On the Hook: Seeing Stars Blanket

I was busy winding half the yarn needed for my current project–17 colors!

When I was sick in hospital for three months in 2011, I needed something to keep me busy. I used that as an opportunity to get back into knitting. Since I’ve been out of hospital, I’ve gone a bit crazy for knitting. I joined a local knitting group called the Social Knitwork at The Tea Box in Richmond, and I’ve knitted several hats, fingerless gloves, two cowls and a very long scarf. My favorite knit item is still the cabled cowl I made while I was ill. The super-soft alpaca-merino blend keeps me warm, even on the coldest British winter days.

My favorite knit item, my Cabled Cowl.

Just before Christmas, I decided I needed a break from knitting, but wanted something to keep my hands busy. So, I did a bit of poking round on Ravelry, and found a gorgeous pattern for a crocheted blanket called Seeing Stars by Spud and Chloe.

I love this pattern so far. It’s quite colorful (as you can see!), and once I memorized the hexagon pattern, things started progressing quickly. One of the best features of this particular pattern is that the hexagons are crocheted togther, so the blanket starts taking shape fast. I am trying super hard to be disciplined with this project, and have been sewing in all the loose ends after I complete a row, but I sometimes feel like it takes longer to sew in all the ends than it does to crochet a row!

Progress to-date on Seeing Stars.

This is how I’ve been tyring to add some brightness and color to winter. How about you? How are you adding a little color to brighten dreary winter days?

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How I’ve Been Keeping My Sanity (or At Least Trying)

I’ve been in hospital for 20 of the last days 23 days, and just realised now that today is the beginning of July. I guess the fact that I only just realised it is July indicates I’ve been keeping myself adequately busy and making the time fly by. That, or being in hospital so long is just making me crazy (I’m more inclined to believe this theory).

So what have I been up to these last 20 days? Well, let me tell you.

The first few days when I was originally admitted were spent assessing the extent of my current situation. This meant getting an abdominal x-ray to ensure I wasn’t obstructed, getting a CT scan to see how extensive the inflammation in my small bowel is and also getting an MRI scan of my liver. The later test was previously scheduled to my hospital admission, and was related to my Crohn’s only in that my GI suspected one of my medicines, 6-Mercaptapurine, was causing some issues with my liver enzyme levels (which can eventually lead to more long-term damage). Oddly enough, blood tests taken in this same initial admission period indicated that my liver enzyme levels had actually returned to normal levels, so the MRI probably wasn’t all that necessary in the end. Too bad I didn’t know that before hand, because I had a mini-meltdown toward the end of that test.

Once I got all the tests out of the way and got settled in, I resumed work on a cross-stitching project that I started either right before I moved, or shortly thereafter. Unfortunately, cross-stitching isn’t one of my favourite crafting activities, but I did manage to finish the picture before I left the hospital the first time.

Additionally, I finished reading a book called The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. This is a non-fiction book that talks about the story of a black woman whose cancer cells were harvested upon her death and created one of the most important cell lines in existence today. To add a human element to the story, the author goes to great lengths to get in touch with members of Henrietta’s family to understand how the use of her cells affected them. It’s definitely an interesting read, and really puts forth some interesting questions around ethics and science.

After finishing the cross-stitching project and completing the book, I started reading a few different samples of books on my Kindle. One book I did download and begin reading was The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Other Tales of the Jazz Age by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I was inclined to download this title for two reasons: 1) I absolutely loved The Great Gatsby; 2) I was interested to see how different the short story was from the film (turns out they are a bit different!). However, I was released shortly after I finished these activities, so I had a bit of a reprieve, and actually ended up finishing this book at home.

Once I arrived home, I tried to take it easy for a few days, but I did manage to make it to a local yarn shop in St. Margaret’s called Mrs. Moon’s. I had a look at the website, and they had some interesting patterns and yarns, so I figured I’d take a short walk to see if I could pick up something to work on while I was recovering at home. I ended up selecting a pattern for a short-sleeved cardigan and bought a nice jewel-toned blue-green yarn for knitting. Unfortunately, I only had a few days at home to start this project. Turns out it is not worth knitting when you’re feeling ill/tired and not completely with it. I ended up starting this particular cardigan four times before I got the counts of the stitches correct! Luckily, I managed to sort it out in the end, and I’ve nearly completed the cardigan since I began this second visit.

The other thing I’ve been doing this visit is more reading. This time I’ve completed a book called The Help by Kathryn Stockett. This is probably one of my favourite books since reading the Millenium Triology by Stieg Larsson when I first got my Kindle earlier this year. The Help is written from the perspectives of two black maids and a white woman in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960s. The black women work as maids for friends of the white woman. The white woman aspires to be a writer, and manages to talk the black women into working with her to write a memoir about their lives as maids in The South. Not only are the stories that the black women have to tell interesting, but the everyday things that all these ladies face putting this memoir together give the book an edge-of-your-seat feeling at times (you have to keep in mind this is the same period Kennedy was shot and Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech).

Now I need to start thinking about something else to do. I’ve downloaded and read a few more samples on my Kindle. One includes a book on project management, and another on some subject matter relating to an MBA. Neither have seemed interesting and worth downloading the full version. I have a few fiction book samples to look through that I downloaded based on recommendation from an article in the New York Times which includes titles Parisians by Graham Robb, Solar by Ian McEwan and Mr. Peanut by Adam Ross.

Ideally, if my concentration and focus were better, I wouldn’t mind actually doing a bit of work. Unfortunately, I do not think I am getting quite enough calories in the day, or I’m still adjusting to my calorie intake, and it makes it difficult for me to focus on certain topics for work. I did manage to publish a report earlier this week, so I haven’t been completely useless. 🙂

In addition to my “extracurricular” activities, each day I get visits from the ward doctor and the dietitian. This visit I even got a visit from some surgeons to discuss options for the future.

In the meantime, I’m left to wait. We have to see if the Modulen diet is going to do the trick to help me gain weight, and if it doesn’t we need to look more seriously into the total parenteral nutrition (TPN). The ward doctor indicated yesterday that the Modulen diet is more likely to be effective at helping me gain weight than the TPN, and it would also mean that I wouldn’t have to be trapped in hospital until I’ve gained enough weight to determine next steps. So please keep your fingers crossed for me the Modulen does the trick!

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