More Stars

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Yes, the cat photobombed my afghan picture.

I remain concerned about how wide this is. I’m also not 100% in love with how I did the gradient (though, since this is the first time I made this, I was bound to not be great at it). But I still love it and I hope the blue parts will make it come together in ways I find satisfying.

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Stars Upon Thars

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This is one quarter of the stars for this afghan and yet, I still feel like I am working on getting it set up so that it’s easier to work on. I’m also pleased and relieved that, as I get more starts attached, it’s shrinking up some. I was starting to worry that ten  by twelve was going to be just ridiculously enormous, but when everything is attached and pulls against each other, it’s okay.

The biggest challenge is really just keeping the thing somewhat flat on my body as I work so that I don’t attach stars to the wrong things. But in general, I’m pleased with it. Orange next, and then red. Then I’ll probably need a little purple to finish it off. Then I’ll fill the holes. And then a border. I don’t even want to think about how to border this yet.

The challenge is definitely going to be in the border.

The Next Art Blanket

I can’t remember if I said, but all these hand-dyed blankets that weren’t for nieces and nephews are for some of my local artist friends. The one I just finished is for Julie Sola of Fat Crow Press.

This next one is for Lesley Patterson-Marx. I had thought it was going to be a blanket of flowers, but tell me these don’t look like stars?

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I think I’m going to do the stars in fire colors–yellows, oranges, reds. I mean, they can be flowers, too, if they want. Whatever the viewer needs. And then fill the gaps between them in sky colors.

And that technique that I learned for the flat braid join is serving me really well for joining these stars/flowers. It really looks like they’re wrapped together instead of stuck to each other. I’m very happy with it so far. But there will be 120 star/flowers, so get back to me after this drags on.

Ha ha.

You Guys!

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I finished the afghan I’ve been dying yarn for all summer! And it is both as beautiful as I envisioned and better.

I wanted to say more about it, but I’ve just been distracted–right now–staring at the picture. The pattern is Julie Yeager’s “Fantastic.” The middle of each motif is a little of the Queen Anne’s Lace, which I really loved the smell of. That bright deep pink is the pokeberry, which, fingers crossed, won’t fade or, if it does, will fade in interesting ways. And the brown in all the motifs is that walnut, somehow looking darker here, because it’s magic.

I also love that it looks like dresses spinning or wagon wheels turning or big Victrola bells. Somehow, to me, it just looks like a party with music.

I hope Julie likes it. I’m very, very happy with it.

Yarn Difficulties

Do I stay home and finish the last round on these beauties?

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Or first trek to Murfreesboro to the fiber festival and then come home and put the last round on these guys?

I really, really love how beautiful these are.

I was thinking this morning, while walking the dog, what would a person have to charge if she was going to sell this afghan? I probably have $90 in yarn. The Kool-aid, food coloring, and vinegar, maybe $10. It’s the labor costs that would sink you. It’s just really time intensive.

I guess that’s why I’ve been thinking of these hand-dyed afghans as art first. Like, yes, they are functional art, but you could buy an item with the same function for a lot less.

Plus, there’s just the sense I have of the number I’d have to hear to be willing to do this as a task instead of as something I want to do. I’d make another afghan like this for someone I didn’t know–couldn’t be identical, because I can’t replicate it–for $1,000, I think. Otherwise, I’m going to follow my whims to the next afghan, you know?

But that’s an art price. Which isn’t to say that any afghan like this–locally-sourced hand-dyes on wool–is worth $1,000 or could be sold for $1,000. That’s just want it would take to change my plans for what comes next.

And I’m already slightly changing those plans. I thought I’d do the copper penny afghan next, but I still have so much yarn from this afghan in the way that I think I have to do the flower one–which is going to use up a lot (or hopefully all) of this yarn–next so that I have room for the copper penny one.

Late in the Year

I’m late getting started on my usual nine nights. But tonight’s the night for opening wide the door so tonight I’ll get on it. I think I also resent how little I’ve been able to enjoy one of my favorite times of the year. I’m just a seething ball of resentment.

On the other hand, I got all my second-to-the-last rows done on my squares.

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The pieces of yarn are to mark the corners so that when I do the fancy, puffy round, I don’t miss them. It’s an excellent tip I got on YouTube. I think I’m going to do a braided join, even though they’re kind of hard and a huge yarn hog. They’re just really beautiful and I want this afghan to be beautiful and have a lot of visual interest even if it starts to fade over time.

Sad and Tired

I think the thing I resent most about the work situation at the moment is that I should still be floating on air and thinking about a professional wrestler introducing me and just basking in the glow of that good fun.

And instead I’m up all night fretting about work and wondering what I could be doing differently to alleviate my stress.

And I forgot to show you my first complete square:

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How cute is that?! I love it so much.

Five Left

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Every day this week, I have come home and thrown myself into the making of this afghan because I need something beautiful and I need to feel like I am capable and have good ideas.

It’s not possible in real life to have as much done on this afghan in as few a days as I have it done, but I’m clinging to how happy it makes me that this is even better than I had planned, how it works and looks good and will be so satisfying to see done.

And Now There Are Twelve

I went back and did another round of pokeberry. I just love it so much. I really hope it’s fairly colorfast, because, whew, I like it. I’m really hoping that a benefit of this design will be that, even if/as colors fade, it will still look nice.

Work continues to be terrible and heartbreaking and hard. I’m really ready for things to settle back down. I feel like I’m barely holding it together.

Which is not a great feeling when you need to be exciting and charismatic in order to sell your own chapbook coming out next week.

My doorbell rang at three in the morning, Saturday night/Sunday morning. I was up, with my glasses on, my phone in hand, and my body positioned so the door wouldn’t open more than a few inches without the person on the other side having to push my whole weight before I was even remotely awake.

Like I’d trained for what to do when a stranger comes to your door in the middle of the night my whole life.

Which, I guess, is a way I’ve always been. I feel weak and incompetent, but in the moment, I usually know what to do and can handle myself. I just fall apart afterward. And before. If I’m being honest.

But in the case of work, the “during” has been so long that I’m crumbling.

Anyway, at my door, it was a woman. She was cold. She’d been walking for six hours. Her car broke down. The whole thing was sketchy as fuck. She wanted to come in. I asked her if I could call someone for her. I ended up talking to “Darryl,” her friend’s husband. He was confused and pissed and he told me she didn’t even have a car. Which made her even more sketchy. But he said he’d come get her, if she kept walking. He had a kind voice, so I shut the door and locked it and went back to bed.

I hope she ended up somewhere safe.

Two More

There’s just so much I like about these, but I think one of the reasons I’m most tickled is that one of the things I enjoy about looking at Julie’s art in person is that there’s a lot of repetition. Like, here’s a crow on a blue flowery background. Here’s that same crow, but on a green swirly background. Here’s that blue flowery background again, but this time with a rabbit on it. And so on.

And I feel like this afghan is going to capture that. Each motif is unique. I’m not using the same yarn combinations in the same order on any of them. But the shape is the same. The Queen Anne’s Lace in the middle is the same. The walnut is the same.

It’s really fun and satisfying to try to do a project that captures what you like and how you feel about another artist’s work in a different medium.

And, man, making something beautiful when you’re down in the dumps is a real gift to yourself. I’ll just say that.

I Did It!

I didn’t go to the thrift store. I didn’t do the dishes. I didn’t clean up the kitchen. I didn’t do any laundry.

Instead, I made these:

So far, this is everything I’d hoped it would be. And I can get  six motifs per skein of walnut yarn, which means I will have plenty to do the borders of each square how I want. Which makes me happy.

The all purple one in the lower left is the pokeberry.

I also discovered that, given time, the blue from the black beans and the blue from the indigo aren’t the same color anymore. Which is nice for my project, but it does give me some qualms about the black bean blue, but I’m trying to do each motif in such a way that, if someone fades, it won’t ruin the motif.  I’m looking at you, black bean blue. But I also have concerns about the pokeberry. If it really is colorfast, why wasn’t everything in 18th century America that color?

The Start

These are the start of the afghan I’ve been planning all summer. I have so much to do today, but I really just want to sit on the couch and make more of these. I just love this so much.

Sometimes I worry that doing rainbow colors is too hokey, that it’s cheating as a way to get out of having a color scheme, but this time, I don’t even care.

They look like wagon wheels or twirling skirts or flowers in an old timey movie. Windows in a church built by a quilting bee.

The only tricky thing is that I’m going to have to humble myself and either do my color combinations in the daylight or take everything into the bathroom where the light is best to pick colors, because I swear, last night, that one on the right was two oranges and a red, but in the daylight, it’s clearly one orange and two reds. Still beautiful, but just something to be aware of.

Doing Things I Meant to Do a While Ago

I finished this afghan, which I don’t have a picture of yet, because I’m not going to spend any time this morning figuring out why my computer is being a dingus.

I ordered a cake for the event at Third Man Records on the 28th (4 p.m., if you want to come out!) and the baker asked me if the crawdads could be wearing luchador masks, so you know I ordered from the right place.

And I went to the new state museum. It was glorious. I cried a little bit. I can’t wait to go back.

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They had Eliza Allen’s parlor guitar! That’s lasted a ton longer than her marriage to Sam Houston. It just goes to show, ladies, put your heart in music, not love.

They also have this really fascinating early Klan robe.

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It’s pretty fascinating to me that it seems to borrow from Masonic imagery. The crescent moon over the star looks very Shriners-esque. But I’m most fascinated by the hood. It reminds me of a mummer’s outfit or the headgear from Courir de Mardi Gras.

The Courir de Mardi Gras Wikipedia page goes to great lengths to disassociate their costumes from the Klan, noting that it’s much older. But I’m assuming, if there is influence, that it flowed the other way: the Klan took on the trappings of the Courir de Mardi Gras hoods.

I’m going to have to give some more thought to it, but there’s something intriguing–maybe some meat on the bone there–about wondering if the Klan is/was some kind of inversion ceremony, though running the opposite way–where instead of poor people mocking and charming the rich, this is about powerful people mocking and terrorizing those without power.

I’ll have to think on it.

 

Walnut Magic

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This is sort of the brown I’m ending up with, it looks like. My camera is having a really hard time with the color. And for good reason–the color is strange. If I were to tilt my hand back and forth when holding the wool like this, you’d see it change hue. Hold it one way, it looks really light. Hold it another way, it looks really dark. And it’s definitely got to do with the direction of the yarn, not the light. I still have some of the pokeberry yarn in the bathroom (don’t judge; I told you work has been a nightmare) and holding them together and moving my hand doesn’t produce the same color-shifting in the pokeberry.

It’s definitely something peculiar to the walnut.

Here’s another shot.

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It’s definitely not that dark, kind of somewhere between the two, but I thin this one gives you a different hint of how the color shifts. Those aren’t light patches in the yarn. If the yarn were pulled straight, you’d see a uniform color. Those lighter spots are, I think, because of the fact that that part is at a slightly different angle.

I need an art scientist to explain this to me. It’s as if everything else I’ve dyed with has been flat, so the color behaves how I expect in different lights, but this dye is… I don’t know… 3D? Like just moving it a little causes the light to hit it and reflect in different ways. Like the walnut imparted into the yarn a kind of facet-ness?

Which I assume must have something to do with the shape of the molecules that are giving the yarn its color, right? Something in the yarn now is tiny and shiny?

Anyway, walnut. I am excited to do more.

Poking at It

We had a disaster at work yesterday. It was already not going well and then our big project arrived and it was utterly fucked. I am giddy with despair. We’ll see what happens today, if it can be unfucked in time for all the events we have planned. Fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, I have been dying with my first batch of walnuts.

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This is how it went in the oven.

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This is how it came out of the oven–brown but not the deep, rich brown I was hoping for.

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This is it back in the oven, trying for a darker brown. The thing about food-safe dyes–like Kool-aid or food coloring–is that they’re going to look very similar dry to how they look wet, just lighter, perhaps a little more muted.

But with the natural dyes, there’s a whole oxidation stage. Like, with food-safe dyes, once the yarn is cool, you can just wash it. There’s nothing to be done between “dyeing” and “drying” except waiting for it to cool. But natural dyes can change dramatically–as we saw with the cabbage dyes–once air hits them. Same is true with indigo. Same is true with walnut.

I assume the same is true with pokeberry. I mean, I didn’t see any dramatic changes, but I left it hanging for a while in the air in case it was doing something.

When the walnut oxidizes, to me, it looks like there’s a stage when it takes on kind of a silvery sheen and then gets a little lighter, a little darker, and then a little lighter again. In other words, you basically have to let it dry, unrinsed, to see what color you’re going to get.

It’s pretty fascinating.

The Cuteness Continues

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You guys, how is this real?! It’s so beautiful and cute. Girly, but the kind of girly she can go goth with if she needs to in her teen years. The little dots from the join are wonderful. The way the orange dotted around on the border is wonderful.

I’m so proud of this.

It’s hard to express how satisfying it is to have a vague idea, put it into practice, and then have it turn out far better than you imagined. It feels like I’m having a conversation with the Universe. I bring what I have to the table and It brings… well… I won’t know until we get to working together. But usually, it’s amazing.

The Cuteness!

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I have all my squares done. I still love the purple background the best, but I’m very pleased with all of them. Sometimes it’s nice to do something simple and beautiful.

I’m doing the same join I did on the wedding afghan for my cousin–the single crochet, but going through all loops.

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Look at the adorable dots it’s giving me! Lord, I’m finding this afghan so satisfying. I assume that means she’ll hate it. Ugh.

Nerves

I’m nervous about flying. I’m nervous about finding my way to the hotel. I’m basically nervous about everything. I’m even nervous about the Butcher staying here and watching the house, as if he didn’t live here.

But I’m also excited.

Here’s how the afghan for my niece is going:

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I think the ones with the purple backgrounds are my favorite. Everything looks like weird moons in a strange sky. But I’m betting she’ll like the pink ones best.

I think I’m on track for having it done in time for her birthday.

More Afghan Squares

Look at this one!

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That purple just makes a really fabulous background to the rest of the yarn.

I have so much to get done today, so of course I woke up late. I’m trying to decide if I need my CPAP for one night, or if I can leave it here and travel very, very lightly. I was glad to have it in Birmingham, but I went to Birmingham in my own car. The hassle of trying to figure out how to get distilled water in North Carolina leaves me feeling less than excited about messing with it.

But, hey, I’m traveling for work. That’s fun.

Hope for the Future

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This yarn is so beautiful, I can’t stand it. The purple is amazing, with the bluer parts and the pinker parts. The orange is bright and friendly, but also, how it pairs with the purple is a little mysterious somehow. And a tiny girl dyed that yarn.

Also, I really love the fuck out of the yarn. That’s Wool of the Andes Peruvian Highland wool in worsted weight. It dyes up very nicely and look at how beautiful my stitches look. I like how well it works for showing off the personality of the dyes.

Did I have this kind of inherent talent when I was four? I think I must have. I think we all must. And yet somewhere along the way, I feel like a lot of us lose the confidence in our ability to make beauty that brings us joy. We link art and creativity with suffering.

But it doesn’t start that way.

Look How Cute This Is!

My plan was to just do thirty circle squares, but I think that’s going to be too small (even though she is, as she reminds me, just a little girl) and I think I’m going to have plenty of yarn, so now my plan is to do the thirty circle squares and then thirty regular squares and checkerboard them.

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Baby Blankets Galore

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I tucked my ends on all three afghans last night. Now I just need to throw them in the wash. I love all three of them for different reasons. The top one has a really nice weight to it. If that baby doesn’t feel cuddled when wrapped up in it, I don’t even know.

I like the modifications I made to the pattern for the second one–turning it into a rectangle, modifying the tops of the shells so they laid flatter.

And then I just love the fuck out of the pattern for the third afghan. So simple, but so good looking.

Now I’m ready to get started on the hand-dyed afghans. First up is my smallest niece:

There she is with the yarn we dyed at the beginning of the month. There’s the yarn after I wound it last night. And there’s my first square. Look how good that looks! I can’t wait to see how the rest of the yarn works up.

Lovely, Boring Weekend

I told the Butcher that I have come to believe that, even though they serve the same purpose, cardboard boxes are clutter and wicker baskets are storage. So, I’m getting some baskets to put my yarn in.

I’m also just madly in love with this pattern.

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It’s so, so very satisfying. I’m going to use it again. I even voluntarily added picots!

My parents’ asshole friend’s cancer has returned. It probably returned six months ago when he first started having new medical problems, but he decided to play “fuck around all summer” and only now when to the doctor.

I’m deeply conflicted because I, in general, believe you have the right to neglect yourself to death. But when you have a wife who depends on you and friends who love you, it does feel like you have an obligation to do your best to be present for them. So, I’m kind of pissed at him for breaking my parents’ hearts. Which, granted, is not fair.

And then I wonder why they’re friends with this asshole in the first place. But you know, it’s because that’s what they’re willing to find acceptable in a friendship. They think it’s okay to be treated that way. And, truth be told, to treat others that way.

So, there you go.

Hand-Dyed Afghans

I just have to finish up this baby blanket and then I think I’m ready to get started on the hand-dyed afghans.

I’m going to do the three kids’ blankets first, because they should be fairly easy to knock out and they’re ready to go.

Then I have three artists’ blankets: Julie, Jennifer, and Lesley.

Julie’s is dyed with all the stuff from my life and it’s waiting on walnut season. I also think I’m going to redye the pokeberry because, whew, this late in pokeberry season, I’m kind of thinking I might get a fuchsia instead of a pink. But I think what I’m going to do for the walnuts is get an aluminum pan from the store, the kind with really high sides, like you’d put a turkey in and I’m going to put the yarn and the walnuts and some water all in there and stick it in the oven. That should give me a very similar color over all the skeins and it means I’ll be dyeing on one day, once, instead of all week. This is the square I’m going to use for that afghan, though, obviously, in my hand-dyed colors.

Then for Jennifer, I’m going to do all the copper yarn I dyed. That’s also ready to go, in the amount the pattern calls for. Here’s the pattern I’m going to use. I’m not sure how it will work, but my plan is to go from the most teal on the insides to the most copper on the outsides of each motif. I think it’s going to be amazing, but I’m a little nervous.

My plan is to do Lesley’s last with the yarn I have left over from the previous five blankets and with this yarn I picked up last weekend, because, damn.

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But also, real talk, these three skeins of yarn cost me the same as what it costs me to get ten skeins of undyed yarn. Just economically, if I want to do projects that are hand-dyed, I need to do the dyeing myself.

That’s going to be a little trickier because what I want to do is transform this table runner into an afghan. On the one hand, it will be simple enough. Just add more motifs. But how to border it? I’m going to have to think really hard about the lessons I learned from the sunflower afghan.