26 April 2009

Helluva a Week and Good News

photo of Adrienne the day before her melanoma surgery, click to see a larger version of my beautiful redhead
This blog is not, generally, a journal of the details my life. It is a collection of thoughts about knitting and spinning and working with fiber. I generally keep the family comments off the blog so you, dear reader, can get what you expect.

But, sometimes, life just throws you the unexpected, and it's worth writing about. If this is the first time you've been here, let me bring you up to speed. One month ago today my middle child, Adrienne, was diagnosed with melanoma. She had an innocuous mole at the tip of her nose removed, and per standard procedure, the dermatologist sent the excised tissue to the lab. Much to the surprise of the dermatologist, the mole was cancerous.

In the past weeks, we have spent many anxious moments waiting. Waiting. Waiting.
Finally, on Monday Adrienne had the tip of her nose removed, skin taken from behind her ear to graft onto the nose (for a short term fix, can't fully reconstruct it until it's confirmed no more needs to be removed), and had two slices into her neck to pull tissue from the nearest lymph nodes to see if they had seeds of cancer in them. If yes, the disease had spread, if no, all that would be left is to reconstruct the deconstructed nose.

Wednesday was Adrienne's 25th birthday. Friday Adrienne's bandages were removed. We had expected to wait until the following week to get the full results of the biopsied tissues. The surgeon came in, removed the bandages, then had his assistant tell Adrienne how to clean the wound. He then turned to the computer in the room and looked to see if the results were in. He read them to us: negative, negative, negative, all negative. Music, music, music to our ears.

Thank you for all the well wishes we've received. The cancer was local, has been removed and Adrienne is now officially cancer-free. She will still need your positive thoughts and energy as she goes through the many months process of getting her face back. She is not ready to show her current face to the world, so I give you a recent shot of the day before her surgery. The photo was taken on 19 April and her smile then seemed to indicate that she knew good news was on the way. Indeed, it was.

21 April 2009

Worry-free Cardi: Phase 1

worryfree cardigan swatch image
Yesterday was a day spent sitting in the hospital, waiting to hear about my daughter's melanoma surgery.

I decided that it was a day to start a project that would take my mind off worry, hence, the "Worry-free Cardi".

The good news: Adrienne did great with the surgery. Dr. Peter Neligan removed the underside of her nose, used skin from
behind her right ear to graft onto the area, then incised two areas to gather material for a biopsy. No negative reactions, everything went as planned.

The dressing on her nose comes off on Friday. Results from the biopsy will be 1+ weeks. Dr. Neligan thinks there is a very good chance the biopsy will be negative. Then, all that will be left is to reconstruct the nose area in about 2 months.

For now, let me show you the quick progress on the "Worry-free Cardi".

The swatch above: I am using Cascade 220 EcoWool. A bulky moderately-priced wool that knits up quickly. I tried a couple of stitch patterns and settled on a simple pattern repeat that creates a vertical line and won't take much calcuating when I'm adding/removing stitches to make sure I stay in pattern. I also tested an integrated i-cord edge (click to see video) for the edges of the cardi. The sample above has a 3 stitch i-cord, but I'm going to knit a less bulky version using 2 stitches. As is normal for me, I'm happier with the knit fabric knit at a much tighter gauge than the manufacturer notes on their label. I'm using US 7 KnitPicks needles.

If you follow my blog, you already know that I love a logical method and something that doesn't waste my time. So, I'm knitting from the top down, using Tuulia's "The Tailored Sweater" method. I'm loving it. Despite the fact that I did the spreadsheet for this pattern, I get no kickbacks, no payment. I really just love this method!

The image below shows that, in one day, I have arrived at the stage where I pick up the sleeve stitches. Now, isn't that logical? You can get to the point that you know the sweater will fit in a few short hours. Intrigued? Yeah baby.

Here the Worry-free Cardi sits on a model:

A close up of the faux seam at the sleeve cap. This method gives you a good strong "seam" at the shoulder and supports the sweater well.

I'll keep you updated on the progress. I plan to knit the sleeves in plain stockinette, and knit a big glorious 2x2 ribbed collar that looks fabulous on women of, ah-hem, a certain age!

Reminder: Click the photos to see a bigger version. Also, did you notice the little holes in the gauge swatch (first photo)? I knit in the needle size by creating yarnovers that equal the needle size. How: On one row *K2tog, YO*, repeat for number of needle you are knitting with. Next row, knit in pattern as usual. You'll then have an easy built-in reminder of what needle size you used.

19 April 2009

Spring - new work

Finding time to spin and dye here and there.

Fresh Green - Silk Merino, single, spun a little smaller than sport weight. Drying here, weighted (not usually a good idea, we'll see how it goes.) This was the last of about 8 ounces previously dyed.

Girly pink. Merino/Bamboo hand dyed by me, the plied with Aunt Lydia's 100% bamboo commercial yarn. Nice little sprial going there. Almost 300 yards. I was going to overdye it, but decided to leave it this happy striated pinky peach.

Some color play - first up: Wensleydale (I think), dyed by me. Yummmmm.
Next, merino/silk, dyed bright purple and goldenrod, then tamed with an overdye bath of olive. This screams autumn. I'll probably save it for Fall knitting.

Last up, good ol' grey superwash Merino, dyed by me.

Tomorrow my daughter Adrienne goes in for surgery/sentinel-node biopsy. I'll be starting a sweater to try and take my mind off the worry while I sit in the waiting room. Her 25th birthday is Wednesday. Please send out a prayer to the universe that her melanoma has not spread.

11 April 2009

Only the first steps are clear

University of Washington Surgical Center Staircase Yesterday Adrienne started the process of learning about the melanoma on her face, and what the steps are for her. At the end of many appointments (most of the time spent waiting), we learned this: only the first steps are clear, the rest will present themselves as needed.

From my daughter Adrienne's journal:

What is typical of surgeries for melanoma is to take an extra margin of
tissue around the tumor. A centimeter is typical. I have an unfortunately-placed
tumor. So there isn't a centimeter to take on all sides. There is going to have
to be more than one surgery. Which isn't what I'd been hoping to hear. He
doesn't want to go doing some in depth reconstruction of my nose to find out
they hadn't taken enough tissue and have to rip it all up again to get

So it's a step by step play it by ear kind of deal.

Here's what I liked the least about the best case senario: my healing time is
substantially longer than I had hoped for. So best case scenario, the first
surgery is done. They got it all and my sentinel node biopsy (that will
determine if cancer has spread) which they will do at the same time as my nose
surgery is negative.

They have done a simple skin graft onto my nose. (They'll
be taking this patch of skin from behind my ear. It will leave a scar. I'm
already thinking about getting a tattoo over it as a memorial of all this,
should things go well.) Now I'm supposed to wait and let it heal up around two
months to see how things go before they go back in and FINISH the
reconstruction of my nose.

I'm lookin at some serious healing time here.

Next steps:
Surgery 20 April
Results: 27 April

Baby Cardi, done In-between-projects Beret, done

This, finally off the needles: Garn Studio Baby Cardi. It took forever. But it's done. No baby to wrap it in for the photoshoot, so a pillow will have to do.

baby sweater
back baby sweater
close up baby sweater


• Knitting this with US 3 needles takes a very long time in cotton

• However, the cotton adds weight and is very “swingy” so it’s lovely. The Norwegian cotton is beautiful, has a sheen, and the drape in garter stitch is cool.

• I crocheted over the edges because they look unfinished if left as-is. If I ever knit this again, I will always knit the last 2 stitches in the main color so the carried color threads are not at the end of the garment.

And, in-between- projects, a Beret.
Pattern: Lifestyle Hats Top Down Method
I have a basket full of my favorite colors of Cascade 220. I pull several balls out and create a hat on a whim -- hmmm, what can I think up today? Knitted while sitting in the hospital while Adrienne waits to meet her surgeon.
Cascade 220 Beret
Cascade 220 Beret, back view

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