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.

Wherever You Go, There You Are

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The picture has nothing to do with anything, except to remind me that the work remains.

It’s hard to live in a state where the majority of the people take great pleasure in actively hating me. And yet, the super secret thing I know is that people everywhere hate people like me and the people I love.

How can people who would delight in calling up the families of first graders and describing all the ways in which they would harm those first graders on the first day of school raise good people, except by accident?

But also, how can we be a nation with the grave evils of genocide and slavery baked right into our creation and not be deeply fucked up? And can we be unfucked? I don’t know. But I do know that what we/I need to face is that I’m not the clean-up crew, just mopping up a few small unfortunate messes left after some great unfuckening.

We’re still fucked. We are not unfucked. And that is the work.

Ghost Creek

I’m listening to Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places while I work on this afghan and it’s really good. It has me thinking a lot about how places become haunted and what it means to be haunted as well as the components Americans expect in a ghost story in order to believe that it’s true.

He’s really good at teasing out some of the racial components. I wish he were better about teasing out some of the gender components. But overall, I’m enjoying the shit out of it.

This morning, I just walked the dog up and down the driveway because the storms last night had made the ground too wet to walk across. This was my view:

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Back behind those two trees is the concrete ditch the creek that runs through my yard has been forced into. The muck you’re looking at here is what remains after a night in which the creek returns to its old ways.

It feels like a ghost, like my yard is haunted by the old path of the creek. And it’s real and true. My yard is haunted by the old path of the creek. Sometimes, like last night with all the storms, a creek appears in the old spot and moves through the land in the old ways, and then vanishes again.

So much we think is gone for good, irrevocably destroyed, comes back in ways that are unsettling. Why should the dead be any different?

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.

The Puffy Round

Y’all, the variegated yarn looks so good in the puffy round. I just… ugh. I’m so happy with how this is going.

I’ll try to remember to post some pictures, later.

I slept well, for the first time in weeks. Partially it’s just because we’ve moved through a lot of the disasters at work. Partially it’s because I complained and it made a difference. And partially because we went down and toured Lightning and, man, there’s something very satisfying about seeing books made.

I’m trying not to be too optimistic, because it seems impossible that the blues might be wrapping up and I don’t want my hopes crushed, but maybe… maybe.

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.

Same Old

Yesterday was just chaos. Work problems. Plumbing problems. Dog being a jerk and honking the horn with his butt and running off while I was on the phone trying to deal with work problems problems. Then stuck in traffic for a million years and dinner with the Butcher’s family and my parents and then home and being exhausted but for some reason, just puttering around not going to bed.

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But look at this baby getting tickled by his grandma.

The Blues

Y’all, I’m depressed. Not big D feel like dying depressed, but not answering my emails and not doing basic tasks and wanting to sleep and sleep and sleep depressed.

And I feel better just realizing it.

I need some things to wrap up and I need to get a handle on some other things.

But I’m not failing. This feeling of failure is just a brain thing.

Still, I wish my brain weren’t doing a thing when I have so much stuff I need to do.

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.

 

Southern Festival of Books

I’m reading today at 4 in the special collections room at the library. I was going to read from “Little Sister Death,” but this morning I decided to switch to the opening of “Jesus Has Forgiven Me, Why Can’t You?”

Come by, if you’re in town.

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.

Working

I think I have the intro to the book exactly how I want it, at least for now. Time to move forward with the rewrite of as much of the rest of it as I can.

I have a new lawn guy. My third of the year. This guy is 78. This morning, he promised me he would try to live the two years it’s going to take to get my lawn back in shape.

The thing about country folks is that they joke with rocks packed in the middle. If it lands, it’s going to sting. Might hurt a lot.

He told me a story about borrowing some cash from the Korean mafia. I honestly have no idea if that was a joke or not.

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.