Saturday, 31 January 2015

A family post.

It occurred to me yesterday, that I had never written about just what happened here at Chez Needles the summer that Mr Needles died.  It probably doesn't concern most of you, but it concerns me because in many ways this is the only record of me that will live, the only record of us that will outlive my memory and my children's memory.  Maybe, if I write it down, somewhere in the far off days, my grandchildren will still be saying, do you remember when Grandpa... 

And so blog, you are it.  I save this blog each year in a book and this very significant part of my life is barely mentioned.  You may not wish to read the whole story as it follows, but I need to write it. I debated keeping it private but the only way to keep it in the book the blog makes each year, is to publish it.   

Mr. Needles, Brian had trouble with gout the last few years of his life.  Every time he went hunting and did a lot of walking or changed his routine in some way, it would come with a vengeance.  He was pretty stoic about pain and rarely said anything except at night.  A blankets weight was unbearable when he was trying to fall asleep.  

In November of 2011, no earlier in the year, he had some odd things going on.  Weird things that looked like infections on his leg.  From knee to thigh, his leg swelled and became hard.  and then after about 10 days, it went away, to be followed by a painful something in his neck, for about 10 days.  This was followed by another something or other, though I honestly don't remember what it was.  I only know there were 3 things, each about 10 days, and then back to a second round of the leg swelling problem.  Doctors couldn't get a handle on it and they said if it comes again, come back. I wondered if something hadn't bitten him while he was on his trip to Palm Springs that year, some weird spider or other little thing. His gout that summer was really dicey.  He found that he had to be so careful making sure to drink enough water to keep the gout at bay. He got gout simply by going for a good long walk.  It was a hard summer in a lot of ways for Brian. The doctors claimed that his gout wasn't bad enough to require medicine but I have always felt they were wrong.

Along comes fall, and it seemed as if the leg troubles, the swelling and pink area of his skin getting hard were back.  Because it seemed to go away with only minor pain, Brian didn't worry about it.  Till the fever started and the knee swelled so much he couldn't get his jeans on.  Still he thought it would sort itself out, though he did go to his regular doctor.  The doctor said if it got worse to come back.  It got worse the next day and he went back.  A different doctor sent him straight to the hospital with a letter and the emergency was forewarned.  This different than his regular doctor said he had septic arthritis in his knee and the infection was out of control.  There were a few days where the doctors weren't sure they were done.  His infection did not seem to be responding to drugs.  It was a pretty scary time and Brian worried that going in again would mean that he would end up needing a knee replacement, a very real possibility.  A second surgery was scheduled.  After a terrible long day, things suddenly changed and the drugs got the upper hand over the infection. Brian recovered well, and regained full use of his knee.   He did so, just in time to go golfing in Palm Springs again in 2012.

Through 2012, everything seemed to be normal and good, as can be attested to by blog posts from that season.  The gout was more stable, he walked long and didn't have to worry.  He so looked forward to hunting season. But come fall, when I look back on it now, with the benefit of hindsight, he was tired.  I even said something to him, that I was concerned that he just didn't seem to be himself.   He said he just didn't feel like getting cold.  He thought it was just his age ganging up on him. I think my voicing something made him look harder at the changes he seemed to be having, and he went out and bought some very fancy schamancy long johns and an equally schmancy undershirt to stay warm.  And he started looking forward to getting out again.

And then, his other knee got inflamed and swollen and we both knew what to do.  We went straight to the Misericordia where his surgery had been the year before, and yup, same thing, different knee.  We hoped that it would go faster and smoother because this time we did not wait.  In most ways they did.

While he was in hospital, they did every kind of test that a person should have by the time they are 60.  The scoped him and tested and ran a dozen different things.  His high point was the colonoscopy - but then isn't that everyones high point?  The doctors did tell him that he had a faint shadow on his liver, but the tests that they did were unrevealing and they felt that, with his history and his age, it was a sign of slightly more than normal wear and tear, but that it was normal.  

Brian was eager to get back to physio and to couldn't see any reason he wouldn't make his golf date at Palm Springs in March.  Only he had to work so much harder at getting better.  Nothing was quite the same somehow and he often spoke of how tired he was and yet it wasn't a tired that seemed to resolve with sleep and resting.  He made it to golf but he said that he had to stop play in the 3rd round because he was tired and his back was hurting.  He thought it was muscle strain because of favouring his knee more than the previous year.  He skipped a round and rested. That and a brace put him back on the course and back golfing.  When he came home he was tired but a very very happy man. He loved those golf trips.

In April, as the season for farming came close, he went out and worked on the tractor and the harrows.  He did all sorts of farmerly things to get us in to the garden.  He had to put a new battery in the tractor, and hurt himself.  He was pretty sure that he pulled muscles or cracked a rib somehow but he seemed to bear it.  At the same time, that back trouble from golf season seemed to come back, or at the very least, be present more or less all the time.  He started looking for a new mattress.  Surely that was the trouble.

In mid May, he went fishing with his dad and brothers as usual and came back hot to trot to get out to the Rock Lake and go camping. He was anxious to get to the lake.  I confess, I got cranky.  We had to get the garden in before we went to the lake.  It would be too late for so many things if we didn't.  I really just felt we had to.  He finally agreed and went out to work the garden up and get it ready.  

Even though he wanted to be somewhere else, he always seemed so happy when he came home from the farm.  He talked about how he had forgotten how good growing things made him feel, about how connected to the earth he felt when he did.  It was a joy and he started talking about moving closer to the farm and about retiring and playing farm. He talked about sitting and having coffee in the sun in the mornings, and reading the paper. There weren't enough hours to sit and have a relaxed coffee when your work day started at 7 and finished at 5.  And he talked about going south to escape winter.  He was a simple man with simple dreams.

Through April and May and all the business the farm things added, he started going to bed earlier.  I teased him a few times that he was turning into me!  I remember having an internal debate.  Should I be worried about this?  Should I talk to him and make him go to the doctor?  He hated when I fussed about him.

The weekend we planted the garden June 1 and second, we had to call one of our boys to help.  Brian's back was really hurting and he didn't think he could do the heavy work.  He did the watering off the back of the quad, and seemed to be doing ok.  Keith did all the heavy work.  Or as much as he was allowed to do.  Brian just couldn't stand watching at the sidelines and finally picked up a spade and helped with the potatoes.

We were planning on being at the lake by Wednesday but he wasn't feeling well.  Monday he came home from work early and Tuesday morning, he said his first knee was swelling and he wanted to go to the hospital. They kept him but the surgeon he saw, looked at his knee and said he didn't think that the knee was the problem.  They did go looking to see if it was a knee problem, but the surgeon was right.  It wasn't.  A raft of tests and looking at every possibility, and the following Tuesday, a doctor told Brian what they thought was going on, but they were waiting on confirmation. 

Brian called me at home and told me to sit.  I could hear what he was saying, that the doctor said that if it was cancer that it was late stage and that there likely wouldn't be a lot they could do.  Over his voice, as he spoke, I remember thinking 'is this the day that life will change?'  I told myself to stop being a drama queen, things like this didn't just pop up and that we would work it through like we always did in the tough times.  I went up to see Brian, and the minute I walked on to the ward, I knew.  I knew the awful truth. The nurses were too nice.  They could see where we were going and they felt for us.  How do you face this nice patient of yours and his family and stay the same.  They tried, oh how they tired, but truly, it showed.  They were so kind, too nice.  

I told the boys what the doctors thought was going on they stayed stoic.  Well, Scott, not so much, but Keith and Anthony stayed pretty calm.  Our oldest, Anthony was there when the doctors confirmed what it was.  We had appointments set up at the Cross for us, the cancer treatment center here,  and Brian came home.

4 days later, the results were in. We knew the beasties name.  We could google.  I did. Brian did not.  I spent a lot of time in my study crying quietly, desperate.  Signet Ring cell adenocarcinoma.  The doctor corrected himself, that adeno was not strictly necessary.  The carcinoma part covered it all. It is how I remember the name.  It has a certain rhythm to it said that way.  

Signet Ring cell adenocarcinoma. Rare.  Little known.  The bare facts of it are still there today.  One real study.  "  In a group of 154 Japanese patients the overall median survival time was 12.7 months and the 5-year survival rate was 9.4%."  

My heart has never really gotten past that.  9.4%  Where was my little corner of hope?   

I went to a regular Tuesday knitting group.  I had to get out, and find some kind of solace.  I broke down and started crying. There was that look of stunned disbelief on my friends faces when I told them there was no hope.  That disbelief was only a mirror of my own.  

Brian though, never gave up.  Each day, he was determined to see the good.  He said, that today, his chance of dying was exactly what that of any person.  Anybody could get up in the morning and be hit by a bus, he would say.  He stayed so strong and he carried me as he always did.  

He had some amazing treatments, palliative radiation at the Cross, to deal with the pain of his back, which was caused by a cancer in his bones in his spine (that nagging pain in his side, another.  9 major spots of bone cancer in all and several small ones) and for 10 days, he felt pretty good.  Really good in fact, just tired.  We had company and he loved having our families around.

We took a trip over to Cabelas, to use a gift card one of the boys had given him at Christmas.  he wanted to buy a third seat for his boat.  He thought that the boys would need that when they went fishing.  It was a drive of 30 minutes and then to the far side of the store, and then home, and after we got back he slept for almost 15 hours straight.  So very very tired.  

He came down with a fever, a really really high fever, and I was so scared.  He also said he had an odd thing happened, where he couldn't move one side of his body for a few minutes, a small stroke he thought. He told me he though he had had one before but it didn't last long enough to be sure so he never said anything.  I talked him into going to the hospital.  I think he was worried that it would be for the last time, and it was.

It took 5 days for the fevers to go away but then he felt better and more himself, just overwhelmed by the tiredness.  He did not seem in pain at all.  He didn't take anything more than an occasional Percocet but even that was more so he could sleep better through his room mates night time ramblings.  We had a lot of fun with some of those old guys.  Old in comparison to Brian anyway.  He was the youngun in the bunch by far. 

In the second week we were there, the doctors had him on blood thinners and the stokes seemed to stay away.  Third week, he had one that took longer to go away but by the second day, he was back to himself.  He stayed in his regular clothes and had occasion to be yelled at by the nurses who didn't know him, for using the patients bathroom.  They thought he was a visitor.  He really didn't look like he was sick at all.  He wanted to get out for a bit, badly.  He really wanted to go over to the mall (West Edmonton) to see a project he had worked on that he received a very high compliment on.  He liked doing good work.  Brian didn't think that he could stand the crowds though so we went home. 

He had a nap, and I asked him what he wanted for supper.  He didn't know so I made hamburgers from venison.  I choppped onions and put them in his.  Big chunky onions just like he liked.  It was a running joke between us.  He would eat burgers without, and if needed, I picked out the onions from mine.  He wanted to come to the table to eat.  He sat, not in his usual place, but by the big window, so he could get the sun and see the yard and look in the bush for the deer, which often passed through on quiet afternoons.  He ate what he could, about half, and then said it was time to go back.

I think he really wanted to come home.  I wanted him to, but this visit, for both of us, made it clear that it was not something that was possible.  His back was hurting some and he felt less pain with the raised head of the hospital bed.  I wanted him not to hurt.  We went back.  A bittersweet sort of day.

A couple quiet days and then, on a Thursday, he had a stroke that it took him a long time to come back from.  There were more over the weekend, and though he could not speak, he was asking me with his eyes to stop all the treatments and let what would happen, happen.  I knew that the boys would have to be in on this decision, so I called them all in and we took him off all treatment.  It was something Brian and I had disscussed.  We knew our wishes many years before.  We both knew our hearts, we just never thought we would have to do it.  

His oldest brother Russ, came too.  I think there were some concerns that we weren't doing enough to cure his cancer.  It was after all, only a few weeks and up till the strokes, he looked so very good. The strokes were a direct result of the very large tumor that resided there.  His blood was no longer able to clot properly because his liver was no longer working correctly.  It was so surreal and I don't think his brothers had accepted what was going on.  Russ went in to talk to Brian, snuck in right after the nurses were done and asked him straight.  Russ said  he held his hands on both sides of his face and asked Brian if this is what he wanted.  He said Brian's eyes told him very simply, that yes, it was his choice, his wish that this part go fast and that we not try to stop it or slow it.  I think Russ and Brian's other brothers needed that, and I think that my boys needed to hear it from more than me.  We sat at the quiet far end of the hall, sat on the floor and talked and cried a little and when the room and Brian were ready for us, we went in and sat with him for a while.  Brian looked so at peace with it.  He was happy and in good spirits. He slept a little and looked more rested than he had for a number of days.  

I think for him, the choice had great meaning.  He might now have a better chance than an average guy of dying today, but he was going to make sure that his going was on his terms.  

That last week, but for Tuesday night, I was at the hospital all day everyday.  We hung photos of everybody Brian loved on the wall.  Kids pictures and family and memories of hunting and fishing and grandchildren.  Cassie and Isaac featured large on the wall. His brothers and sister and his mom and dad featured large.  He loved it.  Every day somebody brought in a few more till most everything he could see was covered with love.  The strokes results seemed to ease and by Wednesday he could answer questions, though he was often confused.  Thursday he almost could hold a conversation and we thought about taking him downstairs to the hospital garden off the dining room.  In the end, we couldn't.  The hospital was moving patients and the elevators were not working well.  Scott and Amy came and told us that we would be grandparents.  Brian was so very happy to know this. He treasured our Cassie and he loved Isaac and knowing there was a new grandbaby on the way, meant the world to him.  It was a good day a very good day, the best.    

Of all the things those last days, it was the hallucinations that were so hard.  Thursday evening, they started happening more often and the fear got much much worse for Brian.  A curtain would move or clouds crossing the sun out the window was enough to set one off. No human should have to live through this inexplicable terror.  Thursday night was the most awful night of my life and I have no doubt, of Brian's too.  When your liver stops working and you are being poisoned slowly...these are hard things.  I told his brothers on Friday morning, he was past visitors.  I tried to make sure the boys were kept busy and encouraged them to take a break.  I didn't want them to have to see this terror in a man they adored who was usually so strong.  Brian didn't want anyone to see him so like that, and my job was to keep him safe.    It sounds like so little when I try to write it but those hours were so truly awful.   

Sometime through that night, I prayed that this would be over quickly.  I begged Gods forgiveness but if this was what had to be, then make it mercy and give Brian a speedy death.  It was what Brian wanted.  We talked about that as his mom's dementia got worse.  He did not want to have to live through  the long sorrow of something like that.  So I prayed and though I am certain God forgives me this, I am not so sure that I forgive myself.   

As Friday passed, we gradually seemed to find our way through the worst of it.  When he had a hallucination, I would talk with him calm, and clear, and tell him he was safe and that he should focus on my voice and my words.  Over and over again.  As he slipped farther and farther into that world where I could not follow, talking to him became so important.  It was a comfort to me that he seemed to find some peace in my voice.  

About 3 a.m., Keith, our second son came in and told me to go home and sleep.  He promised to stay with dad.  I told him about talking to dad and that if he could listen carefully, and we could try to follow the things dad was seeing. It seemed to matter to Brian that we understood the fear and he calmed faster if we were with him in that vision he saw.  I told Keith that if he recognized that it wasn't my voice, he should tell dad that I had just gone home to pack the van, that if it was time to go to the lake, he should go ahead and that I would follow shortly.  

I didn't think I would see him alive again.  I went home and did try to sleep but I couldn't.  I showered and went back.  By the time I got there, Scott our youngest was there.  We let Scott stay with dad for a moment and Keith took me out to the hall and he was almost crying.  He was so overwhelmed with what his dad was going through. What could I say.   He did say that what I told him to tell dad did comfort him and that the talking made it easier somehow.  You could see him focus on our voices and relax as the hallucination passed.  I tried so hard to spare them that. Anthony saw several at the very start.  Scott saw some of the very last. 

The boys came and went through the day.  Olga came with our sweet Cassie, Amy came.  Only Isaac didn't come.  A four year old is old enough to understand just enough to be scared and that wouldn't be right.

We knew we were at the end.  Brian did not communicate at all on Saturday.  I hope with all my being that he was not conscious through it.  At that moment, it was my only prayer, that he was not aware of this.  We talked with the nurses.  In their judgement and their experience Brian was still a ways from death.  Keith, Anthony, and Olga took Cassie home for a nap and for some food and a bit of respite.  I sat talking with Amy and Scott. Brian's breathing was getting really raspy  and harsh.  We called a nurse and she gave him a shot to dry his mouth and slow his oral secretions. 

The nurse left the room and then Scott went over to kiss his dads forehead.  As he stood up, there was a change in Brian's breathing.  Instead of laboured and harsh he was now breathing with long seconds in between, 4 long breaths.  And then utter stillness.  An age of endless waiting for what was never going to come again. Scott and Amy ran for a nurse, and things moved fast, though I knew that it didn't matter any more.

Brian was gone.  It was so peaceful at the end,  so calm, so quiet.  He did not hurt anymore and that was all that mattered.  

8 weeks from the day he was diagnosed to the day of his passing. They never found his primary cancer, only the bone and liver where the original had metastisised to.  I used to think that mattered, but it really doesn't.  Knowing where it started wouldn't have changed anything.  I still feel shell shocked. I still am overwhelmed.  

The rest, well if you read this far and read this blog much at all, you have seen the rest.  You go on.  You get by.  One foot in front of the other each day as it slowly passes. This is the only way to honour his life, to honour the things he built, and the man he was.  My duty is to remain to tell his stories to our grandchildren, to love them twice as much because he can't do it himself.     
That is what was.  The summer of 2013, the way it went.  

This blog is Needles and Things.  This has nothing to do with needles so it is quite clearly a Thing and what a thing.  A sad thing, but it is part of life.  You cannot have a beginning without knowing there will be an end.  The only thing you can do is enjoy the middle.  Brian had his ending and that I am still here is proof that I am still in my middle.  I live each day for my sweet babies and not so babies.  They are everything to me, be they born of my blood or arriving partly grown.  And someday when they are old, and closer to their ends, they might want to know what happened.  

I plan to write more stories of Brian for my kids.  You are welcome to come along for the ride if you like.  Its not a big story or a heroic story, it is just some stories from a life. I don't want the man I loved to become only a line in a family tree.  

I started at the ending, but really that ending is a beginning.  

Friday, 30 January 2015

Running on a Full heart

Babysitting on Wednesday night and the lovely conversation I had with my daughter in law after she got home, made me need a sleep in so I missed posting yesterday.  But there has been some move on the knitting front and I am pleased with where I am going and what my hands have wrought.

I have been working on my Icarus shawl.  I think that I made the right choice in taking off the shawls more elaborate edge, and opting form something different. The lovely lace would have just been lost.  I was less pleased with the idea of a garter edge or crochet cast off.  That little lull for babysitting gave it a day for an thought to emerge fully and completely and right.

What my version of this shawl needs is an edging that doesn't get lost in the strong colours of the lace.  I needs one of the lovely lace edging from Estonia.  The columnar nature of many of these knitted on lace borders can merge perfectly with my columns.  

I spent some time last night with Knitted Lace of Estonia, and my two lovely Haapsalu books, Haapsalu Shawl and Haapsalu Scarf.   (The Schoolhouse Press link shows both ) I dithered a bit and then settled on a the very last stitch pattern in Knitted Lace of Estonia.  Its a simple edging, that just happens to fit my stitch count perfectly.  And it flows naturally with the columnar nature of the rest of the shawl.

I knit a couple of rows last night, and got a good start, but no pictures because there just isn't enough to show whether this really will look right with the rest of the columns, but I am hopeful.  

Its Friday night.  There will be knitting.  W whole weekend of lovely knitting and maybe some playing with babies thrown in.

Strikes me today just how lucky I am.  Knitting. Grandkids. Sweet daughters. Stalwart sons. I am lucky. 

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

And Back Again

As much as I had fun with the sweater, it isn't what I worked on last night.  I was tired and worn out and just wasn't in the mind frame for colour work and the thinking needed to place the patterns.  

That is where I am now, ready to figure out where the patterns need to sit to be balanced across the sweater fronts.  This is a critical point and I didn't want to mess it up because I lost sleep working on it the day before.

I picked up Viajante and worked on it and watched the movie 'Boyhood'  I am sure it was a good movie.  It is just the sort of movie to win Best Picture, but I cannot say I enjoyed it.   

Boyhood is the growing up of a boy, severely edited.  I have lived through it, 3 times and watched it a few more times with their friends.  The movie didn't capture me at all.  It is a subject which should have deep profound things in it, but it left me feeling I was on the periphery, skirting a life. It lagged and moved painfully slowly and I sped up large portions of the last half. 

Of the two Best Picture nominees I watched this year, I much preferred the Grand Budapest Hotel.  Its a delightful caper.  Not deep, not requiring deepness, but fun.  Simple silly fun.

Knitting continues apace and there was a lot of Vijante knit.   Its something I suppose.  

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Changing Lanes

I changed projects dramatically yesterday.  I started Hun.

This is going to go one of two ways.  It is going to be a very fast knit or it is going to get set aside and will take forever. 

I am veering from the pattern in one significant way.  I am knitting it top down using Need a Circular Yoke  from Cabin Fever.  I cannot tell a lie.  I struggled.  It took me almost an hour to sort out just how the book worked.   It's a very different kettle of fish than the Ann Budd book, but then, I have worked with more than one of her books before and this is the first time I worked from a Cabin Fever book.

I got lost in transitions and pattern bands and pattern bands and transitions and I kept wanting it just to tell me how often to increase.  I started to wish I had a real book in hand (I have a digital version) where I could turn the pages, indeed where I could see the whole page at once, and toss it on the corner if needed.  I was starting to worry that it wasn't going to work how I wanted it to work, as a free wheeling design tool, seeing how it seemed to rely on specific stitch designs and patterns in transition bands and pattern bands.

But that just didn't make sense.  Its knitting.  Its wool.  A stitch is still a stitch.  The increases were not part of any of the patterning and I understood what she meant by pattern bands and that the increases were all in the basic knitting transition bands and yet the language kept leading me away. I took a while but I did sort out that the transitions and the patterns are really only suggestions, and figured out what would be critical to me and the sweater I was planning to make.  It would have been much easier had I been knitting just a plain sweater using the book first and I have to admit, I do like the direction she is going with this. In fact, in a lot of ways, now that I know what to look for, I think I prefer the extremely simple construction process laid out here.

Anyway, once I got started knitting and knitting confidently,  it was  hard to put down.

I only stopped because there is one more round and I'm will be at the first of the colourwork patterns.  I wanted to be fresh for that.  

It was after 11 till I put it down and that is saying something.  I never stay up that late.  I think this sweater is going to be a wild ride and a lot of fun.

Monday, 26 January 2015

The choices we make.

There was not much knitting at all this weekend.  I played with  babies and kids all day on Saturday and that was lovely. What little knitting there was was decision knitting.

I took out the brilliantly coloured Icarus shawl and worked on that.  According to the book and the markers I had there, I was on chart three, about midway.  I looked and looked for the error that I referred to in my Ravelry notes and could not find it.  I pinned out the lace edge all along.  Nada, no error but I couldn't sort out where I was in the pattern either.

I also took a good long look at what was going on.  When I started knitting this shawl, I was drawn to the strong lines radiating out from the neckline.  I liked the way that would play against the strong lines of colour that formed as the Zauberballs long colour changes played out.  That was still what drew me.

That is still what I liked.  I was not so fond of the way the lace was looking in the strong colours.  Now that it is a large shawl, the colour changes are much shorter.  There were 3 colour changes in the two pattern elements I had completed already and the lace just wasn't doing it for me.  It was falling afoul of the perennial trouble with colour changing lace.  The work gets lost.

I made an executive decision.  Keep what works.  I pulled back the lace and and am finishing it with the long columns.  I haven't decided what I will do to finish it off, a crochet bind off might be a nice edge, bu there is some merit in a garter stitch edge too.  I might slip in a different edging pattern yet too.

Its not quite boring knitting these columns.  It is however just the smallest bit tedious.  It's a good set up for the exciting knitting of Hun.    


Thursday, 22 January 2015

A task for a friend.

My office workmate had a thing she loves to wear but it had a small problem and she was scared that if she didn't do something soon, she was going to lose it.

It is a beautiful sweater that she picked up for a song at a second hand store.  One sleeve seam was coming apart and not being a sewer, she was afraid to try to repair it.

I asked if she could bring it in and I would take a look.  I was concerned that it would have been made with cut seams, as these things sometimes are.  I was thrilled to find regular edges and a perfectly ordinary sewn seam, machine sewn , mind, but otherwise ordinary.  So, job one, carefully pull back just a few more stitches, to the point where both of the original threads are in really good shape.  Job two, check the edges on both sides to be sure that there were no weak spots on the last or second last stitches.  All was good.  

A nice mattress stitch did the trick.  Move along.  Nothing to see here.  All seams, A Okay, but it was nice that I could do a simple little thing like this to brighten someone's day. 

What with all the finishing

What with all the finishing on the weekend, I did a fair bit of digging in the WIP boxes.  I have become reacquainted with what was in there. All the Viajante knitting lately and the pleasure I am having working on that, made me wonder about and take a look at the lace weight projects that have been sitting for a very long time.

My very lovely and still much coveted Bridgewater.  I worked so hard to find enough yarn.  I did a search for dyelots and found a source in the very sweet wheatfran who happened to have the lot I needed.  It really is the perfect colour.  

I worked on this shawl and then had a problem with the garter stitch.  I kept dozing off as I was knitting and you can screw up garter stitch badly if you knit when you are sleeping.  Funny that.  I have a couple of inches I have to take back because of multiple errors.  I started this in November of 2012, whole lifetimes ago.  I need to pull this out and work on it again.

And then this brilliant lacy thing.  Zauberball lacewieght and a casual Icarus, one of a pair I started in 2010. February to be precise.  5 years.  

I had mentally put this one to my frog it pile, but now that I look at it, I wonder why.  In my head, it was small and knit on needles that were too fine.  I had the idea that it wasn't even going to be wearable as a small shawl.  Boy is that ever wrong.  Once I finish it and block it, it is going to be truly stunning. And plenty large!  I do have to rip back to the start of the second chart to fix an error, according to my notes, but that isn't any biggie.  This joyful thing is going to be worked on and finished very soon.

I think I once said that knitting these colours in the middle of winter, was the perfect antidote to the dark and it is.   

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Putting my hands in the drivers seat.

It's been harder than ever before to settle down to one thing after finishing a big project.  To be completely honest, there is a little midwinter slump personally too. A lot of people have that over winter so nothing new there, but it isn't something I have had to deal with before.    Winter has always been full of knitting and sewing and reading.  This winter all these things are hard or rather starting them is.

It's just that for the first time since my world changed so dramatically, I work.  I come home.  No worries about selling or moving or buying or finding a job.  Life is sorted and settled.  And that seems to have unsettled me.

In a lot of ways, this makes me smile.  I have been waiting for this calm for so long, and now that it is here I don't know what to do.  How odd.  How funny.  

I worked yesterday on my Viajante. It is my knitting while I am out knitting.  

Since I picked this up after Christmas (or was it just before?) I have added a foot in length.  It is now  3 keyboards long and is as wide as 1.     Keyboard.  New Unit of measurement!  

It is the perfect knitting when you are struggling to think.  It demands almost nothing at this point. You are long past the point where you need a pattern and counting rows isn't needed even for the most row and stitch counting knitter.  You know when you have to do stuff and then it is quiet in between.  You can focus on what your hands are doing, you can watch each stitch form, watch the needle tip weave its way through, in, around, under.  It's like listening to a metronome with eyes closed.  It is hypnotic and healing, I think.  

I am going to let my fingers do the talking.  This project seems to bring them joy so I will let it flower and bloom until my hands and my heart are ready for some sturdier stuff and feel like starting something new.

Here at home, Hun, the Icelandic sweater is sitting at my feet, waiting patiently.  I am surrounded by calm and peace.  The only thing here that is urgent, that is pushing and thrashing, that feels there is something more I should be doing, is me.  My hands are wiser than I so I will put them into the drivers seat.  

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

There were thoughts of starting another project in my head, but my hands refused to cooperate.  Or maybe it was that my hands were interested but there were no thoughts of the new sweater in my head.  I really don't know which, but I had trouble settling last night.

I ended up working on a standby project.  At the bottom of a basket near me, there is a work in progress afghan.  It is just a single square, a granny square, grown out of all proportion.

It isn't just the ubiquitous groups of three stitches, with a chain.  I am varying the rounds with rounds of solid stitching too.  Beyond this, though, it is going to be a giant granny square.

I did this once before.
 Before it was stolen from me by one of my sons, I kept the blanket close by.  I wore it as shawl and covered me with it as blanket.

It was snuggly and had morphed into this amazingly soft liquid thing that just cuddled and clung in all the right ways.

I have only one nice blanket here with me now and it was time for a little something else.  Besides, it is winter and working on a blanket which covers your lap as it grows is a wonderful thing.

I expect to settle down to something in a few days, but till then my hands keep busy.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Finishing days

I had one of those days today, where finishing seemed to be the theme. The count was one big and two small.

I finished Blue today as I thought.  

Here it is drying over the arm of a chair.  I doubt that it will be ready to wear tomorrow but Tuesday, it should be.  The sleeves are perfect.  The length is perfect.  The buttons worked just right.  Practically perfect in every way.  Mary Poppins here I am.

What is tremendously sad to me is that it does not take colour photos that show how good it looks.  The Karuta and the Rowan Pure Wool are actually the perfect match and both have that sort of royal blue that is strong and vibrant but is mostly sunny and summery.  It is perfect for this sweater knit in the darkest days of winter.

And then, with that job done, my hands were a little squiffy.  They did not want to settle.  

I pulled out an old project that I started right before Christmas in 2013.  I was having a thing with Angora and finally felt the need to start working with some of it.  It is inspired by the Inspira Cowl

Originally I had two skeins of each colour set aside for it, but you know, I think this project is going into the gift bin, so really, knitting it long isn't needed.  Even for me, I don't think I would have wanted it much longer than it turned out to be.  I knit 5 colour sections, but the Schulana was running out.  There is a fair bit of the Kimona Angora left though, so down the road, I will get to knit with it again.  

There was still a great deal of day left and I had to do something.  I picked up some socks.

A fine pair of socks if I do say so, but they are wee.  They are for my youngest Grandson Marcus

Who is just about ready to rip his socks off to chew on.

It was a good day.  Finishing remains one of my all time favourite things in knitting. And tomorrow, I shall begin working on Hun.  I am so excited for this.  All that lovely Icelandic wool.  I can't wait!

On finishing

All I have left on Blue is the last bits of trim.  Both sleeves are complete.  Now that I have enough yarn to do it right, I am making the bottom band longer to stop any possible rolling issues it may have.  Even of that, I have only 1 ridge to go.  Then button bands, which are a little stockinette roll that will mimic what was the most natural neckline edging ever, with tiny button holes close to the pick up edge and I will be done with Blue.

I miss the part on finishing where I would put it on and share it with Mr. Needles.  We shared that we each had something we were utterly nuts about even though we were nuts about very different things.

Mr. Needles loved searching for shed antlers.  After a days hike through deer country, he would lay them out on the front deck and he would call me and I would come and admire them.  I tried so hard to sound interested but it never made it.  

Sometimes they were, like the time he found one with a spike of bone below the usual natural detachment zone.  Some poor fellow out there in the land of deer had a headache that year , or that over the years he  found the dropped antlers of  the same deer (you can tell they are the same animal because the growth pattern remains the same and the base of the antlers where the natural drop zone is, remains the same through the animals life).  I think he had 6 or eight from the same animal and 6 for sure on  same side of that animals head. 

But for the hundreds and hundreds of antlers that there were in his collection, even though I tried, my interest level made it impossible to stay with it for more than a few seconds.  About like his interest in wool.

The world without that special person is a very different country than the world with him.  This isn't big sadness, just a sort of pining for my old home.

As I am finishing Blue, I remember my old country and miss it just a little.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Colour me Satisfied

I knit on the blue again last night.  I almost have a sleeve complete, just an inch to go. I am so pleased.

When I think of it, I have knit a fair number of round yoke sweaters.  

My first Shalom (I have knit two)

My Folklore

One of my Leisls (again, two)

My Freyja

There are actually more, now that I searched for them, than I thought of right off!  

One of the things I know from my previous experience with round yoke construction is that it fits me nicely.  I don't have to play with the armsyces.  The sleeves just work.  

In my pre-block try ons of Blue, I am pleased to say, it is going to fit and it is going to fit well.  

Colour me Satisfied.  

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Thinking Relaxed

The weather outside is funky.  It's melting and it is humid, or at least more humid than I am used to here.  It leaves me feeling headachy and lethargic and not very with it.  It means that I need my knitting so much more, to settle the ragged edges I feel.

My Viajante is moving forward smoothly.  It's grown several inches over the last few days.  What a calm piece of work it is.  There is still a fair bit of ball one to knit, and when that is done, there is a whole other skein of the yarn to work with.  There are a few projects on Ravelry where the knitter did not want the long end, and shortened the project, but my plan is to use up every single inch of yarn that it is possible to use.

Last night, I sat down by the Blue and started a sleeve.  

This is a new ball of yarn, and as is to be expected, when purchased months after the first as it was, a very different dye lot number.  I think this is going to work though.  The colours are very close.  I think that if I was to try to work the 2 lots alternating on the same sleeve, you would see the difference between rows but I am going to work the entire sleeve in this second lot, and the other sleeve is also going to be entirely the second lot.    I might just get away with it!

It a huge relief, of course.  Plus, while I was buying yarn, I bought two more balls.  I am pretty certain I won't need two more balls, but I don't want to have to think about it.  I can work in the comfort of knowing the worry of running out isn't going to happen again.

I am applying the small reminder from knitting Viajante the last couple of days.  Knitting is supposed to be relaxing so I am working mindfully, keeping my hands relaxed, and my shoulders eased. 

Blue might have been stressful last week, but this is a different week.  And it is good.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

A light day

I need a light morning today.  I need to knit more than to write.  So, here are pictures of lovely things.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

How did that happen?

I was digging through my socks the other day.  It will soon be time to put some effort into socks again, I think.  There are some with holes that need fixing, some with sides that need a quick fix.  it is an odd mix of issues and really only one resolution, to darn, but for one pair.
This pair.  You may recognize it from last years sock-a-paloozza.  I have worn it once, I think and that was an issue.

It suffers from that terrible sock knitters problem of the too tight top.  Never used to happen from me, because I used to knit socks with more stitches.  I started working on fewer stitches because I really wanted my socks to stop turning round my feet.  They don't do it any longer but it means that it is critical to use a very stretchy bind off so that it fits easily over my feet and thick ankles.

I usually used Jenny's Surprsingly stretchy bind off.  I can't really tell what bind off I used here though.  I don't think its that.  Bottom line, it is just too tight.  I can get it on but it is a struggle.  

I could really use this pretty pair made from bits and ends of other socks, so it is time to fix it.  Just pull back that top edge and a row or two and then do a good and proper,  stretchy, stretchy bind off.

The cure for what ails. And then time to go digging through the big box 'o sock yarn to look for something wonderful and girly, or bright and cute or some combination in between and knit some brand new and beautiful ones.  

Monday, 12 January 2015

When I let it.

I knit till I dropped on the Blue sweater.  The front button bands and sleeves are about the only thing that remain to be knit.  It was great, and it is looking fine but... I was not having any fun.  

To get sleeves I am going to need another ball of yarn.  That is going to be a sorry trip.  I am pretty sure that if they have the colour, the dyelot is going to be subtly different.  I will do the best I can, but I really really would like sleeves.  Pray for me.

In the meantime, I think I will give it a bit of a soak and will do a bit of blocking.  

In the meantime, I am taking rest.  Or maybe it is that the knitting is restful and simple.

 I started this in September of 2013. It is yarn that Brian brought back for me from his last golf trip and it is precious to me.

The project is Viajante, a Martina Behm  design.  Its a cross between a cowl and a shawl and a poncho.  The poncho nature of it is eased by the fact that it is so light and airy and its long, long wide end can be worn and tucked to give it your own sense of style.  

It is the easiest knitting this side of socks.  There is an increase set and a decrease set and the shaping happens with the rate of the two.  It is simple and, like all Martina's patterns, just a little ingenious. And once you understand what is going on, you can easily adjust it so that it works for you.  Mine is being made with an eye to being wider so that the neckline isn't narrow for quite as long and the bottom of it is wider rather than long.  I think that is going to work better for me.

Once I was working on it, I realized how little I was enjoying being driven by the need to finish the Blue.  I still want Blue done, but being driven by something, anything, isn't what I want out of knitting.  Even when the only one doing it to me is me. 

I need to focus on restful knitting, on relaxed peaceful feelings while I work. There is a little bit of a rush to get the sweater done, but only because I am a little sick of wearing my same batch of sweaters. That want should not drive what joy I find in the country of knitting away.  And I have to learn not to let it. 

Friday, 9 January 2015

Or am I just panicking for nothing?

As I posted yesterday, about the blue sweater and yarn planning and use, I was just beginning to worry.  Worry clung to the edges of my thoughts all day yesterday.  It doesn't feel remotely long enough.  It looks dreadfully short from the underarms to the needle.  I was going to have to settle for another sleeveless vest.  

By the time I got home, I was in full panic.  There were chores to be done so it was almost 8 p.m. till I sat down to work on it.  I knit till almost 10 before I realized I should measure it against another sweater, the one I was wearing, for instance.  

This one actually, which, most appallingly has only this in progress picture on its Ravelry page.  This Shalom turned out to be the perfect length.  

According to this sweater, I need to knit about 4 inches more on the blue sweater.  According to the yarn used for it, I should just squeak out sleeves for the blue sweater.  I should be fine. And yet...

Panic continues unabated.  I am going to sit down tonight and knit till I know it is going to be fine for length.  I feel my hyper focus superpower kicking in.

Is it possible that panic is what makes me finish sweaters?  Can it be that panic and fear pushes me through these long swaths of stockinette?  The more I feel panicky, the faster I knit, and the more anxious I become, the more determined I am to get it over with?

That's a fairly big revelation for so early in the morning.  Panic.  With a purpose.  Who knew.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Getting to the last ball.

Right now, I am down to the last few inches of the second last ball.  The body of the sweater will use up the full part of this last ball ( I think, I haven't measured), well, body and button bands and then my last ball will be for sleeves.

Because I have only 1 ball for the sleeves and because I want to have the sleeves as long as possible, I will divide that last ball into two and will work till it is gone.  

I have enough Karuta to raise the neckline to where it wants to be.  

Next time I buy just enough yarn for a sweater, I am going to buy that extra ball of yarn, even if it is a 200 meter ball and there will probably be enough left for a couple of hats.  This extreme gauging of what I have left take a little of the fun out of it.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

I wore the red sweater yesterday and I am so pleased.

Do you recall when I ripped back and re-worked the armholes bottoms?  I am so glad I did.  It fits just right!  

Julie over at the Knitting at Large blog and Ravelry group, knit a sweater, where she played around with adjusting the way a sleeve fits.  Nothing fancy really, just that for large women, sweaters often fit tight in the back at the sleeve and far too loose at the front. What Julie did was simple.  She moved armsyce stitches from the front of the sweater, to the front.  Seems simple enough...if you think of it.

I did that on this sweater and it really made a difference. It is difficult to take photos and raise my arms to show you but the basics are that the front has 6 fewer stitches through the curve where the sweater front starts to curve to underarm stitches to the side seam.  Those extra stitches happen at the back instead.  Small things make big differences sometimes.

I have to run.  I would try to find Julies article to link to, but I am running out of time.  Might get to it later.  

Have a wonderful day everybody!  Knit Knit Knit!

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

When disaster strikes

My daughter in law called me last evening and said she had a slight problem with a sweater.
became this.
Wee Marcus is about 3 and a half months old ans she is hitting that maternal wall of exhaustion just as baby is in a growth spurt.  she didn't notice when it hit the wash with her regular clothes.  My poor girl.  

The upside is that it looks like it felted evenly.  It might not be a sweater anymore unless for a small girl, but it will be useful for something.  Possibly a felted bag? It will be kind of interesting to see and I am kind of looking forward to it.

 It was a sweater that she wore a lot and she is going to miss it.  She asked for another.  I had the pleasure last night of wandering through the stash list, thinking about what yarn to use.  I have a couple of options and we will discuss the choices in a week or two.

Meanwhile blue continues!

Monday, 5 January 2015

Blue on Blue

There has been a lot of blue knitting the last few days.  

Its a lot of hours of work to get that far in 2 days.

The really interesting part of this is how much time I spend contemplating the difference between knitting wool and the chunky cottony silky goodness of Karuta.

The thing that is amazing, is how easily the gauge issue became not an issue.  I just had to do another increase set at the first round of the wool and I was withing 4 stitches of the pattern books amount needed for the next gauge up.  Coolness and luck.  

I hope.   It is in the wearing that the truth will out.  The gauge games will work or not.  It looks like I have a good shot at it right now, but time will tell if I have it right.

Just before Christmas, my boss kept talking about my knitting and what the name of my store was.  I had to laugh at them.  Not subtle.  My boss gave me a nice gift for Christmas so I went out and bought myself something special.

I had kind of planned to pick up some Malabrigo Rios, but they were terribly picked over, few colours, small quantities, and I was interested in sweater quantities.  I was sitting debating about what I should do, when I caught site of it, sitting on a shelf.

Silk Garden Solo.  I have long coveted this green.  Before I saw it in the stores I coveted it.  When it first hit the distributor websites, I coveted it.  Green, the perfect green.  And they had enough that I could have just used the Solo.

But, I have also been thinking about something that could be knit into a second Undercurrent sweater.  My first was a huge success.

I wear it all the time and it goes with everything I own.

I wondered...I took a look around the store...I found it!

There is no spot where the colour is exactly the same green but I think the colours will all work wonderfully with the Solo green.

Makes my heart beat just a little bit faster when I look at it all piled together like that.


Friday, 2 January 2015

What with all the free time...

You didn't think that one swatch was all I have been up to, did you?

Once I realized that I wanted to consult and think about the rust in the Hun sweater, I realized that I would need to knit on something else.  

Not hard to do.

A while ago, I picked up a marvelous Noro.  Karuta by name.  It's a bulky yarn, lots of silk and cotton, os it is a sturdy sort of knit, but it has the most amazing colours.  

 At the same time, I had been pondering the colours of Rowan Pure Wool Worsted.  River City is carrying 50 colours and you all know how I am before a wall of colour.  I fell to my knees in front of that display more than once.  Plus it is a superwash.

I was thinking that it might be a great yarn for kids but i wanted to experience if and check into its superwash ability before knitting something for my kids.

Once I saw the brilliant blues of the Karuta, I knew just what to add to it to play and see what it could be.
Now the trick of this is that they are very very different yarns.  A bulky and a nice worsted.  What could I do that would work for the two yarns?

I went back and forth for a while between patterns, but when Hun, didn't happen as fast as I thought, I decided to play with the other aspect of Hun that I am changing in my version.  For Hun, I am knitting using Need a Circular Yoke so, I thought it might be fun to check books and knitting and writing styles off of my other newer knitting from the top book, The Knitter's Handy Book of Top Down Sweaters.  

I started blindly, not knowing where the gauge games I set out for myself would take me.  Now that I am past the underarms, I am much more comfortable and can tell a couple of things.

It's the right size, but the collar sits lower on my shoulder than I want.  I will have to go back and knit towards the neckline when the body is done. Otherwise?  Good to go.

And the colours are doing exactly what I thought they would.  

Exactly the right way to start a new year.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Happy New Year!

Tis the season of yet another holiday and I do wish for good ones for all of you.  As for me, I make mine what I need it to be.  

I so badly needed time away from work to recharge and re-energize and I pretty much am.  I am so energized that I cleaned behind my appliances.  This was needed badly, particularly in the laundry where the vent pipe had come off the dryer.  In order to resolve that, I had to get the shelves moved and once that was resolved, and the shelves were cleaned, I thought I may as well look for the box with all the important papers in it.  Its been missing for months and I will need it shortly.  It had to be magic, but the shelves, which have stood empty for months, now have actual boxes on them and I know what is in them.  Plus, with very little work, I could use the back bathroom, where all the boxes were previously stored, again.

I was so unnerved by this shocking turn of events, that I had to have a knitting break.  Or something like that.

I knit a swatch for Hun.  
 My original colour set is to the right, black, green, rust and two soft naturals on a black background for the colourwork.  Aside from some horrendous colour work, the snowflake colours didn't work and I wasn't sure that the rust worked either.  The rust seemed pretty darn loud.  

I set off to try another combination, to the left, and while I love the way the colourwork looks, using the dark brown for the eyelets seemed pretty blah. Okay, but blah.  

This is where I get to decide, nice but blah, or rust which has punch but might be loud.  Its a tough decision.

Now that the swatch has been washed, the rust seems softer somehow.  I am going to take the swatch and get a few second opinions but a big part of me leans to the rust.

I absolutely love the feel of it though. It could be scratchy to some, I suppose but after being washed, it has a soft feathery feeling all over and I am warm and snuggly, my mind just translates cozy.  I am ridiculously in love with Lopi.

And that isn't a bad way to start off a year.