Monday, May 16, 2011

Rat-Tailed Blue Snake


An original pattern by Susan Stone

Worsted weight yarn ~50g.

Size 7 DPNs, set of 5, preferably bamboo

2 ⅜” shiny

black buttons with shanks

6” pink yarn for tongue

2 markers, one solid, one split

Large-eyed needle that will fit thru button holes

Polyester fiberfill

Cast on two stitches; knit in I-cord for 2”.

Increase 1 st and continue in I-cord for 2-½”.

Increase 1 st at opposite end and continue in I-cord for 1-½”

Continue knitting in I-cord, increasing 1 st every 1-½” until you have 8 sts on needle.

Divide sts evenly among 4 needles. Place marker after 1st st on needle #1. Knit even for 1”, then increase 1 st every other needle (2 st increase per row) every 4th row, redistributing sts so each n

eedle has the same number of sts, until there are 6 sts on each needle. Place split marker in knitting for start of body. Knit straight for 12”, adding stuffing every inch or so.


Decrease 1 st at each end o

f the 1st & 3rd needles; on the nex

t row dec 1 st at center of 2nd & 4th needles.

Knit 4 rows straight. On the next row, increase to 6 st on each needle.

On the next row inc 1 st at each end of 1st & 3rd needles, while dec 1 st at each end of 2nd & 4th needles.

Decrease 1 st at each end of 2nd & 4th needles on the next row: 2 st remaining on each needle. Knit 2 rows straight


On the next 2 rows, inc 1 st at each end of 1st & 3rd needles: 12 st on each needle.

[needle 1 = 12 st, needle 2 = 2 st, needle 3 = 12 st, needle 4 = 2 st.]

Knit straight for 2”. Then decrease 1 st at each end of 1st & 3rd needles every other row twice.

Knit two st tog across each needle, transferring the single st to the needle prior: 2 needles with 5 st ea

ch. Knit 2 tog at beginning and end of each needle, then knit each of the 3 sts on front needle tog with the same st on the back needle (like 3 needle bind-off): 3 st rem. Cut the yarn, leaving a long tail. Thread tail into sewing needle, and run the needle through the rem 3 sts, taking them off the kn

itting needle. Pull tight, and push end sts in & run needle up to where the first eye will go (about 1-¼” back). Sew eye on, run needle across to sew on other eye. Run needle back to first ey

e, wrap yarn around the shank a few times & then run the end under the knitting for at least 8” to finish. Cut tail. Thread pink yarn onto needle and make a tongue by taking one back stitch. Cut ends so they are even, about 2” long.

For Male Snake: on body do increases until there are 8 sts per needle, and add 2 inches to body length. For neck and head there will be 2 sts more per needle. Make head 3” long. Use duplicate stitch to make diamond pattern on back. You may choose to knit the diamonds (rather than using duplicate stitch to add them): start the first body even with the last row of increases. Smallest diamond has 5 sts at widest point; next one & ones on head have 7 sts. Body diamonds are 13 sts wide.

The smaller ones on the tail are best done in duplicate stitch.

For Baby Snake: Cast on 2 st; work in i-cord for 1-½”. Increase 1 st & work in i-cord for another 1”. Then increase 1 st every 4 rows, alternating ends, until there are 8 st. Spread sts ac

ross 4 needles & knit 1 row. Next rnd nc 1 st on needles 1 & 3; following rnd inc 1 st on needles 2

& 4.

Knit straight for 9”. For head, inc 1 st at each end of needles 1 & 3, while decreasing 1 st on needles 2 & 4. Knit straight for 2 rows, then repeat the increase on needles 1 & 3, 18 sts total. Knit straight for 1-½”. Decrease 1 st at each end of needles 1 & 3. Then finish as for original snake. Use black yarn to make French knot eyes.

For a shorter tail:

Cast on 2 st; work in I-cord for 2 rows; then inc 1 st; k for 1-½”; 1” after next inc. Next inc every 1” until 8 st. This should result in a shorter & better looking tail.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Farewell to Blogger

Since I switched over to a Mac computer, using Safari as my browser, Blogger has not been working so well for me - it keeps getting hung up at publishing time, after I've spent time arranging my photos. Uploading photos has always taken a long time, even with high speed Internet. Therefore I have switched to using iWeb to write my blog.

The blog is now Our Blog - Harry's and mine together. The easy address to find us at is Hope you enjoy our new look and our new blog. As of this date, the new blog takes up where this one left off, after the Filipino Crew Show, and the Greek Island of Cephalonia.

See you at the new blog!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Mediterranean Cruise - Filipino Crew Show

One of the reaons I enjoy cruises on Holland America Line so much, is the crew. Most of them are either from the Philippines or from Indonesia. On a shorter cruise you will see either a Filipino show or an Indonesian show. On longer cruises, one can see both. These shows are always a treat, even though they do the same basic show each time. There are always individual touches, and different singers who do different songs each time. Attending the show is a really good way to support the crew. One of the fun things about this show is that our wine steward, Teofilo, who was in two of the dances, handed out AUTOGRAPHED programs in the dining room, before the show. He wanted to make sure that we remembered that he was THE STAR!! The amazing thing about the crew shows is that they are always done at 11 PM, after the crew is done with their long workday. Even so, they have fun and do a great job! For me the shows never get old, and I highly recommend them.

Mediterranean Cruise -Argostoli, Cephalonia, Greece

Cephalonia (Kefalonia) is a beautiful island. Some have said that while Corfu has all the history, Cephalonia has all the beauty. I would have to agree with that. Not that Corfu is ugly, but it just doesn't have the outstanding beauty o of Cephalonia. One of the nice things about the island is that the port area is very well kept and pleasant.

Our tour took us first to the Drogarati cave, which was a great disappointment. The problem is that it has not been well maintained, and there is no one in the cave to supervise what the people are doing. Many of the people who go in touch everything in sight, totally ignoring signs that tell them not to touch. It would probably be interesting
if you have never been to Carlsbad Caverns, or even the cave at Halong Bay, Viet Nam, a dead cave (no new formations or formation growth). For us, the kittens playing outside were more interesting. It was sad to see the cave in such poor condition. I liked the fact that I saw wildflowers growing outside the cave (cyclamen) and ferns.

Melissani Lake was a better experience. The lake was underground in a cave, but part of the roof caved in so now about half of it is open to the sky.
We walked down a ramp to the water's edge, where we boarded a boat, which a well-muscled young man rowed around the lake, telling us about the lake. The interesting thing about this lake is that it took a very long time to figure out where the water was coming from. Apparently there is a "swallow hole," the opposite of a blow
hole over on
the other side of the island, and the water in the lake comes from that swallow hole. That means that the water is brackish, since the sea water is added to whatever fresh water the lake gets.

The drive around the island was beautiful. It is quite mountainous, as well as green. We had a short photo stop to see Myrtos Beach, which was gorgeous with its incredible blue water. The mountains drop straight into the ocean over

much of the island, and the road is carved into the side of the mountain. It is amazing to see the trees growing on such steep terrain.

I'm not sure I'd want to go back to Cephalonia unless we could find something of interest to do there, apart from the cave and the underground lake. However, it is definitely worth a visit if you've never been before.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mediterranean Cruise - Kekira, Corfu, Greece

Today we arrived at Corfu, a Greek island that is new to me. The initial view was beautiful, as expected. Our tour took us first to Achillion Palace, built by the Empress Elizabeth (also known as Sissi), wife of Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph. She spent a lot of time estranged from her husband, was not allowed to raise her older children, and so, did a lot of traveling. She fell in love with the island of Corfu, and there built a palace that was dedicated to Achilles. She retreated there after the unexpected death of her son, Rudolf, apparently a suicide. The palace was later bought by Kaiser Wilhelm II. The painting of him is unusual, as it shows both hands. Most of his portraits show only the right hand, because the left one was deformed.

The grounds of the palace are extensive and beautiful, as are the views from the gardens. The interior of the palace is very ornate (you can find better photos than I was able to take if you Google Achillion Palace). Our next stop
was Kanoni, supposedly a place where the French had left a canon - if they did we never saw it, just some nice views, including Mouse Island, named for its shape.

On our drive back to Kekira
we passed some
Roman ruins. When we left the bus, we walked past the monument to the Ionian Islands. The bus had
stopped near the old fort, so we had a good view of it. We walked around the town a little bit, and saw the church of St. Spirion, the patron saint of Corfu. After that we had some free time for shopping before heading back to the ship. We weren't interested in souvenirs, but we did findsome Mythos beer, which was
quite pleasant.
While we enjoyed our tour, Corfu was not as interesting or as beautiful as the other Greek islands I've been to.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mediterranean Cruise, Dubrovnik, Croatia

Our visit to Dubrovnik, Croatia was long awaited. We were supposed to go to Split, Croatia on the world cruise, but were unable to go ashore due to very rough seas (that port requires us to drop anchor and use tenders to get ashore). We were blessed to have a beautiful, sunny day, and an excellent guide, Kristina, for our "Cultural Dubrovnik" tour.

The first stop was the old walled city of Dubrovnik. We entered by crossing over a draw bridge. The entire city, including the wall, is built of limestone. The walled city has been designated a UNESCO world heritage site. One can walk on top of the wall (we didn't have time to try that), and there are many interesting things to see in the city. The city is protected by its patron saint, St. Vlaho. One can still find evidence of the 1992-1993 war, known as "The War", when Yugoslavia was splitting into independent states. We explored a church, a monastery, a cathedral, and a governmentbuilding. The town was ruled by a council, and each month a different man would be chosen leader. For that month the man had to live in the government building ALONE (no wife, no nothing) while he was there. I'll bet that was interesting! At the end of our tour of the city we had a little free time for shopping and other sightseeing. All the travel souvenirs we brought back came from here, because we felt like it would be the most exotic and appealing place to
have gifts from.

After a brief photo stop along the coast, our next stop was Cavtat (pronounced Sov-tot), the old
Dubrovnik seaport, which is now a resort. We had a little bit of a guided tour, plus a little time to shop again. The waterfront area was very pleasant. We had to pay to use the restrooms, but they were very clean, and not too expensive.

Finally we headed out to Konavle province, where
we would be visiting
a farm where they produce their own wine and olive oil. We had been told we'd have lunch on the trip, and it turned out that lunch would be around 3PM, the last part of the trip. Needless to
say there were some people who
were very upset about that. I have to agree that it would have been nice to know that beforehand. Along the drive we saw the
strange looking building that looks like a windmill without blades. It is a ham smoker. We also learned that in the rural areas, when a son gets married, the family builds a new house onto the old one, so the family ends up
living in what looks like a row house on their farm. Finally we arrived at Kuca Glavic, and were greeted by the family, and live music. We were first treated to local figs and a shot of raisin brandy (very strong). This was followed by a tour of the winery and olive oil press, and then lunch. The lunch included some of their red wine (which
was quite nice), home made bread, sausage, potato salad, and tomato salad. While we ate we listened to the two
folk musicians (a group called Klapa Astral), who played accordian and guitar, and also sang. They were
really good, and they made the lunch even more enjoyable with their good harmony and
upbeat music. We bought a
small bottle of their olive oil, and a small framed embroidery (they do beautiful embroidery work) as souvenirs.

By the time we got back to the ship, it was time to dress for dinner. Needless to say, we weren't very hungry, so ate a light dinner. This was an altogether enjoyable day. Dubrovnik, or anywhere else in Croatia, is on my list of places I'd like to return to.

Mediterranean Cruise 10/5/2009 Venice, Italy

This cruise started out in a less than stellar way. For starters, while we were driving to the airport in San Antonio it was pouring rain. It had stopped long enough for us to load our car, but there was a huge accumulation of water on the highway, which got into places in the car that made several engine lights come on. We did make it otherwise safely to the airport and had an easy trip through security and on time takeoff. Our landing in Chicago, where we had to change planes (and airlines) was superb - one of those rare ones where you had to figure out that we'd landed. Our flight over the ocean between Chicago and Frankfurt was more than an hour late getting off the ground. We made up some time in the air, but not enough. Our seats were near the back of the huge plane, and when we got to security there were an incredible number of people waiting to get through. By the time we got to our gate, the flight was long gone. Frankfurt airport is spread out over a large area, and we had to walk all the way from our gate (26) to the ticket desk, which was beyond the security area, to get our tickets changed. The clerk kindly gave us a voucher for €15, which was enough to buy us each a sandwich and bottle of water. We had to wait less than three hours for the flight, but the new one was leaving from gate 36. On the overseas flight the lights had come on in the plane cabin about an hour after we finally decided to try to get some sleep, so by the time we did all this walking, hauling our carry on bags and computer, we were wiped out. The flight to Venice was uneventful, but trying to find out what was happening from the Holland America people who were there to meet us, was difficult. We did make it onto a bus that took us to the ship. The first thing we did was take a short nap, because by that time we'd been up for more than 30 hours. At dinner we were surprised to see that our traveling companions had already arrived.

The next morning when we went to breakfast, it was raining, which didn't look promising for walking around the city. However, by the time we were ready to leave the ship the rain had stopped, and we had beautiful weather for explo
ring Venice. We walked from the ship all the way to the Piazza San Marco, with a slight detour to buy me a handbag, so I'd have something for formal nights. A formal purse was the one thing I'd forgotten to pack, which means it had been too long since I'd been on this kind of cruise. We also decided to walk back to the ship. In retrospect that was not a real smart idea, because we were still tired,we got a bit disoriente
d, and ended up walking at least five miles round trip. It was very pleasant to walk through Venice when there weren't huge throngs of tourists, yet we were surprised to see how many tourists were there. Apparently the recession hasn't completely killed the possibility of travel for many people, a good thing. While walking we saw an unusual vegetable at one of the outdoor markets (looked like broccoflower with pointy to
ps), and of course, plenty of Murano glass. We also saw a large, gold colored Bvlgari handbag, with a price tag of €1700! Can't imagine paying that much for something like that, especially when there's no way I'd ever carry it if I had it. By the time we got back we were ready for lunch and a relaxing afternoon. We played team trivia (we were disappointed that we didn't win, because the prize was mugs), and of course attended the life boat drill.