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Ravellenic Games Day 4

Yesterday I finished the back and got the ribbing done for the left front:

OF 4

See that untwisted cable near the bottom on the left? That's my humility cable, and it teaches me to do better. I noticed it wasn't twisted when I picked it up to knit it, and started to take it out, but then thought, hey, it's already there to teach me a lesson, I'll leave it.

It's going along pretty well. People may wonder how I do this with one hand paralyzed; I do it like this:

OF How I Do It
That's my paralyzed hand there, used to prop up the right-hand needle, which I've got jammed down between my legs, holding the base. I knit with the left-hand needle entirely. You can knit with just one needle if the other one is propped so it doesn't move.  I can knit pretty fast this way!

Ravellenic Games: Day 1

Yesterday we watched the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games. It was very British and very beautiful. Then I set about on my WIP Wrestling.


See that little safety pin on the right? That's where I was when I started. I basically knit rows 11 through 24 of Chart B, so 14 rows in 3 hours. That is way faster than the last go-round.

This project seems much easier than it did before; it makes sense. That's a big step up from where I was! 

It's a really pretty sweater. I don't think I will finish it before the games end, but now I know that I can finish it!

My Knitting and Crochet

Mouse 32 is done:

Mouse 32
Doesn't she look pretty?

I crocheted around my Afghan of Doom with the navy blue yarn left over from my navy socks:


I still have the left over yarn from my Summer Solstice shawl to crochet around it. Speaking of which, I blocked my shawl:

Shawl done

I love this shawl! It's even prettier in person. My hand is a little too shaky to take a good picture. Must be because of all the crocheting I've been doing on my Holey Sweater, which is finally done, the sewing up done, and the ends woven in:

Holey sweater done

I just have to soak it to block the stiff little seams out. And buy buttons. It is done! Yay! It looks really good, too. 

I just have to rest up for the opening ceremonies at 4 p.m. when I can start on this:

October Frost Beginning

So exciting!


Will This Buttonhole Band Never End?

I've been doing single crochet for a few days now, and it's all I can do to pick it up to do some more. It's taking me forever. It took me as long to do the collar and both button bands as it took to crochet the body of the sweater! Well, almost. Sheesh. Here's a picture:

Holey sweater

I've only got half the buttonhole band to go, and then I have to crochet it together and weave in the ends, and it will be ready to block. Yay!

Actually, it's going slowly because I changed the way I'm doing the collar and button bands. The pattern said to crochet them separately and sew them on as you go, stretching them slightly. Yeah right ... what does that mean, exactly? I envisioned trying to do that and I evisioned the crying and the throwing it in a heap and having another un-done sweater on my hands, never to be finished, and then I started to crochet the collar and button bands on as I went. It seems to be working just fine. I wonder why they didn't just write it that way.

So I have about 5 more inches to go. I can do this.

Frantically Crocheting

I haven't been spinning this week because I'm trying to finish up my Holey Sweater, which will leave me just one project waiting during the Ravellenic games -- my Don't Blink! socks. So, I have been frantically crocheting my sleeves; I have one done and just the top of another one to do:


Today I'll finish the sleeve and work on the collar and buttonbands, and finish them either today or tomorrow. I'll finish sewing it together tomorrow and it wil be done except for the buttons; buttons require a shopping trip and I will do that after the Ravellenic Games. 

That leaves Thursday and most of Friday to get set on my October Frost, which is my WIP Wrestling event. I don't think I'll finish it by the end of the games, but I'll make a big dent in it. I have to get it set in my mind just where in the pattern I left it off, pull out the bag with the knitting in it, make a schedule to knit, and then when the Olympic Opening Ceremonies begin, start knitting! 

I'm so excited!

"Für Elise" Fanaticism

A long time ago, in May 2005, I designed a scarf with odd yarn -- I actually told Becky to pick five yarns that she thought looked horrid together -- because I wanted to try out the theory that the ugliest of yarns will look fine if you stripe them in a random order. The experiment worked, and you can read about it here.

While I knit on it, I started to think of other ways you could use stripes, stripes as secret messages, say. Stripes as famous quotes. Stripes as music!!

Music is just a series of math that we can hear. It all depends on math. I began to play with ideas in my head ... first, I needed some sheet music. I searched the internet and found "Für Elise" by Beethoven. Hmmmm. It all started to come together in my mind.

It had to lie flat, and somehow the notes and the rests had to make sense. There were a lot of notes; I counted 15 or so in the first few bars alone. I figured that in Unique One, only Jamieson & Smith would have enough colors to do it. I could knit it in rounds!  All I had to do was figure out how many times I'd have to repeat a round for the smallest duration of a rest or a note to get the right length .... or I could knit 1 round for the shortest note, two rounds for the next-longest note, and so on, and knit until it was long enough ... I could use the same thing in black for the rests, yellow for the sharps ...

That's about when I said, "Stop it, you're a fanatic", and I quit thinking about it. 

But it's still there in my mind.


Tricoter Machine

I used to hate my knitting machine, until I saw this:

 (The embedded video might not work for you; click the link below to watch it if it doesn't work.)

"Les Peaux des Lievres" by Tricoter Machine 

"Les Peaux des Lievres" translates into "The Skins of Hares" in Google Translator, but I don't think that's right. Wouldn't "Rabbit Furs" be more poetic? ::: shrug :::

Tricoter Machine is a Quebecois group from Trois Riviers, Quebec (about halfway between Montreal and Quebec).

My Knitting And Crochet

Mice 30 and 31 make their presence known:

Mice 30 & 31

Mouse 31 is wearing his Spiderman suit. Or his Red Riding suit. Mouse 30 is thrilled because the tan yarn didn't run out when she was being knit.

I finished my Summer Solstice Mystery Shawl, and it's a mystery no more, but I haven't blocked it yet:



I know it's hard to believe, but it'll be pretty when it's blocked, and really, the nupps do show up. My photography is not the best either; my yarn looks dirty, but in reality it's a pretty shade of rusty orange with hand-dyed variations.

I'm trying to get everything done, or nearly done, this week because the Ravellenic Games start next Friday, July 27, and for the duration of the games, I'm only going to work on one project: October Frost. I'm getting excited to do it, and a little scared. I don't expect to finish it all by the end of the games, but I will make a big dent in it, and hopefully finish it off shortly thereafter. So, it would be nice not to have other, unfinished projects lying about.

I'm almost done sock #1 of my Don't Blink! socks:


I have about 3" more to go. I haven't really worked on them that much, maybe a couple days I did a little. I have too many projects!! Making them all progress at the same rate is difficult, but I can't bear to let them hibernate. I really like all of them.

I only worked on my Holey Sweater about an hour last week, but I will try to do more this week. Here's the start of one sleeve:

The sleeves are really easy -- just straight up, no shaping, except for the top. I'm not sure about how that will look, and they didn't photograph the ends of the sleeves, which makes me wonder:


Hmmmmmm. Maybe they were just too long for the model. Maybe they're incredibly ugly. Maybe they made her hands look fat. We will see.


Knitting Acronyms You've Never Seen (Clean Version)*

1) BBB - Blah Blah Blah - You're not going to read the pattern anyway, especially not that gauge part, so when it's written, it's just as easy to abbreviate it this way.

2) EHP - Extra Hole Part - For lace: "That? Oh. It's an EHP for the thumb."

3) CCT - Creative Cable Twist - For Aran knitting : "Mary's CCT made the back look quite different from the front."

4) OMADWIC - Order Me Another Drink While I'm Counting

5) OMAFDWIFF - Order Me Another Foolish Drink While I'm Frantically Frogging

6) GDS - What some projects are fondly referred to as, when the knitting slows: "Gosh Darned Sock! (Scarf!, Sweater! Shawl!)

7) H(S)WMNRHG - He (She) Who Must Not Receive Handknit Gifts

8) NS - Never-ending Stockinette - for those boring bits that we all knit

9) RIFLIMS - Rolling in the Fiber, Luxuriating in My Stash

10) DUCK - Drives Unperturbed, Constantly Knitting (see also "Flies")

*I leave the explicit version to your imaginations!

Diagonal Rib Scarf

This pattern is so simple, but I thought you'd like to have it. It was really the beginning to my Rainy Day Scarf idea. I originally knit it to show off the yarn samples we got from Earthtones handspun yarn, and kept it out with the yarn, and so many people asked for the pattern that I handed it out. When Earthtones left for greener pastures (Colorful Stitches in Lenox, Massachusetts) I was very happy to see the yarn take off; however, they wanted to have the yarn exclusively, and I knew they could order a lot more than I could, so I let it go.

The scarf has a ribbing pattern that goes diagonally up the scarf. It's easily memorized, makes great TV knitting, and it's reversible, which is always nice in a scarf. It's written for sport weight yarn, but you could use any yarn, really. It's good for my handspun! Even under plied handspun!

I'll add a picture to the pattern as soon as I knit one up. (The Earthtones one is long gone.)

Here ya go:


MATERIALS:  2 2-oz. skeins sportweight Earthtones handspun yarn
                  size 8 (5 mm) straight needles
Gauge varies and really, it's only a scarf.
Pattern is a multiple of 4, plus 2.
Cast on 42 sts. Knit 2 rows. Work in diagonal rib pattern until piece measures 482 or desired length. Knit 2 rows. Bind off all sts. Add fringe, if desired.

Diagonal Rib pattern:

Row 1: K 1, *p2, k2, repeat from * to last st, k1.

Row 2: K1, p1, *k2, p2, repeat from * to last 4 sts, k2, p1, k1.

Row 3: K3, *p2, k2, repeat from * to last 3 sts, p2, k1.

Row 4: K2; *p2, k2, repeat from * to end.

Repeat these 4 rows for pattern.  

Stop when you run out of yarn! 



I haven't been spinning enough to make any dent, so I'm not going to show you. 

I read a piece on plying that Jillian posted on the Knitty blog, and I'm under plying my yarn. When I finish this bunch and ply it, I hope I remember that.

I looked at my pre-stroke yarn to see if it was under plied too, and some of it is, and some of it isn't.  Who knew a person had to think so much about plying!

PreStroke spinning
Spun before my stroke

PostStroke Spinning

Spun after my stroke

Childhood Literature

The first book I remember reading was One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss. I read that book over and over, not because I particularly loved it, but because I could. It sat on the bookshelf in my Kindergarten/First Grade classroom with all the other books, and there was such a feeling of power:  when I could read that book, I knew I could read all of them.

My sister, who was my kindergarten and first grade teacher too, set my reading for the summer on a bookshelf in my room. I never thought to say 'No' or 'Why'; I was just happy to have something to read. I could read anything I wanted in between my summer reading, but I tried to finish it those books on my bookshelf  before school went back into session. This was how I came to read most of the classics -- Robinson Crusoe, Treasure Island, lots of Charles Dickens, the Arabian Nights, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Jane Eyre, and there was a multitude more. We didn't have a bookstore close to us, and no library, but luckily my family had been readers for a hundred years it seemed, so there were a lot of old books. The Robinson Crusoe I read had a lot more religion in it, let me tell you. No Walt Disney books for me!

Those books gave my young imagination something to work on, gave me storylines and characters and settings galore. I was not an only child, but my next oldest sibling was ten years ahead of me, and the characters were my friends.

When I had my stroke, before I could knit, I read a lot, A LOT. It's what got me through. It gave me something to talk about with the speech therapist. The characters were my friends again in a world where I was surprisingly alone -- family and friends came to visit, don't get me wrong; they were wonderful -- but in a world that I couldn't talk right in, or walk at all, or even go to the bathroom alone, I had my head full of friends from my books.

Books I'm Reading

I finished First Shift - Legacy by Hugh Howey. A lot a people said it was slow, that it was disappointing, but I loved it. I think people were dismayed by the fact that it was a prequel, set down in the middle of everything, when they were expecting that the exciting story would continue.

I'm convinced Hugh Howey has a cunning plan, and we will all look back after he has written the whole series and understand his choices. Now he has set up several possible outcomes for the characters in the story, and I can't wait to hear what they do.


The other book I am reading is The Mongoliad: Book One (Foreworld Saga) by Neal Stephenson and a whole other bunch of people: Greg Bear, Mark Teppo, E. D. deBirmingham, Erik Bear, Joseph Brassey, and Copper Moo. It takes place in the Mongol Empire in the thirteeth century, and so far there are storylines everywhere from Bulgaria to the Khan's palace.

Right now they seem to be focusing on three different sets of characters. The first is the story of a woman named Cnán and the men known variously as the Ordo Militum Vindicis Intactae, the Shield-Brethren, or the Monks of the Red Rose. In any case, they are heroic knights sent to kill the Khan. Cnán is helping them, and falling in love with Percival.

Then there is the story of Gansukh, a Mongol warrior, sent to court by Chagatai Khan, the Khan's brother, ostensibly to control the Khan's excessive drinking, but he not sure how he will do that. The Khan's advisor has given him the services of Lian, a beautiful Chinese slave, to help him understand the complicated protocols Gansukh; falls in love with her and so far he's blundering about helplessly in court.

The newest plot involves Kim, Last of the Flower Knights, and Zugaikotsu no Yama, a street brawler with a mysterious past, both captives, as they plot to overthrow the Khan.

This book is seriously convoluted, fascinating, heady with swordplay, overwrought with intrigue -- in short, like the Mongol Empire itself. I can't wait for the second book!


My Knitting and Crochet

Unfortunately my mouse has escaped before I could knit him ... perhaps he will bring his twin brother next week :)

My Summer Solstice Mystery Shawl is coming right along:


I'm about 4 rows from the end of part D. There are two more clues, and then it'll be done. I really like it so far, even though my nupps kinda suck. But maybe they will be overshadowed by the charming lace knitting! I think blocking will really help too.  I can push the nupps out when I block them.

I have both fronts done on my Holey Sweater.

Holey Jacket
It's odd that there is no neck shaping on the front pieces, but it's right there in the schematic diagram -- no neckshaping.


Go figure.

I started a new pair of socks:

These are my Don't Blink! socks, from Heatherly Waker's Flesh and Stone pattern. Those little angels are such fun to knit! 

This pair of socks uses a reverse stockinette background with a lace pattern. One thing about all that purling over double-pointed needles is that I get loose stitches between my needles. I noticed it right away:


I didn't take it out, which any conscientious knitter would have done (Hi Kelley!), but I thought about it while I continued to knit. First I thought, this looks terrible, but I really want to make these socks! Then I thought, why is it only showing up on the second row of angels, and not on the first row of angels? Hmmmm.

On the first row of angels, there's a knit one, purl one, knit one section on the first row, and one needle ended after the knit one, purl one, and the next needle started with knit one, then went on to purl five. That's why it didn't show up; the loose stitch got sucked into the knit one, purl one. Aha! 

So I continued the pattern and when I got back to the row of angels with the loose stitch showing, I slid some stitches over to the end of my first needle, putting the break in the middle of another knit one, purl one, knit one, and kept on going. Voilà! No more loose stitches showing!

This little lace pattern is quick to knit, and I seem to go faster because every row is one step closer to finishing an angel. But dang, it's hard not to blink!!

10 Knitting Things That Are True About Me

1. I really, really, really, miss knitting with circular needles.

2. I do not miss my knitting machine.

3. While it is fine to knit with, alpaca makes me itch.

4. So does mohair a little, but oh, it's so delightful to knit with.

5. I truly hate intarsia knitting, hate it forever.

6. I crave more knitting needles that I can't afford, like the Autumn Hollow beauteous ones which have the little gems on the end caps.

7. I love knitting with wool. 

8. Patterns that are a little challenging for me are the best kind. Easy patterns are just boring.

9. I love to knit lace and other textural things.

10. I like to sew seams and do finishing work.

What ten things about knitting are true for you?



People are funny. They'll post heartily about having too much rain or too much heat, but when it's a beautiful, sunny day, they don't say much about it. Very odd. I think it's part of that negativity thing that Sally Melville was talking about.

Well, I'm here to tell you that the sun is shining brightly on Tuesday afternoon, and the weather thing on the computer says it's going to be sunny and not too hot for the next five days -- in other words, perfect weather! Perfect for knitting, perfect for spinning, perfect for getting things done!

"Just living is not enough. One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower."  

-- Hans Christian Anderson

Crocheted flowers

My Spinning

Ugh, what a week. My spinning is going very slowly. It was really hot for a while, and then this batt is not as easy to spin as the last one, so I don't like it as much. I was disappointed to have my last batt come out so coarse-feeling, and that's another reason why this batt is going slowly; it's because I know it will be coarse, not soft. Thank goodness it's pretty!

Here's my little bit of spinning for the week:


Tour de Fleece is a wash for me this year, as I took three days off from spinning entirely when it was so hot. Next year! Next year I'll have something really easy and soft and nice that I love to spin, I hope!

Knitting an Opera

"[The Queen} sat at the hearth with several waiting-women,

Spinning yarn on a spindle, lustous sea-blue wool"


-- The Odyssey, Homer


Julian Grant had a chance conversation at the Scottish opera that led to a marriage of traditional crafts of  the Shetlands with opera. He was working on an opera involving Odysseus, called Odysseus Unwound, and became fascinated with the lace in the Shetland islands: 

"It was the lace knitting, rather than the more colourful and traditional Fair Isle patterning, that exercised my musical imagination. Here, only when the knitting is finished and pulled into its final tension is the intricate and subtle patterning which creates the lace effect finally revealed. I found this to be an intriguing way of developing basic musical material, and it operates dramatically too; a passage in the opening scene where Odysseus taunts. Hecuba recurs in ever fuller versions throughout the opera as various powerful ladies fling the taunts back at him, culminating in a full blown curse just before the end." (Julian Grant,, "Spinning a New Yarn Knitting the Odssey")

He unbelievably, within days, got a whole troupe of performers knitting and the result was unbelievable. "... the singing and acting talents of the spinners, weavers and knitters will be in evidence, as will the knitting abilities of the singers."

The Oddyseus Unwound  went on stage in 2006, and I can't find any sign of the music anywhere, but then, operas are not usually on my music sites.

It's a cool idea.

It's Raining

It's a steady, solid rain that will water the flowers and make the lawn green. Remember the summer that rained almost every day? I designed a scarf and called it "Rainy Day Scarf" because of that. Man, that was a wet month. Today, however, is supposed to be sunny later. We will see.

I've been thinking about what Sally Melville said in her blog post about negativity. We are perceived to be more negative than positive, because our articulate left brains do a good job about telling us how miserable we are, but our inarticulate right brains -- the optimistic, hopeful, seat of imagination -- is no good at speaking. The left brain speaks; the right brain acts. 

Sally said we should all learn to knit, and make the world a better place. I think she's right. I can create with my knitting, and that feels good. And I think knitting helps everyone feel good!


Sheep Counter

A number of years ago, I made a little sheep counter that I put on my computer desktop, and it was so cool.

Sheep counter image

It advanced when you clicked on it; when you clicked "-1" it went backwards (for frogging), and to start over you simply clicked "RESET". It was a floating window, so it stayed on top of everything. It was an app before there were apps, before even widgets, I think. I thought it was cool. Then I got busy and promptly forgot it. I left a link up for people to download it,  but somewhere along the way the link was lost. 

So, I just started to learn Python (a programming language) all over again and even though my sheep counter was made using RunRev in hypertext, it made me think of it all over again. I'm putting the link over at the list of "Beth's Free Patterns" even though it isn't a pattern, and you can download it if you like.

I'm learning Python at Udacitycom, which has free online courses. Very cool :)

Happy Fourth of July everyone!

My Spinning

I plied the batts from last week:

Spinning     Spinning 2   Close up

It's hard to get the color to show up right in these pictures. The yarn is much prettier than it looks in these photographs. I need one of those things like the car mirrors have, "Yarn Is Much Prettier Than It Appears", hehehe.

Then I set the twist (washed it without the nasty dye job that inconveniently dyed the last batch pink):

Spinning3     Spinning1

Three days later, it's still drying, still sort of damp. I  hung it out on the porch today, and it's still drying. This wool sure sucked up a lot of water! 

The last half of this batt -- the first half that I spun -- is still a little wonky. However, I love this yarn, love the look of it. It's still not perfect, far from it, but I am getting better. Spinning a batt is harder than spinning roving, it gives me a yarn that's more thick and thin, but that's ok. 

Tour  de Fleece started three days ago, and I started spinning my purple Indigo Moon batts:


That's how far I got in three days, about a total of 2.5 hours of spinning. I'm slowing down a bit. I think I should have done some roving instead of another batt; I'm getting tired of it already. Still, that's what it's all about; this spinning event will push me to complete the purple batt! 

These Indigo Moon batts are all wool I think; they are a little coarse. Lovely, but I wouldn't make socks or a scarf out of them, though I may make a hat or mittens, or boot socks perhaps. I thought they might soften up after washing, but they didn't. They are still really pretty, though.