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, May 30, 2007

The Knitting Meme

Every damned time I swear I'm NEVER doing another meme something compelling comes along. Since this blog enterprise started life as a(nother) knitting blog I figured I might as well play along....

Bold for the things you've done, Italic for the things you want to do, plain for the things you don't plan to do (and my special innovation, BLOCK CAPS for the things you think are really stupid.)



Garter stitch


Stockinette stitch

Socks: top-down

Socks: toe-up

Mittens: Cuff-up


Moebius band knitting


Drop stitch patterns

Slip stitch patterns

Twisted stitch patterns

Knitting with bamboo yarn

Charity knitting

Toy/doll clothing

Knitting with circular needles

Baby items


Continental knitting

Cable stitch patterns (incl. Aran)

Lace patterns


Teaching a child to knit

American/English knitting (as opposed to continental)

Household items (dishcloths, washcloths, tea cosies...)

Knitting socks (or other small tubular items)on two circulars

Knitting with someone elses handspun yarn

Knitting with dpns

Holiday related knitting


Knitting with cotton


Knitting two socks (or other small tubular items) on two circulars simultaneously


Knitting with wool

Textured knitting

Kitchener BO


Long Tail CO


Knitting and purling backwards

Knitting with selfpatterning/selfstriping/variegating yarn


Knitting with synthetic yarn

Writing a pattern


Tubular CO

Freeform knitting

Short rows

CUFFS/FINGERLESS MITTS/ARMWARMERS (Eldest made one of these; looks like a cast. But damned if it isn't a hit among her peer group so don't listen to un-hip me.)

Knitting a pattern from an online knitting magazine

Knitting a gift

KNITTING FOR PETS (It's enough for me to keep up with the people. Your mileage may vary.)


Knitting in public

Button holes

Knitting with silk

Knitting with recycled/secondhand yarn

Knitting with banana fiber yarn

Domino knitting

Knitting with soy yarn


Knitting with your own handspun yarn

Designing knitted garments

Knitting with alpaca

Norwegian knitting

Teaching a male how to knit (this entry really bothers me. Why should the gender matter? Must we have a history lesson?)

Knitting smocking

Knitting with beads

Stuffed toys

Knitting with cashmere


Knitting with linen

Knitting for preemies

Thrummed knitting


Knitting with metal wire

Knitting with camel yarn

Mittens: Tip-down

Participating in a KAL

Two end knitting

Graffitti knitting (knitting items on, or to be left on the street)

Publishing a knitting book (see below)

Knitting to make money (nope, can't profit from the craft or the magic will go away.)

Dyeing with plant colours

Knitting items for a wedding

Olympic knitting!

Knitting for a living (Nope, can't profit from it. See above: would spoil the magic.)

Dyeing yarn

Knitting art


Machine knitting

KNITTING WITH DOG/CAT HAIR (I love my pets but not their fur--too short, too inelastic, too "uck.")

Hair accessories



Knitting on a loom


Can't tell much in-situ:

But I'm awfully pleased with how it's turned out.

(I'm aging myself again) "Extreme Close-Up!!!!"

I would like to point out that my starting point was a free pattern from Hello Yarn. Please go browse; someone with such a well-written free pattern should get some boost in business. I'll be doing my bit soon.

Oh and also? This turned out to be a very good book about food. Good enough to earn a spot on the cookbook shelf with a handful of Post-Its strewn within its pages.

The Ninth Doctor

Who, that is.

HBF and I finally caught an episode over the weekend. One with Daleks and everything. Heck, that was what stopped the channel-surfing: a shiny new Dalek filmed in glossy "nighttime TV" mode instead of matte "daytime TV" mode. And fancy backgrounds.

"Oh this must be the new Dr Who series" thought I. Having been fans from way back, we were both interested. I was also curious because before my newsgroup became unmanageably large one of the off-topic threads was about this very series: I knew the Ninth Doctor was played by someone named Christopher Eccleston, the sonic screwdriver had been resurrected and that there was at least one openly bisexual character. All very good stuff, in theory.

Not in practice. I wanted it to work and kept trying to like it but the show was just too slick.

Part of the charm of the "original" series (the one which ended at Sylvester McCoy's Seventh Doctor) was its low budget for which the show compensated with excellent writing and character acting. Ferpitysake Douglas Adams wrote for the show; what's not to like? HBF was always a big Jon Pertwee fan and we both liked Tom Baker but I was also very fond of Peter Davidson's Doctor. So it's not as if we didn't have a basis for comparison...which was part of the problem.

The Ninth Doctor was okay--a little on the bland side but certainly better than Colin Baker. I rather liked his striking appearance; it suited my whole "The Doctor" concept. It was the rest of the show which got to me, for the very reason I'm certain twelve-year-old Eldest would've liked it: the damned thing looked just like every other "supernatural" show on TV from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to that wretched Van Helsing movie to Charmed. Lots of special effects which I tried to like ("Look! The show finally got a budget!") but which ended up being distracting especially given the film noir setting in most of the episode. The X-ray-green shootings were detracting horribly from the plot point that the Emperor of the Daleks was making, namely that The Doctor was going to have to kill most of Humanity to also kill off the Daleks (again.)

The "openly bisexual" character turned out to be one of the better bits. Body language and hairstyle led me to think that the studly swashbuckling man-pretty Companion was a likely candidate and I turned out to have been correct. Just before the final battle, he kissed a female lead firmly on the mouth (with words so wooden I thought "yeah right") then turned and (with interesting intensity) kissed the Doctor firmly on the mouth. Although I've always been very much in the "Companions don't KISS*!" camp it was scripted well: the Doctor stood there with a bemused expression, which is what someone from an alien species ought to do in such a situation. Not repulsed, not aroused, just...curious. The Boy-Companion (surprisingly) died fighting the Daleks but did so very well in a classic action-hero gunfire way complete with witty exit line.

The other Companion was one of the not-so-great bits. If you clicked on that link you'll see she's one of those blondes with the jet-black furry eyebrows which I found horribly distracting. Not only that but she was the catalyst for the entire very-bad last half of the episode back on Earth. That was when I really lost patience with the script. Why? I'll tell you why.

The Doctor sent the Girl-Companion back to Earth on the TARDIS with one of those classic "if you're listening to this broadcast I'm likely already dead" videos. Of course we never expected her to stay on Earth but what I didn't expect was to have quite so much air-time of her whining about how much she was going to miss him before getting started on the Doing Something...and I definitely didn't expect the Something to be "breaking the TARDIS" least of all with brute force.

Let me backtrack a minute. Longtime Dr Who fans will know all about the TARDIS, her cloister-bell and how huge she really is. So I was fine with the Girl-Companion saying that the TARDIS was a sentient being with whom they could communicate and even liked that plan. I thought "okay, so she'll talk the TARDIS into going back." Notice I say "talk into." Wanna know why? Because Dr. Who has a longstanding tradition of using brains rather than brawn to solve problems. Wit too, for that matter. Never in a million years did I think that the Girl-Companion would attempt to "communicate" with the TARDIS by using an iron chain to pry bits of it open.

It got better too: the chain went out the open TARDIS door to a freaking truck where the wanna-be-boyfriend gunned the engine. William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee must all have been rolling in their graves over that one. I sat there thinking "well of course that's never gonna work; the TARDIS isn't going to allow petty vandalism...heck I'm surprised the door is being allowed to stay open so long. Any second now the door is gonna slam shut and break that chain leaving Rose (yeah I knew her name all along but floral and dewy she ain't) to negotiate on her own. Any second now..."

I threw a ball of yarn at the television when they came back with a bigger truck.

It was a sad day for scriptwriting but no real surprise when the huge yellow truck worked, the bit of TARDIS snapped, light flashed and Girl-Companion started communicating telepathically with the TARDIS. Ditto for the special-effects yellow magical flamelike stuff pouring out of her eyes to indicate she'd Become One with the good old blue police-box. I wasn't even particularly surprised when she resurrected ONLY the Boy-Companion from the dead; by then I'd seen sixteen or eighteen commercials ("since when does Dr. Who have commercials?!") for his spin-off show and knew he had to stick around one way or another. More special-effects magic caused all the Daleks to be dissolved into gold glitter while I got good and sick of the possessed voice giving us an "all dust" refrain.

It was definitely high-tech television entertainment and my kids would probably think it was swell but I felt horribly bereft. Went to the website to see if maybe there were an explanation and found that not only had it gone all high-tech as well but I was still a Doctor behind.

The Tenth Doctor looks like he ought to be a Wiggle. Yes I know how much I'm showing my age. I don't care; I'm off to watch my VHS tape of Full Circle.

*They don't kiss the Doctor, that is. Kissing each other is perfectly acceptable.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Time Is Fleeting

"madness...takes control/so listen closely..." Sorry, wrong reference.

I wanted to talk about the more somber version of passing time.

For example I'm awfully happy I took this picture because two hours later a storm rained these flowers entirely away.

On the other hand I'm not a bit happy the War (do I really need to add "Iraq" any more?) has taken so many young people and civilians. I was absolutely incensed last week when the US House totally wussied out and gave us that "we knew we'd just get vetoed" song-n-dance. Yeah right. I fucking changed parties from Independent (strongly leaning Libertarian) to Democrat specifically TO register my outrage over the war and can't imagine I'm the only one. I thought the whole reason we gave the Dems so many votes was so that we could maybe get the troops out sooner rather than later. Whatinthehell was that shit last week, huh?

I knew I'd so married the right guy when I came home to learn that HBF had electronically written letters of complaint to all our congresspeople...not just from him but from me as well. I'd been stomping around bitching to the television; he took action on my behalf. Praise him.

I'm also sad we mortals have lost Charles Nelson Reilly. I adored him as a child; thought he was funny and smart and nice all three. Wished he were an honorary uncle...and that I had more than one episode of Lidsville since everyone knows Vincent Price was right when he said villains were better. Requiscat in pace.

On the other hand if time didn't pass we wouldn't get new babies and I saw an awfully cute video of one today. If time didn't pass the Ducklings wouldn't get older either which would mean that they would stop amazing me with how well they're turning out.

Time keeps one humble as well: Saturday evening the Ducklings and I were enjoying the hammock (recently hung in the [long-since-retired] apple orchard.) By "enjoying" I mean that the two smaller ones were lying on either side of me while Eldest was swinging the hammock very hard. Loads of fun till a Grandmama-tied knot suddenly gave way on a downthrust and my right hip slammed into the ground with force. It was completely ha-ha funny at the time but now whenever I get up I'm stiff-n-sore a whole day and a half later which kind of sucks. As do the jokes about "you broke Mom's ass!"

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Finished Mittens

They seem pretty self-explanatory:

I'm still very fond of the pattern used for the palms.

So is Middle Duckling, although the flash didn't go off.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Who Knew I'd Start A Trend?

Youngest Duckling wants a pair of mittens too:

There will be a "Buu" in that top diagram.

For those of you not into anime, the explanation.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Mitten Update

I finished the body of the left mitten Saturday night:

I was in a particularly lousy mood and got really fed up when I realized the thing was too small for my own hand. Started wondering why I'd spent so much time on mittens in the first place. Was seriously ready to ditch the whole project and go back to something far less fiddly...but Middle Duckling stopped me. Not only is the mitten a perfect fit for him but he thought the squirrel was cool.

I think the whole "unique" concept was appealing too. My favorite part isn't the back but the palm--I really like the way the small pattern knit up. It's smooth and double-thick the way a Norwegian mitten ought to be.

I also can't get over how very well-designed the pattern is. That ladder-like border up the sides with the two light stitches separated by dark ones was particularly helpful in keeping track of which row I was doing.

Once I decided to keep going and do the other mitten the Fates rewarded me--I found my pair of short size-zero circulars. Now I won't have to do the other cuff on four double-points!

For those of you already sick of knitting content I give you a shot of my kitchen sink kitsch-ledge:

The statue on the far right is the St. Joseph I found in the garden.

Post Scriptum: Since composing the post I finished the left thumb and started in on the right mitten...ribbing went MUCH better with two circulars. Middle Duckling has already spirited the left mitten away to his Special Hiding Place so pictures will have to wait a bit.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Speaking of the Peonies...

They've grown quite a bit since I staked them:

My new perennial bed isn't doing too badly least not for its first spring:

The tulips are starting to fade--the early bloomers are waning and the late bloomers are coming into their own. The "Shirley" ones got a lot more purple over a week or two--see?



The other tulips before:
Very astute observers will notice four Shirley tulips amongst the Rembrandts...yes I was obsessive-compulsive enough to move them while in full bloom. I figured even if they withered instantly they'd be in the right spot for the following year...but they bounced back anyhow.

And today (May 20):

Oh and here's also the bouquet Youngest Duckling picked for me alongside a couple garden casualties:

Change of Pace

Remember the horribly hormonal mitten disaster? The one in which I thought orange and blue would be cute together? Well I finally got back to that pattern.

Recalling that my ill-fated worsted adventure was far too large, that ribbing needs to be on smaller needles and that I myself knit incredibly loosely I started with the tiniest pair I had:

It almost NEVER happens but I actually produced something too small. Amazing.

So I tried again with much more success. Also more frustration: had to do the ribbing on double-points after years of being spoiled on the two-circular construction method. No it wasn't planned--I discovered all my short circular 0's had lost a tip (don't bother with bamboo that thin; it doesn't hold up)and that the longer "magic loop method" size was far too stiff.

You haven't lived the knitting life till you've done two-color ribbing on four (not even five) double-points. Yes I jest...and have a strong feeling I'll be placing a KnitPicks order soon. (Sure they're the Wal-Mart of the knitting world but I hear their needles are good.) I was so-o-o grateful to have intact #2's the right size.

The pattern is quite excellent; I've been impressed with its ease of use.

Oh and also? This was the year I finally remembered to stake up the peonies.


He thinks I'm the Great Kitty Ur-Mother.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Is Lace Worth It?




The join was more forgiving than I'd expected:


I'm quite pleased.

Flower Intermission

I lied. Sue me.

Don't worry; I'll get to the scarf eventually. (See the teaser?)

Tulips are hard to grow up here. I've been fighting critters and elements ever since we moved seven years ago. Maybe they turned out well this year because I used rubber mulch. It reeked of tires for the first week so I thought a "foreign" scent would scare nibblers. Seems to have worked reasonably well.

Also ... the Hybridils:

I always add one extra week for "hybrid" and another for "too close to road salt" but they really are hard to kill:

I wish I had more of this one:

Hey! Wanna know what I learned tonight?

Tulips are smart flowers: they close up near sundown. I can't believe it took me three decades to notice.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Yes the title has significance. At first it was just my shorthand photo label for "madeira scarf blocking photographs" but upon reflection I realize that it captures my whole lace-blocking experience pretty well. In the "as a hatter" not "as a wet hen" sense.

When last we met, I had finished knitting the Madeira Scarf (Possibly Table Runner) and was intimidated by the grafting process. That turned out not too badly. I caught the rhythm of the thing fairly well--you go through TWO stitches on each side each time: one is the "old" stitch you went through previously and one is the adjacent stitch. I didn't pay close enough attention to the way the stitches were mounted so I ended up with a purl ridge on the right side of the work, but heck, for my first time grafting it was certainly quite presentable. Didn't even have to rip out anything.

So I had a finished but unblocked long skinny rectangle of knitting. The first problem was finding a place for the pin-out. I knew I needed someplace level that would remain undisturbed by kids or critters for a good 24 hours which was hard to even consider in my overstuffed house, but I finally created a spot by moving my stash-tub:

I thought that using a striped bath towel was just too clever...and we all know pride goeth before a fall. Thinking it would all be no big deal, one evening after work last week I tossed my scarf in the sink with my lagniappe wool-wash from Knitivity:

I thought it was kind of fascinating that the yarn was pink but the water turned blue and thought of both red cabbage and litmus paper. The soaking-and-squeezing part was very easy so in no time flat I had a piece of damp lace all ready and waiting for the "severe blocking" that was going to make it open up into a Thing of Beauty if not also a Joy Forever.

That was when it started getting dicey. What I didn't know then but do know now is that blocking a piece of lace is not an enterprise one can do lightly or in one's spare time. Silly me, I thought that pinning out six feet of openwork was something I could do with a glass of wine during Olbermann. So fine, still pleased with my striped-towel idea I started at one end:

That part looks pretty good but only because it took something like fifteen minutes just to get the first two pattern repeats pinned down. Right away I learned about frame of reference because I had to figure out what was going to be pinned first and then used to brace the stretching process. I decided on the side selvedge because it was formed by a slipped stitch at the beginning of every row and therefore didn't have as much "give" as the rest of the knitting...also it was easier to pin a straight line against a stripe than it was to figure out how to stretch those triangles into aesthetically pleasing shapes.

By the time that picture was taken I realized I'd bitten off a far bigger time commitment than one evening could chew. Pinning lace is not brain surgery but does take patience, eye-hand coordination, a dedicated spirit and plenty of time. Also good knees since you're on them a lot. Halfway through Countdown and a second glass of wine I was running low on all of those and starting to realize what a crazy thing I'd gotten into. I'd also discovered that I would need not just a second bath towel (which I knew) but a THIRD and that the length issue was going to be a big problem. Also that if you pin too much in one direction without stretching and pinning out the other directions you get Skew Problems which require UNpinning at least some of the previously-tediously-placed pins.

It was about then I realized "my life just doesn't have room for lace." Blocking lace is more like a religious event than a casual household task and as such there ought to be a place of worship. I envision an entire gymnasium with wrestling mats permanently on the floor already stamped with grids and pie-divided circles and big triangles in permanent ink. There would be boxes of kneepads, endless T-pins (those straight pins hurt the fingerpads after a while) plenty of large plastic rulers and magnets. Calming chamber music would play quietly in the background and there would always be an attendant for "could you help pull on this?" or "does that look even to you?" People like me could tell their families "I'm going to the Lace Gym; I'll be back...eventually" then take all the time they needed to make their creations lovely. Heck, the very act of getting to the Lace Gym would be time to change mindset from "everyday" to "contemplative."

Yeah, well, not in this world.

So after much grunting and struggling and pulling of pins and interruptions, by eleven-thirty the first night I'd gotten this far:

You'll notice right away that's only half a scarf. I got about two repeats into the other half and realized it was too late and I was too tired to be thinking of actually finishing the project that night. So what did I do? Wrapped the other half up in the now-wet towel I'd used to press out the extra water way back at the beginning of the evening. Pinned the rest of it out early the next morning but in a much more "git 'er DONE!" kind of way. Like with half the number of pins and three times the attitude. Yeah, it had dried out; I shook some club soda out over my thumb (used to sprinkle shirts for ironing at age 2.5) to wet it down before I left for the day.

The next night I started unpinning. Lasted about five minutes. Then I got very Alexandrian by pulling up the towels with knitting and pins still attached. Took another night to extract the pins back into their sealed container. Was it worth it?

Tune in next post. Blogger won't let me put all the photos in this one. Poo.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Scarf Update

The Actual Knitting part of my new project is done.

Astute observers will notice a yarn needle attached to the right-side-up half; that's because the next step of the instructions is "graft together." Having not ever grafted anything before I'm pretty intimidated but I downloaded a video which I hope will solve my problems.

The step after the grafting is the blocking--my knitting basket contains two boxes of "350 dressmaker's straight pins" each waiting patiently. I can see already how much the lace will benefit from blocking but I'm still trying to find a place for said blocking. Here's a closer view.

I never thought I'd "get the hang of" lace but after a few pattern repeats I had it pretty much memorized. I still checked the diagram (how much I prefer charts to words!) but with only a few key facts (it starts with mostly "K8" ; there's always yarn-overs separating the action) the row before will pretty much indicate what the current row should be...which is infinitely helpful for troubleshooting.

This was a project started without a clear recipient in mind--those are quite rare for me. Usually I already know for whom I'm knitting even before the cast-on. Not this time: I just wanted to make that pattern out of Ray's yarn. Had no idea what I'd do with a pink lace scarf though. It turned out okay since the vision came sometime between the seventh and eighth repeats of the first side. Remember MIL's older sister Cida? She's turning eighty on her next birthday and a scarf squashes down nicely into tightly-packed luggage. (Just never you mind that her birthday isn't till New Years'.)

Meanwhile I've started playing around with those squirrel mittens again--this time with Kroy sock yarn in less violently contrasting colors ("flax" and the apparently discontinued "dark green.) Too soon to tell if they're a success yet though.

Saturday, May 05, 2007


It's hard to kill

A daffodil.

I made that up just now (does it sound like Ogden Nash?) but it really is true: even the bed right by the road where the salt gets all over is starting to bud.

The sheltered bed is still in full bloom but getting older:

My grape hyacinths always take a while to get there but last forever once they do.

Birthday tulip buds...
...and tiny poppy shoots.