Well, ain’t that a kick in the pants…

It has been my experience that, when I make plans, life changes abruptly. Or, when I think I have “it” all figured out, something happens to prove me wrong.

This was one of those weeks.

As you recall, I went in for a biopsy last week. Now I knew it wasn’t cancer. After all, one of the symptoms of CFIDS is enlarged lymph nodes.

I spoke too soon. I have follicular lymphoma. Now let me just say this… hearing that you have cancer SUCKS! It’s not even a little bit good. No matter what they tell you about your particular cancer (and they will tell you more than you probably want to know) the bottom line is that it SUCKS!

That being said, this is one of the easier cancers to have. Apparently it is very slow-growing and very treatable, although not curable. The average life span is years to decades rather than days to weeks, so we are grateful for that. I’m undergoing more tests and more blood work and more everything… there are still questions to be answered. But it looks like I’ll be starting chemo in the not-too-distant future. This was NOT how I planned to spend my holidays.

They tell me chemo can take hours each time you get it. Hours. In a chair. With nothing to do but sit… hmmm… Crafts to the rescue once again! I shall crochet my way through chemo and have something to show for it when I’m done! What shall I crochet? Well, I have a baby blanket (yes, another one) that I’m working on and a Christmas gift or two… but the whole thing got me thinking…

If I’m going to lose my hair during the winter, I’m going to want a hat or twelve to cover my head! In every color. I never could get the hang of wearing a head scarf, but I look pretty good in hats with a small brim. Surely I can come up with something!

So off I went to Ravelry. You remember Ravelry, don’t you? The online resource for all things yarn? Well, there are a wealth of hat patterns available there. Many of them are free! One of my favorites (and the first one I’m making) is the Cuss Hat by Emily Matisz (This is her blog.) It will cover my ears and fully expresses just how I feel about chemo and cancer.

I also did a quick internet search and turned up free patterns to sew caps from polar fleece. These patterns are EASY!!! Even a novice sewer can make a chemo cap!

So I challenge you – it seems like we all know someone these days who is going through chemo, so let’s all make chemo caps! If you don’t know anyone who needs a chemo cap, get down on your knees and be grateful, and then take the chemo caps to your local hospital or oncologist office. I can guarantee there are people in your community who would be comforted by a home made SOFT cap.

Let’s go create something! (like chemo caps!)

Ouch!

So I spent the morning in the hospital having a test done. It wasn’t really as bad as I feared it would be, but I do rather feel like I’ve been kicked in the stomach by a horse.

You see, one of the classic symptoms of CFIDS is enlarged lymph nodes. My doctor thought it was strange that I didn’t seem to have them – or so he thought. While doing a CAT scan to look at my enlarged liver and spleen (yeah, that’s another classic symptom) they found all the lymph nodes in my abdomen were inflamed and enlarged.

Unfortunately, as well as being a symptom of CFIDS, that can be the major indicator for lymphoma. So today I had a biopsy. At first look, they tell me they didn’t see anything scary, so we’ll just have to wait to next week to see if the lab reports come back clear.

In the mean time, I felt I needed a little extra comfort to get me through the day. I took along a small crocheted elephant that a friend made me, and I wore these:

My first ever crocheted socks! I finished them last night so that I would have them to wear to the hospital. The pattern is called “Fancy Cuffs” and can be found in “Crocheted Socks: 16 Fun-to-Stitch Patterns” by Janet Rehfeldt and Mary Jane Wood. I adapted the cuff on mine, but the main pattern is theirs.

If you are a crocheter, and have never tried socks, I can heartily recommend this book. These socks made up quickly (I figure about 8 hours all total) and fit like a dream. Crocheted socks do not stretch as much as knitted socks, so make sure you try them on before you’ve gone very far, just in case you need to rip out and re-size. The heel was a little tricky, but I got it on my third try, and the second sock went together like a piece of cake!

I’m sure I will be making more socks in the future (and they did bring me comfort today) as soon as I catch up on some other projects…

Make something to comfort someone you know. Whether it’s a shawl for someone who is grieving, a toy for a child (or adult) in the hospital, some cookies and tea, or some warm socks, nothing says comfort and love like home made.

Let’s go create something!

Something from Nothing (almost)

This is a story of two stories.

The first story is this: Back in 1982, I was in Scotland. Having always heard that I had Scottish ancestors, I took the opportunity to research the family clan. I found the clan, the tartan, and the clan motto. (of course, years later I found that I started with the wrong ancestor’s name, but that didn’t stop me from claiming the clan for myself).

The clan motto was “Neither spare nor dispose.” I took that to heart. Although I’m not sure what the Scottish meant by it when they originally created the motto, I took it to mean, “We don’t give it away, and we don’t throw it away.” Thus I have justified my ability to collect more fabric, more yarn, and more patterns than I can possibly use in this life or the next!

This brings me to the subject of this entry – Something for Nothing (almost).

About a week ago I found I needed a Halloween costume. Yes, for THIS Halloween. Unfortunately, one of the side effects of CFIDS is mounting medical bills. Work missed + medical bills = not enough money for a costume. So I borrowed a phrase from my grandparents’ generation, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!”

I took a look around at what I had on hand. I found the aborted attempt at a purple chiffon wedding dress, 5 yards of sturdy black cotton in my fabric drawer, and an old pattern from the 1980s. I added $15.00 worth of netting and spiders, some silver buttons, and came up with this:

steampunk fortune teller

I really need to get a better camera so my pictures aren’t so blurry…

At any rate, I picked up the layers of the skirt on the wedding dress into swags. I cut the top of the dress off (the part that didn’t fit) and covered the raw edge with black ribbon.

The 5 yards of black twill cotton became a long, gathered skirt and a short fitted jacket. I used scraps from the wedding dress to make the lapels on the jacket.

the jacket

The netting and spiderwebs I draped into a bustle on the back of the skirt.

bustle

I’m adding a black snood, black lace mitts, a black lace shawl, and some costume jewelry.

So I will be reading the cards at a local Haunted House this weekend and next, dressed in my Steampunk Fortune Teller’s outfit.

So what do you have hanging around? Kids outgrown their jeans? Have some spare quilt batting? Turn them into potholders or trivets. T-shirts can be cut into strips and crocheted or braided into rugs. I even use my scraps of embroidery floss by putting them in the birdcage for our finches to buils their nest.

Oh, yes. I promised you two stories. Here’s the second story:

When I was 9 years old, my mother sat me down at her old Kenmore sewing machine and said, “I hate to sew. You will hate to sew. But every woman should know how.” Here I am, 46 years later, with an entire room devoted to sewing and crafting. She never dreamed it would take me so far. And when I sit down to work, I invariably think of her.

Thanks, Mom.

Now let’s go create something!

One of those weeks

I see it’s been a week since I’ve posted anything. In that week, my mother became very ill. All my free time has been spent hiring caregivers and running back and forth between my house and hers. And, of course, the stress has created a flare up of the CFIDS.

I have squeezed in a little time to put some pages together for our wedding book, but that’s about it! So no pictures for now… and not much to say. Hopefully things will settle down into some sort of normalcy soon and I’ll get moving on the wedding dress or baby blanket or something!

Let’s go create something (anything)!

Two steps forward…

Tuesday was THE DAY! My long-awaited wedding dress was finally delivered to the house! It was purple and ruffly and adorable and just what I wanted! I was so excited. I slipped it over my head and it fit perfectly. This was so cool!

Then, I turned to look in the mirror.

Oh. My. God. I looked like a big purple barn with ruffles. Now, I know I’m not exactly petite, and losing 20 pounds (30?) wouldn’t hurt me any. But I mean, this was terrible! It was awful! I could NOT get married in this!

Some women would break down and cry. Frankly, I considered it. But, instead, I went into problem-solving mode! Out of the dress, into my jeans, grab the car keys and head to the bridal shop.

I didn’t want a traditional dress. I look awful in white and even worse in ivory. I wanted purple, rather casual, with sleeves, and no sparkle. Picking up on my sense of panic, the store owner shoved me into a dressing room with every purple dress they had that would come anywhere near fitting me. There were two that would do, although they were nothing like what I was looking for. Then I checked the price tags. URK! “Thanks, I’ll think about it!” and I was off to the next bridal store. Now, I live in a smallish town (pop. 30,000 or so) and formal wear is not exactly a popular thing around here, so those two stores were my only possibilities!

Another dressing room. More purple dresses. “No, I can’t wear a halter dress! Look at me. I have been abundantly blessed in the bust area! OK, OK, I’ll try it on.” It was terrific! Grecian chiffon floating to the floor. I had a waist! It was cute and young-looking and I felt great in it! Check the price tag. OY! This is not going to happen.

To the mall! I checked the discount store where I seriously considered being married in a jersey knit muumuu. I had them put it on hold and decided I would have to sleep on the decision. I was halfway home when the exhaustion and fatigue hit. KABLAM!

I should know better. I really should.

But knowing better didn’t stop me from spending all afternoon and late into the night searching for the perfect dress online. Nor did it stop me from going out the next day and spending time and money on fabric to make my own dress. I swore I would not make my own dress, but here I am, up to my elbows in purple chiffon, and wondering where I will ever find the energy.

Oh, and did I mention I am so wiped out that I couldn’t go to work today, slept till 11:00 and still feel like I’ve been hit by a freight train? Oh, CFIDS, you are a cruel taskmaster. Tricking me into thinking I can do more than I am able and then hitting me up the side of the head with a two by four.

All I can hope now is that I will be back to decent condition by the weekend. Because now I have a dress to make!

Let’s go create something. Even if it’s only a muslin mockup…

In the making…

Sometimes, it seems there isn’t much progress. You look around and there are no new creations to show. Nothing complete. Everything in a shambles.

But wait! Over there is a partially finished amigurumi. All it needs are its legs and its face. And see that on the coffee table? That’s the bridal headpiece that was commissioned. You have two ribbon daisies done and three to go. That bag at your feet? It’s the baby gift for your niece who is due in November.

Wander into the sewing room… two shirts completely cut out – one for the wedding. Oh, and while you were cutting out last Saturday, you also cut out a blouse and a skirt and serged the edges of the blouse pieces. That should go together pretty quickly (except the button holes). Oh, and on the counter – there’s your wedding bouquet. All it needs are ribbons. And that box? That contains the favors for the wedding that you finished while watching TV.

No, I have nothing to show for the week. Nothing is finished. Everything is in shambles. But… progress was made!

Sometimes life is like that, too. Sometimes it’s hard to see any forward momentum. Especially with a chronic illness.

No, I’m not healthy. I’m not 100%, but I’m better than I was a month ago. I am making progress.

I know that I may slip back into feeling really lousy, that I may get sicker, but right now I’m a little bit better. Every bit of progress is good progress. And just because the project isn’t finished doesn’t mean we’re not creating beauty, health, joy.

Let’s go create something!

Lullaby and good night

Our niece is expecting and that means we are too! The moment I heard about the joyful event, I started a baby gift. “Piece of cake”, I thought. “Knock that out in no time”, I said.

That was back in April.

Fast forward to July. On Ravelry (you don’t know about Ravelry???) I listed a set of crafty goals for July. One of them was to get the baby gift to the halfway point. All of the other goals have been completed, but I’ve been uninspired by the baby gift. Until this week.

Unfortunately, my health is not fantastic. The good spell I was having has dwindled. I’m not horribly sick, but I’m really tired and easily confused (who are you, again?) and grateful that I can spend so much time resting at home.

Fortunately, the aforementioned baby gift is rather mindless crocheting and I can just hook along while I watch TV. So, progress is being made! I still hope to have it halfway done by the end of the month. We don’t know if it’s a boy or girl, so I chose a bright primary color. It’s very cheerful and should be very warm for the winter. The crocheting is done in a waffle pattern that makes the finished project feel twice as thick as normal crochet. Here’s a link to the stitch so you can see what I mean.

If you’re fairly new to crochet, don’t worry! It’s easier than it looks. And, if you’re really ambitious, it would make a terrific afghan for cuddling on the couch. Or, like me, maybe there’s a wee one in your life that needs some warmth this winter. Dig through that yarn stash, find a crochet hook, and…

Let’s go create something!