Friday, December 25, 2009


Yesterday's ERCP (an endoscopic procedure) went well. When I had the one on November 3, 2009, they overdid it with the anesthesia. My dad thinks that perhaps they did not take into account that I was also on a pretty healthy dosage of morphine at the time. This time, I was not on any heavy duty painkillers, and I would not let them give me any. They mentioned another possibility, but since I am allergic to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, aspirin, etc.), they could not do that. Either way, I am glad I did not let them give me narcotics, because I came out from under the anesthesia just fine.

Before going under anesthesia, I did talk with my GI doctor briefly. Apparently this remaining pseudocyst is not resolving, because there is a leak in the pancreatic duct. I did ask him why the radiologist needed to talk with him so urgently, and it turns out he was just wanting an update.

I did not talk with my GI doctor after the ERCP, but he did talk to my dad. It is my understanding that I have made a lot of progress in the last six weeks. They replaced the stent in the pancreatic duct, and hopefully things will heal up this time.

It sounds like I will have a follow up with the radiologist next week. My guess is they will inject dye into the drain catheter again (better that than into my veins).

Saturday, December 19, 2009

And the Other Shoe Drops

When I had my last CT scan on December 2, 2009, the radiologist who I saw that day indicated he wanted to do another one early the next week. However, for whatever reason, that did not happen. I did end up getting a lower dosage of my pain meds so I could start tapering off them, and when I went to my GI doctor's office to pick up the prescription, they set up an appointment for Wednesday, December 16, 2009.

When I saw the doctor, he told me my surgery may end up being sooner than later, and it might not just be my gallbladder that is removed. He said that they may have to remove the distal portion of my pancreas. The first thing that came to mind for me was whether or not that meant I would end up needing insulin, but he told me a person only needs part of their pancreas to regulate blood sugar.

He did a really good job of explaining stuff, but I still do not quite understand it all. The remaining pseudocyst is apparently communicating with the duodenum, which is why the drainage out of it has looked bilious. There may also be a blockage contributing to the problem. I know he placed a stent in the pancreatic duct during the last ERCP (an endoscopic procedure). If I understood correctly, it was because the duct was damaged due to the pancreatitis. However, there may be a chance the duct is not sealing up right, and that could also be causing some issues. He did indicate he wanted to do another one, so that has been scheduled for this upcoming week before Christmas (trying to get as much done before the end of the year, because my health insurance deductible and co-insurance start over on January 1). He also mentioned that even though the surgeon did not want to do surgery until the last psuedocyst resolved, he may have to go ahead and do surgery and rig it so it drained through the digestive system.

I have also been having some issues with the insertion point for the remaining drain, so I called the nurse practitioner I have dealing with. She indicated she would call in a prescription for something I could use and that she would leave a new drain bag at reception in radiology. Then she mentioned that the radiologist needed to talk with my GI doctor about something. She said something about how they probably would not schedule any procedures next week, so I told her that I had an ERCP scheduled. She indicated that the radiologist she worked for would need to talk to my GI doctor that afternoon. So, I am not sure what else is going on yet, but apparently something is.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

I know I have been really quiet lately, but the road to recovery has had a lot of obstacles. I had a CT scan on October 26, 2009 which ended up showing that the pancreatic psuedocysts they had discovered on the previous CT scan were evolving. Then I ended up going back to the ER the next morning (October 27, 2009). I felt horrible, was in pain, was throwing up, and had chills. Turns out I was reacting to abruptly stopping my pain meds. Apparently it did not occur to the hospitalist who had discharged me on October 5 that I needed to gradually reduce the dosage of pain meds I was on.

On November 3, 2009, they did the endoscopic procedure that they had tried to do previously. This is when I learned about the pseudocysts evolving and found out one was invading my liver.

They overdid it with the anesthesia. Prior to this, I had had anesthesia on four different occasions. The first time, I was not able to breathe when I came out from under the anesthesia. The second time, it was even worse. The other two times, I had a great nurse anesthetist (I specifically requested him for the second of those two procedures), and I had no problem coming out from the anesthesia. This time I did not have the problems breathing like I had the first two times. However, I felt too sedated to breathe, and it took a very conscious effort to make sure I did breathe. I also tried going to work the next day, but I was unable to function and ended up having my dad come get me after a couple of hours. My boss told me to stay home the next day, which I did. Then I ended up having a couple of drains put in on November 6, 2009.

The drains were put in by a radiologist under a sedative and local anesthetic. They did a CT scan without the dye and contrast to see the pseudocysts and figure out where to place the drains. They put one in one of the pseudocysts on my pancreas and the other was put into the one that was invading my liver.

On Veteran's Day (November 11, 2009), the surgeon informed me they could not do my gallbladder removal (scheduled for November 19, 2009) at this point, because it could kill me. He did not offer any other explanation, and frankly I was too shocked to ask. I called my GI doctor's office the next day, and they contacted the surgeon. He told them he was worried about the pseudocysts rupturing and causing peritonitis. I have had peritonitis, and frankly, pancreatitis hurts more.

Two days later (November 13, 2009), I was in for another CT scan. I had been running a fever of 102 according to my thermometer, and I was told to call if that happened. One good thing that came out of it was that they discovered the psuedocyst on the liver had resolved, so they removed the drain.

Later that night, I felt really sick and texted my stepsister. She is a nurse and her partner is a professor of nursing. My stepsister decided to come over and check my vitals and brought her partner with her. I also called my dad as a precautionary measure. I had a fever, but we determined my thermometer was not giving accurate readings, so we do not know how high it was.

I ended up going to the ER, and this time I got in right away. They decided to admit me for pain management and bowell rest, and then they discovered I had an elevated white count, so the hospitalist who took my case ordered high powered antibiotics.

Low and behold, I ended up on the same floor I had been on during the last week and a half of my previous hospital stay. At least I was not in the same room (which it turned out was right under where the helicopters landed--okay so there was an empty floor between that floor and the roof, but it did not really do much to muffle the noise).

I have to admit, I was not quite as easy going this time. I was frustrated about being sick and in pain. They did another CT scan on Monday (November 16, 2009) and discovered the other pseudocysts were getting bigger. If not for the fact that I had already had a shot of blood thinner that day, they would have put in another drain that day, so they scheduled it for the next day (November 17, 2009).

Since they did not give us a specific time, my dad ended up being at the hospital all day (on his birthday no less). My stepmother got to the hospital sometime either right before the procedure or during. I cannot remember which--my memory is a little hazy on that. I do remember asking the radiologist where he was going to put it, and he indicated it would be about the same level as the other.

However, that was not the case. It turns out he could get a the one he had thought he would not be able to get to. So I ended up with a drain inserted pretty much right below my right breast very close to the diaphragm. I was in so much pain when they got me back up to my room that I consented to the pain pump that I had refused earlier that morning.

The pain pump did little good. It was not set to deliver a consistent dosage, so I only got pain killer when I pushed the button, and it was set on a 15 minute lock out. I apparently slept for a little bit that evening, but I woke up sometime before nine, and according to the nurse assigned to me that night, I did not fall back asleep until sometime after 4:30 a.m. The syringe in the pain pump ran out early--big surprise there--that had happened to me three times during my previous stay. This time I told them to take it away. When they started it, they neglected to tell me they would have to start another IV to run my antibiotics and pepcid. However, I would not let them--I told them to stop the pain pump while the other stuff ran. That did not go over very well with the nurse I had during the day shift (we had a bit of a personality conflict the last time I had been in too). Of course they would not do it without the doctor ordering it.

The doctor ended up switching me over to a patch, which worked somewhat better, but there were times I had to ask for more painkiller.

Friday (November 20, 2009), they did another CT scan. This time they gave me some Zofram ahead of time to see if it kept me from getting sick from the dye. No such luck. About a minute after they injected it, I got sick. Getting sick put me in incredible pain, and by the time I got back upstairs, I was in so much pain, all I could do was ask for painkillers. Dad had to explain to the nurse what had happened.

The doctor ended up deciding to keep me there over the weekend, because he did not want to send me home and risk something going wrong. However, on Sunday (November 22, 2009), I had another hospitalist, and she indicated she would discharge me if Interventional Radiology okayed it. Later that afternoon, the surgeon came to see me and he indicated I was not being discharged. However, that was not the case. Apparently the hospitalist signed off on the order that morning, contingent upon Interventional Radiology's approval. Around 6:30 p.m. a nurse came in and told me I was being discharged, so I called my dad. Turns out they had gone out of town for dinner. Fortunately a couple of friends had come to visit, so they took me home.

I went back to work Wednesday (November 25, 2009) then had two days off for the holiday. I ended up staying home both Thursday and Friday, but I did go to Thanksgiving dinner at a friend's house on Saturday.

Two days ago (December 1, 2009), I had a follow up appointment with my GI doctor. They tried flushing the drain that was causing discomfort, because it was barely draining. However, the saline solution started coming back out. Oddly enough, the other one went into overdrive.

Yesterday (December 2, 2009), I had another CT Scan, and they tried injecting the dye into the catheter . Today they called me and told me they could remove the drain that was causing so much pain, but that they needed me to come in for another CT scan tomorrow. The painful drain is out, and I have already contacted my GI doctor's office about getting a lower dosage of pain patches so I can gradually stop using them.

I am really trying not to worry about what tomorrow's CT scan will find, but I feel like I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. The radiologist who looked at the CT scan yesterday apparently spent a lot of time looking at it, and there is some concern about where the catheter from the remaining drain is. I guess I will have to just wait and see.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Another Update

Well, I was finally released from the hospital on October 5, 2009. I have not had the gallbladder removal yet, but I should know more about that after seeing the surgeon this week.

They never did repeat the endoscopic procedure. It was scheduled for September 21, and about an hour and a half before they were supposed to do it, I was informed that it had been canceled. I later learned that anesthesia was responsible for the cancellation. That same day they decided to change the amount of pain killer I received on a consistent basis through the pain pump. I had a pain attack that night, and the reduction of pain killer may have been part of it. However, from what I remember of it, I woke up in pain, so not being able to hit the button to get additional pain killer probably was also responsible for it.

They ended up doing another CT scan the next day (Wednesday), and they found pseudo-cysts. This was something they warned me could happen, so I was not completely caught off guard, but it still was not happy news. Making things more stressful, the surgeon came to see me that night, and told me the pancreas was not calming down, and he started talking about sending me home with the picc line still in and IV nutrition. I found out the next morning that he had not talked with any of the other doctors about this yet. It turns out he is of a slightly older school of thought, so that at least made me feel better. Fortunately the GI doctor and Hospitalist who were in rotation at that time did not agree about sending me home on IV nutrition.

They continued to reduce the amount of painkiller I received through the pain pump. I was all for this. I could not go home as long as I was on the pain pump, and frankly the pain meds tended to make me nauseous. They also gave me headaches and caused weird dreams.

On Friday they fixed it so the only pain killer I received from the pain pump was when I hit the button, and they changed it so while it was a higher dose, I could only get the meds every 20 minutes instead of the every 15 I had previously been able to get them. They also let me try eating toast. I ate the toast very slowly, not wanting to upset my stomach. Even though I was on clear liquids and Ensure by this point, I could only drink so much at once without upsetting my stomach. I was doing fine for a while, and then a pain attack hit. I am not sure if it was toast, the reduction in painkiller, or a combination of the two, but it was bad. I ended up getting sick to my stomach which made me feel better eventually, but that made me really sore. I had previously been sick to my stomach from the CT scan. Having to drink all that water with the contrast stuff in a short time before the CT scan had not gone over well on my stomach, and then I got sick again after they injected the dye. I am relieved to know that is common.

Later that night they moved me to another room. I guess they needed a room in the post-surgical area, so I was okay with it. They moved me at about 11:30 p.m. that night, and I swear, I think they hit every bump possible. I was still really sore from having been sick to my stomach earlier, and every bump hurt. That and it made me nauseous. By the time they got me to the new room, I told them I needed something for the nausea, and that I couldn't wait for a sublingual one to work.

The new room was in the new addition of the hospital. It turns out my room was pretty much right underneath the helicopter landing pads. There was an empty floor between my room and the landing pads, but it really did not do much to dampen the noise. Also, the wifi signal in that area was not strong enough for me to use some of my programs, so getting email and going to weekly chat was more complicated too. At least I could still surf the internet though--I would have gone nuts otherwise, because I still did not feel up to knitting.

I cannot quite remember when, I think it was maybe Sunday or Monday, but I started eating toast again along with a soft, bland diet. Eventually they removed the IV nutrition to try to stimulate my appetite. I still took it pretty easy though. A piece of toast here, some broth there, rice, and ensure pretty much composed my diet. I also ended up having cottage cheese for a mid-morning snack and cheese and crackers for a mid-afternoon snack. However, I started having issues with room services bringing the wrong stuff. A lot of time they brought vegetable broth instead of chicken broth, and they kept bringing the wrong cheese with the crackers. The first time they did this I tried eating some of the cheese, then decided I did not want to eat it. The second time, I told them it was supposed to be string cheese, so they went and got the right one. The next day, they brought the wrong one again, I pointed it out to the person, and he told me they did not have string cheese (different person than the day before).

On September 30, one of my friends had a hysterectomy, and I asked my doctor if I could go visit her, or would I need to have someone accompany me. He said if they could take me off the pain pump, I could go by myself, so I agreed. They had been switching me over to oral pain killers for the consistent medication, so it was not much of a jump, and I do not think I used the extra pain killer that much.

Visiting my friend was good for my mental outlook. However, when I got back to my room, I found out they were going to put me on a heart monitor due to my high heart rate. I tried pointing out to them that part of it was being moved to the new unit. It had been high most of my hospital stay, but it had gone up after being moved from post-surgical. I think part of it was the extra noise and the computer not working as well as it had in the other areas of the hospital. Part of it may have also been due the change in pain meds too, but I am not sure. My friend came to visit me the next morning after she was discharged, and she was surprised that I had walked all the way from my room to where she had been. I had taken it slowly, and I had been up walking a lot during my hospital stay, so it really did not seem like that much to me.

Sometime that morning after my friend left, the hospitalist came in and told me I needed a transfusion, because I was really anemic. This freaked me out and I asked if we could get the iron levels up through pills. He said it would take weeks. I did feel better after the transfusion, but I had some mixed emotions. I was really glad that I donate blood some what regularly--good karma and all, but I was bummed too, because I will not be able to donate blood for a while now (looks like a year if I understand the blood center's guidelines correctly).

The transfusion helped get my hemoglobin levels up, but they dropped again somewhat. They ruled out a GI bleed, much to my relief, and if it continued to drop, they were going to do another CT scan to see if I was bleeding in my pancreas. However, that weekend, I noticed I just could not stay hydrated enough. I was already drinking a lot of water, but I my mouth kept drying out. Somewhere in the back of my mind I remembered something I had seen on the Learning Channel or something like that and it occurred to me that my body was pulling all this water to increase blood volume. That may have been what was happening, because by Monday morning, my hemoglobin was back up, and they let me leave.

I have spent most of the last week resting at home. I did go out to get groceries a couple of times, and did a few other things to help with my mental outlook, and I am being released back to work tomorrow.

This whole experience has really been an eye-opener in so many ways. I have to put myself first more than I have been. I need to learn to say no to people, so I do not stretch myself too thin. Do not get me wrong, I do not mind helping people, but if I do not take care of myself more, I cannot help other people, something I really need to keep in mind now. This whole experience has also shown me some things about my friends too. So many of them were offering to help in whatever way they could. The online group I belong to did an outreach and sent me a gift card to It certainly was not expected, but it was touching all the same. All the good thoughts, words of encouragement, prayers, etc. that I have received from people have been greatly appreciated. I really believed those things helped get me through a very difficult time in my life. Thank you.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Sorry I have not blogged in a while, but I have a really good reason. Sunday, September 6, 2009 while I was riding to Irish Fest I was not feeling terribly well. It finally passed and I thought it was more of the basic GI distress and associated back pain. I was fine through most of Irish Fest that day, but towards the end of our time there, I started feeling uncomfortable again. Chalking it up to lactose intolerance, I dealt with it while we went to Yarn Shop and More so Stepheny could spend the gift certificate she won (she won 3rd place in the non-wearable category). Well, after leaving there I stopped at a pharmacy to get some generic phazyme, and it didn't help much so I was pretty uncomfortable on the drive back to town. After we dropped off Brigette, I started feeling like I was going to be sick to my stomach, so I figured I had eaten something that had disagreed with me. About five minutes after I got home, I got sick. After being sick three times, I called my dad and asked at what point should I go to the Emergency Room. He said if I was asking, now. He came and picked me up, and I continued to get sick, all the while thinking, I am going to feel really silly if I stop being sick once I get there and start feeling better. Unfortunately that did not happen.

After getting to the ER, we got checked in and went through the usual wait. I ended up laying on one of the semi-circular benches because most of the chairs were taken, and frankly I just felt lousy. I got sick at least once in the waiting room, maybe more, my memory is kind of fuzzy on that. At one point they took my vitals, and eventually I got called back into the see the triage nurse. Then it was more waiting in another area while we waited for a room to open up. Again I was laying on one of the padded benches from what I can remember, and eventually they got me back to a room. At one point I had a CT scan, and at some point they gave me something for the pain, but I am not sure in which order. At another point I remember being told I was had pancreatitis (I have since learned it is a moderate case of acute pancreatitis), and I was being admitted.

As I understand it, it apparently passed a gallstone into a duct that caused all these issues. I knew I had gallstones, but I had never had any of the symptoms my doctor told me to watch for. Plenty of people have gallstones and are never troubled by them. And I have been assured by three different doctors that my previous problems probably were unrelated. There probably were not any early warning signs that could have tipped me off that this was coming.

Yesterday, they tried to do an endoscopic procedure to see if a duct was still blocked, and apparently I was thrashing about in too much pain, even with a sedative, so they are going to try again next week, this time with anesthesia.

I do not want anyone to think I am looking for sympathy with this post. It is purely intended as an update in case some of you had not already heard through other sources. I have been incredibly reluctant to post anything on facebook about it, but I have been trying to get the word out to people I know.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Celtic Knot Stole Pics

Here are some pictures of the finished Celtic Knot Stole.

I think it turned out very well, especially considering it is only my second serious lace knitting project. And while I feel like I am still a novice lace knitter, one of the judges at KC Irish Fest told me I should not call myself a novice lace knitter, because I would be setting the bar too high. Speaking of Irish Fest, I did enter the stole. There were some very high caliber entries, including a circular shawl that they actually put through a wedding ring. Not being a serious lace knitter, I am not entirely sure of the significance of that, but I know it is important. Upon hearing that they did that, it was no surprise that it won first price in the wearable item category. In all likelihood, it will win the grand prize.

I will be entering the Once Upon a Time Blanket today. Mary was kind enough to bring it to town so I could enter it, and I will be heading out to Kansas City in the next hour or so.

This may be the last year I enter anything in the knitting contest at Irish Fest but not because I did not do well. The same judge who told me I should not say I was a novice lace knitter expressed an interest in having me be a judge next year because I clearly knew what I was doing. Additionally, now that I have paid off the student loans, I want to start attending Scifi/Gaming conventions again, and Dragon Con in Atlanta is usually held at the same time as Irish Fest.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

FO--Celtic Knot Stole

I finished knitting the Celtic Knot Stole at the pub late Friday night/early Saturday morning and then wove in the ends Saturday morning.

When I had blocked the Seascape Stole, I discovered that by the time I had it on the blocking wires, it was pretty well dry, and that made it more difficult to block. So this time I put it on the wires first. I started that process yesterday, but I did not have much energy, so I did not end up putting it in the tub to soak until this morning. Per the designer's instructions, I let it soak for about an hour. Then I drained the tub and rinsed it a bit. Next I held it up to let the excess water drain off. Once the water stopped streaming off, I put it on a towel to blot up more of the water.

While it was soaking, parts of it had come off the blocking wires, so I threaded the edges back on. The wires help make a nice straight edge, and it beats using hundreds of pins to get a straight edge. Once that was done, I laid it out on the daybed I have in my spare room/craft room and started stretching and pinning it. It took probably at least half an hour to get it all pinned.

I took it off the wires this evening. I am pretty happy with it, but I may block it again before KC Irish Fest. I do not have a picture of it off the blocking wires yet, but I will post one once I get a good one.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Getting There

I know I have been bad about blogging. Most evenings I just do not think about it. That being said, I have made substantial process on the Celtic Knot Stole. I finished the main part of it last week, and I finished the first edge last night.

After finishing the main part, I started working on the edge. The designer has the edge charted so that the right side rows are read left to right instead of right to left like I am used to, so that kind of threw me for a loop. I ended up recharting it so it would be easier for me to deal with, and that helped me quite a bit.

Today I put the other end on the needles and removed the provisional cast on. So far all I have managed to do is knit the first row it called for and then do the crochet cast on to get the edge started. I am still new to this particular crochet cast on, and it is a bit tricky for me. Hopefully, I will be able to start this edge with fewer missteps than the other one.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Picking Up Speed

Since the designer of the Celtic Knot Stole has a full Excel chart available on her blog, I broke it into pattern repeat sections and told Excel to print each section on one page. So now instead of having to switch back and forth between charts on different pieces of paper, I have one sheet of paper and can go across the row without having to look at different charts. It has made a noticeable difference and I can now get anywhere from 4 to 6 rows done within 20 to 30 minutes.

I have not knitting that much these days--usually only on my lunch breaks at work or when I go to knitting group. Most evenings I spend online playing games and talking to friends (you know who you are). However, the Kansas City Irish Fest has announced that this year the knitting competition will be lace projects. This has actually motivated me to work on the stole more as I am determined to enter it in this year's competition on September 5.

I have actually made some progress since taking these photos. I even knit at the pub last night. One guy saw me get out my knitting and made a comment about how I was knitting too (my friend Brigette knits at the pub and had arrived before I did). I informed him that I am the original O'Dooley's Knitter.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Kim's Cakes

Okay, now that I have managed to get the computer and camera to transfer photos, here are the cakes I did for Kim's graduation party. Kim is finishing up her associates in Mortuary Science, so that gave me all sorts of possibilities for her graduation cake. However, the more I thought about it, I started having serious concerns about doing a theme cake. I am a bit superstitious and something just told me not to tempt fate. So I found a mortuary science symbol and used that instead.

The cake is chocolate with vanilla icing. I now see that one of the T's in congratulations did not get crossed, and I do not know if it is a situation where I just missed it or if I did it and the icing did not stick and went somewhere else.

Lately Kim and some of her classmates have taken to saying they want to go work in the basement. I guess it is a mortuary science thing, but I thought it was fitting for her cake.

Kim also is in the process of getting divorced and wanted a divorce cake. Well, I thought about getting really creative with that, but I decided not to do it. Instead I opted for tasteful.

I decided to do Corneil lace on the sides, but silly me, I did not thin out the icing enough, so my hand was kind of tired by the time I was done.

It is a four layer chocolate cake with chocolate icing. I baked two layers, then leveled and torted (split) them. It turned out really well--the cake was very moist. The decorative icing is vanilla.

Both cakes were a big hit and were pretty much demolished.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Lynn's Cake

My friend Lynn recently purchased a house with her fiancee, and they had their housewarming a few days after their respective birthdays. Lynn had asked me about doing the cake, and since she helped me move into my house, I was more than happy to do so. She indicated she wanted a My Little Pony cake. As she talked about it more, she said she wanted either Pinkie Pie or Rainbow Dash.

Well, I found a decent picture of Rainbow Dash, so I opted for that.

It is white cake with vanilla frosting.

Now to start thinking about Kim's graduation cake. She is getting her Associates in Mortuary Science.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


I don't know what it is, but lately I just have not felt like knitting much. I even procrastinated on this blog post--I started thinking about a few weeks ago. I mentioned this to my friend Brian, and told him that I could envision my dad bursting into song and him (Brian) coming up with some pun. He told me I was an amateur crastinator until I got paid for it.

I started working on the Celtic Knot Stole by Sarah Kendra Hughes on February 13, 2009. I am not an accomplished lace knitter, so it has been slow to progress. If I am lucky I can get 3 or 4 rows done in an hour.

It is also not a good project to work on at the pub. Yes, I have knit complicated stuff at the pub before, and I have worked on this there before. I did finish up a couple pairs of socks during this time, but one those it was just a matter of weaving in the ends. I also managed to make another pair of Maine Morning Mitts for my friend Sharon.

Socks in Regia with peasant heel:

Socks in Lane Cervinia with sturdy heel:

Sharon's second pair of fingerless mitts:

Saturday, April 18, 2009


A few weeks ago I participated in The Little Yarn Shop Hop on the Prairie. Well, yesterday while I was at lunch my cell phone rang. Jennifer, the owner of Settlers Farm, called and told me that I had won the grand prize--The Great American Afghan Kit, a bottle of Soak, and some needles.

My friends Karen, Merry, Reaona, and Stepheny also won prizes. Karen won a bag of Cascade Lana D'Oro, Stepheny won a shawl kit, and Merry won some teal Cascade, and I am not sure what Reaona won.

I looked over the pattern for the Great American Afghan, and I am not really interested in making it. However, I now have 23 skeins of Cascade 220 Wool Heathers in my yarn stash.

I am not quite sure what I will do with all of it, but who knows, maybe I will find a good use for it.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Kung Fu Panda

This year my niece wanted a Kung Fu Panda themed cake. I have found that pattern transfer works pretty well for most cakes, especially if I use a black gel on the parchment paper instead of the piping gel I was taught to use. I have not had good luck with the piping gel transfering over, especially if the icing is not setting up due to high humidity. Besides, using the black gel skips a step--at least that way I do not have to go outline it with the black gel.

I backed a white cake on Thursday evening and then iced it Friday morning before going to work. I had previously printed out an coloring page from the Kung Fu Panda website. I printed out two versions--one the way it was on the site, and the other was a mirror image. I finally decided which way I wanted the picture to appear on the cake, and I ended up tracing the mirror image one on to the parchment paper. Since the parchment paper gets flipped over, it then looked like it did on the original one I printed out.

I made all the icing except for the black icing. Black icing is difficult to make, and it is just easier to go buy a tube of Wilton black icing. I pulled up the Kung Fu Panda website so I could color Po in the way he is supposed to be. I think I did not have his outfit beige enough, but it still worked.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Little Yarn Shop Hop on the Prairie

The Little Yarn Shop Hop on the Prairie consisted of nine stores stretching from Overland Park, Kansas to Lindsborg, Kansas and Minneapolis, Kansas.

I started in the Kansas City area Friday morning since I was already in the area anyway. I actually went to The Studio in Kansas City, Missouri first. It was not on the hop, but it was on the way from the hotel I had stayed at the night before. I had been told they had some stuff on sale, and I like to go there when I am in the area. They did have some sock yarn on sale for 75% off, so I picked up some Opal and Regia that was 75% off, and a hank of Cascade Heritage in teal green. It was not on sale, but I have been wanting to increase my stash of solid color sock yarn.

Next I went to Yarn Shop and More in Overland Park, to officially start the hop. I get the impression that I was the first "hopper" to visit their store, because when I mentioned it to the person working there, there was no real response. It was not until someone else (maybe the owner?) came in that I got my passport, and they had to print that out while I was there. Some of my other friends had similar issues there. I picked up a hank of a lovely merino-alpaca blend by Isager. I have no idea if they were offering any specials or were giving away any free stuff.

I then journeyed on to Knit Wit in Olathe. It was a bit crowded when I got there, but there was a good selection of sock yarns. They offered a 20% discount on yarn. I picked up a couple of hanks of Claudia Handpaint sock yarn in a white, black, and teal colorway.

After that I went to The Yarn Barn in Lawrence. They were offering a 15% discount on needles and yarn, and I received a free pattern for baby booties. The lady who helped me showed me that they had received some new sock yarn, a tweed yarn produced in Missouri (it's name escapes me now). I did not see any sock yarn that struck my fancy, but I did get 3 skeins of Zaol Camelon, which is a blend of camel and merino (20% camel, 80% camel).

I had not been home since Thursday afternoon, but I drove from Lawrence to Manhattan. Wildflower had some new stuff, including Cookie A's Sock Innovations. Kennita told me if I had been there earlier I would have missed it. Ironically, I had missed it at The Yarn Barn. She was offering double stamps, but I already had a full card and used it for a discount on the book.

I ended Friday's part of the hop at Settlers Farm in Wamego. Jennifer had me draw to see what kind of discount I would get, and I ended up with a 30% discount off my purchase. She had received some new yarns, including some solid color sock yarns by Jojoland. I picked up a couple of hanks of Louet Gem's fingering weight in black for a project I have in mind and a couple of balls for Jojoland Ballad in Bay Blue.

The next morning my friend Stepheny picked me up at 7:15 a.m. We headed to a local coffee shop to meet up for the westward leg of the hop. Merry and Stepheny had hit the stores in Overland Park, Olathe, and Lawrence, so we traveled together. Driving west the roads were scary. The first stop we had planned was in Lindsborg, but we decided to go wherever we were at 10:00 a.m. The other car of people who had started out with us made it to Abilene, Kansas and then turned back east, but we made it to Salina. Unfortunately, Yarns Sold and Told was closed. I called Jennifer at Settler's Farm to see if she had known that the store in Salina was closed. She had not heard anything from them by that point. We took a picture to show we had been there, and we got to count it. We did find out later that the store had sent an email saying they would be closed this weekend, but by the time we sent it, we were almost there.

We stopped at a truck stop and asked about the roads. We were told they were not so good to the south but they were okay to the north. Stepheny decided to head to Lindsborg next, which turned out to be a good call even though the roads were not so good. Laura May's Cottage had a drawing for prizes, but all three of us ended up drawing things that said "Sorry better luck next time." I had heard she had done something like that at another yarn shop hop, but it really did not bother me that much. She had a bargain bin that had skeins of Brown Sheep Company Lambs Pride Superwash for $2.55 a skein, and I picked up 12 skeins of teal. I also picked up a skein of Patons Classic Merino in a nice blue for less than it would have been at Michael's or JoAnn. We also received a free pattern for clog socks.

As we drove north, be saw blue skies. Our pushing through the nasty weather earlier meant that we would not be going through it when we started heading back east. I tried calling Yarns Sold and Told again, but there was no answer. We headed to the Yarn Peddler in Minneapolis, Kansas next. I picked up another pair of 40 inch size 1 Addi Turbo knitting needles and a couple of skeins of Laines Du Nord in a teal and white colorway. We received a free pattern for a lacy scarf, and our discount depended on a roll of a dice. Once you were ready to pay for your purchases, you rolled four dice. I rolled two sixes, a three, and a four for a total of 19, so I ended up with a 19% discount.

Once we left Minneapolis, it was on to The Shivering Sheep in Abilene. They offered a 10% discount on regularly priced items, and they had some great deals in the bargain basement. I was very pleased to see they had some Regia Galaxy, because I had been looking for some of that for almost a year now. I picked up two skeins. I also got a little kit with two bulbs for grape hyacinths and a reusable shopping bag. If I understood correctly, each time you return to The Shivering Sheep, you can get the attached card punched, and after 10 uses, you get a $5.00 discount.

Stepheny and Merry had not been to Wildflower or Settlers Farm yet, so we headed to Manhattan next and ended in Wamego.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Patrick's Cake

My friend Patrick turned 22 a few weeks ago, and he had been talking about having me do a cake. Well, not long before his birthday, he decided he wanted an Irish flag with a leprechaun on it.

The cake is chocolate and the frosting is vanilla. It was a fairly big hit at the pub.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Knitting Cake and the Peanut Recall

My friends Jaime and Stepheny both had birthdays this week, and since both of them are knitters, I did a knitting themed cake. I do not think it is some of my better work, but people seemed to like it.

I made the fondant decorations on Tuesday: knitting needles, a pair of mittens, a pair of socks, a hank of yarn, and a ball of yarn.

I baked the cake after knitting group on Wednesday, let it cool over night, and then iced it with chocolate icing on Thursday morning. By the time I got home from work Thursday, it had crusted up nicely and I made more icing to decorate with. I free-handed Stepheny and Jaime's names, and I really should have used a Number 1 or Number 2 tip instead of the Number 3 I used for the writing. The icing I decorated with was supposed to be purple. I am not quite sure why blue and red made brown, but oh well. Using the icing, I piped a pair of socks, a pair of mittens, a pair of knitting needles, a scarf, and a tangle of yarn.

Now for the other part of the post..

As some of you may know, I am severely allergic to tree nuts and peanuts. The whole salmonella outbreak associated with peanuts is a horrible thing, but something good is coming out of it. More people are reading ingredients, and some are really surprised where they are finding peanuts and other nuts.

When I was surfing on Ravelry this morning, I came across a link to a Peanut Product Widget on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's web site. It is a neat widget, so I decided to add it to the sidebar.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Once Upon a Time Blanket

I finally finished Peanut's blanket.

I really need to find a better place to take a picture than the spot on the floor I used. The shadow on the left side is probably from the end table the lamp is on.

It is a bit longer than I had originally intended, but I rather like it. I wanted something before starting the castle to make it appear further in the distance so I used a cabled pattern for a few pattern repeats. It can either represent a field or perhaps the hedge that surrounded Sleeping Beauty's Castle.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Peanut's Blanket--Knitting Part 2

By January 22, 2009 I had finished the first panel of trees and a section of reverse stockinette. I had not had much time to work on it, and I was still tinkering with the design a bit before starting the next section.

January 30, 2009--I really did not like how I finished the window and door on Enchanted Cottage swatch, so I used a reversible cabling technique to bring the cabling to a point. I like the finished result much better.

I finished the Enchanted Cottage motif on February 6, 2009 and continued working on the Gingerbread Castle. I am knitting from the instructions I typed up, which has enabled me to edit the pattern as I go along.

This morning I discovered I left out a row on the instructions for the Gingerbread Castle motif, so I had to refer to the book I got the pattern from. I also made some slight modifications to the flag flying over the castle. I managed to finish the Gingerbread Castle motif and another section of reverse stockinette. Now I am working on the final section of trees.

After Rich called the trees spooky, I asked a number of my friends if they thought they were spooky, and they do not. Rich has also decided they are not spooky.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Peanut's Blanket--Knitting

After finishing swatches, I cast on 132 stitches on January 13, 2009. The next evening at group, I ended up dropping some of the cast on stitches while helping a friend with a provisional cast on. I ripped out, cast on again, and started after counting my stitches. However, I really should have counted a second time, because the next day I discovered I had two extra stitches. So I ripped out, cast on again, and counted two or three times before starting to knit.

Coincidentally, Peanut arrived that same day. He was a bit early, and he had to stay at the hospital for a few days after mom went home, but he is home now.

By January 22, 2009, I had finished the first two sections of the blanket. I was still tinkering around with the design a bit, so I had not moved on to the next section. After getting some input from a friend about a swatch I was working on, I started the next section. Since I work on my knitting at the pub quite a bit, I showed Rich what I was working on, and he said the trees were spooky. I asked some others, and one said they are winter trees. I like that theory better :)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Peanut's Blanket--Swatching Part 2

Well, I finished two more swatches, and now it is a matter of putting the design elements together and getting the pattern written up.

The three motifs are:

These swatches will not be used in the actual blanket, but they have been a good dry run so to speak. I had to modify a couple of them slightly. I do not particularly care for bobbles, and they just did not look right, even though I followed Janet Szabo's tips for bobbles (found in her book, Aran Sweater Design). Then I tried substituting smaller bobbles (popcorns), but they still did not look right, so I got rid of them entirely. On the castle I just added another spire instead of a bobble, and I like how it turned out.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

Happy New Year's everyone!

Something tells me 2009 is going to be an interesting year.
I am not really one for resolutions, but I have made the following resolutions for 2009:

Keep enjoying life (life is short, and you never know how much time you have)
Trust my instincts
Look into getting a concealed-carry permit