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Lydy's Anarchist Revival Meeting

18th December, 2014. 9:33 am. Gifts have consequences

The extreme generosity of my friends has a very important and pratical consequence. I can afford to take my cats to the vet this week. Arwen and Naomi, my fourteen year old girls, are both due for blood work and vaccinations. Putting it off is a reasonable option, except for this: Arwen's appetite is waning. This is never, ever a good sign in a cat. If there's anything Arwen loves more than food, I have yet to meet it. Lately, she hasn't been running to the food dish. I'm worried. So I have an appointment tomorrow morning for her. Naomi I'll get taken care of on Saturday, but she's just the standard blood work and a vaccination update. Nothing urgent. Expensive, mind you, but not urgent.

Thank you all, again.

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14th December, 2014. 9:38 pm. Tree of Life

When I first started making afghans again, I found this pattern on the web. I decided tag it, but wait for a bit, as I wasn't sure my skill level was quite up to it. When I saw the pattern, I instantly thought of Peg Kerr/Ihringer. Peg doesn't seem to so much have a totem animal as a totem plant. So I made this afghan for her.

I had to invent a border, since I purely hated the border that the pattern came with. It was supposed to be leaves, but if you did the pattern, they didn't look much like leaves. So, I did this instead.

They kinda sorta looked like leaves. And I really liked the idea of leaves.

Here's a closeup of one of the tree sets:

And finally, here's Ninja on the trees, because Ninja:

I gave the afghan to Peg tonight (after laundering it to remove cat dander). She seemed to like it quite a bit. I'm very happy with how this one came out.

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14th December, 2014. 8:26 pm. Zeno's Afghan: Cat not included

And also, not in the pocketses. Obviously.

So, it's almost Christmas, and I'd like to gift this before the end of the year. One of the two items has been successfully guessed. The remaining item is small, relatively flat, plastic, and has a general book connection. The floor is open for additional guesses, either whimsical or practical.

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7th December, 2014. 11:17 pm. Zeno's Afghan: What's it got in its pocketses?

Zeno's Afghan! It is done! And it turned out extremely well. Here's what it looks like:

The center of each square, done in an ombre called "Peacock Feather" is actually double-thickness. This means that this afghan is dense. Very warm. It is about four feet by six feet, so there's plenty of afghan to cover toeses and noses. I think the colors are spectacular. I love the central, four-pointed stars. Let's take a closer look:

One of the other cool things about those central squares is that they are built as little pockets that you then sew shut. So, of course, how could I resist? I hid things in the pockets. Two things, to be precise. And you all should guess what they are. The pockets themselves are just about four inches square. The things hidden were chosen because they would go through the laundry without disintegrating, damaging the yarn, or adding unwanted color to the rest of the laundry. One is a mineral, one is a vegetable. One is fannishly related, one is general book related. I did not find an Easter vermin in time, so that's not one of the things. Let's play twenty questions! Person with the best guesses gets dibs on the afghan if they want it. (You can totally win and decline the afghan.) Best will be either the most accurate or the most entertaining, depending on my mood.

Oh, and the guess "string or nothing" is hereby disallowed on the grounds that the pockets are made of string and most of them are full of nothing, and besides, I claim the right to tell that joke. It's my afghan.

P.S. You are totally allowed more than one guess. Iterated guesses are encouraged.

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7th December, 2014. 10:17 am. Long Time Gone

In my previous life, I was at a Minicon. And there was this absolutely amazing concert. Cats Laughing followed by Boiled in Lead. I had never heard of any of the bands, and knew none of the band members. It was one of those peak moments. And now it seems to have come around again on the guitar. Cats Laughing is willing to play Minicon 50. Just one catch. They want to rehearse, first. For that, they need our help. So, there's a Kickstarter.

Really, this is a wondeful opportunity. A magical one. We should do this. And if we do it really well, there'll be a permanent record, this time. (For record, read DVD. I'm not talking vinyl, though if you thought I was, that proves you're as old as me.)

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3rd December, 2014. 9:55 am. Sometimes, it's the little things

I went to Uniform Advantage over the weekend to get some new scrubs. Some of the ones I had didn't fit well enough, some had pockets in the wrong places, and I thought if I found any patterned tunics I liked, perhaps I'd branch out into some patterns. I did find a couple of patterns I liked, and then DDB pointed out a scrubs set that had black pants and a white tunic adorned with a kitties. A tuxedo cat, in various cat-like postures. It was also an unusually flattering cut, with a sweet-heart neckline, and pockets in the right places. So I wore it to work tonight, and every time I looked down, there were kitties, and I was happy. Sometimes it's the little things.

I am also expecting a Very Exciting Letter from my Least Favorite Person in the World. Sigh. What it will contain that could not be communicated in email, I do not know. I am aquiver with antici.....pation.

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24th November, 2014. 2:00 am. Afghan catch up

So, before there was Zeno's afghan, there was Toni's afghan. This one is called "Woven Marvel" and it's by the same designer as the one I'm working on now. Toni chose the pattern, and I thought she was nuts, but it turned out really nicely. Amazingly, I chose the colors. It's a bit loose in the weave, and there are things that could be done if I make it again to make the weave tighter, but even so, it's pretty.

Here's a detail, which shows the woven nature of the squares more clearly:

I also made the "Spiral Skyway" again, in yarn that I liked. I used the Michael's Loops & Threads Soft & Shiny yarn. It looked like this when I finished it:

In the end, I would have to call this one a failure. It's just too loopy. While it's kind of pretty, it's essentially a show afghan. It needs to live on the back of a couch or chair, looking pretty. Because of it's essentially lacy nature, it's not very warm, and crap for wrapping up in. It's kind a pretty, and because of the yarn it's nice and soft to the touch, but that's pretty much it for its virtues. Here's a detail look, which shows its flaws and virtues quite nicely.

This pattern is by that same designer. Some years ago, I did a very similar afghan but with white and red and green, and it looked a bit like winding rosebuds, and that one was much better. I'm not sure why this one didn't really work.

So, Toni already has her afghan. This second one is living on the floor of my media room. If the colors match anyone's lifestyle, and they need a decorator for something, they could totally have it for the asking. If dimensions matter, I'll measure it and let you know. It's not real large, that's what I know as of the writing of this post.

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22nd November, 2014. 9:35 am. Xeno's Afghan

So, I used my new sewing technique and sewed three strips of eight, and then sewed the three strips together. This time, I left all my tails hanging, in case it didn't work. It didn't work. Oh, it holds together fine, unlike the last time. It's not actually falling into its constituent pieces. But there are large holes at the center of each star, because the long double crochets that form the corners are not as tight as they could be (though as tight as I could make them). I looked at it, and decided that I just didn't like the way it looked.

So then I did several experiments. I did not do all the various other techniques I thought of, some of which might work better than the technique that I've chosen, but I think I'm happy with the technique I've chosen. I'm joining the corners of the motifs with a single crochet, through both loops, then slip-stitch crocheting to the end through just the back loops, then finishing with another single crochet at the far corner. I did a four square to see what it looked like and decided it was good.

So, then, of course, I had to unsew the twenty-four motifs that I'd put together. Wasn't that fun? (Ansswer: no, not at all.) Then I had to uncrochet two of the four-square so that I could commence to make eight strips to be joined together. Uncrocheting is much faster and easier than unsewing.

I've done two eight strips, and crocheted them together using the technique described, and I like the way it looks. However, I left all my tails hanging, so there is a veritable forest of tails to weave in. Already. I usually prefer to weave in as I go along, since a concentrated session of weaving makes Lydy an irritable Lydy.

Merrily we go along, two steps forward, one step back. One day, it shall be an afghan.

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20th November, 2014. 10:41 am. Assembly required

So, I finished repair and started stitching. The squares take about 6 minutes to stitch, using the modified stitching techqnique. If one assumes that this adds two minutes per seam (previously it was taking about four minutes) then this adds very nearly three hours to the total sewing time. Always assuming this new system actually fucking holds.

Sigh. I think I will stitch the first two short strips together once I get two strips, and see how it holds before I go much further. Some idea of whether or not it's working before I invest 15 hours in sewing seems in order.

Thing is, it's still really pretty.

By the way,this sucker will be up for grabs when I finally finish it. There will be a competition and everything. Because it amuses me.

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19th November, 2014. 9:27 am. Afghan Irritations: The Center Cannot Hold edition

So, I'm working on this enormously pretty afghan. Each motif has a center square in a really pretty variegated yarn, and some lovely edging. And it requires a fuck-ton of sewing. About ninety million squares. Ok, no, really only 96 squares, and if I'd made gauge it would only have been 63, but it didn't, and then I decided that since it was so nice and cuddly warm I wanted it to be big enough to go nose to toes and tuck in all around. It's not quite big enough for two, but plenty wide for one. Finished size will be a shade over six feet by four feet. And as I said, it's really pretty.

I hate sewing. Even really easy whip-stitch is incredibly boring and annoying. And this is basic whip-stitch. First, you make short strips, in this case, eight squares long. Then you sew the strips, in this case twelve of them, to each other. All well and good, right? How can this possibly go wrong? Really, it's so simple, even a child could do it. (If you didn't hear Tom Lehrer in you head just now, go and listen to "New Math" again, it's clearly been too long.) Attaching a square takes me in the neighborhood of four to seven minutes. When you multiply this out, this means about twelve hours of sewing. At which point, the center did not hold. Where the four squares met together, they kind of came apart. Some a little bit, some a lot. This is actually even a larger problem than it sounds, since part of the pattern's charm is that where the squares meet, they form a four-pointed star, which is very pretty. And when it worked, it was very pretty. But mostly, it didn't work, what with the holes and the falling apart thing. I couldn't even figure out why it was doing it, mostly.

In desperation, I started trying to repair the individual holes by just doing a little extra whip-stitching. Three hours later, I realized that I was, in fact, repairing the same holes over and over again. The center would not hold. Just fucking wouldn't. With doan wanna sauce. So, then I started disassembling the fucker. At first, I thought that I could just disassemble the short strips, and have 12 short strips, and then start again. Then I made a mistake, and disassembled along the wrong axis, and realized that I was well and truly fucked. However, this also made clear to me that actually completely disassembling the bastard was, in fact, necessary. The more I looked at the construction, the more clearly I saw how completely and utterly fucked it was. It just couldn't hold. It just all had to come apart. All ninety-six motherfucking squares. Gods help me.

I finished dissassembly today. My best estimate is that it took me about five hours to disassemble. I didn't time it carefully. I damaged five motifs in the process, that will take me probably another two hours to fix. The damage isn't severe, never more than a single round, but it's annoying.

So, let's count. Twelve hours of sewing completely down the drain. Another five hours of disassembly. At least two hours of repair to damaged motifs. Oh, and let's not forget the three hours of attempted emergency repair which was also a complete waste of time. That's, um, 22 hours of wasted time. Reassembly, which I really hope I can start tomorrow, will take at least 12 hours of sewing time, assuming I can think of a reasonable way to do the sewing so that it actually holds. I have some ideas, there. And then, probably another two hours of doing the border. If we call it three hours for the border, then that's, you know, an nice round 15 hours. And I think I need the slop, either for the border or for the extra work in figuring out how to sew these fuckers more securely.

Jesus, people. The motifs were running just under an hour a piece. I usually figure about 10% of the work of the finished afghan is assembly and border. In this case, if we call the motifs 95 hours, the finishing time is running 27 hours. That means that, including wasted time, my finishing time is well over 25% of the work on this afghan, and that the total hours spent will be over 130.

All I can say is that this sucker better be really fucking beautiful.

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