighting me. I don’t have as much yarn as I thought I did. It’s too wide and I’m worried I won’t have enough yarn to make it as long as it needs to be for as wide as it is.
And I don’t know what I’ll do if I don’t have enough blue.
But then I look at the ways the colors I dyed play out over each motif and it seems worth fighting with.
But also, you guys, the amount of dog hair this afghan has collected. I don’t even know. It’s so gross and hilarious.
Yesterday we had our holiday party and there was a “how well do you know the other people in your division?” game where some people had sent in little-known facts about themselves and you had to guess who it was.
One person’s secret was that she was a huge Kenny Rogers fan.
So, I went around from cluster to cluster singing “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em” until I reached the cluster where a woman threw up her hands and sang “know when to walk away, know when to run.”
I didn’t even bother to look for anyone else. I felt like–and still do feel like–such a genius.
I still remember when they did “The Gambler” on The Muppet Show. I cried at the end.
I remain concerned about how wide this is. I’m also not 100% in love with how I did the gradient (though, since this is the first time I made this, I was bound to not be great at it). But I still love it and I hope the blue parts will make it come together in ways I find satisfying.
I ordered myself a drop spindle and some fiber. I don’t expect not to suck at it, but I really want to learn to spin. Not even well. I don’t need to learn how to spin well. But I want to make some yarn. I want to know what that process is like.
Which, I think, means that my efforts to enclose everyone in afghans are probably slowing down. Or changing shape. I want something different from my fiber work, even if I can’t say for certain what different will look like.
Which, too, is where I am with my fiction.
Maybe with life.
I forgot my prescriptions at work and had to go yesterday to dig them out of my desk. I took the dog. He was such a good boy, but so nervous. He didn’t particularly like the elevator and he seemed worried when I dropped his leash once we were off the elevator (but there literally was no place for him to go but the other end of the hallway). But also excited.
I admire the way he doesn’t let his nervousness stop him from having adventures. He just makes his nervousness a part of the experience.
This is one quarter of the stars for this afghan and yet, I still feel like I am working on getting it set up so that it’s easier to work on. I’m also pleased and relieved that, as I get more starts attached, it’s shrinking up some. I was starting to worry that ten by twelve was going to be just ridiculously enormous, but when everything is attached and pulls against each other, it’s okay.
The biggest challenge is really just keeping the thing somewhat flat on my body as I work so that I don’t attach stars to the wrong things. But in general, I’m pleased with it. Orange next, and then red. Then I’ll probably need a little purple to finish it off. Then I’ll fill the holes. And then a border. I don’t even want to think about how to border this yet.
The challenge is definitely going to be in the border.