Monday, March 30, 2009

Ravelry is eating my blog

Like too many knitters I am spending more and more time on Ravelry and less and less on my blog. Not sure this is a bad thing but I like having some sort of diary of what I've been up to.

Recently completed projects:

9 squares

  • 9 15 X 15 cm squares for a blanket that a group of us is making for a fellow Raveller who is going through a rough time.

    gitlfriend market bag

  • The politically correct Girlfriend Market Bag. Made out of a banana silk yarn made by women in Nepal, dyed bright purple and now hand-knit into a bag which can be used in lieu of plastic bags while shopping. I'm choking on how many PC boxes this ticks. I have an inner-city left-leaning girlfriend who will love it. I think I prefer making this bag out of cotton - too many flaws for me.

    bulky alpaca hats
    3 purple hats

  • A stack of hats. I'm losing count. I made some chunky knit beanies out of Naturally Aspire Super Chunky Alpaca yarn I got on sale. It's lovely soft squishy yarn but I've found I hate knitting with super large needles (10-12mm!) I also made some purple hats out of some Bendigo 12-ply - one for a colleague's daughter, the others for whoever.
News: Hurstbridge Bushfire Relief Centre has now put out the call for woollen beanies, scarves and gloves. I knew they would eventually be wanted.

Blog news: Part of this blog may be immortalised in the Victorian State Library archives. The librarians there are putting together a collection of community writings about the recent bushfires and have asked for permission to archive my entries. Of course I said 'yes'. It's funny to think of future generations possibly reading excerpts from my blog much the same way we read excerpts from the letters of convicts, etc when studying Australian history. Of course that is based on the assumption that we don't kill ourselves off in the next 100 years.

Jess update: It's hard to believe my friend was literally at the point of death just 3 weeks ago. She is now in a rehab hospital close to home and her baby has been sent home with his dad and big brother. Big brother is totally in love with the baby and wants to visit and cuddle him all hours of the day and night, get involved in feeding and even changing the nappy. It's too cute for words. Jess has regained her speech and can read and walk short distances. She still gets incredibly tired and still has another big operation ahead of her but compared to that terrible day when we feared losing both her and the baby, the change is just amazing.

Monday, March 23, 2009

It's good to know that it's not just me

Yarn Harlot on her attempts to knit an Estonian Lace Shawl

Not that I would ever be so ambitious to do anything that required the casting-on of more than 300 stitches, let alone the reading of lace charts, etc.

I'm not one of the Harlot's devotees but a friend pointed me to this post and it all just seemed a little too familiar.


OK, maybe every other knitter in the universe knows this and I was the only daft one to not get it, but just in case my counterpart is out there is cyberspace banging her head on the wall...

One of the reasons I HATE knitting hats, etc from the top town is because I find it way too awkward to spread just six stitches over 3 DPNs. I'm just not that graceful. I've fumbled my way through the Figure 8 cast on for socks (as it makes so much more sense to knit toe-up rather than cuff down) and I've even managed to do the famous Emily Ocker crochet loop cast-on - but both of these usually involve numerous (as in getting into double figures) false-starts and mistakes.


1/ Cast on 3 stitches onto one DPN (I use the cable cast-on as I think it is the strongest)
2/ Using a second DPN, knit forward and back into the first stitch. You now have 2 stitches on that DPN
3/ Using a third DPN, knit forward and back into the next stitch. You now have 2 stitches on that DPN
4/ Using a fourth DPN, knit forward and back into the last stitch. You now have 2 stitches on that DPN and no stitches left on the first DPN.
5/ I find that the six stitches created this way seem to hold onto the needles much more firmly than just cast on six stitches and trying to slip them two by two onto DPNs, making it easier to join in a loop and knit around.

(Obviously this can be adapted for 8 stitches and five DPNs)


Yay! I can move my arm.

Double, triple, yay - my friend with the brain tumour can now walk short distances unassisted and it looks like she'll be starting official rehab any day now.  Her son (still officially minus four weeks - as he was delivered six weeks premature) is on the point of being kicked not only out of special care but also out of the hospital.  Which is causing all kinds of logistic problems, but in a good way.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Jinxing myself

Previous post
To be able to get up in the morning, move around freely, knit a hat and read a good book is a wonderful thing. Everything else is trivia.
I sometimes wonder if I am going through life jinxing myself. I slept very badly last night due to a sore neck and back and by the morning could barely move my right arm. No work for me today. A trip to the chiropractor confirmed my suspicions, I had somehow got my neck out of alignment, pinched a nerve and most of my upper right back muscles had seized up in protest and pain.

He clicked my neck back into alignment and told me to avoid turning my head to the right today - an instruction easy to follow as I physically can't at the moment. The problem is exacerbated as I'm not allowed to take anti-inflamatories at the moment. So no knitting, no work and virtually no reading as I'm too tired from lack of sleep. Paracetamol is a poor alternative to anti-inflamatories for this problem but it's my only option at the moment for pain control.

Of course all of this is minor, compared to X who is now learning how to use a walker in the hope she may soon be able to go to the toilet with minimal assistance. A 33-year-old in a walker. I want to cry. Even as I realise what a huge achievement this is, compared to a fortnight ago.

I got an email from another friend who had been allowed to visit today. X looked great and was up and talking, she reported. I think she thinks I was making up how bad things got. I speak to X's husband who tells me that the change today has been amazing. Last night X struggled to remember her parents' names. Today she could recall the names of friends' children. The brain truly is an amazing organ.

I'm hoping that a bath and a good night's sleep tonight will fix all my problems. And that I haven't jinxed it by typing this :)

CFA/CFS Thank-You Beanie

Carol at adapted the SES hat to create a beanie to suit the CFA volunteers in Victoria and the CFS volunteers in South Australia. Pattern posted on my free pattern site at her request. Take a look and knit one to say thank-you to our hard-working volunteers.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

How life can change in an instant

I've been offline for a couple of weeks due to some very serious stuff happening in the real world. It has taught me (yet again) how life can change in an instant and that we shouldn't take anything for granted.

One of my friends (X) who was 33 weeks pregnant had been incredibly lethargic and "out of it" for most of her pregnancy. She couldn't seem to concentrate on anything for long and struggled with the most basic day-to-day activities - like getting up, getting dressed, making meals, etc. Something was clearly very wrong but nobody including her family and doctors knew what to do. I assumed that she was in a deep depression, although she kept on insisting that she wasn't. She developed severe gestational diabetes but wouldn't (or couldn't) remember to do the regular (four times a day) blood sugar tests without extreme prompting from her husband.

Finally she was convinced to check herself into the maternity hospital for a few days "to sort out some of her health issues" prior to the birth of her second child.

That night (a Monday) I had a terrible call from her husband. X wasn't depressed. She had a brain tumour. She could no longer remember her parents' names, her husband's job or her own phone number. It could be terminal. X & her husband are our closest friends, closer to us than much of our family. I was so sick and stressed by the news that I took the following day off work, unable to function.

Tuesday, an MRI confirmed the brain tumour but it looked more likely to be benign rather than cancerous. A tiny glimmer of good news.

Wednesday, the neurologist and obstetrician debated the risks and merits of operating on her brain while she was still pregnant (and possibly causing distress to the baby) or inducing the baby six weeks early (which had its own risks) and allowing the tumour to keep growing at its alarming rate while her body recovered sufficiently from a Cesarean before conducting the brain surgery.

On Thursday the decision was made to take out the baby. Friends and family waited tense for news knowing there was a real possibility we could lose either or both of them. Finally the news came that she had had a healthy boy. Two hours later we got the good news that she had survived the operation. We could start breathing again.

Friday, Saturday, her body was recovering. J & I were one of the very few non-family members allowed to see her, when we came to pick up her husband from the hospital. We were glad we did. Maybe she couldn't talk and maybe she was very tired but through gestures we could see that it was our friend X in there and she wasn't completely gone.

Sunday was the brain operation. The neurologist opened up her head and discovered that the tumour was twice as large as he expected. During a marathon 8 hour operation he removed about half the tumour & cutting the blood supply to the other part of the tumour before stapling her head back up and deciding to let her body recover further before going in on another angle in 6 weeks time.

Everything is relative. The neurologist is pleased with his work. The pathology has confirmed that the tumour is benign. Every day X has got a little bit better, is remembering more and is slowly, very slowly, regaining some of her motor skills. She is exhausted - even sitting up was hard work during the first few days.

Meanwhile her new son, thank God, is continuing to thrive. He will be out of the special care nursery and back home, long before his mother.

X's husband's life has been turned upside down. Even in the best case scenario he will be the primary carer of their two children (one of them a new born baby) and her for months. A long- fought for promotion has been put on the back burner. He is off work on compassionate leave, sick leave, primary carer leave, annual leave, long service leave - whatever leave he can find. He is better off than most people in this situation - it looks like he has the better part of a year's worth of accrued leave he can access - once he sorts it out with the HR Department. Which he doesn't have the energy for at the moment.

His family and in-laws are intelligent, educated and connected people. But even they are struggling with the bureaucratic red tape that is Medicare, health insurance and the various government allowances and payments that the family might be entitled to - if they can ever work out how to fill in the forms. Even the social worker assigned to the family can't help them completely. How less educated people or those for whom English is a second language manage, God only knows.

For the first fortnight everyone was running on adrenalin, wanting to help but not knowing what to do. X's freezer is over-flowing with food and her room looks like a florist shop. But adrenalin only lasts so long. We have to create a new normality that incorporates the reality of X's illness and long-term recovery. There is a good chance she will recover - but this could take months or even years. And there is the very real possibility that some functions may be impaired forever.

J & I are having some friends over for a BBQ on Sunday. I mentioned this casually to X's husband, expecting he wouldn't be coming. He asked me to keep reminding him about the BBQ all week because he wanted to, needed to, get back into some sort of normal life - including going to a Sunday BBQ even if he had a wife and child in hospital.

The whole event has, yet again, underscored for me what is important in life. To be able to get up in the morning, move around freely, knit a hat and read a good book is a wonderful thing. Everything else is trivia.

Extreme sheep

OK, this is a viral marketing video - but at least it is a very funny one and appropriate for a knitting blog. Via CraftyScience on Ravelry.

The only problem? Having put so much effort into creating a great funny viral movie, the web address advertised for more information isn't yet an active page! Silly Samsung.