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!

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

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

Fisher Gloves

FisherGlovesThese gloves were made for my BFF LYS, Unwind Yarn. Does that work? Anyway, Stephanie asked me to figure out this pattern and it has been displayed at her shop. It was even a featured project!

I forgot to take photos so I grabbed the one from her site.

The gloves were done on size 3 DPNs in the round. The yarn is from two different suppliers who happen to use the same wool, Knitted Wit and Sincere Sheep. They are Rambouillet Wool. Yeah, spell that! I had to look it up.

I learned a new technique while knitting these gloves. Joggless Stripes. Yup, no jogging here…

Look for the pattern soon in my shop. (Gotta take more pictures. Don’t hit me!)

Classy Hats

Quote

Hats, hats, hats! I have never knit so many hats as I have these last few weeks! One was Abalone Cove which I talked about in the last post, and two were for a class I’m taking.

Cutest model ever

“Where are my minions?”

Silly me, I signed up for a beginner class. Part of my reasoning was that I would have an excuse to be at my LYS. A break on a Saturday if you will. I am also interested in how others teach knitting. So far I have not seen anyone articulate any better than I have on how to do something. I don’t mean that I make any more sense, it’s just about the same. Knitting is knitting. I think it may be more about showing someone how to do it than verbalizing. …insert right needle into next stitch, pull yarn around right needle, pull right needle back through with new yarn… oops, dropped a stitch!

Anyway, hats are a little boring, but a quick knit. Who knows, some of these may end up as gifts…

Surfer Slouch HatCabled Slouch Hat

These two patterns are by Heather Walpole of Ewe Ewe Yarns. We are using her patterns for the class. Most are pretty simple. There are a couple of fair isle patterns that I’d love to work on and an entrelac cowl.

The first hat is Surfer Slouch in Ewe Ewe Wooly Worsted. The second is Casual Cable Slouch Hat. This time I chose Classic Elite’s Liberty Wool. I love the colors in this skein. It only used 57 grams, so I have most of the second skein left. Maybe some mitts to go with it?

I prefer a tighter gauge than what was called for in the pattern, but it makes a nice light hat for warmer climates.

Abalone Cove

This is a new hat I just completed. It is called Abalone Cove by Stephannie Talllent.

Abalone Cove Hat

It has a really pretty ribbing pattern and lots of back to back cables. I made it with 1 1/2 skeins of  Manos Maxima. I love how the colorway came out with the wavy cable pattern. It looks like the ocean. Now, if it wasn’t 102 here…

This will make a lovely ski hat. It is so warm and soft.

Modeled by Josie

Dancing Days

I had a good walk / run today. My running pace was Dancing Days. :) I almost didn’t go because it was getting late. I should never try to figure out something with my knitting before I go out for a run.

Houndstooth BeginningI am working on the Houndstooth scarf and because my gauge is so different from the pattern, I needed to find out how many more repeats to do before I get to the center section. I determined that I need to do 65 pattern repeats on each end and 94 rows of ribbing in the center. Hope I have enough yarn!
~Update – I don’t have enough yarn. I weighed what I have already knitted and found out that I need at least 2 more skeins of white and one more black.~
The funny thing about this pattern is that she doesn’t say to finish the second side with so many pattern repeats. The way it reads, you do one repeat, knit two rows and bind off. Obviously this is not what was done if you look at the picture.

I finished my Maybe Mulberry scarf for the LYS. I kind of like these shots.I knit two rows of twisted drop stitch in the Luna and knit two rows in Stella. Needles = US 8. Two balls Stella and 1 ball Luna.

Warmth for a chilly evening.

New home at the store.

While I was at the store yesterday I made this necklace for the shop. I think it came out cute. I haven’t crocheted in years. Ever since I picked up knitting again I haven’t looked back. It went really quick, and I know it would be a lot quicker once my crochet skills come back. I think I’d prefer a metal needle too. I was using a bamboo one and it seemed too sticky for me.

It’s an amazingly gloomy day here in So. Cal. It rained last night, and it looks like it may rain – Oops, it’s raining again right now. My mood fits the gloom and I’m not sure why. Here’s a picture to cheer me up:

Malaga Cove

I finished these last week. They were designed by Stephannie Tallent of Sunset Cat Designs. The yarn is Road to China Light by the Fibre Company. I love this yarn. I knew when I bought it that it wanted to be fingerless mitts. It has been staring at me for a few months now. I never put it in the stash; it has been sitting on top of my knitting bookshelf.

All other projects took a back seat while I was knitting these. I just couldn’t stop!   They worked up quickly. I knit them two at a time on 2 circular needles, just like my socks. I think I’ll go put these on right now to warm my soul.

😉

Koigu

I’ve just discovered wonderful Koigu yarn. I’m sure most of you are already aware of how beautiful it is. I had never knit with it until I was asked to do a sample shawl for Foxy Knits. Their online shop specializes in Koigu. Merilyn was doing a trunk show at Alamitos Bay Yarn Company and wanted one of Fickle Knitter’s designs worked up in the lovely Koigu. The pattern was the Wild Lettuce Lace Shawl. I was immediately taken with how springy the yarn is. The color that Merilyn sent me was a lovely golden yellow. In some lights it took on a greenish cast.

The lace worked up quickly on the recommended US 5 needles and was a joy to knit. I finished in 11 days! After blocking I really loved it and was reluctant to send it back! I used two + skeins. I was hoping to only have to use 2, but I needed just a little more to finish the edging. If I were to make it for myself I think that I would make the body larger. I’d want a bit more to wrap around as a shawl, but the pattern as written came out quite nice. Here are the details on Ravelry.

The trunk show was on August 27, and I went to see all the other lovely samples made in Koigu. There were lots of shawls and scarves, and a beautiful coat that looked like it was an adult surprise jacket. There were so many lovely colors to choose from. There were the solids and the wilder multicolor yarns. There was a mulberry silk that I was coveting, but decided that I’d better wait. It is exceptionally beautiful, but I had to restrain myself.  Then there were some speckled yarns. I decided to get a couple of skeins of these to knit a pattern that I had gotten while in London earlier this year. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the pattern was from a company in Washington. The idea was to only buy stuff from England, but I digress. The pattern is Barb’s Koigu Ruffle. You can order a kit at the link. I made it for my trip to Amsterdam.

Zaanse Schans, Netherlands

I got a couple more skeins in one of my favorite colors, a tonal hand painted mauve. I’m making socks from them. So far they feel super comfy. I can’t wait to wear them! They were my travel knitting in Amsterdam. The pattern is Khotan from Silk Road Socks by Hunter Hammersen. I swear I am going to make all the socks in this book! 2 ½ done so far!

Speaking of Amsterdam, every time I knit in public I got comments and smiles. On the train a little girl of about 7 was so fascinated by what I was doing she had to bring her mother over to see. Either I don’t knit in public so much at home, or people keep more to themselves here.

Oosterpark, Amsterdam