Friday, March 09, 2018

making more squares

I alternated between working on the multidirectional scarf and making more squares for the color-bar blanket last night.

(What can I say? Tired, allergy-ridden, too much going on in my brain - so super simple versions of crafts I do are on order).

Afghan squares, as I said before, are pretty satisfying to do - for one thing, there's the nearly instant gratification of getting something DONE (I can make a square in about 10 minutes or so). Granted, it is just 1 of n, where n is quite a lot (over 100 for the color bar blanket), but still.

I also keep having something nagging at the back of my brain that I read somewhere about crocheting. Maybe it was from the Happy Hooker book, I don't know. But the comment was made that it became popular in the late 60s/early 70s because, "it could be done while your brain was in an altered state."

Mmmm-hmmm. Yeah. I don't know. For one thing, from what I've read recently, it seems the 1970s were not quite the pot-fest that pop culture makes them out to be. And another thing: it seems a lot of the people who crocheted were more likely to do it while on a picket line or watching their kids than while listening to Pink Floyd (or whatever one listens to while "altered." I have never done any of that - never even really been tipsy on alcohol - so I'm just going by stereotypes)

Also, I find that really simple knitting is easier to do with low concentration than crocheting. For one thing: I don't have to look at what my hands are doing when I knit, I can more or less do it by feel (which is why I do it while I invigilate exams). For crocheting, I have to look, lest I put the hook in the wrong loop. Granted, I think it is easier to fix mistakes in crochet - ripping back is easier, for one thing, because you don't have a whole needleful of stitches you might drop. And possibly, also, some forms of crochet are more forgiving of wonkiness? I don't know.

But it is nice to have something soothing to do like that when one is tired and sad. (I suppose all of the crud that allergies generate is a form of being in a mentally-altered state, I don't know. It's a state I'd rather avoid if I could. But then again: I'd rather avoid other kinds of mental alteration, that's just me, I don't like feeling out of it or out of control)

I'm also thinking of other future projects using the simple-granny-square technique. There are a number of "8-bit style" designs (I have seen one of Megaman) for afghans on Ravelry, and I saw a cute one with a puffin (that also donated some of its purchase price to wildlife conservation). Then again: I do have to work down my stash before I buy more yarn, and I have the big Deramores' kit for the vintage blanket. (And, how many blankets does one need? Though I find these days I use lightweight ones as much for emotional comfort as for physical).


Right now, my main reading (for relaxation: have been reading a lot of articles about detritivores and litter bags at work) has been "The Cruelest Month" by Louise Penny. This is another Armand Gamache novel. I just LIKE these. I think part of it is that I get the sense that the author is a fundamentally hopeful person; she sees the world as perhaps a bit better than it is. Oh, there are dark sides to things: there's an ongoing narrative thread about enemies Gamache made when he (apparently) helped bring down a corrupt superior, and one of the people planted on his team is supposed to find dirt on him to bring HIM down....and he probably knows that, and is trying to reform her (to the dismay of one of his loyal, long-time team members)

As is true of many mystery novels for me, the thoughts and actions of the detectives - especially when there are characters who recur over several books - are what are of interest to me, more than the murders. (And Penny tends to have a lot of the more horrible aspects "off stage," so to speak).

These novels are kind of an extreme case: most of them are set in Three Pines (which I guess is kind of the Cabot Cove of Quebec: small town where an unlikely number of murders happen. And what's more, *complex* murders that require a lot of work to solve, not just "that person got mad at that other person in a drug deal gone wrong and shot them" or "it was a domestic dispute that escalated"). A lot of the same characters recur (though Penny is not entirely shy of letting characters die, or letting them do something illegal that gets them sent off to prison....which is why reading these out of order can be a bit confusing)

One of the other things I like about these is that Penny does seem to explore a lot of psychological/emotional depths with her characters - the idea that strengths can also be weaknesses, or the complexities of loving one another, or how different people cope differently with grief. (Right now, the part I read last night: a grieving character was doing enormous amounts of cooking - ostensibly to provide food for elderly/ill people she knew, but really as a displacement behavior. And I understand that. It is exactly how I would react.... the idea of trying to do something to help others so you don't think about the big sad thing looming in your brain, and of working hard to keep yourself from flying into little bits. That feels very familiar.) In some ways the emotional stuff going on in these "genre" novels is more interesting and more complex than in some "modern literary" novels I've read (where there seems to be a lot more selfishness and personal dysfunction; one of the things I like about Penny's novels is that though her characters are flawed in various ways (Peter Morrow's envy of his wife's greater artistic talent), they are still people you can root for; they do not tend to do things I regard as "unforgivable" - unlike some characters in some literary novels I've read)

And as always, there's a lot of interesting cultural stuff. I was not entirely aware of the tensions between the Anglo and Francophone residents of Quebec until I started reading these. (It makes sense, though, and puts the whole "secession" debate - which I remember was going on when I was in high school and college - into a new light)

1 comment:

purlewe said...

I find with crochet I am always counting. With Knitting I don't count anymore. Perhaps I just am a good enough knitter that I only count when need to, but with crochet I *need* to for almost every stitch.