Backwards

April 21, 2011 at 10:44 pm (crochet)

When she was teaching me to crochet, the advice my grandma gave was to “hold [my] hook like [I] would a pencil.” To this day, my hook sits neatly in my hand, the tension light, leaving my hand able to crochet for long periods of time without cramping.

Now I just need to learn how to hold my pencil like I do my hook…

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Utilitarian crochet

April 15, 2011 at 9:35 am (finished project)

I’ve only had energy for small things lately. Why? Because my work schedule just went hectic, and they’re instant gratification. I may know rationally that even a quarter of an ever-lengthening row of a shawl edge an evening will eventually add up, but try telling that to a tired brain. No sirree, I’ll go for the quick thrill, thankyouverymuch. On top of that, they’re usually stash-buster and practical sorts of things. Yes, it’s been a whole month at least since I bought any yarn (a statement that has the feel of an AA meeting confession). Everything made since then has been from stash yarn, odd skeins and scraps.

The other night, I decided to make a dishcloth. There is no more perfect a project for a mind that wants enough distraction to shut down the whirling thoughts but needs said distraction not to be too taxing. Oh, mind you, there are some fancy-pants dishcloths out there. Some are downright frilly things that I just can’t see plunging into a greasy pot or scrubbing down a counter. No, the dishcloths I’ve made are sturdy things that hold up for years after their colors have all run and become faded messes.

They don’t have to be pretty. Good thing for that. My latest effort has neat texturing, courtesy of the moss stitch. The colors of the ombre have pooled nicely too. But one color of the ombre, a beige, looks dirty, and I haven’t even used the cloth yet! It photographs OK, but the in-person color is uninspiring. As a result, I’ve dubbed my project the “Fugly Dishcloth” on my Ravelry project page:

My fugly dishcloth

A few days later, last night, I found another odd skein in need of a project, so I made a second dishcloth with the pattern. The color combo is called “gumdrop,” and I think it must have fallen into my hands as a gift. Doesn’t seem like something I’d buy for myself! I liked the overall look of this better but wished the colors had pooled a little differently, so I’ve dubbed it “Not-so-fugly Dishcloth” on its Ravelry page:

My not-so-fugly dishcloth

Lest it sounds like I’m denigrating my own work in an effort to gain compliments, I’m not. Consider my tone one of fondness. These may not be among the more glamorous or exciting of my projects, but they’ll be used and loved.

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Red Sky at Morning

April 9, 2011 at 11:00 pm (book review)

As a patron of used book stores and library book sales, I tend to get greedy in my book buying habits. A twenty-dollar book is easy to resist. Twenty one-dollar books is much harder. The result is two bookcases overflowing with books, two thirds of which I’ve never read. Slowly, slowly, I make my way around to reading them.

The most recent of these yet-unread books that I finally got around to reading was Richard Bradford’s Red Sky at Morning. A blurb on the back hailed it as a humorous coming-of-age story, and that’s an accurate depiction.

Seventeen-year-old Josh Arnold was born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, but when his father joins the Navy during WWII, Josh and his mother go to live in Sagrado, New Mexico, where they had previously only spent summers. Josh settles quickly into the routine, befriending Steenie and Marcia, making any enemy of bully Chango, and befriending local artist Romeo and his revolving series of mistresses/muses. His mother, however, struggles with the adjustment in large part due to her Southern-instilled notions of propriety and insistence on only spending time with a select few of the “proper” sorts of people. Her attitudes are racist and class-ist, but Bradford never hits the reader over the head with Just How Bad this is; she is simply a character the product of one upbringing who is abruptly transferred into a very different environment, finding herself unable to adapt.

The characterizations are well-done and the dynamics as well. Some of the best passages are comprised of the banter between Steenie, Marcia, and Josh, as they heckle and bounce ideas off of each other. For anyone who’s ever had a tight core of smart-alecky friends, the dialogue rings true.

If I have one criticism, it is that the ending feels rushed. An event in the next-to-last chapter quickly changes the leisurely pace at which the tale had been unwinding to an abrupt end that, while realistic, just felt jarring by comparison. This is a small criticism of a book that I otherwise enjoyed.

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