A sense of progress

A piece of the purse is done! This is mostly because instead of cleaning the garage or going out to a party in the city or clearing the desk or handling the pile of thrift-store fabric piled between the bed and the dresser, I hung out watching “A Life Less Ordinary” and crocheting. This is alarming: I haven’t started any other projects since I started working on this bag, and I haven’t abandoned it halfway through and stashed it in with the growing yarn pile. Yet. The bag will have four feet of strap instead of six because I was losing my mind with the stupid seven-stitch-wide boredom machine. I was running out of yarn, anyway.

Now the strap is blocking. By “blocking,” I mean “it’s getting the hell blocked out of it.” I attached the two ends to make a big loop, soaked it with water, hung the loop over the shower head and hung one of my big enameled pots off the bottom with a coathanger. Now it looks stretched out like someone’s neck in the movies when a highwayman holds a sharp knife to someone’s throat and demands all their money and the person’s head is held so high up to get away from the blade that you can hear him breathing funny. Ahh, cotton, the fiber that takes all the abuse you can dish out and begs for more.

Now if I can just find my pins, I can cure the other two pieces that are supposed to be rectangular of their slight but definite trapezoidal tendencies and then the bag will be ready for assembly and finishing! And then photography! And then it will be flung as far from me as possible because no way in hell would I carry around a pink bag with me in public.

Not for more than a couple days, anyway.

So much pink

Pink! So much pink!

At least I’m getting to a point on the bag where I have to start thinking about finishing. This whole “create vast swathes of fabric from string” phase is nice, seeing as it’s near-impossible to screw up, but I’m spoiling for the more challenging parts of the project.

Yesterday my brain was practically spilling over with neat ideas for an appliqued design to go on the front of the bag and I can’t wait to get rolling on them. Note to self: Draw at least a few rudimentary sketches in the sketchbook before the ideas disappear into the ether, blown there by a few hours of pagination while I’m at work. Nothing like drawing boxes in Quark to slowly kill the spirit!

Man. The macro capabilities of the camera I’m using are, like, suck and a half. I’m all spoiled by the boyfriend’s beautiful digital SLR. I kept trying to get one part in focus and in all the pictures, the plane that’s nice and sharp is actually six inches behind where I told the camera to aim. I ain’t no raw amateur at macros, either, so I know it’s not just me, and I know I had it set to “macro.” The Cann S45 is a great, sturdy little camera, but it definitely balks at being told to take pictures of things less than two feet away. Which is a problem — who wants to see pictures of yarn taken from across the room?


I’m crocheting away like mad, showing an almost alarming level of dedication to that foofy pink bag I’ve decided to design. From scratch. As a first crochet project. For a pattern I’m going to write.

As I work, I also pause to add to the hectic, out-of-sequence scrawls filling several pages of a little notebook that at least half of the time I actually remember to tuck into my knitting bag. Those cryptic little notes will one day become a pattern.

Nerdy design geek that I am, I’m only a third of the way through the actual bag, and I’m already dreaming of the finished PDF. What will I use for accent colors?, I ask myself. How do I want to shoot the picture for it? And when I look actually look at the notebook to find out how on earth I did that one thing on the other piece that looks like that instead of this, I ask What the fuck is going on here?

There are a lot of scribbles and a lot of little circles with long lines rising from them, and there are things written next to the lines that I think are meant to clarify the mess beneath. They don’t do much about the omissions of little last-minute, “Uh … maybe this will work” adjustments and impromptu increases. (Corners, man. Corners are rough.)

There’s also the difficulty level. I was pretty sure that it’s a beginner pattern — straight lines, no increases, almost all back-and-forth rows — and then I got to the strap and thought “Hmm. Afghan stitch. That looks pretty cool.” It does, too, especially with a variegated yarn with short repeats. It’s such a narrow little strip of crochet that I don’t need the special hook for it, but does it still count as a beginner pattern if you have to learn a whole new kind of technique just to do it?

Not having ever made anything from a crochet pattern, I don’t actually know what a beginning pattern is. I haven’t found a beginner-level pattern that doesn’t make my eyes cross with boredom just looking at it, so making one is out of the question. And I must know what the skill level of the pattern is — how else do I design a really, really cute icon for it?

Update: To hell with Afghan stitch! Curled too much and wouldn’t behave. I may have come up with something cuter, though.

Crocheting at work, minus the crochet. Or work.

We’re finishing early-ish at work — well, I am, anyway — and all I want to do is break out the pink bag-to-be. I mean, dude, I just got to a part where the crochet changes color and direction! It totally psyches me up and gets rid of that “Oh god this is total drudgery” feeling. It’s like new project + feeling of progress from previous work, all rolled up into one ball of yarn so cheerful in color that I want to smack it around some, just on principle.

But it’s all dudes in this office, except for me, so the crochet is not so welcome. Women (and guys who really like women, or have fond memories of their moms or grandmas knitting or crocheting) will usually let me get away with it, but as soon as I pick up a project, someone here asks “Um, do you need something to work on?”

If I don’t, they ask me to proofread pages, which is weird because whenever I ask if I should proofread pages, they say “no.” I guess it’s reassuring that there’s no eerily-in-accord hive mind going on, but some days I just want to hit my head on the desk until I don’t have to think anymore.

And maybe one day, if I work very, very hard, I’ll get a desk of my own and won’t have to render myself unconscious with the desk of whoever’s got that day off.

Rosy and indignant

Two more days until the DSL comes back on at the house.

Two more days until civilization returns chez Arlette.

Once that happens, there will be photos of the abomination I’m crocheting right now.

It’s a bag.

It’s all pink.

Pink, dude. Pink. This is weird. I only recently stopped wearing all black, graduating to mostly black with some red and gray. I rejected the color on principle as “too girly” from about the age of, like, five. I read “Pink Think: Becoming a Woman in Many Uneasy Lessons” and learned plenty about the evils of pink. And here I am, making row after row of little rosy loops.

I flat-out refuse to turn in my angry girl-punk card — a legacy from high school — because, cop-out of cop-outs, the bag’s for a friend.

“Soft, baby pink, right?” I asked.


“And your other favorite color is …”

“Hot pink.”

“I see.”

Not being able to find solid-colored soft pink cotton yarn at Michael’s — hey, no snobbery, I was making a run for sewing supplies and they had “Peaches & Creme” for, like, a buck fitty each — I went for the ombre shade colorway “Strawberry Cream,” which had some baby pink — and some white and magenta thrown in, as if the name didn’t boost the girly factor high enough. For a contrast color, I went with magenta.

Being a perfectionist when it comes to small, easily completed objects, I’m gonna line it. The perfect fabric turned up at the thrift store the other day: shiny, hot-pink fabric with little black polka-dots. I bought it, along with some — eek — soft pink fabric with white polka-dots.

I gotta say, this is the most pink anything, ever, in any place I’ve lived. On top of that, the other day I noticed the candy-apple red in my hair had faded to pink — and I like it.

Twenty years of vendetta against the color may be ending, folks. I don’t want to go overboard with it, since I still make fun of my sister for the time when she was about 11 that she named every stuffed animal she owned “Pinky,” regardless of hue. But the hatred just may be ending.