Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sweet As Honey Scarf

The test knitting is done, the corrections and additions have been made, and the pattern is now available to purchase! Since this isn't a free pattern, I'm not posting it here, but I'm including a link to purchase the PDF, and several pictures. Let me know what you think!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Working On New Knitting Pattern

Shartly after publishing the Threes Triangular Shawl pattern, I had an idea for a bias-knit scarf. I love the look of scarves knit on the bias, but they all seem to be either garter stitch or stockinette stitch, and I wanted something different. I found a stitch pattern I like, figured out how to start it and how to do the increase rows, and then things went haywire. For weeks, every time I tried a new way to knit the straight rows, I ended up with two corners instead of one, which meant the scarf wasn't a bias-knit scarf anymore. AAARRRRGGGHHHHH!

Finally, last week, I figured out what I was doing wrong. My personal test knit of the pattern is about 1/2 done. Once that's finished and I've got photos of the result, I'll be creating the PDF and having it test knit by others. If everything goes well with the test knitters, I'll be publishing it here. It's going to be a bit yet, but keep an eye out!

I'm feeling very accomplished right now. Not only did I figure out the problem with the pattern, but this scarf is one that can be knitted for either men or women -- the pattern doesn't scream to made for just one sex. I think I'm proudest of that!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Good News!

I had an appointment with Dr. Arrogant today. To say I was dreading it would be an understatement -- who likes being talked down to?

I had several surprises in store for me. First, my appointment was earlier in the afternoon than it has been, and my wait wasn't as long -- about an hour, when I've been waiting for nearly two hours in the previous appointments. Second, Dr. Arrogant...wasn't. Or at least, not as arrogant as he has been. He shook my hand, he looked at me, he spoke to me (instead of talking at me), he listened to me.... I had a strong temptation to ask who he was and what he'd done with the doctor!

I told him how much better I was doing on the higher dose of Savella (averaging a 2 - 3 1/2 on my personal scale, which was my goal). He was surprised -- apparently, in his experience, most fibromyalgia patients don't show this much improvement on only one med. He expected me to say that the pain wasn't low enough yet, and I needed narcotics. Since I'm not on narcotics, and apparently won't be needing any other med than the Savella (at least for the present -- who knows what the future holds!), he decided that he doesn't need to see me every month. I only need to go back when I need a refill -- about every six months. He actually seemed happy to tell me that!

I've been thinking about why fibro patients so frequently need narcotics as well as meds like Savella, and I have a theory. I suspect that many fibro people are trying to get back to a pain-free life, instead of accepting that they will have some level of pain every day for the rest of their life (unless, of course, there's a medical breakthrough). I, on the other hand, have known for years that I'll never be pain-free again. I just wanted the pain to be reduced to the point where I could function, at least to some degree, on most days.

Would I like to be pain-free again? Hell, yes!!!! I don't even remember what it's like to not have pain. But until medicine discovers how to turn off the over-sensitive pain sensors in my brain, it ain't happening. Denying that will just use energy I don't have to spare.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ferret Show Report

This past weekend, we went to one of the ferret shows we regularly attend, the Fall Ferret Fandango in Gilbertsville, PA. It's typically a small show, and we tend to do fairly well at it.

This weekend, we did really well at it! Two of Ruth's ferrets took first place in four of the specialty rings. Dementor took first place in Green Card (for ferrets with at least 25% foreign bloodlines) and in Black Sable (which Ruth has wanted to win for a long time now!). And her 6 month old little girl, Myfanwy, took first place in the Chocolate and Point rings! Considering that it's only Myfanwy's second show, and she can still be a holy terror, that's absolutely fantastic!

The crowning glory of the day came at the end, when they announced the winners in the Breeder championships. (Brief explanation -- in the championship rings, the ferrets are examined and scored by three separate judges. The ferret that scores the highest across all three rings is the Best In category winner. There are 4 championship categories -- Companion [for ferrets neutered before 12 weeks old], Alter [for ferrets neutered after 12 weeks old], Adolescent [for intact ferrets under a year old], and Breeder [for intact ferrets over a year old]). The championship rings can be split into male and female if there are enough entries. At this show, the championship rings were combined -- there were nearly 80 entries in the Breeder category.

We had 5 boys entered in the Breeder category. When we got their scores, we could tell from experience that only one of them was likely to place, my boy Taranis. He's placed before, but never in the top three, so I was just hoping for a top three placement in at least one ring, so that he could get his Gold championship once he has enough points. They called the list of numbers (each ferret gets a number, and that's how the judges know them so there's no bias in the judging), and sure enough, Taranis was called back.

The first judge started handing out her ribbons, and for 10th place, she called Taranis' number. I was thinking, well, they must have been scoring really high today. Then she took another look and said, "Oh, that should have been [another number]. Sorry!". No problem. She called everyone who won a ribbon up to third place, then called the second and first place ferrets up together, without saying which was which. And Taranis was one of them! So I'm thinking 'Cool! He's got his top three placement -- I'm good!'. And then she said he got first place! Well, I was in shock, but very happy.

Just a quick piece of info -- when they call the list of numbers for the winners, it's a combined list for all three rings. It doesn't matter if your ferret places in one ring or all three -- the number will only be called once, so you have no idea how many rings the ferret has been called for.

So the judge for the second ring started ribboning, and the same thing happened -- Taranis was called up for the first and second place ribboning. This ring, he got second, and I was floating!

Then came the third ring. I was not expecting anything -- I was perfectly happy with the placements I had. And once again, Taranis was called up for the first and second place ribboning. And he got first!

By this time, I was in complete shock. And I was thinking 'Okay, that's two firsts and a second. But that can't possibly mean what I think it means....'. And just about the time I finished that thought, the judge announced that my boy was Best In Show Breeder! She called him a 'joy to judge'!

This is my very first BIS Breeder. I've had a BIS Alter before, and Ruth has had BIS Breeder and BIS Adolescent, but this was my first! I knew Taranis was looking good this weekend, but I never expected anything like this. I'm still flying, and I'm so proud of my boy!

BIS TCF's Taranis Thunderer of RN, with his trophies and ribbons:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Muscular Dystrophy Stride-N-Ride

Since I was a little girl (over 40 years, now), my Labor Day tradition has been to watch at least a part of the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon. I always try to see the end, so I know if that magic 'one dollar more' has been reached. In the past, I've answered phones at telethons, walked around the neighborhood and collected money, and done other fundraising activities.

For the past several years, the fibro has kept me from doing anything more than watch the telethon, but that's changing, thanks to the new med. Next year, I'll be participating in the local Stride-N-Ride to raise funds for research. I just got my fundraising webpage set up, and I've set up a group on Ravelry for people from my local area (Pittsburgh, PA) to join my team. Please, if you know anything about MD, if you know someone effected by it, if you know someone with kids (healthy or not!), if you just care about great causes, donate! My page is linked from the title of this post, and I'll add it at the end. Locally, research costs $82/minute (the national average is $87/minute), and my goal is to raise at least enough to pay for 5 minutes of research. Please help me reach my goal!

Thanks in advance!

Beth's Fundraising Page

Friday, September 4, 2009

More Pain Management

First things first -- my insurance did give me pre-approval for the Savella! For an entire year! And for whatever dosage I was prescribed! There was rejoicing the day that letter arrived, let me tell ya!

I had another appointment with Dr. Arrogant last week -- he wants his patients to see him every 4 weeks. My pain level at that point was averaging 4 1/2 to 6 on my personal scale, with occasional forays into the 7 range -- better, but not as good as I want.

So, he came into the exam room, sat down at the desk and proceeded to talk to me without ever really looking at me. Asked about my pain level, made mumbled noises that I think were supposed to be encouraging, and was very obviously going to leave the room without asking me how I felt about the improvement and if I thought it was enough. So I said 'There has been an improvement, but I'd like to see more. Could we try a higher dosage of Savella?' Now, understand, I had done my research, and I knew that the drug could be prescribed up to a dose of 100 mg twice a day. I wanted to try 150 mg and see if that was enough. His reply? 'Well, the recommended dose is 50 mg twice a day,' -- the dose I was already taking. So I told him that I'd done some research and that it could be prescribed at a higher dose. He told me he'd have to check the information! Now, what doctor prescribes a med without knowing that it's offered at higher doses? The upshot of it all is that I left the office with a script for 100 mg twice a day. I'd be looking for a different pain specialist, but the pre-approval is only for him, and chances are that I wouldn't get pre-approved again if I changed doctors.I've been on the higher dose for 3 days now, and I think I'm seeing an improvement. It's been hard to tell because we went to a ferret show last weekend, and it always takes several days for me to completely recover from one of them. But in the past, it's taken at least a week, and I did some laundry today and lifted some heavy things, and I don't feel like my body wants revenge for it, so I think things may be looking up.

And in other news, my Threes Triangular Shawl is now listed at Ravelry! People seem to like it -- lots of nice compliments, and over 20 people have marked it as a favorite!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Update on Pain Management

It's been almost 2 weeks since my appointment at the pain management center. First, let me say that the doctor did not impress me. He's arrogant and obnoxious, and talked down to me until my partner made it clear that she was a veterinarian. I.E., a medical professional that couldn't be bullshitted.

That being said, he definitely knows his stuff as far as fibro goes. He did the pressure test to confirm that I have it (no doubts there!), and then he started telling me about a new drug, Savella. Very few side effects, and those show up in a small minority of the people on the drug. He gave me a prescription and a coupon for a free titration pack to get started with. It took a few days to get started -- no one carries the titration pack in stock, and finding a pharmacy to take the coupon was tricky. Say what you like about Wal-Mart, they took the coupon!

So, today is day 10 on Savella. It's my third day at the full dose (5o mg twice a day), and yesterday I did something I haven't been able to do for a long time.

One of my big jobs around the house is cleaning ferret cages. It's physically demanding, and for the past two years it's been such a painful thing to do that I haven't done it any where near as regularly as I should, especially the part where I change the bedding, which frequently requires getting down on my hands and knees to clean the lower part of the cage. When I've done it, it's taken an hour and a half to do one average sized cage -- the bigger ones have been impossible! Yesterday, I cleaned an average cage in 45 minutes, including a full bedding change! I used a foam kneeling pad, where I've been using both that and strap-on knee pads. I was able to get up and down fairly easily. And while I'm more sore today than I was yesterday, I should still be able to clean another cage!

So, while the doctor is not a fun person to be around, he does know what he's talking about. And that's what I really care about!

Friday, August 7, 2009

My First Knitting Pattern -- Threes Triangular Shawl

download now
This is exciting to me! I designed this months ago, but due to other things haven't had a chance to try knitting it until this week. The project is still on my needles, so no photos yet, but I'll add them when it's finished.

I've always liked the look of the original K3P3 Prayer Shawl, but I prefer a triangular shawl to a rectangular one. I kept thinking that there had to be a way to incorporate the pattern into a triangular shawl, but couldn't figure out how to start. Then I started knitting a scarf from the book "101 Designer One-Skein Wonders" and realized I'd found the start for my shawl. From there, it was trial and error until suddenly things started working. Once I had the pattern, I set it aside and got distracted by other things. This past week, I found the paper it was written on and set out to test knit it. After a few false starts, and some corrections, I got it working. As of now, I'm the only person to test knit it -- I welcome any and all comments, especially if you find mistakes! I'll be putting this on Ravelry as a free pattern once I've got my shawl finished and some pictures taken. Enjoy!

Threes Triangular Shawl

by Beth Bowles

kfb -- knit into the front and back of the stitch
s1wyif -- slip one stitch purlwise with the yarn in front
yb -- put yarn to back of work
yo -- yarn over
k -- knit
p -- purl
co -- cast on

Gauge -- not vital. This shawl can be knitted with any weight of yarn, using the appropriately sized needles. I'm using an aran weight cotton, on size 10 needles.

CO one stitch
Row 1) kfb
Row 2) s1wyif, yb, kfb
Row 3) s1wyif, yb, kfb, k1
Row 4) s1wyif, yb, k1, yo, knit to end
Rows 5-7) Repeat Row 4 -- 8 stitches on needle
Row 8) s1wyif, yb, k1, yo, k3, p1, k2
Row 9) s1wyif, yb, k1, yo, p1, k3, p1, k2
Row 10) s1wyif, yb, k1, yo, p1, k3, P2, k2
Row 11) s1wyif, yb, k1, yo, p2, k3, p2, k2
Row 12) s1wyif, yb, k1, yo, p2, k3, p3, k2
Row 13) s1wyif, yb, k1, yo, p3, k3, p3, k2
Row 14) s1wyif, yb, k1, yo, [p3, k3] to end
Row 15) s1wyif, yb, k1, yo, k1, [p3, k3] to end
Row 16) s1wyif, yb, k1, yo, k1, p3, k3, p3, k4
Row 17) s1wyif, yb, k1, yo, k2, p3, k3, p3, k4
Row 18) s1wyif, yb, k1, yo, k2, p3, k3, p3, k5
Row 19) s1wyif, yb, k1, yo, [k3, p3] to last 5 stitches, k5
Row 20) s1wyif, yb, k1, yo, [k3, p3] to last 6 stitches, k3, p1, k2
Row 21) s1wyif, yb, k1, yo, p1, [k3 p3] to last 6 stitches, k3, p1, k2
Row 22) s1wyif, yb, k1, yo, p1, [k3, p3] to last 7 stitches, k3, p2, k2
Row 23) s1wyif, yb, k1, yo, p2, [k3, p3] to last 7 stitches, k3, p2, k2
Row 24) s1wyif, yb, k1, yo, p2, [k3, p3] to last 2 stitches, k2
Row 25) s1wyif, yb, k1, yo, [p3, k3] to last 5 stitches, p3, k2
Row 26) s1wyif, yb, k1, yo, [p3, k3] to end
Row 27) s1wyif, yb, k1, yo, k1, [p3, k3] to end
Row 28) s1wyif, yb, k1, yo, k1, [p3, k3] last 7 stitches, p3, k4
Row 29) s1wyif, yb, k1, yo, k2, [p3, k3] to last 7 stitches, p3, k4
Row 30) s1wyif, yb, k1, yo, k2, [p3, k3] to last 5 stitches, k5

Repeat Rows 19-30 until shawl is desired length. For the most even appearance, end on Row 19.

Bind off.
Copyright 2009 by Beth Bowles

Monday, July 6, 2009


I have fibromyalgia, for those of you who didn't know it, and that means that I am constantly, incessantly, in some degree of pain. I'm on a couple of pain meds, and they dull it, but they don't get rid of it. Today, for example, my lower back hurts and my upper legs are screaming. If you've never experienced chronic pain, count your blessings. It steals your energy, your willpower...well, really it steals your life. Everything you do becomes an evaluation of your pain level and how much you can really handle doing before it exhausts you. Every day is an exercise in what degree of tired you're feeling right now. And I am, as the saying goes, sick and tired of being sick and tired.

So today I took the first steps to, hopefully, get some actual function back and gain a bit of control over my life. I called the local pain management center. Apparently, it's not as easy as calling and getting an appointment. They wanted some of my records, so I called my primary doctor (who I love -- he spent two years testing me for everything under the sun before we got a diagnosis and never once told me it was all in my head!) to arrange for that, and set up an appointment for my regular checkup while I was at it. They'll fax the records to the doctor at the pain management place, he'll look at them, decide if he wants any other tests or things like x-rays, and then they'll call me to set the next step in place.

Fibro has also stolen my long term memory, which means I can't be trained for any job (we won't get into my opinion of Social Security and what they think disability is). I don't expect learning to manage my pain to bring that back. I've (mostly) come to terms with the fact that this is who I am these days. But having the energy to do more around the house would be a blessing, both for me and my partner. Sometimes, I think she has to be a saint to deal with my frequent uselessness. Then she get pissed at me and the illusion vanishes. :)

Anyway, I'm hoping that this is the first step to a better quality of life. I'll try to keep things updated here.

In knitting news, I've been working on chemo caps for my partner's cousin. I've finished 4 of them, and will be sending them out tomorrow. I've got 2-3 more I want to do, but she started chemo last week, so she needs them.

Added about half an hour later: Just got a call from the pain management center! I have an appointment July 21! That's a lot faster than I was expecting. They wanted to offer me a chance to come in tomorrow at 10 AM, but we've got a ferret having babies either today or tomorrow, and it looks like it will be tomorrow, so I had to wait. But there's a light in the distance....

Friday, July 3, 2009

Elegant Essentials Is Open!

Right now, there are only two items in the shop, but keep checking back -- that will change over the next week. The photos are not the best -- it's a little glary today, and I'm not used to taking pictures of shiny silk, so they blurred a bit. But you should be able to get the idea! Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

New Etsy Shop

I've been dyeing silk scarves for the past few weeks, having fun experimenting with different colors and techniques. The problem is that now I have nearly a dozen hand-dyed scarves and not enough people to give gifts to, so I'm going to open up a second Etsy store. Right now, the name will be 'Elegant Essentials', unless I come up with (or someone suggests) something better. That name will also encompass my partner's gorgeous hairsticks/shawl pins. They're either wood or bone sticks, with strands of semi-precious gemstone beads dangling from them. They're absolutely stunning to look at, and believe me, they work wonderfully as shawl pins -- I've used them that way!

If you've got any suggestions for a shop name, please post them! If I choose a name that's suggested by one of you, there will be a pretty thank you gift!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wow! Has It Been That Long?

Sorry for the lack of updates -- I've been working on a crochet project (yes, I learned to crochet, although knitting is still my favorite) for most of the last 4 months. I finished it about 2 weeks ago, and I've been recovering since then.

I was working on an afghan that was raffled for a Dragonriders of Pern club that I belong to. In the Dragonriders books, dragons come in 5 colors - the queens are gold, then there are bronzes, browns, blues and greens. The afghan had a knitted center square with a dragon in relief. That square was a vibrant yellow (for gold), surrounded by a ring of afghan squares in the same color. going out from that there was a ring of light tan squares (for bronze), then brown, blue and green. Each ring was, of course, larger than the ring before it, which was perfect since the dragons in the series are more numerous as you move from gold through green. I joined the rings with single crochet in black yarn, which helped set the colors off nicely, then I added a border in black as well. I finished it at 11 PM the night before it had to be somewhere for the raffle! The afghan raised a decent amount for the club, even though the annual get-together where it was raffled was smaller than usual this year, and it went home with someone who truly appreciates the work that went into it.

I wasn't able to get any good photos of it before it was raffled, so I'm hoping that the many people who took pictures of it at the get-together will share them with me. If I get some good photos, I'll add them.

I'm going to be adding a second Etsy shop soon. I've just recently gotten interested in hand dyeing silk scarves, and I'll be selling them as soon as I get a small stock built up and come up with a name for the shop. I'm leaning toward 'Elegant Essentials'. What do you think?

I'll try not to be so long between posts, but no promises!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Congratulations To The Winners!

The Etsy Knitters Scavenger Hunt is over. Congratulations to all the winners! Remember that you have until April 19 to use your secret code, so enjoy your shopping!

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Okay, we're in the countdown to the end of the Spring Scavenger Hunt! After today, you've only 3 more days to win. Have you gotten the secret code yet? You've still got time -- go win and get special deals from 31 different Etsy shops, including Needle Bling! Think ahead -- here's a chance to get something special for Mother's Day at a great price!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Only 4 Days Left!

Only 4 days left for the Etsy Knitters Spring Scavenger Hunt! I made a mistake in my last post -- I miscounted the honor roll winners. As of today, there are 24 winners, with 16 of them on the honor roll! You've only got 4 days after today to join them, so go hunting!

This has been a successful idea for me already -- two winners have purchased a total of three of my stitch marker sets! I'm hoping a few more decide to do the same, and I'm hoping they spend money at other Etsy Knitter shops as well!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Scavenger Hunt Update

The Etsy Knitters Street Team Spring Scavenger Hunt is a grand success so far! Although winners only need to find 10 of the clues, 18 people have gone above and beyond to find all 31 clues! You can see their names on the honor roll at the bottom of the Scavenger Hunt page. You could be there, too! Go check it out!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Etsy Knitters Spring Scavenger Hunt

The Etsy Knitters Street Team is celebrating spring with a scavenger hunt! Click on the title or the scavenger hunt box to the right to go to the site. Basically, there are photos of items from over thirty shops shown, and a list of the shops. Match 10 pictures to the correct shops, and you get a special code that's good for any of the participating shops. Each shop is offering it's own unique special for people who win the code! This is your chance to get a discount on that special pattern or yarn or set of stitch markers you've been wanting! Have fun!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Running For Research

My partner's mother died a couple of years ago from lymphoma. Her sister, Holly, is running in a marathon to raise money for research to find a cure for leukemia and lymphoma. Here's what Holly has to say:

Will you join me in supporting The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society? On May 24th, 2009 (my sister Avi's birthday!), I will be running the Vermont City Marathon with Team in Training (TNT). I was inspired to do this by my niece Kristen Johnson (2 marathons with TNT), the memory of my Mom, and in honor of my local team hero Mason Snider. Mason is just 4 years old and has been living with leukemia since he was not quite 2. He is currently in the maintenance phase of chemotherapy and will be in treatment until 2010.

I like running; it helps keep me healthy. I've run several half marathons, but never a full marathon. Running one with TNT seems manageable, unlike running from appointment to appointment trying to manage a disease like leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma. Working as a team makes training for the race possible for me, fund-raising as a team might eventually make more cures possible for all of us.Please make a donation to support my participation in Team In Training and help advance LLS's mission.

Many thanks in advance.

To support this, I'm announcing a raffle. It will be run on the honor system. Donate to help Holly raise money and then post here that you've done so. You can donate whatever amount you can afford, even if it's just a dollar. You get a chance to win for posting. If you choose to post the amount you donate, you'll get a chance for every $10 you give. So, what are the prizes, right? 1st place gets 2 custom made sets of stitch markers from my Etsy Shop, Needle Bling. 2nd gets one custom made set, and 3rd gets a $10 gift certificate. Gift certificates can be redeemed for any item in my shop, or for special orders. Custom made means you choose the type of beads, the size of the stitch markers and the color of the findings. The contest will run until March 15. Holly's goal is $2000 -- let's help her go over that!