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.

Hypnotic

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I finished the spiral afghan! I meant to lay it out one more time after I washed it to see if some of the waviness was gone, but I threw it in the car, instead, to bring it to its new owner. I’m very pleased with how it turned out.

And if Third Man wants to commission me to do a black and yellow one, they know where to find me. Ha ha ha. Just saying.

Mabel

I did chores in the morning and then spent the afternoon trying to finish all these spiral squares. I love this afghan, but I’m ready for it to be done. So, I needed a podcast, something to listen to while I worked and I found Mabel, which is this wonderfully spooky, dreamy mix of The Haunting of Hill House and Goblin Market with a little Stranger Things thrown in there.

I consume most of my fiction these days in podcasts. My reading has been spent on the project and I haven’t really felt like watching TV. But man, I have loved me some fiction podcasts. It kind of makes me wonder if I would like audio books?

Anyway, maybe I’ll finish up this afghan this week, and then it’s on to a few smaller projects for kids.

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I have mixed feelings about this project. It never fell into a rhythm where I could just zone out and work on it. Also, for some reason, even though it was all Red Heart yarn, the red squares turned out substantially larger than other squares, which, yes, also may shake out a little in the wash, we’ll have to see. And since it’s acrylic yarn, blocking isn’t going to do much good with the crooked sides. I’m just going to have to ask a lot of the seams.

So, I think I’d have been happier making this afghan out of wool or a wool blend, just because you can block wool and have it mean something. But who wants to spend that much on supplies?!

I Now Have a Tiny Robot

My parents got me a Roomba for my birthday, which, as long-time readers may have some vague recollection of, is not until next week. But it came early, so I opened it and got it set up and last night it ran for the first time.

The dog was afraid of it for like a half an hour, but then got bored with being afraid. The orange cat briefly tried to fight it and then lost interest. The house, however, struck back repeatedly. I had to empty the filter three times during its run, dislodge a sock that seemingly came from nowhere, and save it from a hanger, again, that seemed to come from nowhere.

I know this is partially because the Roomba does a better job of getting under things than I have ever done in my whole life of cleaning, but it also makes me feel like everything in my house is under a fine layer of dog hair, which, I guess, is also true.

I repeat my claim that making things in groups of twelve is very satisfying. Just the other day I quickly went from being a forth done to being a third done and tonight, if I finish the square I’m working on, I’ll be half done.

My next challenge is that all the rest of the squares are opposite squares I’ve already done. So, if I had a fat row of brown and a thin row of red, now I need to make a square that’s a thin row of brown and a fat row of red. I already know I’m going to fuck that up at least once and start an identical square to one I already have. But the thing I really love about the off-kilter squares is that, since they are squares, I’ll be able to place the center of the swirl in four different spots, in essence giving me four different squares made the same way.

And things are really stressful and crappy at work, so I’m overcome by the urge to just stay home and work on my squares. It’s nice to have something that, though complicated, I can figure out, and the results are cool as fuck.

In other news, I’ve emailed both Al Gore’s people and the historian of the FBI. If I hear back from either or both of them, I’m going to laugh and be delighted.

Stuff

One thing I’ve noticed since the Butcher has moved out is that I feel like I have so much more time, which at first struck me as weird because it’s not like we socialized together or did housework together or whatever.

I think it’s really because I almost never turn on the TV. It’s not because I’ve become some virtuous hippie. It’s just that I listen to podcasts, which I can do while doing chores or crocheting, and so it feels like time has opened up. I mean, I had three days in a row off, most of which I spent at libraries and socializing and yet, still, the dishes are done, laundry is done, dog is walked, FOIA requests have been made, etc.

And I think I may have found the trick to making the off-kilter squares go faster–more stitch markers. It’s a little weird because in crocheting, before this project, I think I’d only ever used one stitch marker in a project. For a long time, I didn’t even have stitch markers because I had an old safety pin and then I lost it so I picked up a small thing of stitch markers and only ever used one.

But this project, once I figured out that three stitch markers would make it super easy, was eye-opening. So, when I got to these off-kilter squares and struggled so much through that first one, on the second one, about halfway through, I thought–what if I just marked every repeat? That way, when I get to the end of a row and the pattern has been “(2dc in stitch; dc in next 14 stitches) repeat 5 times; 10 dc” I can just look back and count my stitch markers and see, yep, did my five repeats. It’s super handy. I’m just going to stitch-mark the fuck out of it for the rest of the squares.

I may stitch-mark the fuck out of everything. Having a meeting to discuss a thing we’ve discussed before? Now we’ll know how many times we’ve had that meeting. Find a man with multiple penises, but you don’t want to be rude and ask him if he’s a cockapus? Just discretely count the stitch markers. I mean, I feel bad for the person with multiple penises who also goes to a lot of redundant meetings, because they’re just going to be awash in stitch markers, but whatever. It’s for the good of all humanity!

Childhood

It’s supposed to look 1970s-ish and, so far, it does. But not really like the 1970s of adults, but my 1970s–childhood.

Also, though it doesn’t make me seasick in person, looking at it in pictures does.

Here we are so far.

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Strangeness

Someone mowed my lawn. They did a fantastic job, even in the part across the creek. It wasn’t the guy I paid to clean up the yard, I don’t think, because even though he mowed for me a couple of times, he never mowed across the creek. Also, he left me an invoice and I paid him.

I did contact a guy about cutting my lawn, but he’s going to come by tomorrow and take a look at the yard and give me an estimate. So, I don’t think it was him, and also, I can’t find an invoice.

Neither of my neighbors’ yards are mowed.

Also, for the second year in a row, a mysterious clematis has appeared near my shed. In the shade. It’s not what I would call incredibly vigorous, but on the other hand, it’s enthusiastic enough to show up out of nowhere and give a blossom. So, hey, carry on clematis.

And I saw a giant rabbit last night eating the grass that’s growing in the cracks of my driveway. I guess the cats were out front?

And one last thing I’m thinking about–aside from violent white supremacists–is the weird thing that this afghan is teaching e about color. As you’ll recall, in order for it to have a ’70s feel, my idea was that it wasn’t enough to have ’70s colors, I had to use them in a ’70s way, which meant instead of using complimentary colors together for the contrast, I would use colors right next to each other on the color wheel. But I’m noticing  a really interesting thing.

Look at this picture:

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I don’t know if you’re going to have the same experience, but I guess, if not, this still may be interesting for you. There are only five different colors in this afghan so far–red, orange, yellow, green and blue (well, I take that back. That’s a lot considering there are only six colors in the afghan, but anyway…). The point is that the green that’s in the yellow and green square is the same green that’s in the blue square.

But unless I really stare at them, while thinking to myself “that’s the same god damn yarn out of the same god damn skein,” I see them as two different colors. The green in the blue square appears to have a lot of gold in it, so much so that I almost want to see it as more of a greenish gold than an actual green. The green with the yellow looks much greener and the yellow kind of pale and subdued, while the yellow with the orange looks brighter as does the orange, where the orange with the red looks more muted.

I feel like I’m getting twelve colors for the price of six. It’s really nifty.

Magic

Nothing makes me happier than when the dog comes when I call him. It feels like magic. Today he was across the neighbor’s yard, heading into the far neighbor’s yard and I called for him and he looped back around in a big circle and came running right to me.

I don’t know why it worked when so many mornings this would have involved me wandering through back yards calling his name while he hijacked an AT&T truck, but it did!

Also magic: if you’re making a twelve-square afghan, when you’re at three squares, you’re only 1/4 done, but when you’re about to finish your 4th square, you’re 1/3 done.

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This, I Remember

I have been worried that the spiral afghan I’m working on, the recipient of which only requested “70s colors”, in fact, was failing to look 70s-ish. I consulted with folks and we all agreed that the trick would not be just the colors, but how I used them. Still, I wasn’t sure. And then I hit this spiral:

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That I remember from my childhood.

Projects

I finished the crocodile stitch afghan! I struggled with the ribbon. It took me ten minutes to figure out how to even open it. I was like, man, all my girl cred is shot today. But I like the little something it adds to the afghan.

I also really love the back of this afghan.  I’m going to make a mermaid tail for my step-niece using this same stitch. I just need to figure out how to do an increase.

Meanwhile, I’m working on the spiral afghan. The first square in any new pattern is always a fucker, but by the end, I think I got how to best set up my stitch markers to make it suck a lot less. And I figured out how to do the border so that the raised stitches stay raised.

So, I’m going to do twelve squares somewhat like this. Three more exactly like this but in different colors. And then the other eight have the middle of the circle set off.  I admit, it does make me a little dizzy to look at it.

Also, so many ends!

But look!

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In An Alternate Timeline, I am Still Working On this

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I like that the pattern is “You’ll get your goddamn ruffle but man, it took forever to do. Now all I need is to wash it and get the ribbon. I’m going for a dark gray, because I want it to have a tiny gothy edge, but I think you could do a really lovely turquoise ribbon and give it a kind of Miami in the 50s vibe. I’m also glad it’s as pink as it is. When I was working on it, it felt like a lot of white, but here you can see there’s not that much.

A thing I realize as I’m working on the project (sorry, I’ve switched topics here) is that the fandom analogy is going to be a lot more useful for me in organizing my thoughts than I realized. Because I don’t ever want to say that the bombings aren’t connected. At heart, they are all about integration.

But the Hattie Cotton bombing and the Looby bombing–at least as far as I can tell at this point–are much more similar to each other than they are to the JCC bombing. The Hattie Cotton bomb and the Looby bomb seem put together by someone who knows about dynamite with the intention of destroying the building (and in Looby’s case, killing people). The difference in the Hattie Cotton bombing and the Looby bombing is that the Hattie Cotton bomb got inside the building. The Looby bombing failed because the bombers who tossed the bomb missed the picture window, so the bomb blew up in the wrong place.

This–at this point, very early on–suggests to me a knowledge of explosives in the making of the bomb (maybe the same person?) but a less careful approach to the placing of the bomb (and this may be because a white person in a neighborhood where white people live nosing around a mostly white school is going to stand out a lot less than if a white person got out of a car in a black neighborhood to break a window and properly place a bomb. The placement of the Looby bomb may indicate a different bomb-placer than the Hattie Cotton bombing or it may indicate that the plan for escaping undetected was very different. But I suspect both of these bombings can be linked to local opposition to school integration. (Though national racists would also have been happy to see Looby dead.) And probably linked back to the same group.

The JCC bombing is different. The bomb was not as powerful and didn’t seem to be well-designed. There were also a lot of phone calls bragging about the bomb, giving credit to the Confederate Underground. And it took place at the very same time a Miami…and now I can’t remember if it was a synagogue or another JCC…but a Jewish building was bombed and in a two-week span where Jewish buildings throughout the South were bombed or had bomb threats made against them, many of which the Confederate Underground laid claim to.

This was probably JB Stoner’s group. And how much overlap would there have been with the group(s) behind the other bombings? Probably some. But I think there’s a slight philosophical difference in the approach. I think–and again, this is all very early speculation, just me trying to make sense of the facts as I know them–the first and third bombing were local people responding to the local integration situation, even if they were egged on and praised by national figures.

But the JCC bombing, that may have been part of Stoner’s regional campaign against Jewish people. Which, yes, also had strong roots in his racism toward black people. They’re not unentwined threads.

But the amount of people here in Nashville who would have had direct ties to Stoner–who wasn’t from here and wasn’t making regular appearances here (like Kasper was)–has to be pretty small. If the KKK had 200 people and Donald Davidson had 50 people (obviously, these are not real numbers, just an illustration), and the other “acceptable” anti-immigration groups had another 50, and John Kasper’s white citizens council had 15, Stoner’s group may have been 10, maybe 5. He allegedly had five people do the Atlanta synagogue bombing. He allegedly helped 4 people with the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham.

That’s how he worked–he had a handful of people he trained and directed and then, when they got caught, he was their lawyer.

So I’m not sure at this point how to do it, but linking Stoner to people in Nashville should be possible.

On a side note, after the JCC bombing here, the rabbi who was called afterwards and threatened and had the group tell him they were the Confederate Underground specifically said here’s the escalation. They’ve been burning crosses and bombing empty schools and now they’ve moved up to religious institutions. They will bomb a protestant church.

And they did. Stoner’s group specifically.

This is also why I look askance at claims that James Earl Ray was not part of some racist plot. Who eventually came on as his lawyer?

And who had a habit of coming on as a lawyer for people whose actions he’d encouraged or led?

But if we can know that this dude killed King, can’t we know who bombed us?

Fandom

I was determined to finish the little pink afghan last night, but as is its nature, it both moves very quickly and very slowly. The border has five rounds. Round one is just a single crochet. Fine. Burn through that in twenty minutes. Next round is the round that makes the loops for the ribbon to go through, also burned through that. Third round, straight double crochets.

Two rounds left. How long can that take? Fourth round–put an infinite number of stitches in each stitch. Oh, okay, then, forever.

Anyway, it made me laugh. I don’t know when I’ll be done, but I’m still hoping I can go buy ribbon this weekend because it will be done.

Okay, so on to the main point of my post. I got a lot of stuff for the project done. I had email exchanges with the SPLC, the ADL, and the women who runs the Jewish community archive here in town. I emailed the regional NAACP to find out if I need to talk to my local chapter. I emailed a guy at work to find out if digging into this story in my off-time was going to cause me problems at work. I’m developing a reading list.

I am, I’m sure, eventually going to have to interview people. But I want to have all my ducks in a row. I want to know as much as I can know before I start “Did you do this?” “Did your dad do this?”

But I now have a secondary goal. My primary goal is to say for certain who did this. But my secondary goal, which I think is almost as valuable, is to say for certain why these bombings weren’t solved.

And, as I was walking the dog this morning, a thing struck me. The law enforcement approach and, in fact, the way we still talk about racism is to view white supremacy like a gang. You at some point make a conscious decision to join. There’s some recognizable way you dress and there’s a membership to be verified. Most importantly, there’s a hierarchy that is knowable and orderly leadership which is obeyed. Therefore, if you can cut off the head–i.e. take down the leader–you can end your troubles with white supremacists, at least until a new leader rises up. From this viewpoint, running John Kasper out of town or keeping him in jail and limiting his ability to “lead his troops” makes sense.

But it didn’t stop the bombings.

And I posit that’s because white supremacy isn’t organized crime, it’s a fandom. Specifically, it’s the Confederacy fandom. So, sure, there are groups you can join to organize with fellow fans. But you can also cosplay by yourself. And some folks might want the full-on fan experience where they go to the place and do all the things with their heroes. But for others, they might just go to one thing a year and maybe watch the rest on TV. And there’s no organized hierarchy. I mean, do you know who the president of the official Star Wars fan club is? If you met him and he was like “Yeah, we’re all going to go lay wreaths at Carrie Fisher’s door, you want to come? Her daughter will be there.” you might say yes, even if you’re just a minor fan. But if he came to you and demanded you go to Fisher’s house, you might bristle. Who is he to order you around just because he belongs to an official group and you don’t?

So, if the people in Nashville who did these things are Confederacy fans, as much fun as they might have getting riled up by John Kasper and as much as he might instigate them to decide “tonight is the night!”, how does getting rid of him solve the problem of violence in the Confederacy fandom?

Obviously, it does not.

So Close!

I’m having lunch today with S., the mother of the girl I’m making the pink afghan for. The afghan is 45 rows tall (90 worked rows, because of how the crocodile stitch works) and the last I counted, I was at like 26 rows, so I thought I still has another week or two on it. But last night I counted and I was at 40! And I was like, damn it. I could have finished this before lunch if I had applied myself.

But I did not. So, as it stands, I have just finished putting on the first row of the border. The blanket is hot as fuck. They won’t have to turn the heat on in her room until it’s like 24 degrees out. But it’s really beautiful.

It also has a ribbon, but I’ve not actually purchased the ribbon yet. I’m nervous about this ribbon stuff. Not the ribbon weaving part. That I can handle. But you have to tie bows! And S. used to work for Disney! That’s like getting your PhD in bow-tying. I’m intimidated as shit. I really want a picture of it all finished or I’d hand the ribbon and the afghan to the master bow-tier and let her do it.

Pink Dragon Scales

Holy fuck, you guys. This little pink afghan is so satisfying. The pattern is easy enough that you can do it while you’re half-watching all the Jason Statham and The Rock scenes from FF7–though I have so many questions, like mainly, SPOILERS, if The Rock and Elena were working together in 7 and close enough that Elena is constantly watching his daughter, then The Rock knew that she had a baby. And that never fucking came up? My friends, S&S just got a puppy (well, a month ago) and I have told everyone I know. P. and her husband just got a puppy this weekend. I had to keep myself from texting people during church over it. I told half a dozen people that the Butcher and his wife were having a baby during the period when it was supposed to be a secret and I was supposed to tell no one except the Professor.

The Rock is never “Oh, I’d love to get together for beers but my daughter is babysitting Elena’s kid and it’s her first time babysitting and I kind of want to be around and make sure everything goes smoothly.”? She’s motherfucking kidnapped and Mr. Nobody never tells The Rock? This is his partner. They work for some elite law enforcement agency. She goes missing and no one notices? Forget even that. She’s pregnant and no one fucking notices?! What is the timeline on these movies?!

Still, I can’t decide if my favorite thing in the movie is when Jason Statham types menacingly or when he eats menacingly. Both are delightful. You know how Idris Elba did that “Win a date with me for charity” thing? Jason Statham should do a charity thing where you pay to see him make boring scenarios menacing.

Where was I? Oh, yes, this pink afghan. I want so much for it to be done. Not in a “Okay, I’m tired of this now” way, but in a “I want to drape it over something and stare at it all day,” way. Everything about it is satisfying. The front is like making a bunch of dragon scales. The yarn is really beautiful. And the back looks neat. It’s also very architectural in a way I find satisfying. Basically, step one is build the scaffolding for your scales. Step two is make your scales.

It is heavy, since each row is actually two rows on top of each other, and it’s a huge yarn hog, but man, is it beautiful.

I am Vengeance. I am The Night. I am Batman.

I finished the Batman cowl for my pending nephew. I still don’t get that pattern, but I have to admit that some of it is user error. I thought I did the same damn thing for both capes, but the blue one is somehow a ton fuller. I knew the gray one was going to be shorter, because of my screw-up on the blue one, but why isn’t it as drapey? That I don’t know.

And then, because I’m feeling anxious about going to the therapist this morning, I stayed up and started the crocodile stitch afghan for B., to see how it would go and how hard it’d be. It so far–unless I’m fucking up in some way I don’t yet know–is super easy, though I can see why every pattern warns you that it’s a huge yarn hog. I like the yarn B. picked out, though I’m hoping as it gets bigger, it will look less like the belt of a fertility goddess or an ode to Gene Simmons and more like a pile of rose pedals.

Otherwise, I’m going to feel very awkward about it.

The dog was not himself on our walk this morning. He stayed very close by me and didn’t run around and be ridiculous at all. I kind of felt like he might have been limping, like just a hair, in his left shoulder but, if he is, it’s so slight that, even watching him our whole walk, I couldn’t be sure.

I had planned to go see The Fate of the Furious this afternoon, but I’m sitting here telling myself that, if I just go to the therapist, I can come back home. I may make myself go anyway. I haven’t decided.

Basically, I hate two things about this: 1. everything. 2. Just feeling so fucking cliched.

Happiness

A weird thing is that my dad seems to be becoming increasingly annoyed by the fact that I don’t sell my afghans and I won’t make crocheted baby clothes for people to buy (he found a little shop where I could sell them). I don’t especially like making clothing. So, I’m not at all excited about the idea of making them to make money.

But the afghan thing is a conscious decision. Take the Baby Batman cowl I made. How much would you pay for that? I think somewhere between $30 and $15 bucks. The yarn cost me $10 (though I didn’t use it all, so let’s say it cost me $6). It took me about ten hours to make it–that’s $72.50 if I pay myself minimum wage. So, just to break even, I’d have to charge $78.50. Who would pay that?! It’s not that hard to learn to crochet yourself.

And with an afghan, it’d be even worse, unless I didn’t charge for the labor, which…I mean, that should be what you pay for. Anyone can buy yarn. When you buy an afghan, you’re not buying a pile of yarn. You’re buying an amazing amount of work you don’t want to or can’t do. That is where the value of the afghan is. To take that out, to pretend like the labor isn’t worth anything or isn’t even worth minimum wage is to lie about what it takes to make an afghan. And it devalues my work.

(Here’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about along these lines–if you went to an art gallery to buy a painting the size of a full bed, you wouldn’t think twice about paying thousands of dollars for it. But paying hundreds of dollars for a blanket is ridiculous. No matter how beautiful.)

So, I come at it from another direction. I like making these things. I think they’re beautiful, especially as I’ve improved my skills. It brings me great joy and satisfaction to have an idea and to execute it and to find that it worked how I hoped it would work. I like the repetitive nature of it and how it gives my brain a chance to unwind. I like the ideas that come bubbling up because of that.

And I like getting to a name on my list and contacting them and telling them it’s time–they’re getting an afghan. Do they have any requests?

The giving is pleasurable to me. The refusal to attach a value to it other than “I like you and I wanted to make this for you” is pleasurable to me. It’s not a commodity. It’s a gift.

I can’t figure out what makes my dad so upset about that. I think he thinks people are taking advantage of me, maybe. But I don’t feel taken advantage of.

I feel subversive–deliberately doing something that makes no sense and has no monetary value to me.

And I guess the other reason I don’t at all feel used is that most everyone I’ve made something for–even the people who’ve paid me or who’ve specifically asked for something or who’ve provided the exact yarn they want used–looks unsure when they see what I’ve done, like they can’t quite believe this is a thing that is for them.

There’s no entitlement–like, yes, you made this for me. FOR ME, because I’m so awesome and that’s just what you should do.

There’s a moment of hesitancy. And then delight.

Timely

Y’all, I’ve gotten so much done this weekend that I’m feeling somewhat confused. Errands got ran, anxiety shit got done, family got fed dinner, taxes–done, dog–washed, dishes–done, laundry–done. Friends were hung out with. Have I always had this much time? What was I wasting it on?

Anyway, I have been somewhat negligent in the showing-off department. Here’s a scrap baby blanket that I made for a secret baby:

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So, on the one hand, this is just a granny square afghan. On the other hand, all the white stitches are just single crochets. I feel like this gives the afghan a kind of polkadotted effect. And, as you’d hope, those seams pulled straighter in the wash.

And then I made this for one of my oldest friend’s toddler:

I’m also making a gray one for the secret baby, so that should be unbelievably adorable.

But can I tell you how excited I am for the next afghans? First, I’m doing this beautiful crocodile stitch afghan for my young friend, B. I’ve been studying up on how to do the stitch and watching YouTube videos, so I feel ready.

And then, and then! I’m going to try to do the vortex afghan. It requires a bunch of stitch markers and having two live rounds at the same time. And I’m nervous about the color combos. The person I’m making it for said she wanted 70s colors, which I believe I’ve done a good job of picking out. But I realize that there’s more to making something feel like it’s from the 70s than the colors. You have to use them right, too. So I have asked trusted knowledgeable friends and I’m now enjoying fretting about it a little bit.

But my theory for what makes something feel like it’s from the 70s is not just that orange (you know the orange I mean) or that avocado green (or zig zags, because I’ve got a different design picked out), but that, instead of putting contrasting colors together, you put colors next to each other on the color wheel together. And also, that you use colors predominately from one side of the color wheel with only a little of the other side. So, my color scheme is light gold, orange, dark red, and brown with avocado green and turquoise blue for accent.

Being a modern gal, my temptation would be to pair the green and blue with its complimentary color–green with red, blue with orange. But to evoke the 70s vibe, I’m going to use the green and blue together, and the red and orange together and the orange and yellow and the yellow and green and maybe, just for variety, I’ll do the blue and brown together. We’ll see.

I’m excited anyway.

Directions

So, I’m making a couple of small children Batman cowls. I bought a pattern. It is…not great. I mean, the cowl is terrific so far, but the kinds of things the pattern writer thinks can be left unsaid and the things I need to have said are a lot of the same things.

Like, at one point, you do this pattern where you do six double crochets, chain one, one double crochet, chain one and then repeat the whole thing. Then the next step reads “Single crochet in each double crochet.” The pattern writer also tells you how many single crochet stitches you should end up with, but, just looking at the part of the pattern I told you about–how many single crochets would you expect to have in that section? Seven, right? But no! No. In order to get the right stitch count for the single crochets, you just do the single crochets in the clump of six double crochets and ignore the lone double crochet between clumps.

Sadly, I didn’t learn from this quirk in the pattern and it came at the end of most of my work on the cape part. So, the directions for the cape walk you through how to do all of the increases and then it gets you started on the part of the cape where it’s all straight-forward and there are no increases. And then it tells you to go on until the cape is 22 inches long. And, like, sure, if your gauge is right, that will be some set amount of rows.

But in every pattern I’ve ever worked, when the pattern tells you “eh, go until it’s x inches long” instead of “work x more rows,” it’s understood that this is a good spot for customizing the project to your needs. So, I ended up closer to 24 inches, due to me having a good time with the pattern and thinking it really didn’t matter.

But then the next step wanted me to put a row of single crochet across the length of those 22 inches and end up with 122 stitches. In other words, for me to complete the next step, I needed to have however many rows would have made up 22 inches, not just somewhere in the ballpark of 22 inches of afghan.

And by now, I had the whole cape made and the triangle parts that make it look like a bat’s wing attached at the bottom and I’ll be damned if I’m going to pull the whole thing apart because you can’t write directions. So, I just figured out how to get 122 stitches across evenly spaced.

And now that I’m doing the hood part, I’m going to be extra careful about trying to anticipate how the directions might not make sense to me.

But it did get me thinking about the problems with communication. I mean, these aren’t exactly errors in the pattern. This is just me with one set of assumptions coming at directions written by someone with another set of assumptions. We have the same hobby! We like the same things! I am DELIGHTED with how cool the pattern on the cape is. We should be on the same page.

And yet, we are not.

The Peacock Pillow

peacock pillow

Except for whatever buttons will go along the top there, the peacock pillow is done! Well, peacock pillow case. I love using teal instead of olive on the outside of the motifs. It really lets the detail of the green row come through as the kind of decorative surprise I always wanted it to be. I’m not 100% in love with that gold, though. I can’t figure out why, because on the color wheel, it looks like it should work. Green compliments red. Blue compliments orange. So a really orange-gold gold like that one should be perfect.

But, and I’m no artist, so I’m not sure if I’m using the right terms but there’s a kind of richness to the dark blue and a richness to the teal and a richness to the gold that are all at the same level, while the silvery blue and the green have a kid of bright, sharpness to them. And I kind of feel like three rich colors on something this small feels clashing, even though clashing isn’t quite the right thing. Maybe it’s too many loud things? At the least, I wanted your eye to be drawn to that dark blue in the middle of the motif and I feel like my eye is drawn equally to the blue and gold.

I wonder if I could find a more green-gold and if I would like that better? Or maybe, ha ha, no one notices but me.

Beauty

img_1142

I really love how this turned out. I enjoyed working on it. I’m enjoying staring at this photo of it. I just have to wash it today to see if it is as great as it looks. I did make one mistake, but you can’t see it in this picture and I recovered from it okay, so I’m not going to point it out.

I’m also going to make another one of these as my next afghan, because I can’t bring any more yarn into this house until I have used up the yarn that’s here. It’s just become unwieldy.

Plus, I want to make something beautiful for my friends who’ve had an unimaginably rough year. Not that an afghan makes up for losing a child, but this is what I have to offer.

My other brother is getting married. He bought an engagement ring and gave it to his fiancee.

The Butcher would really like to marry his girl. He is slowly saving up for a ring. He asked my parents for help. No help came. My dad sat here and gave a recitation of all the good jewelry floating around my mom’s family and all the reasons the Butcher could not have a piece to use. I told the Butcher to bring it up to my mom, alone, again, and see if that pries something loose.

Then yesterday, I went into the other room and I brought out the ring I have from my great-grandma and I told the Butcher that he would need to take it to a jeweler and see what it is–maybe an aquamarine, maybe a light sapphire, maybe a costume piece of paste–but if it is something, then he’d just be saving up to have it reset, and it’s a nice size and has sentimental value.

I’m just so pissed. I can’t even deal with it. The world is so hard. Life sucks and is short and it hurts. Why can’t we watch out for each other? Why can’t we be kind when we can? Why can’t the boy get the girl with a ring his family helped him come up with? Why can’t we warn each other when there’s danger? Why can’t we just try, a little bit, to not be assholes?

Sleep Tight

I had been super impressed with the fact that my medication wasn’t fucking with me too much during this joyful/stressful time.

Last night I went to bed at 10:30 and rolled over this morning to see if I could afford to sleep for a little while longer and it was 8:00!!! Ha ha ha. Lord.

Our other brother got engaged yesterday. I really like his fiancee. I hope she is eyes-open about what she’s getting into.

I’m just about done with this afghan. I have a couple of people waiting on specific things in line, but I think I’m going to make another one of these for a friend who’s been having a hard year first because I want to and this afghan makes me really happy and I need to get my stash way down before I bring more yarn into this house.

This Day

I have to talk on the phone to everyone today. I’m already running late but I didn’t want to not post anything. My parents are about to arrive. I am worried there’s going to be some kind of interrogation about my mental health. I just want to be able to respond with the generosity and calmness and reassurance that will make them less anxious. But maybe they don’t care. Maybe I’m just projecting onto them.

The dog seems to be getting this whole “come when he’s called” thing and, best of all, he seems to really enjoy it. I know it can’t last or be counted on, but I’m enjoying it.

Also, I love this afghan so much. I feel very fortunate to have hit a string of afghans that give me great pleasure.

Jessi Zazu has cancer. The hits just keep on coming this year, I tell you what. I was watching her video where she talks about her diagnosis and shaves her head for her next round of chemo and I couldn’t help but feel like this is offensive, this cancer. Zazu is really trying to make the world a better place. She works so hard for her community. Her music is amazing. And she’s so young. There are so many old sacks of shit in this world. Let cancer take them.

I know I’m not alone in feeling this way about this year, but I feel like the things that are supposed to make us happy–a very wanted baby, for instance, or our friends and mentors–have been shown to be so easily stripped away. And that we’ve lost many of the people I would have turned to in order to make sense of our current moment as a nation and as a world. We’re going into this next year, these next four years, without the people I’ve counted on to make sense of this stuff.

To find beauty and meaning even in very dark days.

I feel like all these massive floodlights have burned out or are burning out and it’s just left to those of us who still have matches to light the way. As the song says, this little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine, but fuck if I know which way to shine it. Or if anyone can see it. Or if all I’m doing is giving away my position.