Monday, April 29, 2019

Springtime In Illinois

I know this blog is long overdue for an update.
The last year and more have been full of mostly amazing changes.
My chemo was completed near the end of last May.  I'm still recovering from the effects of the chemo and the surgery that preceded it. I'm working hard to build strength, but it's a great challenge.
Most other aspects of my life have undergone tremendous changes as well. (My most recent CA-125 was about 5, which is even less than it was at the end of treatment.)
My daughter successfully defended her thesis for her master's at New Mexico Tech. She did so not only with solid knowledge but also with great poise. She accepted a position with Caterpillar in Illinois.
Over Labor Day weekend I came along to help drive the moving truck, although at that point I was still too weak to be of much additional help. We stopped to see a childhood school friend of mine who had put her home up for sale.  I made an offer for her home and returned to New Mexico to prepare for selling mine.  My mind is still boggled from all that happened and how it happened and how quickly it happened, since I had planned to put my house on the market about now and hoped to move this coming summer.
Suffice it to say I'm now happily settling into my home in El Paso, not in Texas; the other El Paso!
The downstairs will be my quilting/sewing/knitting/cross stitching studio as soon as I get it organized.  I do a bit of unpacking and organizing every day, but I still have a way to go to regain the strength I had before the cancer journey.

The only needlework I've done includes finishing stitching of one small piece begun during chemo and some knitting.
My previous post shows a chair of cross stitch floss. (That chair now resides with my daughter.)
 Here's a chair of yarn, although it's just what I have out to make some choices. (This is an antique oak office chair that I happened upon here in Illinois.)

My latest finished project is still unblocked, but it's a shawl using 150 gr. of yarn from Sweet Georgia. It's designed by Tabetha Hedrick, and the yarn pack and pattern are available only from shops.
 As I neared the end of the shawl, I grew very tired of the lace pattern, so I substituted other patterns from the shawl.  I bound off with a picot edge that was not part of the pattern rather than with the contrast yarn.
Here's what I have left.
I've also knit three hats since I moved here.

I realized I love my red sweater, but I do not have a shawl that works well with it unless I wear my deep blue one and go for a patriotic look.  These are yarns I'm considering, but they will be used in multiple shawls, since my swatch is telling me some give different gauges, although they are all fingering yarns.

While all the cross stitch shops are gone, we are fortunate to have two great knitting shops in Bloomington.

We're having another rainy day today; quite a change for me after 30 years in the desert!  I find I love Mondays during retirement.  I try to stay home and do things around the house as well as some knitting. Getting my huge studio space set up is still a goal since I lack the energy and strength I need, and the unloading people mixed boxes marked Master Bedroom with those marked Quilt Studio. The other days of the week get scheduled quickly and include chiropractor visits resulting from my unplanned attempt to fly across some ice at the end of January.  (Yes, I arrived just in time to  unload before the polar vortex descended with wind chills of -50F. In fact, the six guys I hired unloaded everything in less than three hours, and the rental trucks were returned as the snow and ice struck Central Illinois. My home is nice and cozy, so I didn't much mind since I had so much unpacking to do.)

I do miss my friends from New Mexico, and I'm enjoying connecting and reconnecting with people in the area where I grew up.  A lot of things have changed in my community, but a lot of things have endured and/or improved.
My 90+ year old friend Barbara assured me I was headed for a great and fun adventure.  She's right.  My days are filled with joy.

Happy quilting and stitching......

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Cross Training?

 First, not a chair of bowlies, but a chair filled with unsorted floss.
 This is not all the floss I own; it's just the floss that needs to be sorted and organized.  I suspect there is more lurking in my home somewhere!

It's been years since I've cross-stitched.  All of these were purchased because I love them, and all have been languishing for years.
 I love Marjolein Bastin and started this years and years ago--so long ago that the charts are worn along the edges.  The code for the colors has been lost.  I tried to get new charts, but the American distributor refused to provide them because they are copyrighted and offered to sell me a new kit, which they don't even have.  Not happy with them since Lanarte Europe says support is available through local vendors.  Fortunately, a friend who knows I love Marjolein Bastin gifted me the Leisure Arts booklet years ago, and I kept it, so I'm able to do a sort of work around. However, between the chart, the books, and the deteriorating edges of the chart, it's slow going, and I can't work on it exclusively because it can get exhausting.

To provide some simpler productivity, I also pulled out these other three projects, also begun over ten years ago.  I still love them, so I know I chose well.
 Bee Thankful is a janlynn project.

I have no idea why I never got beyond the "Spring." I also have charts for the other three seasons, but clearly Spring was more inspiring.

I also love this Winter-Early Spring.  The booklet and the project got separated, and I was delighted to be able to reunite them this week.

I do have countless more cross stitch projects, both started and still in their packages.  I may thin out a few.

Then there was the thimble conundrum.  My antique sterling silver thimble won't stay on my finger--which means my fingers used to be a lot fatter. Of course, all my non-silver thimbles are also too big.

In fact, during the years when I was hand quilting, I used a size 8 or 10 of the metal model in front of the photo. Today I purchased the leather thimble, which will work for cross stitch.  I don't see much hand-piecing or hand quilting in my future.  I purchased the blue one too, but it doesn't fit that well over my fingernail, even if they are shorter today due to my fresh manicure.
All the above are just part of the counted cross stitch revival, a benefit accompanying my recent official retirement.  I'm still knitting, quilting, tatting, et cetera.  I'm thinking about creating a needlework schedule because it's so easy to focus on one thing and exclude others.

The birds below are being stalked by one of the stray cats my 85 year old neighbor insists on feeding.  They are doing a great job of avoiding him/her, even when he perches atop the wall and pretends to be a statue.  I had a hard time getting a photo of them.  Their coloring is beautiful, but I have no idea what kind they are.

Today was a special, lovely day.  Gray, cloudy, rainy, snowy, and a bit of sun too.

My hair is coming out by the handfuls; I may be bald by Sunday! I'm hoping some of my friends will bless me by going along to try on wigs and hats this weekend!
Happy stitches,

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Can I Blame Busy Bee?

I made a fabric purchase today, the first one in months and months.
These are pale teal, not turquoise.

 This moring was Busy Bee Quilt Shop's annual Pajama Day Sale.  I'm pretty sure that there is evidence to indicate I can't blame them--since I'd even taken the time to stop by the shop yesterday to see if they had some fabrics to go with a project I'm planning and for which I already have the other fabrics.  I had to go get some blood drawn and the shop is very close to the lab.

The subtle prints did not photograph accurately either.

However, I did not see the Asian fabric until this morning.
Pre-shopping was a great idea since I knew exactly where to go to grab bolts.  Yesterday the owner told me a lady had come in and taken all kinds of photos to help her when she returned today.
They had two cutting tables going, and I arrived just a few minutes after eight, so the shopping experience went fairly quickly despite the number of customers.

Now, seeing these together, I may have to use something else for the planned quilt and combine these in a new quilt so they can live happily together.  We'll see.

I need to launder and iron them, and put in some time in my sewing room to get some clutter organized so I can actually sew.

We're having a very windy day, and as I sit here, I'm watching one of the cats my neighbor feeds sitting statue-like on the wall, undoubtedly hoping to convince any bird seeking shelter from the wind that he's totally harmless.  I hope he fails!

(Day 10 is not, so far, the worst day, and I'm glad the oncologist was wrong about that.  I just wish I had more energy and endrance.)

Happy quiltmaking and knitting,

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Back to Quiltmaking?

I finally went into my sewing room to consider what to piece or quilt next--for the first time since my December 29 surgery.  Decision--didn't make one that had anything to do with quiltmaking.  Sorry.

A lot has happened since that sugery, and, as a result, I've decided to start a second blog.  So many people have been affected by cancer, and I'm thinking the most injured of them do not want to read about anyone's cancer adventures on a quilting or knitting blog.  I'll let you know when that one is up and running.

A summary of what has happened in the meantime:
The cancer was identified as ovarian: endometroid, Stage IIb, so the outlook is good.
Healing from surgery was slower than I would have liked.
I realized I could not continue to serve kids, including sick kids, when my immune system will be wiped out due to chemo.
My new school graciously accepted my resignation--although I feel like I've left them much too soon.
I've had a port implanted for chemo and had my first treatment a week ago. The current plan is for six treatments three weeks apart as long as the blood tests come back with acceptable results.
If we can maintain that schedule, my final treatment will be two days before my Engineer receives her master's degree.
This entire journey has seen only a couple of downers the entire time, and I've received more blessings than I can count, faster than I can write them down.
My first retirement check should arrive about March 1, and my daughter and I are all set up for the new insurance coverage to kick in.

So, no new quiltmaking decisions firmed up yet, but I'm ready to immerse myself in color very, very soon.

When I post to the new blog, I'll post links on this blog and FaceBook. The first post is here:

Happy Quiltmaking and Knitting,

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Post surgery

I'm enjoying this view from what may become my favorite chair for a while.

Flowers on the left from the special ed staff at my new school, flowers on the right from my daughter, her friend, and his parents.  Journal for recording the things I'm going to forget otherwise.  And the lovely prayer quilt that's already bringing blessings.

We did not get the DaVinci robot, which was a blessing since the tumor was wrapped around the ureter and required more extensive surgery than predicted.  We still don't know what kind of cancer and won't for a while, so we can't make a treatment plan yet.

My hospitalization was filled with blessings from start to finish. I thought I knew what "peace that passes understanding" is and what it feels like.  I'm astounded by how much more/better/blessed it really is.

Absolutely everyone I came in contact with proved to be a blessing.  However, I will exclude the woman who phoned today and asked by name to speak to my mother.  When one is recovering from surgery and one's brain is at the height of malfunctioning that the pain drug creates, having someone ask to speak to one's deceased mother, giving limited information as if I had done something wrong, etc., can be very disconcerting.  I still wonder where the caller's head was.

The pain medication is doing a good job, but about one hour into the dose, my brain isn't--but then my brain clears and the pain is still under control.

Blessings, everyone,
and happy knitting and quilting.....

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Prayer Quilt

Sunday I was gifted with this surprise:

This prayer quilt is a gift from the Victory Prayer Quilt group at my church.  (For reference, my wals are lavender, not pink, and there is lavender in the quilt peeking out on the right.  The photo was taken with my phone and took all night to travel to my in-box--which reiiterates why I need to find my camera!)
It's beautiful--and I'm guessing it is the work of Judy, for whom I've quilted many prayer quilts over the years.  I've been one of the makers in that ministry since it was started many years ago (maybe around 2004 and 2005).  I'm blessed to receive it.  It will travel to the hospital with me on Friday.  Surgery has been moved up 1/2 hour; we still need many prayers for the DaVinci robot, because it's currently booked for someone else.  I did ask that the surgeon continue to let them know he wants to use it if it becomes available. It could significantly decrease both my healing time and my time in the hospital.

In the meantime, I'm praying, nesting, and avoiding places with sick people.  I do love just being home!

I hope for one or two more year's end quilt finishes since they need only binding. I knit in spare moments but am not sure I'll manage more year's end knitting finishes.

Happy knitting and quilting....

Saturday, December 23, 2017

I'm Back!!!

I'm back. That was a much longer break than I intended--due to camera issues (it's disappeared)!

I just finished quilting and binding this and hanging it on our door.  Pre-printed panel made it great for quilting fun. I think it's the only finish (or start, for that matter) since the unintended blogging break that started in June.

Mostly I've been knitting socks (most still in progress) and one finished fade sweater.  Pictures later, hopefully.

In the meantime, the Engineer returned to school and is half way (maybe farther) through her master's degree.  I was offered a new job, which I accepted, but have worked there for only one week since my previous school refused to release me earlier. I was in physical therapy for quite a while because my lumbar spine and sacrum kept locking up (and because it took five months to get into the orthopedist who specializes in backs). There is some lumbar deterioration that is common with aging, but what an MRI showed in addition is a pelvic mass, which raises concerns for ovarian cancer. Blood markers for cancer are only slightly elevated, CT scans show the mass but are not definitive.  Therefore, next Friday, 12/29, I'm scheduled for surgery.  In addition to praying for healing, we are praying the DaVinci computerized surgery and surgery room become available--since five small incisions would heal much more quickly than one vertical incision. (Sick days do not transfer to new jobs, so I've lost six weeks of sick leave and have only five days, which will not be sufficient.) My daughter doesn't have to return to university until January 22, so that is a blessing.  In the meantime, I'm praying a lot, keeping things calm and sweet, and enjoying all the small delights and music that make the holidays so special.  I welcome additional prayers for healing and for the availability of the DaVinci since it's scheduled for weeks out and we need it to become available for this coming Friday.

I hope to post more of what I've been making and working on soon.

Happy knitting and quilting, and have wonderful joyous holidays!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Fistful of Fiber Gorgeous

I want to share more gorgeous yarn from the Albuquerque Fiber Fiesta.

LaDonna Maxwell has been dyeing fiber for four years and lives near Las Cruces, New Mexico.
She names her colorways after places is New Mexico.  I wasn't paying attention to that.  When I got home I saw that she had named the lower one, which has more mossy greens than evident in the photo, for the little town just up the road.

Here's a photo of her card.  She's in the process of setting up her web site for shopping, but is still loading yarns.
LaDonna is very talented--and nice!

Happy quiltmaking and knitting,

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Spring to Summer Needle Activity

I enjoyed a few days off work, went back for a day of training yesterday, and am now ready to enjoy our short summer break (one day shy of two months).  I'm not sure exactly when teachers got a three month spring break (never in my nearly four decade career), but we did get 10-week breaks in the past.  I hope I can find enough energy to make this one productive in quite a few ways. 

A couple of months ago a dear friend said I needed red socks.  I don't do red socks, so I inquired if fuchsia would work.  I finished the first pair a few weeks ago and posted about them here.

 This yarn is in the Djinni color way from an independent dyer and was purchased last year. Toe up, a basic heel flap I've used for years, and an instep and ankle  pattern lifted from a piece of knitting not originally on a sock.

The rest of these yarns were purchased from vendors at the Albuquerque Fiber Arts Fiesta May 17.  I went looking specificially for yarns containing fuchsia.  I've finished one pair so far.
 This color way is Big Girls Don't Cry from Zia Woolz.  Some of her yarns can create a multi-colored set of stripes depending upon how many stitches are cast on and the size of the needles.  I used 2.25 mm needles and may have cast on 32 stitches.  Toe up, one circular needle, short row heel from Arne & Carlos, for which they have posted both Norwegian and English tutorials on their blog and You-Tube.

I forgot to take a picture in the skein, so here's a little bit of the yarn in a ball and the socks.  I loved the way these pooled.  I also made them a bit shorter for summer.  No pattern; I just improvised as I went.

 These are in process and are Honey Bee from Zia Woolz.  Not a lot of fuchsia but lots of colors that appeal to bees when they are in floral form.  I've done a lot of darker socks lately, so these are kind of refreshing--and this is just plain vanilla.  I'll probably do another German short row heel.

More Fiber Fiesta yarns:
 Hot Mama from Zia Woolz.

 Velvet Touch from Zia Woolz. This is 5% gold stellina.

 Bougainvilla from Wooly Wonka.  Another customer had just bought every skein of this when I arrived, so Anne showed me a mini-skein and went home and dyed this one up for me.

Since I had been so focused on fuchsia at the show, and was rushed, as well, I never made it back to her booth to get Sea Dragon, so she died one of those for me too.
 This is more in line with what I usually purchase, but the copper colors in this make it very special.
 Photos don't do it justice.

And this is the drawstring bag with yellow ribbons that I made a couple of months ago and have been taking with me amost everywhere so that I can keep knitting, even when I'm walking.

Despite everything I've tried in order to increase the speed of my knitting, even in the vanilla sock version it takes me two minutes and forty seconds to complete a 64 stitch round English style and three minutes twenty seconds to do it continental style.  However, I'm still likely to switch hands now and then.

As for quilting, it's been several months since I've done any serious sewing!  And summer passes swiftly!  I'm trying to watch knitting vlogs while I knit at home.  Maybe I'll learn something.

Happy quilting and knitting,

Saturday, May 13, 2017

She Did It!

The College Girl is now an engineer!

 Before the ceremony...
 ...and after with one of New Mexico Tech's iconic buildings in the back ground...
 She earned a B.S. in Materials Engineering and Science with a Metallurgy Option.

With one of her best friends.

She'll be back next year to finish her master's.

It was a good day!

Happy quilting and knitting (I did some knitting while we waited.)...
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