Cancer Stories: FaceTime

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I love technology. I don’t want to imagine living without it. I don’t know how I lived before the internet but modern technology has never been as close to my heart as when I was hospitalized to have a liver resection.

What a blessing it was every day to have my iPad and iPhone just to have something to do for all those hours I lay awake in pain. The IVs made my hands and arms swell which really limited my activities. I was even able to type what I needed to say when it was difficult to talk.

Of all these benefits, the best was FaceTime. Not only could I talk with my kids each night before bed, I got to see them and they got to see me a little more each day.

This screen shot is from January 8, 2013. The kids had been by for a short visit after school. When Mike left that night at 8pm, Warren was still awake when he got home. Anna had already gone to sleep. She needs her beauty sleep. Mike set Warren up with the iPad and I was ready with my phone when he called. Before cancer, I could count on one hand the number of times I wasn’t there to tuck my kids in. I’ve done my best to make sure I’ve continued to show my kids just how much I love them and how important they are to me.

People constantly talk about how technology has detaches us from each other. Not this time. This time, it brought us closer together. It gave me and my children a chance to be together.

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Cancer Stories: The Tooth Fairy

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Life doesn’t stop just because mommy gets sick. The night I entered the hospital and my battle with cancer began, the magical parts of childhood did not stop. Anna lost another tooth that evening. It was tucked under her pillow as she went to bed. None of us knew what that night would bring. She was excited for the money from the tooth fairy. My fight started a few hours later but the tooth fairy had yet to visit. In fact, she didn’t visit that night.

The next night, the kids stayed with my mother while Mike went to work and I stayed in the hospital. Still no tooth fairy. The child was becoming a bit disappointed. It’s not like the tooth fairy had never missed a night (oops!) but never two nights.

We consoled her saying everyone was awake in the middle of the night Friday and you were at Grammy’s house Saturday. On Sunday, Mike and the kids were picking his mother up at Newark Airport at midnight and making the 2 hour drive home from there so the tooth fairy still didn’t show up! Finally, Monday night the tooth fairy arrived and apparently, was much more generous than usual! My mother or our neighbor, who stayed with them the first night, would have happily taken care of it but it was overlooked unfortunately by all but Anna.

These are the times when it’s hard to keep up the magic of childhood we create but they are also the times when they and we, need it the most. Anna needed that magic. I needed that smile as Anna proudly told me that the tooth fairy finally showed up. I needed that toothless grin that only childhood magic can put there.

This is one of many tiny memories I want to hold on to and share that are part of my cancer story.

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Priorities

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I haven’t kept up with my blog since returning from vacation last month but this has been on my mind for a few days now.

Priorities.

I am a huge Doctor Who fan and have turned my family into varying degrees of fans. My son has almost surpassed me! We have been eagerly awaiting the 50th anniversary episode that aired last Saturday. So you can imagine when we discovered it was going to be in select theaters in 3D we wanted to go.

Well, as a parent, teacher, and generally responsible adult I felt guilt at taking the kids to a movie on a school night. We wouldn’t get home until almost 11pm. That 3 hours after Anna goes to bed! Okay, let’s just keep them home we said. It’s Thanksgiving week. They won’t miss much. Still that guilt kept eating away.

Last week I went for my test results from my oncologist. All clear. No cancer. Complete remission. Yeah! Stupid me had to ask what the chances were it would come back.

“There is a 25% chance that the cancer won’t come back.”

Yes, well, I may not be good at math but that’s a 75% chance that it will come back. A cancer that 90% of those diagnosed are over 50! I’m only 39!

Anyway, my guilt is gone now. They have years more school ahead of them. How many more years do they have with me? Anybody could go at any time, sure, but when you know there is this terrible thing that could come back at any time? It changes you.

I want to be able to look back at the end, whenever that may be and not regret. What are the chances that I would regret not sending them to school the next day? What are the chances I would regret skipping the special viewing of the 50th anniversary of our favorite show? Probably 100%

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I made the right decision…

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Knossos Body

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The pattern section in the body of the Knossos took no time at all to knit. I did so last night while watching Sleepy Hollow. I am enjoying the show. It isn’t exactly what I was expecting as it differs from the original Legend of Sleepy Hollow a great deal.  I was always interested in the story and read the original many years ago. Living in the general area where Irving’s tales are set made things more exciting.

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You can see that I switched to a 16″ circular needle when I went up to size 5. Right now, the pattern looks messy, for lack of a better word. I remember thinking the first time I knit it how it just wasn’t working out and looked terrible. I kept on and discovered what I already knew: Blocking is essential!

I must admit, especially with hats, I too often tend not to block them but as you see below, it gives the pattern the attention it deserves.

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This morning as I write this I am watching Hamlet with David Tennant. Oh how I love him! I just finished watching Broadchurch and though the storyline was terribly depressing the show was excellent. I look forward to seeing him once more on November 23!

Knossos can be purchased through Ravelry. I am enjoying documenting my progress here. Next and final part is the stockinette portion and crown shaping. I hope to have that post up on Thursday.

Busy times coming up. The New York State Sheep and Wool Festival is this weekend. My sweater is ready but the sleeves are longer than I wanted. I might make a change. After that our family heads to Disney World! When we get back it is full on Christmas knitting time…

Remember to post a link so I can see who is knitting Knossos!

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Knossos Brim

Well, the intention was to have this up yesterday but life gets busy sometimes and I am discovering that even though the cancer is gone, my body just doesn’t have the strength and energy to keep going like it used to. Christmas shopping, grocery shopping, laundry, dishes and dinner was more than I could handle. I still had to help with homework and read with the kids as well. The reading is the best part, though.  Anna is reading an Ivy and Bean book and Warren is reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

After all this, I just needed to lay down. I am pleased that I can do more than I could last year but still so frustrated that I can’t do what I used to be able to do and what I want to be able to do.

Anyway, I completed the brim for Knossos.

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It was fairly quick, taking less than an hour to complete. I love the way it looks and love it even more after it is blocked. It loses some of the roll and spreads out a bit so you can see more detail. It will appear loose and I couldn’t help but think each time I knit this brim that it was too big. You can see from the modeled hat that this is not the case. She only has one inch of negative ease too.

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I love the texture and uniqueness this brim adds to a rather simple hat. It really is one of my favorite features.

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You might also notice that I did the brim in magic loop. I did not have a 16″ needle in size 4 so I had to do this. I tried DPNs when I first started knitting and just wasn’t any good at it. When I discovered circular needles, I jumped right on them and have never looked back. My straight needles now sit in my craft room in a large jar as decoration like a bouquet of knitting needles. I will use a 16″ needle for the body of the hat which I will post about probably not until Monday.

In other news, If all goes well, I should be finishing my Rhinebeck sweater today as well as a colorwork hat for my daughter. The day hasn’t started out well, though. I fell on my way home from the school bus stop and hurt my knee, ankle and back. Hoping it gets better.

If anyone is knitting this hat along with me or is finding this information interesting, I would love to hear about it in the comments.

Happy Knitting!

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Knossos Swatching and Cast On

As I mentioned in my last post, I designed Knossos because I needed a baby hat. The first one I needed is finished and will sent out soon. I still need to knit a hat for the baby born last year. I decided to knit Knossos in the 18″ size which should fit a toddler from 6 to 18 months. I wanted to share my progress here.

I decided I will be using Knit Picks Swish DK for this one as well. The colors are great, the yarn is inexpensive and it’s lovely to touch.

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I must admit, I rarely, if ever swatch for a hat. Maybe for color work but otherwise, I just don’t. I am perfectly willing to rip out an item as small as even an adult hat and start over if my gauge is off. For those who don’t like that idea and since this hat is available child through adult, I would recommend knitting one of the smallest two sizes and donating it or saving it for future babies. If you would rather, just make a swatch, but remember to swatch in the round and gently block it. I will post later on how I blocked the hat but for the swatch just lay it flat and let it dry.

I knit the 16″ as my swatch and I have to say, other than making the stitches smoother and getting rid of most of the roll in the brim, the gauge remained the same before and after blocking. Still, especially if you are using a different yarn, go ahead and block it.

Anyway, it’s a hat, swatch as you will. The hat will likely fit someone.

As for the cast on, I did so with needles one size down from the needles for the main body of the hat. It just tightened things up a bit. This might be a bit important as this brim is not ribbed and not tight fitting. It fits snug on the head if you knit with negative ease of 1-2 inches but I think it was safe to give a bit extra support there.

I like to use the long-tail cast on. It’s stretchy and easy to do, but do what you like to do for hats.

I will return on Thursday to talk about the brim, which I think is my favorite part of the hat. Be sure to start a project page for Knossos on Ravelry or let me know in the comments where to find pics of your hat!

Happy Knitting!

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Knossos

Today I published my first hat pattern on Ravelry. It’s called Knossos.

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This all came about because Mike’s cousin was pregnant and he asked me to knit a hat for the baby. His other cousin was pregnant last year and I was supposed to make her a hat too but stupid cancer got in the way. So, I wanted to knit a hat for the new baby and for the one that was born last year.

I’m still getting back to normal from all this cancer garbage. My back hurts when I do too much, so I have more down time than I would like. I was searching Ravelry for a pattern, which can eat the better part of a day and is truly a wonderful way to zone out but the thing was, I had a certain idea in my head.  I wanted the hat to fit a baby but not be a baby hat. Does that even make sense? I had the time so I decided to try my had at designing my own hat to fit newborn through adult.

This is the final result of that process. My first attempt is lovely but very different from what I ended up with. I love the pattern. It is simple but not boring and it creates a nice play on textures.

I knit the infant size, 16″ as my swatch. That will be for the new baby. I don’t have easy access to any babies locally so I HAD to knit the child small, 20″ for my 7 year old. She makes a great model. She looks adorable with the hand over her mouth, right? Well, her face was covered in sauce. Instead of wasting time having her wash and then getting her back outside, I just had her cover it with her little hand. Worked out perfectly!

I still need to knit the toddler size, 18″ for the other baby. I was thinking about a sort of knit-a-long here. I would post photos every few days of my progress. It won’t take long to knit but I thought it would be fun.

I chose the name Knossos after searching a bit for the first documented use of a chevron pattern. You can read about it here under Ancient History. It seemed appropriate for beginning of life, my first pattern.

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So here is the information about Knossos. You can purchase it on Ravelry.

Finished measurements: to fit head circumference of 14 (16, 18, 20, 22, 24) inches / 35.5 (40.5, 45.75, 50.75, 56, 61) cm

Intended to fit: newborn (3-6 months, 6-18 months, Child small, Child large/Adult small, Adult medium/large)

Actual measurements: 12 (14, 16, 18, 20, 22) inches / 30.5 (35.5, 40.5, 45.75, 50.75, 56) cm shown in 18”/45.75cm

Suggested ease: 1-2” negative ease

Suggested yarn: 1 (1, 1, 2, 2, 2) ball Knit Picks Swish DK (123 yds per 50 gram; 100% Superwash Merino) shown in Marina

Yardage required: 66 (92, 119, 149, 182, 218) yds 60 (84, 109, 136, 166, 199) m DK weight yarn

By the way Knossos is 50% off through October 7, 2013. It will be $4.00 after that. So purchase Knossos this week and then join me for a little Knit-a-long here next week!

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