Afghan Thoughts

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This is how the purple afghan is going. I only have twenty-five more squares to go, but ten of those are in a dark purple, so I need some daylight to work them up in. Which I guess is what rainy Sundays are for.

As is obvious from this picture, the straightness of those x-es is dependent a lot on proper seaming. But I think they’re going to look very cool all put together.

My plan had been to finish this afghan, make two mermaid tails and a baby afghan, and then use all the leftover yarn for a cool afghan for the black dog’s family. But yesterday I had a change of heart and bought some different yarn for the project. Someone else, later down the afghan list, will have to get a cool scrap afghan.

The one thing about this purple afghan that just won’t be clear until they’re all sewn together is how the outside corners where the braids come together will look. Nifty, I hope.

Also, I guess I should say technically, those aren’t braids. They’re just loops twisted together to look like braids. It’s super easy and looks fantastic. Definitely a way to add something special to your granny squares even if you’re not an expert crocheter.

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Rug Yarn

I decided that, when I’m done with this current batch of afghans–this purple one, a baby blanket, two mermaid tails, and another afghan I don’t have a name for yet–I’m going to take a break and make something for me–a rug for the living room.

The thing is that I want some heavy-duty yarn, but I don’t know jack shit about rug yarn. Does it need to be wool to hold up to foot traffic? If I’m using cotton t-shirts for my core, could I use cotton yarn to hold it together? After all, it should wear at the same rate, right?

I’m really loving this purple afghan. It’s nice to be working on something simple and beautiful. So, each square is a solid shade of purple, but I have all the shades of purple I could find in worsted weight acrylic yarn at Joann’s. I’m trying to decide if I should do a random mix of purples or arrange them so they form a kind of gradient across the afghan.

I’m leaning toward just mixing it up because I want the afghan to have a kind of homey feel, but I may lay it out once from darkest to lightest to see if I change my mind.

This Dog

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I let the dog off leash probation and he had a day of doing the right thing and a day of doing the wrong thing and now he’s back on leash probation.

Last night, he apparently didn’t go pee when I put him out for the evening. I was suspicious because new kitty was on the steps and I know how afraid he is of her, but… well, he peed on the floor and then mopped it all up with his dog bed. Which I guess I appreciate.

But then! He almost bit me trying to get a can of wet cat food out of my hand! Like, not deliberately, more just “I’m being a doofus and not being careful and I really want that cat food.”

Can you put a dog on whole-life probation? I need to take him for a long, long walk tomorrow, I think.

In happier news, I finished my afghan. I went with a non-fancy border. The only tweak I made was to make the second round of it–even though it’s just a regular old granny square stitch–going the other way. That’s the one thing about these two-color granny squares–you don’t just work them in the round. You flip them over and go the other way. So, many of the squares have front and back sides of stitches visible. So, I did the same with the border.

Also, the whole house smells like cat piss and I can’t locate a source. It’s one of those cases where I can’t tell if I’m just not finding it, if maybe a change in the weather has caused old smells to reemerge, or if the cat may be just leaking a little bit, which, god, I hope not, because that would indicate the end of him.

I really, really want that cat to just go in his sleep one fine sunny afternoon. Or in a knife fight. Something that would be sad, but I could live with.

Come Together, Right Now, Over Me

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I’ve just got to put a border on this bad boy and tuck in my ends. I’d also like to find a place I can spread it out completely and get a picture of the whole thing. I think it’d be interesting to do this afghan solely with variegated yarn or self-striping yarn, or both. I love that middle square so much.

But, yeah, definitely, if I do this again, I’m going to do each square with three rounds instead of four. I mean, this is practically a bed spread. I like big afghans. I want you to be able to wrap yourself in them when you’re sick. But this is a tad ridiculous.

Nothing fancy for the border. Just  few more granny rounds.

Have I Complained About Making this Afghan Yet?

It’s just taking a long time and I’m not sure how I’m going to put it together when the time comes. I feel like, in order to make sure the colors don’t clump together, I need to lay it out and then tie it together in some way so that I can stitch it together. But I’m not sure.

And I’m still not done with all the squares. And it’s so big as to be unwieldy. If I ever do something like this again, I’m doing it with a three round granny, not four.

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On the other hand, it’s so fucking gorgeous I can’t stand it. I got the pattern off Etsy and it’s well worth the $5, just for the proper counts of the squares and the scheme that shows you how to lay out the squares. But, again, if you were going to do this and you didn’t want a monster, the easiest fix is to just go down to three rounds in each square.

I did this as a stash-buster, but you could also make something gorgeous with more intentional color decisions. I’m hoping to get the squares finished tonight and get it “basted” (not exactly basted, but put it together in some temporary way until I figure out how to tackle it permanently) this weekend.

Unsick

I’m still sick, but still going to the doctor and going to work. Last night, I went to bed at 8:30 and got up at my normal time and feel rested, so maybe that will just be part of the strategy until I’m completely well.

The dog’s day of being a good boy was followed by two days of him running around being a yahoo not listening.

The Butcher did come over and get my TV working again, which I appreciate. I listened to a lot of podcasts while I was sick, but I could have used a Law & Order marathon or two.

I’m just very grumpy. I wish I felt better. I mean, I do feel better than I did, but I wish I felt better than I do.

I fell in love with this pattern I saw on Etsy for a sawtooth star quilt pattern afghan and I decided to make one for my friends who just got married. So, I’ve been learning a new way to do granny squares. I’m a little concerned about how to piece it together in the end. I think I’m going to have to lay it out, get the color distribution how I want, and then… I don’t know. Tie it together? That’s my plan at the moment–tie it together and then put it together normally. Otherwise, it just feels like the chances of getting squares turned the wrong way is just to great.

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Also, I made a couple of other baby blankets:

Today I Bomb the House

I’m trying to figure out how to do all the things I need to do in the right order. I need to go mail this package that I don’t want covered in dog hair before I can put the dog in the car. I want to put the dog in the car after I’ve washed him so that he is at his most optimally flea-free. I need to make sure the cats are both outside and that they have no secret ways of getting inside. Food must be covered up.

Etc. Etc.

Things like this I wish the Butcher were around for just to make sure I’m not forgetting anything that then results in me poisoning everyone.

My chimney is officially fixed. I spent all day sitting around while they did their thing. I worked on a baby blanket.

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I like kids projects because they go so quickly. I love how this yarn is working up. I’m glad I’m giving this to an artsy person, because I’m hoping she’ love the same things about it I love, how the pattern of the square is very formal and traditional, but the colors of the yarn smear across it like a kid just learning to color. I’m still mulling over if 8×10 is the right size or if that makes it just a little unwieldy and I should go down to 7×9.

I also want to figure out how to make the interior of the square into the border…how to change the motif from something that works in the round to something that would work straight.

This week, also, I made this awesome mermaid tail for my niece!

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That’s the same self-striping yarn from Red Heart I used for the afghan I just finished, so you can see it’s pretty damn versatile.

Also, the family I made the afghan for came to get it and the child of the family said, “Wow, this is beautiful.” So that was awesome.

No One Ever Needs to Set Out to Discover Why Granny Squares are so Popular

Months. Long, hard months involving tears:

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Two weeks:

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And I even learned a good way to make picots:

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So, there’s your answer. They’re easy to learn. They go quickly. They look fantastic. Anything where you can have fabulous success early on is going to be hugely popular.

Also, I suspect, if someone calls you up and says, “Grandma, I need an afghan for the TV show I’m in the crew on,” this is what Grandma can work you up on a moment’s notice.

This Afghan is Humbling

So, I put together my outside squares and… it’s too big. Even though I counted repeatedly and thought these squares were 27 stitches wide, which is pretty damn close to the 30 stitches of the other squares, they’re 37.

How did I fuck up COUNTING?! Counting? It’s barely math. Dogs can count.

Here’s what I think I’m going to have to do. I’m going to take a square out of each side of the outside round.

It makes me daunted to even think about it. I know it can be done, but damn.

Also, then, my plan is to figure out the middle point on each side and mark it so that I can adjust all along the side and not have a bunch of stitches that don’t match at the end.

I have also considered lighting the afghan on fire, tossing out the outside row and just putting a border on what I have done, tossing out everything inside the outside row and just filling the the border with some simple stitch that doesn’t make me cry, and moving to a country where yarn doesn’t exist.

But I’m going to try fixing it first.

Because of Course

I don’t think the guy I’m supposed to be meeting today is going to come through. I don’t have a time and he hasn’t called me back.

I ran out of red yarn for this afghan. I still have twelve squares and connecting everything to go. So, that made me laugh.

I’ve started this join-as-you-go afghan. It’s my first. If it turns out as cute as it is so far, it won’t be my last. I’m using Red Heart’s new self-striping yarn and so far it’s really beautiful.

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I met S.’s son yesterday. He looks like Bruce Willis. Maybe all babies look a little like Bruce Willis.

I have made the mistake of falling in love with a kitchen floor. I hope my contractor says he can do it.

I finally have how to do those red squares in my head. But I don’t see how I get up to Goodlettsville before Saturday to get more. I’m going to be real pissed if I have to reteach myself those squares. On the other hand, only twelve more!

The Kitchen, The Horror

When I was a little girl, I always wanted to live in a Victorian mansion, with the gingerbread detailing and a turret and big old floor to ceiling windows. My Grandma Phillips always scoffed at this dream and told me what I wanted was to live in a new house that looked like a Victorian mansion.

I thought she was unfairly killing my dream of happiness.

Yesterday, the crew came over to figure out why my kitchen floor is buckling. The answer goes like this. One, the plastic hose on my fridge has a slow leak. But, while that would be enough to rot the floor under the fridge after years, and has, that’s not the whole answer. The whole answer goes like this–at some point they put linoleum tiles down on the hardwood in the kitchen. Directly down. This was the equivalent of basically putting a layer of plastic wrap on top of the floor. Humidity from the crawlspace rises up into the wood of the kitchen floor and it can’t escape into the house where the air conditioner can deal with it, because of the barrier. Except that water can still seep down into the wood through any leaks.

Then, at some point, they put a layer of plywood down and then linoleum on top of that.

When they pulled everything up, my house smelled like rain. The original hardwood just opened up and let out all the moisture. Before I went to bed last night, it was still cool and damp to the touch.

So, I need a whole new floor. On the other hand, my book review doesn’t suck as much as I thought it did and I got four squares done because I was sitting around here all afternoon.

Still, I have a new appreciation for Grandma Phillips’s love of new construction. You can’t find in a new house sixty years worth of kitchen floor damage.

But if we look at one of these long enough, maybe we can forget about the other.

Changing Paths

I have switched outer squares. I admitted to myself that I didn’t like the flower square I was making because the flower was too small and my idea of just filling it out with other, different flower squares was supposed to mask my unhappiness with the square.

There’s probably a lesson there. But I’m going to try real hard not to learn it.

I did, however, find a square I like that I think will make a fine outer loop. Also, it’s pretty “border”y, so that will let me have a simple border for the whole thing:

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Reasons I like it (even if the edges aren’t looking exactly straight here). It’s got kind of pokey features similar to the interior motif. It’s got open areas like the interior motif. It’s got a roundness to it that reminds me of the other square and, like the other square, it’s built on eight repeats in each round. And it’s got dimension without being too heavy. And the flower is nice and huge. Plus! Popcorn stitches.

I also think I have solved the dog’s flea problem. I can’t find any evidence that anyone else is having problems with the Serestro collar, so I don’t think it’s that fleas have developed an immunity to it. But what are the chances I’d get two collars in a row that would fink out?

So, this morning, I scrutinized Sonnyboy. He had no fleas near the collar or on his head or neck. None on his upper shoulders. And then, beyond his harness, on his back and back end, a ton of fleas. So, if the collar is working on the front end, why isn’t it working on the whole dog?

After our walk this morning, I took off his harness.

I don’t know why that should matter, but my fingers are crossed.

Also, my dad went to the doctor and he is cleared to drive again. His doctor thinks it was just some cartilage breaking loose, so he’s got a cane and hopefully can limp along until his scheduled surgery.

Oops

Well, dear readers, I didn’t need to worry about the strange size of the outer square because I fucked it up! But now! Now that I understand how I fucked it up, I have an interesting (to me at least) quandary.

Now that I better understand how to construct these flowers, do I do an outer ring only of this particular version or should I go through my whole motif book and do a bunch of different flowers? I’m leaning toward the latter, because the rest of the afghan is so repeaty. I think I have room for some variation here.

Anyway, fucked up on the left. Right on the right.

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Red/Read

Yesterday I didn’t even get out of my pajamas. It was too hot to walk the dog and I was just emotionally drained so I read some in this book I’m reviewing for Chapter 16–which so far is so good that I’m continually stunned at the author’s ability to get really complicated ideas across in a straight-forward and engaging way–and worked on this afghan.

So, the outer loop came together how I thought it would.

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And I am still really in love with that outer square. So easy and yet it looks so complex and lacy. But my concern was that I didn’t want the middle part of the afghan to be too distorted by connecting it to that ring of squares. So, I needed a join that would both connect both pieces fairly snugly while not stretching the outside rows of small squares without me having to tuck another ten thousand ends.

I settled on a chain-one join.

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You do a single crochet on one piece, chain one, then do a single crochet on the other piece. I’m not in love with it, but I’ve convinced myself it’s not too bad. Here’s how the whole thing looks:

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And from this perspective, the join doesn’t stand out, which is all I can ask of it. But I was feeling daunted because the outer ring, if you remember, is supposed to be those big old three-d flowers and I was like, god damn it, I’m going to have to come up with another join that makes me want to pay someone else to do it, because that square is yet another size.

But, y’all, if I just don’t do the last round in this square (or take the last round off this square, as the case may be), then it’s the same size as the squares I already have. No fancy join necessary, just my usual. Whew.

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I am a little bit worried about how the afghan is weighted. You don’t normally see ones that are so lacy in the middle and then more solid on the outsides. Usually, it’s solid middles, lacy borders. But I like it, so fuck it.

Red is the Color of My True Love, Yarn

This red afghan is still my whole heart at the moment. I keep worrying that it’s too busy, that maybe it should have just been a large, plain thing that would let you soak in this red and not have to focus on anything but the color of it.

But, argh, I love each square so much. And this second batch of squares seems to be going pretty quickly. I need 24 and I already have 8. I’m a little curious to see how fitting them together with the first squares will go, but I know two big squares fit 3 little squares. I just need a join with some flexibility because the little squares don’t have a flat edge. I was thinking about doing that join I did for the baby blanket, where you do a double crochet in each side, but I’m wondering if there’s such a thing as a chain stitch join that would give the join the flexibility of the double crochet join without taking up that much space.

But I’m most worried about how to transition from those medium squares to the large squares. I think my plan for the moment is to get the medium squares done and attached to the small squares and then to do the outer ring of large squares. This would give me the dimensions of the gap I need to fill between the medium squares and the large squares. Then I might just fill it with double crochets. We’ll see.

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Red Afghan, Red Afghan

I have made a terrible mistake with this afghan. Not a crocheting error but a philosophical mistake. The middle of this afghan is 54 lacy squares that attach to each other with ten stitches, five on each side of a gap. Which means each side of the square has four ends to tuck.

This square has convinced me of the importance of Join-as-You-Go, which is not a skill I have (yet). I’m not sure how it would have worked on these squares, but my god, it could not have been stupider than this.

Still, it looks good and I love this red so much.

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Lifeguard

Last night we went to a friend’s wedding (and, y’all, her dress was adorable and perfect for an outdoor wedding AND IT HAD POCKETS and I died of jealousy and delight at that dress and then was revived by barbecue) and it was full of children.

The child I was sitting next to was trying to decide if dogs have a tooth fairy (no) and she was alarmed that the tooth fairy only ever brought me quarters. The tooth fairy brought her a doll with fairy dust on it, but the fairy dust did to make her fly (the girl, not the doll), which was kind of a bummer.

I tried to argue that it was for the best, because how could her mom come and rescue her if she was flying around and needed help.

Ah, but she thought her mom would be excellent at flying rescues, because she had been a lifeguard.

I don’t think you can argue with that. I can’t, anyway.

In unrelated news, here’s the third square of my afghan:

IMG_2279Each tiny square in the square is only three rounds. It’s so fucking delightful. You get that awesome thing in three fucking rounds.

So, my plan is that this square will fill the middle of the afghan and it will go something like this:

IMG_2282Tiny squares in the middle. A row or two of the flat flowers around that and then the big flowers on the outside. I’m a little nervous about the squares all being different sizes, but I figure this is what lacy joins are for.

Good God

So, you know my theory that, if you want color to stand out, use a simple pattern and if you want the pattern to stand out, don’t go hog-wild with the color.

So, this afghan is for someone who wanted something that reminded her of her awesome flower gardens. And I found this awesome red yarn on sale. I think there are going to be three different squares, but I’ve only worked up two of them. I’m going to work the third one up just as soon as I’m done with this post (it’s from the great big book of cool squares with errors in just about every pattern I’ve tried).

I feel like maybe I should be doing something more productive with my time off than I have been, but god, I feel so much better than I have in weeks that I think I just really needed this.

Anyway, check this out. I think this is going to be the outside square:

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So, a cool, round floral pattern with some 3-D stuff going on in the middle. The red looks a little more orange in this picture than it is in real life.

Then, inside, I think there will be this square:

IMG_2278Which, note, is another round floral pattern, but flat. And then I’ve got a third square picked out that’s also round and flat that I think is going to alternate with this one to give the inside a more lacy feel. But I’m going to need for it to be a similar size to this one, or that’s a no go. So, we’ll see.

This red, though, damn I want to conquer nations for this red.

Rabbits

The dog took off across a stranger’s yard today after a rabbit and I was not happy, but I didn’t freak out. The thing I’ve decided about him is that he’s really not motivated by you being mad. I have kind of decided that he thinks my angry voice is a warning. Like “For sure don’t come over here because there are dragons” or “Hide while I go check this thing out.” or “Run away, Sonnyboy! Run away!”

So, if I want him to come back to me, I have to make it seem super awesome. And so far that’s worked. Which is not to say that I don’t worry every time he does something stupid.

I guess, too, that I feel like I’m focusing a lot on the dog lately, because he is unconcerned with any larger issues. The dog will never worry about healthcare. He’s not anxious about whether we can get our shit together.

I’m working on an afghan for my step-niece. I was hoping to have it ready for her birthday, but her birthday was yesterday and I still have to figure out if I can finish it how I want to. Plus, as is my way, I have a ton of ends to tuck.

But at least at this point, it looks like what it is and it is marvelous, so everything from here on out feels like just finishing up.

IMG_2251It’s the most sculptural thing I’ve done, I think. I don’t remember ever thinking about how an afghan would work in three dimensions before.

Damn You, Math!

So, the reason the lacy join wasn’t working is that in some squares, I was putting eleven stitches and in other squares, I was only putting ten. So, you know, not my best day as a crocheter, but I think I have it figured out now.

I haven’t ever done a flowerdy blanket like this and I am concerned about what happens in the wash. These flower pedals are going to curl, aren’t they?

I like my afghans to be no-fuss, but I think this may require a little fussing with when it comes out of the dryer.

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Physics is Failing Me

I’m doing a kind of lacy join on the flowerdy afghan:

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And in theory this is easy enough. You do a double crochet in one square and then the other, alternating stitches. So, if you put a stitch in the first square’s corner stitch, you put your next stitch in the other square’s stitch after the corner.

It took me an hour to do this first row. I started the second row and the first squares went easy so I was like, okay, I know what I’m doing. On to the next square. I could never get it to work out right. I could count the stitches. They were correct. I could see where my next stitches were supposed to go, but whenever I got to the end, it was wrong. And yet, I could not see where I fucked up. It was as if I had extra, invisible stitches.

So, for as quick as the squares in this blanket went, the join is going to vex me, I can tell.

Hard Work

I just want to reiterate how working on this baby blanket compared to the spiral afghan is…god damn. Like, I’m almost done making squares. On a blanket I started on Thursday. Granted, what I have in mind for the border will take a while, but the spiral afghan was SO HARD!

I’m glad I did it, but I don’t want to forget that it was tough and I probably don’t want to make a thousand of them.

Also, on another subject, can I just say that going grocery shopping on the first day of your period is stupid unless you want to come home with seventeen pounds of pasta and two expensive chocolate and caramel candy bars and some cookies you both want to eat and kind of want to throw up to look at?

I mean, I also got some protein and some vegetables, but I got home and emptied my grocery bags and laughed. And then damn straight ate one of those candy bars.

I’m slowly working on my draft. I’m trying not to freak out by how large it is. I’m already at 1,000 words and nothing’s gotten blown up. But I feel like I just need to vomit out everything I know and then I can work on shaping and trimming it. In other words, I know this draft is supposed to suck, but I’m still worried about it sucking.

I also had this dream that the Butcher told me a secret about one of his friends and I then went on a trip with her and blabbed her secret–which she did not know I knew–to everyone and she found out and was pissed. And all day I was like “Oh man, I really fucked up with so-and-so.” And I felt so bad and then remembered, no, it was just a dream. Everything is fine.

Ah, brain, you sure are fun.

Slow Day

Yesterday, the dog leaped down the hill into the meadow to chase a rabbit and I could tell when he did it that he landed hard. Then I gave him a bath and the kids came over.

So, today, we just took a short walk. We did get a bunny chase in and, embarrassingly, almost chased our own cat.

I’ve also started a baby blanket and I’m highly amused by just how fucking hard the spiral afghan was, because now I’m just churning out little flowerdy squares like nothing.

I also like this afghan because the baby will live out in the boonies and the main colors in this afghan are a kind of soft green and a soft yellow–like John Deere colors, but for a baby. Also, the flowers went through a brief stage where they looked like ninja throwing stars.

I want to do those cool pedals as the border, but I’ll have to see if I have enough yarn to make it happen.