Knitting: Revisit

About eleven years ago my Grandma showed me how to knit.  We went to the Walmart and picked up some knitting needles in the most common size and some yarn.  She taught me the basics of knitting, purling, casting on and off.  Grandma also taught me the continental style of knitting.  I had watched people knit and had noticed that the way I knit wasn’t the same as everyone.

I knit for a little while but my hands would ache.  I couldn’t figure it out.  My cast on was also a bit of a mess and my knitting became too tight that no needle would fit through the loops.  One day I found myself at a well known yarn/knitting store in town, which shall remain nameless, to see if they might be able to help.  The gal told me I was hopeless.  So I packed up my needles and donated all my yarn and needles to the knitting club at school.

My Grandma also taught me how to crochet – though I struggled with this as I was about 6 when she showed me.  Once I failed at knitting I thought I could try crochet again.  I found an easy project or two and watched a you tube video or two and was back at it.  Last year I decided to take a crochet class to learn any of the skills or tips that you learn at the very beginning that I either forgot or didn’t pick up on Youtube.  I took it from a great yarn store called STASH.  First let me say that it is an amazing store.  The yarn choices are incredible, they have lovely knitting needles and supplies, some super fun accessories and a staff that are wonderful.  Later a class called Granny Square Party called my name as a friend of mine said granny squares were super fun – they are, she was right.

While in the class my fun teacher, Marjorie, said I should try knitting.  I explained my situation and she said that was silly.  She told me I was a continental knitter – I hadn’t known the name until then.  Marjorie also showed me a couple of tips.  When class was over another wonderful staff member, Christine, helped me pick my first project and all I would need.

I made the GAP TASTIC COWL.

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I worked on it while I was in the surgery preparation, waiting rooms, pre surgery and after recovery.  I loved how it turned out and can’t wait for colder weather to wear it.  It was the first time that my hands didn’t hurt.

It was finished, after a few set backs of course, and but I felt invigorated.  By the way, they really should put on post surgery instructions/pain prescriptions that people should not operate heavy machinery, drive, make important decisions or KNIT under the influence of anesthesia.

Since then I’ve tried, and am still working on, the Shadow Shawl and a fun summer shawl.

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I also took a double pointed needle class and made this fun octopus.  Then Ella claimed it and I ended up making a family of them.

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Needless to say, I’ve caught the knitting bug again.  Some people have mentioned that I should knit the English way.  I learned it to be well versed, but I will always knit continental – in honour of Grandma, it was one of the last crafty things she taught me.

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Mystery Quilt 2015

Last year the guild I was a part of did a mystery quilt that ran the course of the guild year.  I was the one running the mystery quilt so I knew what the finished product was going to look like.  I really liked it and thought it would be great in two colors or a scrappy look like the design was intended.

However, I wasn’t fully aware of how many half square triangles there was going to be.  Lets say over 300.  And they were all very very small – 2.5″ unfinished.  As many of you may know I have a LOVE/HATE relationship with HST.  I love the quilts that they are apart of, but HATE making them because somehow I mess them up.

I decided that this would be the quilt to use to try out the different methods of making HSTs, after all I had to share a demo about the HST in guild.  I search all over the place for methods on making more than 2 – again this quilt needed about 300.  I had originally tried the bias method – sewing all the way around your square then cutting it up along both diagonals.  Like the demo that Missouri Star Quilt Company has in this video.

But the math I tried, according to one tutorial, was a little wrong and I ended up creating smaller HST than I needed.  For every 1 that was the correct size I ended up with 3 the incorrect size.  I was worried I was going to run out of fabric.  Then I remembered that Melanie over at Melanie Dramatic did a HST mini series so I made my way over and discovered that 1. I did have the math wrong and 2. the simplified grid method where I could make 8 HST in one fell swoop.  Who wouldn’t want that?  Especially if you needed 8 of that color scheme.  It made this quilt much less daunting as well.  The method worked amazingly well and I was able to finish the quilt using this method.

HST and I still have a love/hate relationship, but using this simplified grid method may be the way for me to work with HST from this point moving forward.

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Filed under Flying Needles Quilt Guild, Flying Needles Quilt Guild Millarville, Quilting

Baby Quilts Galore

Though I haven’t quilted as much as I normally would like to in a year, I did manage to get some baby quilts ready for three new little lives that were entering our world. The patterns I picked out back in November when we first learned of their arrival and fabric was selected. My grand plan was to work on them a little at a time beginning on my Christmas break, then again during feb break and finishing them off during spring break. Well, things happened, and I lost my spunk to do them. I did pick away at them during Christmas break and here and there until February break came and I once again picked them up with more time that I could dedicate to them.

Around then I completed one called Arrow Feather.

27708026644_b65935bc50I loved the look of the quilt and tried to pick my fabrics close to the ones she featured in her pattern. I however found some of the instruction to be more geared towards more experienced quilters, though a confident beginner could handle it but may need to read the instructions a few more times to understand the direction she is going. In the middle of the project I wasn’t loving where it was going in. Was it the colours, the pattern, or the way it was taking shape, I just couldn’t put my finger on it. In fact, it was inches away from joining my incomplete pile or be repurposed for something else, but in the end I stuck with it and was pleased where it finished.  

During March it was my goal to complete the Preppy Pod quilt by Elizabeth Hartman as the baby it was going to was coming next. I had such a wonderful time making this one. I would love to make this one over and over again, especially the big version. It is a well put together pattern with clear instructions. And the cutting wasn’t unreasonable either – which really is my least fav part. What is wonderful about her patterns is that she provides size options for that quilt from baby to a large version. Anyways, I came close to the goal, but recovery got in my way a little bit. Luckily, it was completed before the baby was due – by a day or two, but still.

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Then came the what was I thinking quilt, also known as Fancy Forest. I should have started this in December and picked away at it a little at a time rather than what I ended up doing. I didn’t actually begin it until after my surgery. I remember it like it was yesterday…cue dream like music… Nate was going out, it was the first time he had left me alone with Ella since surgery. The night, once she was in bed, would be spent cutting out the fabric. Obviously, I was still delusional thinking I could get it all cut out in one evening. It took me a few days in fact as it was very detailed cutting and I still would get tired and I couldn’t be on my feet long. Needless to say, I didn’t enjoy that at all. Once it was cut and in individual bags, I set out making each block – or animal in this case. I started with the foxes as I’ve made a ton of those for the fancy fox quilt. Smooth sailing, which lead to overconfidence. The hedgehog was the next step as I’ve made that one before as well. Perhaps you recall me mentioning overconfidence, well it reared its ugly head and it began to go down hill. I made a mistake or three and had to unpick, then noticed that I had made some cutting mistakes, yep more than one. Which lead to some re cuts and starting again. I basically tackled an animal per night. Some, like the owl, took two, especially when I had to fix so many cutting mistakes. I think I cut this quilt out twice. I am pleased with how it turned out, though I wish I had made some fabric changes. It is another great pattern by Elizabeth Hartman, but I think I will put a hold on making the big version for a while.

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Update

last day of school

Hello everyone,

Today is the  last day of school for me.  I’ve cleaned and sorted and organized and planned and now I am officially spent.

What a year it was.  I know it is only June, but for a teacher that is the end of the year.  Then we go through a vortex of two months that is suppose to be restful, but we are doing everything we should have done during the year but didn’t – like doctor and dentist appointments. Anyways, I am thrilled this year is done.

Nate told me the other day that I sort of left people hanging when I didn’t update my cancer results.

I AM THRILLED TO SAY THE CANCER IS GONE!

Yes, I did mean to YELL that!  How could you not?  The surgery was a success and they found no trace of spread.

What comes next you may ask?  Well I get teamed up with a dermatology team who will ensure it says all good and I see my surgeon every year to make sure things are good too.

This summer is going to be full of rest and doing things that I have been putting off – like the Marcelle Medallion Quilt.

 

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shear madness yyc

During the summer months we spend almost every Saturday morning at the Millarville Farmers Market. They are some of my most favourite mornings spent with Nate and Ella and our wonderful friend Paula. We bring the wagon along and pack it full of peaches, cucumbers for pickling, fruits, veggies, plants, baking, cheese and flowers. While there one Saturday, I had seen a fun crayon folio for little kids. It was a little pouch that one could put paper, crayons and something else small in the little pockets. I thought it would be great for travel, church, doctors offices, and restaurants.  I was hoping to pick one up, but the gal I had seen with them wasn’t planning on making them anymore. So I took matters into my own hands. I found the crayon folio pattern by gingercake and made one for Ella and her friend. Then all of a sudden I had about 12 made. They are so much fun to make in fact.

For a while now people made suggestions to open an etsy store and sell the things I had been making for Ella  With a small push from a friend I opened my etsy shop called Shear Madness yyc.

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Currently, I have some of the crayon folios in the shop.  Soon I will ever adding capes (April 6 they were added), reversible aprons called “the Annie” and tool rolls (both later this month). These tool rolls can hold crochet hooks, paint brushes or pencil crayons/markers.  

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March came in like a LION

Many of you know that the beginning of March usually brings a birthday list of the 34, or whatever age I am becoming, things to do over the course of that aged year. This year it was absent as March came in like a lion for us And knocked us off our feet.

It all started back in February, though if I’m being completely honest further back than that, with a mole. A mole the size of a dime about 2 inches from knee on my left thigh. It was starting to change a bit. It was getting puffier, scaly, it would bleed if I scratched it and when I hid it with a band aide it would leave a mark on the band aide once it came off. 

When I was able to get in to see my doctor we made the decision to remove it and took care of it later that week. It was sent to pathology as is the practice now. After a week of not hearing, I put it out of my mind. Then one Friday I got to school and had a lot of missed calls on my cell phone- naturally it was an evening when I should have turned around to get the phone once I realized I had forgotten it. The message simply said that the pathology report came back and that she was sorry and that it was melanoma. To be honest, I didn’t know what that meant. I knew in my heart it wasn’t good but I didn’t really know what it meant. Of course I turned immediately to google (not my best decision I know) discovering that it was a form of skin cancer and not necessarily a good kind. I phoned Nate immediately, crying as I tried to tell him what I had found out, him trying to calm me down as students were entering my room for a rehearsal. I made the decision to keep it to myself until I knew more, as I said I had only been told it was melanoma there was still a lot to find out like what stage it was in and what the next steps where. I didn’t want to worry anyone yet as I only knew what it was and that I was heading for an appointment with a surgeon. 

I had my appointment at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre on March 7, less than a week after my 35 birthday, hence why there is no list- my mind hasn’t been in a place to put one together quite yet, it’s been a bit occupied. Anyways, I met my surgeon who would be removing more of the infected area and had a once over to make sure there wasn’t any other areas I needed to be concerned with. As the appointment progressed I learned more about the issue. I tried to think back to the last time my upper knee/thigh saw sun – as sun exposure and burns are a leading cause of melanoma. It was being put at a higher stage than I had thought it would be. Walking in I thought it might be a stage II and maybe one of the sub levels, but alas I was greeted with a stage IIIb. I nearly choked on my tongue. The doctor told me though that they couldn’t be 100% sure because of the way the original biopsy was done, which meant a bigger and deeper removal of the infected area and the removal of some lymph nodes for testing. I saw that as some optimism. 
I received my call about a week later that the surgery had been scheduled for March 29 with the lymph node mapping on March 28. 
My surgery was a week ago. I’ve been at home now since the 29th as it is a day surgery, it amazes me that it can be done in a day. I’ve been resting and recovering and watching a lot of Netflix. The surgery went well and the pain and discomfort have been decreasing every day. Each day without pain medication is a victory for me, especially because it is a day without dizziness. Each day I am able to do more things, like get out of bed, get on and off the couch, go to the bathroom by myself, get something to eat, and be in positions other than being horizontal. Though today I discovered I can’t quite get dressed all by myself yet as I cannot bend down enough to put on my left sock due to where the lymph node incision is.  

This has been made easier because of our amazing support system that has come around us and been there for us. Ella has been taken care of and loved by her Mama and Pa (grandparents). We have been cared for by our friends and family with meals lovingly prepared, messages, cards, flowers, phone calls, care packages and visits. People came around us that we weren’t expecting and have been so supportive and caring. Our church has been such a support for us with prayer and meals and phone calls. The love we have been shown by all of these folks is more than I ever imagined, that is the silver lining in all if this, and I don’t know how I will ever be able to thank them enough.   

It isn’t over yet. We find out on Thursday if the surgery got it all or if it has spread- the lymph nodes will tell them that. Fear sometimes creeps in and takes hold of me when I think about the possible results. I want it to be finished. I’m praying for it to be finished.

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These Hands…

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These hands belong to one of the most amazing woman I know.  I use to sit and watch these hands make the most amazing baking creations, while they would pass me a spoon to lick in secret. These hands would let me knead the dough or add the sprinkles or ice the butter horns. Wondrous family meals, followed by snacks, followed by a little night lunch, just to make sure no one was ever left hungry, was prepared by these hands.   As pages would be carefully turned  on the family photo albums, these hands would be pointing out and sharing each new adventure.  These hands would trace the line of the family tree sharing something that had just been found out. In the evenings as we gathered around the table, these hands would deal a deck of cards to play a friendly card game.  These hands would cover her face when she got laughing too hard, especially when our golfing went so horribly wrong.

These hands  could take a little paint and a canvas and with a few brush strokes turn it into a piece of art.  These hands would work magic with a needle, thread and sewing machine.  I saw pieces of limp, uninspired fabric transform into elegant masterpieces with the guidance of these hands.  When I was a little girl I would sit in the corner of her sewing room and watch these hands at work and marvel at what would happen and I wished one day I could do only a portion of what these hands did.  During summers these hands would embrace whatever craft I suggested. Decoupage, air brush painting, stencilling, ribbon embroidery, tie dying, rug hooking, needle point, or mop doll making.  And those hands did each one with grace.  These hands were patient as they guided me through my attempts at crocheting and knitting, putting in stitches and taking them out again and again.  These hands taught me to sew and what was possible on a sewing machine.  These hands taught me the finer side of embroidery, the even stitches, the perfect knot, the back sides being as neat as the front.

These hands were loving.

These hands were some of my most favourite to hold.  They meant comfort and love and caring.  These hands would hold on tight when there was a sense that I needed the extra support.  These hands would wrap around me after a bad dream or in a warm embrace.  They would brush my hair aside after something sad. These hands have cupped my face in a moment of despair telling me that I was her perfect princess, that I was just the way I was suppose to be and to heck with all those others.

These hands held my baby girl, loved my baby girl.  I gifted my baby girl with part of her name and made it part of hers – Anne. Anne which means grace.

I held these hands for the last time on Sunday, when I went to say goodbye. A hard good bye.  These are my Grandma’s hands.  My Grandma said goodbye to us all and left for Home on December 22.  I know one day I will hold these hands again, but until that day, I will hold onto each one of these memories and never let them go.

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