Ta Da!

Amanda’s wedding dress is FINIS and I’m SO happy!

I love to sew, and this has been a pure labor of love, but I had forgotten how physically draining sewing can be.  I’ve become used to the wonderful, sedentary world of knit design (with bike breaks) so standing over an ironing board, a mannequin, leaning over a sewing machine or cutting table are skills I needed to strengthen.

But it’s all worth it – the dress has come out beautifully, and the removable over-skirt will allow Amanda to walk down the aisle with a LOT of impact, then remove it so she can dance and chat and move among the guests without knocking drinks off the tables (unless she wants to.)

Cats Love Tulle

Amanda looked SO amazing in the fitting of the dress 2 weeks ago, I can only imagine how great the whole thing will look when it’s on her and ready to wear!  I’m shipping it off today via UPS, I need to find a BIG box so I don’t crush the tulle too much.  Don’t you just LOVE that amazing purple tulle?  Amanda found it online, it’s just divine!  Shiloh the cat loves it, too!

My only regret?  I won’t be able to be at the wedding.  I’m shattered by this, but I had agreed to teach at Shepherd’s Harvest on the same day over a year ago, so I can’t back out now!  And, I adore Shepherd’s Harvest.

Obviously I need to make myself a similar dress and wear that at Shepherd’s Harvest that day!

Actually, I did just buy some fabric for myself.  I’m going to make a simple linen dress with a full skirt that I can wear teaching and biking.  I found some really lovely fabric over at Treadle (they’re a bit pricey, but you can’t beat their eclectic selection, and they’re 10 minutes away by bike!) so I’ll be working that up later tonight after I get some knitting / designing work done.

Change From The Inside?

It’s been no secret that I’m committed to changing the current mindset at some magazines about fair compensation for designers, rights to pattern ownership & online sales compensation.

I feel that as designers we should have the freedom to negotiate a contract that will allow us to:

  1. Earn a respectable fee for a design & providing the sample
  2. Retain pattern rights (if the designer desires)

  3. Control whether patterns are sold online
  4. Negotiate a fair percentage of online pattern sale fees to go to the designer

Setting minimums for these goals isn’t a bad idea, and it wouldn’t lock the designer into a low fee as much as allow a starting point for negotiations.

Interweave has been absolutely BRILLIANT in their response to the knitting community.  They provide excellent quarterly reports of online pattern sales (much as Patternfish, Twist Collective, Ravelry and other online pattern sales entities do).

Vogue Knitting’s been a hold out, but I’ve felt it’s just a matter of approaching whoever makes the decision in a realistic way.  I stopped submitting to Vogue because, as a friend once advised, “Don’t be a party to your own hanging.” And I’ve heard from many designers who feel the situation should be changed.  But how to change it?

I don’t represent anyone but myself, so I can’t make decisions for anyone else.  I’d thought about trying to arrange some kind of a meeting with the folks from Vogue (much as the Interweave folks and I did 3 years ago) but I’ve been hesitant.

Then I was asked by Vogue Knitting to teach at an event here in St. Paul in September.

I thought hard about it, weighing a lot of different variables and I’ve decided I’m thrilled to be teaching at the Creative Connection / BlogHer event on September 15

Here’s my reasoning:

  1. From all accounts the VK Live event was a VERY positive experience for all participants (students, teachers, shoppers & sellers)
  2. I feel perhaps I can effect a change if we can open the dialogue.
    Teaching for VK seems like a good way to do this.
  3. They’ve offered very fair terms for the teaching fees.
  4. I’m teaching at Knitting Lab for Interweave Knits in November (in San Mateo), and it seems fair to give both of these events a good look from the inside out.

I’m INCREDIBLY excited to be part of the Creative Connection – I’d actually written to BlogHer last week asking about speaking or teaching at the shindig, so this may be in part due to that.

The knitting classes / portion of the program will be handled by Vogue Knitting, which makes a lot of sense given their recent VK Live success.

So what do you think?  Grown up decision, or sell out?  Recently I’ve had a flood of requests for me to teach, I think the planets are all in alignment or something, but this is – in some ways – the one I’m the most excited about.  I think it’s because it’s nearby – just 3.5 miles from my house (I can bike!)

I feel that this may be the first step in starting a dialogue, so we can find ways around some of the stumbling blocks I’ve hit in my quest for fair internet pattern compensation!  VK reached out to me, I’ll reach back to them, and we may find a nice middle ground down the road!

Well, Let’s Hope So!

Friday, February 4, 2011 By Rick Levine

(Aug 23 – Sep 22)

You are motivated to get a lot done at work today with the Sun-Mars conjunction activating your 6th House of Employment. The cluster of planets in futuristic Aquarius encourages you to set pragmatism aside and take a risk for what you want. And although you might not be seeing everything clearly now, it’s smarter to trust your intuition and do what makes sense to you rather than wasting your energy trying to persuade others to share your point of view.

It’s no secret that I love my Rick Levine horoscopes (even though I’m not sure if I’m a Virgo or a Leo these days…) because I find them eerily fitting to my current life.

Or perhaps I’m just eerily hopeful that the good ones will pan out for my day!

After Max’s Bar Mitzvah I took a few days to recover (OY!) Well, who wouldn’t need to recover from THIS?

Knitting note: For those who enjoy Candace Eisner Strick’s work, her
sister, Judith (on violin) is the leader of this Klezmer band, Klezmorim.

Killer Cold

And as soon as my recovery seemed complete, Max came down with a croupy cough (he’s prone to those) while leaped to me, then to Hannah, and then to Gerry.

Max is great now, he’s gearing up for a weekend retreat with his B’nai Mitzvah class where they will discuss the facts of life.  We joke that it’s going to be two days of guilt training.

Hannah’s well enough to go to school after 2 sick days.  It’s the start of the semester and she LOVES her classes and hates to miss them.  Besides, today’s a half day, so it gives her a chance to touch base, pick up assignments, then return home and rest for a few days.  She does seem much better, just tired.

Gerry’s hit hard – he’s sleeping right now, and missed his photoshop class last night (he’s training with the hope of finding work doing web video stuff, it’s through a program for disabled Minnesotans).

And me?  Well, any chance my lungs have for a bender is all they need to go nuts for a week.  Laying down is insanely hard, sitting up is tiring, but complaining makes it ALL BETTER.  Wah, wah, wah.


Seriously, though, I’ve been getting a lot of swatching & pattern writing work done, which is great!  I can’t show images of my sketches because they’re currently in contention for some mag issues, but I’d love to share some of the swatch highlights…

The Mother of a Young Man

Cold Night in St. Paul

This was a BIG WEEK for our family, and I’m afraid it’s going to take me a few days to get my energy back.

Thursday after his last session with his Hebrew tutor, we went for a cold visit to our favorite park to see the beautiful, huge moon over St. Paul.

On Friday night Max participated in our evening services, Saturday was the BIG DAY when he chanted parts of the Torah portion Yitro.

Dessert Table!

Allow me to kvell a bit when I say, he knocked it OUT of the PARK!

Max’s singing of the blessings, his chanting, his whole demeanor was so poised and full of grace.  He absolutely glowed with happiness (or was that his very pale skin?) Max made us all very proud – himself included.

Gerry Now, and at HIS Bar Mitzvah

A Bar Mitzvah is a chance for a boy (Bat Mitzvah for a girl) to become a full member of a congregation by leading a service and giving a d’var Torah (a speech about the portion of the Torah he’s been studying.)

It’s a very big event, but it’s not about the party – it’s about claiming and celebrating one’s identity as a Jew, and learning enough to lead a service.  Which is exactly what Max did this weekend (and did it VERY well!)

Max’s portion was Yitro (found in Exodus) and is VERY special to our family.  It’s a great portion, lots of good stuff, and Gerry and I have always loved it.

Yitro, for whom the portion was named, was NOT an Israelite (not  “Jewish”) and that always appealed to me – the non-Jew in the family.

Yitro shows patience, love and intelligence when dealing with Moses and his organizational problems – which is as much as any of us could look for in a father-in-law!

And then Gerry alerted me to an unusual series of connections:

  • Yitro is usually pronouced Jethro in English.
  • Jethro was the well known son of Jed Clampett in the Beverly Hillbillies
  • My family are all from West Virginia [cue the banjo]
  • The part of Jethro was played by Max Baer Jr.
  • MB Jr. was the son of Max Baer, the first Jewish Heavyweight Champ
  • Our Jewish son is also named Max
  • Max’s Hebrew middle name is “Yitro”

Max & Friends at the Lunch

See – it’s all one big coincidence!

The Tallit & Kippot I knit were terrific – Max really loved them!  The extra-cold weather  made some things hard (the challah almost froze in the car) but folks here are pretty much inured to the cold.

Before we went into the service I sang a bit of “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah” to him and he was ready to go up onto the Bima and shine!

Knitters & Knots

With the help of my friend Kathleen, Mavis from the temple kitchen, various Mt. Zion friends & my friend London, the food was ready and plentiful!  Thank you, everyone!

The dancing, the music, the balloons that got tangled in a big knot (good thing I had some great knitters to straighten them out!) are all one big blur for me right now.

With family in from out of town we were pretty busy with dinner last night, then this morning I had a meeting and then brunch with the New York gang.

Hannah, Max & Grandma enjoy the band

I loved seeing Max and Hannah dancing with their cousins and their grandmother – what a wonderful day!  Hannah and her cousin Matthew discovered a shared loved of Anime, and both kids loved spending time with their pretty cousin, Liana.

I think everyone went home very happy, but exhausted – I know I am!

It’s going to take me a few days to recharge my batteries and get my “spoons” back in my drawer.

But it was worth it – this was a once-in-a-lifetime event!

Here Comes The Sun

Tuesday, December 21, 2010 By Rick Levine

(Aug 23 – Sep 22)

The Lunar Eclipse activates your 10th House of Status, emphasizing the important role that you’re being called on to play at this time. Your life may feel fated now, as if something very significant is happening. Your fame and fortune could undergo a sudden change, but your ultimate success depends more on how you handle a tricky situation than what actually occurs.

Okay, I’ll try to be ready for that tricky situation.  Today we’re going to try to go sledding!

On Sunday Max went skiing with friends while Hannah went sledding with friends.  I took Atticus out for a long, beautiful, white walk and Gerry shoveled the deck.  Winter wonderland!

This is NOT Minnesota

I’m feeling the lack of sun more this year than any other year.  I’ve heard that as folks grow older the whole missing-the-sun thing can become more intense (hence the move of so many folks to ‘sun valley’) in retirement.

The everyday aches and pains of Fibro had been pretty well under control until about 2 weeks ago (when I ate some wheat in a feeble protest against the world, that’ll teach ’em!)

But slowly I’ve been coming back to life, getting out and walking as much as I can, doing yoga, stretching, and I’m grateful for any day that I can get out and move or get physical work done in the house.  Huzzah!

Keepin' it small

But today is the SOLSTICE!  The sun will stay around a bit longer, the days will grow, and I will feel more like a human being!

A friend told me this weekend that the days actually start lengthening a few days before the solstice, which made me very happy.  I don’t know whether that’s the reason, whether it’s the fact that Christmas is 4 days away (our small tree is once again in our window seat) or whether it’s my daily Vit D3, walk & adherence to non gluten, but I’m feeling much more like my old self right now.  YAY!

Max & Kathleen Kayak at Lake Ida

I get up pretty early, before the sun is up.  As the light comes into the house, as the sun rises, I can feel my spirits lift and my soul grow.

I hate to say this, because I love being here in Minnesota so much, but it’s definitely hard late in the afternoons when the light just shuts off like a switch has been flipped.

Proud Maxie keep on Shovelin'

Of course, the flip side is that during the Summer the light just goes on and on and on, which is quite wonderful!

Getting to the Summer – or to the Spring when I can ride my bike around again – is the hard part.  In the mean time, I have it on good authority that my big gift is a cycling trainer so I can ride my bike on our enclosed porch and dream of warmer days!

I’m beginning to regret that I’ve not been looking for teaching engagements this Winter – especially ones in the SOUTH.

This is a VERY good sign.  I actually WANT to have some new teaching engagements, and it’s December.

At this time last year I was fearful that I wouldn’t be able to keep the three gigs I’d agreed to over the Summer, but here I am a year later – in the dead of winter – wishing I’d set up more engagements!

Maybe I actually AM learning to manage this fibro thing?

Silence is Golden!

I’ve been very quiet, but it’s because I’ve been working on a few various projects and have been nursing the tail end of a cold.  So here’s what I’ve been doing, for you lovely, patient folks!

MN Knitters Guild

Last night I gave a short talk at the Minnesota Knitters Guild about Standardization And Fashion History – or “Why I want to dress you like an Minoan” It went really well, it was very enjoyable (well, for me at least!) and folks laughed!

I had a chance to see friends I hadn’t seen in a while, and folks who had fallen off of my radar.  THANK YOU MN KNITTING GUILD for hosting me!

As part of my talk I discussed where I am with History on Two Needles and played a short movie that I’d made to show some of my research and back-work.  Here it is, for your eddification:

My projects thus far, some of the pitfalls, and some of the triumphs. No words, just images and music.

Plaid & Cables


I wanted to participate in Shannon Okey’s NaKniSweMo, so this year the planets were finally in alignment and I had a nice-sized project to jump in with.

I’ve just finished this lovely poncho for Imperial Ranch Yarns, I was inspired by their very colorful yarns and wanted to make a BIG piece of fabric.  Two, actually.

So I put them together in the time honored 2 Rectangle Poncho and added a bit of fringe.  I hope you like the colors – they’re pretty out there.  I like to think of this as my “Mondo Period”


The cable rectangle references the vertical strips in the plaid, with the yellow carried up into the cable.  I think this creates a through-line that makes the disparate sections make sense.  Between the cables are tiny eyelets creating a vine lace pattern that mirrors the cable movement.

Plaid Detail & Fringe!

The plaid is one of my favorites, a slip-stitch technique that I teach in my colorwork classes.   It’s not difficult, but it is complex.

Complex and difficult are two different things.  Complex can be broken down into a set of simple actions, and that’s exactly what this technique is.

I won’t say it’s easy, but I will say that even a very new knitter can get it by following the simple steps.

New Classes

I’m currently working this plaid technique up as part of an online colorwork class, and if all goes well I hope to have it ready to go live by December, or January at the latest.  I also hope to have a millinery (hat making) workshop ready to go at that point, too!

The Universal Mitered Bag

Until that time, my current Big 4 Class Roundup [Combination Knitting, Lace Bootcamp, Twisted Float Shrug, Universal Mitered Handbag] are up and running in my NEW classroom space – – and it’s going beautifully! 

Remember, you can easily access any of my online class information by visiting Tell your friends!

By the way, since the classes are ongoing with no specified start date, you can begin at ANY TIME!

That Universal Mitered Bag would sure make a terrific holiday gift for someone. Just sayin’
Hey, you know what else would make a good gift?  A class. Just sayin’

Hope From Mr. Levine

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 By Rick Levine

Yesterday | Today | Tomorrow

(Aug 23 – Sep 22)

It hasn’t been easy accepting the limitations that have been placed on you.

Now, as you finally acknowledge your role in a relationship or on the job, something happens that opens the door of possibilities to what you once wanted but have since let go.

Naturally, this can be exciting, confusing and upsetting all at once. Take a few deep breaths while you consider your choices.

Keep in mind that you have more time than you think to make up your mind.

To say the past few weeks have been – ahem – rather rich and full would be an understatement.

I’ve traveled a LOT – both engagements scheduled last year, long before my diagnosis of Fibromyalgia.

I hadn’t considered canceling either Scotland or Italy, I wanted (selfishly, perhaps) to do both of them, Gerry encouraged me, and I hated the idea of setting a precedent of bowing out of something due to my health.


So I dedicated myself to staying as healthy as I could while in both locations.  For me, that meant lots of rest, and lots of exercise.  The bike is my favorite exercise method – it allows me to get around, and it’s like taking a big pain pill – it’s quite good at making my aches go away.

The blood flows all over, reaching places that hurt, and they hurt less (or at least that’s how I understood what my chiropractor told me…)

By renting and riding bikes in Scotland and Italy, the trips – and my life – have been the richer.

But even with all the bike riding in the world, the past few months were full of the usual travel tsuris, plus a few added crisis tossed in for extra chuckles.  It became – at times – quite overwhelming.

And, as is often the case when I feel overwhelmed, I begin to question everything about my life.  What are my plans?  Am I reaching my goals?  How pure are my actions? Why am I doing what I’m doing?  How long can I continue to work if I have to take a nap every day?  When did I turn into my grandmother?

I'm sorry, the answer must be in the form of a question.

Recently it feels like everything in my life is a question on the huge Jeopardy! board in my head (“I’ll take ‘Dealing With Fibromyalgia’ for $50, Alex”)

But the horoscope today gives me hope – it makes me feel like I don’t need to rush. 

I always feel like I need to rush.


I wish I were further along with History on Two Needles.

My brain is not processing the math & patterns as it should, and that’s stymied me.  I’ve found a wonderful local tech editor who I think will be able to put up with my oddnesses, I have a good friend who will help me sort out how to deal with the art direction, and I have yarn for the last few projects that need to be knit up.

All I really have to do is get the danged patterns written!  And that’s something that takes time.  The older I get, the more it seems that I require an easing in phase before settling in to write a pattern.

Whereas 5 years ago I could just grab an hour, plop down at the computer and work up the math for a project, now I need to settle in with the worksheet and reacquaint myself with the project for a few hours before my brain will go to the ‘math place’ and I can make sense of the structure.

...and the point would be...?

The fact that most of my patterns have an unusual construction doesn’t help, it often gives me the uncomfortable sense that I’m reinventing the wheel when I start to write a pattern.

On the other hand, I can look at my designs as pieces of origami.  No matter HOW good one is at the creating cranes or salt boxes or paper elephants, each new project begins with a few simple folds.

One can’t just skip over the first folds, these basic steps must be performed to allow you to move on to more complex folds.

It’s not that one is reinventing the fold, it’s that the first steps cannot be skipped.

So right now I’m gearing myself up to settle into a pattern writing phase, (brilliantly coordinated to kick in when I return from my next teaching engagement in Pennsylvania.)  October will mark an extended period of HOME TIME, and October will be pattern writing month.

My current mental preparation before the onset of “Worksheet Wonderland” are like those initial folds in an origami project.  (And it allows me to rationalize the time I’ve spent playing sudoku.)

It's my mental workout. Yeah, that's it...


I’ve hesitated in recent weeks to write about my health – it’s hard to read that you’re “moaning” about yourself – and I hate to go down that road.

Obviously I don’t think I’m moaning, but then no one ever does, do they?  I try to be pretty positive, pretty pro-active and intelligent about what I write and what I do related to Fibromyalgia.  But it’s a huge part of my life, I can’t deny that, and therefore it has a large impact on my design, writing and teaching.

So far, 9 months into this diagnosed adventure, I’m learning that every day is a new lesson.  I’m realizing that any boundary I discover is a moving target (why can I do X on Monday but not on Tuesday?  And why can I do it again on Wednesday?)

Here are a few truisms that I’ve discovered:

  • Wheat and gluten make me hurt, they make my joints and muscles ache, my throat becomes sore and my ears ring like a carillon.  I can be laid up in bed for days with these flu-like symptoms after eating a bit of wheat, even a tiny bit.
  • Wheat and gluten are in a LOT of products, but it’s easier to avoid them than I might have thought, and there are some very good alternatives.
  • Vitamin D3 is like a miracle for me.  When I err and take some wheat, I can flush it out of my system more quickly with a lot of water and some Vit D3.  I take a good amount each day, and when I skip it, I feel it.
  • I get more tired physically than I used to.  When I get tired, it’s like a light turning off.  There’s not a lot of warning, and suddenly I’m almost paralyzed with exhaustion.
  • Perhaps counter-intuitively, a good amount of exercise each day will keep the pain to a minimum and raise my energy levels.  When I go for two or more days without a good bike ride or yoga, I hurt like heck the next day. Which makes movement even harder.
  • Very hot weather is hard for me.  Very cold weather is hard for me.  Wet weather is hard for me.  I am feeling rather fearful of this Winter, hoping that I’m able to use activity, vitamin D and rest to stay relatively pain free.

One of the hardest things is dealing with folks who either can not, or will not, understand that I can be paralyzed with pain – to the point of tears – on Monday, but able to ride my bike 6 miles on Tuesday.

I hate being seen as a victim, but at the same time I refuse to be ashamed of being ill, to not talk about it at all. It’s not in my nature to suck it up and be silent, I’m too much of an extrovert (and, to be honest, a ‘me-show’) for that.

My Salts!

I want folks to understand that this is a manageable condition.  It’s not fun, but it has forced me to be more intelligent about the way I live my life, and that’s not a bad thing!

I haven’t had to take medication specifically for Fibro yet – I am currently not insured so I couldn’t afford them anyway. I’ve been doing well so far with diet, exercise, Vit D3, rest, chiropractor, massage every now and then AND acupuncture when I can.

Having said that, though, I do have days when I’m just out of commission.  More days than I like to admit.

And the days when I am functional are less full and busy than they’ve been in the past, and they’re fewer and farther between.  Less work gets done than I’d hoped, less money is earned, and I feel – like many folks these days – a little worried.  But what would life be without some worry to keep us honest?

Excuse me while I gracefully collapse onto the fainting couch…


Sunday was the Stitch & Pitch Twins game, and I’d planned on attending with Steven B’s group.  At the last minute Steven told me another ticket had become available, so I grabbed it for Max (he hadn’t been to a game at the new Target Field yet.) It was a beautiful day, so we made the decision to bike over to Steven’s and then to the game (12 miles total) knowing that if we got tired we could hop on a Metro bus (each bus in the twin cities is equipped with a bike rack) so we’d be in good shape.

Yes Ladies, He KNITS!

The ride was wonderful!  It was easy going, the uphill parts didn’t seem bad and the downhill parts were a blast!  Sunday morning the streets were pretty empty, traffic was at a minimum, and Max and I stuck to bike paths and back streets as much as possible.

It was – as always – a delight to see Steven, to see his great space, and after picking up our tickets Max and I headed over to Target Field.  Now THAT is a beautiful ball park!  We sat in the bleachers, just behind the 1st base foul pole, and enjoyed as much of the game as we saw.

Around the 7th inning I could feel a pretty strong Fibro-flare up coming on.  I can tell one’s on the way when my muscles begin to ache, my throat gets sore and my ears ring.  It’s almost like clockwork, now that I know what the signs are.  I think in this case it was sitting for an extended period on metal benches in a shady, cold area (yes, it’s Minnesota…) but for whatever reason, I knew that I had a doozy of a mini-flare-up coming.

So Max and I made our goodbyes (and THANK YOU to the kind woman who tossed some kettle corn at Max!  We all enjoyed it thoroughly!) and headed off to the bus, conveniently located just below the stadium.

We caught the express, got our bikes all settled on the rack (I was pretty shaky by this time, when I called Gerry I dropped my iphone and cracked the glass – phone still works.  Gerry’s confident that he can fix it) and in 20 minutes were were a mile from our home, so we hopped off the bus and rode the rest of the way.  Wonderful!

Max at Target Field

Despite the expense of the day (perhaps guilt at being away from the kids for so long had a bit to do with that. The tix were $20 and there were food items purchased at the park…) it was SO great.

Sunday was a good example of how I can deal with the Fibro while getting as much as possible out of life.

I rode when I could, I  I interacted with other folks as much as I could, I stayed as long as I could, then when it became too much for me physically I made my exit and got home with minimal stress.

I’ll remember Sunday as a really golden day – a very hopeful day.

It’s My Party!

And I am NOT crying today! I’m 49.

It’s a lovey day (a bit overcast and cool, but that’s what I love) and our neighbors are tearing down the skanky old fence and putting up a new one, so life is VERY good today!

Roses, a beautiful mug, some green glass earrings and other cool stuff was waiting for me downstairs this morning.  I fixed breakfast, set aside warm-up-ables for the sleeping family and chatted online with the the tour organizer for my Italian adventure.

Cow Escapes From Kemp Bug

I feel very disconnected.  Not quite, “If it’s Tuesday it must be St. Paul…” disconnected, but almost.

Somehow I acquired a few odd things in my suitcase (a remote control from a friend’s TV, an adaptor, other stuff) so I’ve been mailing those items back to people along with some book orders.  And, for whatever reason, my book orders have increased so dramatically that I have to do another printing of Confessions, a mixed blessing (happy to have the sales, hard to come up with the up-front print costs!)

Mulberry Silk Lace

I’ve just finished a sweater for The Knitter that may become one of my favorite pieces of all time.  I designed it about 3 years ago, and have had it in my “ideaas” folder since then.  An opportunity to submit it came up, and I was thrilled that it was accepted.  It’s worked up in Louisa Harding Mulberry Silk, which has become one of my favorite yarns in the working of this.

It’s a ribbed cardigan with a lace collar and sleeves, which also feature short row shaping.  Although the SR shaping is worked in lace, I kept the motif very simple so that my head wouldn’t explode.  When the short rows are finished, the lace blooms into a more complex motif, which – I must say – was a very satisfying knit!

I can’t post photos of the completed garment as it’s not been published yet, but here’s a detail shot.  LOVE the Mulberry Silk!


I’m so excited, and yet so – subdued – about this trip.

I have had a love affair with Italian history since I first read I, Claudius by Robert Graves in the early 80’s.  Most recently I listened to a wonderful biography of Joanna I of Naples, and of course I love the whole Masters Of Rome series by Colleen McCullough.  It’s so much fun it’s almost a guilty pleasure!

I’ve not been to Italy for over 20 years – and I’ve NEVER been as far south as Rome.  I’ve been to Florence a few times, but that’s it (that’s PLENTY!) To be able to go with a group of knitters, several of whom I know and just love, and to be able to share knitting tips and tricks and new patterns with them is going to be pure joy!

I think any hesitancy is because I just haven’t been home so much lately.  When I can get a workshop type of teaching assignment, it works out much better for me financially.  It’s also easier, physically, to arrive some place and stay PUT for a few days while I teach, I can recover more quickly than when I travel from yarn shop to yarn shop on an extended trip.

So instead of taking on any single engagements this year, I’ve only done multi-class workshop type of events.  The fact that three of these trips are happening in rapid succession (Scotland, Italy and Knitters Day Out in Harrisburg, PA) is just the luck of the draw.

State Fair

Sheep & Lambs

The family took the city bus to the state fair this week – we picked the BEST day to do it, too!  Sunny, cool, beautiful, and we had a blast!

We took along a friend’s daughter who is a favorite with both Max and Hannah, and let the three of them run loose and ride as many rides as they could.  Gerry and I strolled around, watched the baby animals meet the world, and just acted like old farts.

Baked Goodies - But Not For Me

Then we met for lunch, we split up again, and I found myself a nice sunny corner to sit and crochet on a pillow project for a book.  Just sitting at the fair is an adventure – a fellow playing the pipes stood very nearby and I enjoyed his music while I worked some decorative chain embroidery!

Friends are coming up tomorrow and I’m very excited about showing them a bit of Saint Paul!  If they want to go to the fair, though, I think they’ll be on their own – I’m too tired!


It’s been chilly here in St. Paul overnight, and my fibro is flexing it’s muscles.  It makes me aware of how I’ll be affected when the winter really does set in, and makes me very happy that I turned down any winter-time teaching engagements that were sent my way.

I think my next scheduled engagement is next March 4-6 at the WYIF Conference in Virginia (DC Area)  More to come on that as details become firm!

So I’m looking forward to some months of hunkering down, recovering from a 6-week teaching blast, and working on my move-ability.

Vegetarians, Avert Your Eyes

On Monday my knitting group will be coming to my home for our monthly knit & chat.  Since they invited me into their warm circle in 2007, I’ve appreciated this kind, kind bunch of women for what they are – true Minnesotans.

They are cheerful, helpful, resourceful, and just damned funny people, too!  I love my knitting group!

Greg's GuysSo – with appropriate grill options for the non-meat eating among us – tomorrow Gerry and I are making a pilgrimage to one of our favorite brat resources. 

We passed Greg’s meats on the way to the Mayo so many times, but it wasn’t until this year that we stopped in.

Oh, man, it’s an amazing place. Well, if you like bacon it is.

AND they took the Grand Champion at the MN state fair in Bacon, Ham & Summer Sausage.

And [drum roll] the prices are so good they make the drive down totally worthwhile.

Now, you have to know that until we moved to Minnesota I had never eaten a bratwurst.  I know, what was wrong with me?

Now I love them, I could eat them every day (but I don’t) and Greg’s has some of the finest brats, sausages, bacons, meats around.  Just delicious.

As a thank you for the kindness my knitting group has shown us over the past few months, we’re going to kill the fatted brat and grill up a bunch, we’ll have a cookout for the knitters!

(And, as mentioned earlier, we’ll make a side trip to the Mississippi Market for some vegetarian / vegan options.  As a matter of fact, I think I’ll ride my bike there right now!)

Rick Levine, do I need to get a restraining order..?

Once again, my horoscope is uncanny.  At least, I hope it is (the lightening up part sounds great!)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010 By Rick Levine

Yesterday | Today | Tomorrow

(Aug 23 – Sep 22)

You have big ideas about shaking up things at home in the name of adventure. You don’t want to do everything the same old way as you always do. Your life is lightening up and you feel ready to proceed full speed ahead with your new plans. Meanwhile, assertive Mars in your sign moves toward a restraining conjunction with Saturn that’s exact by the end of the month. If you move too fast now, this speed bump will surely slow you down and force you to learn your lessons.

Well, I AM shaking things up!

Remember that office I was so excited about – the one I lovingly put together when I moved Max into a larger bedroom?

And remember how it was taken over by the family when my back was turned I was out of town?

And remember how I wrestled it out of their death grip and reinstalled myself as the owner of the office?

Well, it’s slowly been taken over again.  It started when I was in bed for 3 months last Fall, then continued as I found myself unable to produce, write, DO as much as I had before.

Ceiling-less Basement Office

But I’m feeling like I need an office again, and I just can’t stand the thought of kicking the family out.  Mostly, I don’t have the resources to man the castle and keep the interlopers (aka Gerry, Hannah & Max) at bay.  So I’m taking over my corner of the basement.

This had been the plan from the start, and we half finished the basement, but we’ve hit a snag here because Gerry’s getting a bit more tired, a bit more overwhelmed every day, and the wait for me to move into the office space downstairs turned into a holding pattern.

So I’ve requested permission to land.  It’s not finished, it’s not pretty, it’s not big, but it’s MINE!  ALL MINE!!

The bonus is we have a bathroom in the basement with a nice shower, so I’ll take that over and use it for my daily stuff (until we hit the coldest part of the MN winter when even a space heater won’t make the basement shower do-able!)

Ladies & Gentlemen, I present my new office.

It needs a LOT of straightening up, the move in is going to be rough, my computer doesn’t work and its currently dark, but it’s MINE!  And it’s cool.


Dear Mr. Levine.  Thank you – let’s hope you’re on point today with my scope!

Thursday, July 22, 2010 By Rick Levine

Yesterday | Today | Tomorrow

(Aug 23 – Sep 22)

It may feel as if a weight has been taken off your shoulders now that heavy Saturn has moved out of your sign. The cooperative Sun-Saturn sextile makes for a rather comforting day as you begin once again to make plans for your future.

Nevertheless, today’s free-flowing energy can be misleading, for you have consistently worked hard over the past few weeks. Don’t expect too much or you will be disappointed with whatever you receive. Your biggest reward is the satisfaction of a job well done.

Wishes on the Wind

I was randomly searching the internet this weekend and wandered onto an event I hadn’t heard of before!

Our Wishes

Wishes for the Sky is an annual kite flying happening, this was the 4th one, and it took place on Sunday.

When I read about the event on warm & shiny Saturday, I told the kids we’d bike down to Harriet Island for the fun.  Oh, yeah – SURE we would…

But on Sunday it was rainy and cold and miserable. Gerry and I did duty as crossing guard / door openers at the Temple for Hebrew School, and I felt like an achy mess when I got home.

But Hannah would have NONE of it. She fixed a beautiful lunch (gluten free soup for me, a sandwich for her) and gently bullied me into the car so we could go to the event.

Kite Girl in St. Paul

BOY was I glad she did!  The kites are reused every year, they’re sturdy little structures and stand up to a LOT of crashing!  Each year when folks get their kite they use black or white pens to write a wish on the kite, then they go fly it for as long as they like.  A suggested donation of $2 helps to cover the costs of the event.

When finished you turn the kites back in (or you can purchase your kite for $35 if you want, the steep price a deterrent to folks just wandering off with their kite) and the happy day is done.

It was really lovely; a windy, overcast day in St. Paul, but a LOT of fun!


If I needed proof that wheat / gluten is a culprit in my fibro journey, I got it yesterday.  Sheesh.

I drove out to Goodwill to look for luggage (we needed suitcases for our trip, I have them, but the kids could use cases with wheels so we can travel easily) After checking at several 2nd hand shops and discount stores, Goodwill was my last stop.

My they're tasty! Just like Meth!

By the way, I found the best deal at Tuesday Morning – 2 nice Dockers suitcases for $29 each on special clearance – yay!

Anyway, I try not to eat out, and I have avoided fast food places since my diagnosis, but I was absolutely starving so I figured I’d have a bite at one of the few places I can get something satisfying with no gluten; KFC.  I like their grilled chicken, and it has no batter.

But my two pieces DID come with a biscuit.  Damn.

I ate the chicken, it was delicious, but all the way home the biscuit was calling out, “Annie, Annie, you KNOW you want me, I’m your FAVORITE thing!  Take a walk down memory lane and enjoy the wheaty-crunchiness & fine, fine smoothness of a baking powder biscuit…”

Before I even knew what I was doing, the biscuit was GONE.  Inhaled.  Like a drug.

Hugs not Biscuits

Hugs Not Biscuits

Stay in school, kids.

It took about 40 minutes for the effects to begin to show.  I was fascinated while watching myself change, like Frederick March in Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde.

  • First I became irritable and had a sort of hollow, dark feeling.   Just an overall malaise.
  • Then my throat began hurting and my nose felt stuffy. 
    If I didn’t know better I’d have thought I was getting a cold.  I know now how often I’ve made this mistake this in the past.
  • The sore throat evolved into a headache, with VERY sore shoulders and neck.
    (Luckily I have my Relax Pack, which helped quite a bit after being warmed in the microwave!)
  • Eventually the soreness traveled to my joints and down my back, sending me to bed early.

I tried to read in bed, but I just felt like crap.  Movement was painful, lying still was painful, and I felt just as irritable as I had hours earlier.

So I took the Trazadone (to help me sleep) that I keep by my bed but seldom use, and this morning I feel much better.  Hooray sleep!


A good friend dropped by yesterday with dinner (oh, huzzah!) cooked by another good friend in my knitting group. I felt embarrassed at how incapacitated I was, and I had to admit to her that it was my own fault for scarfing a biscuit in less time than it takes to turn on my windshield wiper. She understood.

My knitting group has decided that they will fix us a dinner once a week and drop it off, and it’s been a most appreciated gift!

Aside from the food, which is amazing and delicious (as with the Minnesota driving test, there’s a cooking test one must pass in order to bring a hot dish to someone) the love is overwhelming.  Mondays are hard here, getting back into the school routine, Sunday night with less sleep than we all need, you know the drill.  Having one evening when dinner is taken care of is pretty delightful.

We are very lucky, you know?


Each one tells a little tale!


I have meant to write about this for weeks, and I’ve been SO remiss!

Nicky Epstein (one of the best designers I know and a hell of a good and funny friend) has started making buttons!  Her buttons are pewter, they’re adorable (that seems like too flimsy of a word – they’re whimsical!) and I can’t WAIT to use them in my next sweater!

I already have an idea for a wide belt using the bustier closure, isn’t it amazing?

You can find out how to order her amazing buttons at her website,, and if you’re lucky your local yarn shop may be carrying them soon!


I want to send these off before I head over to the Emerald Isle, so here are the winners of the John Irving & Laura Hillenbrand audio books!

CONGRATULATIONS to both winners, I hope you thoroughly enjoy the audio books!

Bonny McCormick is the winner of Last Night In Twisted River
Beaweezil is the winner of Seabiscut