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Behold! It is the mystery project that absorbed all free time around it, a grand adventure in total pointlessness, THE CROSS-STITCHED AIM CONVERSATION! Go ahead, I’ll wait.

(many thanks to Angry Jim for having the good sense to scan the finished object in.)

Right then. Remember AIM? The graphically hideous chat program favored by office drones and college whelps alike? For some time I’ve saved nearly every conversation had, and there the files sat, sad little things not even counting as proper text on their own, needing a browser to open and read them. I’d long thought of giving them physical form through needlepoint, but downconverting pixellated graphics to even simpler icons was surprisingly challenging. Add into the mix the mathematical formulations needed to get it near the size wanted – I’d hoped the final form would be closer to the width of an actual AIM window on a computer screen, but had to settle for 7 inches across – and you have a project dredging ever-so-slowly along before a single stitch is made.

As the prep work dragged and fell by the wayside, other crafters picked up on the ephemeral- electronic / physical – durable juxtaposition, creating stitched text messages, embroidered spam, blackwork emails. While these were all lovely works (particularly the embroidered spam which made excellent use of color and typography), they didn’t capture the enormity of what I yet hoped to do. Nor were the fonts correct.

Facing an eight-hour plane ride and being what might be politely termed a ‘nervous flyer’, I took the opportunity to get the project in gear. Extensive research on the exact banal shades of gray used, how best to translate the writers’ chosen fonts into legible stitchery, the emoticon potentials – all helped distract me from the constant, constant knowledge I was hurtling well over 500 miles per hour 45,0000 feet above an enormous body of water in a large metal tube.

5 months later, after working solidly day after day after day after day and not even reaching the halfway point of completion, I put the project aside. Toting a gigantic scroll around can get a bit tiresome. Things picked up again after entering the ‘Small Stories’ exhibit – and things really picked up when I did some quick math and realized I had less than a month to finish what had taken me three to do in the past. The days were a blur of inane conversation and needlework. But Lo! IT IS FINISHED. Had I realized for a second how long this would’ve taken….but then again I must have, or I wouldn’t have dragged my feet so long in starting.

I’d still like to make my original dream of having a wall full of conversations happen, but I’m still a bit burned out from this one. If you’d like to see a slightly larger image, along with more of my ‘artist statement’ (apart from ‘I felt like making a really big cross-stitched AIM conversation’), the project got a write-up on Mashable. Huzzah!

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With bright sunlight still shining, though not quite as long, and weather still warm but carrying a cool breeze, Free Pattern Friday will slowly drift back to knitting as the weather changes seasons. In the meantime, this week’s pattern continues the 50 State flower quilt and features Utah, a state known mostly for a small splinter group of a larger religious movement. If you’re desperate for some hint of Mormonism, you can read this pleasant conversation between two friends about one’s life in a Mormon family. Or actually, read this breakdown of Twilight via Mormon symbolism, wherein Stephenie Myers didn’t realize how much she imbued the book with Temple learnings (or creepy gender politics).

Instead, here are a handful of gorgeous images from a genuinely beautiful state. Utah has numerous national parks, including Arches National Park which contains the famous natural bridge featured on the Utah license plate. As a bonus, hiking trails run the gamut from several hours to 30 minutes, and all will make you feel as if you stepped into a Wile E. Coyote cartoon.

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I did some basic research on Oklahoma hoping to find some edifying tidbit to share on the Sooner State, instead of lazily going for the obvious reference. That didn’t pan out so…

We know we belong to the land! And the land we belong to is grand!

You may notice the ugly new watermark covering the image – please feel free to thank Ebay user bythelightofthemoon, aka Etsy’s toknittowoo, as their repeated theft of free patterns led me to this decision. Also note that it says right there in plain Latin that this stuff is FREEEEEEEEEEE for personal use. Do note if you’ve not already the clarifying paragraph on the RIGHT under HEADS-UP, stating the specifics of this personal usage.

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As I belatedly type this on the eve of Hurricane Irene, after a day’s worth of panic from the radio (“If you and your children should find yourself near downed power lines, don’t touch them!” Thanks guys!), trudging through endless grocery lines, and now nervously wondering if the few people I know stuck in Manhattan made the last subway train out (deadline: 12:00pm), it all seems a bit extreme.

We on the East Coast are geographically fortunate, mostly avoiding natural disasters that plague the rest of the country. We’re on a major fault line, but it’s mostly inactive. We do get storms, but they’re weakened after moving up the coast. We’ve even had the occasional tornado, though with the dense build-up they’re rarely as destructive as those in the Midwest and barely touch down. So it’s a bit of a surprise having a hurricane follow an earthquake in less than a week.

The yin and yang of stereotypical New York mindsets, the high-strung neurotic and the blasè rock, are reacting about as expected. For every gallery owner panic-grabbing fontina and prosecco at Eataly screaming “I HAVE CHILDREN TO THINK OF!”, there’s a stoopfull of elderly Hispanic guys quietly chatting and playing dominoes (which they would continue doing whether the sun came out or a car exploded in front of them). Given how hectic day-to-day life in a crowded city is, either mentality is an acceptable coping mechanism, but it’s funny how few major disasters the city has to deal with. With the 10-year anniversary of September 11th drawing near that may seem strange to write, but it’s the 10-year anniversary, and how many large-scale terrorist attacks have we experienced since? Exactly.

Which brings me rather long-windedly around to this week’s pattern, from a state that’s no stranger to devastating natural events.

Stay safe, everyone.

On a random tangent, I declare the Allan Moore lookalike the Stevie Nicks of Kansas, for while the rest of the band plays 12 instruments each, he sings and plays tambourine. And sports a boss beard.

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This week’s pattern comes from the Lone Star State, while I’m currently inhabiting the Hawkeye State. Some states are bigger than others, but due to jet lag it’s difficult to riff eloquently on Texas’ storied history. Please enjoy this instead. I lack the energy to do the most basic research on Texas, but spending 20 minutes editing Wikipedia for an MST3K reference? No problem.


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