Saturday, January 24, 2009

For Better or Worse: Lymphoma

I have tried to start this several times and I’m still struggling with how to write about what’s happening to our family. There is just no easy way to put it….My husband has been diagnosed with Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, a blood/skin cancer. What started as red, dry skin turned out to be cancer. Never in a million years did I imagine that this would end up to be cancer.

My years of being a nurse has trained me to be calm and not panic but there are moments that my mind succumbs to the many possibilities. I try not to get ahead of myself, but I’ve always been a person who considers the road ahead. Only this time, it is very fuzzy and this is a bit unsettling. I feel that this is a situation where I have no choice but to let God take over. I have to surrender to His Will. This is something that can be so overwhelming, only He can calm my heart and give me and my husband the strength to get through it. Experience has shown me how God can give me strength of mind and spirit when I need it most, and I have no doubt He will do just that in this situation.

As I slowly inform family and friends of the diagnosis, it is so hard to know how best to respond to their messages of sympathy and support. On one side it is nice to know that so many care, and on the other it seems I end up comforting them rather than they comforting me. Is this the nurse in me? I know they are afraid for me and my husband. There are times, I am afraid for myself.

I still haven’t heard from many and even this I understand because I have fallen into this uncomfortable situation myself. When one hears the bad news of someone having “cancer”, it is just very difficult to know what to say, so you say nothing. You want to say something that will comfort and reassure but there are so many unknowns you don’t want to say the wrong thing. Along the way, you eventually get up enough courage to say something to show you care.

While my husband continues to undergo tests to determine the extent of his disease and the course of treatment needed, I imagine that this will be a long road towards remission. With the advances in health care, better treatments are giving better outcomes and I am hopeful.

Life goes on and even as I grow older, I am learning to appreciate everyday the beauty in this world, the special moments I share with him, and the togetherness we have held these 32+ years. My parents will be celebrating 60 years of marriage this year. They are wonderful examples of love, sacrifice, long-suffering, and commitment The glue of love is strong in our families.

Monday, January 19, 2009

CD Coaster Pattern and Finished Project

I’ve finished the Babies & Bears Sweater for my Grandson. It came out very cute but I’m not sure I would do it again. It was a bit complicated and it is not perfect. I added some yellow fishy buttons to finish it. I am somewhat pleased with the end result…….
Over the month, I have felt in need of more social interactions from fellow knitters. My full time job makes it difficult to join most knitting groups which are held during the week. Although the online community is great, it is not the same as communicating face to face with people. I found a new yarn shop about three weeks ago in a nearby town of Azusa, CA named “All About Yarn”. It is run by Veronika and Pillar. It is a tiny shop but the shop owners make the shop a warm intimate place open to the community crocheters and knitters. On the third Sunday afternoon of each month, from 3 to 6 pm. they have a knitting group open to anyone to come and just knit and chat. I went for the first time and found the group very friendly. Most of the knitters were beginners but the conversation was very comfortable sharing about family, children, grandchildren and schools, which many of us work for in some capacity or other. There was a group of about 6 or 7 of us.

I took my Milly Mop sweater to work on. I wanted to bring something that did not need much concentration to be able to join in conversation. The sleeves are finished. I am knitting on the back part of the sweater. I plan to dye the plain natural white fingering yarn once I complete the sweater. However, knitting stockinette for two hours without a break, was a little too much for me. When my forearms began to tire and ache, I had to stop and this gave me an excuse to browse around the store to see what kinds of yarn they had. There was an assortment of Acrylic worsted yarns for very reasonable prices ranging from $4 to $10 a skein. This was very appropriate for the community this shop is in which is in a residential area of medium to low income families. They had some Debbie Bliss yarns and Opal Sock Yarn, which of course, was more of the higher end in cost. I think a saw a few skeins of Noro, as well. I finally chose a couple of varigated skeins of Ella Rae Amity, an acylic/wool blend, that was soft and I thought would make a nice scarf.
Since I finished a project, I had a need to start a new one. I’ve been in need of some coasters, so I found my CD coaster pattern I redesigned based on a pattern I found online by Doris Carolyn Murphy that is no longer available online. This coaster is a nice gift and I see my family and friends still using them after many years. They absorb the condensation of iced drinks and protect tables from water rings and scratches.

Diana’s CD coaster pattern

Re-designed by Diana Hilton

Size G crochet hook
Red Heart Super saver worsted yarn or any worsted weight yarn.
A Compact Disk or DVD (5 in. diameter)

Chain(ch) 6. Join with a slip stitch(sl st) to form a ring.

Round 1: Ch 3. This will count as 1st dc (double crochet). 1 dc in next ch, 2 dc in each chain st (12 dc). Join with a sl st at the top of the ch 3.

Round 2: Ch 3 to count as first dc, dc in same st as joining in the previous row, 2 dc in each of the remaining 11 sts. Join with sl st (24 dc).

Round 3: Ch 3 to count as first dc;* 2dc in next dc; 1 dc in next dc*. Repeat between * * 10 times, ending with 2 dc in last st. Join with a sl st at the top of the ch 3.(36 dc)

Round 4: Ch 3 to count as first dc; 1 dc in the next dc; *2dc in next st; 1 dc in next two sts *; repeat * * 10 times, ending with 2dc in next st, 1 dc in last st.. Join with a sl st at the top of the ch 3. (48 st)

Round 5: Ch 3; dc in each st around. Join with sl st. (48 sts). This is the edge row.

Round 6: (Decrease row). Ch 3; Dc dec in next st as follow: *YO, insert hook in st and draw loop, YO, draw loop through two loops (there should be 2 loops left on needle), YO, insert hook in next st and draw loop, YO, draw through two loops, YO, draw through three loops( dc dec) ; 1dc in next two sts*. Repeat between ** 10 more times. Join with sl st.

Round 7: Insert CD into coaster now. Continue in row in Ch 3 ; *dc dec in next two sts; dc in next st * repeat between* * around to end. Join with sl st.

Round 8: Closing off coaster opening, ch 3; dc dec in next two sts around. Join with sl st and end off. Weave in tail.
Ch: chain st (yarn over and through loop on needle)
Dc: double crochet (yarn over insert hook in stitch, yarn over, through 2 loops, yarn over, through two loops).
Dc dec: double crochet decrease (see instructions above).
Sl st: slip stitch (insert hook, yo and bring through both loops)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Coming Up for Air!

Just a quick note: No, I haven’t fallen off the earth. The glow of the holidays are gone. Work has been very involving, preparing for State reviews, from two State groups at one time, a refunding grant to turn in, and a presentation on Heart Health to prepare for staff development. I am finally coming up for air.

To help me with my stress I have been knitting, of course. I switched gears while making my granddaughter’s sweater, the Milly Mop. I started with a sleeve and halfway through it a started feeling the yarn, a wool/rayon was a little too scratchy. I went through all of my stash again and found a fingering wt. Merino yarn from Knit picks in natural white. I plan to knit up the sweater and dye it a color of my choice when it is finished. I’ve finished the two sleeves and have started the back which is all in stockinette on Size 3 needles. Very tedious but perfect for relaxing and not having to think too much.

I also have been listening to podcasts. I have found a wonderful new knitting podcast name CogKniTive. Dr. Gemma is a practicing psychologist who shares a lot of insight into behavior and stories of her experiences. This is very interesting to me as I work with parents of preschool children in stressful living situations. My favorite part is when she gives us a life strategy. This is applicable to anyone. I am growing tired of the podcasts who just talk about their newest stash acquisition or what they finished knitting without talking about the struggle or technique. Dr. Gemma brings a refreshing dose of practical skills to apply in your life in interacting with people. She also talks about her stash but she relates it to behavior and analyzes the psychological component of keeping a stash. It’s worth a checkout!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

New Resolutions

Here I sit comtemplating the events of the past two weeks. I lament as I ponder… my holiday already over? How sad! I could use more days off. My company has left. The decorations are put away. I think my favorite decorations this year was my Outside angel……

I will miss its sparkle as it announces to the world in trumpet and song that Jesus was born! It looked great both in the day time and at night.
I finally have my house back and now there is no time to do the house projects I had planned during my break. I’ve started my resolutions. I have picked up an old UFO…the Babies and Bears Sweater, as well have spent some time planning a new one….the Milly Mop Sweater for my Grandaughter.

Babies and Bears Sweater: I purchased this pattern and yarn from Alamitos Bay Yarn Company last year while on a weekend trip in Long Beach. I fell in love with the sample cardigan that I thought would be perfect for my new grandchild to be born in August 08. I was impressed with the very soft Berrocco Comfort Yarn and was surprised something this soft should be acrylic. The one thing that holds me off this sweater is that it is in pieces and needs to be grafted together in Kitchener’s stitch. Kitchener’s is something I have very little patience for. However, I finally finished the 2nd sleeve side and very patiently grafted it together. I’m working on the hood now.
The sweater is very much like Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Baby Surprise Sweater with a mitered front. I may lengthen it a bit so that my grandson, now 4 1/2 months may use it a little longer. It seems very roomy but if he is anything like his sister, he will stay a good sized baby and outgrow it quickly.

Something new: Milly Mop Cardigan Sweater: I wanted to try to make my 2 year old granddaughter a sweater. Looking through my knitting books I found in The Ultimate Knitter’s Guide, a cute but fairly simple sweater with a lacy border for a toddler. I looked around in my stash and finally found some brushed wool/rayon on a cone laying about. I started a swatch but realized this yarn was laceweight about 18 wraps per inch. I needed a fingering weight. So I wound up some cakes and 2-plyed it on my spinning wheel. It came out wonderfully soft and shiny. The only thing about this single yarn was that it was originally spun in the right direction (clockwise), which means I had to ply it on the left direction(counter clockwise). This direction tends to become unspun or untwisted with my style of knitting, the Eastern Uncrossed Method. To compensate for this, I tried to overspin it slightly.This way it would untwist less as I knit the fabric and still leave some twist to keep it together.

Rather than make a swatch, I started with the sleeve.

I figured that if I didn’t like it or the gauge was not right, a small sleeve would not be too much to rip out. My gauge turned out to be 26 sts/inches rather than 28 sts/in as the pattern required, but I think this will be close enough. Even if the sweater turns out to be a little big it will OK for her…more room to grow into.

I know my logic of one old and one new does not improve my status in reducing my UFOs. It only keeps me at the status quo. I may have to consider revising my plan to two old projects and one new as working projects. Stayed tuned to my progress…….

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A New Year

The last day of the year…December 31, 2008. Wow! Where did it go? As the new year approaches, it gives me some pause to think about how and what I’ve done this year.

What better place to start than review the New Years Knitting Resolutions I made in January 08……uhhhhhhh, well? How I did? Or how I didn’t!

I was committed to using up my stash and reducing my UFO’s in half. From my Ravelry page, I see I finished about 17 projects. Only two of these were from my original list, one of these, was finished during the Ravelolympics. Perhaps I should commit to knit more UFO’s at the next one. I created 14 additional UFO’s over the year. Needless to say, I was inspired to knit, but not so inspired to stay on project. There were just too many new exciting things to try and learn.

Some finished objects in 2008:
UFOs to finish in 2009:

On my behalf, I can say that I really tried to knit my stash this year. I bought less yarn and tried to use it up. Hats were a great stash buster. I have a lot of one skeins or small amount of handspun that were perfect for hats or calorimetry head bands. I wonder how many hats or head bands my stash would make. Possibly hundreds. Hats were my friend in passenger car rides and while watch movies in movie theatre, yes in the dark. I didn’t mind the repetion of the stockinette on these projects.

So what will I do this year. I need to recommit. Perhaps making a goal to finish one UFO a month is more reasonable. Do I dare start anything new? Or maybe a rule that I have to finish a UFO before I start something new.

My time is becoming more scarce and valuable. Now that my granddaughter is bigger, I want to spend more time with her. The chance to take her places is something her other grandmother cannot do, but I can. I cannot knit when watching my granddaughter as she demands my full attention. I’ll have to save that knitting time for my morning and evening quiet time, when trying to wake up or wind down from the days activities.

I cannot say the year was totally wasted in regards to knitting. Successes: I finished a sampler vest within my deadline. I made a hemlock blanket. I learned how to better understand and do my SSK and K2tog in Eastern Uncrossed Style. I have received many comments how my way of knitting is easier and faster from having posted some You-tube videos of my style. I learned how to better felt a knitted project. My spinning is better controlled and consistent. I can spin a decent fingerweight yarn. So much more to learn.........