Monday, October 26, 2015

Slow Season

 It took me until this weekend to set aside my summer clothes.  It has been warmer here in October than it was in July, so I had put off the inevitable.  But with the changing of the clocks and the first log fire of the season, the time had clearly come.
I unpacked: two flannel Camber dresses, two wool skirts, and three warm cardigans.  All handmade.

There is a jangling of empty hangers in my wardrobe, but they have a pleasant chime.  I am not in a rush to fill them.


I started work on a new winter coat a few weeks ago. 

I am using Marilla Walker’s Maya Dress pattern, with some self-drafted sleeves which owe a lot to a 1960’s Simplicity blouse pattern.

The fabric is a herringbone wool mix, which is not as heavy as I expected.  It is a “dressing up” coat rather than a weather-resistant one.

This weekend I got as far as making a bagged lining, and now it is hanging up to find its shape as the wool relaxes.  At the moment I have an unintentional scalloped hem!

I have ordered some gorgeous vintage buttons.  I am still deciding whether or not to try my hand at bound buttonholes.
Slow and steady, little by little, I am making a coat.

And when my first Skein Queen club surprise package arrived the other day, the plan for matching knits came together a little more clearly.  Ooh!  Lovely!

I am not completely sure, but I think I will make a scaled-down version of the Sunwalker shawl by Melanie Berg.  I only have 400m and the full-sized Sunwalker takes more than twice as much yarn.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Toesday in the Waiting Room

For the Myeloma fans, with a dash of knitting.
Thank you to everyone who commented on my last update.
I listened and I understood and I am thinking.

Waiting Room knitting -two sock toes
FL went back to see the Consultant yesterday.
We are not much further forward... except... maybe that says it all.

The blood test anomalies which confused the Consultant and other doctors over the past couple of weeks are still present, but are no longer a cause for immediate concern.
All of the following are slightly better:  kidney function is ok, his potassium level is no longer a threat to his heart, and he is not as anaemic as he was.

However, there are still the unexplained "raised eosiniphils".  Now that I have worked out how to spell that phrase, I have googled it :)
It would appear that the most common causes of raised eos are: allergies related to asthma; a parasitic infection; a drug allergy.
However, a little deeper delving revealed a study that linked raised levels of eos  with cancer activity in the bone marrow.  Another google took me to the Mayo Clinic where they have found raised eos in patients with CML (Chronic Myeloid Leukemia). 

The Consultant only had the initial results of FL's bone marrow test from last week:  there was "some Myeloma" but mainly the test revealed "very scruffy cells" which the Consultant attributed to the many chemotherapies FL has endured over the past 8 years.  Basically, FL's bone marrow is worn out.

The full bone marrow results will include a report on "genetics".  That will reveal whether or not his cancer has mutated.  The Mayo pages on CML say that it is diagnosed by the presence of the "Philadelphia chromosome", a mutated gene....way too much detail that I don't really understand.
Stop googling Roo!

New yarn - because I knit socks

The bottom line is that the Consultant will not make a decision on whether or not to restart FL on Pomalidomide until she has the full bone marrow test results. 
Saying that, I felt as if we were being prepared for  the "no more Pom" talk.  She was especially kind to FL and appeared to be shifting her emphasis from attacking the cancer to reducing his pain.

Having been weaned off Gabapentin, FL is now trying out Pregabalin for his nerve-related pain. He is still taking Co-Codamol for the bone pain.

Back to the hospital in two weeks.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Bobbing Up and Down

FL and I have been spending more time in waiting rooms.
I am so very glad I knit.

Last week he had a Radiotherapy appointment to try to reduce the pain in his upper arm.
I knitted a hat.
It is the Qwist by Melanie Berg - it is a gorgeous pattern and I plan to knit the matching mitts.

There was a squirm-worthy conversation with the Doctor who asked me if I lived with him or if he lived with me?  Um... we live together.  "Oh!  That's lovely!" she said.
I was too tired to explain that I thought this was normal behaviour among married couples.
I mean.... ach! 
Words fail me sometimes.  The assumptions people make...!

Sock One = Monday
On Monday, we saw the Consultant again.
She spent a long time quizzing FL about his symptoms and staring at her computer screen.
She doesn't know what to do for the best.
His Freelite score is bobbing up and down around the 160 mark (I am not sure if this is the ratio or the difference between his kappa and lambda - she seems to report it either way.)

  • His blood is showing an increasing immunological reaction to something unknown, probably a drug.
  • His kidney function is not as good as it has been.
  • There was a query around his potassium level, so she tested it again.

The Consultant did not want to risk prescribing Pomalidomide until she was sure that the superdrug was not to blame for his symptoms, so she ordered a bone marrow test for this coming Thursday.
She advised us to wean him off the Gabapentin he has been taking for his nerve pain (post-shingles), as it doesn't appear to be helping and may be doing harm.
Sock Two = Wednesday
On Tuesday morning, a doctor rang FL at home.
I was at work, stuck in a 3 hour long meeting.
When I came out, I discovered FL had been trying to ring me all morning.  He said the hospital wanted him to come in asap... but he didn't know why and he had told them it would have to wait til Wednesday because I was in the city and he was home alone on the farm.
I am a Bad Carer!
I tried to contact the hospital but the doctor was not available.  The receptionist said just to bring FL in the next day (today).
At 4.30, a doctor rang me back and said his potassium level had increased significantly and was a cause for concern.
"If he deteriorates overnight, just bring him straight in!"
Thanks.  I feel really great about this.

So we didn't get much sleep.

Today (Wednesday) we spent 5 hours in the waiting room to be told his potassium had fallen slightly and his kidneys appear to be coping.
So they sent us home again... until tomorrow when he will have his bone marrow test and they will check his blood again while he is there, "just in case".

Meantime, I had to ask a work colleague to cover a meeting for me at very short notice.
My future role has not been confirmed, despite a polite email to the boss.
Some parts of my job (but not all) have been moved to a different section.
FL thinks I need to read between the lines...

Fun times.

But the good news is that Rachel Coopey has brought out her own line of sock wool, Socks Yeah! You can order it from Purlescence, Suffolk Socks or Meadow Yarn.
I certainly have! :)



Monday, October 05, 2015

FO: Epistrophy Yoke Cardigan by Kate Davies

Proof, if ever it was required, that JUST KNITTING IT gets things knitted!

I have wanted to knit a Yoke by Kate Davies since the first sneak peeks of the book appeared on Kate’s blog.  
I decided to knit Epistrophy from stash, using Skein Queen Voluptuous.  I had one giant variegated green / pink skein from a club shipment, and a partial skein of plummy pink purchased from a fellow-Raveller’s destash.
Perfect!

However, as I started to knit, it soon became clear that I would need more yarn.  I searched Ravelry for other club members who had already used part of their green skein, and contacted the person whose lovely cowl looked the closest in colour to my sweater-in-progress.  I was very very lucky, because this lady had TWO skeins, and offered to sell me both for a bargainous price.  Thank you again, if you are reading this J

I worked on this project fairly monogamously, despite numerous distractions.
Sleeves are just as portable as socks – who knew?!  I raced up the body and the sleeves, eager to get to the colourwork.

There was a pause while I tried to remember how to steek.  Not having internet at home meant I couldn’t just look it up when I needed to. 
Eventually I took the plunge and tried to copy what I seemed to have done on Betty Jean McNeil.  Honestly?  I bodged it.
I managed to cut beyond my crocheted reinforcement, and created a lovely frayed edge. 
Just as well I had bought some of Kate’s pretty grosgrain ribbon to cover the steek on the inside!


There was another pause to obtain buttons.
Fortunately, my friend Christine was in town one day and gave me a reason to take a day off to go to the local wool shop, where we found the perfect match. 
Being sensible, she told me to buy an extra one... and serendipity struck again because I ended up with eleven buttonholes instead of the ten I aimed for.
Ahem.
Stats:
Pattern: 
Epistrophy by Kate Davies, in the smallest size

Yarn:  Skein Queen Voluptuous in the colours Don’t Go Outside (green) and Plumberry.
Needles:  one size smaller for the sleeves, one size bigger for the colourwork.
Other:  Buttons and ribbon, as mentioned.

Verdict?
It is a good fit, straight from the pattern.  I got gauge despite not doing anything to check it.

My only niggling doubt is the neckline. 
I find myself tugging the hem downwards to stop the neck from standing proud of my shoulders.  Kate’s introduction to the pattern points out that it is low and wide and straight. 

I think my colourwork is just a little too tight, causing the neckline to slide up.  I thought about using more grosgrain ribbon to reinforce the neck and shape it at the ideal low and wide level.  However, I am hoping that my yoke-knitting will relax in wear, making this unnecessary.

Of course, this means I will have a bare neck...

The good news about that is that I have plenty of green yarn left – the perfect excuse to make a matching cowl to cover the gap!




Friday, October 02, 2015

In Limbo


Don't publish without a picture, I thought.

But what sort of image do I want to present?

"Sunset over the farm" strikes me as self-dramatizing.


An unravelled sock?

Even worse!


How about a cheerily upbeat photo of my latest obsession - a crochet cardigan in neon pink and green?

A symbol of keeping calm and carrying on and storming through my days in a blazingly positive fashion forward leftfield sort of way?
Um.  Yeah.

This is what is happening (and thank you for asking):

Myeloma
FL's myeloma is back.
His upper left arm is peppered with lytic lesions (holes in the bone), the largest of which is 2cm in diameter.
He is lucky not to have a fracture.
This is causing excruciating pain, which the doctors at first assumed was the aftermath of shingles.
When they finally ordered xrays, the true cause was all too clear.
I'm not blaming them.  They knew that as soon as an xray showed progression of his myeloma, they would have to withdraw the super-drug (Pomalidomide).
He is having radiotherapy next week, to tackle the pain.
Then back to the hospital the week after to Consult.
So right now we are in limbo.

Internet
In other news, we still do not have an internet service at home.  BT has been singularly incompetent, but there is no other line-provider to our remote corner of the countryside, so we just have to keep plugging away at them to remind them that no, we do not yet have a broadband connection and could they please fix it?
I await attempt two to provide us with a new router.
They could not find us.  LOL
Why not follow the cable from the telephone exchange?!

Work
I am being Restructured.
One by one members of my team are being redistributed around the organisation, to sometimes surprising places.
I do not yet know where I will end up.
My meeting with the boss has been postponed three times so far.
This is added stress which I do not need and it is very tempting to Voluntarily Sever myself.
However, I am going to wait and see what is on offer. 
You never know, it might be a Good Thing.

Knitting?
I have a finished object!
My Epistrophy cardigan just requires buttons and a photoshoot - woo hoo!

Always end on a positive note, Roo.