Saturday, September 22, 2012

Time to Make Chemo Hats

I've got the blue one done...Decided to model it first...I have a big head, about the same size as my sister, so if it fits me, it will probably fit her. It's made of fun fur by Lion brand, and their microspun acrylic fiber as well. You hold the eyelash yarn together with the microspun yarn--two strands as you knit it on large needles. I think they were size 13, if I remember right.  Free pattern on the Lion brand website. This turned out to be an extremely soft cap.
The hat was really fun to make and easy! I like it so much myself, I might make one for me...So many colors to choose from on the Lion yarn website.

I started another hat for my sister....The pattern was called "Lace Trim Chemo Cap" by Maureen Keenan, a free pattern on Ravelry. It had a very pretty simple lace pattern trim at the edge. It seemed very easy. For some reason, between casting on 120 stitches and making sure they didn't get twisted, and getting through the lace part, I tried THREE times to make it, one time getting all the way to the decreases and messing up the count. I figured three times of frustration was enough and that just wasn't the pattern for me to try right now. I'll try another time......When it's not fun, it's time to move on to something else!

My sister has started chemo....she's very tired but other than that, no nausea or hair loss yet. She's having treatments about two weeks apart to start and has only had one so far. She had to get a shot to keep her white cell count up, and that makes her bones hurt. Her spirits are good, and that's important....

I'm going to go see her in a couple of days, meeting her in Harsen's Island, near St. Clair, MI. We're going to have lunch or dinner together, heck, maybe both!  We'll spend the night with her and her hubby at a rented cottage house, then drive back to Hopkins, MI. Should be fun!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Some Difficult News....

My heart is heavy, and I'm so sad....My sister, Lyle,  has breast cancer for the third time. It's been 24 years since the first time, and 13 years since the second. She's had breast cancer twice on both sides. She found a lump. She also has a spot on her lungs they are looking at. She is getting ready for all the crap you have to go through to fight it once again...biopsies, chemo, visits with this specialist, that specialist...Since she has had it in both breasts, she's talking about a double mastectomy in January.

I feel so helpless. When I heard the news, I felt like throwing up...I'm far away, there's not much I can do but call and tell her how much I love her and come when she needs me. She has a LOT of family nearby, so that's really great. Two of her three sons are there nearby, with their families. She has a wonderful, hilariously funny husband who bolsters her spirits each and every day. I just love my sister to pieces...she's so funny and witty, too, she always makes me laugh! Since my mom passed away, she's been like a mom to me, as she is eight years older than I. She's my connection to my mom. My three brothers are typical guys. They don't write or call much. They love me, but they just don't keep the connections going like sisters do. She and I have gotten a lot closer since my mom passed away. I get really panicky when I think about life without my sister. I can't imagine what it's like to be living with a terminal illness, how you keep going....And then I get scared thinking, when is it going to be me? It's so discouraging reading about women who are getting this disease. I just read about Judy Blume, the wonderful author for teen girls, and she is battling breast cancer. She is 74! It's crummy that we have this phantom in our closet all our lives, wondering when it's going to reveal itself. There seems to be no window of age where you can quite worrying about it as you get older. I try not to worry and I try not to think about that. 

She's in for a long fight...

What do I do when I have heavy feelings in my heart? I either eat, or I go spend money on crafts to make something. I started researching chemo hats. I've got some really pretty fun fur and microfiber yarn to make her a couple of hats. I found this Lion Brand hat pattern.
I bought some really pretty lavender fun fur and microfiber, from Lion brand. Lavender is one of her favorite colors. And she loves the colors of the ocean, so I got her some colors of the sea....

I just about finished the lavender one and made Eldy try it on, knitting needles still in it. He's the closest thing to a bald head I could find to see if it fits. It did. What a guy! My sister will look a lot cuter in it, I think!  

Now I'm working on the ocean blues one. It's just about done. I sure hope she likes them and that they will cheer her up. Right now, she feels well, and hasn't started treatment yet. I hope that she continues to feel well for a long time! At least until the chemo starts, probably this week. I'm hoping that the drugs they use in chemotherapy have gotten better and more successful since 13 years ago, and that maybe she won't get as sick from them. With everybody, it's different....Please say some prayers for my sister, Lyle...Thank you....That's about all I can do right now is pray....

An update:  My sister's lung spot is NOT cancer...that's good news. And the cancer has not spread anywhere else in her body. That's great news, too....

Thursday, September 6, 2012

How to Take a Better Photo

I've been learning some wonderful things through a couple of workshops here at there...a little online, a little at the Canon workshops at the national parks, and I'm excited to apply some of these things towards digital scrapbooking.

Everybody who does photography talks about "composition", "telling a story" and getting meaning from your surroundings in your photos, or "context"...It's easier to remember this, for me, as "the three C's"...composition or context, characters, and close up--all of these things are mentioned in Elizabeth Dillow's Big Picture Workshop class--Photo Challenges. Being a former special ed teacher, it reminds me of the three R's--reading, writing, and 'rithmetic. I can remember context, closeup & characters easily this way. I see this mentioned all over the digital scrapbooking world. Debbie Hodge, of Get It Scrapped! is another great resource for these principles and more in scrapbooking, both digital and paper.

When I used to take photos, I just snapped away..I never thought about what was in my photo, other than people, I never thought about the message I wanted to see after I came back to the photo later, I never thought about focusing in tightly to something at the moment and then backing off to take another photo perspective. But things started to change when I started traveling. At that point, I hadn't had any exposure to photography classes. I just had my little point and shoot, I didn't have a fancy camera. But now, my focus seemed to change in my photos. I started paying attention to the little details, how the sun hits a leaf early in the morning...dew on a spider's web, kids playing in their own little world, an architectural detail and I started naturally paying closer attention to telling my story. It was only natural that starting a blog would follow.

And so, a little over two years ago, I started my travel blog, "Where's Eldo?", and just this past year, and this craft blog.  I knew I didn't want to have the typical landscape photo after photo after photo in the travel blog. I wanted more from my photos, not realizing that I was becoming a storyteller...And now, being introduced to the wonderful world of online classes, many free or inexpensive, I can develop my skills further, hopefully! 

Here's a photo of where I tried to show context in the large photo--we were at the beach, and I was looking through the little cabana tent are always great characters, and the closeup of the crazy orangy red flower umbrella makes it all come together! I just got lucky that the lime green in the little boy's outfit is repeated in the flower beach umbrella.
The collage was made through a free online website called Big Huge Labs. Fun place to do some fun things with your photos! 

I am really loving these experiences I'm having with online photography classes. It's perfect for a full time traveler to learn new things! I have to watch myself or I could be online all day learning about this stuff. As it is, I try to wait for a rainy day so I don't miss the great big beautiful outdoors!