2021 has felt like staying close to a focus on survival has also meant greater appreciation for the spark of life we are. I read today the Netherlands is in complete lockdown, while Japan has near zero Covid cases for a population of 125 million. Extremes that often confound seem to be the context we are living in.
Highlights for me as I review my year are spending June attempting to walk 100 miles for fundraising for pediatric cancer because it got me off my pandemic spreading derrière and rehabilitated my sedentary body (round two of that happening now), and raising funds for ecovillages in Senegal through a handknit shawl auction. I loved having the fortune to live next door to an organic farm that supplied me with CSA veggies all growing season. In addition, I thoroughly enjoyed hanging out with my adult daughter watching a movie and trying to understand the complexity of the Marvel/DC Comic universe this week during her brief holiday visit.
Holiday knits from L to R Kate Davies' Dathan sweater hoping to complete by New Year's, two of four The Shift Cowls by Andrea Mowry. Several people have requested the great cowl so I've got two in progress not imaged. With the intense cold, I've also got her Inclination Shawl in progress to wrap myself in and will photograph when complete.
With icy roads, temps below freezing, ferry boats running at half service, and my ancient car (22 years old) my cancer treatment is once again delayed. If I understand correctly, my cancer was determined to have a 32% chance of recurrence after surgery, but oral medication reduces that by 15-20% and radiation by another 10%. So even though my radiation course is now being delayed 5 weeks past intended start, in the scheme of things I trust it will still reduce risk.
Currently everything feels like one big risk ratio. Risk of Covid or freak weather becoming normalized shortening our lives can feel on par with cancer, and so it can all feel relative. Making peace with my life at any moment is my biggest project. I feel at peace when knitting and walking, and fortunately I have been able to do a lot of that as my workload has been slow this month as is par for the freelancing course. The cancer process has put me in greater touch with appreciating the vehicle for my spirit and being more patient with it. But there have been many days of scar healing I wish I could just be a crustacean and molt. : ) Finally I have more pain-free days and can go on strenuous walks, and for that I am truly grateful.
Donning Knits of Yesteryear to Walk in Snow
My own fir tree hat design and Erica Heusser's Wishmaker Mitts.
2022 Wall Calendar Offering
I have 12 copies of this calendar of beauty from Whidbey Island ready to ship by December 20th. Contact me for more information and I'm happy to send one as a companion for your next year.
Beethoven's 251st Birthday
As a young classical music geek, I requested birthday cakes with a nod to Beethoven. A happy feature of sharing Ludwig's birthday is being able to turn on any classical radio station on my birthday and listen, between Christmas tunes, to the great composer's work. In the era of online music, I still enjoy the randomness of radio stations. For the most part, I've lost touch with the world of music thanks to my career involving day-long, intensive audio listening. But today I woke thinking about the most intense work I did in my young life on a bit of Beethoven's music.
I was 16 in a two-week summer workshop where a trio of young musicians met for the first time. We were challenged to learn completely new music to us and then, after two weeks of practice, perform said music in front of the Guarneri Quartet members in a masterclass. I was in a group assigned the "Ghost Trio" by Beethoven, nicknamed for its spooky second movement. Looking back through time, this has to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Here is a recent recording of a group playing it, in case anyone else wants to listen in on a little Beethoven on what would be his 251st birthday.
My pain levels took a backslide since last blog post, so my hopes of hiking full bore are not realized quite yet. But my radiation schedule has been pushed out by my surgeon one more week to December 27, so I am relieved to be able to focus on knitting and family during Christmas/Solstice week instead.
I am once again reminded of how grateful I am for all the support of those who donated to help me bridge the gap of months of appointments and healing time and still stay in shelter and pay bills. I anticipate feeling well and able to work FT by mid-March. I find it helpful just as in marathons I've done to visualize a finish line and see yourself strong. Understanding that 99% of all people who start a marathon finish is what I'm trying to keep front of mind on days of strong mental resistance to the whole thing.
One thing I discovered since consuming the Outlander films is that the group could benefit from a knitting historian. While the artistic team had great medical and military coaching, none of the knitting worn by the actors is accurate for the mid-1700s, a kind of huge irony when you consider knitters are some of the show's biggest global fans. Perhaps next season a knitting consultant is included, perhaps we suspend disbelief because the film is about time travel, or perhaps it only bothers a very few people who are dismayed to find 20th/21st century knits plopped into scenes from 200 years earlier. One thing I did not realize until looking into it was shawls were not even widely worn and made until the 19th century.
The modern hand knitting craze that seemed to start in the US around year 2000 is a bit fascinating in itself, perhaps representing a yearning for the comfort of slow-making traditions in the face of big box stores, globalization, and disposable fast fashion. I definitely became a compulsive shawl knitter around 2012, despite not wearing them. I've donated and gifted most.
A Scottish knitting history blog.
A knitwear in period film critique.
December 3rd was my first pain-free walk in two months! And today was my first long walk in the woods up and down hills. A wondrous homecoming to my body and my favorite trails. Everything seems better when we lose it, and I intend to embrace the window of good days between now and December 20th when I start radiation.
I'm feeling super clear about wanting to rehabilitate my body to the point of hiring a personal trainer eventually next year so that I can achieve my goal of a wilderness trek in 2023. One thing that should help toward my goal is that a side effect of tamoxifen for me seems to be zero craving for chocolate and/or sugar. I have never experienced this a day in my life until now. I can see the pounds melting off. Literally from start of taking the medication, I have only craved apples. Applesauce, apple juice, apples in any form.
Surely that old saying "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" must mean something. (or not)
I made it through biopsies and surgery and 24 inches of scars, but for some reason knowing I need to submit myself to 33 radiation treatments is what makes me most emotional. I will get through it just as I have everything else and will fully recover, but for now in this window of time before then I will let my emotions flow like the water I will be ferrying over each day for treatment.
As my treatment and work disruptions drag on totaling eight months, I am increasingly aware it has taken a village to keep me afloat. For anyone who donated to my siblings' GoFundMe campaign on my behalf, thank you once again. I wish you moments of joy this holiday season and as we lean into our collective uncertain future. In fact, one thing that does feel certain we can create for ourselves is a moment of joy.
Knitting has been such an oasis through all crises in my life that I am considering enrolling in the years-long Master Hand Knitting program with The Knitting Guild Association. I've taught myself many techniques, but I can always improve and love the concept of apprenticeship in any craft. I would enjoy research and writing on the history of knitting, and gaining confidence to teach others.
Here are images from my reunion with the woods today and of the knitting of Scottish wool, mostly done while binge-watching and finally giving in to the Outlander phenom (never a first person to catch onto a trend), along with watching the entire series Men in Kilts. Ten percent of my DNA is Scottish (settlers in early Virginia), so apparently it's enough to make me appreciate instead of detest the sound of bagpipes and be fascinated by how anyone can play that instrument. I've watched hours of videos/vlogs from knitters of the Scottish Isles, so perhaps I'll create myself a wee research project on the topic. I dreamed of visiting Ireland and Scotland in my lifetime, and as an English & Music major in college missed an opportunity to do a study of Celtic harp in Ireland due to my asthma causing the student health center not to approve my travel after group orientation. I did get to watch the returning students' slideshow.
None of us know how long travel restrictions may be in our pandemic future, so if I cannot visit Scotland in my lifetime, I can be grateful for the internet and movies that allow me to travel through space and time. And the Scottish sheep wool that can arrive to me in the mail.
Staying close to the wealth of nature and making with my hands bring me greatest joy and comfort. You can find me on Instagram as @waterwomanknits, and on Ravelry as Waterwoman-Knits.