Once Again, The Virgo Horoscope Speaks Truth

One again my Rick Levine horoscope is oddly on point!  We’re leaving today for a long trip, I’m driving, and in a more metaphorical way I feel I AM ready to take the bull by the horns (watch out, Taurus!)

Friday, December 21, 2012 – You feel at home now as the Sun moves through Capricorn — another pragmatic Earth sign. There are many things you need to accomplish in your life, and, thankfully, you’re ready to do them.

You feel quite confident today, especially if you have been preparing for what’s ahead. Let go of your fears, relax into the situation and have a little fun. Buckle up; it’s going to be quite a ride! by Rick Levine

No One Gets Out Alive


Thursday, October 6, 2011
By Rick Levine

You may run into unexpected delays as your key planet Mercury conjuncts karmic Saturn. You won’t likely get what you want unless you’re willing to work for it.

On the other hand, you’ll surely be disappointed if you don’t give it your all. Today’s lesson points out that achieving your goal isn’t the only reward.

Showing up and playing the game passionately, whether you win or lose, is where you can find the most joy.

Wow, is this fitting today, or what?  Find the joy TODAY in what you’re doing, even if it’s restocking a shelf or mailing books [raises hand] because YOU are responsible for discovering joy wherever it’s hiding.  Life is terminal.

Two Beautiful Things

I want to write about two things that have crossed my path recently, both beautiful and both something for the shopping lists of the crafty (and perhaps nice gifts, too?)

Knitting Scarves From Around The World

Editor: Kari Cornell
Publisher: Voyageur Press

This is an absolutely lovely book!

Northern Handspun Cowl - London Nelson

I remember when Scarf Style came out a few years ago  Folks who had pooh-poohed “another scarf book” sat up and looked closer, and Pam Allen’s great book became a classic.

This is another one of those landmark books.  The scarves in this book are beautiful pieces in and of themselves, but they’re also jumping off points for more in-depth knitting projects (very large swatches?)

Pendleton Scarf - Lucy Neatby

The patterns in this book will encourage many knitters who only think of themselves as “beginners” or “scarf knitters” to move beyond their self-imposed boundaries and move to new knitting pastures!

There are great techniques in the book for double knitting, cabling, working with color, lace and shaping – all in a relatively stress-free “it’s only a scarf, you CAN do this!” presentation.

If you know a knitter who’s ready to move beyond their first rectangular projects, this may just be the book for them!

Beautiful Fabrics

Sewing Green by Betz White

Those who sew are familiar with Betz White.  My own sewing doesn’t happen as often as I’d like, mostly due to the pure laziness that keeps me from opening up my sewing machine and setting up my ironing board as often as I should…

Stitch by Betz White

But recently at the Creative Connection in St. Paul I ran into Betz as she was talking with her editor, Melanie Falick, and I was fortunate enough to be gifted with a few quarters of her impeccably whimsical new line of fabrics to be produced by Robert Kaufman.

Stitch by Betz White

I was lucky to escape with these three magnificent prints, which are available here and at fabric shops locally (how’s THAT for helpful…) and I’m off to get myself MANY more yards!

I am in LOVE with how she uses knit/stitch motifs in her woven fabrics.  Way to go, Betz!


Finding the Joy

Tuesday, May 31, 2011 By Rick Levine

(Aug 23 – Sep 22)

This can be a day of solid progress as long as you don’t bite off more than you can handle.

Obviously, rushing through any job just to get it done invites sloppiness. Working faster encourages you to make mistakes that can haunt you later on.

Take your time and do it right, even if everyone else seems to be in a hurry. It’s more important to lay a lasting foundation now than to meet someone else’s arbitrary deadline.

Message received.

This is pretty much what I always preach in my classes – if you don’t love what you’re doing, YOU have the power to make a change so that love is possible.

This past Saturday Max was to meet a friend at temple to attend a Bat Mitzvah.  Unfortunately, his friend was ill at the last minute so I dropped by to tell him (and to sit with him during the service)

Max was disappointed and very sad.  And he was especially frustrated that I insisted he remain for the Bat Mitzvah.  “But I don’t even KNOW this girl…”

I told him, “You’re here, you’re dressed up, it would be disrespectful to leave.”

After a few more minutes of pouting I hissed at him, “Listen, you’re not going anywhere.  You can either find a way to enjoy the next 2 hours, or you can stew and pout and only hurt yourself.  I, myself, fully intend to enjoy it.”

After another 20 minutes or so, Max began putting more than a cursory effort into the prayers and blessings, and slowly he seemed to begin to enjoy himself.

I like to think this was yet another step in learning to readjust his attitude and expectations so that he can find joy where he may not have expected it.

That’s been my own job for this month; finding the joy inside of all the work.

I love work, I love what I do, but the stress involved in getting so MUCH work done can be daunting.  Aside from cutting back on the amount of work (hard to do and still pay the mortgage) I need to find a way to readjust my OWN attitude and enjoy the ride.

After all, every bike ride can’t be all downhill.  But a nice cider every now and then helps…

I’ve been in a heightened state of work the past month, so much so that there are times when I dread picking up the knitting needles.  Almost.

No matter how much work I have, there is always a small corner of joy when I’m knitting.  The rhythm, the fiber, the repetition calm me, and if I’m able to divorce my nervous mind from the looming deadline, I can enjoy it thoroughly.

Today I sent in 3 projects, and I just got a bit of an extension on another (hallelujah!) because it’s a fair isle-esque/stranded Man’s sweater on size 4 needles.  That will be my tomorrow knitting.


Today is devoted to working up swatches of some of my favorite techniques.

I want to put together a series of the little knitting things that I teach in class as pithy asides, but seldom teach all in one sitting. I’m planning on videotaping these and putting them together in a tutorial for Zealana, (which is providing all of my yarn for this little adventure.)

I have to say that this yarn is some of the most luscious I’ve worked with.  It’s soft, yes, but a lot of yarns are soft. This yarn has a certain firmness about it that allows the stitches to shine through, and creates a lovely directional sheen which really shows off bias movement in knit patterns.  THIS is the kind of yarn that makes knitting make sense!

I love just about all yarns I work with – I’m a lucky, lucky woman– but for this project I’ve been putting balls of Zealana yarn aside to enjoy as my end-of-the-day sitting in bed knitting.  Working up a swatch in Rimu or Willow pretty much guarantees a lovely night of sleep and good dreams!


I’ll be blogging, tweeting and emailing about this over the next few weeks a LOT, but after months of back and forth discussion and planning I can announce my first teaching trip to Iceland in August!

August is a perfect time in Iceland (I’ve been told…) and it’s just about when so many of us are getting NUTTY with the heat.  This could be the escape you’ll be needing!  For more information check the Knitting Iceland webpage!

I hope you can join me – together we can explore the joy that is Iceland!

Barreling Through

Sunday, May 22, 2011
By Rick Levine

(Aug 23 – Sep 22)

Your unrestrained idealism might tempt you to set your sights too high today.

Thankfully, your approach is methodical and you can prioritize all the chores that you want to finish. But you may have to let some of your pet projects fall to the wayside.

Being selective and eliminating non-essential chores should help you feel less anxious, especially if you preemptively handle a potential problem, rather than waiting for it to turn into a minor disaster.

This is good, valid advice for any day, but today it really resonates.  As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a little overwhelmed right now with projects.  I’m getting through them, but inherent in any [good] knit design is a certain amount of re-working or re-thinking.

It’s a rarity when a design springs fully formed in 5 sizes from the brain.

Today I’m reworking one project for Jane Austen Knits which looked good when finished, but when I tried it on the mannequin and on Hannah, I was pretty unhappy with the waist area.

Linen Lace in French Blue, in Pieces

So this morning I dived into dividing the different sections of the design (taking something apart is always a little nerve-wracking) and now I’m reknitting the icky part. 

Goal:  Make it less icky.

I started another project, one that I’ve been holding back as a sort of treat for myself.  The yarn is luscious, the stitch pattern is relatively simple (beautiful, yet mindless) and it’s a nice carry-around project.

A Peek At A Back

I realized years ago that committing myself to designing and knitting my designs as a large part of my income means that I give up the luxury of picking something ‘just for me’ and knitting it up in a favorite yarn whenever I want to.

I call it “Queen Midas Syndrome”

One of the glories of this month-of-many-projects is that I love the yarn for all of them, and that’s been delightful.

At this point there’s only one project that I haven’t yet begun, and that’s because the yarn arrived late (last week)  I have an extension on the deadline, and as it’s a fair isle project I think it will be great fun!


Taking a break yesterday, Hannah and I sat on the back porch.  Me knitting, her eating a delicious bowl of ramen she’d cooked up.  It was a nice, sunny moment in a mostly rainy weekend.

Ramen Queen

I’ve had a lot of guilt this month at letting regular house and mom-chores go undone, or passing them onto Gerry and Hannah.

Laundry?  Dishes?  Cooking?  My contribution to these tasks has been minimal, and it makes me a bit ashamed.

But work is work, this is the mortgage and the priority is to get this stuff done.

And, like the poor, the unfolded laundry will always be with us.


Adding to this project-saturated month is preparation for my teaching trip in June, which includes publicizing my dates and locations.  I’ll be in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio & Iowa.  I think of it as my vowel-states trip.

My only stop in Ohio is an independent class on June 13th at the Stark County Library in Canton.  In addition to a Combination class, I’ll be doing a free lecture and book signing at the same location that evening.

To see all of my classes on my tour, and for links to register for classes, visit my Upcoming In Person Gigs page.

Terre Haute, IN Riverwools Embellishments & Lovely Laces
Canton, OH Stark Library Combo Knit, Lecture, Signing
Fort Wayne, IN Sarah Jane’s Yarn Combination Knitting
Fort Wayne, IN FW Knit Guild Colorwork (guild only)
Chicago, IL Loopy Embellishments & Double Knitting
Northbrook IL Three Bags Full Colorwork & Lace
West Springs IL W. Suburban Gld Lecture (guild only)
Decorah, IA Blue Heron Lace & Combination

We'll Aspire to Squam Food!

I only have 4 spaces left for my Autumn Knitting Retreat in September, all of the single rooms are gone.  So if you’ve been interested this would be the time to register.

It’s going to be fun, calm, fulfilling and hopefully a chance to recharge some batteries after a full Summer.

AND I have it on good authority the food will be amazing!  All food, lodging & classes are included in the $295 fee (Friday – Sunday, Sept 22-25)


I’m also creating a short video containing knitting tips and tricks for Zealana yarn.  I hadn’t used any of the Z yarns before, but they’re really amazing.  Quite soft, lovely, and the stitch definition is intense.

I want to work something up which will highlight this fabric quality, because as a designer I find it the most compelling.  I love it when the direction of the stitches is clear and a motif can shine through.

Translating this into a video has been in my mind all month.  I’ve learned that when I give a project good, thorough, thoughtful preparation everything makes more sense when I sit down to edit.  With any luck, the editing will begin next week (as I wave a fond farewell to two knitting projects.)

Design is another word for organizing visual inspiration.

Organizing the work is what makes life beautiful in the middle of the nutty chaos.

So it’s going to be one of THOSE days…

…you know, the kind of day when EVERYTHING I do turns into a treatise?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011 By Rick Levine

(Aug 23 – Sep 22)

Your ruling planet Mercury conjuncts grandiose Jupiter, mischievously turning every little thought into a long treatise. It may not be easy to keep your ideas in perspective or your words to a minimum.

Unintentionally, you can turn the simplest task into a complicated project that becomes very inefficient. Your day doesn’t have to run out of control if you remember to keep bringing your message back down to earth.

Okay, to keep myself sane I’ll eat my oatmeal and get back to work!


Work today involves swatching up a magnificent new project (not for a mag, just for me!) with some of the loveliest yarn I’ve EVERY touched.  It’s Jared Flood’s Shelter and I didn’t want to love it as much as I do.  Why?  Because the boy is a friggin’ GENIUS and I am feeling very jealous.

Or maybe I mean envious?  I’m usually not a jealous type,
but everything JF does is so beautiful and I would love to be so gifted!
But, jealousy aside, this yarn is a revelation and a dream.

The color, the feel, the weight – it’s all there, kids, and if you are able to work with wool you NEED to touch this.  If you visit your LYS, mention this to them because it needs to be where folks can fondle it.  If you trust me, go ahead and order some online.  It’s magnificent.


For years I had eschewed the humble garter stitch.  I prefer stockinette stitch, and I am afraid that I looked down on garter.

This was wrong of me, and to make up for it I’m doing an entire KIMONO in garter for Interweave Knits.  It’s a modular piece, worked so that it is put together like a puzzle (but with – hopefully – no seams)

The yarn is lovely (BSA alpaca silk), but thinner than I’d hoped so the knitting is going on forever.  And the deadline is shortBut I am tall, so I can do it. With my Signature Needles, it really is flying by.

I can’t show you much about the piece since it’s for a magazine, but here’s a process photo showing the first step of the garment – the collar/placket piece upon which the entire garment is built.

I’m hoping to make it a universal pattern, meaning it can be made in ANY size by adjusting the number of rows in this first step.  That may be wishful thinking…


I freeze bricks of oatmeal on Sundays

My favorite breakfast of all time is oatmeal.  Almost a year ago our family trip to Ireland (the best vacation decision we ever made!) introduced us to good, honest steel cut oatmeal, and I’ve been a convert ever since. 

Microwave brick for 2 minutes on high

Rolled oats, I love you for baking – but for eating I am loving Irish or Scottish cut oats.

I am becoming an oatmeal connoisseur, and have dreams of attending the Golden Spurtle someday.

Add sugar, nuts & raisins & microwave 2 more minutes

But who has time to cook oatmeal each morning.

Well, actually, I do – I work at home – but I don’t do it daily.

Mix well

I make a HUGE batch on Sundays, then pour it into a loaf pan and when it sets up I cut it into slices, wrap each in press n’ seal (it doesn’t stick to the oats) and freeze it.

Add milk and mix again

It takes about 5 minutes to warm up each morning, and it’s the best use of 5 minutes I can think of!

This, and a cup of Lady Grey tea, and I’m ready to take on the world (or a multi directional kimono on size 5 needles…)

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…

Friday, January 7, 2011 By Rick Levine

(Aug 23 – Sep 22)
You’ve been riding a wave of creative energy that continues to be difficult to manifest. It’s as if your productive ideas are blocked by circumstances that are beyond your control. But don’t give up. Instead of logically trying to analyze all your options, let your imagination be your guide. For now, dreaming your way into the future is more powerful than scripting it.

Too true, Mr. Levine.

Sorry I’ve been gone for so long, I’m sure you all thought a Tetrimo fell on me.

Mostly, though, I’ve been trying to envision what I need to do to just continue to continue to do what I’m doing.  I’m a human moebius strip these days…

So I apologize for for the brevity of this post and for my disappearance.  Happily, as the days lengthen I find myself more and more myself, and I’m looking forward to it.

Man, those dark days in December are a lot harder than I remember them being.

But I’m biking on the front porch with my cycle trainer every day (grabbing as much daylight as I can!) and I’m getting out for a walk when I can.  I will soon turn into a mall-walker, you just watch me.

I’ve been working hard – harder than it looks.  I finished 4 projects for various magazines and yarn venues in the past few weeks.  I’ve been working on the Bar Mitzvah (all the live-long day) and I’m doing a rewrite of Knitting Millinery (this time with visible images, better charts, and metric / European conversions).


I’m hoping to roll out the new reworked Knitting Millinery book right around the time I get my online Millinery class up and running, but we’ll see…

I’ve never been very happy with Knitting Millinery, I always wanted to make it a better book, so I’m doing so now that I’m facing a re-print.  I’d love for Spring 2011 to be the SEASON OF HATS!  Seriously, with a new royal engagement don’t you think we all should start wearing more hats?


As for projects?  I can’t discuss what I’ve been working on lately, which kind of sucks.  NOW is when I’m really excited, when I want to talk about the techniques I used, the colors, the feel of the yarn.  But I can’t really talk about it for, oh, a year.

And, unfortunately, at that point I’ll be up to my elbows in something even MORE exciting (well, it will seem so at the time) and it will be so hard to drag my brain back to Winter 2010 when I was working on a big, bulky, faux cable sweater [oops, did I let that slip] or a sexy, sexy, easy-to-wear pleated skirt [dang, I keep doing that…]

Eunny’s going to come after me with a sharpened Signature stiletto if I don’t shut up.

Working on that Positive Attitude thing…

(Aug 23 – Sep 22)
You’ve made some important choices recently, but now you may see new options that weren’t available before. You could become increasingly frustrated if you believe that you made a bad decision. However, you have an opportunity today to make additional changes, even if that means temporarily complicating your life. Remember, your situation can change quickly again; don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you’re stuck with what you have when your attitude can actually create a positive impact.

I’m hoping the above is true – I need to work on my attitude right about now, and this is a good reminder that in many ways we create our own [mental] reality.

I’m blue today – I learned yesterday morning that I didn’t get a job which I felt I had a really good shot at.  Apparently they prefer not to hire folks who end sentences in prepositions.

Seriously, though, they went with someone who has more recently been part of a corporate landscape – I’m all maverick-y.  I am who I am.

So, as I told a friend during the whole process (and I was pretty mum about it), “I’ve done the best job I can do at presenting myself honestly and positively – I can do no more.”

I had to do a few ‘assignments’ for my potential employers so they could judge my work (hence the ‘password protected’ blog posts this week) but I guess my work just didn’t measure up to what they wanted.

It’s hard to be rejected.  When you’re self employed as a designer, you spend a lot of time getting rejection notes.  Even if you’re successful, there’s a lot of rejection.

It does get easier – but the initial smack is always hard.

This has happened a few times recently – this job rejection thing.  Obviously I’m not alone – it’s a cold, cold world out there for job seekers.

"Debil" Grain

So I held a pity party for myself yesterday and drowned my sorrows in a piece (O N E small piece) of poppy seed lemon cake at Caribou Coffee (it was delicious, by the way – NOTHING takes the place of wheat flour), and I’ve been suffering with a serious flare up ever since.

I’m an idiot.  And I’d been SO careful during Thanksgiving – SO careful 99% of the time ALL the time!

Maybe I was acting out my largest fear, which is that I’d actually GET one of these jobs I’m applying for and then have a major flare up – unable to walk or move or do much more than sit stiffly in my bed (can’t even knit when I’m really bad…)

Or maybe my not-so-innocent fall into the fibro hole was how I thumb my nose at – who, exactly? Me? The imaginary person I’ve created in my mind who stands there shaking her head (it’s always a woman) at me, telling me that if I really tried I could get a “real” job?

So now I get back on the horse and continue working away. The irony of this is that I just finished 2 projects and I have 3 more waiting on my hook and needles, so I’m as busy as I can be right now…

“Real” job, indeed.

New Stuff

I’d dedicated a lot of time to the stuff I worked up for my interviews, so I didn’t get my two new classes finished by December (as was my goal!) but I’ll keep working on them and maybe I’ll have them up sooner rather than later.

I’m working on a millinery and a colorwork class, and also trying to figure how to offer a group of classes on DVD for folks who’d like to own the techniques.  (of course I’ll keep you posted – don’t I always…?)

Who’s Chicken?

Hen Hat

If you receive my newsletter you got the chicken hat pattern.

And here’s a link to the pdf pattern for my blog readers.

Yes, I know it’s absurd, and it mixes knit with crochet, and I’m sure there’s some religious objection to the whole man-as-chicken thing.

But it’s a pattern that makes me laugh, I worked it up just for fun (and if you’re in the UK and can get Laughing Hens Rooster Yarn then you know how nice the yarn is.)

Of course, this will work up nicely in just about any worsted weight yarn with a bit of elasticity – it’s a friggin’ hat!  Use some red/brown hand painted to work up a nice Rhode Island Red!  Just avoid eating chicken while wearing the hat.

So enjoy the chicken hat – maybe I’ll see a few out there?

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.

Once again, Rick’s got my back…

Monday, August 30, 2010 By Rick Levine

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(Aug 23 – Sep 22)

You may be feeling a higher level of confidence about yourself and your goals. Even if you doubt your abilities, things should finally begin to turn around. Nevertheless, it can be difficult to reserve your judgment just enough to accept life as it is and other people just as they are. Still, once you choose to take the high road, you gain the gift of a truly empowering vision.

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