Crackers

When I was up in office sometime last week trying to sort through yarn – something akin to trying sort trees in Yosemite – I came across an afghan that had two completed strips and some granny squares waiting for their next step. I couldn’t figure out why I abandoned the project – not that it would matter; sometimes there are no explanations that would make sense – call it knitter’s (or crocheter’s) prerogative. Or I can call on that explanation my mother used to give me when I asked why something happened the way it did:

Cuz
There you go.

In any case, I could not figure out what a throw that was 1/3 done should not be completed especially since I was looking for exactly such items to be sold in the shop and at the craft show. So, I pulled it out, went stash shopping and found there was still yarn to do with it (though I did have to go and get one skein more of a certain color) and completed the throw. I could have added one more row of seven squares and it would graduate from ‘throw-dom‘ to ‘afghan-hood’ but I really didn’t want to deal with it anymore. Which may be the reason it waited around so long to be completed.

The other bit of knitting goodness – I guess the throw would really be crochet goodness, wouldn’t it? Anyhow, I said I would show the lacy shawl I had been working on that has been on the blocking board for the past week to ten days or something. I finally took it off the board and here it is. I am admitting to loving it. Not only is it soft as buh-ta but it’s lush looking. I think this would make a great jacket – for someone else to do. It would also make a really lovely afghan or throw – which I can consider.

So with 35 days to go before the Guerin show, I don’t have an afghan on the needles or hook. I do have a scarf that’s in the last stages – Mr. Honey says I should do hats and scarves because they are quick for me to make and the date of the show comes at a time folks will start looking for those things for themselves and stocking stuffer gifts. (That actually made sense to me.) So, I would work on an afghan for part of the day and then start to hat/scarf thing. So, I am frogging an afghan gone bad into a scarf and hat before I start a new afghan.

An ugly afghan.

Melissa, April and Cheree convinced me I should at least give it a shot and I am thinking the pattern can be redeemed if I use just black and white instead of the dated color scheme. This is one of those times when someone will be wrong and someone will learn something.
Stay tuned.

In The Mood

Susie says she wasn’t that fond of granny square afghans until she saw mine. Awwww. But I know what you mean, Sus. I wasn’t a great fan of them either until I was surrounded by some made by my mother-in-law and when the fabulous Vickie showed me how to make a granny square I found them addictive. I have a couple more in the works and they have a relaxing quality that’s hard to explain. (By the way, you all should read Susie’s blog – it’s a hoot!!)

The good news is we were confirmed for two craft shows; one at the end of October and one the first week of December. The bad news, though not so bad, is that we were confirmed for two craft shows.

The practical side of my brain (known in some circles as the Minority) is beginning to pick at the other side of my brain (can’t give it a name, maybe, creative, fun, irresponsible – something like that.)

It is saying perhaps I should leave afghan mode and get into hat and scarf mode and that will accomplish a few things:

One – hats and scarves are faster to produce than afghans so the inventory will increase to cover two shows that are six weeks apart.

Two – it will clear away the stash and after being in the office and trying to sort through the yarn and having come up with even more yarn that was hiding behind other yarn and finding completed items we forgot we had clearing the stash wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Three – can’t believe you’re still in the afghan making mood. You don’t usually focus for this long so I’m just trying to maintain the status quo.

Well, hats and scarves would be easier to produce but the thought of having to do something as opposed to wanting to do something has always been problematic for me – maturity issues aside. But it does make sense to start making things people may actually buy. Scarves and hats are decidedly less expensive than afghans and in the search of inventory, a lot of my hats sold last year so I don’t have that many. I probably need to make some as a good business decision.

As far as the office is concerned, every once in a while I go in there to do some work. My blocking boards are in there and I got it in my head to do another homespun afghan and that’s when I found all the yarn and items I forgot about. I told Joe I thought I would have to give away some yarn and he actually stop his fork half way to his mouth and looked at me as if in that very instance some alien force had come down and taken away his wife and replaced her with a sensible being.

I started separating the stash into whole skeins and partial skeins so I would know what I have. If I thought that would do something other than tell me I had a lot of both then the experiment has failed. I do have a lot of both. Hats and scarves are a more practical solution as it doesn’t require as much of one kind of yarn to do a hat or scarf while an afghan takes up a lot more.

So, of course, I am working on an afghan and it is clear I do not have enough of this color to complete it. But I will only need one more skein to finish it off so I will get it and finish it off. I’m just not in the mood to do hats and scarves right now. I like doing what I’m doing and that’s going to win the day because I know I will lose interest and want to start on something else so I will ride whatever project waves rolls in. It’s one of the perks of being able to make decisions for oneself. I am certain between the 38 days to the first craft show and the 50 some days to the next one that I will hit a hat cycle such as I did last year and create hats out the wazoo but until then, I’m going to stick with the afghan run.

The only downside is that I was surrounded by so much fiber (just in my office not what’s in the basement) that it was a little depressing but all that means is more granny and square afghans which are also popular and sell every year. I’ve already told Joe that in the event of my untimely demise he should call the wonderful April and the marvelous Melissa to organize the massive yarn sale that should take place. Someone is gonna get a really good haul.
He agreed a little too fast but can’t really blame him. The garage is the only place where yarn isn’t – and I can’t say that for certain. I should throw a ball in there just to make the invasion complete.

Jumbo Shrimp

The days in July and August were so hot and thick sitting outside was really uncomfortable but the last few days in this fast moving month of September have been quite pleasant and Duke and I have spending them outside. He’s been lying in the sun occasionally barking at passersby and other creatures and I have been working on different projects.

I put a bunch of different yarns in one of my tote bags and decided to work on the granny square afghan. I took it over to my sister-in-law’s house over the weekend and it was half way done – I decided to work on that the first day out. That afghan is now done. Turned out pretty nice. It is so soft, I cannot tell you. Hopefully someone will come along and want to love it. The background color is brown instead of black – do you see what I mean about how black would flatten it out but other colors warm it up? I think it’s because black has every color in it so it absorbs a little of something from every color around it. But brown doesn’t so colors reflect and bounce. Try it for yourself in a couple of small swatches and you’ll see what I mean.

The second day I worked on the lace shawl (it turned out beautifully, I’ll show you the final product once I take it off the blocking board.) For a moment, I was tempted to get some thinner yarn and try some real lace knitting. For a moment. I sat down until it went away. One, I don’t possess that kind of patience. Two, I don’t need to become obsessed with another fiber. So I will keep myself to this kind of lace knitting that holds smaller chances of frustration. As it is, I measured the shawl/scarf and thought I had enough inches before adding on the bottom trim but when I measured it after it was done, somehow I lost inches and won’t get them back after blocking – though I will recover some. I don’t know how it happened except I can probably blame the lateness of the hour. Yeah, that sounds good.

It looks really nice on the blocking board and I look forward to taking it off and wrapping it around one of the torsos and taking the photos. Then you’ll see. it was worth the swear words I yelled uttered when the lace count wouldn’t cooperate.

Yesterday, I worked on what may be the most stunning afghan I’ve ever made. Looking at the photo it reminds me of those little paints that come with the paint by numbers. In real dimensions, it is really pretty and the center of each square is done in a popcorn stitch so they stand out. some fibers puff up more than others and some of the colors of the same brand have more pop than others. They are crocheted together as i go so when I’m done with the very last square, the whole afghan will be done. All that will be left is the trim and I am thinking I will trim it in a dark color other than black because black will flatten it out. Perhaps a dark green or violet to make everything else pop.

I am set to start a new afghan today and it has hexagons instead of squares. A little intimidating but I’m not in the mood to be defeated. There was rain this morning but it has stopped and though it isn’t exactly sunny outside, it is pleasant and Duke is already outside probably thinking what funny creatures humans are to want to stay indoors when there’s a chance to be in nature.

Pooch has a point.

Do You See What I See?

Believe it or not, it’s the same poncho. One is the backside and one is the front. ‘Officially’ the front is the black, gray and white squares. But you can actually wear it either way. You can even remove the tie and make the green, orange and burgundy side the v neck side.

I don’t know how my brain works but it took me a long time to figure out how the two strips were supposed to go together. The pattern didn’t help – it just said look at the photo and then showed just the front.
I finished the fringe this morning and I noticed how the color blocks lined up to give the two different looks – I didn’t do it on purpose but you can go mono or colorful with the same piece. I will do a review of Feza Opera Yarn in a later post.
All in all, I’m pretty OK with how this turned out. I would like to make another one in just two colors or in one color and would also like to throw in some cable. Don’t know when I’m going to get to that…the twelfth of Never looks free. I’m really like that color side. Pretty nifty. Let’s see what happens when it goes into the shop!

Good Times

I suppose since I’ve been sniffling and trying to catch a runny nose that I have to admit to having a cold. Don’t know where it picked me up, but there you go.

On the other hand, I am back into multi-project mode and according to my project journal, I have four project in the works. The lace shawl is coming along nicely even though I’ve had to do some creative rewriting of the pattern when the stitches don’t come out exactly the same count as the original pattern. (Hey as long as the lace lines up, I’m pretty flexible about the detail of how it came off.) As I was working on this piece, I thought to myself this would make a beautiful blanket. The lace in a white pretty similar to the color in the picture would make a lovely baptism blanket.

Today, I will be working on the poncho. I have two more squares – more like panels – to block and then I get to decide how I want to (or if I want to) add a tie. I’m pretty sure I do and I am pretty sure I want it be a braid made with a strand from each of the six colors used. I’m a genius that way. Hold your awe and cover your eyes.

Work continues on the novel and I have friends who say they know an independent (freelance) editor to whom I may be able to submit my work. I don’t want to jump the gun and jinx it all but knowing there might be a next step place to go makes this step more exciting!

Nine years ago I was headed towards my first day of jury duty. I was summoned for duty on a special grand jury and I was listening to the radio when the news of the first plane hitting the tower came over. Ahead of me was the Sears Tower and someone was saying there was news that it was one of the possible targets.

Nine years later, I remember this day with sadness and strength. Sadness that we lost so many people in an act that I wish I could say was senseless but I know it made sense to those who planned it and executed it. They got what they wanted – not just the loss of life but the loss of who we are as a nation. They have succeeded in rending who we say were are with how we behave.

I remember the day with strength because I truly believe we will heal the rift. Yes, we have seen people act fanatical and with political irresponsibility but the saving grace, I believe, is those who use their first amendment right to say whatever stupid thing they wish to say, has seen the effect it has had on people here and abroad and how it’s more than just a right to say whatever you want but a privilege and responsibility. We are in a technical age where what we say now is kept forever. We don’t need long term memory just a bookmark tab on our computer to be remembered forever.

May the grace of God be with all impacted on that day: the souls and families of those who were lost. The public servants who sacrificed themselves to assist others. Those who witnessed it and could not believe what they were seeing. Those around the world who listened with stunning horror. Even those who think this was something God would smile upon. The same God who made it perfectly clear that thou shalt not kill and somehow managed to substitute their will for His. May we all be granted, pray and work for peace.

When Silence Is Not Golden

I don’t want to give press to any particular person – especially one who is so far off from what the Bible (and the Q’uran,The Works of Baha’ullah and others) that writing the name of this person would be repugnant to me. However, these are times when we cannot be silent. We have two really terrible habits in this country. One is to so overreact; to want immediate gratification that we let our basest most distemperate part of our psyche take over. The other is to departmentalize people so we can easily dismiss them as being crazy or over the top and thinking it best just to let people go unchallenged because no one will believe what they have to say.

The overreaction usually comes at the expense of a minority. Internment camps, the denial of civil rights, the Arizona law that laughingly is supposed to be an illegal immigrant law but is nothing more but open season on Hispanics or anyone ‘looking like an illegal immigrant’ except those illegal immigrants who look like ‘us.’ I tell you, if I was an illegal immigrant from a European country, I’d head straight for Arizona because they’d never stop me.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think you should be here illegally. I think you should make your application just like everyone else. But I am also not so naive as to believe that the problem is just people jumping the border. The reason we’re not having this problem with the Canadian border is because there isn’t a market for Non-English speaking Canadians who can be exploited. If the Mexican economy was better this wouldn’t be as much of a problem. If we had more of a conscious about hiring folks for $3.00 an hour we wouldn’t have this much of a problem either. Supply and demand, baby. It’s not that Americans don’t want those jobs. It’s that other Americans would have to pay them minimum wage, perhaps benefits and would have to concern themselves with work conditions.

A friend asked me what the big deal would be if the police saw someone swerving while driving that they pull them over and ask for their papers. I love her dearly but that question is only asked by someone who has no fear of being asked for their papers. She won’t ever be pulled over for driving while black, brown or somewhere in between. A swerve for her could very well be just a lane switch for someone else. Pathetic but true.

My dog has papers. My car has papers. In this country, where all men are created equal, humans have rights both explicit and assumed. To insist in treating a sect of the population differently by denying those rights diminishes them for everyone and sets it up that the group that is in power can dehumanize at will and whim.

There is not a law to stop what may go on in Florida on Saturday. This ignorant, hateful act will do nothing but further the causes of hatred in our country and around the world. It also has no useful symbolism. You really want to speak out against radical Islam? Copy the words of the Q’uran where it talks about peace and what it means to be a follower:

O you who have believed, enter into Islam completely [and perfectly] and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed, he is to you a clear enemy.

The ones whom the angels take in death, [being] good and pure; [the angels] will say, “Peace be upon you. Enter Paradise for what you used to do.”

Get huge posters made with the words of peace and tolerance and post those up and show those who would use the book for their terrorizing that their book does not preach their actions. Be more like the church in Memphis who has opened their doors to their Muslim neighbors by letting them use their church building while their mosque is being built. You want to stick it to the radicals? Make nice.

We cannot simply let this pass. We have to speak out. I am not a Obama fanatic but one of the things that happened when he came into office was the world was willing to look at America in a kinder light. We really ticked off all parts of the world and the new president calmed things down a bit. Now between the ultra conservatives and the pundits and Fox news, et.al. we are on our way to losing that ground again. Seriously, disappointment in the slow recovery of the economy is not a reason to make our dignity and our conscious take a whipping.

Oddly enough, all the vocal conservatives have very little to say about the proposed book burning. This is what happens when you use the nasty, divisive ploy. Someone comes along and plays it better than you and you are stuck. If you defend it you show just how fractious you’re willing to be. If you denounce it, you have to acknowledge the game and how you played it.

So you have to be quiet and hope it doesn’t get too out of hand. Too late. What makes us think that if we are the God fearing folk we profess to be that we won’t one day have to explain this to a God who already knows what we were thinking?

Don’t be silent. When you see wrong – say it’s wrong. You don’t have to scream it. Just say so. Folks may still decide to be less than civil – but they should know there are other options.

The Best Laid Plans

God is good. All the time. Even when God laughs at the plans we make. God is good.
I was being proactive – something which should have been a clue to me and I am sure started the heavenly chuckle. I can just see the angel assigned to watch me yesterday. S/he tapped another angel on the shoulder pointed down (up?) and said, “Watch this. She’s going to organize her finished stuff.”
Said angel then watched as I packed the first zippered container containing afghans and prayer shawls. They watched as I manipulated folded with great care the new afghan and placed it in the container. They saw as I was satisfied with my feat and felt one step ahead of the getting ready for the show coming in October. Said angel then called the sales department and told them to arrange for someone to buy it.

But God is good and the little angel may have had a short term giggle but I have the reinforcement of selling my goods and the money in the bank. Of course, the angel knew that was going to happen so the giggle wasn’t exactly at my expense but rather at my profit. So who can begrudge an angel her humor?

Thanks to Mr. Honey’s BFF, Bruce, and his wife Becky for having us over yesterday. Mr. Honey went over because he and Bruce are into cars (Bruce has this stunning 1933 Ford Sedan made from a kit) and Mr. H took over the hubcaps from his 66 Corvette for them to mask and paint. Bruce asked me to come over as well and when the four of us get together it’s just one laugh after another. We ordered pizza (GREAT pizza from Grandstand Pizza) and we were there all evening. Becky lets me bring my needlework so I worked on the granny square afghan – almost half done.

They have one of those ‘just stop by we’d love to see you’ houses and because of that I love their home and their kids (all grown but still manage to be there and they sparkle each one!)
It was an unexpected joyful way to end the day. Thanks, guys. I got you when I got him and that just sweetens the deal!

No, No, Don’t Thank Me


I do this for your own good. There are those of you who are holiday needle folk. You have your list of items to make to give as gifts to family and friends.

This is your ‘almost 90 days to Christmas’ countdown. You know you need it. Mr. Honey and I only give three presents at Christmas: to his brother, his sister and his sister-in-law. They have each received a knitted item (at least one.) Chances are they will receive afghans this year.

Chances are.

Because I have only, at last count, five afghans in stock and I have two shows coming up and have been known to sell an afghan or two (or five) in the shows that I’ve done. So, really, I have no afghans at all.

And it’s 110 days til Christmas. An afghan can take up to a month to make. How long does it take to make all your stuff?

Mr. Honey got a phone call from someone at work who asked if he would help on a project coming up in a matter of days – the project was getting a part of the store ready for Christmas. “We’re still getting Halloween stuff in.’ says he.

Poor baby. He doesn’t understand the nature of the retail business. Labor Day is the new opening day of the holiday season: Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years in rapid succession. Happens every year.

And every year we crafters get caught looking at the calendar and thinking, “Oh, I have time.” Right. Because everything else in life will magically transform itself to accommodate your ambitious gift making schedule.

I know the sun is still out and there are some warm days ahead. I’m just saying you need to start wrapping your mind around it so you’ll have time to wrap the presents without as much hurried stress as in seasons past.

This is our craft and our passion and we love giving gifts – so there’s no reason why doing so much of what we love should be so stressful. Planning – that’s the ticket.

Better get started!

Not What It Seems – Not Exactly

Note: I received some guest posts that I intended to run. Then I switched email systems and some emails went into the great unknown…I am in the process of pulling them all together again. So for those who sent guest posts – thank you and I will find them and post them – within a time frame that can be called soon.

I want you to know that this is not what it seems. I think we should first establish what you might think this is: this might look like it is a work in progress. I would have to say that it is indeed a work in progress. It is that. And it looks like a lovely piece of lace knitting and I would have to say it is that as well. And may I also add it took three attempts to get that sucker just right. I don’t know what it was but the third time around when I cursed at it and told it I was going to rip it out and make something else it decided to cooperate.

I know I am not making my case but I want you all to know (especially the fabulous Melissa who has commented that I should no longer cheat on the NSA because she likes it) that this is not cheating on the NSA. Indeed, the Nanny Square Afghan had started to mock me.

I was making the last strip when I swore I heard it say it was almost done and then it wouldn’t need me to schedule it into my life. Once complete it would be a total entity on to itself. I cannot explain the mockery especially when the last strip had not yet been attached but I felt the pain of it and started the shawl as a way to get it back in line.

Hah. Here is the completed Nanny Square Afghan and if you think it was easy trying to determine how many different yarns were used then you’re nuts. It wasn’t easy. I didn’t have labels on everything and I am not always the best organized person when dealing with my own stuff. So I had to go square by square (the granny squares have seven rounds each – a new system must be devised.) I have determined there are 30 different yarns used. Odd thing is, the yarn stash doesn’t seem that much smaller.

I don’t know that I am in the mood to do another big square afghan. They are a lot of work. But I do love having done them. Bragging rights, you know. Having said that, I do have another granny square afghan in progress but the squares are smaller so they are moving at a faster pace. Good thing because there are 80 of them. Then, of course, I have the lace shawl to work on – since I used it to make the NSA jealous, it would only be the right thing to do to date it for a while.

Relationships. Geez.

Have a great weekend!