A Month In Slow Motion

We interrupt this knitting class for....

Just after I posted about the blanket class I discovered that I had something wrong health-wise. I had been having trouble sleeping, constant indigestion and my weight started dropping like never before. In fact, I had been trying to lose weight but couldn't budge it. Because of the indigestion I wasn't very hungry so I wasn't eating well, hence the weight loss.

On May 6th I went to the doctor. She sent me for an ultrasound and when I went back to see her I could tell this wouldn't be good. She turned back to the door for a beat, then took a deep breath and told me that they had found a mass on my pancreas. It took my breath away. I wasn't going to be afraid, but suddenly I was. Steve Jobs entered my mind. I called my husband, emailed the pastors at my church and the rest of my day was a fog. I had to take my mom to the doctor that day but I didn't tell her then. I didn't want her to get upset when I didn't know anything yet.

It's funny what happens when you are faced with something like this. You start making plans, like what music you want at your funeral. You start thinking, oh man, I've got to get all those passwords written down for my husband. And what about my mom? I need to make arrangements for her now. And boy is she going to be pissed if I pass before she does! (She had a fit earlier this year when her younger sister died. She thought she should have gone first because she's older. Sigh....) 

I also cast on some Christmas projects. Cuz you know... (I can't talk about them yet.)

The good thing is we have a will and and advanced directive. Unfortunately, the impetus for that was my Mother-In-Law's death last year. It was exactly one year from her death that I had the endoscopy that told us that I have cancer. The timing couldn't have been worse for my family. My poor Father-In-Law had a really rough time when he heard. Of course my sisters-in-law have been really supportive. And my husband has been a prince. Well, really a king. (His name means king.) He's been awesome. He usually travels a lot for work but now he is able to stay home indefinitely. He can work from home which is what he does when not traveling. He has been taking me to the doctors, making appointments, grocery shopping and cooking, making sure I take the medications, taking my temperature and making sure I am comfortable. I think I'm getting spoiled.

From finding a problem to the first chemo treatment was only a month, but it felt like an eternity. Tom Petty was right. The Waiting Is The Hardest Part. We saw many doctors, got second opinions and finally opted to go with UCLA's treatment plan. Their review board all agreed that we should do chemo first to shrink the tumor and then surgery. We were assured that this is the most advanced treatment available. They also said that because I am young* and healthy I should be able to withstand the treatments. Usually they are looking at people in their 60's and 70's with this condition. 

Blessings

I have to tell you how blessed I have been in this whole process and how the Lord is really covering me. 

In the first place, if the tumor wasn't in the head of my pancreas I may not have known about it until it was too late. I don't go in for regular CT scans. Who does? Being where it is caused the indigestion. This is because there is an ulceration in the duodenum. That's the start of the large intestine just after the stomach. 

The day after I found out there was a mass on my pancreas, reality set in. Visions of tubes and hospitals and other people taking care of me flashed in my mind. I cried out to Jesus, basically freaked out in front of Him. And in the middle of my rant I heard, "We're going to beat this." I was calmed immediately, but then started in again. I said, "But I've always been so healthy!" And I heard, "That's why we're going to beat this." I was able to go about my day somewhat calmly, but of course I've had many more moments to cry and doubt and mourn.

All through the process this last month both my husband and I have been amazed by the kindness and gentleness of all the doctors and nurses we have encountered. When I went for my endoscopy I remember feeling so loved and that these people must be in this profession out of a sheer love of people. My oncology nurse turns out to be a Christian and we bonded right away. Definitely a God-appointment. My Oncology doc is the same doctor who treated my mom for her breast cancer. I already knew and liked him. Because of my family history I was urged to get in the high risk program at UCLA. Since I am in the system, he was able to see my history. He's suspicious that I may have a BRCA2 gene mutation. If so, there may be more specific treatments available to me.

Our primary doctor told us to immediately start setting up appointments with oncologists and surgeons. We're so glad she did. When we did call for appointments they were about three weeks out. Luckily, we were able to see Dr. Glaspy the following week at his Porter Ranch office. It turns out this is a better option than Westwood. The drive is much easier. We saw him the same day I got my diagnosis. He scared me, but so did the high emotions of the day. He got me in to see his surgeon the very next day and he was also great. He mentioned the course of treatment that he thought we would be using, but needed to take it to his review board. They didn't meet until the following Thursday, so we were on pins and needles all week. Meanwhile we had set up appointments at City of Hope. That surgeon wanted to operate first which scared me. I felt more and more that we should go with UCLA. 

Before my diagnosis, our Pastor and his wife came over and gave us the skinny on what we should expect. He had cancer last year and went through chemo and surgery. Their daughter also had cancer at 14 so they know the system well. It was very reassuring to have their guidance. They told us to be patient, that there is a lot of waiting, for insurance, for doctors, how to work around the office staff. Boy was that true. First we were waiting for insurance approvals and my husband was on top of it. Then waiting for doctor appointments and review boards. It was a long month. 

But only a month! Last Saturday our bluegrass band played at our monthly gig, "The Lord's Kitchen." Our church has a Saturday each month where they feed the needy a hot meal and we are the entertainment. On the way there I said, "Last month we didn't even know anything was wrong." Now I had already had one round of chemo. It seems like forever sometimes, but God moves fast. I remember when my mom was diagnosed that things moved very fast toward surgery. 

My church family has been such a blessing. My knitting group has been so wonderful. When I found out something was wrong I told Stephanie at Unwind that I might not be able to teach the blanket class. She said, "Forget the class!" I was with her when trying to make an appointment for the CT scan. They told me they couldn't see me until the following week. When I hung up she said, "Call them back! Didn't the order say STAT?" Sure enough it did, but there was some back and forth with the place anyway. I got in to one of their other offices the following day. Looking back at the calendar I am amazed at how fast things happened - in slow motion! I guess it's like being in a car crash. Everything just slows down in your perception.

I emailed some women that I knew are prayer warriors and they have been praying and calling (just when I needed it most!) and reassuring me. They send me scriptures that comfort me. One of my friends gave me a set of meditation and healing cds. I have been falling asleep with them, but this morning I actually used it like you're supposed to and I have more energy today. It could be that I am near the end of the chemo cycle, but I like to think that the meditation helped.

The best thing is that when I saw Dr. Glaspy last Thursday he said that I was looking good. He asked me if I had any discomfort and I realized that I didn't! He said that is a good sign, that the chemo is working. I didn't realize that it could work that fast, but I am grateful. I have had days since with some discomfort, but none like before. I am hopeful.

If I lose my hair it should be some time next week. Just in case I made a hat.

The Lizzie Hat

The Lizzie Hat --- Yarn: Lang Yarns Sol & Sol Luxe

Swoon ----- Yarn: Fyberspates Faery wings 4ply

And since it is really cold in the chemo room, I finished my Swoon.

 

 

 

 


*I'm really middle aged, but I like being called young!

12 Steps to Improve Your Knitting Skills

It’s getting hot here in southern California. What an awesome time to work on an afghan! Seriously, the cool thing about this afghan is that it will not heat up your lap as you knit. It is knit in 12 squares and pieced together at the end. I will be teaching a class on the Building Blocks Afghan starting on May 12 at Unwind Yarn. You can sign up at the Unwind website.

We will work on one square per week. Whether you are an adventurous beginner or more experienced, your skills will improve every week. Online videos are also available for help in between.

So keep cool and come join the fun!  At the end you will have a lovely sampler blanket and amaze your friends with your awesome knitting skills. Put 6 squares together for an heirloom baby blanket. Hey, a two for one class!

LA County Yarn Crawl

The 3rd annual LA County Yarn Crawl begins tomorrow! Are you ready? Last year I visited each and every shop. There were over 30 (I can't quite remember how many). I believe I forgot to blog about it last year. I did make some voice recordings after most of the stops to tell my impression of each store. (I didn't listen to them either...) So sad. Anyway, this year I will not be crawling. I tell you that was one heck of a schlep! From Santa Clarita to Claremont, through Whittier and Redondo Beach, up through Long Beach and LA, to Santa Monica and through the San Fernando Valley... Well, you can see the map here.Yarn Crawl 2013 Map

This year I will be working at my LYS, Unwind in Burbank. We hope you will join us. 

There will be a book signing, custom swatch & wear consultations, lots of great yarn and free patterns. We have Colinton in all colors, Shibui and many special yarns. I hope to see you there!

Bookmark your Yarn Crawl Map or use KnitMap.

Disappointment

One of my new year’s resolutions is to finish all my UFOs. I decided to start with the Ohm Shawl. The yarn is 3 skeins of beautiful Serenity Silk Singles from Zen Yarn Garden. I got the yarn at Unwind’s Passport Club back in April. I loved the sample, so I couldn’t resist the whole package.

I put it aside because I got bored with the pattern. The center is really repetitive. And of course I wanted to start other projects ;) . I realized after I picked it up again that it is probably called Ohm because you could meditate while you do this. Not too taxing on the brain.

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I picked it up when we went for a mini vacation between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. As it turned out I only had two repeats of the chart to finish before moving on to the next color and chart. I quickly finished color number two and started working on the border. This morning to my dismay, I ran short of yarn. I am so close to finishing. I am really upset that the skein didn’t last for the whole border. It is supposed to be 430 yards. Did I do something wrong or was the skein short?

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There are 18 grams of the reddish brown left, 67 grams of the blue and 226 total in the shawl. It’s hard to say if the skein was short. There are 100g to a skein and my total is 311 grams. Maybe I should have gone down a needle size or two.

Whatever…  I’m not redoing it now. Back into hibernation it goes. Unless some kind knitter out there has an unwanted skein of the dark brown Serenity Silk Single they’d like to sell. Even a partial skein… Please????!!!!

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It really is all about the cat anyway...

 

New Patterns!

I have just published two new patterns on Ravelry! They use the delicious Mountaintop Vail by Classic Elite. The yarn is so wonderfully soft, you'll want to wear them all the time! These two projects compliment each other with similar details like the rolled hem. 

Web-Crop-DSC_0674 Night At The Opera Gloves

The inspiration came from the yarn itself and the special limited edition, hand dyed version by Gail Callahan, the Kangaroo Dyer. These will only be available through Unwind Yarn's Road Trip Club. Some lucky folks may have seen this and possibly purchased some at the Squam Retreat this past spring. Lucky dogs!

I love how this yarn looks in plain stockinette. The stitch definition is fabulous and I decided to use stripes for the long gloves. Not just any stripes, but Fibonacci stripes. They add a fun modern look. The gloves are soooo soft because Vail is 70% baby alpaca and 30% bamboo viscose. They will keep your arms warm for sure, but you'll be stylin' at the same time!

Again, for the hat, I decided to use stockinette. It starts from the bottom up, utilizing the natural curl of stockinette stitch for a quick, easy project. I used a centered double decrease so that the top would come together like a star. The "butterfly" embellishment at the front adds a cute detail to an otherwise plain hat. I was surprised that the pink yarn striped in the round, very subtly.   

The hat was inspired by Dom from Project Runway Season 12. She wore a similar hat in some of the episodes, sometimes with a brooch pinned to it. One of the challenges used butterflies as the inspiration, and this hat is a nod to her and her fabulous creations. 

Dom's Avant-Garde Butterfly

Dom's Avant-Garde Butterfly

And…. We’re Off!

Way off. I finished Rex's Sweater several months ago and happily sewed the pieces together. It was supposed to be a Christmas present for 2012. Not even close. Then I thought it could be a Valentine's day present. Nope. Anniversary? March 21, I could handle that. I think I finished it about a week early. Then when I held it up I noticed.... The collar opening is off center. Way off center. By my measurements, 1 inch to the left. EEESSHHH! 

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Maybe you can't really see it in this picture. It looks like I shot it at an angle, but I assure you I didn't. Here's another one. 

 

 

 

 

 

See? Way off. :(

I put it aside since summer was coming and there was no way I could frog and reknit in time. This brioche stitch on size 1US needles in this yarn is hard on the hands. It takes approx 2.5 rows to equal 1 row of stockinette. So, no.

Now his birthday is coming. He's in Amsterdam, so I've got some time. But have I been working on it? No... I'm making socks for my sock class, a shawl that I decided on months ago, fingerless gloves for a pattern I'm writing. In other words, I've been avoiding it. But now it's time to face the music. I've got approximately 11 days to get this redone. If I don't though, it is still very hot, so I won't be too disappointed. Christmas is not far off...

And so I'm off... to unstitch and frog. Ribbit!

Chevron T

I finally finished my Chevron T. Web_DSCN3040I think it looks beautiful! I first saw this design at my LYS, Unwind. It looks great on just about every figure, and I knew I wanted to knit it as soon as I saw it. The design is fun and flattering. I originally bought Sweet Georgia's Iridium to make it, but when I found DyeForYarn's Ground Sapphire, a couple of months later, I thought this pattern would look fantastic in it. It does! Web_DSCN2972

Cozy Kitty

Kitty & Blankie

Here's a really lousy photo along with Suzanne's Ripple Top that I made around the same time.

Here's a really lousy photo along with Suzanne's Ripple Top that I made around the same time.

My latest project on the needles is a blanket adapted from the Color Block Bias Wrap by Suzanne Shaw

I made the wrap in January and I love it! This yarn is so soft and huggable, just like kitty!. Well, not this kitty. She doesn't like to be hugged. But I digress.

I decided to make a blanket for my mom. It will be double the width of the wrap which is approximately 36" and 72" long. I think she will really like it. It should keep her warm all winter. I'm making it in the cafe late' colors. She likes beige and neutral colors. 

Started: 8/7/2013
Needles - US 13 Circular ('cuz I like circular)
Yarn - Chalet by Classic Elite Yarn
4 skeins each 
Color - 7436 
          - 7443
          - 7406

The Summer of Music

I'm sitting in the park listening to some great gypsy jazz a la D'Jango Reinhart. The John Jorgenson Quintet is playing. He's an amazing guitar player. We just heard about this free concert from our friend and decided to be spontaneous on a Sunday evening.

20130721-192500.jpg Last Thursday we saw Aubrey Logan at Descanso Gardens. She's an amazing vocalist. Check her out here: https://www.facebook.com/events/478450455570892/ and vote for her to win the Sarah Vaughn Competition! A week ago we saw Bostix at our local amphitheater. It is a Boston / Stix tribute band. They were very good. We had fun picnicing with friends reminiscing about our high school days, because that's how old we are! Next week, who knows?!