The Next Afghan

It requires a seamless join because of how the rounds work. I am terrified that this is going to come undone in the wash. Beyond terrified. I was worried that the pieces look a little yonic, but now that I’ve done a couple, I’m actually more concerned that they might look like beautiful butt holes. I’m trying to convince myself that it’s just me.

Photos later.

Reverse

I’m trying my first reverse single-crochet border. You literally single-crochet, but you put the next stitch behind the current one instead of in front of it. It gives you kind of a ropey-looking finish. I’m liking it. It eats up a lot of yarn, though, especially on an afghan.

My next project is a Catherine-wheel baby blanket. And after that, I’ve been asked to make an afghan for a kid I once made a baby blanket for. I’m mulling over what to do for him, but I’m not sure yet. I kind of want to do a bunch of polkadots, but I’m not sure if that’s something he will always want.

This is my seventeen-year anniversary of moving to Nashville. Seventeen years. I can’t really describe how that makes me feel. I have accomplished things I never thought possible. I also kind of feel empty-handed. Maybe that’s the truth of things.

Clinging to this Afghan

I got a tough rejection yesterday. It had been so long, longer than they said they were going to take, long enough that I got my hopes up that maybe, just maybe, I’d made it through the first hoop.

That was stupid of me.

And I’ve tried to rationalize–obviously, the fact that they had it this long made it seem like a plausible project. And I turned right back around and sent it out again. And I hyped myself up and said Year of a Hundred Rejections over and over again to myself, which, even though I’m not aiming for a hundred rejections, ever since I read that article has become a kind of mantra to me.

But I’m still really bummed. So, I took the evening to work on this afghan. I tucked tails like tails have never been tucked. I bought quart bags to put my rows in so that I can keep the color scheme straight. I found a sharpie so I can number the bags.

I also did a crap ton of dishes, because apparently the Butcher has decided that having a girlfriend is more fun than doing one’s household chores and I will do a crap ton more tonight.

But tonight I am also going to tuck the last thirty tails on these 600 squares and then sort them by color and put them into baggies by the rows they will occupy in the afghan. And it will be so satisfying and the person who gets the afghan will love it and I will feel like there’s one artsy thing in this world that I am pretty good at.

Because I’m just not feeling it with my writing at the moment.

The Existential Angst Afghan

Last night, I stared up at the ceiling, trying to fall asleep, wondering what things I do make me happy.

Reader, I could think of nothing! Which made me laugh. It’s good to have check-in moments with yourself where you realize that you’re down the path that goes to the outhouse, not the path that goes to the ice cream saloon.

I’m working on this afghan that is at once very simple and already shaping up to be so beautiful. But I have to keep track of 600 squares. And I have in mind for the pattern a gradient, which means I need to figure out which rows are which. So, tonight, I’m going to buy 30–one for each row–quart-sized ziploc bags to sort my squares into.

It’s going to be so satisfying.

Why Did I Do This Again?

Why would I make another afghan of tiny squares again?! I thought, well, if I do two rounds, it won’t be so bad. And, I guess, it’s not so bad, but every task seems never-ending. I have all my inner rounds made, but I need to tuck everything before moving on to the outer round and it’s just on-going. ON-GOING!

But I think it has the potential to be really beautiful. I’m imagining a spectrum of sorts. I’m just not sure what to do about the browns. A brown is never just brown, you know. Usually, with yarn, for whatever reason, it’s actually a dark orange, but some of the browns I have are clearly dark reds. And I know, occasionally, you can get a brown that has green undertones. So I’m a little nervous about sorting them.

Plus, I have 600 squares. If I pick a definite pattern to put them together in–i.e. the spectrum, I’m going to have to sort those squares ahead of time and make sure they stay in order. I’m thinking, with 600 squares, I’ll have a 30×20 afghan so I could get 30 freezer bags and use them for sorting. This gives me the ability to see the mix of squares in each row and I can write which row in a Sharpie on the outside.

We shall see. It’s going to be an organizational something or other.

Argh, This Afghan

I have four skeins of black left. I can finish eight squares with one skein. I have ten squares to finish, thus leaving me two and quite a bit of a third skeins to attach everything. That might get everything sewn together but it’s for sure not going to get everything bordered.

I just cannot correctly purchase yarn for this afghan. And, with my luck, they’ll discontinue the yarn or something before I can get it finished.

On the other hand, look at how nifty it’s looking:

Stupidity on My Part

I think I’m going to have to get a strong light to be able to finish this afghan. I just can’t make out the black stitches once I’ve made them. Maybe this is how people end up crocheting on their porches. The light’s better.

In related news, though, I do love this. I hope the connecting stitch looks as cool as I’m planning.

Wheels

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I’ve got my afghan yarn back in so I’m making these wheels again. I need fifty-six. I have twenty six. So, it feels like it’s going well. I just really hope I’m not secretly fucking up these wheels, too, but I keep counting to make sure I have sixteen spokes, and there are, so that’s what it should be.

I remain a big fan of this yarn for its soft, squishiness and its weirdness.

I woke up early to purchase “Lemonade” so I can listen to it at work and marvel to be living in a time of geniuses.

I read the credits on the song she did with Jack White. It samples Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks,” so they get writing credit on the song. I noticed that Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe did not. It makes me wonder if this is one of the songs that Zeppelin ripped off and never had to make right on. I know Willie Dixon eventually got them to own up to what they’d done–and by that, I mean, get some money out of them for the use of his intellectual property, but I don’t know if other folks were able to.

The fact that Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe don’t get writer’s credits on the Beyonce song does worry me about that.

But I love the “gal I love, stole her from a friend, joker got lucky, stole her back again” aspect of Beyonce getting Jack White’s help to steal a song that Led Zeppelin stole.

But I do keep thinking of Willie Dixon, whose influence is so heavy on rock music, and who I think is utterly forgotten except by music nerds. Is justice come in the fact that most people who listen to Beyonce’s album aren’t going to know who the fuck Led Zeppelin was? My kind of music nerdery can’t accept that. I want people who love Beyonce to get the thrill of hearing Zeppelin for the first time and then getting the thrill of hearing Dixon or Minnie or Robert Johnson.

I want them to have that lightning shaped epiphany of seeing how art travels through time.

I Hate Every Crocheted Thing

The picots and the picot join were a terrible joke. And I thought, well, I’ll just work on the centers and try to get a feel for how much yarn I’ll need for the whole thing and I fucked up every center I made. And they all have to be redone. It’s not a fuck-up with an easy fix.

I was so mad at myself I thought I might switch squares all together and do the flower instead, but holy shit, that’s also a terrible design. It’s hard to explain what the problem is without visuals, but it’s an elaborate flower, so it’s heavy, and it grows heavier on each round. Each round is attached to the next round with only eight stitches. So, ignoring the heavy petals of the flower for a second, your underlying structure is a series of progressively larger arcs. When you add the petals, the whole thing strives to take a loose, shaggy pyramid shape.

I believe all this would be fine if, beneath it all, there was a normal square you were anchoring the flower to–so that the eight stitches each round tied the flower together and attached it to a solid back. It’d still be heavy as fuck, but that solid backing would help hold everything together and where it belongs.

But no! The back of the flower is open and, when you get to the rounds you do that make it a square, they’re just those two or three outer rounds. The sample one I started looks really cool, but it was obvious, even before finishing it, that the structure looks fine flat (and thus the square looks fine in picture), but it was going to be a weird, saggy mess in an afghan–too much weight on not enough structure.

I then did a hexagon I thought would look cool, but it looked like a butt.

So, all that wasted yarn later, I’m back to the picot squares, but without the picots.

I have a whopping two done, which is how many I had mostly completely yesterday.

But I do think I have an idea for how to finish the story I’m working on, so I still believe you should have a hobby that lets your mind work on your writing problems.

My hobby is just an asshole at the moment.

The Picot Afghan

I have started on an afghan with picots, which are little bumps that I think I am not making correctly. And I’m pissed because this is the second square I’ve made out of this book where the last row’s directions are fucked the fuck up.

The one square, I could figure out because I understood the pattern of the rows beneath and so I quickly realized that two numbers had been transposed.

But this last row is just wrong. The second to the last row calls for you to start at a corner and go around the square. Obviously, you then finish at that corner. The last row starts out with you making eight stitches to the corner. Motherfucker, I’m at the corner. I need to make eight stitches to the first picot. Except, whoops, I need to make nine, it turns out after I get halfway done with the last round and realize something is very wrong.

Everything else about the square is really lovely and I’m really liking it. But I’m already nervous about this picot situation–because you join as you go at the picots–and knowing that my first join-as-you-go afghan is going to be based on a faulty last row is causing me a lot of anger.

My new plan is to do a couple of sample squares and do the join and see how it goes. If it seems fucked up in any way, I’m taking off the picot edging and I’ll just do some kind of lacy join between the squares that doesn’t require me to figure out how the pattern is fucked.

But it’s irritating. And knowing how screwy some of these squares have been is, frankly, why I ended up not going with the flower–because I worried it would be fucked up and that I wouldn’t have the skill or familiarity with the motif to figure out how.

So, let me tell you. If you’re going to spend the money on any kind of crochet pattern book, just make sure it also comes with diagrams. At first, you’ll be like “Ugh, diagrams! I hate them and they make no sense.” But when you’re floundering in the pattern it’s sure helpful to have something to refer to. And it should have been a tip-off to me that not enough care was given with these patterns since the book contains no diagrams.

In other afghan related news, I’m using this weird yarn. S. wanted something that could go in the wash and in the dryer, so I picked out this 50/50 acrylic/nylon. But it’s not twisted together, it’s braided. You can’t really tell when it’s worked up, except it’s kind of boingy in a way twisted yarn isn’t, and it’s got a drape more like cotton than acrylic.

It seems like it will be quite pleasant to wrap around you, once I get this last round situation figured out.

Stuff

I finished this baby blanket and I tried a new border on it and I love it. It’s the first time I’ve experimented with back-post double crochet, but it’s awesome.

I also finished a story. I don’t think it’s very good. It’s not very bad either but I’m going to have to come back and look at it later.

I keep getting rejected, too. I feel like we’re not supposed to talk about rejection, but it’s weird not to. It’s an enormous part of writing. “Hey, I wrote this. Do you want to do something with it?”

To me, and maybe this makes me kind of snobby or something, but that’s the real difference between writing as a hobby or a pastime and being a writer. Not whether you’re published, but whether you’re being rejected. It’s easy enough to call yourself a writer if you write in such a way that you never have to feel the teeth-kick of a “no” you really wanted to be a “yes.”

It’s hard to feel like a writer when you’re being rejected. Do you suck? Does your story suck and you just can’t see it? Should you give it all up and sell baby blankets with cool borders to tourists but no one will tell you  because they don’t want to hurt your feelings?

But it’s in being rejected that your identity as a writer is forged, I think. “No.” Okay, what are you going to do about it? If your answer to that question is “I’m going to send it out again” or “I’m going to write something they will want” or “I’m going to write something better and when it wins a big prize, in my acceptance speech, I’m going to say, ‘Fuck you, all the “no”s’,” then you’re a writer.

And if you hear “no” and never write again, then you’re not.

It is Happening!

I have all my squares done. I have begun piecing it together. And I think it does have the kind of hippie patchwork vibe I was hoping for. I think it’s going to be gorgeous.

I’m going to the Third Man Books party tonight. I’m a little nervous and excited. A couple of poets I really admire are going to be there.

All of a sudden Nashville has a literary scene or something.

Seven

I have seven squares left on this afghan. Then I can start piecing everything together. I think it’s going to be quite lovely, but I wish I’d found a brighter self-striping yarn. That could just be the springtime talking. I wonder if I’ll finish it this weekend?

Probably not. But sometime next week, it will be done.

Then I need to get back to writing some and I need to make a baby blanket. Or two. I might need some smaller accomplishments before I take on my next afghan, which will either have flowers–which I’ve never done before–or be join-as-you-go–which I’ve also never done before.

Did I show you what I’ve given the afghan recipient to choose between?  Though, if I do the first one, I’m thinking of doing it in white, red, and black.

Well, Here It Is

There’s a point, with every afghan, when I’m miserably and wondering if it ever will be done. I had been so fascinated by the swirls that it didn’t come when I thought it would–with the tail tucking on those swirls.

But here it is, halfway into making the squares out of those swirls, and I’m like “God, will this never, ever end?”

The End Tucking Continues

As do the errands from last weekend. I’m enjoying it, but I just feel a level of busy these days that feels unsustainable.

Also, at this point, with all the end tucking, I’m normally pretty emotionally done with an afghan, but I’m excited to see how this one is going to come together. I’m thinking it’s going to have a kind of patchwork vibe.

I’m not an artist, so all the color theory I have, I’ve had to teach myself, but I think the most important thing I’ve learned is that you have to give your eye something to do. Like, if most of your colors are dark, you need one light thing. If most of your colors are, say, reds and purples, you need a green or a yellow thing.Or, if you have a solid color, you need great stitchwork.

My next project is a baby blanket. It should go quickly. Everything is decided, I think. I’m going to do that Tunisian spiral I did on my dad’s afghan in this cool brightly colored baby yarn. It’ll go quickly. Work up cutely.

But I’m mulling over hard the next afghan after that. Its recipient likes dark, rich colors. I have found a really cool square I’m excited to try. But I’m trying to figure out how best to do the afghan colorwise. Like, what will, then, be my non-dark color?

Whew, There’s a Lot of End Tucking

I usually spend Thursday evenings reading or writing, but I’ve just been under a lot of weird, amorphous pressure lately, which has not been conducive to either of those things. I spent the evening mostly end-tucking (and a little trying to salvage a story.)

There are 224 swirls. This is the kind of end-tucking sucktitude where I note that I have tucked the ends of 44 swirls. I just think I’m going to feel every one, you know? But I’m excited to see how it turns out.

Approaching Phase Two of the Grateful Dead Afghan

I only have eighteen swirls left to make. Then I have to tuck the ends of all the swirls.

Then Phase Two, were I’ll sew the swirls into larger four-swirl squares. And then tuck those ends.

Then Phase Three where I sew the squares together and put a border on it and…yes, tuck those ends.

For a woman who hates tucking ends, I sure have devised an afghan with a lot of end tucking in it.

The Grateful Dead Afghan

My next afghan is for a friend who likes going to concerts and being a hippie and shit. Well, and shitting. I mean, not shit. Let’s not talk about shit. She like’s stuff that has to do with The Grateful Dead. So, I thought I’d make her an afghan that reminded me of the Grateful Dead. We shall see how it goes. It’s still Lion Brand Amazing Yarn, in the Strawberry Fields, Arcadia, and Wildflowers colorways. I’m hoping this square, which contains a swirl, will have a kind of organic, quasi-tie-dyed feel.

Here’s what a “square” looks like:

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And the they’re supposed to be fit together, four small “squares” into a larger more square “square.”

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I have my doubts, but we shall see. Also, please ignore all the dog hair. It’s been a long, strange weekend. Sometimes the light’s all shining on me. Other times I can barely see, you know, for all the dog hair.