Blogsam and Jetsam

Flotsam is the part of the wreckage of a ship or its cargo found floating on the water. Jetsam is cargo or parts of a ship that are deliberately thrown overboard, as to lighten the ship in an emergency, and that subsequently either sinks or is washed ashore. This is my personal blog version of the above. Loot freely.

My Photo
Location: The Hinterlands, Upstate NY

I'm annoyed that the world is going crazier faster than it used to be. But it's interesting to watch.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


...The maybe-six of you who read this blog and didn't go to high school with me think yesterday's post was complete hubris, let me elaborate.

I was the latchkey only child of a divorced woman with Major Issues and a downward mobility urge. When given the choice between buying a two-bedroom house in town a block and a half from the school or a 14 x 70 mobile home in a park a mile outside the city limit, she picked the latter just before I began seventh grade. The following summer my father stopped paying child support and my mother preferred to get by without rather than do anything to alter that situation.

By the time I hit high school I'd figured out that scholarships were my only ticket out of the madness.

Which isn't to say I wasn't a seriously pencil-necked geek before, 'cause I was. My mother still has at least two years of all-A-all-the-time report cards and a bunch more dotted with the occasional B. I think the biggest thing that helped in that regard was being a skilled reader by the time I hit kindergarten--so if you've got a kid who's actually interested by all means get them started on phonics early.

Not that it will help with anything non-academic though...what my mother doesn't have is any picture of me from about age ten to 14 because I've hidden or destroyed them all.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Well DUH.....

You paid attention during 100% of high school!

85-100% You must be an autodidact, because American high schools don't get scores that high! Good show, old chap!

Do you deserve your high school diploma?
Create a Quiz

As those of you who knew me in high school will no doubt attest.

The Best Peanut Candy EVER:

This was one of the photos Blogger refused to post ages ago. Those little cylinders are Brazilian of course, and contain ONLY peanuts, sugar and salt. I don't know how it's done but they blow the doors off Reese's cups. Even if they do look like elephant poo.

Some Pictures

The crocheted baby blanket, companion to the one I posted here: Blogsam and Jetsam: And There Was Also Knitting

The whole thing at a (not technically good) distance.

And finally, Duncan the Cat looking particularly cute. No, his eyes are not two separate colors; that's a trick of the lighting.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Disjointed... what this post is going to be. The four-day weekend is always disorienting and we're still in the midst of Major Family Issues so I'm not at my verbose best.

Thanksgiving itself was wonderfully low-key. The cook (ie me) wasn’t rushing anything and with nobody due but the immediate in-house family the Ducklings and I made a leisurely day of it and served at five. I thought about doing a run-down of all the stuff we made but then decided that would be pretty dull…so I’ll leave you with the secret to my creamed cauliflower: fresh cilantro.

Friday was the day I saw footage of terribly young soldiers in the field enjoying their Thanksgiving meals and every single one of them was thankful "to be alive." That was heartrending and sent me into a rant about the wrongness of the Entire Iraq Mess but then...THEN...the news channels all showed footage of the "Black Friday" shopping fiasco with people literally running into stores as soon as their doors were opened. The juxtaposition about killed me.

What is wrong with us?!? One show said that the average individual will spend nine hundred dollars on holiday shopping. Even when one takes into account that the news shows have to promote the people paying for their advertising and therefore have a big "buy-Buy-BUY" mentality, that seems a startling amount. An insane amount.

Our country's consumerism makes me the sickest at the holiday season. Even Sam-the-Atheist thinks a big birthday party in the dead of winter is a great idea, but since when is any party supposed to be about the presents?! Hobbits, of which I am also fond, give presents to other people on their birthdays so I can see how that might get tied to a nice guy like Jesus, but I really don't think He would like the way things have turned in post-millennial America. Whatever happened to "It's the thought that counts?"

The competition to get the Newest Hottest Gizmo always confuses me because there are, after all, TWELVE days of Christmastide. My kids have known for just years that if they can't/don't get what they want under the tree on Christmas Day we can always work something out in the early parts of the new year depending on how much they really wanted the item in the first place. They have blessedly not become hugely about the "stuff" of the holiday in the first place; I wish I knew what particular thing we did to cause it. I also wish I knew why other people go ballistic to get The Exact Everything On The List All By Christmas Eve. It's a holiday season after all.

In other family news, MIL is moving out in the spring and we’re getting Youngest Duckling some counseling. No, they’re not related events. Aside from both being sources of stress, that is.

Best SPAM title of the entire four-day weekend: clandestine cheeky delphinium. The imagination boggles!

Best new information of the day: MIL has to stay at least another week in Florida because the older sister with whom she’s staying just damaged her right wrist in a fall and therefore needs someone not only to drive but to care for her husband who has had Parkinson’s Disease for the past fifteen years and was No Picnic before that.

Worst new information of the day: our Pathologist’s Assistant just gave notice and will be gone as of 12/31.

Obligatory Fiber Content: I stalled out on Wintergarden, which surprised me. First one day went by last week that I didn’t work on it, which then became a second…and a third...then out of the blue I decided I needed to finish off a baby blanket instead. So I did that and still didn’t pick up my two-color knitting. Just wasn’t up for it with all the Other Stuff going on in the house.

I did the strangest thing instead: went back to crochet. Haven’t done any in years. I had enough indestructible acrylic leftover from the first baby blanket to make another baby blanket but didn’t know how big so I knew I wanted to start from the center out…when alluvasudden the words "double crochet like a big granny square only solid" popped into my head fully formed. So I got out a crochet hook and over the holiday weekend produced another baby blanket to compliment the first one and was surprisingly pleased with the results. Pictures someday if I remember to take them…life doesn’t seem to get any less chaotic.

Former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi has an impressive group of men at his back. I watched his collapse on the news channels the other day and he was completely OUT but they managed to get him off that stage still vertical and with a minimum of fuss. As I said to HBF "they managed to smooth over fucking complete heart block! MAN I wish we all had staff so loyal and cool-headed!" I could be wrong, but when HBF told me he was admitted "for twenty-four hour observation" I said "yeah and a pacemaker" so I’m not surprised by this news:

Best discovery of the long weekend: Ron White’s kid sister Shea’s blog over at MySpace. She’s a hoot (and a holler.)

Friday, November 17, 2006

Best Friday Morning Spam Title:

Ciao, Mr. Dichotomize

A whole short story could revolve around that line.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Random Odds and Ends

Every time it has rained this week I've been happy all over again that I got my bulbs in the ground last Saturday.

Robert Heinlein often postulated a dystopia in which the United States became a fundamentalist Christian theocracy. For the past few years I'd been very worried he was going to be correct after all. Now that the election hubbub is settling down I can relax because I think we've managed to dodge that bullet for a nice long while.

Speaking of the election, I'm quite pleased to have a female Speaker but I would've preferred Murtha to be the majority leader in the House.

Middle Duckling had vicious stomach flu in the wee small hours of the morning. I had forgotten how little fun sleep deprivation and explosive body fluids can be.

Monday morning I put MIL on the bus that would take her to the airport so she could visit her sister for a couple weeks. When I got home from work that night I discovered the Entire Rest of the Family had met and voted her off the island completely. That warm breeze you felt Monday evening was my huge sigh of relief...and the cool draft you felt yesterday morning was my informing her of same.

Learned today that my Honorary Niece will be having a baby girl this March--I'm so excited over the prospect of a teeny weeny little one that I'm considering flying out to see them.

Corporate America looks to be skipping over Thanksgiving entirely this year in favor of Christmas...and I'm not sure that's a bad thing. Thanksgiving is the holiday that everyone spends with the less-favored relatives so as to have the Good Relatives around at Christmastime which means everyone starts off grumpy and gets worse with mass quantities of food and drink. I'm much relieved we're NOT having anyone around our table except the kids and BIL this year.

The Oil Tank Issue at our other house may be a thing of the past.

One of my kitchen standbys is Pantry Pasta:
Cook up a box of sauce-catching pasta while sauteing a diced onion in olive oil. Drain the pasta, dump it and the onion into a big bowl (or the pasta cooking pot) then add a can of "petite diced" tomatoes, two cans of white meat chicken, an undiluted can of Campbell's Cream of Something soup (used asparagus tonight; celery and mushroom are both good too) and a jar of pimentos and/or diced mild green chiles. Toss well and then add a dollop or two of sour cream till the texture suits--this also cools down the dish to a kid-friendly temperature. If I didn't have Ducklings who would protest, I'd saute mushrooms with garlic after the onions were done and add those too.

The only Christmas knitting I'm doing this year has been done since before Halloween. Tee fucking hee.

I wouldn't mind owning one of those tacky quarter-fed vibrating beds.

Whatever happened to Bananas in Pajamas?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Wintergarden 3

Day 12 (end of day)

It's starting to look just like the pattern!

In other knitting news, I blocked the tube that's going to become the Holiday Vest in preparation for steeking...but it's been draped casually over the sewing machine ever since. I'm like Donna from That 70's Show* writing in her journal: "tonight I think I'll sleep with Eric." "Tonight I'm really gonna sleep with Eric" "This weekend I'm sure I'm going to sleep with Eric."

Maybe this week I'll steek the vest.

Meanwhile I'm off to put MIL on the bus that will take her away from us till after Thanksgiving. Posted by Picasa


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Wind of Change

That's the song running through my head since the election. Can't wait to see what happens next.

In other news, we had an unseasonably warm Saturday morning so I finally got all my fall planting done. Gift "Shirley" tulip bulbs and lilly of the valley (I had to google the Latin name to remember what it was I had ordered; that's how long it's been) in one bed; 40 mixed "Rembrandt" tulip bulbs in the other. Covered it all with that recycled-rubber mulch which we all agree looks really good...and I'm hoping the smell of rubber (and the bag of topsoil) will help keep the critters from eating my efforts.

Eldest Duckling had a friend sleep over last night--between the gardening and the sleep-deprivation I'm only about a Glasgow 7 today.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Best SPAM in Months

...showed up in my inbox this morning. The "fiber-y" title intrigued me and the body of the message (parsing of random "real" sentences to sneak past spam filters--looks to be leaning heavily on Jane Austen) amused me:

-----Original Message-----
From: Vicki Henry []
Sent: Thursday, November 09, 2006 1:12 PM
To: Samantha
Subject: mezzo-soprano needle-point lace

describe her felicity in a less audible whisper; for, to her inexpressible vexation, she could perceive a curious water-plant, there chanced to be a little alteration. it originated in mrs. gardiner, who, fatigued
but last summer he was again most painfully obtruded on my notice.
a solicitude, an interest which she felt must ever attach her to him with a most sincere regard; and she
"'tis an etiquette i despise," said he. "if he wants our society, let him seek it. he knows where
darcy mentioned his letter. "did it," said he, "did it soon make you think better of me? did you,
"gracechurch street, sept. 6.
elizabeth laughed heartily at this picture of herself, and said to colonel fitzwilliam, "your
aunt and to a milliner's shop just over the way. the two youngest of the family, catherine and lydia,
can afford to marry without some attention to money."
employed in agreeing to everything her ladyship said, thanking her for every fish he won, and
declare; and yet there have been things enough happened in the time. good gracious! when i went
circumstances, of endeavouring even to like bingley's two sisters. her mother's thoughts she plainly
another entreaty that she would be serious, however, produced the desired effect; and she soon
"you are severe on us."
"my dear friend,-
contented, and we shall be on good terms again; though we can never be what we once were to each
continuance; and miss lucas, who accepted him solely from the pure and disinterested desire of an
i am happier even than jane; she only smiles, i laugh. mr. darcy sends you all the love in the world
"i have been most highly gratified indeed, my dear sir. such very superior dancing is not often

Doesn't it read like watching two episodes of Masterpiece Theatre simultaneously?!?

It's awfully tempting to correct the grammar and see how it turns out...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Scarf Toss

Sometimes you just get a lucky shot. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

It's Election Day...

So go VOTE already!!!

HBF and I did so at 7:15 this morning.

International readers please kindly ignore the above.

Election Night

Last time I went to bed reassured that I would wake up to President-Elect Kerry. I wasn't all that crazy about him but he was better than the alternative.

We saw how that turned out.

So this time I'm in it only for Allen and Webb.

Yes, "macaca."

I've been holding a grudge ever since. Not just because of the racism, even though it was. Not just because of the lying about said racism even though he did. Not even because he followed the slur with that horrible "welcome to America" non-sequitur. Those things would have been plenty, but there was this other bit nobody ever mentioned:

That fellow with the videocamera was a kid. Sure he was a legal adult but ferpitysake he was an undergraduate who would be the only person willing, perhaps even eager, to take that gig in the first place. George Allen is an adult fourteen years older than I am*. He slammed a kid. A young, earnest, happens-to-work-for-the-other-side KID.

How uncivilized. How absolutely and completely without-a-doubt UNcivilized. Had I been able to do so, I would've voted Senator Allen off the island immediately...and silly me, I thought all of Virginia would feel the same way. Was convinced that without a doubt Webb would take Virginia; it wasn't even worthy of question.

Good thing I didn't share with anyone other than HBF.

It is now 9:33 Eastern Whatever Time (we just set the clocks back--that's EST right?) and in at least one poll, Allen has been projected to win. I can't tell you how much I hope that poll is wrong.

(prepare yourselves; she's about to wax philosophical.)

WHAT happened to Humanity?!? Look, if you're an atheist like I am you put all your faith and stock into the humans since we're the species that not only conquered the planet but got (are getting?) the closest to figuring out the Universe. Make all the arguments for cetaceans you like (and I agree we should cherish the mammal-friends) but we are the ones who got the dry land, the opposable thumbs and the language: humans sacrificed the ability NOT to choke to death in favor of a "voice-box."

We owe it to ourselves to strive for betterment, personal and otherwise. To do less would be wasting the achievement of countless previous generations. Therefore letting the uncivilized bastards like Allen who are willing to trash a kid of color in favor of a joke to his in-group lessens all of us. ALL of us. I'm hoping we--we fellow humans--won't do that.

I wish I had personal icons to which I could pray.

I'll be retiring soon. Given that the gap is hovering around ten thousand I'm thinking I'll wake up to a recount for Allen and Webb...and hoping that 31 pickups in the House will be a trend.

It's also still statistically possible for the Democrats to take enough of the Senate to make Cheney's life a living hell being the tiebreaker vote. I so hope that's true.

Sister Suffragette over and out...

*Birth date: March 8, 1952

Monday, November 06, 2006

A Book Review: Lisey's Story

Stephen King and I go way back. In the summer of 1978 I was eleven years old and a borrowed hardbound copy of The Shining was the first still-on-the-bestseller-lists adult novel I ever read. It was also the most riveting and the scariest: I had a clear shower curtain for decades thanks to the lady in the bathtub. I also reread the book at least four times in the following three months; that's how compelling the characters and the plot were.

Of course I went back to pick up Carrie and 'Salem's Lot and forward to read everything he wrote, sometimes in paperback but more often hot off the hardbound presses. Stephen King could lure me into a story in a way that few other authors could and he always had a fine yarn to spin. Not only that but I adored the fact that he had started off with little and earned all his fame and fortune with his words alone--that self-made part charmed me.

For many years I was a self-identified "HUGE Stephen King fan." Oh sure, I despised most of Cujo and flat-out stopped reading when I realized "that kid's gonna die in that car!" but I chalked that up to my hatred of all animal allegory. Given my own peculiar life I decided very early into Misery that it was too scary and uncomfortable for me and put it down right then--but I always considered "one too scary even for me" to be high praise. I also admit to having skimmed big parts of the middle of It and a little of The Tommyknockers but I liked them, promise! (I still smile when I think about those aliens not knowing about AC/DC converters.)

I enjoyed watching Mr. King's style change as his career lengthened. I know he and the critics were neither one fond of Insomnia but I adored it and I thought Bag of Bones was one fine story years after I'd read it. I "got" the whole female-empowerment thing of Gerald's Game and Rose Madder and the fast pace of The Green Mile. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven after the second installment of The Plant. Stephen King's choice to kill that one before finishing it was a big blow to our relationship but having started and not finished some of my own writing, I eventually let it slide...and I was damned glad I did because I consider Dreamcatcher to be his finest work ever. It just WORKS (and there's that fantastic line about murder and bacon, too.) He also shared one of the two best pieces of editing advice ever, namely "Second draft = first draft - 10%."

All of which is backstory to explain why it hurts so very much to be saying how little I liked Lisey's Story. I wanted to like it...and do like some bits of it. It's definitely a compelling story since I stayed up till past two the night I started it but overall I was left feeling like the whole book was one big "bool."

Which leads right into the language. Huge problem for me even though I'm a Word Person. On page five of the text I had to google the meaning of a word which could have been really cool if knowing that word meant anything for the rest of the novel but it didn't. I got gratingly sick of "smuck" long before it was explained and was disappointed to find it had nothing to do with mispronouncing the fine expletive "schmuck" which was a pity--I thought it might be a tip of the hat to a funny bit of Porky's dialogue*. I also thought it might eventually go away, but no.

I understand that a big part of the book was language-play and I was fine with that. I enjoyed learning the regionalism "slang it forth" which does indeed have a weight that "cast aside" misses and the dialogue was always in proper voice (although I thought it was insulting to the reader to point out when Our Hero changed from "tried" to "trite" during childhood flashbacks.) But dammit for once in a Stephen King novel the wordplay not only got in the way of the story but kept getting in the way of the story: I spent far too many neurons sorting out that a "delight" was an unsewn afghan square (but wait, afghans are "africans" for no particular reason) just so that we could name the thing Lisey pressed against her maimed tit when "gauge square" would've done just as well.

Oh and getting back to that tit...on top of Everything Else going on in this novel did we really have to have a crazed sexual stalker too?!? Yes, apparently we did, which was when the whole last third of the book turned into Rose Madder Meets Thelma and Louise.

It's not that the book doesn't have its moments because it does. Once I got over the language hurdle, it was a story about love and family and marriage so I was hooked by about page 50. The line at the bottom of page 114 was breathtakingly beautiful:

"..and knowing--of course!--why that small voice was in terror of the things she was saying to him, what it knew all along: not only is this man in love with her, he's half in love with death and more than ready to agree with every mean and hurtful thing anyone says about him.
"No, not quite. He's not quite that vulnerable. Just anyone he loves."

Don't we all know someone like that? Haven't we all been someone like that sometime in our lives?

Little did I know that was pretty much going to be the highlight of the book.

The IDEA is great--a supernatural wellspring from which both creativity and insanity spring--but for such a great place we sure don't see much of it. Adam Mars-Jones was right when he wrote for the Observer-Guardian that the story was short on tension and poorly paced**. I waded through the horribly abusive childhood of Our Hero waiting to get back to the fascinating "Boo-ya Moon" only to have it get short shrift in only about half the last two hundred pages of the book (because we had to stay in This World to deal with the Crazed Stalker dontchaknow.)

Speaking of that childhood...this time it just didn't sell, Stephen, which is a shame since I've always thought your ability to write about what childhood is really like (as opposed to what we wish it were like) was one of your strengths. I tried, really tried, to pretend as much of that abusive father that could be true was true and this was a way to safely write of horrific cutting abuse by an insane parent in a forum that wouldn't get anyone posthumously arrested but it was too much even before The Brother Became Possessed and after that...well, after that I sat there shaking my head at the pages for a while.

The characters were compelling, as always, and the details were superb, but overall it Wasn't Good. Too heavy-handed, too many nested flashbacks, too little supernatural, way too many cute turns of the phrase that would've been fine if they were important in some way but if the importance existed in the author's head he didn't pass it along to me. We had a maiming (with a can opener, no less!) but I didn't get any grisly descriptions thereof so what was the point?!? By the time I got to the big "story" for Lisey (set apart in a jarring typeface; I thought perhaps the gimmicks would pass after a whole book of midsentence sentence cuts) I found myself not really caring how it was done.

Then I was sad in the way I've been sad about my aging boss. What I thought after finishing it was "well, Stephen King was right a few years back when he talked about retiring. This book is proof he should retire. But he's a writer and writers can't retire--they write because it hurts worse not to. So he's going to keep writing this stuff for his own needs and because he's famous and popular some publisher is going to keep selling this stuff and it's just so sad and frustrating."

Interestingly enough, in the Afterword Mr. King specifically points out in answer to critics who say that Famous Author "would have benefitted from actual editing" that he was edited an incredible amount and that makes me curious: what must the first version have read like?

I'm off to find a copy of Needful Things; maybe that will make me feel better.

"...we think he's a real smuck."

"a 'smuck'?"

"yeah, 'smuck'--that's Jewish for 'prick' right?"


Wintergarden 2

The clothespin solution worked, although it looked strange:

After clipping pins about every inch all the way around, I persuaded Middle Duckling to hold the plastic loop in the middle while I used one hand to hold the two ends of the needle and the other to make sure every single clothespin was flipped the same direction before joining.

This time it really did work.

Here is my progress as of this morning:

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I've just started the second ball of purple yarn and of course after making the picot hemline I had to turn it up and safety-pin it in place to see what the edge would look like when finished.

Despite the false start, I'm overall Very Pleased.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Wintergarden 1

I cast on for Wintergarden ( )on Wednesday November 1. The pattern called for 254 stitches so I used the cable cast on to slowly knit them up. I even remembered to put a stitch marker after every 25th stitch so I wouldn't get lost in the high-end numbers. Of course I knit the first round back without joining; that always makes it much easier NOT to twist the fabric and inadvertently start knitting a mobius strip.

I finished that first round while watching the new South Park on Wednesday night. I knew better than to attempt the join when I was that tired and the room was that dark so instead I attempted the join Thursday on a home-for-lunch hour. I ever-so-carefully inspected the thin bit of knitting on the needle while tugging at all the stitch markers to make sure they lined up. Checked for twists, found none, so tentatively joined. Knit four stitches to hold things in place, put point guards on the needle tips and carefully inspected.

Mobius strip. Damn.

Not much of a "damn" though since I was smart enough to not get very far into the round before looking. Tinked out the four stitches and tried again, this time with even more care but also more frustration because 254 stitches piled onto a 36 inch needle fold back on themselves and ruffle up in a most annoying way. Very carefully checked and re-checked then joined again. Knit the same four stitches and then inspected...this time things looked good.

Till I got about two-thirds of the way around. Another mobius strip. Damn! Not only was I pissed but I didn't have time to tink out and had to throw the whole thing back in the basket till I got home.

In the intervening time I decided to definitely purl back across the next row too, still without joining so I could make a slightly bigger edge that would have less inclination to roll around the plastic cord of the needle.

Didn't help the twisting problem one damned bit.

I needed to somehow weigh down the bottom edge of the knitted fabric so it
wouldn't spin. I started by attaching my heavy threadcutter medallion to the lower right-hand corner of the work....

...and then wished desperately for fishing weights, of which I had none. My idea was to pin them along the bottom edge of the knitting to make it heavy enough not to roll but I didn't have anything else to use either. Sat there frustrated and playing around with various combinations of safety pins, all of which were useless.

Then the inspiration came: clothespins! Although I never had much use for most of higher mathematics, one of the branches I did like was topography, and that was what I applied to my problem. Assuming that the weighted end never moved, if I stretched out one of the units of 25 stitches and made sure IT wasn't twisted then applied two clothespins to the edge, I could stretch out another unit of 25 stitches, move the first clothespin along the knitting and rest assured that as long as the end didn't move, the smoothed-out untwisted stitches would stay untwisted no matter how bunched-up they became. Only problem was finding the clothespins but ransacking HBF's great-grandmother's sewing basket yielded two.

So that's what I did. Used my feet to help keep that weighted end from moving and eventually ended up with two clothespins at the far end of the knitting and some very bunched-up stitches behind. With an incredible trust in the fact that mathematics really does describe the Universe, I went ahead and joined without even checking.

It worked! I was so freaking happy I dummied up an example picture just to share with all of

I shouldn't have bothered. Several knitting hours later I observed the following:

Just in case it wasn't obvious, here's a closeup of the half-twist:

Another fucking mobius strip!!

This time there was enough knitting involved to make me completely furious. Nothing to be done but accept the unpleasant truth though, so I went for a walk to calm down. While walking I realized two things: first the the type of cast on wasn't helping my problem and second that the clothespin idea wasn't all bad.

I had used the cable cast on which makes a very nice firm edge at the bottom of one's work but also has an inherently strong tendency to twist due to how the stitches are made: each is somewhat "in front of" the one preceding it. Thus the whole thing wants to skew. An analogy is the half-square knot in macrame which forms such a pretty spiral when one makes a whole rope of them one after another. So fine, first decision was to make sure to use the two-tail cast-on when I tried again.

Then I contemplated my clothespin idea and realized that it had merit. The reason why it had merit was because the clothespins added both instant weight and instant length, which are useful in preventing a twisting problem. The reason why it hadn't kept working was because there were too few clothespins and too much potential for sliding around--the supposedly-weighted "fixed" end and/or the close-to-my-hands "free" end had twisted or else I had somehow missed a pre-existing twist in my last attempt.

Solution? More clothespins!! (Monty Python fans please superimpose "MORE witches!")

After buying an entire package of clothespins I used the two-tail cast-on, purled back and then knit across while strategically placing clothespins along the way:

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Tune in next time to see how THAT attempt worked out.

Wintergarden Gauge Swatch

The yarn I'm using for Wintergarden came on Halloween so after taking the Ducklings around town I made the World's Most Cheating-est Gauge Swatch ever:

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Even though it's barely enough to measure, I learned a lot from the gauge swatch.

I chose 60 stitches because that's the number one casts on for the sleeves of the sweater and in reading through the pattern it seemed like a SMALL number for my favorite bamboo circular needle.

I used my pair of same-sized (US 3) Addi Turbos in the two-circular-needle method which served me so well for hats last winter...and discovered I couldn't stand the infernal clanking of the needle ends.

Solved that problem by switching back to my favorite bamboo and using the "magic loop" method but it was still uncomfortable so I'm glad the sleeves get bigger as they progress.

I also noticed that my gauge with just one color held in my usual (left) hand was a LOT looser than my gauge with two colors, which is why there's that practically ruffled effect at the top and bottom. Said observation led me to decide to do the hem facing not just on a needle two sizes smaller but also with the yarn held in my right hand which produces a tighter knitted fabric.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A Much-Delayed Knitting Picture...

Someone on my newsgroup mentioned that one could load pictures directly from the Google accessory "Picasa" to Blogger and I am ever so grateful!

AGES ago I posted about being scared I wouldn't have enough cotton yarn to finish these booties but I did and here they are:


Notice the very few feet (maybe two and a half) of leftover Speed-Cro-Sheen...that was a close one! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Not Gloria Steinem

...But as she said, this is what forty looks like.

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