Fancy Twist on an Ancient Game

     In high school Latin class, I learned a game that scholars believe was played by Roman soldiers.  It is similar to tic-tac-toe, but uses a circle as a game board rather than a 3 x 3 grid.  Signs of the game were found in ancient Rome but we don't know what the Romans called the game.  Modern scholars call it Rota, the Latin word for "wheel."  You can read more about the game and its rules at this website.

     On a recent visit, I taught my 7-year-old grandson how to play Rota.  I drew the game on paper and we used some checkers for markers.  He LOVED the game!  He caught onto the strategies immediately.  I told him that when I went home I would embroider a game for him.  He picked the fill patterns he wanted for the circles, and also the colors for the design, the markers, and the fabrics.  When my other grandchildren arrived, my grandson taught his 7-year-old cousin to play; she loved the game, too.  She picked the fills and colors for her game as well.  I embroidered her game while she was visiting at our house and then made the game for my grandson (he lives in a different city).  I used my 200 x 260 mm hoop for both games.

     As I did for my chess and checkers games, I made markers from felt and added lines for cutting the markers out with special cutwork needles.  I also added  pockets to the bottom of the game boards for storing the markers.  A mitered fabric frame completes the project.  We'll talk some more about the Rota games in just a bit, but take a look at the pictures for now.

     I didn't leave the other grandchildren out of the fun.  I made a little purse for the 5-year-old girl and a tote bag for the 3-year-old girl.  I used the same swirl design for both, but with slightly different colors.  The tote swirl has magenta and turquoise instead of red and blue, giving a jewel look to the swirl.  (My daughter-in-law suggested that change after she saw one of my other swirl projects.)  When I gave the little one her tote, she climbed on my lap, patted my face, and said, "You're a good person."  What a compliment!  Here are pictures of the two gifts.

     For the 1-year-old boy, I made a mat with some animal designs.  You may recognize the turtle, bunny, and teddy bear; I "borrowed" them from my jigsaw puzzle collection and sized them to fit together in a hoop.  The fish are the creation of my daughter-in-law.  I stitched them on fabric and added a 260 x 360 mm version of my mug rug outline.  The loops on the side will allow the parents to fasten the mat to a high chair or stroller.

     Now, back to the Rota game.  When I posted pictures of my gifts to my Yahoo embroidery groups, some members mentioned that they would like to make the game for grandkids, too.  I was happy to arrange the designs.

     By moving the game's name to the corners, I was able to fit the embroidery into my 200 x 200 mm hoop.  (I like saving stabilizer, don't you?)  I also made the circles bigger so that the markers could be bigger, too, and widened the connecting lines between circles.   I sized the game for 150 x 150 mm hoops and then enlarged the circles to be about the same size as on the larger games.  Now all the game board designs can share the same marker designs.   Finally, I gave the same fill pattern to all the circles in a game, and then made different versions of the game with different fill patterns. 

     The game boards and markers are available in 6 fill patterns:  basket weave (basket), cathedral windows (CW), key, radial, shell, and stipple.  You can use the same fill for game and markers or you can mix and match.  (You can also cut 1 1/4" circles from plain felt in two colors, or use coins or buttons in two colors.)  Here are a few pictures to show all the fills available.  The first picture shows one of each marker variety.  The second shows two 144 mm games and two 190 mm games; each game shows three of the fill patterns.

     As you can see from the game design picture, there are 5 colors in each game.  The instructions included with your purchase suggest some arrangements.  In the Large game below, I used Superior Rainbows #817 thread for the game and white for the ROTA labels in the corners.  The markers are stitched with the same Rainbows thread.  I omitted the fill pattern for three of the markers so that they are the same color as the felt.  For the Small game, I used Rainbows #813 for the game and alternated red and blue for the labels.  The markers use the same red and blue colors to coordinate with the labels.

     My friend Pauline tested my design and instructions for me.  She added her own creative touch by setting crystals into the centers of her cathedral windows markers.  Don't they look great?

     The complete set includes all 12 game boards and 6 marker sets.  The designs are also available in -design packs- and as individual designs.  To purchase a Rota board design pack, choose Small for the 144 mm game boards, or Large for the 190 mm game boards from the drop down menu.  The Rota marker set is available here.  To purchase an individual Rota game board design, choose the fill pattern you want and then choose the Small or Large size from the drop down menu.  Individual Rota game boards and marker designs can be found here.

     Each purchase includes instructions for embroidering and constructing the Rota game board and for making the markers.  If you have a computer or internet tablet in your sewing area, I recommend viewing the instructions on screen rather than printing them.  You will save paper and ink and also be able to zoom in to see the photos more clearly.

     Speaking of instructions, I tend to write mine so that they are beginner-friendly.  I add a lot of photographs so that the instructions are as clear as possible.  You may feel the instructions are more detailed than you need.  Nevertheless, I suggest you read through them at least once, even if you are an experienced sewer.  You may prefer to construct your game a different way in the end, but you will have less risk of missing something important if you see what I had in mind first.  

     Click the link below to download a guide to all the designs, with stitch counts and dimensions.

Guide_to_Rota.pdf (306.6KB)
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Time to Get Comfortable - Making the Magic Bookshelf Your Own

Time to Get Comfortable - Making the Magic Bookshelf Your Own


Digital Hugs 

People are really starting to have some fun in our community. Many of you are taking advantage of some of the great features that make it possible to really share yourselves and the results of your creativity. A number of you have commented on the blogs and forums that this space is really starting to feel like a sewing bee, where people start out talking about their creative passions - embroidery, quilting, sewing, whatever - but where those conversations continue into discussions about pets, spouses, background, health, and who knows what else. Remarkably, all this takes place within a group of people who, generally speaking, have never even shaken hands or hugged.

Share & Share Alike 

In your daily life, when you meet someone you think you're going like, one of your first instincts is to find common ground with that person. You do that by asking questions about that person and sharing information about yourself. I hope you'll agree with me that, in general, those who share more get more in return. An online community like ours is not that much different. Those getting the most from the community are those who are sharing the most. When community members look at someone who has taken a little effort to share herself either through her posts or through her profile, we feel a comfort level with that person, and we really feel like we have begun to know her. That kind of person then becomes easier for us to approach, and we feel more inclined to help her or respond to her (apologies to the gents reading -- for the sake of simplicity and good grammar, I'm using feminine pronoun throughout this post).

World of PossibilitiesEdit Profile link

With this in mind, I thought it would be a good idea in this post to go over the many ways that you, a member of our community, can better personalize your experience in the community, and in so doing, open yourself up further to a world of possibilities. You're not always going to feel like posting something (although we love it when you do!), so the best way for many of you to do this is through your profile. Your profile is your face to our community. To view your profile, all you need to do is go to any of our Community pages (forums, blogs, galleries) and log in with your username and password. You will then see in the top right corner of the screen your username and an 'Edit' link. Clicking on 'Edit' will bring up the screen below (except that it will be your username, not mine!).

Edit Profile

Your Face in Our Community

In the Avatar section, you can add or modify the picture that displays next to your username throughout the site. It's been great to see all of our community members getting creative with their avatars. For instructions on uploading an avatar, click here.

Your Bio

You can use the Bio field to give some information about yourself that you would like other members of the community to know. Many people do not like to share information that is too personal, so you can keep it vague if you like. Of course, if you prefer not to keep it vague, another way to protect yourself is to use a username that is not your real name, so that even if you share personal details, site visitors will not be able to associate that information with your real name. For that matter, you can even have some fun and concoct a completely false persona for yourself - nobody will know any differently! A little further down this page, you'll see the following:

About You

About You

If you'd like other users to be able to find you by location,occupation or interests, you can use the fields in this section to provide more information about yourself. There is also a space for your web site or blog, so that visitors to your profile page will be able to find out even more about you if you're already out there on the Internet. If you have a gallery where you've posted your projects (or if you'd like to make one), you can also provide the link to that so that people will be able to see what you've done.

Making It Look the Way You Want It to Look 

Now let's move on to the Site Options tab (see below). For those whose eyes are not quite what they used to be, or never were very good to start with, you'll be pleased to know that it's easy to increase the size of the fonts when you're reading forum posts and blog entries. You can also change the way that posts are sorted when you are browsing the Community. I personally prefer to have the most recent posts on top so that I can quickly know what's new when I open a thread, so I sort my posts in Descending order in my profile. A regular user wouldn't need to use many of the other features on Site Options tab, but certainly putting up your local time zone can help so that your posts display the correct time stamp when you put them up. Feel free to play around with any of the settings - we're pretty sure that you won't be able to break anything!

Site Options

Your Signature 

By now, you are really starting to give your profile some personality! The Signature is a line of text that will appear on all of your postings in our forums (please note that it won't appear in any comments you make on blog posts). For example, if you have a motto like "The road to success is always under construction", you can write that in the Signature field and it will appear automatically for all your past and future posts in the forums, and you won't have to type it everytime!

Keeping Track of News 

A little further down on the Site Options tab, you'll see the heading Email Configuration (see below). Here, you can decide whether or not you want to receive automated e-mails from our system. Please note that this does not cover AnnTheGran promotional e-mails - those are sent from a mailing list and you can unsubscribe from those by clicking the 'Manage Subscription' link at the bottom of any of the e-mails you receive. The "Email Notification" referred to on this screen are ones that you can use to keep track of discussions that interest you. For example, let's say you come across a thread (a thread is an internet word for a themed discussion - perhaps the techies stole it from the sewing world!) on discarding used needles that you are interested in, and you want to know anytime something new is posted.

Email Configuration

Starts & Stops

The first thing you'll need to do is to make sure that you have enabled emails (click 'Yes' in the Email options tab shown above). You only have to do this once, and then our system will remember the setting when you see a thread you want to follow. When you are in the thread itself (see example picture below), just click on the 'Email Subscription Disabled' button and it will change to 'Email Subscription Enabled'. From then on, you will receive an e-mail anytime someone posts to that thread. The one thing you'll want to make sure is that, when you start receiving these e-mails and you want to join the discussion and post a reply or comment, don't reply by e-mail. This will merely send an e-mail to our automated system (to which you'll get an automated reply) and won't post your comment. To post your reply or comment, go to the forum itself (there will be a link in the e-mail you receive) and click on 'Reply'. If you ever feel like your e-mail inbox is getting flooded and you want it to stop receiving notifications from that discussion, you just need to go to the thread in question and change 'Email Subscription Enabled' back to 'Email Subscription Disabled'.

Email Subscription Example


Pleased to Meet You Left Hug

Finally, when you're all done, and you want to see what you look like to the rest of our Community, just click on your username in the top right corner of the page and you'll see your public profile. You'll see the personal information that you've chosen to share on the left side, and in the main part of the window, you'll see your bio followed by what's called a news feed. The news feed (see below) keeps track of your recent activity on site, including forum posts you've made or replied to, blog posts you've commented on, photos you've posted, and even friends you've made.

News Feed

 Friends box

Time to Get Social...

And how, you may ask, do I go about showing that I have made a new friend in the Community? Well, the same way that you contact other community members, by using what I call our talk box (see below). When you find a particular community member whose activity interests you, or whom you just want to get to know a bit better, you can use the talk box to make contact in any number of ways. Not only can you add the person as a friend, but you can also send an e-mail (without knowing the user's e-mail address), send a message that will appear in her Inbox, view her blog if she has one, see what she has posted in the community, and even contact her by an Instant Messenging service like Yahoo Messenger if you have one in common. The talk box allows you to accomplish all of this without compromising anyone's privacy or sharing any undesired personal contact information.

 Talk Box

Sit Back & Relax!

So there you have it! You are now comfortably seated in your online space, and you have officially and properly introduced yourself to our community. A world of possibilities awaits.

Comments (8) -

jalcumbrack 6/27/2008 10:59:28 AM

Thanks BB ! This sure made it simple to understand for me,and especially on how to change things once you get them set up. Great read!

All good suggestions, BB.  It really does have the feel of the old community sewing circles, and I look forward to seeing who's doing/saying what each day.


Thanks Greg! Great explainations!

Keep up the good work & you'll make techies out of even the most computer illiterate of us.

Excellent information.  I know that once I have done something, I remember it for a few days.  A few months down the road, that is a different matter.  

I got lots of new info from this Blog.  Keep up the training, I am (usually) trainable.


Looking forward to being an active part of the community.

My pleasure ladies! Seeing all those avatars in the comments makes me happy. Of course, I hope for the day when ALL usernames have avatars, bios and signatures and when ALL blog posts are just overflowing with comments, but that's probably just the starry-eyed dreamer in me!

Your comments are most appreciated, and I thank you for helping us set such a great tone for our Community in its early stages.

Ok, Greg. I've edited my profile & added a bio & signature. But I have just one question. . . .

Does the signature show up when I post in a blog?


Nicely done, Rosie, and great question. In the current version of our Community, the signature does not show up in blog comments, only in forum posts.

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