Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Froggy Day

To Frog or Not to Frog
Early this morning I began the section section of Havana and got four rows in before I realized that I'd taken my foundation single crochet row to the pattern and began Row 1 on top of it.  In other words I started following the patterning using MC instructions for CC colors and visa versa.

I dithered for more than an hour over whether to frog it out and redo from the beginning of row 2.  But I had no heart to either do it or decide not to.  So I set it aside and went back to work on another project begun several weeks ago and went to town on it all morning and again in late afternoon.  At some point I decided it was time to pull out the first one of the several now nearing completion.to compare and measure only to discover there was a significant discrepancy in size between the first and the rest.  The first being the correct size and nearly one fifth smaller. 

Somehow I'd allowed three different sized hooks to end up in the project bag and was pulling them out willy-nilly.--I, J and K.  I'd been using K for awhile and I know for sure I had not selected it intentionally.  But since I use I and J frequently and often dither between them at the beginning of a project I can't remember which one I settled on when I started that blue Bruge lace piece.

Measurements are important for the functions they have in their project.  So there was no choice but to frog them all. Three total including the pink which I was nearly done with before I realized I hadn't got pictures first.

Looking at the picture now I'm asking myself what was I thinking not winding that thread as I pulled it out.  It might have worked out if I'd wound it up directly off my lap without disturbing it.... But now?  That's going to be a mess.  Tomorrow tho.  Not tonight.

And I've now decided that one froggy day is enough so I will not start tomorrow off by frogging those four rows of Havana part 2.  I'm just going to go with it and let the rainbow play at being MC for one panel.


Monday, October 08, 2018

Havana CAL - Rainbow Complete

Havana CAL Day 8 Row 25

Havana CAL Day 7 Row 21
Saturday began with having to take out most of rows 16 and 17 and put them back in to fix two snags and the curl caused by accidentally switching hooks from H to G or 5.0 to 4.25mm. I was able to add two more rows to the end of row 19 before quitting in the wee hours of Sunday and then Sunday afternoon added two more rows while away from home. Today, day 8, I added rows 22-25 which also completed my 12 color rainbow plus one white.

Have stopped to contemplate my plan to reverse color order to make a mirror image of it as that would take it to 48 rows. Still like the idea well enough to go the extra rows I think. But I'm too excited about the week 2 pattern to wait so I'm going to start it first and go back and forth between them.

I'm going to be working each week's pattern in separate panels as I"m making a cape or cardigan instead of a blanket. This also has the benefit of keeping the project portable until time to assemble it.


Sunday, October 07, 2018

Sunday Serenity - Rainbow Bag Progress Report

October 1st - Rainbow Bag

August 1st - Rainbow What?
Even before I entered the Quilter's tote in the fair August 1st I'd targeted this project as the next one to get priority focus.  And it did for over a month until I got captured by CALs.  3 so far.  3 more tempting me. 

It is also time to shift focus to Xmas gifts and since this Rainbow bag and the Havana and Ubuntu CALs are all for me their priorities are going to have to shift down several notches.  But I don't want to quit on any of them--just slow down.  Maybe a few rows on one of them everyday as a reward for that day or the previous day's significant progress or completion of an Xmas gift.

The 3rd CAL is Xmas gift related which is how I justified joining and will be the only way I'll justify joining any more before January.


Saturday, October 06, 2018

Havana CAL - Slight Snag

Loops Oops & Curl

Snag Close Up
Havana CAL end of day 5 f or Friday had finished row 17

I considered rows 12-17 as all belonging to Day 5 because I didn't put it down until 6 am this morning.

Woke raring to go at noon but while preparing to mount next color of yarn for row 18 I discovered two loops with significant snags atop each other in the top two rows nearly back to the beginning.

Had to take out rows 16 and 17 to end of second iteration or back to approx the 44th stitch. I usually pin the curling edges for the pics but left them this time to showcase what I think contributed to my not seeing the snagged loops before I cut off the skeins.

That curl actually formed almost a tube that I had to smooth out as I inspected the row backwards before starting the next row.

Being visually impaired doesn't help.

While the work was still narrow it wasn't so hard to do it without laying it down on a flat surface and holding it open with both hands. I guess that's what I'll have to do at the end of every row now.

 So disheartening. Still hadn't frogged it as of 6pm Pacific Coast Time.

Then I realized I didn't have to suffer alone.  I had a resource in the CAL group's fb page.  So I took the pics at top of this post and posted them there and withing minutes got back several replies all suggestion it was a tension problem and maybe I could try going up a hook size.

That's when I looked at my hook with magnifier and realized it was a size G and I was sure I settled on an H when I started.  That's a difference between 4.25 mm and 5mm.  There followed a frantic search over the craft table and floor around it and among the WIP kit bags I was wearing yesterday and those hanging off the edge of the table and then in all the skeins I'd cut free and returned to the big Havana CAL kit bag.  I finally found it in the white skein still in the kit bag I wore yesterday.

My next dilemma was whether to frog back further than the snags to where the stitches first tightened.  I looked and felt to me to be another two rows down.  I decided that I should try putting part of the orange row back in with the H hook first to see if there was a visible difference.  And lo there was.  After only two iterations of the 12 stitch repeat it was already significantly less curl.  So I kept going and by the time I got to the end of row 16 again it was hard to tell there was an issue.  By the time I got row 17 back in I was able to smooth it flat for the picture with only one pass of my hands over it.  No pins needed.

Since I'd already cut the orange skein free before discovering the problem I ended up needing to reattach it on the last dc about two inches from the end. So I have two tails to tuck.  I wish I'd thot of crocheting over them with the white.  It might be worth taking out those two inches in order to do that;

It's almost midnight and I've not yet added more rows. So I guess Day 6 is a wash.


Friday, October 05, 2018

Friday's for Finished--Six Off the Hook Since August 1st

Two Scarves

This post is about the crochet projects that have come off the hook since the first of August when I was able to break the ice on my WIP stash after getting that 2012 Secret Santa Quilter's Tote ready to enter in the Clark County Fair.

For the foreseeable future I hope to post reports on finished WIP every Friday.  Maybe soon that will include writing projects but for now I will focus on fiber art, my sort/organize projects.and any other significant task accomplished.  I will pick another day to feature one or more WIP as I continue to paw through the dozens put on ice while I focused on the Quilter's Tote and those I begin as the holiday season progresses.

Skinny Scarf Close Up
 This skinny scarf was requested by my sister for her friend's birthday over two years ago!  She was going to pay me for it.  When I found it in my stash, I quickly finished it in about two hours.  When I gave it to her she was surprised as she had forgotten about it.  I told her she owed me nothing because of its lateness.

This was an original design.  I made several of them in the year before I started this one.  Essentially I sculpted it as I went.  I wanted it to spiral so I started with a foundation chain of the approximate length I wanted and then started chaining six and single crocheting into a chain about every four chains.  On the return pass I put the single crochets in between the first 'row' but on the back side of the chain.  On the third pass I again put the single crochet between two of the others but this time I started alternating top and bottom of the chain which caused the twist.  I think I may have switched between top and bottom of the chain less often than every other single crochet.  I seem to remember that I put several on one side before switching to the other again.  On the forth and fifth pass I switched randomly between four, five and six chain loops with the single crochet in the loops of the first layer and also randomly moved over a row clockwise which emphasized the twist.

The yarn I used was Buttercream Rainbow Boucle in black and white and shades of grey.  But since the color change was so slow not much of either black or white ended up in the scarf.  I fell in love with this yarn while working on this scarf and went looking for more only to find that Luxe Craft has discontinued it.  I got two skeins over three years ago at  a January inventory reduction sale at Joanne's.  The other skein is Blues and Teals and is currently on my Martha Stewart loom as my second loom knitting project.  It's a large tube that I'll make into a garment.  A dress if it's long enough else a tunic;  I plan to do the same thing with the grey scale skein.
Stripped Scarf Close UP
 I started this scarf over two years ago for my husband.  I finished it for his birthday in late September.  It is made with Plymouth Diversity sock yarn in a white and browns self-striping colorway that is very elastic.  I loved this yarn and have a scarf for myself on the hook in a grey/black/white ombre.  This yarn has been discontinued as well.

The stitch or pattern I used is one I made up and have yet to find it in any pattern or stitch collection so i may actually be unique unlike the half-double that I 'invented' about two months after I started crocheting in 2009;  My mom had been teaching me to crochet to replicate a bookmark I found in one of Dad's books after his funeral.  Mom was still aphasic after her stroke so the lessons were mostly me watching her demonstrate the stitches.  That bookmark included only double, single and chains;  Of course I soon discovered that the HDC was just as common;

So the stitch or pattern I might have created is simply a six chain loop attached to the row below with single crochet.with one or two stitches between;  For the first row of loops that would be into whatever stitches are in the row below.  Every time I've used it so far I've made a foundation row of single crochet;  The first pass is the loops and on the second I twist the loop with my left hand while I insert the hook into it for a single crochet;  I then add a chain for every chain between the legs of the loop.  On the next pass the legs are stitched into that chain space.

I call it my LOL stitch because the twisted loops look like cursive lowercase Ls.  When I do it with four chain loops they look like cursive lowercase Es.  I still call it LOL.

This stitch is great for scarves and blankets because it creates a spongy effect with lots of trapped air which allows it to create more warmth than the lacy look would lead you to expect.  It also works up really fast and is one of those stitches and patterns that you can work while thinking about something else.  Even while watching videos. 

Some might call this monotonous or mindless but I find it allows me to become mindful when I'm stressed or anxious.  It is also nice to pick up when I'm too tired to work on something complex.  Thus I call it meditative.

Two Towel Holders - Buttoned
 My sister asked me to crochet some towel holders for her.  She was picturing them crocheted directly onto the towels but I came up with this concept.  It is not unique as I found examples of it on YouTube after I started picturing it in my mind.  I didn't follow a pattern;  I did what I call sculpting.

I guess everything on this page was sculpted except the self-striping scarf.

The smaller one was the first and was a riff on one of my bookmark patterns.  I used size 10 cotton crochet thread in orange which is the counter color in Mom's kitchen.  Not because she loved orange but because they got a good bargain when they installed them in the late 1970s.  She softened the loudness of the orange by using lime green, yellow and turquoise in as many objects in use and on display as possible.  Hence my choice of yellow for the second attempt after the orange one proved to be too small. 

We're still looking for another use for it in the kitchen as the orange belongs nowhere else.  I'm thinking maybe attach a pen to the loop and mount it near a notepad.  I'm always looking for something to write with in that room and tho there are lots of pens and pencils in there they are never in plain sight and never where they were last left.  Well at least not by the person who is looking for them.

The yellow one is actually Lilly's Sugar and Cream yellow and white ombre.  This one works great and she's asked for another.

Two Towel Holders - Unbuttoned
The buttons I used are from Mom's vintage collection that she inherited from her mother and which I've confiscated.  There are buttons in there from as far back as the early 20th century if not earlier.  I've blogged about them many times.

Two Hats

Both of these were made for myself.  The top one was the first project on my Martha Stewart loom and was my very first loom knitting project. I finished it within days after I started it in mid August. It was supposed to be a beanie.  It is a bit of a mess but I've decided I can wear it when I feel like looking comical. 

It ended up with a brim because my early rows were much looser than the rest and when I crocheted the edge onto the cast on row it added to the diameter also.  Besides that issue pins had popped off several times and I didn't catch the right loop when putting them back in and did not realize that until the runs showed up after the rows showed up below the rim of the loom.  I repaired the runs by using a crochet hook and in one bad case used the brim yellow to crochet a chain thru the fabric around the pucker created by my repair.  It looks like a patch.  Thus I call it my Hobo Hat. 

It was too small for me when it first came off the loom but after I cut my hair a couple of weeks later it fit OK tho a bit snug.  I may give it to a child with a sense of humor.  It could be part of a Halloween costume.

The hat below was also sculpted rather than following a pattern.  Itcan be worn as a beret, a beanie or a hairnet.  I began it over two years ago and kept messing up the increases and would take out rows as soon as the distortion became obvious.  Sometimes that was many rows.  Once I'd even put the shell edge on thinking it was done only to discover that edging had made it look like a shower cap or one of those hats the girls wore to bed in Little House on the Prairie.  Not what I wanted so I took it out all the way to palm size.

The final result was arrived at by dropping the usual increase method and using stitch size with tension and number of chains and every once in awhile would double the number of loops while decreasing their size by half or more.  All of that is near impossible to see in this picture.  I should have had it on a higher contrast surface for the photo shoot.


Thursday, October 04, 2018

Scheepjes Ubuntu CAL

 I fell in love with this the first time I saw the images in late August.  But I knew I couldn't afford the official yarn kits and I didn't think I had enough quantity of any one kind of yarn to cover all seven colors--especially the main color.  I automatically thought of the Aunt Lydia Bamboo that I'd made my first baby blanket out of several years ago.  It would have been perfect for the shawl concept I have in mind.  But alas they discontinued that thread several years ago and tho it is the only thread or yarn type in my stash that has enough of one color to serve as the main color--either white or brown--there isn't enough contrasting colors.  Besides most of what I have left of it is already dedicated to projects either in progress or planned.

As I pawed through my stash i reached inside one bag and as my hand landed on the yarn inside I knew it was what I wanted even before I saw clearly what it was.  It was so soft and silky.  It turned out to be Patons Silk Bamboo.  I had one ball each of six colors which I'd bought at a January clearance sale at Joanne's three years ago.  But one of the colors was black which did not appeal for this project and the silver had been chosen to go with the black for a planned project.  The other four were all perfect for the contrasting colors.  So I'd need two more contrasting colors for the diamonds and a main color for the background.  But I remembered thinking when I got it that I'd always have to watch for discounts and sales to get more.

Early last month I started price comparison shopping online and after a week found a sale at Joanne's online.  I chose Ivory as my MC and ordered three expecting that I would need at least six but there is only so much I can spend in a month..  Then I chose one each of Moss and Coral to go with the Sapphire, Sea, Plum, and Orchid.

It's hard for me to judge whether that is going to be enough as I'm no good at comparing between types of yarn.  The yards per grams in the Pattons is nearly half that in the Scheepjes cotton. If I discover that one ball isn't enough for a diamond that probably means six Ivory isn't enough for the background.

My Colors

The yarn arrived today. I'm so excited. I've never done a CAL and now I'm doing two and there is a couple more I"m looking at with drool pooling so that I dare not open my mouth.

Week 4 is in process already so I've got some catch-up;  Though I don't expect to keep pace anyway;  Besides the fact I probably won't have all the yarn before the end of the CAL I can't devote that much time to this one before Christmas as it is for me and I will very soon have to give priority to the Xmas WIP.

Read all about this gorgeous blanket on the web page of its designer.
Get the free pattern
Join the  Scheepjes Ubuntu CAL 
Follow on Social Media:  #ScheepjesUbuntuCAL


Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Havanna CAL Adventures

End of day 3.  
End of Row 9.

It was an adventurous day.

For as long as a project is at all portable I carry it about with me in bags hanging off my wrist or shoulder or strapped to me in some fashion.  I contribute to the care of my elderly mother and must respond to her beeps at a moments notice.  Twice today one of the skeins fell out as I left my chair and I traveled thru multiple rooms before noticing.  Down the hall and across the kitchen in the afternoon and down the hall, into the kitchen and back down the hall into Mom's room at her bedtime. 

The first time one of the cats discovered the yarn bonanza before I did and was pouncing on and trying to carry off wads of the loops that had come out of the center of the skein.  I was grabbing them from him and pulling up yards of the yarn and stuffing it willy-nilly into the three bags hanging off of me holster style as I followed the yarn back to the skein in the doorway of my craft room. 

It took me well over an hour to untangle the yarn from that skein, from the straps of the bags and from the yarn from the other four skeins still attached to the project--and from the project itself which was just a ribbon at 6 rows.

In the process I'd detached the skeins from all but the 5th and 6th rows to more easily untangle the yarn.  I keep them on with a stitch saver in the loop until I'm sure I'm not going to need to frog. I probably only need to keep on two besides the row I"m working but was so anxious to start new rows Ii'd been procrastinating.  Besides I have a thing with finishing.

Turns out my fear of finishing is at least somewhat well founded.  Or at least it just got a good jolt of reinforcement.  For as I was getting all set to get back to work on row 7 (on which I'd been 5 iterations in when the adventure began and which I'd frogged first thing to get that skein free of the melee) I discovered that the last stitch of row 2 was missing and the last stitch of row 3 was joined to the air.

After contemplating for several minutes I decided the best option was to remove the last few stitches of rows 3-6 and redo from row 2 up.  That took another hour and a quarter as it was quite tricky for the rows already cut off their skeins.  I managed it by going down a full mm in hook size and increasing tension until my left hand cramped and the yarn was half its diameter.  The difference in the fabric look and feel in that last square inch bugs me but not enough to frog the whole thing and start over.

As my Mom's mother use to say, "What you can't see from a galloping horse..."  Yes she said it just like that leaving it hanging but obviously meaning its not worth a fuss.


Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Row 80 Round 4 2018 Goals

The writing challenge that
 knows you have a life
Long time gone.

Saturday's post explains the long hiatus well enough for now.

I need baby steps.  But I need to take steps.

My goal for this round is intense personal journaling on the roots of the angst that took my words for two years.  It wasn't writer's block.  It was soul block or spirit block.  Self block?

Self-suppressing = word suppression.

It was grief, fear, despair and anger in response to current events that dredged up old memories and wounds of the psyche I thought already dealt with.

The anger was probably the most at fault for suppressing my voice as anger was a forbidden emotion throughout my childhood and I've never gotten comfortable with allowing myself to acknowledge even to myself when I'm angry.  And this anger was strong and dark and raging.  Not was.  Is.

I feel like I'm wearing an invisible hand over my mouth.

At least for the month of November for Nano I hope to apply narrative techniques from fiction to relive a number of pivotal moments in my life. I will use the October journaling to identify those moments that need this. We can call it memoir I suppose but I can't imagine ever publishing it.  In fact if I start to imagine that I probably couldn't write it.

Also, before the end of the year I want to open my fiction files and read and print new hard copy of all the best drafts of each WIP and dabble in the notes files to re-enter the storyworld.  That was the place afterall where I'd been dealing with all the issues at the root of these blocks. It may have been that having let that storyworld slide out of my daily life for most of 2016 left me without the coping mechanisms to handle the shocks I was dealt.

So to recap and consolidate goals for the round:

  • Intensive personal journaling as close to daily as possible
  • Relive pivotal moments in my life using narrative techniques
  • Open fiction files and read and dabble to re-enter storyworld
  • Make new hard copy of the best drafts of each WIP
  • Harvest some poems from the journaling entries.  Experience has shown them to be a natural outcrop of journaling that goes beneath the surface.


Monday, October 01, 2018

Havana CAL Begins

Havana CAL Gauge Test
 My swatch turned out to be almost exactly 3"x3"

I'm going to have to figure out why I was having such a hard time getting my hook into the border stitches at the beginning and end of each row.  It amounted to a lot of extra time and frustration that I'm afraid I won't tolerate well once the new project glow wears off.

Another thing I won't tolerate well is the inordinate amount of time it has been taking to prep these posts the last three days. I'm beginning to remember why it was so easy to let posting slip out of my days.

I just spent hours fiddling with these photos in the editor and am still not happy.  The colors are not reflecting the reality.  The contrasting colors from the bottom are supposed to be: Lime green, Light Yellow, Neon Orange, Strawberry Pink, Blackberry Lavender and Mint Blue or Turquoise Teal.  Those are six of the twelve colors I've chosen to make my Havana Rainbow.
Havana CAL In the Bag
Here are all twelve in the project bag.  The colors here are closer to the truth.

Havana CAL Yarn Rainbow
Here they are lined up in the rainbow order but the colors are so bad I shouldn't have bothered posting.   But then what a waste of the time I spent shooting and  tweaking it.

I don't know where the blame lies most between my eyesight, the Kindle Fire camera, the LED lamp illumination or the crappy photo editing aps on my laptop.  Whatever it is I need to figure it out if I'm going to be posting frequently about my fiber art.  Or, as I hope, create ebooks of my own original patterns.

I would have much rather have spent the last four hours crocheting!

Anyway.  I've chosen to work my Havana with Caron Simply Soft with White as my MC and twelve CC: Royal Blue, Robin's Egg, Mint Blue, Limelight, Sunlight, Neon Orange, Mango, Strawberry, Burgandy, Blackberry, Grape.

Mmmm.  I'm hungry all the sudden.  Picnic anyone?

I'd been collecting the colors for several years so I already had all the CC and only needed to augment the white.  While I was dithering about whether I should spend that much I found the white as an add-on at Amazon more than 50% off.  Less than $3 per skein.

The Universe is saying 'Yes' so how can you say no? I asked myself.

By the way I'm planning to adapt this into a heavy long cardigan or cape with hood.  I hope that won't offend the designer or break any CAL rules.  But I've no use for an afghan in my living situation (my bed is a mattress on the floor of Mom's room) and I would like my own cape or coat of many colors.

I'm hoping to get this finished in time to wear it before its too warm.  Since its for myself I"m going to have limited time to work on it before Christmas so I'm aiming for mid March to finish.  I'm also working the Unbuntu CAL.  Also for myself.  More on that later this week.

Here's a link to the info about the Havana CAL.  I would post a picture of it but I'm not sure its my right to do so.  Believe me it is worth the trip over to see it.


Sunday, September 30, 2018

Sunday Serenity - Hanging On by Threads

My Quilter's Tote on the table at the Clark County Fair sporting it's blue ribbon. 
I almost broke the blogging ice in August for this.  Instead I started working on crochet WIP that had been put on ice while I focused on this project since June 2012 when I began it as my Secret Santa gift for my sister-in-law.  I only eased the ban for gift-giving occasions until mid 2014 when work on this hit a major snag when my first attempt to assemble the panels created a puddle not a bag.  What use is a tote that must be held open for you while you load it?

So work essentially stopped on this while I noodled on the engineering problem, worked out possible solutions and gathered materials to try them, failed, noodled some more...rinse, repeat.  I still have only partially solved it.  I had to stuff the bag with packing air pillows for the fair display as I ran out of time to implement my full solution.

Since the day I dropped this off at the fairgrounds August 1st, I've started several new projects and gotten several more off the hook.  I'll post about them as soon as I get the photos prepped.

I'm also going to be joining two CAL (Crochet Alongs) this fall.  One is already in progress and the other starts this coming week.

I also started loom knitting in September and have plans to learn to knit.  I've been watching video tutorials on it and no longer feel intimidated.

I've been hanging onto my sanity with my crochet hook since I got my craft table unburied from three feet of detritus in March.  At my counselor's suggestion I began to work on this in earnest with an eye to entering it in the Cowlitz County fair in July.  It was to be an exercise in goal setting and self-promotion and finishing a major WIP.  I missed the deadline for the Cowlitz County fair by several hours.  My sister suggested I look up the reqs for the other county fairs in the area and Clark County was both the next up and the closest.

The ribbon is a Premium Blue and I've no idea what that means in the scheme of things.


Saturday, September 29, 2018

Retrieving the Words

Source: via Kris Jurski on Inspired to Reality

Sounding Central Truth
by Joy Renee

What do you mean by denying a
Truth that is right before your eyes?
Just because a neighbor neighs a lie
And it seems easier to agree than to
Say the emperor has no clothes?
It is the naked truth that we must see
And we must say what we have seen.
We must retrieve the words from that
Place where they reside, where they
Are not yet hide-bound, where they
Abound in unsounded musings. And
Tell it from the crazy place where truth is.
Write it from the dark place where light burns
So hot it consumes itself. Where the weight
Of reality draws real things into the
Hole of no escape--the Event Horizon--
Where abide the convent of Graces
Hidden from those who know their places,
Who scorn play for duty, who know they are
Safe only where none can accuse them
Of abusing their faces by exposure
To pleasure and beauty. Beware of
Safety if you mean to defy the
Word of the herd and speak from the place
Where none worship the face. Decry the
Lie that others live by and live to
Conspire with Creation’s desire for
Passion and wonder. Embrace the All.
Consummate the meaning.
Sing the secret from your center.

(c) 1998-2018 Joy Renee

I posted this poem previously with an explanation of its history, inspiration and personal meanings so I won't repeat it here tho I encourage anyone interested to check it out as it might enhance the experience of reading the poem and it will add to the understanding of what this poem means to me in the context of today and going forward.

I am re-posting the poem as the intro to this post which I hope will be the first in a return to regular blogging after over two years of sparse posting.  I'm allowing the poem to stand in as both declaration of intent to 'retrieve the words' and hints as to why I have for so long been avoiding 'the place where they reside'.

To be slightly more explicit:


Monday, April 30, 2018

Book Review: In the Days of Rain: A Daughter, a Father, a Cult by Rebecca Stott

I read this via BARD (nls..loc.gov) audio for the print disabled. It was the recording released commercially--read by Rebecca Stott herself. That contributes to the experience. I suspect some of the history might be difficult to wade through for anyone not personally vested in learning it if not for the author's own voice infusing emotion and personality.

I read this book three times in two weeks. I seldom reread a book inside of a year. So that should say something about its quality even if personal motives played a role.  Which they did.

Before I proceed I must correct the record of my three readings in my Goodreads review. I'd registered the book as 'reading' the day I started the second read and forgot so tried to fit the three reads between April 17 and 28 tho a closer look would have revealed that was less than ten days when I knew it had been two weeks on the 27th the day before the thon.  The correct dates are:

  • First read: April 13-16  listening at normal speed for the full effect of Rebecca's voice. 5hrs Friday.  3hrs Saturday.  1.5hrs Monday
  • Second read: April 17-24  listening with Mom at lunch 40 to 120 minutes at a time with a couple skipped days
  • Third read: April 28  for the read-a-thon listening at 225% speed, start to finish in 4.5hr focusing on facts, keeping the emotional maelstrom at bay

I can't share my reaction to this book without sharing my own story as the two are entwined. I was raised in a splinter off a splinter of the original Brethren sect which imploded in my late 30s. I kept telling myself that one year and then five, one decade and now two should be plenty of time to get past the trauma and move on but I keep stepping in mental and emotional mine fields. Following Rebecca's story as she lived through similar experiences resonates so with me its as tho a church bell rings inside me vibrating my bones.

Bibliography, citations and notes were not part of the recording. If they exist I need to find a copy so I can follow her sources. I'd be grateful for leads to any material shedding light on the history of the Brethren sects (Exclusive, Plymouth etc) and their spread across N. America and the globe (It was news to me it went global) and John Darby, C. I. Schofield, or our founder, Nels Thompson. I'm also interested in anything regarding fundamentalism of any religion including scholarly studies, diaries and biographies of members and memoirs of escapees. And anything relating to the psychology of fundamentalism and the aftermath for escapees, including any online support groups for escapees.

This book fits three genre. It is biography when telling her father's story, memoir when telling her own story and history when she follows the family trees back to the founding of the Brethren. The history sections sound like a professor wrote it--which is so after all. The professor often seems in control of the father's story. But when her story and his story converge it becomes memoir and that's where her writing shines. The history sections can be pedantic but when it's personal her story is moving, at times poetic; wrenching and dark but with moments of laugh-out-loud humor and often glowing with the dawn of hope.

I craved the history as I knew little from before our founder split from a Texas Plymouth Brethren Assembly in the early 1900s. My mom was a toddler when her family joined in California in the 30s.  My dad was in high school when his mom joined in Idaho in the early 50s. They met while the Longview, WA Meeting Hall was being built in the mid 50s.  The Hall I attended Meetings and other functions in several times a week until age 21.

With Rebecca's relating of the early history I now have a good sense of what happened between the 1830 founding and when John Darby split the Plymouth Brethren off and left Britain to found dozens of Assemblies across Canada and America using the traveling tent revival meetings to seed them.  I know only that much about the North America beginnings and wish to know more.  Stott had little to say about it other than their leader J.T. Jr. actually lived in New York. If she explained how it came about their British Assembly was controlled by an American I missed it. Three times!

It was heartbreaking to hear of families fractured by Withdrawal from any who did not join, believe without doubt or obey the rules without fail, and the many suicides as a result.  I witnessed similar splitting up of families. We called it Removal from Fellowship. After three generations families were so intermarried few escaped the trauma of separations. In the final implosion my Mom's twin sister's husband and my dad were on opposing sides and my Uncle kept their contacts rare and brief for the last decade of her sister's life.  I forgive most offences easily but that one...

I never heard of suicides due to Removals but I was suicidal for over a year as a result of the events leading to my own repudiation of the Doctrine between 1992-4, involving witnessing the abuse of children and recognizing it for what it was--a direct result of belief in the doctrine of Original Sin.  Watching an infant disciplined for crying, I said NO to any god who requires breaking a baby's will or use of corporeal discipline on a preverbal child.

My own father, who was the gentlest of men, spanked my buttocks and thighs black and blue one July 4th night when I stood in my crib screaming 'Boom. Boom. Mama' between wails for hours. I was 19mo. He 26yr. I have no memory of it. It's just a family story and Daddy's remorse was part of the story. I never experienced conscious trauma associated with it. But hearing of the time Rebecca's father beat her black and blue at age three because she would not stop crying on command triggered a series of flashbacks so intense it must mean the PTSD, quiescent so long I thought it conquered, has not released its grip. Maybe because I've self-isolated such that I get little exposure to the triggers. Or maybe unconscious memories still fester.

Rebecca relates incidences of physical abuse by the men against their children and wives. And mother's against their children. One of her grandmothers threw her daughter across the room, breaking her arm. The same grandmother who, epileptic and 'willfull' was committed to an asylum in Australia for over two decades.  A practice not uncommon with men who couldn't control their wives. That was not done in our Assemblies. Thank God for that!

Imagine growing up without holiday or birthday celebrations, TV, radio, music other than hymns or classical, movies, parties, card games, county fairs, amusement parks, proms, carnivals, parades, make-up, dancing, comic books...that was my mom's upbringing and to some extent mine. Tho many strictures were relaxing as I entered school we knew not to flaunt it in front of those who still held to them. Enforcement for us was via mild to moderate shaming. For Rebecca's family it was all of that and more with enforcement akin to the Inquisition (including coerced confessions of imaginary sins) with emotional torment instead of the rack and shunning instead of immolation.

The strictures Rebecca lived with until age 7 were much more confining than ours. The list of don'ts was long for us but at least they didn't forbid the library. I can't imagine my childhood without the library. Rebecca lucked out when a teacher who didn't know her parents forbade it gave her a pass to the library when she finished worksheets well inside the allotted time. There she found hope and windows into other worlds than her own.

I highly recommend this book. Especially to anyone who escaped, knows someone who escaped, or knows someone in a fundamentalist sect/cult. Or anyone wishing to know what life without freedom looks and feels like--when every thought is dictated and every act is witnessed with judging eyes; when the judge lives inside you monitoring everything and finding it wanting. So what if it destroys self-worth. You are not supposed to have a self.


Saturday, April 28, 2018

My Brain on Books XX

I am reading for The Office of Letters and Lights the folks who bring us NaNoWriMo today as I love what they are doing for literacy with their Young Writer's Programs and because I've participated in NaNo every year since 2004.  I have been blessed to have it in my life and would like to give something back if only kudos and link love.  I'm putting this plug at the top in hopes some who stop by will check out their site and see all the great things they do to foster love of reading and writing and story in kids. 

This post will be organized like a blog inside a blog with recent updates stacked atop previous ones. I may be posting some updates on Twitter @Joystory and the Joystory fb fanpage. But this is where I do anything more than a line or two.  Including mini-challenges that don't require a separate post..   

Monday-- Ok.  so I've updated with bookcovers and number of pages.  Except for those three chapters in the two novels I 'test drove' the first hour.  The total number of pages read from the six books I read cover to cover = 1274

Sunday 4:44AM: - I'm too wiped to add the book covers right now so I'm going to edit this tomorrow.  

Audio sped up is a miracle.  I haven't read more than one short book cover to cover in a single day in years.  And all six of these were started and finished inside the thon hours.  I'll add the true hours and the page numbers of the tree books when I add the covers so the extent of the miracle is more evident.

4:22AM: - 6th finish. Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution by Bernie Sanders.  (Audio via BARD ) 226 pages
  Bernie was my favorite for the 2016 election. It's amazing this is the only political book I got to this thon as they represent over 50% of my reading since the summer of the primaries.

2:22AM: - 5th finish. Keeping the Faith by Carol Clewlow.  (Audio via BARD ) 119 pages
  A novel featuring a teanage girl coming of age in a Plymouth Brenthren assembly in Britain.

11:22PM: - 4th finish. The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd.  (Audio via BARD ) 304 pages
  Kidd had a spiritual awakening in her forties after witnessing two men oogling her 14 yr old daughter as she kneeled on the store floor stocking shelves.  She overhead them joking that that was how they liked their women--on their knees.  This forced her to take a closer look at the damage patriarchy was having on the hearts and minds and lives of women in our culture--Western culture in general but most disturbing to her was its entrenched influence in the Christian churches.  Her spiritual journey led her to learning about the female mystics in Christian history and the Goddess myths going back past Greek civilization.This reflects my own path since my journey began in 1994.

6:22PM: -  3rd finish. In the Days of Rain: A Daughter, a Father, a Cult by Rebecca Stott.  (Audio via BARD ) 320 pages  
 I started this shortly after posting the last update.  And 'read' this 9 hr BARD audio in just over 3 hours by listening ate 175$ and 200%.  Listening at light speed.  LOL.  This was the third time in 15 days that I've listened to this book from start to finish.  The first time alone and the second time with Mom.  Did not listen fast either of those times as this memoir was read by its author so I considered the value of the author's personality and emotion being undistorted higher than the value of speed.

It is rare for me to read a book twice inside a single year let alone three time inside a month.  That's a measure of the importance this book has for me.  It has had one of the most profound impacts on me of any book in the last decade at least.

It is a memoir of a woman the same age as my sister who was raised in the cult known as The Closed Brethren in Scotland in the sixties, which imploded over doctrinal disputes and a scandal involving it's leader in the early 70s.  It is about a rocky father/daughter relationship over the several decades after their family abandons the Brethren and they individually struggle to figure out how to conduct their lives after their understanding of God, faith, meaning, reason and the role of community and family has been shredded.

Not only is this similar to my own experience, her childhood was the same decade as mine but the troubles in our sect/cult that led to its implosion began around the same time as her family walked away it just took ours two decades to play out.  Probably the fact there was no sleazy scandal splashed across the international media.

The similarity of my experience to Rebecca's doesn't end there.  The reason I've read this three times in two weeks is that the cult itself is the same one ours splintered off of before WWII and i have only vague understanding of that history and crave any facts I can get and have had little luck finding reliable sources.

Our assembly broke away from one of the Plymouth Brethren assemblies in Texas that had been one of the many planted across the US and Canada in the late 1800s by John Darby himself after he'd splintered the Brethren assemblies in Britain which had had a fairly stable existence for over a generation before he joined them.

Rebecca Stott wasn't just any ex-fundie writing a memoir.  She is a professor and thus trained in research and had access to primary sources that enabled her to trace her family's involvement with the Brethren back five generations to it's founding in the 1830's.  Both of her parents' ancestors were there at the beginning.

As you can imagine I could go on and on about this story making connections to my story but that doesn't belong here.

12:22PM: - 2nd finish. Knowing Your Value: Women, Money, and Getting What You're Worth by Mika Brzezinski  (Audio via BARD ) 208 pages

Also listened to 50% of The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd

Both books deal with the cultural patriarchy and its effect on the minds and lives of women.  MIka's focus is on equality in the workplace--especially parity in pay between men and women.  Sue's focus is the marginalizing of girls and women in the church community and the confining role definition imposed by doctrine and the effect that has on the spiritual life of a woman.

I love it when the ideas in two or more books are having a play date in my head.

While listening listening fast (150% +) I was busy transferring stuff out of drawers into boxes and  schlepping boxes of stuff between my office/crafts room and the room across the hall I share with Mom, Piling them on her bed.  Then with the room to move around the room that created and the sorting stations in the bedroom I proceeded to sort through all the jumble for the items I needed to have available whenever the need for them arose and putting them away in old or new 'homes'.  One of my goals for today is to move my printer from the cubby desk across the room to the desk beside me so it will be easier to access and the cubby desk will be available for a small sorting station I can use during the week when Mom is home and I can't pile her bed with stuff.

7:22AM: - First finish.  Scriptorium by Melissa Range.  A talking book via BARD 'read' on my Kindle Fire.  The blurb on Goodreads says it's 97 pages.  Must have been a lot of white space around these poems on the theme of meaning that combines deep theological and metaphysical musings with piquant prose renderings of the people and landscape of her Appalachian childhood. This will definitely require repeated readings to glean its full measure of goodness.  Especially since I was listening fast.

As a bibliophile I found her vivid descriptions of old pre-Gutenberg books and illuminated manuscripts fascinating.

Before I started listening to Scriptorium at 6AM I started two novels unintentionally.  I was scrolling through my GDrive with my Moon Plus reader ap on my Zen Pad, looking for a particular book I thought was already there and twice opened a book accidentally.  Both times I had to 'test drive' before deciding whether to unload or not.  The first one I read one chapter with my eyes and the second one I read two chapters with text-to-speech, increasing the speed by increments until I sensed comprehension suffering.  I backed off of 200% to 175% and listened to two chapters.

I don't usually listen that fast to fiction and probably won't when I return to the book.  That was an experiment which convinced me I could nearly double-time non-fic that wasn't too complex.  That's still far from as fast as I read when my eyes were younger.  Normal speech averages 240 wpm so at 175% it's probably still under 500 wpm and that is less than half the speed I was clocked senior year.  But 400+ is much better than the 120-150 my Kindle and Zen Pad have been measuring me at for the last year or two.

The two books were, in order, Sea Creatures by Susanna Daniel and Our Daily Bread by Lauren B. Davis.  The latter I may return to before the end of the thon as it fits one of the themes I'm currently focused on as related in the intro meme below.

4:44AM - l am prepping this ahead and scheduling it to post at 4:44 AM which is also when my alarm is set.  That gives me time to get up and take care of biological business including fixing coffee and water bottle.

Am including the intro meme here so I don't have to spend the first hour preparing it as so often has happened before.  In fact much of it is copy/pasted from previous Thons.

I'm going to spend the first hour actually reading!

Intro Meme:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

Longview, Washington USA.  On the north side of the majestic Columbia River approximately 25 miles from the coast and 50 miles from Portland, Oregon as the crow flies.

From my Mom's house.  The house I lived in from age 18 to 21 and again since January 2013.  See earliest posts under the label Lifequake for explanation.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

For fiction: The Miracle Life of Edgar MInt by Brady Udall

For nonfiction: The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd

But mostly I'm looking forward to free range reading.  The most important part of my plan for this thon is to not have a plan.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

Spicy Avocado Humus and Chili w/tortilla chips
And Chocolate. Anything chocolate.  Even if it has to be chocolate powder out of the can.
Not at the same time!

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

I was raised in a cult that imploded over doctrinal disputes in the early 90s as I neared 40.  I then began to teach myself to think for myself.  The last few years there has been an internal struggle between the need to own my own thoughts by speaking them and the fear of doing so.  The fear has been winning.  First my blog posting fizzled out then all my other writing.  This is not sustainable.  Without my writing I am not I.  What's the use of knowing how to think for myself if my self won't own herself.  Several of the books on my stack today address these issues--fundamentalism, thinking, selfness, courage, activism, writing....

I'm legally blind from RP aka Tunnel Vision with less than 2 degrees of vision left.  I can no longer read even large print with my left eye.  I now prefer ebooks for the ability to enlarge fonts and control line width so I don't loose my way between end and beginning of lines.  I used to read nearly 1K words per minute but now read slower than I talk.  Very discouraging.

But in the last year I've started listening to audio books via my access to LOC Talking Books and BARD.  And also via text to speech.  And often I speed up the delivery to between 110-175%.  I discovered that I listen better when i listen faster--better focus, comprehension and retention.

I intend to use audio predominantly this thon as I am in the middle of a huge sort and organize project that I can only work on when Mom is away on weekends so, as I've been doing a lot lately I'm going to listen while I work.

I've had a mood disorder since childhood featuring depression, anxiety, panic and insomnia.  Several times professionals have considered the possibility of bi-polar but finally ruled it out definitively in late 2015 when they diagnosed me with High Functioning Autism aka Asperger's.  Over fifty years of feeling 'wrong' and not knowing why.  I've spent the months since reading nf about the autism spectrum and novels and memoirs featuring autistic individuals which has gone a long way toward helping me understand much that once confused and shamed me.  Since I have several of those books in progress I'll probably dip into them today.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

The most important difference after actually sleeping the night before is to go with the flow--less plan more fun.

Stay hydrated!
Get up and move once an hour.  You can read while you pace you know.
Blink.  Seriously.  Dry eyeballs can't see.  And the hands rubbing them can't hold books.

Ode to Dewey
by Joy Renee
We Miss You Dewey


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