Posts Tagged ‘cancer’

I’ve been quietly rotating my knitting between three projects. Socks, the lace edging for the Rock Island Shawl (only 120 more rows), and a baby sweater. This last project is taking up most of my time as I’m playing with colors and short-rows (not the wrap and turn kind) while maintaining even row counts across the sweater for an even hem.

The inspiration piece was an art deco bracelet I saw and just couldn’t get out of my mind.

art deco bracelet

art deco bracelet

I loved the lines and the way they fit together. And so I’ve been swatching. I created a sweater that needed only one more sleeve to finish it, but decided to take it apart and start again. I’ve experimented with every short-row known to knitting. I instantly discarding the wrap and turn kind. I tried home-made short-rows, techniques that are particular to individuals as they were passed down from knitter to knitter within the families for ages. The non-wrap-and-turn short row I decided on works particularly well with garter stitch.

So far here are the lines of my sweater swatch.

sweater swatch

sweater swatch

They may go through another alteration as soon as I get some additional yarn I ordered. So today, I will work on starting and completing the short-row heel for the sock.

In other news, a dear friend of many years who just finished her treatments for breast cancer has now been diagnosed with lung cancer. The cancer was found in a routine check-up and covers the exact area that received radiation treatment for the breast cancer. The common wisdom among oncology doctors is the destruction wreaked by radiation treatment doesn’t show up until 10 years after radiation treatment. My friend is a young mother with two lovely young children. She is not even a year past treatment.

The news has hollowed me out. When she told me, my brain did the exact same thing it did when I was told of my breast cancer, it shut down, vacated the area. My friend and I were diagnosed with breast cancer at almost the same time. Her cancer was still contained. Mine was more advanced. It had escaped and hit my lymph nodes. She did everything the doctors told her to do. I didn’t.

We had recently decided that together we were going to get past this cancer thing and stop living with its shadow hanging over us. We were going to walk away from it. She started an exercise and healthy eating regime. I had already switched all my eating habits but I changed my exercise routine to Tai Chi because I wanted the body, mind and soul benefit, a more holistic approach, a way to meditate while being in action. I also liked the big arm movements of Tai Chi and it all but eliminated the lymphedema in my arm and mastectomy site. It also helped stop the pains in my bones caused by the Arimidex, my little anti-cancer pill that causes so much havoc with my system.

My friend and I were both feeling really good. We even mentioned to our doctors how well we felt. Cancer, it seems, has a very long shadow.

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You must be the change you wish to see in the world.

Mahatma Gandhi

A little over a year ago my younger sister was diagnosed with breast cancer.  A mastectomy was followed by a long course of chemotherapy and then radiation. I decided to knit her a shawl that she could wrap around herself the way my arms would if I were there to comfort and support her.

The first thing I did was look for the “right” yarn, which I now know was naive. The yarn had to have the correct colors, weight, and texture. I found two that I was going to narrow down to one. Then it hit me. Content. Fiber content.

Did I really want to give my sister a shawl made from heaven knows what chemicals? Wasn’t her chemotherapy enough exposure to chemicals for a lifetime? Thus began my research into and sole use of organic yarns or yarns made of natural fibers. What I learned about how yarns are made and dyed changed me as a knitter. It also changed how and why I choose a particular yarn for my projects.

I won’t bore you with too many details. The short of it: Chemicals play a large role in the manufacture of yarn. A much larger role than I had ever imagined. They even play a role in yarns made of all natural fibers. And unless the organic yarn is grown in a particular color (organic cotton yarns come to mind here) their “organic” status can be lost the minute the yarn hits the dye vat. If you want true organic yarn, it has to be organic from start to finish. Vegan dyes, natural dyes and dye procedures keep an organic yarn organic. (I am not going to start on mordants, though a yarn company’s use of and type of mordant does make a difference to me in selecting or not selecting a yarn.)

I very much believe in “going green”. I make my buying power agree with my sentiments. I buy yarn from companies that have small environmental footprints.

Next time you’re looking for yarn give one of the environmentally friendly ones a try.

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