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!

He's Dancing Again…

My dear friend’s husband passed into eternity this morning. He had fought cancer for almost a year. Probably longer, but that’s when the diagnosis came through. It sounds odd, but I was happy for her, and happy for him. He no longer has to endure the pain; it was excruciating for the last six weeks. He is no longer bed ridden. She told me that the other day he was trying to get out of bed, but of course he wasn’t strong enough to walk any more. He has been on pain medication which has made him, well, not himself. It was so hard to watch my friend endure this. I think at times she was at the end of her rope. And yet through it all her faith remained strong. You see, we are Christians and she was clinging to the Rock of her Savior probably more than she ever had to. I only pray that she can rest now. She doesn’t sleep well anyway, and she is absolutely exhausted.

Our church family has been visiting, Facebooking and sending emails to her all day. I am so proud to be part of such a community. We have been bringing food since mid December. I just found out today that people who weren’t on the list have been bringing gifts and food. Some are not from our church, but she has great friends. They are wonderful people and it is all because of our common bond in Christ.

I was happy this morning, but now I mourn. I want to cry. When my DH texted me that he is on the plane headed for home, I thought, “What if it were me?” I know I would be a mess. She is so strong. She was married almost 30 years to her sweetheart. Same for me. What a battle she has endured. The Light shining through all of this is the hope that we have that Reggie is now dancing with his Savior.

Knitting Workshop with EZ

Elizabeth Zimmerman
I finally broke down and bought the PBS series Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitting Workshop. She had me at the first lesson, Winding Wool. I learned something incredibly useful, how to make a center pull ball without a ball winder. This is very valuable to me since I only have a ball winder and not a swift. Winding has always been a pain. I don’t have a lampshade large enough to hold a skein, and a couple of chairs seems to allow the yarn to get tangled anyway. Apparently I should have gotten a swift first. EZ has one that she is winding from.

Her sense of humor had me in stitches. Pun intended! 😉  She truly was the opinionated knitter, but it’s allowed. Her experience was so vast. I wish she was still on this earth.

You can hear someone, I think it is her daughter, Meg Swansen, talking in the background, prompting and helping EZ with the flow of the show. The production is not polished, but completely adequate. Of course we are used to flashy graphics and seamless editing these days, but these videos are refreshing in that they are all about the knitting.

I first saw some of the videos a couple of years ago when I was visiting Rosewood Yarns in Boerne, TX. I thought then that I must get the video, but they always seemed expensive. Now that I finally have a copy, I think they are a treasure. No matter your level of experience, I’m sure you will learn something valuable.

Happy Knitting!

Cheryl

A New Mission

I’m working on providing a better website for my readers. I hope to provide help in your knitting endeavors by showing techniques I discover and recommending books and patterns that I love. When I see some cool tools and gadgets I’ll link to them and I’ll share the things that inspire me.

This site is for people who love hand knitting. I’ll be talking about my latest discoveries and some of the trials and tribulations I go through; we all frog, ya know?! I’ll have a section for the finished projects too, so you can see that I do actually finish things!

Bouganvilla

Bougainvillea

Let me know what you think about this new effort. I’d love to have your comments and suggestions on what you’d like to see here. Is there anything I can do for you?
Thanks!

Cheryl

Ravelry Party at Unwind!

On Thursday I went to the Ravelry meetup at Unwind Yarn. I wish I had some pics, but I didn’t even think to bring a camera. D’uoh! It was really fun. I got to meet Casey and Jess, and talked to Casey for a while about programming. He’s very cute and kind of shy. Go figure, a shy programmer?!

The place was packed when I got there around 7pm. I didn’t know anyone there except Stephanie. I was hoping I’d run into a friend, but I guess I should have brought one. My brain just doesn’t work that way.

After a while I decided that I just wanted to sit and knit so I took out my RSS (Really Simple Socks). Here’s a pic of the leg. It’s a little hard to see the detail. Right now I’m at the point of starting the heel. These socks are my own design with a little help from a pair of store bought socks that I’ve had for years. I’ve been looking at them since I picked up knitting again and I’ve been wanting to try the pattern. Well, they are finally wearing through the heel, so I thought I’d give it a go. These are one repeat shy of the store bought ones. The yarn they use is much thinner.

Designing is a goal I have for myself this year. This is the first project, other than the Sky Wrap Scarf that I designed quite by accident. By the way, I have uncovered the directions for the original Wrap/Scarf that I thought just couldn’t be what I saw at the store. Attached were directions from the web that I used as a start, but even they are not what I ended up with. I will write up what I did. I remember most of it, but I’ll have to make a sample just to be sure.

Back at the Ravelry party, as soon as I whipped out my socks, I got lots of comments and compliments. I talked to Laura, tinkknitter on Ravelry who I hadn’t seen for a long time. She works at Unwind sometimes. I met Lucky Penny who I can’t find on Ravelry right now, and a couple of gals from a church across town. One of the women was really outgoing and saw that I was knitting two socks on two circulars. She was intrigued by this and asked if she could watch because she had always wanted to try it. Her friend is a crocheter that she’s trying to convert into a knitter. As we talked we discovered that we know some people in common. The choir director at our church used to give lessons to their kids and a woman that started the walking group at our church are friends of theirs. Small world, huh?

After the crowds thinned out I was able to move around and bought this beautiful shawl pin and these yarns. I’m trying out the wrap again in this Tough Love sock yarn from sweetgeorgia. The color is just gorgeous! I’m not sure it wants to be the wrap though. I think it may be calling out to be Pomatomus. The colors remind me of a beautiful Hawaiian ocean, crystal clear water and the scales of a fish. We’ll see…

I’m not sure why I bought the Manos de Uruguay except that I kept picking up the skein. It’s so soft, and the colors… Alright, you got me. I bought it because it was love at first sight. I don’t know what I will make with 175 yards yet. They only had the one skein because it is a prototype. I think it might be a spring scarf of some sort.

The shawl pin was complete impulse. Ummm, weren’t the yarns too? Anyway, I needed a shawl pin. I have a wooden one, but I never wear it because it needs finishing.

So silly of me. I was telling the ladies that I was trying to use up my stash yarn before buying any more. That was before I saw these wonderful yarns. Also, the entry fee to the party was to be used toward any purchase made that night. I couldn’t let that go, could I? 😉

New Year, New Habits

Happy New Decade! So many things to think about. This is the year I turn 50, so of course it’s a milestone year and makes you consider creating some new habits.

I have already created the habit of running, although for the last month I’ve really fallen off the wagon. I’ve had a cough, a cold, and earlier in the month the winds were kicking up the ashes of the Station fire and creating such an environment that I wasn’t thrilled to be outside. But for Christmas I got a Wii Fit and now I can work out in the house. I did work out to DVDs before, but sometimes you just have to change things up. The Wii Fit has so many fun exercise games that it will be a long time before I get bored! I’ve heard that the hula hoop burns lots of calories! 😉

A habit I need to get back is gardening. I haven’t taken it seriously for many years. This house doesn’t inspire me to garden because there isn’t much room. The back yard is mostly concrete with a small patch of grass. There are borders around the edges which are wild and overgrown now. That’s where I will start. I think I will work on flowers and bulbs for spring.

I need to create a habit for practicing the guitar every day. I’ve bought a few programs and taken lessons, but I rarely think to pick it up like I do the knitting needles. I got a beautiful new guitar for Christmas from DH. It is much easier to play than his Takamine, and it has a beautiful tone. Playing guitar is something I have done on and off since I was 13 or so. Mostly off. I often think that if I had kept it up over the years I would be pretty good by now.

Scrapbooking is another thing that I need to create a habit for. I haven’t done it for quite a while, but I keep collecting digital downloads from Gotta Pixel. I do love the digital scrapbooking. I take a long time to do it though. If I do a little bit a week, maybe I can learn what I like and create pages faster.

I definitely have the knitting habit down. 😉 After Christmas I finished my Clandestine socks. I finally took a picture of the shopping bag before I gave it away as a gift. I finished Josie’s Little Miss Greenjeans Sweater and gave it to her for Christmas.

I also need to create a habit for cleaning up after myself. After eating/cooking, working, knitting, dressing, etc. Yep, I’m a messy person. It’s actually much better since the kids moved out. Now it’s only my mess! I notice that in the weeks DH is gone, I tend to be a slob. So this year I resolve to clean up after myself.

While I’m at it I could get in the habit of organizing my time better. Calendars and timers might be good. I tend to rebel even against my own rules. What?!? I know… Pathetic.
So this year I resolve not to rebel and teach that rebellious kid in me to stay on track.

I’ve got lots of stuff there, not to mention choir/vocal practice and school homework – oh yeah – and blogging. 😉

Daily stuff to do would be Bible Study, exercise, guitar knitting, voice, homework, clean up after myself.

Weekly stuff could include cleaning house, gardening, blogging and scrapbooking. Not bad.

Now that I’ve got myself somewhat organized for the year and spent way more time blogging than I meant to, I’m off to practice guitar! See ya!

GaryVee in Pasadena

I just came back from the most inspiring talk. Gary Vaynerchuck of Wine Library TV is currently on a book signing tour for Crush It! Pardon all the links, but Gary’s got what it takes in getting the word out, and I don’t mind being a part of it. When we first started watching Wine Library we thought he was a little wacky. He talks about wine smelling like Twizzlers and tasting like sheet rock among other bizarre descriptions. The thing is though, he really nails it business-wise. He took his dad’s liquor store and built it up into a multimillion dollar business. And he will tell you that it didn’t happen overnight. He says, “You’ve got to work your face off.” He also says, “Just be you. You are a snowflake.” I like that. I asked a question specifically about this knitting blog and the fact that there are so many others out there. He said “Just do it. It will work because you love it.” That’s the truth. I haven’t gotten in nearly enough knitting time this week. I’ve been studying for a midterm. (I think I got an A.) I’ve got another one next week, so things have been a little hectic around here. Plus, our daughter and granddaughter came over on Sunday for DD’s birthday. We had the family over. DGD is getting big! 6 months now and so cute. I really need to start some baby things….

I was able to work on my illusion scarf today at Bible Study. I’m almost finished with it. The Clandestine socks that I started at HSB are still on the needles. I’ve done 3 repeats of the leg pattern. I need to get a picture of it. There is one part of the pattern that stumped me during the first go round. It’s marked like a double decrease on the chart, but the key says, “sk2p” which I read as, “slip, knit 2, pass slipped stitch over.” That leaves an extra stitch, though. I decided that it really should be slip, k2tog, pass. It works much better that way…

I will be blogging more about the knitting now that I got a kick in the pants from Gary V. I’ll also be seeing a bunch of you guys on your blogs to see what you’re up to and I promise not to lurk anymore! 😉 Off to read the rest of Crush It! BTW, buy the book! It’s great!

Cheryl :)

Our Hardly Strictly Adventure

I spotted this amazing jacket as we were leaving the airport on Friday to go to the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival in San Francisco. I want to make it. The lady was kind enough to let me take pictures. She calls it her Sherpa Jacket. If I write the pattern I might just share….

Back to the weekend.

The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival is an amazing FREE concert. It is three days long with 6 different stages going all at the same time. Our wonderful benefactor is Warren Helman, who just does it for the love of the music. And it’s crazy, but it is FREE to the public. He books these amazing acts every year. Of course we couldn’t see them all, but those we did see were outstanding. We got a surprise guest appearance by Robert Plant. He played with Buddy Miller on Friday night at the Great American Concert Hall, so we were hoping he would show up at the festival. I heart Robert! sigh…

There was a sock monkey sighting right in front of us. Aren’t they cute?!!!

The girl made them. They are only about 5 inches tall.They got to watch the concerts too. I think they are boyfriend and girlfriend.

Saturday evening we hopped on the party bus. I hope no one’s mom was watching. I haven’t laughed so hard in years. We did the wave on the bus. I think we scared some lady. She got off in a hurry.
 

My project for the weekend was Cookie A’s Clandestine sock from Knitty’s Fall 09 issue. Unfortunately I didn’t see the link for the chart when I printed the pattern out, so I was stuck after the cuff. I had to wait until we got back to the hotel and I could get the link on DH’s IPhone. Then I took a picture and used that for Sunday’s knitting. Some lady behind us said, “Oh, you brought your crocheting?” I said, “No, it’s knitting.” “Oh, little baby knitting,” she said. I said, “…Uhhhh….Yeah…” Never mind. She had already scored negative points with us when we were just setting up and she and her boyfriend come up behind us after we already had our place and she whines that shes not going to be able to see because our chairs are too tall and they have little bitty chairs. “Do you want to trade?” she says. DH says, “No.” We kept hearing her complain about how she couldn’t see. Then they left for half the time. When they came back their huge dog howled every time a certain pitch was hit. Uggghhhh. Thankfully they left early.

This is Emmy Lou Harris getting her honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music. Linda Ronstadt was there presenting as well. Unfortunately they didn’t sing together and my camera battery went dead right before Emmy Lou performed. 

What a great, amazing weekend in a gorgeous setting. This is just the crowd at the Banjo Stage on Sunday, looking back from where we were sitting. I can only imagine how many people were there. Everyone was amazingly well behaved too.

Well, back to work….

Confession Time

Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. In church last Sunday the lady in front of me was wearing a sweater that distracted me so much I couldn’t concentrate on the sermon. I spent most of the time looking on my Ipod for a fern leaf knitting pattern. She got the sweater at Mervyn’s. I want to make one. It was a wrap type sweater with the leaf pattern on the yolk front and back. The bodice was plain stockinette and had a few pleats at the center back. Probably on the front panels too. I don’t remember.

I spent all day yesterday trying to work out the pattern. I found something here: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/leaf-bookmark. There were only 4 “leaves” on each stem and it had a clover like pattern in between the leaf. It’s driving me nuts!