Sunday, October 28, 2007

Scary Doctor Appointment

I had the scary doctor appointment on Friday. It turned out to not be as scary as I thought. The surgeon was very nice and understanding. It turns out, however, that the biopsy slides did not contain enough material to make a definitive diagnosis (duh...that's what the pathology report said). They want me to come back to Johns Hopkins for another fine needle aspiration (aka FNA or biopsy). If the results are still inconclusive, then I suspect the surgeon will recommend a partial thyroidectomy. Blech. Stay tuned.

When we arrived home from Baltimore, I had a nice surprise waiting for me. The October installation of the Rockin' Sock Club had arrived, featuring wonderfully black wool and a sock pattern by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, aka the Yarn Harlot. It's quite the nice sock. And it doesn't require cable needles or anything. After I replace my ball winder and finish the two pairs of socks I'm currently knitting, that might very well be the next sock project.

I'm sure you are all dying to know what project I chose for my scary doctor appointment. Was it socks? No. A simple garter stitch scarf knit from the most squooshy wool? Nope. I decided to live dangerously and pulled out the Counterpoised Shawl kit that I picked up at Stitches.'s going to feel so good to knit and how hard can it be? YOs, SSKs, and K2togs only on the right-side rows. It will be a piece of cake.


First, even though the silk is yummy, my hands have more rough spots on them than I ever dreamed possible. And the yarn is a single. So between it catching on my hands and the needles splitting the yarn, the knitting was slow going. Oh, and did I mention having to unknit and frog and start over again?

I put the silk aside and opted to go for a Zephyr silk/wool blend, in a lovely shade of blue. I figured it would be much easier to handle and after I get the hang of the pattern, then I can knit the silk. It is much easier to knit with the Zephyr than the silk, but apparently I cannot count. I managed to get through the first 18-row chart (having frogged it twice). I cannot for the life of me get past row 7 of chart 2. I'm off one stinkin' stitch. The shawl wasn't a bad choice for the doctor appointment, since there wasn't all that much waiting time. The problem came when I decided to continue with it at the PJ Party this weekend. I figured I'd have lots (about 40) expert knitters around to help me if when I ran into trouble. Well, there are a lot of conversations going on with 40 knitters and after not having seen some of them for an entire year? Let's just say that after knitting and tinking the same three rows several times, the shawl was relegated to time out.

Thank heaven for sock yarn. I'm now happily (mostly) knitting away on a really cool sock. But I can't show you yet. I need to rip out about five rows because I missed an important instruction in the pattern and now the stitch pattern is all wonky. My attempt to cleverly fix it in situ just caused more problems. Sigh...

The weekend, though, was quite nice. The mystery guest was Jonelle Raffino from Southwest Trading Company. She talked at length about how they developed their fibers and their impact on the environment, and we got to see some cool new yarns that aren't out yet. There was some stash enhancement in the way of give-aways (sorry, no pictures yet). And I started my mother's stash this weekend.

Hee hee! That's right...thanks to Sheepish Annie and the Yarn Harlot, my mother has once again caught the knitting bug. Mom attempted to teach me to knit when I was nine, but it didn't stick. I think it had something to do with the fact that she's right-handed and I'm left-handed. Way back in the 50s, Mom knit a gorgeous ripple afghan in black, with blues,greens, red, pinks, and magentas. I loved that afghan (sadly, it deteriorated over the years and it's sitting in my workroom waiting for me to figure out how to repair it). Mom was also quite the knitter of argyle socks. I think what pushed her over the edge was finding a half-finished pair of socks that she started...oh, about 40 (or more) years ago. Right before I left for the weekend, Mom asked me to take a look at some yarn online to see if she should buy it. I didn't get a chance to look at the yarn, but I found some really nice yarn for her, as well as a pattern for a nice scarf.

That's about it for now. I'm in the process of doing laundry and straightening up my workroom before I leave yet again, this time to the Commonwealth of Virginia Procurement Forum (which is being held in the city where I grew up). I'm getting rather tired of flitting hither and yon. My life should calm down a little bit mid-week.

Happy knitting!

Saturday, October 20, 2007


It's a dilemma. My cold is on its way out, but I'm still sneezing and coughing and have a residual headache. Should I go to yoga class this morning or not? The yoga will help me feel better, but I'm terrified of having a sneezing or coughing fit in the middle of savasana, which certainly won't serve the other students well. I've missed so many yoga classes this session, either because I was waiting for deliveries while Tom was on his long runs or because we were out of town. I'll miss next week's class as well, because it's the Hunt Country Yarns Pajama Party weekend.

I'm thinking I'll skip class and try to practice on my own. If I go to class, I'd have to disturb the cat on my lap. Because the weather has been so hot, she hasn't wanted much lap time. The weather is still too hot for October, but at least the mornings are chilly and she actively searches out a quiet lap. She's enjoying her morning nap as I blog.

So without further ado, I offer for you viewing pleasure my Stitches acquisitions. First up, lovely merino wool in autumnal colors (Spice and Squash)...Mission Falls 1824:

I'm thinking that this yarn would make a nice hat or small scarf. It's very soft. It was also a give-away at Stitches

Next up, Sterling Silk and Silver by Kraemer Yarns:

If you look closely, you can see flecks of real sterling silk. The silver is antibacterial, which makes it a perfect application for socks. I purchased this yarn from Susan and Jill at Y2Knit. It's destined to become the Sterling Lace Shawl. Y2Knit now has the yarn in black as well, which would make a stunning shawl for those holiday parties.

By far the yummiest yarn I acquired is this:

This is Geisha, 100% dupion bombyx silk, by Just Our Yarn. It's gorgeous and is destined to become the Counterpoised Shawl. Diane Smith is one of the women behind JOY. I met her at Stitches last year and spent an inordinate amount of time at her booth trying out (and eventually purchasing) a drop spindle. I was introduced to her a second time by my optometrist. She's local to my area and will be doing a trunk show in January for the Blue Ridge Spinners and Weavers Guild. Knitter's Review wrote up a review of their yarn Caravan here.

The first yarn purchase of the day was this sock yarn:

The yarn is from Araucania. The blues just drew me in. I'm somewhat partial to blue anyway and hesitated only briefly before making the leap. They recommend that you knit alternating skeins to get an even color distribution but alas, the vendor had only one skein of that color.

And finally, another door prize:

Yep, more sock yarn. It's the Regia Design Line with the colorways designed by Kaffe Fasset. It really is pretty, isn't it? And a word of warning...before you purchase a lot of yarn from that link, those prices are in pounds, not dollars! (I used that link because they had the best description.)

So there you have it. While I spent more than I intended, I don't think I did too badly. All of the purchases have projects attached to them, except the sock yarn, but I'm thinking that something out of Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks would be quite appropriate.

I'm still undecided on the scary doctor appointment knitting. Joan recommended the Fenna Shawl, which certainly does look like it would be a wonderful soothing knit. Unfortunately, I don't have the book and am unlikely acquire a copy in time. So, it's back to the drawing board for me.

Happy knitting!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Stitches East Recap's been a long time since I've posted. There's been a lot going on, with the highlight being Stitches East. Once again, it was excellent!

I missed the opening session; I just couldn't get my act together to leave early enough in the morning to get to Baltimore by 10:00. So rather than stress out about it, I took my time packing and arrived too late for the opening session but in plenty of time for lunch (and to do the homework for the first class). I barged up to the registration booth, totally ignoring the group of women who were standing nearby. I didn't occur to me that they might be standing in line. When it dawned on me that I might have cut in line, I turned around, apologized, and motioned for one of the women to go before me. She declined, then introduced herself as Fiona Ellis. Quite the auspicious beginning!

All of my classes were excellent, especially Pattern Customization with Gwen Bortner and Color for Knitters with Laura Bryant. If you can get to a Stitches convention, try to get into these classes. They will definitely change the way you think about knitting and definitely change the way you think about color.

There was some minor stash enhancement, both purchased and through door prizes, but I'll post pictures later. I won a very nice backpack at the Friday night fashion show. It's the Bella Sorella bag and was offered by Ellen's 1/2 Pint Farm. Complete with cell phone and water bottle pockets on the outside, it has numerous pockets on the inside, as well as a "hidden" zippered pocket on the back to store valuables. The straps are curved and well-padded and fit comfortably, even when the pack is filled with yarn, books, and needles. This bag might very well replace the KnitPicks KIPer bags. My only complaint is that the fabric is a bit floppy, but I can live with that.

I finished the Clapotis shawl, wore it on Saturday, and received several compliments on it. I love the way it drapes and hugs my body. I've decided I don't like the mohair content so much; too much shedding. That just means I've got to knit another one! Such a hardship...

The other thing that I picked up at Stitches, although I wasn't aware of it at the time, was a very nasty cold. Yesterday was spent battling a fever and trying not to cough up too much of my lungs. The fever is gone today, but I'm wiped out (hence, no photos).

All in all, my Stitches experience this year was good, even if a bit surreal. How can a knitting convention be surreal (other than getting high on fiber fumes)? Simply juxtapose it with scheduling a scary doctor appointment. As you might remember, I've periodically complained about being exhausted and being in a funk. This is, I think, related to the nodule on my thyroid that developed four years ago, after a bout of De Quervain's thyroiditis. During the last year or so, the nodule has doubled in size. The biopsy results at the beginning of the month were inconclusive, prompting the endocrinologist to refer me to Johns Hopkins for a second opinion, or as the confirmation letter states, a "surgical consultation."


That, coupled with the fact that they will be doing additional blood work and another ultrasound (to check the lymph nodes in my neck), leads my version of Hysterical Mind to jump straight to the conclusion that I've got a dread disease and they'll be removing my thyroid faster than you can say "Jack's a doughnut." In reality, a very small percentage of this type of nodule ends up being malignant. The appointment is next Friday and it should be interesting, to say the least. We're going up to Baltimore the night before, to stay with our friends James and Gina, which will make this whole process quite a bit more pleasant.

And of course, all scary things are made less scary by some good knitting. The suggestion line is open: What would you take to knit at a scary doctor appointment?

Saturday, October 06, 2007

It's Saturday!

This will be a quick post, in between loads of laundry and packing for the Steamtown Marathon. It's been a busy week, full of interesting happenings, with the possibility of more interesting things happening in the future. I'll have more information next week.

The drive up to Pennsylvania will provide several hours of uninterrupted knitting and that should be ample time to finish Clapotis. The decrease rows are moving right along! There's enough length now to try it on and I wrapped it around me yesterday. Oh my! It's luscious and oh so warm! The combination of stockinette and drop stitch make a fabric that conforms to the body and it's like being hugged. I can't wait for the weather to get warm enough to wear it!

Well, the dryer just stopped, so that's a signal for me to wrap up and finish travel preparations (including deciding what other knitting projects to take).

Have a great weekend and happy knitting!