November 04, 2015

Motorcycle Madness and the V-Star Afghan

A few months back I wrote about the Yamaha V-Star afghan I was making.  Friends of mine ride a V-Star and wanted a personalized afghan.  After doing everything I could think of to get out of doing it without coming right out and turning them down, I created the graph.  It looked pretty good, if I do say so myself. 

I started the actual crochet work in June and picked away at it through an incredibly hot and humid summer. 

While working on the blanket took up my free time, I was also busy at work and being a member of a bike club, I spent time at meetings and riding in general. 

For the last few years there have been some ongoing problems with my bike.  Of course part of the problem is that it’s a 41 year old bike, but only part of the problem.  About three years ago I had the misfortune to run out of gas on one of our group rides.  Another rider happened to have a gallon in his saddlebag and helpfully dumped it into my tank.  We rode to the nearest gas station and I filled my bike, offering to replenish the biker’s spare tank as well.  I can pinpoint this moment as the start of my problems.  As I was filling my tank at the gas station, this biker was telling me he’d been carrying that spare gas for months now and he was glad to finally use it. 

EEK!!!  Months?  After sitting for months the gas would have gone punky.  Sure enough it caused problems with my bike.  For a variety of reasons I didn’t ride much that year and not at all the next season.  This season I convinced my husband to put the carbs from his bike onto mine since he wasn’t riding anyway.  It was like having a new bike.  I rode as much as I could. 

One day I was riding home from work, and as I turned onto the road that would take me to my road, I released the clutch and a bolt or something popped off the clutch and my cable came free.  Uh oh.  Since the engine was still engaged, I kept going, making sure not to go too fast.  As I approached my road, I decided to make the turn and then let the bike stall.  Our area is very hilly and I did not know how I would have managed on our dirt road if I were going downhill and a deer jumped out or something.  I called my husband and he came to my rescue.  He’s been riding for 50 years so it was a fairly simple thing for us to bump start the bike and get him rolling.  I followed in his car.  He speed shifted the bike and got it home and into our driveway.  He fixed me up with a new clutch cable and I was roadworthy once again. 

Last month I was heading out on the bike to attend a biker club meeting.  My husband and our young son left a few minutes before me heading out to the dump.  I hopped on the bike and started to the highway, but never got there.  About five kilometres from home I heard a noise and the bike started sputtering.  I figured I was getting low on gas and quickly turned on the reserve.  It didn’t help.  The bike kept sputtering and finally just stalled.  I coasted to the side of the road and hopped off the bike.  I looked down and gas was spewing from one of the carbs.  Yikes! 

I quickly turned off the gas and stepped away from the bike to assess the situation.  Knowing that my family were still on their way to the dump, I pulled out my cell phone and left a message at home.  Despite this being modern times and that we live rurally, I am the only one with a cell phone between the two of us.  So I estimated I’d have about a half hour wait.  I called my club and told them I wouldn’t be there.  I didn’t want to leave my antique bike on the side of the road and walk home.  I also didn’t want to walk 5 kilometres in biking boots. 

Fortunately my phone had a full charge so I opened my reading app and started reading a book while I waited.  And waited.  And waited.  After the first hour and a half, I tried calling again.  Then after two hours I called again.  Finally, after almost three hours, I got my son on the phone.  He told me they’d just gotten in.  He went outside to tell my husband I was on the phone.  I briefly told him what the problem was and a few minutes later he showed up with a new plug and some gas for me.  It turns out that he and my son were on their way back from the dump when the truck ran out of gas!  When I went with him to retrieve it, I measured how far they’d walked.  Our 11-year-old son walked 5 kilometres before just pooping out.  My husband left him with our dog sitting on a big rock near the road.  He jogged the rest of the way home – a further two kilometres – to get the car and pick them up.  They had just all gotten home when I called.  I figured it was meant to be that I not be on the road that day. 

With fall now upon us, I was able to devote more time to working on the afghan.  Cooler evenings meant that I was not roasting under the blanket as it lay on my lap while I worked.  I finished it a few days before Halloween and finally got to hand it over to my friends on Halloween when they came to the club party.  They were thrilled.  She cried.  It’s all good.  

September 18, 2015

The Search for Sexy Intelligence

I read an interesting article the other day about sapiosexuality. 

It was interesting for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that I actually had to look up the word “sapiosexuality”.  Here’s what I found: 

  • The sexual or spiritual attraction to intelligence. Sometimes referred to as 'sapiosexual', a neologised (meaning recently constructed) word that has come into common usage, especially on social networking sites where some people are self-identifying as sapiosexual, meaning they are sexually aroused by or attracted to intelligence in others.
  • A person who is excited, aroused or elevated by intelligence equal (or more commonly) greater than their own. Sapiosexuals can either have some form of sexual intent or have no intimacy of a physical sense (asexual); while still being attracted to intelligent others.  
  • One who finds intelligence the most sexually attractive feature.
  • This sexual orientation has become more common in recent times, having many people claim to be or identify as sapiosexual and may in future be a generalized term.  
  • Etymology:  sapiosexual:  from the Latin roots sapien, wise or intelligent; and sexualis, relating to the sexes

 While the article claims that there are multitudes of people out there who find intelligence very sexy, I can’t say I’ve ever encountered one in my life to date. 

I’ve always been intelligent.  As a child I was very precocious and always scored well on IQ tests.  I was one of those kids who completely threw off the curve at school.  As a teenage girl, I refused to dumb down in order to get a boy to like me, so in that sense I’ve always been something of a rebel with an attitude of “I don’t really care if you don’t like me the way I am”.  This never really changed as I grew. 

I will admit that for the most part the men in my life have been what I’d consider intelligent.  However I wouldn’t say that it’s a sexual attraction for me to meet an intelligent man.  I’ve always considered a sense of humour, self-confidence, and a sense of adventure to be the most appealing traits (physical attraction aside because that’s a whole other thing). 

In my early 20s I wrote the Mensa qualification test and was subsequently offered membership.  While I’ve been a card-carrying member for about 25 years now, it’s never been something I flaunted or bragged about.  In my experience, I’ve always found that men I meet fall into one of two categories: either they’re fascinated or intimidated by intelligence in women.  Theoretically I guess you could argue that fascination might be sexual attraction, but not necessarily.  I’m not sure that these same men were attracted to me because of my brain, but if they were attracted to my intelligence, I’m also vain enough to hope that wasn’t the main attraction. 

My husband falls into the “fascinated” category.  He thinks it’s something to brag about that his wife is a member of Mensa.  On the other hand, when we were still dating, he wanted me to meet and talk to one of his coworkers about Mensa because he knew that individual was interested.  He thought this person had a fascination with intelligence because he spoke about trying to gain membership in Mensa.  However, when we sat down over coffee to talk about it, the person showed they were actually one of those intimidated because after learning that I was a member, he clammed up and didn’t want to talk about it.  After that time, he avoided me as much as possible.   

One topic the article fails to really cover in any way is how much or what kind of intelligence is attractive.  For example, my husband doesn’t consider himself to be Mensa material, but I think he’s really smart.  He can pull a laptop apart into 18,000 pieces, then fix and reassemble it.  He can change my brakes, starter motor, and install a new stereo, and do a plethora of other car-related things.  He knows all about home renovations and has the tools to back this up.  I can’t do any of those things, and what I know about home reno I pretty much learned from him.  Am I smarter or more intelligent than him?  I don’t think so at all.  I’ve never considered that I was attracted by his intelligence.  He’s easy going and has a fantastic sense of humour.  He’s my equal when it comes to being adventurous.  Probably the most attractive thing about him to me is that he loves me despite my quirks. 

Sapiosexuality?  I think it’s a word that might just end up on the lexical trash heap one day.  In our need in this era to define everything, some words are little more than a passing fad. 

August 14, 2015

Of Motorcycles and Crochet

Back in mid to late 2000, I decided to learn to crochet.  I wanted to be able to make things for my future children.  A lefty friend of my mother gave me a few basic lessons and off I went.  I made wreaths, blankets, a sweater, doilies...anything that struck my fancy.  As will happen with enough practise, I got better.  My skills improved and I took on more challenging patterns.  Eventually I started modifying patterns slightly to suit myself. 

In late summer of 2002 my husband decided to teach me to ride a motorcycle.  We’d been doubling up on his Norton Commando for a few years at that point, but now he wanted to get me a bike of my own.  I wasn’t sure what I should ride, but my husband found a really neat 3-year-old Harley Davidson for me that had only 3000 km on it. I signed up for the motorcycle rider’s course but had months until it started.  So, I had a few lessons from my husband on how to ride and we were off.  We rode everywhere.  It didn’t take me long to find a motorcycle group that operates like a service club and join. 

Over the next ten years or so I spent a lot of time riding or hanging out with my club members.  We fundraised lots of money for local charities and had a lot of fun, meeting a lot of other bikers while doing it.  I also spent a lot of time crocheting various things for my son, friends and family. 

Early last year I had a brainwave.  Why didn’t I combine my two passions?  I proposed to the club that I would make an afghan throw with the Harley logo on it and donate it to the club.  They could sell raffle tickets on it and raise some funds for our favourite charity.  The club members were keen so now I really had my work cut out for me. 

First, I had to source out a pattern.  I was sure I’d be able to find one somewhere.  Somewhere?  Anywhere?  It didn’t exist.  No such thing had been created.  Then I discovered, by following various links, that someone had in fact created an afghan pattern.  I contacted the designer and she offered her pattern to me, which I gratefully accepted.  Unfortunately, when I looked at the pattern, I realized that several things just didn’t work for me in the design.  Now understand that I’m not criticizing the pattern, just saying that it didn’t work for me.  One big thing that pattern did do for me is it inspired me!  I decided to try my hand at making my own graph.  So, I studied the Harley logo and made my design.  I then decided to make flames like the style we’ve all seen on so many bikes.  These were tricky, but I figured it out.  The whole pattern design was a huge learning process for me.  I’m sure there are many easier ways to create a graph, but I stuck to the tried-and-true pencil and paper method. 

Now that I had a pattern, I had to get the yarn.  That part was fairly easy, but I also needed something to use as a backing fabric as I figured it would save me having to carefully hide the yarn ends on the reverse of the afghan.  What a stroke of luck to find an orange fleece that exactly matched the orange in the logo!  Next I had to figure out the mechanics of how to actually crochet the thing. 

First I tried making my row and then turning the chain to proceed back and forth.  While this worked well using only black, once I started into the colours of the pattern, I quickly realize this would not work at all for the effect I wanted.  Next I tried an afghan hook and doing the afghan (or Tunisian) stitch.  I didn’t have an afghan hook long enough.  With 200 stitches on the hook, it was jammed so tight I couldn’t really work it.  I looked for a hook with a long extension, but had no luck.  I decided to make one and while I did succeed, in a limited sort of way, once again I discovered that it worked great for black only, but once into the pattern I didn’t care for the effect.  By now I was used to cutting my yarn and starting over.  The fourth time turned out to be the charm.  I made my foundation chain.  I left long tails at start and finish and cut the yarn.  Back to the beginning, I made my first row.  I left long tails and cut the yarn.  Back to the start and repeat.  At last, I achieved the look I wanted! 

Working around my busy work schedule, I managed to get the throw done in time for the club’s annual summer party, which is usually attended by about 700 people.  One of my friends took custody of the blanket and showed it off as she sold books of raffle tickets....and in fact, she sold out all the tickets.  I was very excited that the club successfully sold all its tickets and made so much from the blanket.  When I made the draw, I was very pleased to see that a member from another chapter had won it.  His wife was thrilled and kept it around her shoulders much of the rest of the party as it was fairly chilly that summer. 

A few weeks later, she approached me about making another afghan for them.  They wanted this one to be personalized and to have the Yamaha V-Star logo on it.  While they loved the Harley afghan, they ride a V-Star.  After all the work I’d had to do on the Harley one, I told her I needed to think about it.  A month after that I said I was still thinking.  In the meantime, I’d been all over the Internet trying to find a V-Star pattern, or at least a V-Star logo in a usable size.  Once again it wasn’t meant to be.  I still hadn’t actually decided to do it, though, and in fact was disinclined to do so.  The next month she asked me again.  I told her I couldn’t even think about starting until late the following spring.  She didn’t mind that.  I told her it would be prohibitively expensive.  She asked how much and I quoted the price for materials, plus an extra amount to stitch it up.  I figured that would put her off.  Imagine my surprise when she agreed and I suddenly found myself creating my second graphgan. 

So now I have two motorcycle logo graphs that I’ve created.  I thought to upload them to Ravelry, but they rejected the upload because of the copyright matter.  I can’t say I blame them.  At any rate, here are my pictures.  The Harley blanket is finished, but the V-Star is still a work in progress.  I’ll update the post with final pictures as it’s done.   Enjoy!
Harley afghan completed summer 2014
V-Star afghan design - crocheting currently in progress