No One Ever Needs to Set Out to Discover Why Granny Squares are so Popular

Months. Long, hard months involving tears:

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Two weeks:

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And I even learned a good way to make picots:

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So, there’s your answer. They’re easy to learn. They go quickly. They look fantastic. Anything where you can have fabulous success early on is going to be hugely popular.

Also, I suspect, if someone calls you up and says, “Grandma, I need an afghan for the TV show I’m in the crew on,” this is what Grandma can work you up on a moment’s notice.

This Afghan is Humbling

So, I put together my outside squares and… it’s too big. Even though I counted repeatedly and thought these squares were 27 stitches wide, which is pretty damn close to the 30 stitches of the other squares, they’re 37.

How did I fuck up COUNTING?! Counting? It’s barely math. Dogs can count.

Here’s what I think I’m going to have to do. I’m going to take a square out of each side of the outside round.

It makes me daunted to even think about it. I know it can be done, but damn.

Also, then, my plan is to figure out the middle point on each side and mark it so that I can adjust all along the side and not have a bunch of stitches that don’t match at the end.

I have also considered lighting the afghan on fire, tossing out the outside row and just putting a border on what I have done, tossing out everything inside the outside row and just filling the the border with some simple stitch that doesn’t make me cry, and moving to a country where yarn doesn’t exist.

But I’m going to try fixing it first.

Because of Course

I don’t think the guy I’m supposed to be meeting today is going to come through. I don’t have a time and he hasn’t called me back.

I ran out of red yarn for this afghan. I still have twelve squares and connecting everything to go. So, that made me laugh.

I’ve started this join-as-you-go afghan. It’s my first. If it turns out as cute as it is so far, it won’t be my last. I’m using Red Heart’s new self-striping yarn and so far it’s really beautiful.

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I met S.’s son yesterday. He looks like Bruce Willis. Maybe all babies look a little like Bruce Willis.

I have made the mistake of falling in love with a kitchen floor. I hope my contractor says he can do it.

I finally have how to do those red squares in my head. But I don’t see how I get up to Goodlettsville before Saturday to get more. I’m going to be real pissed if I have to reteach myself those squares. On the other hand, only twelve more!

The Kitchen, The Horror

When I was a little girl, I always wanted to live in a Victorian mansion, with the gingerbread detailing and a turret and big old floor to ceiling windows. My Grandma Phillips always scoffed at this dream and told me what I wanted was to live in a new house that looked like a Victorian mansion.

I thought she was unfairly killing my dream of happiness.

Yesterday, the crew came over to figure out why my kitchen floor is buckling. The answer goes like this. One, the plastic hose on my fridge has a slow leak. But, while that would be enough to rot the floor under the fridge after years, and has, that’s not the whole answer. The whole answer goes like this–at some point they put linoleum tiles down on the hardwood in the kitchen. Directly down. This was the equivalent of basically putting a layer of plastic wrap on top of the floor. Humidity from the crawlspace rises up into the wood of the kitchen floor and it can’t escape into the house where the air conditioner can deal with it, because of the barrier. Except that water can still seep down into the wood through any leaks.

Then, at some point, they put a layer of plywood down and then linoleum on top of that.

When they pulled everything up, my house smelled like rain. The original hardwood just opened up and let out all the moisture. Before I went to bed last night, it was still cool and damp to the touch.

So, I need a whole new floor. On the other hand, my book review doesn’t suck as much as I thought it did and I got four squares done because I was sitting around here all afternoon.

Still, I have a new appreciation for Grandma Phillips’s love of new construction. You can’t find in a new house sixty years worth of kitchen floor damage.

But if we look at one of these long enough, maybe we can forget about the other.

Changing Paths

I have switched outer squares. I admitted to myself that I didn’t like the flower square I was making because the flower was too small and my idea of just filling it out with other, different flower squares was supposed to mask my unhappiness with the square.

There’s probably a lesson there. But I’m going to try real hard not to learn it.

I did, however, find a square I like that I think will make a fine outer loop. Also, it’s pretty “border”y, so that will let me have a simple border for the whole thing:

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Reasons I like it (even if the edges aren’t looking exactly straight here). It’s got kind of pokey features similar to the interior motif. It’s got open areas like the interior motif. It’s got a roundness to it that reminds me of the other square and, like the other square, it’s built on eight repeats in each round. And it’s got dimension without being too heavy. And the flower is nice and huge. Plus! Popcorn stitches.

I also think I have solved the dog’s flea problem. I can’t find any evidence that anyone else is having problems with the Serestro collar, so I don’t think it’s that fleas have developed an immunity to it. But what are the chances I’d get two collars in a row that would fink out?

So, this morning, I scrutinized Sonnyboy. He had no fleas near the collar or on his head or neck. None on his upper shoulders. And then, beyond his harness, on his back and back end, a ton of fleas. So, if the collar is working on the front end, why isn’t it working on the whole dog?

After our walk this morning, I took off his harness.

I don’t know why that should matter, but my fingers are crossed.

Also, my dad went to the doctor and he is cleared to drive again. His doctor thinks it was just some cartilage breaking loose, so he’s got a cane and hopefully can limp along until his scheduled surgery.

Oops

Well, dear readers, I didn’t need to worry about the strange size of the outer square because I fucked it up! But now! Now that I understand how I fucked it up, I have an interesting (to me at least) quandary.

Now that I better understand how to construct these flowers, do I do an outer ring only of this particular version or should I go through my whole motif book and do a bunch of different flowers? I’m leaning toward the latter, because the rest of the afghan is so repeaty. I think I have room for some variation here.

Anyway, fucked up on the left. Right on the right.

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Red/Read

Yesterday I didn’t even get out of my pajamas. It was too hot to walk the dog and I was just emotionally drained so I read some in this book I’m reviewing for Chapter 16–which so far is so good that I’m continually stunned at the author’s ability to get really complicated ideas across in a straight-forward and engaging way–and worked on this afghan.

So, the outer loop came together how I thought it would.

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And I am still really in love with that outer square. So easy and yet it looks so complex and lacy. But my concern was that I didn’t want the middle part of the afghan to be too distorted by connecting it to that ring of squares. So, I needed a join that would both connect both pieces fairly snugly while not stretching the outside rows of small squares without me having to tuck another ten thousand ends.

I settled on a chain-one join.

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You do a single crochet on one piece, chain one, then do a single crochet on the other piece. I’m not in love with it, but I’ve convinced myself it’s not too bad. Here’s how the whole thing looks:

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And from this perspective, the join doesn’t stand out, which is all I can ask of it. But I was feeling daunted because the outer ring, if you remember, is supposed to be those big old three-d flowers and I was like, god damn it, I’m going to have to come up with another join that makes me want to pay someone else to do it, because that square is yet another size.

But, y’all, if I just don’t do the last round in this square (or take the last round off this square, as the case may be), then it’s the same size as the squares I already have. No fancy join necessary, just my usual. Whew.

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I am a little bit worried about how the afghan is weighted. You don’t normally see ones that are so lacy in the middle and then more solid on the outsides. Usually, it’s solid middles, lacy borders. But I like it, so fuck it.

Red is the Color of My True Love, Yarn

This red afghan is still my whole heart at the moment. I keep worrying that it’s too busy, that maybe it should have just been a large, plain thing that would let you soak in this red and not have to focus on anything but the color of it.

But, argh, I love each square so much. And this second batch of squares seems to be going pretty quickly. I need 24 and I already have 8. I’m a little curious to see how fitting them together with the first squares will go, but I know two big squares fit 3 little squares. I just need a join with some flexibility because the little squares don’t have a flat edge. I was thinking about doing that join I did for the baby blanket, where you do a double crochet in each side, but I’m wondering if there’s such a thing as a chain stitch join that would give the join the flexibility of the double crochet join without taking up that much space.

But I’m most worried about how to transition from those medium squares to the large squares. I think my plan for the moment is to get the medium squares done and attached to the small squares and then to do the outer ring of large squares. This would give me the dimensions of the gap I need to fill between the medium squares and the large squares. Then I might just fill it with double crochets. We’ll see.

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Red Afghan, Red Afghan

I have made a terrible mistake with this afghan. Not a crocheting error but a philosophical mistake. The middle of this afghan is 54 lacy squares that attach to each other with ten stitches, five on each side of a gap. Which means each side of the square has four ends to tuck.

This square has convinced me of the importance of Join-as-You-Go, which is not a skill I have (yet). I’m not sure how it would have worked on these squares, but my god, it could not have been stupider than this.

Still, it looks good and I love this red so much.

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Lifeguard

Last night we went to a friend’s wedding (and, y’all, her dress was adorable and perfect for an outdoor wedding AND IT HAD POCKETS and I died of jealousy and delight at that dress and then was revived by barbecue) and it was full of children.

The child I was sitting next to was trying to decide if dogs have a tooth fairy (no) and she was alarmed that the tooth fairy only ever brought me quarters. The tooth fairy brought her a doll with fairy dust on it, but the fairy dust did to make her fly (the girl, not the doll), which was kind of a bummer.

I tried to argue that it was for the best, because how could her mom come and rescue her if she was flying around and needed help.

Ah, but she thought her mom would be excellent at flying rescues, because she had been a lifeguard.

I don’t think you can argue with that. I can’t, anyway.

In unrelated news, here’s the third square of my afghan:

IMG_2279Each tiny square in the square is only three rounds. It’s so fucking delightful. You get that awesome thing in three fucking rounds.

So, my plan is that this square will fill the middle of the afghan and it will go something like this:

IMG_2282Tiny squares in the middle. A row or two of the flat flowers around that and then the big flowers on the outside. I’m a little nervous about the squares all being different sizes, but I figure this is what lacy joins are for.

Good God

So, you know my theory that, if you want color to stand out, use a simple pattern and if you want the pattern to stand out, don’t go hog-wild with the color.

So, this afghan is for someone who wanted something that reminded her of her awesome flower gardens. And I found this awesome red yarn on sale. I think there are going to be three different squares, but I’ve only worked up two of them. I’m going to work the third one up just as soon as I’m done with this post (it’s from the great big book of cool squares with errors in just about every pattern I’ve tried).

I feel like maybe I should be doing something more productive with my time off than I have been, but god, I feel so much better than I have in weeks that I think I just really needed this.

Anyway, check this out. I think this is going to be the outside square:

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So, a cool, round floral pattern with some 3-D stuff going on in the middle. The red looks a little more orange in this picture than it is in real life.

Then, inside, I think there will be this square:

IMG_2278Which, note, is another round floral pattern, but flat. And then I’ve got a third square picked out that’s also round and flat that I think is going to alternate with this one to give the inside a more lacy feel. But I’m going to need for it to be a similar size to this one, or that’s a no go. So, we’ll see.

This red, though, damn I want to conquer nations for this red.

Rabbits

The dog took off across a stranger’s yard today after a rabbit and I was not happy, but I didn’t freak out. The thing I’ve decided about him is that he’s really not motivated by you being mad. I have kind of decided that he thinks my angry voice is a warning. Like “For sure don’t come over here because there are dragons” or “Hide while I go check this thing out.” or “Run away, Sonnyboy! Run away!”

So, if I want him to come back to me, I have to make it seem super awesome. And so far that’s worked. Which is not to say that I don’t worry every time he does something stupid.

I guess, too, that I feel like I’m focusing a lot on the dog lately, because he is unconcerned with any larger issues. The dog will never worry about healthcare. He’s not anxious about whether we can get our shit together.

I’m working on an afghan for my step-niece. I was hoping to have it ready for her birthday, but her birthday was yesterday and I still have to figure out if I can finish it how I want to. Plus, as is my way, I have a ton of ends to tuck.

But at least at this point, it looks like what it is and it is marvelous, so everything from here on out feels like just finishing up.

IMG_2251It’s the most sculptural thing I’ve done, I think. I don’t remember ever thinking about how an afghan would work in three dimensions before.

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.