Shapes are Hard

Y’all, crocheting shapes is hard. My pyramid looks more like an ottoman (which may tell us something about world history, though I’m not sure what). My cube is saggy and my ball is lopsided. In like four different ways. I can’t decide if my mobile is going to be “charmingly rustic” or fucking terrifying. Euclidian geometry is over-rated, right?

See the elephant in this picture? That’s me about this stupid project.

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The next time I say I’m taking on the Anything-Industrial Complex, remind me of how defeated I’m feeling by this stupid mobile.

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Fox Ran Out on a Chilly Night

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At my sister-in-law’s request, I have made a tiny fox for the mobile. Now I’m kind of thinking I may just do these two animals and have them playing hide-and-seek around the shapes. Anyway, at the least, I need to get some of these shapes done.

I like the arm placement on the fox better than on the elephant, but god damn heads are hard to sew on. Both the fox and the elephant have their heads on crooked, but by the time I realized it, they were already pretty firmly damn attached.

I am relieved about Alabama, but I also can’t stop thinking of the women who defended Moore by telling about how their parents had let them date thirty year old men. I believe it. And I think it’s a continuation of one of the main cultural problems of the South–the culture preaches that children must obey and revere their parents who are worthy of glorification, while at the same time, the parents are doing really shitty things like selling their children’s playmates or half-siblings or giving grown-ass men access to them, or just in general valuing power and security over the well-being of the people in your household.

It’s not exactly internalized misogyny, more like internalized patriarchy–if my parents did it, it must be right; my own unease or the unease of others doesn’t matter.

And it’s insidious, because people rightly love their parents, often, even when their parents are shitty and dismantling this train of thought comes very close to telling people that their love for their parents is wrong.

But, damn, “well, my parents let me date a 30 year old when I was 14” is some fucked up shit. And not seeing that it’s fucked up is even more so.

Come at Me, Baby Mobile Industrial Complex

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I’ve been working on my shapes. In that pile there are the makings of a cube and the start of a pyramid. They’re green, because that’s the Butcher’s favorite color. But instead of finishing those two things up, I made a little elephant for the mobile. I think it turned out very cute.

I kind of wish his arms were up a little higher, but he’s going to hang from something or drape over something and it won’t be noticeable.

I have five hangy-down parts on the mobile. I’m kind of planning to do five shapes and five elephants and pose the elephants playing on the shapes. But I’m cutting it very close on time. I should just get the shapes done, but people, look how cute that elephant is!

It Starts to Come Together

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I genuinely can’t fucking tell if this is beautiful or a mess. I’m a little worried that the people it’s for will take it and smile and the shove it way in the back of their closet. But the thing I love about it, which I think is starting to be obvious at this point, is how those popcorn stitches are. There’s something about the that reminds me of my Grandma Phillips’s house, which makes no sense.

Also, a fun thing with this pattern is that I got to learn how to make backwards popcorn stitches. On the popcorn stitches in the triangles there. I actually like how they look a little better than regular popcorn stitches.

I also think the illusion of wovenness is really starting to come together nicely.

I don’t know if I’ll finish this today, because I have to do a lot of shopping, but it’ll definitely get done this week. Then I need to whoop up a baby mobile real quick before Christmas and then my projects are a baby blanket of roses, a Bauhaus rug style baby blanket, two mermaid tails. And it feels like I’m forgetting a kid’s thing I have to do, and then a rug for myself.

I have the yarn for an outstanding afghan after that and I’m hoping there will be enough left over that I can get a second afghan out of it to send to LA, assuming LA hasn’t burned down by then.

Then I have an awesome goth afghan to make, and another peacock afghan, and an afghan of skulls (she wants skull granny squares, but I found this lace skull pattern I think I’m going to do instead), an a pizza afghan, and two afghans I haven’t given much thought to yet. And I may see if the pizza afghan is sincere about that or wants something else.

I think all that will take me through the first half of 2018.

HVAC Day

I got a lot of crocheting done. My goal was to observe and keep the dog out of their hair, which left me much time for crocheting.

The dog was so good! He barked at first and tried to make everyone give him a million scratches but then he settled down and just chilled.

One of the guys called him a friendly polar bear and I swear Sonnyboy took it as a compliment. I’m like “you don’t even know what a polar bear is!” but he was like “I am super awesome.”

Anyway, here’s where the afghan is at this point:

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I genuinely can’t decide if it’s awesome or horrible. I also think putting it together is going to be a little bit of a bear, but we’ll see. I just have nine more triangles to go.

One thing I really like about the palette, though, is that it’s very busy, but it’s not too loud because the colors are pretty muted.

Another Weird Thing about Mobiles

I have been studying my enemy–the Baby Mobile-Industrial Complex–for clues as to how to shape a less expensive mobile for my nephew and another weird thing I noticed aside from how hella expensive they are is that, though the baby is underneath the mobile, most mobiles are cute from the angle their parents will see it at.

So, the arm I bought has five fingers from which to hang dangly things. My thought is to do five large simple shapes–like baseball size so that, if they fall off, he’s not in any danger of choking on them–that are easy for him to see and will look interesting from any angle.

But I also found some adorable patterns for smallish–like smaller than baseball sized but still bigger than his mouth–elephants and I’m tempted to try one and see how long they take. I know I can work up five simple shapes in an afternoon. But if the elephants are easy, I’m kind of tempted to work up five elephants as well and figure out how to attach them to the underside of the shapes. Like, it wouldn’t be that hard to take the sphere and work it into a hot air balloon and stick the elephant in the basket looking over the side down at the nephew.

I’m kind of waiting on the yarn to decide, but that’s what I’m leaning toward.

I’m Climbing Because I Can’t Fly

Today my middle nephew has to go through something awful and I’m a bundle of nerves for him. The whole thing is awful, but it’s compounded by the adults around him making a long series of decisions that stretch back years that didn’t put him and his well-being first. And now, he’s really being fucked over in ways that will impact him long-term.

And that sucks. And I truly hope he can hold out until he’s 18 and then he picks a good direction and heads that way and never looks back. I’d miss him, but, if it meant that he was safe, I’d wish him well.

Anyway, I’m back to the afghan that looks more like a series of UFOs than I anticipated. It has six of these big dohickies and each one takes just a hair longer to complete than I wish it did. But I love those long front-post stitches.

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Also, please note the cat licking his crotch in the background.

I’ve been thinking a lot about our earlier discussion, about opting out. I don’t have good thoughts about it yet, but I’m thinking a lot about it.

A thing I’m concerned about is the same thing I’m always concerned about–that old Maya Angelou adage that most people don’t want change, they want exchange. They just want to be the people on top for a while.

And this is my concern in the current moment. It can’t be enough to elect more women or hire more women if the women are just going to do what the men do, but slightly different.

I was talking to the Man from GM the other day who told me about a weird date he had with an ad exec and she spent the whole evening telling him about cars and how they work and what makes a good one. Like, not opinion things, which people have when they find out he designs and engineers car stuff, but actual “let me tell you about cars, sir” stuff. I laughed and told him he’d been mansplained.

But after I got off the phone, it nagged at me. I mean, it’s still mostly funny, but the world isn’t better if everyone’s arrogantly assuming that their opinions on things have as much or more value than the hard-earned knowledge of the expert.

That’s not change. That’s just exchange.

I can’t remember if I ever told you how the Man from GM got his job at GM. He was a freshman in college and GM had engineering students come tour the facilities and he was on one of those tours. The guy giving the tour asked if they wanted to see the new Corvette (this was back in the 1990s, when GM was working on a complete redesign of the Corvette). Of course they did.

So, off they go and there they are, standing before the prototype and the dude is telling them some stuff and pointing some stuff out, but basically, everyone is standing there ooo-ing and ahhh-ing politely. The Man from GM though is on his back, under the car, shouting out questions about what he sees.

He is the first student, ever, in all the tours where they’re shown the Corvette prototype, to get under the car. The dude running the tour tells him he has a job on his team when he graduates, if he wants it.

The Man from GM is obnoxious. Don’t get me wrong. The kid on his back shouting up questions from beneath a car while you’re trying to give a quick tour is obnoxious. But I still think a lot about how his enthusiastic, excited curiosity served him well. And as I get older, I think about how wise that tour-guide engineer was to recognize what an asset that enthusiastic, excited curiosity could be.

I don’t really have a way to tie this all up into a nice, thematic bow, so I guess I won’t try.

The Baby Mobile-Industrial Complex

My nephew is at the point where he would really enjoy a mobile. He likes to look up. He likes to look at things. He likes it when things are moving. And he likes noise.

So, I get online to see what a mobile for him would cost and they’re all like $40-$50! This wouldn’t have been so insulting, but my search also brought up a result for just the arm with the spinning and the music–less than $15. In essence, I’m paying $35 for five stuffed Christmas ornaments.

I can crochet five stuffed shapes.

So, I bought the arm and some cotton yarn and some stuffing and when it all gets here, I’m fucking making that kid a mobile for less than $25. Take that, Baby Mobile-Industrial Complex.

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I mean, look! He is ready for some mobile-watching action.

Baby Blanket Two Done

I finished this baby blanket. The outer border was weird but I like it. I just didn’t expect, with how much work the pattern does to keep the blanket laying relatively flat, that it would end with this purposefully frilly stuff. But it’s an easy pattern I got from Red Heart and I just ignored their color suggestions and did each round its own color.

I had one slight fuck-up, but a thing I’m glad about is that I’ve been crocheting long enough that I kind of know how to recover from fuck ups without having to undo everything.

I keep trying to reach the bottom of my burn-out, and I think, maybe, I finally have. At least, I listened to a book while I was working on this and I was able to pay attention to the whole thing.

I just feel like narrative has let me down, has fallen short of being enough to express this moment. All my stories feel like lies. All stories I hear feel like lies. I don’t watch TV any more. It feels like lies.

Crocheting is the truth. You either make a stitch or you don’t. You either recover sufficiently from a fuck-up so you can go on or you can’t. You’ve either made the thing or you haven’t. I’m very grateful to have something that honest in my life that I can do.

Another Fancy Baby Blanket

This one isn’t done, but it’s coming along.

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This yarn just makes everything look super fantastic. I feel a little awkward about it because it makes everything look super complicated and like I’m super talented, but if you look closely, you can see that the most complicated thing in here so far is the front post work. Everything else is really straightforward stitch work and the most complicated part is just keeping the count right.

I also got my first look at the layout for the chapbook. It’s very exciting.

I think I’m boring, but I mean that in a good way. I spent my weekend doing exactly what I wanted and I feel happy and rested and ready for my week. I feel very lucky.

I still think either the pattern is wrong about how to do those slip-stitch rounds or the picture on the pattern is wrong, but I did the first one how it said to, so I did the second one how it said to.

Lost Hook

My plan was to spend a nice evening working on my squares for this afghan and I finished one up and started to work on the next and then, for some reason I don’t remember, I had to get up from the couch. So, I set the square on the arm of the couch and the hook slid out and down and…

I swear, I thought I heard it hit the floor. But I pulled the couch halfway across the living room and I moved the side table and it was not there. I went through the cushions of the couch on the off chance… I don’t know… that it had slid the other way and somehow made that noise?

But it’s just utterly vanished. I even went through the garbage can.

I then left out a small glass of triple sec in case the hook went missing due to shenanigans, but it wasn’t returned, so I guess it wasn’t anything cool and supernatural that caused it to disappear. I’m super bummed. I’m only five squares away from being done with this afghan and I can’t move forward until I get a new hook.

But I did go to the doctor yesterday and everything is fine. She tried to lay the groundwork for me accepting that I may need to be on the sertraline from here on out, but I’m not worried about it. I mean, it’s helped. A lot. If my brain just needs it, fine. Need away, brain. I don’t feel like there’s something wrong with helping what can be helped.

And I have weird thoughts, you know? Like part of me is convinced that I lost my hook–and thus couldn’t do the relaxing thing I like to do in the evenings–because I told my parents I’m not coming up there for Thanksgiving. Like I’m being punished for disappointing them. That’s not a sane thought.

Anyway, I’m going to check and see if I have another hook that size in my secret stash of crochet stuff.

Too Many Projects

I’ve been making this baby blanket:

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And when my skeins get too low to make a whole round, I’ve been working on this other baby blanket for my other coworker:

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It’s a free pattern I got off Red Heart, but it’s using that fancy Dutch yarn. The pattern calls for a round of slip stitches at one point, but worked only in the front loop of the stitch. I thought this was weird, because, if you look at the image of the afghan included with the pattern, those slip stitches lay flat, which has to mean that they’re worked in both loops.

I did what the pattern called for, rather than what I knew made sense and, I have to say, it’s weird, but I like it. It frames that inner part nicely.

Anyway, I ran completely out of yarn, so I couldn’t work on either afghan until my new order came in. So, I started work on my next grown-up afghan, which looks like a space ship. Or maybe like the top of a carousel.

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From looking at other examples online, I think the colored bands are supposed to have a slightly woven effect, which I feel like is also happening here. I don’t know if that will be true once it’s washed or not, though.

And I even got a little fiction written. Which made me feel better about the state of the world, even if I’m kind of looking like some kind of yarn hoarder at the moment.

Family Portrait

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These are the six squares I have done so far for the baby blanket I’m working on. Only the upper right one has been even remotely blocked, which is why its inner part look so much better than the others. But they will all look that nice in the end. I’m really pleased with how this is going.

I might try a front-facing seam on this afghan just because I’m curious to try one and I think that, with this afghan, what’s one more decorative element?

I’m glad I have something beautiful I can make while the world goes to shit. Returns to shit.Whatever the fuck is happening here.

Crochet Advice

So, I’ve never crocheted with cotton before, at least not that I can recall. This baby blanket is a cotton/acrylic mix.

On the one hand, if I block it, it will look nice when I give it to the parents.

On the other hand, will they have to block it every time they wash it to get it to look right?

The label says I can just toss it in the dryer, so I’m tempted to just… um… toss it in the dryer and see what comes of it.

Not that I’m anywhere near that far, but I’m also very much enjoying fretting about this project.

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Crochet Stuff

It’s all I can do to not stay home from work and make this baby blanket. It’s just so satisfying. It’s hard but not so hard that it’s frustrating. Each round makes the motifs more beautiful and interesting to look at. And I’m genuinely excited to see how it turns out.

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I have a bunch of kids’ stuff I need to do, but my next adult project is an afghan for the black dog’s family. I have been floundering around trying to find the perfect pattern for them. I want something cool and special and beautiful, but I’ve been dissatisfied. I chucked the yarn I had for the project and bought new yarn. I had a pattern picked out but I kept searching through patterns at lunch, so I knew I wasn’t happy, even if I’d talked myself into believing I was.

The size of the squares these motifs are, if you use worsted weight yarn, is 12 inches across. So I could make the same twenty block afghan I’m making as a baby blanket at adult size. I had settled on that and was feeling pretty good about it. After all, these are fun and my yarn is good, so why not?

But then I found it–the afghan I want to make them. And it’s fucking amazing.

So, I’m happy.

The Stairs

Yesterday the elevator was being serviced, so I used the stairs. I did not have a panic attack. I did not need anyone to hold my hand.

I can’t really describe to you how it makes me feel, to have lost the ability to do something and then, maybe (I’m going to take the stairs again today) regained it.

Also, because his collar is too big for him, the dog slipped off his tether last night. Moments later, I found him at the back door. And it made me so happy. Because I really want him to understand that, if something happens, he should come back here.

I ordered some new yarn for an upcoming afghan and the place I ordered it from had to send me part of the order from their UK warehouse. It arrived before the US part, so I went to talk to Angela at the Whites Creek Post Office about it and she had my yarn! The package had been damaged so she made me take pictures and then open it to see if anything was missing.

It contained three extra skeins of yarn. So… that was weird and nice. Oh, my package tore open and someone stuffed more yarn into it?

I’m loving this pattern I’m learning for the baby blanket so much, I have pretty much decided that I’m going to just use it for the big blanket, too. I mean, why go to the trouble of learning how to use two different hooks on the same square if you don’t do it at least twice?

Bah

I spent yesterday being a grown up–cleaning up cat piss, cleaning the bathroom, cleaning the kitchen, turning in another draft of my big story, getting a thing lined up here for Halloween, some other crap that I can’t remember now. So, I rewarded myself by starting this baby blanket, which I’ve been a tiny bit afraid may be too tough for me. It involves… sport weight yarn!!!! And you have to use TWO DIFFERENT SIZED HOOKS!!!

I’m doing all my same rounds at once. So, since it’s going to be 20 squares, I did twenty first rounds and two second rounds. The first second round was super tricky, but I think I have the hang of it.

And this yarn! Egads.

Okay, I’ve Changed My Mind

I really love how this is looking.

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I have all the vertical rows connected, but only that top horizontal row. I like the little hint of green at the corners.

I had a dream last night that I had gotten a chance to interview “Mrs. May” about the JCC bombing and I went to this ritzy old folks home that, in my dream, I had been to before for some reason and thought I knew well, but I couldn’t find her apartment, 167. So, I was late and finally I found a front desk to ask and they sent me across this courtyard. But there wasn’t anything on the other side of the courtyard.

Then a flash of something caught my eye and I realized that there were, in fact, these mirrored buildings in front of me, that looked invisible because the trees around them were reflected in them.

So I found her building and I went to knock on her door and again, there was nothing in front of me. At which point, I realized “Oh, I’m dreaming. This is a dream. So, just roll with it.” I reached forward and my hand hit something. I knocked. And her door opened and it was just a normal small apartment inside. At which point, I thought, “Okay, so this isn’t a dream, because this is real. I must just be stressed from being late and lost and disoriented because I’ve been so tired this week.”

Y’all, I realized I was dreaming and then I talked myself out of it.

Anyway, she told me what she knew about the bombing, which wasn’t anything more than I did. But she did keep telling me to talk to… someone… she had a nickname for her, which I can’t now for the life of me remember. A black woman who, I got the feeling, had been Mrs. May’s housekeeper. She also repeatedly said the real name of this woman, but whenever she said it, it sounded like she was mumbling.

So, I was really glad that I was recording everything on my phone, so I could get back here and try to make that name out.

Then she proceeded to tell me how “they”–a bunch of people from The Temple, I think–had just been together at a dinner the night before talking about the bombing and who they thought did it and that nice reporter was there from the paper.

At which point, I was like, “Motherfucker, I will be so pissed if someone from the Tennessean is also working on this.”

Then she showed me a paper. I thought it was going to be the paper, today’s edition, with the story of all these old people sitting around talking about the bombing.

But it was from 1975.

Y’all, it wasn’t until I was out on my walk with Sonnyboy this morning that I thought to wonder if “Mrs. May” was really dead.

Anyway, so, that was weird. And I did check Newspapers.com. No story matching my story from that year.

Purple Afghan

I’m a little worried it’s not quite as gorgeous as I’d planned on. And I wanted the little pops of green to be, perhaps, not so little, but a thing the photo doesn’t do justice to is just how comfy a vibe the thing gives off in person. I hope that continues to be the case when I get it all put together. It feels more like a huge flat sweater than an afghan so far. In person, looking at this afghan fills you with an overwhelming desire to touch it and put it on your body somehow.

And that same jade green is also going to be the border, so it won’t be completely lost on the front and it does give the back some nice visual interest when it might otherwise be very bland.

Afghan Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

Rug Yarn

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

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

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

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

This Dog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Come Together, Right Now, Over Me

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

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

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