Sunday, February 28, 2010


Bailey and Dad

Last week was extremely busy... filled with lots of cooking, cleaning, laundry, visitors, grocery shopping, ringing phones, nurses, drug store runs, meetings. My Dad continues to decline rather quickly. We were all grieving from the alarming news of three to six months when the doctors changed that to one to two weeks. He arrived home to hospice care set up in the living room of his house on Monday. It has been an amazing experience so far. My oldest brother took a leave from work and is now there 24/7 helping out. I am continually in awe of the way my family has come together during this sad time, supporting each other emotionally and working as a team to do whatever is necessary. And my amazing father has retained his sense of humor. He often has us all laughing through situations that would otherwise be very stressful. He craves touch. When I sit and hold his hand, he seems very content. It's still hard for me to believe that he will not live through all this.

We have a beautiful, forested park near our house. Tryon Creek State Park. It's filled with lush, green, quiet trails and clear streams. This has become our go-to escape from the pressures of life. It's a perfect place to gain perspective, breathe fresh air and get some exercise. This little trillium caught my eye on our hike yesterday.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

last night I had a nightmare...


... then I woke up and realized it was real.

This week has had many ups and downs. My Dad's kidneys began functioning again after receiving three days of dialysis. He also received a blood transfusion and a bone marrow test. While waiting for results from the bone marrow test, the doctor told us there was some confusion about the type of cancer he has, but they were convinced that it was, in fact, a cancer. After reviewing a blood sample, the lab technician thought it was leukemia, the oncologist thought it was lymphoma. He gave us a bit of hope by telling us that some types of these are easily curable.

The diagnosis finally came Friday. My Dad has Acute Leukemia and three to six months to live. Yesterday was a blur of activity as we made preparations for his discharge tomorrow and in-home hospice care.

Thank you all for your thoughts, prayers and virtual hugs.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


cherry blossom

miniature iris

I found these small signs that spring is on its way.

I'm searching for a bit of hope today. We took my Dad to the emergency room yesterday. After days of waiting for a procedure that was to determine why he could not hold food or liquids down, he had become very dehydrated and weak. Images last week showed that he had a blockage that they thought was in his esophagus. While waiting for this procedure to take place, he went downhill very quickly. Tests today show that his kidneys have completely shut down and he is scheduled for dialysis this afternoon with the hope that they can be restarted. Meanwhile, the endoscopy they did this morning shows nothing in the esophagus. So the tests continue. Before this episode, my Dad, who turns 83 tomorrow, has been a very healthy, vibrant man. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers.

Monday, February 8, 2010

the day I realized how fun it is to felt

I can't believe how long I procrastinated felting this hat. I had put so much time into knitting it that I was afraid of messing it up by throwing it into hot water and altering it forever. On Saturday I finally took the plunge! Well, the hat did anyway.

blue felted hat

The felting process was so much fun, and so much easier than I imagined. I can't wait to knit another hat and watch the transformation.

In case you're interested, here are the steps involved...

You will need: a top-loading washing machine set to hot (for some reason front loaders don't work as well for felting. I think it has something to do with rougher agitation in top loaders); a pillowcase (a zippered one is best); laundry detergent, a timer, knitted piece to be felted.

1. Put a very small amount of detergent into your top loading washing machine (use about 1/4 of what you normally use)

2. Place your knitted piece in a pillowcase. Zip or tie it closed.

2. Set the machine to it's hottest water temperature, smallest load setting and longest agitation cycle.

3. When the washing machine has filled with hot water, and begins the agitation part of the cycle, throw in the pillowcase.

4. Set a timer for 5 minutes.

5. When the timer goes off, stop the agitation and check for signs of felting. Some yarns felt quicker than others. You might need to reset your machine to start the agitation cycle again once or twice, depending on the length of the cycle and how the felting is going. It's important not to let your washer drain or spin during the felting process, so make sure you watch and listen, and reset it before it starts to drain. Just stop the machine and turn the dial back around so it begins to agitate again.

After a few of these five-minute sessions, you'll start to see the individual stitches disappearing. The fabric will start feeling more firm and solid and somewhat thicker as it gets closer to being done. Once you start seeing the stitches disappearing, start checking the piece more often, every one or two minutes, to make sure you don't take the felting process too far. The felting is done when it looks and feels done. There should no longer be definition to the stitches, and the fabric should be smooth, solid and sort of firm.

6. When you decide the felting is finished, let the machine drain and turn it off. Rinse your felted piece with cool water and gently wring it out.

blue felted hat

7. At this point you need to bring the piece to its final shape and keep it that way until it's totally dry. This involves a little pulling and stretching to get it to the shape you want. In the case of a hat, at this point it is essential to try it on the person's head who will be wearing it. If it's too large, toss it back into the machine and start the agitation process again, but this time don't bother to use detergent, and run it on a shorter cycle. If it's too small, stretch it over a bowl or some other object that's the approximate size of your head. Mine needed another five minutes. This made it about another inch smaller and fit my head perfectly.

drying process

I found this vase that was about the size of my head. But I didn't need to stretch mine.

8. I then placed the hat on a towel and stuffed it with tissue paper to keep it in shape.

9. Let it dry for 2-3 days.

drying process

When Iz saw the finished hat, she said, "That's nice! Just in time for spring!"

Where does she get that sarcastic sense of humor?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

finally! the perfect size

blue hat

blue hat

After knitting this hat three times, it's finally ready for the felting process. I just realized that it's been over eight months since I first posted about this blue hat.

It now looks like the perfect size... keep your fingers crossed. It's in the washing machine getting agitated right now! I'm trying on every bowl in the house to find the one closest to the size of my head so it will dry the correct size.