Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Projects, Projects, and More Projects

I know I have been really bad about blogging. While I have been knitting, I just have not been in the mood to blog about it. Usually I just post on facebook and Ravelry. Then in July a close friend committed suicide, and I definitely was not in the mood to blog. However, now that the year is coming to a close, I figured I really needed to update on my projects.

Last January I bought some Berroco Sox in a black and tan colorway, and I immediately got the idea of naming a pair of socks the Ultimate Irish Rebel Socks. One of the songs we sing at the pub is "Come Out Ye Black and Tans," and for a while it was considered the ultimate Irish rebel song. As I understand it, some of the British in Ireland wore uniforms cobbled together from whatever they had and were called Black and Tans. In the song there is a line about the British walking all over the Irish, and now the Black and Tan socks are getting walked in. (For the record, I have both British and Irish heritage).

After I finished that pair of socks I started on Anne Podlesak's Rattlesnake Creek Socks. I used Jojoland Ballad in Bay Blue to makes these. This yarn felt so wonderfully soft in the skein, but it did not feel quite as soft while knitting it. However, the socks softened up nicely after washing. Unfortunately, I recently discovered that one of the socks had a hole in it (and I had not even really worn them yet), so I ripped out past that point and am knitting it again.

Next I started some socks using Regia Galaxy Color. I started these in June, but I did not finish them until November. These were often put on hold to work on other projects, which I will talk about shortly.

I made two more pairs of socks after this--one for my stepsister and one for my stepsister-in-law. I made the pair for my stepsister in law out of Wisdom Yarns Marathon Sock in the McClintock colorway, since Shirley likes greens. This was the first pair of socks I had made for someone else, and frankly I was a bit jealous. I really like this yarn. It felt fairly nice while knitting it, and it felt even better after it was washed. Shirley seemed to like them--she put them on after getting them and modeled them. I made my step-sister's socks out of the same yarn but used the Camelback colorway, since Susan likes browns. I finished her socks up on Christmas Eve then washed them. Susan seemed to like them pretty well.

However, I did not just work on socks over the last few months. In June I started Kerra Quinn's Felted Chess Set. My dad did a lot for me while I was so sick last year, and I wanted to make this for him. I got most of the pieces done over the summer, but after a while I put them aside to work on other stuff. I finished these up on November 28 and gave them to Dad when I went for Thanksgiving dinner (my parents had their's the Sunday after Thanksgiving due to scheduling issues). Dad really liked it and he even set it up in a position.

This summer I joined a knit along where we made fingerless gloves to send to Marines serving in Afghanistan. I ended up making two pairs. My friend Stepheny also made two pairs, and her husband Rob made one as well. To save on postage, we sent all of ours at once to the guy who started the knit along. He later reported we sent fourteen pairs to Afghanistan.

I also had three baby blankets to make this fall. I use A Simple Baby Blanket with Knit-On Lace Edging by Nancy T. McGlynn. I found this pattern online years ago, but lately I have not been able to find it anywhere, otherwise I would provide a link to it. My cousin Kayla was expecting her second child in October, so I made a blanket for her. A coworker and his wife were expecting their first child in December, so I made one for them. My friends Shane and Nancy were also expecting a baby right before Christmas. Kayla knew she was having a boy, so I made her a blue blanket. Brett and Annie knew they were having a girl, and I do not care for pink, so I made them one that is a pale yellow. Shane and Nancy opted to not find out their baby's gender, so I opted for green as a neutral choice.

Between the first two baby blankets, I made a lap blanket for my grandmother's 90th birthday. She resides in a very nice nursing facility that is more like a big house than a nursing home, and a bunch of us gathered for her 90th birthday. Many of us were not sure what to get her, and I decided I might as well put my talents to use and make her something. As I understand it, she spends quite a bit of time sitting in chair in one of the sitting rooms just looking out the window, and it occurred to me she could use a lap blanket. I used some yarn I had in my stash and looked for a pattern on Ravelry that would work with the amount of yarn I had. Unfortunately, even though the pattern only called for 525 yards and I had over 600, I still ran out and had to get another skein of yarn. I did not get the same dyelot, but it does not really matter for this one.

Okay, back to socks, well sort of. One of my friends collects magnets, so I ended up getting a few magnets to give him when I did the 2010 Central Kansas Yarn Shop Hop. I also decided to make him a couple of magnets. I made a couple of tiny socks using Debbie Jennings' Key Chain Sock Blocker pattern using leftover sock yarn and size 0 needles. Once I finished the socks, I used some adhesive magnet backing that I purchased at Michael's.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

More projects

While I have not been very good about blogging lately, I have been pretty good about knitting. Since Ravelympics, I have finished two pairs of socks, a pair of mittens, and a pair of fingerless gloves.

For some reason I got on a mitten kick. I have downloaded a number of patterns, and so far I have made one pair of mittens. I made the Rubya'it Mittens (available on Ravelry) by Heather Desserud using Black Louet Gems (fingering) and Wisdom Yarns Poems Sock Yarn in the Vista colorway. Because the first mitten only ended up using green and blue from the ball of Poems Sock Yarn, I used the another portion of the same colors for the other one. I have not gotten around to blocking them yet, so one is a bit bigger than the other.

After finishing the mittens, I felt the urge to make another pair of socks. I opted to use Brown Sheep Company's Wildfoote Luxury Sock Yarn in the Blue Grass colorway. It is the same basic sock pattern I do for most of my socks, but I think they turned out very well.

After finishing that pair of socks, I felt like making another pair of socks. This time I opted to use Regia's Kaffe Fasset's Design Line in the Landscape Jungle colorway. It is the same basic sock pattern, but I used a sturdy heel instead of a short-row heel. When the yarn tends to stripe, I find I do not always care for how it pools on the short row heel.

I also started on a pair of cabled fingerless mitts, but they are currently on time out. Needing another project I opted for another pair of fingerless gloves using the pattern and Laines du Nord Guinco.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Ravelympics 2010

Ravelympics is Ravelry's own version of the Olympics. Instead of sporting events, we had crafting events. With the exception of projects that were works in progress, we were not able to start our projects until the opening ceremonies. Mass cast-on was at 6:00 Pacific Standard Time. Works in projects could be started before February 12, 2010, but they had to be dormant for at least a month before the Olympic Opening Ceremonies.

For Ravelympics I belonged to two different teams: Team Bobble Crushers and Team Tardis. Team Tardis is a Doctor Who themed team, and Team Bobble Crushers is the name the local knitting group came up with (what can I say, we really dislike bobbles).

For Team Bobble Crushers I did another Habitat Hat, this time in Zaol Camelon. I entered it in the Hat Half-Pipe and Cable Cross Country events.

My other Team Bobble Crushers entry was the Wintergreen Gloves. Since they were a work in progress, their event was WIPs Dancing. For this event, projects had to be dormant for at least a month prior to the opening ceremonies, but this was hardly a problem since I hadput the Wintergreen Gloves on hold to finish up Cold Mountain in time for a wedding at the end of January.

For Team Tardis I did the Tam of Rassilon by Ellen Hyde, and I entered it in the Hat Half-Pipe and Nordic Colorwork Combined events. The Tam of Rassilon is based on the Seal of Rassilon. While no stranger to fair isle knitting, this hat proved more challenging than I had originally anticipated, but I think it turned out fairly well.

Side view:

Top View:

Saturday, February 27, 2010


I spent Thursday evening taking care of things that needed to be done before surgery, such as grocery shopping and laundry. I also packed a bag in case they could not do the surgery as a laparoscopy, figuring at least that way my dad would not have to hunt for stuff at my house. When Dad picked me up Friday morning, I also packed my computer. I did not take it with me, but I figured it would be a good idea to have it ready to go in case he had to come by and pick it up.

After checking in at hospital I got out my knitting to keep me occupied. I have been participating in Ravelry's olympics (Ravelympics), and I was working on the Wintergreen Gloves for the WIPs Dancing (Works in Progress event). I had been working on them on and off since the end of October, putting them aside to work on Christmas knitting and then Cold Mountain. To be in the WIPs Dancing event, projects had to be dormant for at least a month before the Olympic opening ceremonies, so I just opted to work on other stuff. I finished a pair of socks I had been working on here and there, and I also made some preemie hats for a friend whose daughter made her entry into the world a couple months early.

It was a morning of odd coincidences. The patient care technician who had taken care of me with my last ERCP three weeks earlier saw me and recognized me. He was not the patient care tech taking care of me this time, but I ended up being in the same pre-op room as I had been three weeks earlier. Then one of the nurses who took care of me was one who had taken care of me during a previous ERCP--the one on December 24, if memory serves.

So I get changed into the hospital gown and keep knitting. Eventually they started an IV, and the managed to put it in a vein in my right arm, which enabled me to keep knitting. And unlike last time, someone came in from anesthesia fairly early on. It was not the person who would be doing my anesthesia, but he did take a history.

After all the times I have had anesthesia, I have learned a few things. I need to make sure they know I am asthmatic and have had problems with anesthesia before. I also have learned that using my inhaler before being put under actually causes me more problems with anesthesia, and I told him this.

I did not get one of the people I had requested for anesthesia, but I knew I probably would not. Nor did I get the guy who did my last ERCP. The guy who did my last ERCP was not bad, but he also does not like using Versed. However, I like getting Versed. It helps me relax, and I seem to do better with it than without. This guy did give me Versed though which helped. Actually he said something about how if I had not talked much before I would be talking a lot. I made a remark about it being Veritaserum and the guy laughed. I actually did not talk quite as much after it kicked in--I tend to talk more when I am nervous.

I remember being wheeled into the operating room and getting on the operating table. After that the next thing I remember is waking up in recovery. I had an easier time coming out from under the anesthesia than I did last time, but I still felt kind of sleepy. The nurse in recovery told me that was okay and to sleep if I needed to. I did have some pain, and she gave me morphine. I was not particularly thrilled about that, but she said it was the standard procedure.

More importantly, I learned that the surgeon had managed to remove my gallbladder laparoscopically.

Eventually I was wheeled into another room back in the pre-op area. I got there right around 1:00 p.m. or so, so I turned the television on and watched As the World Turns. I did have some pain in the area of my back that tends to spasm, and the nurse who was taking care of me post-op said something that was probably the gas they used during the surgery. She said getting up and moving around would help with that. I managed to send out text messages to a bunch of people letting them know surgery had been laparoscopic--it took a bit longer though because I was having a little trouble focusing.

I got home around 5:00 p.m. or so. I had left the hospital about 4:00 p.m., but we had to go to Walgreens to get a prescription filled. I posted an update to facebook and sent messages to people who are not on facebook.

Not wanting to wake up a bunch of times during the night, I ended up staying up for a while. It is kind of funny, but I would sort of nod off while I was on the computer. However, I did not really do it if I was knitting, so I divided my time between both.

Today I feel pretty good. I am still a little sore in areas, but I know that will get better with time.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Another Update

On Monday I called my primary care physician's office to get a recommendation for a surgeon within the same medical practice. They referred me to a surgeon and I called his office to schedule an appointment. They told me they had a cancellation so they could get me in at 9:45 a.m. on Wednesday.

So I went to the appointment today, and I am very glad I sought a second opinion. The original surgeon had told me months ago he could not do the surgery as laparoscopic procedure, and he indicated I would be off work 4 to 6 weeks. However, this surgeon told me he would try do it as a laparoscopy, and that if he could do it that way, I could be back at work in a few days. I asked what kind of recovery time I would be looking at if he ended up doing an open procedure (big abdominal incision), and he said I would only be off work a week or two. Then I asked about stairs, explaining that stairs were unavoidable since I lived in a townhouse. He said stairs would not be a problem.

He was very good about explaining what he was going to do for the surgery, and I feel much better about doing this. Good thing too, because surgery is scheduled for February 26, 2010 at 10:45 a.m.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


When I had my first ERCP on November 3, 2009, it turns out there was a 4 cm leak where the pancreatic duct was gone. Fortunately there was still some pancreatic duct left in the tail of my pancreas, so they ran a wire and placed a stent. When they did another ERCP on December 24, 2009, the leak was down to less than 1 cm, and my GI doctor replaced the stent.

I had another ERCP on Friday, February 5, 2010, and the leak has sealed up. So my GI doctor removed both the wire and the stent and cleared me for surgery.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Cold Mountain

Back in August I started working on Cold Mountain by Kieran Foley. The plan was to have it done in time to wear to my friend Lynn's wedding on October 3. I used JaggerSpun Zephyr Wool-Silk in the colorway Ebony.

I actually managed to get a good portion of it done before I got sick. This is the second Kieran Foley design I have done, and I think it was easier than Seascape. After I started feeling like knitting again, I tried working on it, but I would find mistakes and get frustrated, so I decided not to work on it for a while. Then I received an invitation to the wedding of a friend's son. That was the motivation I needed to finish. I was so close to finishing on January 22, 2010, I decided I was finishing that night. It did not happen. I ended up having to rework a section three times, but I finally finished it on January 23, 2010.

Here are a couple of pictures of it I took before blocking.

I am not enamored of the yarn. The first skein of yarn had a number of bad spots where either the yarn simply came apart or otherwise looked bad. By the time of Irish Fest, I had spliced it seven times. A couple of my friends have used this yarn and not had any problems with it, but I happened to mention it to one of the judges for the knitting contest, and she indicated she knew what I was talking about. I ended up having to splice it another time before joining the new skein and one time after joining the new skein. And then to top it all off, it ripped along the bind off edge when I was blocking it!

I had been incredibly careful when blocking it, but I guess this yarn just is not very strong. Or maybe it was just the skeins I bought that were bad. Fortunately I was able to undo the bind off and splice the yarn again. This time I bound off even more loosely. I did not block it again, but it is not terribly noticeable.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Back to Knitting

While I was in the hospital, I did not feel well enough to knit. Even after I got out of the hospital the first time, I did not feel like knitting much. It was Cailyn Meyer's Wintergreen Gloves that got me interested in knitting again. The pattern calls for Knit Picks Palette yarn, so once all of the colors were available, I put in an order.

Before I started the Wintergreen Gloves, I did finish a pair of black fingerless mitts for me using the Maine Morning Mitts pattern in Lion Brand Wool-Ease yarn. I also made a pair of fingerless mitts for my friend Shane. His were based on the same pattern but made longer and with a few stitches added to make for a better fit. Unfortunately I did not think to get a picture of him wearing them when I gave them to him. And somewhere in there, I started on another pair of socks.

I started the Wintergreen Gloves on October 29, 2009. I have worked on them on and off, sometimes opting to work on the pair of socks and other projects depending on my mood. My Habitat hat is hiding from me, so I ended up making the Yarn Harlot's Unoriginal Hat out of some Rio De La Plata bulky yarn I had. The pattern went fairly quickly and it only took me a few days to complete--good thing too with all the snow we have had.

I also ended up making a hat for my stepsister and her partner. Originally I was going to make the Unoriginal Hat for each of them. I had bulky yarn in colors they liked. Then it occurred to me that they probably would not appreciate hats that could not be thrown in the washing machine. About that time, the Winter 2009 Knitty went live and I found a pattern I really liked: Knotty But Nice. So I went looking for Lion Brand Wool-Ease in suitable colors.

It was easy enough to find Wool-Ease in green for one hat, but I did not find anything in brown other than one called Woodland Print. Well, I started knitting that one up, and it was looking too much like camo--which would be great for some guys I know, but not for my stepsister. So the Saturday before Christmas, I managed to drive myself to and from the Yarn Barn in Lawrence to get some Plymouth Encore in a light brown color.

I started the green hat on December 15, 2009 and I actually finished it while at the pub on December 19, 2009.

Knowing I was close to finishing the green hat, I had taken some of the brown Plymouth Encore with me to the pub, and I started my stepsister's hat that night. I finished her hat in the wee hours of the morning on Christmas Eve.

Once I finished the hats, I went back to working on the Wintergreen Gloves. I finished the right-hand one yesterday.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

When I posted a year ago, I mentioned that something told me 2009 was going to be an interesting year. Interesting was certainly one way to describe it. I recently learned that one of my cousins had an aortic aneurysm in January. He survived, but he had to have another repair surgery to replace his aortic arch later in 2009. However, he is doing well. In March, one of my friends had a heart attack. Fortunately, he survived, and his recovery is going well. I have other friends who have equally, if not more stressful things that happened in 2009 as well.

Then on September 6, 2009, I developed a moderate case of acute pancreatitis. My recovery is ongoing, but it seems more tangible than it did even a week ago. On Monday, I got a call from the nurse practitioner that works for the primary radiologist on my case. She told me they wanted to reposition the remaining drain catheter. She mentioned that they were booked this week, but that there might be a cancellation. Said cancellation happened on Wednesday.

I was not really understanding why they needed to reposition it, so I asked. It turns out that the drain catheter was rather close to the replacement stent my GI doctor put in last week, and they thought that the stuff was draining through the drain bag instead of through the pancreatic duct.

However, I did get good news. The radiologist told me the pseudocysts had resolved, and that the drain might be able to be removed next week. I have a vague memory of him injecting a local a local anesthetic, and the next thing I remember is waking up, and they were done. Better yet, they did not have to give me any painkiller other than the local.

It turns out they actually inserted a new drain catheter. The drain bag is smaller and lighter, and I can actually fold it up and tuck it in my waistband instead of having to carry it around in a bag. There was not anything in the drain bag when I got up Thursday morning, and so far there is very little in there, so that is a very promising sign.

So in some ways 2010 is already looking better. Not that all of 2009 was bad. I made some new friends, and I paid off my student loans. I also kept my resolutions. I had resolved to keep enjoying life, to trust my instincts, and look into getting my concealed carry permit. The first one was pretty easy to keep. The second one was a little harder, but I think it ended up saving my life. My GI doctor said that waiting another hour before going to the ER that night probably would not have made much of a difference, but if I had waited until the next day, I would have been much worse. I kept the third one as well. I took a class in February 2009, and I turned in my application a little over a week ago.

So for 2010, I am going to make the first two resolutions again. I was already pretty aware of my own mortality, even before the pancreatitis, and even before the nearly fatal anaphylactic reaction to an allergy shot nearly six years ago. So enjoying life is an important resolution. Trusting my instincts has proven equally valuable. I am also resolving to put myself first more often than I used to.

Happy New Years everyone! May 2010 be a better year.