The Yarn Has Arrived!

I can return to the tripping jaguar afghan. I really love it. It might be a little muted for the room it’s going in, but it’s wool, so it’s a winter afghan. I think people are allowed to curl up under something warm and dark during the winter.

I finished a very rough outline of the end of Ashland, which was helpful in that I realized I had in my head the wrong person doing the incredibly stupid thing. I also realized I kind of have a vestigial husband and I either need to bring him into the action or cut him loose. Also, I definitely have a kid who needs to go. Not be murdered or anything. Just, his parents need to be childless. And I have a couple of other kids who probably need to be a little younger. Plus, probably some neighbors need to be nosier.

But all that can be fixed.

The dog and I had a really nice walk this morning. The orange cat joined us coming and going, though he was smart enough to stay out of the road. Every time the cat walks with us, I think, isn’t it weird that cats, so vicious, so ruthless, were never used as animals of war? And then the cat, for no reason, decides to walk between my legs and almost trips me and I see why they were excluded from the armed forces.

This Afghan!

I feel like this is the kind of afghan you would find while exploring in a remote jungle and stumbling across an ancient terraced pyramid. You drink something bitter. You throw up. You start to trip.. You wrap yourself in this afghan, but it’s not clear to you if the afghan is part of the vision or if it is the only real thing left in the Universe. A jaguar is also tripping. His vision is of a never-ending Grateful Dead concert where you meet William Shakespeare and he offers to tell you the secrets of life. You agree and he leans in and whispers something that, when you wake, has slipped out of your head. You still have the afghan.

barry 3

Things Settle

The cats are coming in the house in shifts, I guess so that they’re able to rest while the black dog gets hissed at non-stop. Sonnyboy has been eating the black dog’s food like he’s some kid of metaphor for Western Imperialism, but this morning, the black dog, who doesn’t normally eat breakfast, ate Sonnyboy’s breakfast.

The Return to Hill House afghan lived through the wash! It’s sitting in the dryer as we speak, and I’ll have to go take it out here in a second and declare the afghan either a success or a failure.

I finished a chapter in Ashland that makes me wonder if my book is about to include ghost fucking and, indeed, if ghost fucking would be considered a type of haunting or, instead, a very specific type of possession.

The Next Afghan

Whoa, I just did a test square to see how it was going to work. I love it.

Here's every skein of yarn in this color way I could find in Madison.

Here’s every skein of yarn in this color way I could find in Madison.

Here's the test square. I'm stunned and happy.

Here’s the test square. I’m stunned and happy.

Ends Tucked

The ends are tucked. The first column of squares is together. If I weren’t going off in search of a witch’s grave today, the Return to Hill House afghan could be finished this very day. But soon!

I’m also 30,000 words into Ashland. I feel good about that.

rthh6

Working, Working, Working

Sorry things have been so light here. I’m just working on the Return to Hill House afghan and stealing alone time when I can to work on Ashland. Since my alone time is usually for blogging, well, obviously, blogging’s getting neglected a little.

Chagrined

I’ve started tucking ends on the Return to Hill House afghan and I’m already noticing that the squares lie a lot flatter than they did on the first afghan. Also, I really like how the middle looks. It’s a subtle difference, but the squares have small gaps. The small gap in the middle just goes along with it.

So, here’s what chagrins me. Why would you construct a square in a way that falls apart in the wash if constructing it with a knot at the start looks better and lays better and won’t fall apart (knock on wood)?

Oh, This is Why I Do This

Yesterday, I had a lovely lunch with friends, then I wrote a chapter for Ashland that just went exactly how I wanted it to. No doubting, no stopping to check Twitter, no getting up to clean the bathroom. Just me, that screen, and all the words I wanted to get out.

I also finished all the Return to Hill House squares. Now on to the end-tucking. I’m listening to the audio book of A Head Full of Ghosts as I work on the afghan and it’s terrific. The voice actor they have reading it is just amazing. And I’m definitely picking up on things that I didn’t give enough weight to when reading. I’m especially starting to wonder about the younger daughter’s stomach problems and her sleeping in her clothes.

I just really want Ashland to be good enough to get published. Or eye-catching enough, or something. And I really want to figure out how to make that happen. So, I’m studying.

Writing

It’s tough going on Ashland at the moment. Or maybe has been all along. I’m surprised to find myself second-guessing everything and having to remind myself that this is just a rough first draft of a form I have never tried before. But I’m worried my POV character is not very interesting. But then I also kind of feel like, let’s get the blocks of the plot in place and make sure that works, before we worry about fixing things that can be fixed on edit.

I am closer to the end of the Return to Hill House afghan. I have,  by my reckoning, thirteen squares left. Because who’s not looking forward to getting an afghan in July?

Also, it’s official, official. F&SF bought my story and announced it.

Octagon Afghan!!! Woo!

It’s done. I have to wash it. Not just for the sake of this afghan, but because I can’t do the Return to Hill House afghan unless I know this modified beginning works. But man, not tonight.

My ends are all tucked.

My ends are all tucked.

I love how the squares turned out.

I love how the squares turned out.

And look at how it turned out! Just holy fucking shit!

And look at how it turned out! Just holy fucking shit!

In Which I Begin to Suspect I Know More about Physics than I Think I Do

I have a cool, weird thing early tomorrow, so I spent my evening listening to podcasts and working on the afghan and very shortly going to bed. I have all the octagons together. I am beginning to place the squares. Here’s what I know. Each octagon has, wait for it, eight spines. Eight places where there’s one stitch on top of another all the way to the outside of the octagon, no funny business, no fucking around. Those spines are not all straight, because the first stitch on the ring slides pretty dramatically, but they will eventually work their way straight because the first stitch on the ring slides pretty dramatically AND each octagon is connected to at least two, usually four, other octagons. Those four short seams set in place the top ends of the spines and, more importantly, pull on them, eventually pulling them straight. But, I think, because the seams are so short, they don’t give the afghan the strong skeleton it would otherwise have. The afghan doesn’t pull all its weight at the seams. It pulls on those octagons.

The little squares seem to take some of the force off the octagons. It’s still holier than I’m used to, but I think it will look okay.

octagon afghan 3 octagon afghan 4

The Octagon Afghan is Bringing Me Around

I’m having a lot of fun putting strips together and they look very fun and colorful. So, my heart is unhardening. I’m now curious to see how it looks all put together. I’m not used to making holy afghans, though, and this one is going to have some holes. I’m curious to see if I likeit or not.

octagons1 octagons2

Not 100% In Love

octagon afghan 1 octagon afghan 2

So, once I get all the ends tucked, this is how it will go together. Obviously, not with non-gray yarn, but I wanted to see what I was doing. I don’t love, love it. I kind of wish the squares were big enough to fit in the hole correctly, but they’re just a hair too small.

Oh well, I’m sure it will be fine. And, technically, this way appears to make my squares octagons.

One of the people who came Friday night told me he likes my writing because I write like a man. Today I realized I should have asked him how he knew about the severed dick I type with. And now I can’t stop giggling at the thought of trying to hit these stupid keys with a penis. I mean, maybe I’m giving myself too much credit, but I’d like to believe my dick would be all ikj azsmjk tfryhupolikjnhjgtf whenever I was trying to typle “I am typing.” I believe myself swaggery enough to have a three key dick, if I were to have one.

Just, guys, I love you but any variation of “you’re not like other girls” isn’t the compliment a lot of you think it is.

One Person’s Ruined Afghan is Another Person’s Wall Hanging

Well, I think I’ve found a home for the Hill House afghan, just as it is, as an art piece. So, that makes me feel better.

The octagon afghan is coming along very well. I only have 16 octagons left. But I have to do squares (which you can see the room for) which means that I need to find a way to make those squares with a knot at the center. I have a good idea how but I’m still a little gunshy after the Hill House afghan.

octagon afghan

The Hill House Afghan Disaster

I am crushed and sick to my stomach. I have never, ever, ever had an afghan do this. At first, I was like, maybe it’s just a matter of fixing this square, which kind of made me want to throw up, but at least it was a solution. But they’re all doing this. Every square. That damn starting stitch, which was so hard to learn and it didn’t have a knot, but it seemed solid. I should have known. I just should have fucking known. This “no knots” bullshit in crochet is what leads to this.

I don’t even know how to begin to fix this. I think the afghan is a total loss. FUUUUUUUuuuuuck. I loved this beautiful, weird afghan. And I’m bummed I have to show up to see C & M empty-handed.

I think the thing that most pisses me off is knowing that it’s just best to throw this away and start over. I mean, it’s also good. It’s Red Heart yarn. It’s not expensive. And the time it would take to frog it is more precious than the money it would take to repurchase the yarn and redo it. But it was so much work and I loved it. And it can’t be saved.

Bah.

the Death of the Hill House Afghan

Dogsitting

We’re dogsitting Sonnyboy’s friend. He is fascinated by the cats. I am a little frightened for him, because this morning, the orange cat got behind the couch and growled to draw the dog’s attention. Then the new kitty attacked him from behind.

Like some kind of two-cat lion pride.

He didn’t seem to mind, though. He’s back in the other room trying to sniff the new kitty. Sonnyboy keeps going into the other room to try to talk his friend into being cool, but it’s not working.

In other news, my eye seems much improved, though still pretty hideous looking. The Butcher’s like “Well, you’re staying home today, right?” But this is literally the one week this month I cannot be out of work, certainly not for itchy aesthetic reasons. I am going to try to get home early, just because all the animals are in the house and there’s going to be a thunderstorm. That seems like a lot to ask of everyone.

And last, but not least, here is a weird thing I can’t figure out with this newest afghan. The octagons are the same height and width as the squares. I guess they involve a little less stitching because you’re minus the corners, but the stitching is a little more complicated because it’s eight sides.

But, if I want something the same size as the Hill House afghan, I need 63 squares. Folks, I have 24 octagons done. Since I started. On Sunday. And this is with me having this weird eye shit and farting around with Ashland and dog-sitting and gardening. I have six more that just need borders. If I don’t go out tonight, which, let’s be honest, I’m not going to looking like this, I’ll finish those up. I’ll have thirty done.

Why is this going so quick?! I just don’t understand it. I could easily be done with the octagon part of this afghan, at this pace, by Memorial day. Literally the only way my brain can make sense of this is that the octagons must be smaller than the squares. But I keep measuring them and they’re the same.

Now, granted, I have all the inset squares to do and piecing this together is going to be a weird challenge, so it’s not like it’s going to be the fastest afghan in the world–the finishing of it may be the challenge. But I’m boggled about this part.

The Next Afghan

Seriously, y’all, even if I’d only ever learned this motif from this book, this would be the greatest Christmas present ever. So, we did the hexagon version and the quadragon version… ha ha ha. I really wish quadragon was a word. But the square version is what I just finished up. And next on the docket is the octagon version. I’m doing this up for my friend, Tracy, who used to have a nickname around here, but I don’t remember what it was.

The tricky thing about this is that, when you put octagons together, there’s a square of emptiness (warning, there are a lot of hexagons at that link, which is aggravating). I want to fill that square of emptiness. But with what? A regular square or a twisty square? See that yellow part in this octagon. Could I stick that in the empty part? I don’t know. We’ll have to see.

ts afghan

The Hill House Afghan is Done!

You spend so long making squares that you forget how easy it is to put those squares together. I finished this up while I was on the phone with the Professor. I’m going to try to get a better picture after I make my bed. I guess I could just go make my bed…

Anyway, I’m really pleased with how it turned out. My fear of any variegated yarn is how cheesy and cheap it can look. You know what I mean, that kind of, here’s a block of color, there’s a block of color, making an ugly pattern. Somehow, no matter how beautiful the yarn looks in the skein, it just looks cheap worked up. To my eye, this pattern solves the problem of the cheap looking variegated yarn.

Not that the yarn isn’t cheap. This is all Red Heart, which is pretty dang inexpensive. I probably made this afghan for $40 in materials, and that’s probably an estimate on the high side. But I love Red Heart yarn for afghans because you can afford to get a lot of it, it’s pretty indestructible, you can wash and dry it without needing any fancy instructions, and it softens up nicely as you wash it. But I also love that you can push it into something this beautiful. It almost looks like some kind of cubist take on an afghan.

63

I’m rapidly running out of yarn, so 63 it is. I think it’s going to be beautiful. Maybe not to everyone’s tastes, but hopefully to C & M’s.

hill house 5

If You’re Not Salty, What are You Worth?

I have a ton of celery. So I made this celery apple soup that I found a recipe for online. And it called for a tablespoon of salt. I checked repeatedly because it just seemed like way too much salt. But there it was–a tablespoon. So, since I hadn’t made the recipe before, I went with it.

And, fuck yes, it was too much salt. I tried everything–the adding sugar trick, the adding starch trick, the adding water trick.

None of it worked.

And I didn’t finish the Hill House squares, not even the 63. But I’m going to try to get to 70.

And we have to eat that fucking salty soup again tonight.