Friday, April 30, 2010

pity party day!

G'day all1

Having a bit of a pity party today.

DH had a go at me about not being proactive in doing stuff around the house. He isn't happy with me barely managing to keep up with cooking meals, doing the shopping, doing some house cleaning, dealing with most of the dishes and clothes washing, sitting looking at Ravelry too much, kntting, generally trying to hold things together, not making any money, not going out and getting a job, not taking pressure off him. I apparently need to plan things like our garden and our new kitchen (we'd have to take money out of the mortgage to pay for that), etc etc. Sorry, don't have that much brain power left. I can still think about stuff but it takes energy that I sometimes don't have. I certainly don't have much volition beyond knitting and spinning and managing to get food cooked.

It is odd how when your nearest and dearest have a go at you, you feel abandoned and unloved. None of this cancer business was in my plans. I didn't want to have to be sick to get better. I didn't want to be a useless lump of matter not doing the things that I'd like to do. I would like to be pulling my weight in regards to earning an income and doing "real" stuff around the house. I'm not used to needing to ask others to help me get stuff done.

(Note he did apologise for being a grumpy old fart - he's not yet 33! - and also said he was probably being a bit rough on me...)

Also it is the fourth anniversary of my father's death. I've said it before, he was old, it was his time to go (dementia and a broken hip) and I wouldn't call him back if I could cos he was too old and sick, but you still miss them. May isn't a happy month, what with my parents' deaths bookending the month and my MiL's best friend dying in the middle of the month, two weeks after my father.

On the good side? I think I staved off a trip to emergency today by taking Zyrtec. I had itchy itchy itchies! I rang up the chemo after hours number and they said if the antihistamines don't work, off you go to emergency. Well my feet are a bit sore still but nothing is itching now, so that is pleasing!

My black fingernails are scaring me a lot. I have to wear black nailpolish (already had to replace it after applying it yesterday!). Black dots on my fingers are scary.

Still haven't edited pics - my so bad! But I'll get there eventually.

Now I have to wait and see how I go with the Neulasta, the injection that will help my bone marrow produce more neutrophils (white blood cells that attack infections). I'm likely to feel like I've got the flu. But according to the paperwork with the injection, only about 20% of people get that sensation. About the same number feel flued from the chemo. So I might not feel craptastic but I might! We'll see. In the meantime, I have number of apples to chop up and stew, and some rhubarb to cook up with an orange - I am told the orange gets juiced and sliced, add a bit of sugar to taste, some cinnamon and all goes into the oven for half an hour or 45 minutes and comes out lovely! I shall go see if I can find the recipe.... Hmm, looks like I am fairly on the money.

For anyone who made it this far, a pretty rose adorning our umm rather average fence :-)

OK, time for the pity party to end, gotta go do stuff before the artifical energy of the anti-nausea drugs wears off completely!


Thursday, April 29, 2010

More done

G'day all!

Hooray for me, I've survived another PET scan, mammogram, ultrasound and two biopsies! And chemo today. Feeling pretty tired - one of the anti-nausea/anti-bloating drugs I am on seems to wake me up at 4am (didn't help that someone rang us at 3:30am!) and I can't go back to sleep until after 5am. But at least that meant I rescued the chicken stock that I meant to freeze on Tuesday after making it on Monday. 4:30am and I'm reboiling the stock. Has to be an upside for every early morning awakening.

The infusion went in ok, no dramas with allergies or anything. Tomorrow Nathan has to stab me with a new drug to keep my neutrophil (a white blood cell/immune system support) count up. We'll see how I go!

I never showed off my new little quilt. I finished it over a week ago!


The olive colour is actually a bit brighter and happier in reality - it is called avocado and is quite like avocado skin in colour. The quilt measures 88cm X 110cm, so roughly 34" X 43" - possibly a cot size quilt or a nice little lap quilt. I'm thinking of selling this one but have no idea how to price it.

Materials are Lila Tueller's "Eden" mixed with some local quilter's cotton. Batting is 50:50 bamboo cotton. All the thread used in it is cotton (except possibly 15 cm of thread used on one of the avocado binding sections). I have ideas about having everything rot down when it is no longer wanted or useful.

I am quite fond of the backing.


I stippled it over a couple of days on my Janome. That was an experience cos someone kept forgetting to put the presser foot down and that completely plays with the tension. At least I remembered to put the feed dogs down...


I've knitted a couple of big hairy hats this week and donated them to the chemo centre. I've got pics of them on me just to show off the idea but haven't edited them yet. plus I am working on a way cute or offbeat hat with the weird yarn I talked about the other day. I fear I need another ball of the yarn but today is not a good day for trawling up to the shops (though I might feel fine later on - currently I feel knackered!). Instead I've started knitting me a big pink hairy hat. :-)


Wednesday, April 28, 2010


G'day all!

I am now involved in a wrangle with the mob we used to move money from the States to home.

We've triggered some money laundering thing and now I have to provide evidence of our US income and address for the US government.

Well we have no income in the States (or here for that matter). I've been moving money from the US account to here to help us survive. I haven't even paid the mortgage for the last two months (we are still ahead though due to shovelling money onto it in the past).

We also do not have an address in the States so proving residence is going to be awful hard when we are not residents.

Argh! Stupid regs. I know why they are there but I simply cannot provide the evidence they want of income and residence. We have none!

Argh grumble mutter. All I need is a wrangle with the US govt thinking we deal in illegal stuff or some such rot. We are horribly law abiding. Heck I won't even speed or park illegally or run orange lights. It's a dull life but someone has to lead it.


Fo - Calais shawlette

G'day all!

I am pretty sure I have not blogged this. I better not have! It didn't show up when I loaded my own blog....

(Talk about chemo brain - I just had to go investigate the funny hissing noise. Turns out it is the onions I put on to brown on the stove (obviously in a saucepan!). Oh. At least it wasn't a leaking hose, which is what I thought it was at first! Maybe I need my ears checked.)


So this little shawl has been doing the rounds recently on Ravelry. I thought I would try my hand at it.

Calais, by Judy Marples.

I had some sock yarn sitting around (doesn't everyone???) that had been part knitted into a sock. The hand of the yarn as a sock just was not doing it for me. It felt rather cottony but wrong for cotton too. I dyed it up hmm, three years or so ago. It was a test skein that I never really like.


Looks pretty good as this little shawl though! But it is a little shawl - 330m of fingering weight yarn, about 1.2m across and 60cm deep. I knitted it on 4mm needles, slightly larger than the ones called for I believe, but should've gone up further to make it less dense. I had enough yarn - I repeated the last two rows 5 more times than called for in the pattern. OK, I only had this much yarn left after the cast off.

Yikes! (Don't I have an interesting lifeline or three?)

I like the little whale tail :-)

Now I have to move on to knit another shawl. I signed up for the Evenstar knitalong but haven't started on that yet. Maybe I should do the test swatch before I start new chemo. But I don't have lots of time and I sorta want to go to the Australian quilt convention tomorrow, though I am not sure if that is a good idea given how busy I am. But the show only happens once a year and I won't be able to go on the weekend, but I have no money to spend there so I'd best stay away and play in my stash instead. There. Decided. (boo hoo!)

You wanna know something I find highly amusing? Today after my PET scan, I trawled around Chaddy (a truly monstrous mall) looking for black nail polish (or dark blue) and for some sort of sunglasses that could go over my specs. I found the nail polish eventually, when I went to the right sort of shop, and got some holographic silver glitter nail polish too (this is to try to save my fingernails during the next chemo as it is very hard on nails). The sunnies? Well I had to get prescription ones. (Now I can't afford to pay for my footy club membership.) The funny part?

Here's me, happy to wear no name brands. The sunnies are Versace. They were on special and cost $6 more than the cheap ones, and looked better. So now I'll be wearing Versace with my old runners (trainers) and tie dye tshirts! LOL


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ah simple minds, simple pleasures

G'day all!

On the weekend, I succumbed to temptation.

I bought a ball of this yarn in pink, white and green (aka a colourway that is not in the online shop). It is a novelty yarn with puffy lumps of polyester that looks sorta like small marshmallows when knitted up.

I admit to giggling like a maniac as the lumpy bits start lining up. I wish I had enough done to show you what it looks like but really, three rows is not enough! I am making myself a very basic hat out of it - one of the sorts of hats that is a rectangle seamed on both sides to make a rather square hat.

Here's me, being a yarn snob, and the simple things are amusing me, like puffy marshmallow hats. Tee hee hee!

And you should see the enormous fluffy dead muppet chemo cap I made - just finished it a little while ago (oops, no I haven't - I haven't woven, more like knotted, in one of the ends. Best fix that up). I made it for a true boofhead - it is a little large even on me, tough the large just means it relaxes on my head nicely.

Ah from the sublime to the ridiculous. Or maybe vice versa.

860m of mauve/violet/violent handspun finnsheep. Mmm. Am trying to choose a pattern for this one - it will be a full size shawl when I am done but which one? Hmmm...

Nothing to report from today's clinic. My usual oncologist was not available, only a registrar. He was ok but he has not been dealing with me all the way through and well I didn't develop any rapport with him at all. He didn't examine me or look at the weirdness on the back of my head (sorta spotty, not itchy or flaky, just looks weird). One of the BC nurses said that I was supposed to see a surgeon too today but noone could tell me who or where, except the receptionist said that there were no surgeons on today. And then she couldn't even call the BC nurses, even though they are in the same offices, all she could do was give me their number... Apparently I can take thiamine (B1) and vitamin B12 to help combat side effects of the taxane chemotherapy I'll be starting later in the week. Guess I shall go check out various B group vitamins, then see if I can get B1, B6 and B12 in preference to others B group vitamins. They didn't say B6 but it seems to always be a goodie to take if you need some of the group, though I read that it can cause peripheral neuropathy in large doses and peripheral neuropathy is something I am trying to avoid by taking B1 and B12. Doh!

Tomorrow I have another PET scan. Thursday they bleed me of half my blood volume (via a needle in my arm, alas not the PICC line - useless PICC line - I was told it would be used for bloods!) and then mammogram me, ultrasound me and biopsy me. Thursday is going to be a Day of Pain. The amount of blood they take is probably only about 100mL all up but it hurtses cos they suck it out. As for the mammogram, I will be expert at these by the time I am done. Hopefully they'll only want to look at the right one. Please? And then I can have more holes in me and lots of very interesting and scary looking bruising. Hope I heal up ok - healing is taking its own sweet time now.

On a related note, having never had such short hair before, certainly not a shaved head, I didn't realise that the spiky hairs left would act rather like velcro on my hats. The little stumps are fairly sensitive and don't like having any of my caps moved around on my head. They seem to hang onto the caps as well. Weird!

ETA - weather today was fantastically dull. Lowering clouds that ended up drizzling, just like a proper winter day in Melbourne. Except it is still autumn. Haven't seen weather like this for ages. I want my cool, crisp sunny mornings that warm up to about 20-22C. Those are proper autumnal days!


Monday, April 26, 2010

Gifties and overdue thanks!

G'day all!

I have been terribly ungracious. (Actually it was someone known as me forgot to take pics of a couple of items received and then got all hung up on not being able to blog the gifties without all parts being acknowledged.) I received some parcels a month ago and haven't blogged them. (And I need to find the pics of another giftie that will be coming in handy very shortly given we are moving well into autumn and soon winter here.)

So my good buddy Dreamcatcher sent me a lovely mauve chemo chap in Calmer:

and a silk scarf:
(with me trying for some Hollywood in a convertible with the top down glamour but failing. alas dismally - I just look like a nong instead. LOL)

Both of these gifts are finding plenty of use :-) And if you are in the market for a bit of hand-dyed yarn, hop along to Dreamcatcher's new shop, Flamboyance Yarns, particularly if you are in the UK.

And my good pal Sknitty sent me a whole passel of bits and bobs, like a badge:

some stitchmarkers:

Some Trader Joe's peppermint lip balm (yummy!) which apparently I should not apply to my eyeballs (?!!):

some yummy drinks - the ginger tea is good for my weird indigestion and DH rather likes the hot chocolate:

some yummy yarn for me to knit up into something extra nice:

and a chemo cap in a Lorna's Lace (ooh gosh, must find the card again):

Many thanks to you both - I am enjoying my prezzies :-)

(No I am not really as white as a vampire or even a goth, but I do glow in sunlight! LOL)

Rumbling around on Ravelry (I spend LOTS of time there now when I'm not doing other stuff, like chopping up a what feels like a thousand apples and stewing them after we bought a big bag of Granny Smiths for $5), I discovered a website with some major temptation. I've been knitting a lot of shawls and making more and more complicated lace ones, well sometimes. Othertimes I've been knitting pretty basic lace shawls. Well I came across a link to this online shop. Argh. Now I want this book on Estonian shawls and this book on Estonian mittens. And some of the laceweight yarn - €3.50 for 100g of 1700m or 1400m lamswool? Wowee! But alas, no income = no nice new books for me. Or yarn. (Ahem. Except for the stuff I bought yesterday to make me a whacky hat. Oh and the 30% off 2ply Shepherd "baby yarn.")

If I pull my finger out and track down the ingredients, I will make this gluten free bread. And then I can make some GF naan bread. Mmmm naan :-)

And the next time you yawn and someone tells you off for being rude? Tell them that your brain is switching gears and is revving itself up.

Guess I'd better go wash a couple of the new plakky containers so I can freeze the stewed apple. (I prefer glass but glass is heavy and breaks badly.) Then I can look at heating up Saturday night's leftovers for dinner tonight - hooray for me for making so much food! Oh and I have to deal with the chicken stock I made earlier today. It might be cool enough to go in the fridge now. Then I can skim off the fat and freeze it too. It will most likely end up as a risotto - we are eating heaps of my non-traditionally made risotto at present. It is yummy!


Saturday, April 24, 2010


G'day all!

Anzac Day has rolled around again. I swear it is happening more often these days.

Anzac Day is now used rather like Remembrance Day, to remember all the wars that Australians have been involved in. It seems some people are worried that the resurgence of Anzac Day from being a half forgotten anniversary of the storming of a little cove in Turkey to a national day of remembrance means that we will glorify war.

For me at least, that fear is rubbish. Ridiculous.

My Pop fought at Gallipoli and then backed up for more at the Somme. Like many veterans, he didn't like talking about his time at the war. He talked a bit about the "good" bits - the gattling guns, the women - he very much liked the French women! - but you didn't get to hear about the horrors. A generation of men came back from the war struggling to cope with what they had seen and what they had done. How can you glorify that? How can you glorify trench foot, living for months in freezing or frying mud and blood and slush, killing people that you otherwise could be friends with? The Turks and the Allies used to swap cigarettes, tins of beef and sweets during cease fires at Gallipoli. How do you glorify the death of over 130,000 men at Gallipoli? It was a disaster for the Allies and the huge losses of Turks (2 for every Allied death, over 10,000 ANZACs) could only be seen as a victory due to the awful mistakes made by the English command and eventual withrawal of Allied troops from the Gallipoli peninsula.

No, the only way anyone could glorify war is to not actually talk about the realities of war.

And to our Kiwi cousins, whose contribution is apparently ignored by Australians? Lord knows what people think the NZ stands for in Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC). I am sorry that we seem to have forgotten you.

"Those heroes that shed their blood
And lost their lives.
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
And the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side
Here in this country of ours.
You, the mothers,
Who sent their sons from far away countries
Wipe away your tears,
Your sons are now lying in our bosom
And are in peace
After having lost their lives on this land they have
Become our sons as well."

Kemal Atatürk

War has changed but memories of trench-based warfare remain.

Lest we forget.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Chemo queen in progress

G'day all!

I'm keeping busy at the moment. Yesterday I had to get my PICC line dressed, which means going to the hospital. I have *never* been to a hospital so often before. I have to go every week! Next week I need to go on Tuesday (clinic), Wednesday (PET scan), Thursday (mammogram/ultrasound/biopsy) and then Friday for chemo! I'll be really busy but that is ok cos I reckon I am up to it and it also gives me four more chances to forget to go and buy some more peppermint tea (loose leaf, hard to come by cos we don't have a local Wholefoods any more). I forgot yesterday and boy was I peeved with myself cos I bought a heap of other stuff but forgot the very thing I went to that shop for!

So much for old chemo brain not affecting me...though I am prone to forgetting stuff anyway and I have not missed an appointment yet. Except the one where they sent the notification to a completely wrong address - I think I can say that was not my fault!

On and off I've been working on my chemo queen bedjacket.


I've completed the yoke, started on the bodice and now been distracted by the sleeves. I want the sleeves to be elbow length but we'll see - I don't know how much yarn that will take cos once my 300g of recycled cotton and cashmere is all gone, it is all gone! I might be able to match the cashmere (aqua) within reason from my stash of recycled cashmere pullovers but most likley not.


(The background on the first pic reminds me that am going to start blogging on A Modest Manor again cos we have lots of stuff that is really house stuff and garden stuff to talk about. Like my BiL cut down the rather too large Queensland Box tree yesterday - thanks BiL!)

I've finished a little shawl which is blocking on the bed as we speak. I hope it dries before we need to go to bed tonight! Pics later - it doesn't show up well against the sheet I am blocking it on. Plus I finally got the binding on the little pinwheel quilt sewn down and the thing washed and mostly dry before the current spell of not-so-good weather has kicked in. Can you imagine - a week of cloudy, windy weather with repeated (failed) attempts at rain? That is what we have before us, after a week of much too warm weather (it hit 30C/80sF) one day last week, and we had some fantastic thunderstorms. I had to shave my legs again so I could wear shorts! I also shaved my head this morning cos I got sick of having random tufty bits of hair. Now I have a bit of a fringe, some side tufts and some nape tufts (the latter mainly cos it is really hard to buzz cut your own head). Now I can go loud and proud and nude nutted when I go out. I love rubbing it - parts feel soft like moleskin, parts feel like cheap synthetic velour :-D

Argh, just found another bit I missed! Off to find the scissors.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

If I...

G'day all!

I have more FOs to show you. Plural? Yes. But do I have edited pics?


My bad!

Things are interesting at the Modest Manor. I am happily engaged in making stuff. DH is unhappily engaged in being unemployed. He really needs a job but there are not that many jobs out there for a chap with his qualifications - companies here are only willing to pay for graduates, as in someone with a degree. Of course if you pay peanuts, you will get quite a number of monkeys...

Anyway, I brought home a fair amount of undyed sock yarn. I even paid duty on it. My plan was to set up yet another little dyeing business whilst I looked for work. Well plans change as things change and whilst I won't be looking for a Real Job (though I do have a rather short haircut!) for the nonce, I've decided maybe I'll do a bit of yarn dyeing to help pass the time. (Cos I don't have anything else to do, ha! You would not believe how much time I spend in the kitchen these days - I'm not a great cook, I mostly don't really enjoy cooking and I do a lot of it every day...)

So I have the yarn. I need to skein some up. What sort of sock yarn do you like best? I've got:
  • 100% superwash wool,
  • superwash BFL,
  • 80:20 merino/bamboo,
  • 50:50 merino silk (but it is pricey)...

I've used the 100% superwash and it is nice, the 80:20 wool/bamboo is quite lush, and I have No Clue about the other two. I was trying to get some cashmere blend cos ones like Casbah are totally lush and gorgeous and even seem to wash well but by jingo it sells out quickly!

I'm thinking of doing some self-striping yarn, just simple ones, two colours (eg black and purple, black and blue, someone will want black and red but I don't do much red cos I'm allergic to the red dyes I've used so far). Maybe some three colour ones. I might do some plain old immersion/kettle dyeing but it is fairly random in effect and one tends to get unmatchy socks. I could do some one colour dyeing, I'd love to do some more gradient dye jobs (but they are more pricey cos they involve a lot more labour) I guess I should check what dyes I have left these days! I am pretty sure I brought some home from the US.

(I have a respirator, the likes of which is used in a spray painting shop, I have gloves, I can sacrifice an item of clothing to be my dye top, all to reduce my exposure to chemicals.)

I shall distract you from the lack of knitting content with pics of hexes for a new quilt along.


(Love the radiation safety hexes, though they are a bit lurid and hard to see in some combos)

(Wheely good hexes!)

Don't you love the way you can change the appearance of the hex by alternating the pieces or turning them sideways?

Tomorrow I might have another FO, a knitting one, to show you. I am galloping along on a little shawl. I might be being a bit overenthusiastic though cos it won't be blocked and currently looks like a rather holey dishrag.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Off to the familial cancer clinic

G'day all!

Today I visited the familial cancer clinic at Monash Medical Centre, Clayton. It is only 15 minutes drive away, less really, but of course I caught every major set of lights on the way. Then I drove around and around and around and around and AROUND the carpark, a paying carpark, looking for a carpark! (It would've taken less time if I could take the train but I am supposed to avoid crowded places and the train is often busy and usually has people with colds on board. Blighters!)

Eventually I grumped at the car park attendant and he let me out. Then I drove into the familial cancer clinic car park, double parked the car and told them I'd be even later cos I had just spent 15 minutes looking for a carpark and now had to go park out on the streets somewhere.

I found a carpark on the street very easily. I know where to look. But I was 20 minutes late and rather crabby.

So I met with one of the doctors and an intern. Some people are very "private" about their cancer stuff but I've turned into a hussy. Yet another doctor wants to examine me? Fine! Go ahead! Everyone else has. You want to help an intern get through their degree by sitting in? Fine! Go ahead! I've got nothing to hide. (Though I did keep my cap on, even though I was frying.)

So we discussed my cancer. My family background is apparently not a big issue (Mum died of bowel cancer, her only sibling, a sister, died of breast cancer). They both died at an age that is not an issue (unless of course other members of the family also died around the same age. But there are no other rellos on that side of the family that we know of who have had cancer).

The biggest issue is my cancer is triple negative. Triple negative means that it does not express hormone receptors and is HER2 negative. Oestrogen and progesterone can drive some cancers, so women who are have cancers that are hormone receptive are given tamoxifen (or other anti-oestrogenic chemicals). HER2 is a cell receptor that gets stuck on in some cancers and helps the tumour cells grow rapidly. Herceptin is given to treat HER2 positive tumours. My cancer doesn't express either of those so I am not going on tamoxifen or herceptin.

The reason for the familial cancer testing is because of my triple negative cancer. A high percentage of women with a mutated breast cancer gene BRCA1 have triple negative cancers. But having triple negative cancer doesn't mean I carry BRCA1. It means I have a small chance of carrying the gene. However that chance is high enough that I am getting government sponsored testing.

If I do carry a mutated BRCA1 it is almost certainly a new mutation because of the lack of a strong family history of breast cancer. Also if I carry it, I am much more likely to have more go rounds of cancer, which may make me consider a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy (and oophrectomy/hysterectomy since ovarian cancer is also on the cards). So I need to know if I have a mutated BRCA1 (or 2) gene before I have surgery - why not kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. But if I don't have a mutated BRCA1 gene then this current cancer is likely to be an isolated event of unknown origin. Anyway, they are arranging expedited testing as it usually takes 8 months to get a result back. If I got the testing done today, then they were hoping to get a result back in 6 weeks. Then i go back for the result.

So I toddled off to the pathology lab, waited for 45 minutes in a public waiting area (I'm terrified of crowds now cos of the low immunity - this is the week where I basically have little in the way of an immune system), knitted frantically on a shawl and then had to have one of my poor right arm's veins skewered. My right arm has one vein in particular that will hurt for some time after I finish chemo - one of the chemo nurses says the epirubicin may have leaked from the vein, causing tissue damage. It's been seven weeks so far and I can still tell you exactly where the vein runs. Touching the affected areas can feel like chinese rope burn or an electric shock, especially if I am not expecting it. My wrist is not as flexible as it was and if I have not moved it for a while, movement again feels like a shock. If I lift too much heavy stuff with it, it is sore the next day. However, I am not allowed to lift more than two kilos with my left arm (the dominant one!), though I often do without thinking. So poor Mr Right Arm cops a lot now. Makes things interesting!

After doing the clinic, I came home, made lunch and then sewed the binding onto my new quilt. Alas I have to hand sew the binding down on the back of the quilt and I can't find the fine sharp needles that I know are somewhere, only the thicker ones that are sooooo hard to push through the fabric and batting.... Pathetic isn't it that I whine that one of my fingernails now hurts from supporting my finger's attempts to push the needle through the quilt. It is more annoying than the phlebitis in my arm. Or the remaining vague sensation of indigestion...

Did I share this pic with you?

I love the bee bottoms sticking up out of the gum blossoms.

And we've had a few dragonfly visitors recently. I only saw this one because Cheshire was transfixed by something on the conifer...


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Quilting madness

G'day all!

Knitting has taken a back seat these last few days. The weather has been lovely and I've been outside sewing up a storm. (OK, no storms yet.) A little while ago I managed to put a quilt sandwich together for a little pinwheel quilt. Yesterday I started quilting it.

Along the way, the machine started playing up a LOT. Stupid machine! It started off so nicely and I was telling it how it was nicer than the Singer for quilting on - my Oz Janome was stippling away happily and the only major problem was the nut behind the wheel, so to speak (ie me). Then I started getting odd tension problems. Suddenly, after my third or fourth outburst of cussing at the machine and yet another round of unpicking, it makes a rather weird and scary noise and voila!

It spits out the needle. Yikes!

After I examined the needle carefully and declared it good, once tightened back in its holder, I had no further problems with tension until the top thread ran out.

DOH! And Scroatfight had just shut so there was no point doing an emergency run to get more cotton thread.

Here's what I've done so far:

The fabric is Eden by Lila Tueller. I got a layer cake of it a while ago. I've been following the instructions for the quilt on the Old Red Barn Co quiltalong group on Flickr and on Dana's blog. This is a small quilt - probably lap size or maybe cot size. I have a big quilt with the same sort of pinwheels only purple, green and yellow rather than pink, one that will be a nice queen size bed topper but I have not yet made a quilt sandwich (quilt top, batting/innards, backing) for it. I need to make a backing for it and find a big enough space to baste it.

In the grand tradition of not finishing the first quilt (I haven't yet, it is still waiting to be basted and quilted, as is the second quilt top and the third quilt top), I have started another quiltalong with the group. Yep, this time we are making hexagons with Jaybirdquilts!

So I grabbed my only jelly roll

and I chose 10 strips from it to sew together to make five paired strips

and I pressed the seams to the darker fabric

and I cut out 60 degree triangles

and lookie at all the fun things you can do!

Normal hexagons (whoops, forgot to white balance that one!)

Radiation warning hexagons

Wheelie good hexagons!

It will be interesting to see where these go. I have to choose how to put them together but not quite yet - there's more options to go I think. I have to get a contrast fabric, which will be white I am pretty sure. I don't think any other neutral will look as good. We'll see what happens!


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Peppermint tea, I want to have your babies

G'day all!

Oh the glories of peppermint tea! Oh blessed tea! Y'see the indigestion's got me bad, even with the new medication. (I am contemplating going off this med when things settle and trying the other one again cos I had EXACTLY THE SAME issues with this one as I did with the first and it is generally less effective as an anti-indigestion thing than the first one I tried.)

If I drink peppermint tea, things settle to some degree. Maybe even enough that I can sleep! After all, it is only quarter to one in the morning as I write this and I really really really want to go to sleep. So hopefully the peppermint tea will keep setting me right enough to get some sleep. Oh blessed sleep!

And next time stomach says it wants munchies at 10pm, I shall bravely ignore it and sally forth to bed instead.

I never did show off Travelled Woman, did I?


She wraps around my neck quite well, mostly because the tips are bent like (folded) bat wings. But she is not for me, no no. I am pretty sure I know where she is going.

(I love that picture beyond reason.) Details on Ravelry.

A while ago, I also spun up some merino (or merino and silk) singles to make a pair of slippers out of. Silly me never took a pic of them after fulling, only before


and now the slippers are totally covered in all sorts of things from hair to wood shavings, ie loved but not photographable. Ravelled here. I love them too cos they keep my tootsies warm. Warm tootsies are wonderful!

Must go to bed. Oh please let me sleep Mr Indigestion! Mr Peppermint Tea has had a good calmative effect so far and I would so like not to fall asleep on the keyboard (which is perilously likely to happen if I keep blathering!).


Monday, April 12, 2010


G'day all!

Tis the season for me to hibernate! It has been rather cold here these last couple of days. A strong cold front came through and brrr!

(OK, this is to say that it is getting down to about 10C/40-something F overnight and only reaching 17C/60?F during the day, with a rather strong cold SW wind. Yesterday was the first day since December last year when the temperature did not reach 20C.)

So here I am, sitting at the computer (as I have been for a greater part of the day) whining about being cold. I've found I can keep my hands warm if I put them on the laptop cos it is warmer than some things around the place. I have a silk/bamboo cap on, a lovely little shawlette knitted out of handspun boucle silk given to me last year, handknitted handwarmers, luscious handknitted socks, four layers on my top (and I've got the hood up on the fleecy top over my cap), the ORBQ quilt on my lap and I am still barely managing to keep warm. And apart from the things in pairs, nothing matches. I'd warm up if I was more active but I'm finding days 3-5 or 6 after chemo are pretty slack, slow days when I don't want to do much (especially since the indigestion is worst around then too!).

The cats are so cold, Nutmeg consented to sit with Cheshire for a while and even washed him and allowed him to wash her. This is mighty unusual!

And I've finally started editing pics of things I've received and things I've made recently. HOOR-blasted-RAY!


The second most recent chemo cap, now donated to my chemo centre. Blogging it before I forget about it - out of sight, out of mind!


Hopefully it won't look as mutant as it does on my head. The yarn is gorgeous - bamboo cotton, bought in Munich. Wish I had more of it cos I used about 1.2 skeins for this hat = not enough to make me a cap too!

(Glad I washed it cos I just saw a cat hair on it - I'm trying to avoid spreading the cat hair love around but it isn't always possible).

This hat was made to my now standard recipe for chemo caps - a swirl in one direction, short rows and a swirl in the other direction (so you can tell the back from the front). I am going to write up the pattern for 8ply/DK weight yarn, with an emphasis on sizing for those of us who are boofheads!



I won a prize on Uberstitch's blog! I was so excited! She runs an Etsy shop - do go check it out if you are into fabrics, particularly quilting fabrics. I find that it is much cheaper to buy material from such stores and get it shipped than it is to buy locally. (But I wish I could afford to buy locally, I just can't especially at the moment....) It's amazing what you can get into these $13 flat rate mailing bags. See what was inside:

A Denyse Schmidt quilting book (with some really great ideas in it) and

a wodge of coordinating fat quarters from her Hope Valley line in New Day. I am looking forward to playing with them soon, as soon as I finish working on my pinwheel quilts, yes QUILTS. BTW, neither USPS or Oz Post can be blamed for the book being bent - it was bent to get it into the mailing bag. (I had to make that clear - I was amazed the book arrived in as good a shape as it has cos it is laying pretty much flat now.)


Here's a sneak preview of the bigger quilt before I sewed it together. I've actually finished both the quilt tops now and have the smaller one all basted up ready to quilt. (It has been so windy here recently that I've not been able to get pics - the only place to get good pics is hanging on the washing line and well when the quilt top is blowing sideways....) I just need the space to start the quilting! DH is using all of the desk for his electronics projects - I'll have to get him to set me up a table too :-)

I hope that is enough for you to go on with for the nonce! I have plenty more to blog about but I seem to be in a quiet phase at present. I guess it is a low energy time and when I am a bit flat energy wise, I pull into myself (typical introvert!). It doesn't mean I am not enjoying life or anything, just that I am being pretty quiet and saving my energy for things that don't cost me much.


Thursday, April 08, 2010


G'day all!

A quick one before tomorrow's chemo, the last FEC, hooray!

I'm sitting on the bed, with a cat beside me. I'm reading a Ravelry post when I feel something on the back of my neck.

ACK! It is HARD and has more legs than I'd like it to. I shriek and pull it off me.

It's a weevil, a sort of beetle. In this case it is about 8mm/third of an inch long.

"Oooh, what is that?," says Nutmeg, as I try to flick it off the bed. "Oooh!" I flick it (accidentally) right at her. "Oooh! YUM!" Nom nom nom. But the weevil is stuck firmly to the bed. They have claws you know. Nom nom nom. Nom nom nom! Eventually she detaches the weevil and drops it on the floor and eats it there. (One can only eat off the floor, preferably without any sort of bowl in the way.)

Now she is looking at me and waiting for me to find her another little snack....

Nutmeg, scourge of small creatures everywhere.

(Note, DH stayed asleep for the whole performance...)


Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Update - arcane medical stuff

G'day all!

Today I saw the oncologist leading the study I am participating in. When I think about it, it is pretty impressive that he sees the women in the study cos he must be pretty busy. He seems to be my oncologist cos I've seen him every time for my chemo follow ups.

We discussed my progress, any problems I am having - a new one! Snotty nose and runny eyes. Controlled by antihistamines. He said some people develop this runny nose and eyes syndrome whilst on chemo and most find antihistamines control it. So there I go. I've already found the answer. I've got something not quite as common as indigestion and hair loss and a minor amount of fatigue and oh the phlebitis in my right arm and the PICC line in the left that means I can't pick up more than 2kg with that arm (yeah, right! I try to avoid it but some times I must pick something heavy up - I just try not to carry much stuff on that arm. But then Mr Phlebitis gets annoyed in my right arm. Never satisified, these arms!). I have had three FEC, the last one is on Friday. Then I start the taxane.

The lymph node in my armpit is small and flexible and pretty much "normal." It is getting quite hard to find. The breast lump is also much smaller than it was and now is getting hard to detect unless you prod it in just the right way (like I put my finger right on it after the oncologist couldn't, but I do have an advantage in that I live with it and check it regularly). He said that if I presented to a surgeon today, without them knowing my history, they would go with a lumpectomy and axillary dissection rather than a boobectomy plus dissection.

So that is good news!

All I need to know now is do I carry the breast cancer genes (BRCA1 and 2 are the currently described genes)? If I do, well I can go the prophylactic bilateral boobectomy route (DH would miss them more than me I think) - off with their heads! If I don't, then I am likely just to have a lumpectomy and dissection.

Plus we discussed the study. They have started testing the tissue samples. They are doing a screen of 44,000 genes for each individual to see what genes are expressed in the tumours. They are focussing particularly on certain families of genes to see what ones are expressed by different people and also which of these are affected by what chemo. FEC affects cell replication by inhibiting DNA synthesis and also apparently cell metabolism. Taxanes affect the division of cells by stopping spindle formation during mitosis. They've already worked out that cancers that light up with PET scans (these use a radioactive glucose to highlight very metabolically active tissues) are very likely to respond to FEC. They want to develop a protocol that says, "Ah, you have a breast cancer that expresses these gene families. The best chemo for you is FEC." Or maybe the cancer expresses genes that will respond better to a taxane. At the moment, they just don't have the data to do anything else apart from hammer the cancer with the available chemotherapies, which means exposing the person to highly toxic chemicals that they may not really need to have to treat the cancer.

All in all, a productive visit. I learned some. He held back a bit on the science cos really I am not a specialist in the area but I mostly grokked it and the stuff I don't know about I can bone up on.

I still haven't shown off pics of stuff I finished last week, or the prezzies I've been getting. I am very slack! I've been busy Doing Stuff like quilting rather than emailing. Not sure why. Here's a little peek at Silly Frilly.


It is getting dark so early now that we are off daylight savings. The sun sets just after six pm. Last night we visited the PiL's and were wilting at the extremely late time of twenty past SEVEN! LOL Plus it's been very smoky at our place for three or four days now and it is driving me nuts. Smoke gives me asthma (though as it turns out, the chemo seems to be helping with my weird immune system stuff - some of the chemicals I am on are known to have such effects) and sore eyes and I can't do any washing of clothes and nor can DH and given the mountain of dirty clothes in the corner.... ARGH!

Finally, I give you Yet Another Picture of Nutmeg, in a mutant pose. She really enjoys being patted, when she is in the mood for it. Look at those whiskers!