Monday, November 23, 2015

Seeing Stars and Walking with the Moon

I've been seeing a lot of stars lately. Neither celestial stars nor cinematic, but ****s - the kind found in crochet patterns.

When you design for crochet magazines, mailing off the completed projects is not the end of the process; it's only the beginning of the end.  Next comes pattern-writing (blogger emits hollow groan). Even after years of practice, with copious note-taking during project construction, it's sometimes a struggle for me to write a clear, concise pattern. I've often wondered why; language is, after all, my strong suit, and crochet patternese is just another language, right?

Wrong. After this last round of pattern-writing, I've reached the conclusion that crochet patterns are more akin to math than to grammar. Think about it: you've got numbers, brackets, addition and multiplication, sequential actions, parentheses, and mind-numbing strings of abbreviations, all combining into a mystical formula that you hope will yield the desired result (but so often doesn't). As with math, there's an order of operations to be followed, in both the writing and the stitching - and if you miss a step you get the wrong answer.

Brackets and stars in particular are my downfall. You know the sort of thing: *dc, shell, sc in next v-st. Rep from * to end of row. Or should it be [dc, shell, sc in next v-st] across to end? Or *[dc, shell, sc] in next v-st. Rep from * to end? Brackets are to crochet what commas are to grammar; misplace them and disaster can result.

After hours of pattern-typing and -proofing, staring at parentheses and semi-colons and repeating from * to **, my brain goes numb. I begin putting brackets around everything in sight, scattering asterisks with abandon in a futile-seeming effort to make sure the reader understands that something, somewhere, must be repeated until she reaches the next something, somewhere. Crystal-clear though the pattern may be in my brain, it somehow gets muddied on its way to the page - and polishing it up to make it fit for use is a laborious process.

Thank God for tech editors, say I. And for charts!

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I haven't posted any outdoor photos for weeks; not because I haven't been outdoors, but because I've had neither time nor energy to spare from yarny projects and yarny writing. But now that the woolly tide has ebbed, some pictures are in order.

November has, however temporarily, turned its face from fall to winter. At first it was red and gold, and still quite green underfoot, with surprisingly warm days fooling the trees into budding out. Poor trees! victims of a false spring, only to have their hopes frozen in the bud - for last week the mercury plummeted, and on Friday came an iron-cold snow. Saturday we woke to an icy white world that made summer seem distant and exceedingly unreal.


On Sunday I take a walk through this snowy world, with the moon for my companion. Here she is, shining silver-bright in a pale blue sky:

A marsh has frozen into satin stillness:

A Favourite Tree near the start of the trail is dusted with white along the bough:

Ahead is the moon, now scarfed with cloud:

Gone are the flowers of summer; in their places stand elegant brown ghosts:

Meanwhile the moon floats higher, over a horizon faintly tinged with rose...

...and over delicate grass seeds on the restored prairie:

The wind is bitter; it's time to head for home and warmth. The freshly-iced marshy lake reflects the pink of the sky as I pass:

Today (Monday), the temps are slowly rising. By Thursday the snow will probably be gone, but we've had our first taste of winter.

How's your weather? Is it cold where you are?


Best wishes for a happy Thanksgiving to my American readers, and a happy week to all.

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  1. I can't imagine writing patterns for publication. I tried just one time to write up a pattern from my brain and nearly lost my mind! Your photos are gorgeous. We're expecting our first measurable snowfall here in Washington state tonight. Thank you for the Thanksgiving wishes.
    Blessings, Betsy

  2. Gorgeous wintry images. Stay warm.
    Jacquie x

  3. Your pattern-writing adventure tells the weekly story of my life ever since I began writing snowflake patterns! We're due an icy Thanksgiving, but I'm sure grateful for the break! I hope you have a wonderful and warm one!

  4. Your moon shots are gorgeous and I love your header. You're right about a pattern being mathematical, when I read them I'm reminded of algebra
    It finally turned cold here, 38º here last night, but it's going to warm back up to the 70's by Thanksgiving.
    Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

  5. I have saved that first photo and made it my screen saver! It's awesome, as all your photos are. Thank you. :) I am not always sure what all those stars mean either...I like the brackets much better. Wishing you a most lovely day and Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours sweet friend. :)

  6. I love your outdoor photos. STill and quiet and peaceful!
    We too have melting snow and the weekend snow was just so lovely. Mostly because I did not have to go out into it at all. Im so very thankful to be retired from nursing. Happy Turkey Day

  7. I am always amazed that a crochet pattern becomes an actual object. I remember looking at those free patterns on the inside of a skein of yarn and I swear I was like a cartoon person with a thought bubble that had an enormous question mark in it. When starting a pattern, it's always a kind of blind faith exercise. Then, if there's a problem, I wonder, is it the pattern or me? Probably me. Because I agree, it's a math-y thing. I prefer charts.

  8. Beautiful photos. We had our first snowfall overnight. Not that cold though, only around zero Celsius. I made a point of searching out that crochet magazine with your designs in it. It must be very exciting to see your patterns in print.

  9. Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving and thank you for sharing your beautiful photos. I get in a muddle with wrting sewing patterns but thank goodness they are much less complex than crochet or knitting........I'm not suprised your head starts spinning! Juliex

  10. Writing crochet patterns (or knitting patterns) is very much like coding for a computer. One advantage to computer coding is that the computer will follow the instructions exactly. It's attention doesn't wander in the middle of the instruction, complaining that the pattern was incorrect. One disadvantage is that the computer follows the instructions exactly. It can't recognize an obvious typo and make adjustments. Testing and correcting a program leads to lots of hair pulling. The different styles of writing computer code are called, what else, languages.

  11. Mercy! Wrestling with all those *[*]* arrangements can drive one to distraction! I'm glad you were able to get some fresh air from time to time and take these gorgeous photos to share with us, Sue. Thanks! It is cold here and I posted some photos of Mt. Hood cloaked once more in her white glory. Happy Thanksgiving! xx

  12. That is why I leave pattern designing and writing up to you, I am a strict follower, not a designer. Happy Thanksgiving to you Sue.

  13. Happy thanksgiving, enjoy your turkey!

    We are not as cold or white as you are but I think it is on its way. Your images are lovely, as usual.

    I understand how your brain can freeze when writing patterns and I am very glad that I don't have to do it.

  14. *:._.:*~*:._.:*~*:._.:*~*:._.:*~*:._.:*:._.:*~*:._.:
    *H*A*P*P*Y* *T*H*A*N*K*S*G*I*V*I*N*G*!*!*

    Cold but sunny.. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  15. That's why I love charts! :-) Beautiful landscape where you live. Regula

  16. Beautiful photo's but it looks so cold. I am with you with pattern writing it is so time consuming and difficult to get right, thats why I don't do it very often, I love charts you can see everything at a glimpse but finding good chart software is difficult too. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving and have a lovely weekend. :) xx

  17. Beautiful photos. You can FEEL the cold in them!

    Not so cold here right now, but certainly not the 90s we had just a few weeks ago.

  18. I have to say, there are folks who write patterns that probably shouldn't. I've tried some that just don't make any sense to me at all. Sometimes I see others making certain projects, but when I try, I can't decipher the pattern enough to get very far. So I am partly to blame, but sometimes I do see a pattern and think, I could write this out in so much simpler terms -- and sometimes I do just that, if I want to make something more than once. I certainly don't know how you write out lengthy patterns. Or translate what makes sense to you in a way that everyone will understand.

    Beautiful photographs of the moon. Weather here is nice. Still using the a/c just a bit during the day. Can't open the doors and windows because there are tons of flies, mosquitoes and little gnatty things after all the rain we had a little while back.

    Wishing you a great new week.


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