Thursday, October 30, 2014
Thursday, October 9, 2014
One of the issues I grappled with early after diagnosis was: what the heck do I knit now? Sweaters and lace shawls are wonderful to make and wear, but they take a while to complete. An added consideration is how much wear they will get now that I’m retired. I could certainly wear that gorgeous lace-bottomed cardigan around the house, but will I? Does this mean that I had best restrict myself to small projects and gifts for other people to wear?
Gifts are another issue all by themselves. It’s surprisingly difficult to knit a gift that the recipient likes, or uses. Socks are the best bet, but even they are problematic.
I have resolved this issue by deciding to knit what I feel like knitting. This means that I now have a new sweater. I finished it in time to wear on a recent trip to Cape Cod (although not in time to wear to my retirement dinner).
Here I am in Wood’s Hole, Massachusetts, by a memorial to Rachel Carson. Wood’s Hole is a fascinating spot, as scientific work provides a lot of jobs in the area though NOAA and the Marine Biological Laboratory. I found out that Rachel Carson worked for NOAA. She is an important person in my life, because her book Silent Spring was my introduction to ecology.
Other views of the sweater:
The pattern is Damariscotta, designed by Marnie MacLean and available at the Twist Collective. I knit it in a Canadian yarn, Specialty Designer Yarns 50% Bamboo 50% Merino. It’s soft and cushy, warm and breathable. The sweater has shaping, is knit from the top down in the round, and was designed to have cap sleeves. When I got the body done, I had a lot of yarn left, enough to make 3/4 length sleeves. They seem more appropriate to the weight of the yarn and the tone of my arms than the original sleeve would have been.
The pictures above are a good demonstration of how hard it is to photograph yarn colors accurately. Three photographs, three shades of purple. The actual sweater is very close to Radiant Orchid, Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2014.
As for hope, blood tests indicate that the targeted chemotherapy I’m taking is working, and I am feeling remarkably well. I have cast on a lace shawl to celebrate.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
After a busy couple of months, I have retired, and I am under treatment.
The treatment is a pill taken first thing in the morning. The medicine is very expensive, to all of us in the aggregate although not to me as an individual. Thank goodness for good health insurance. I do have a genetic mutation in the cancer and am able to take targeted treatment. I’m dealing with some side effects, but they aren’t as uncomfortable as full-bore chemo.
I’ve been taking care of business. New wills and powers of attorney are executed, my passwords are in a sealed envelope in the lawyer’s safe, beneficiaries are updated, and expenses have been dialed back. I finished my job as neatly and completely as possible, and left matters in good shape for my successor. All of this is liberating. As each task gets done, there is more time to simply enjoy living.
I am an oldest child, and I’ve spent much of my life being a responsible person. Now I am pulling back from that role. At the moment, I have very few responsibilities and I am loathe to add any beyond care of friends and family, and paying the bills on time.
I’ve been the rock, the person you can count on. Not any more. It’s time for a new role, and a life lived more lightly.
At the same time, I have never felt less isolated in my life. The abundance of love I have been shown by family and friends is overwhelming. I never realized before how many people care. All I can do in return is love back. There is a lot of peace in loving.
I have a new way of living to explore, and I am surprisingly happy to be in this place.
Thursday, July 24, 2014
Knitting a sweater to completion becomes more daunting as the years go by. The reason: My standards for success keep becoming more refined. There are so very many ways to screw up a sweater, all of which may result in an unflattering, poorly fitting, or uncomfortable item of clothing on which you have spent a long time, and probably a substantial amount of money. Yarn does not come cheap. I think many knitters have thought, while wandering through racks of sweaters in a clothing store, “I could knit that for twice the price!”
I started this project with one strike against it: I could not make gauge in my trial swatches. The yarn I wanted to use was Reynolds Coco, a discontinued yarn purchased at a bargain price years ago from a yarn store that has been long closed. The yarn was just a wee bit finer than the yarn used to create the original sample for the pattern, so the fabric that felt and looked right had slightly more stitches and rows per 4 inches than the specified gauge. I did some figuring, and decided to cast on a size larger than I would have knit if the yarn could match the pattern gauge. The yarn was worth the attempt - a luscious blend of wool and rayon with lovely sheen and drape and a rich, glowing emerald color.
The pattern: “Lorelei”, designed by Tonia Barry and published by the Twist Collective. I cast on my first stitches on November 17, 2012. Emerald was Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2013, and I was excited by the idea of finishing a sweater in 2013 in that year’s color. I then proceeded to be diverted by a number of smaller , less risky projects. As 2013 drew to a close, I realized that I needed to actually spend time knitting this sweater if I ever wanted to actually wear it. I finally finished it on April 14, 2014, just as it became too warm to wear wool sweaters. Oh well, I am ready to face this coming winter in style.
This might be the nicest sweater I have ever knit for myself.
A detail of the lace pattern at the bottom of a sleeve:
I read the pattern carefully when I started the sweater, and I realized that I couldn’t knit it as-is and be completely happy with the end result. I wanted a cast-on edge that would blend into the lace texture. The pattern needed one extra stitch (a selvedge stitch) at the sides, where the sweater would be sewn together. It also needed a better buttonhole. Here are my notes on my project page on Ravelry:
- Use of a selvedge stitch is highly recommended! I don’t understand why one wasn’t designed in to make the lace match perfectly when the sweater is sewn up.
- If you use a selvedge stitch, you will need to reverse the moss rib pattern on the sleeve bottom for the rib to flow into the lace pattern.
- I used Techknitter’s Tulips buttonhole. A sweater like this deserves the best buttonhole you can give it.
- I used the Rib Cable Cast-on described at http://www.keep-on-knitting.com/rib-cable-cast-on.html. It produced a beautiful edge to the sweater that works perfectly with the moss rib specified for the first few rows.
- I’m happy with the result of my gauge substitution on my body. Warning to another knitter considering a similar gauge substitution: you may find the fit at the armscye to be too tight. This sweater fits me more like a blouse than a cardigan in the underarm.