Friday, January 23, 2009

Knitting Links

Here are some Knitting Links and other pointers I've found to be invaluable: - My friends tried to teach me to hold the yarn with my right hand and I do better with the left... I figured that out with videos on this site. - You need to request membership. It's a WAY cool way to organize your supplies, ideas, and projects and also a great place to surf for ideas. I really like how you can see one project made by so many other people, along with their comments. Anyway, check it out. When you can look, I'm at SiouxzQzz.

Start with a natural fiber (cotton or wool) yarn and bamboo needles. Also, light or medium colored yarns will be easier to see your stitches on than dark colors. Seeing your stitches is helpful when you're learning what to do.

Lovely sets of bamboo needles can be acquired from SusanCraft6798 of SusanCraftDesign on ebay.

Lion Brand Yarn - Nice selection of free patterns, plus e-newsletters, and supplies.

Mary Maxim - good prices on yarn and supplies for all sorts of hand crafts (knitting, crochet, embroidery, etc.)

Manly Scarf Pattern - Free Online - GREAT for beginners, just uses three stitches (slip, knit, and purl). Just using this "basket-weave" idea, you can make each section as wide and tall as you like. Mine are all three stitches wide, but each section is a random number of rows.

Multidirectional Scarf Pattern - Another good beginner project, it had three stitches (increase, knit, and decrease) plus casting on. I think this looks better in a variegated / striped yarn than a solid.

Silver's Sock Class to help "see" how to make socks. This isn't a pattern, so much as detailed instructions for each step of making a pair of socks.

A good beinner sock yarn and pattern are Moda Dea Sassy Stripes Yarn, and the Knitted Socks pattern LM0131 by Grace Alexander.

I'm told that learning to crochet first is easier for most people; knitting first and then crocheting tends to be more difficult. So, if you already can crochet, you're half-way there! If you're new to yarn crafts, try picking up a crochet hook first, and then moving up to knitting.
I've found that being able to click or look at video or pictures over and over is really helping me along with knitting. I've also discovered that the natural fibers (wool/cotton) and needles (bamboo) are really big helps for beginning knitters! I hope these links help you as much as they've helped me!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Theme - Things That Fly Songs

Here's the list (in the order we thought of them) that Tom and I (and Celise and Lisa and Heather) came up with...
  1. Guitarzan by Ray Stevens
  2. The Fly by Chubby Checker
    Singer of "The Twist" :D
  3. Last Dollar (Fly Away) by Tim McGraw
    Kids really seem to love singing this song... probably because of the "1, 2, 3..." at the beginning.

  4. Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from The Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky
    I know this piece is overdone in Ice Skating, but it IS about a Fairy, so, I include it.
    PS – Take a look at this link… it's pretty cool, the musician is playing on a
    glass armonica, invented by Benjamin Franklin; only a dozen musicians in the world today.
  5. Fly to Your Heart by Selena Gomez
    Theme Song from "Tinkerbell" Movie
  6. Bring Me To Life (Wake Me Up Inside) by Evanescence
    Nice song for a solo... starts out slow then turns edgy. Not really anything "flying" specific, that would have to come through costumes/props.
  7. Flying Nun Theme Song by
  8. Fly Away with Me by Sterbinszky
  9. Fly Away Home by Mary Chapin Carpenter
  10. Star Trekkin by The Firm
  11. Time for Me to Fly by REO Speedwagon
  12. Indiana Jones Theme Song
    Just because I love it… not sure what to "fit" it with though.
  13. I Believe I Can Fly by R. Kelly
  14. Let's Go Fly A Kite (Mary Poppins)
  15. Leaving on a Jet Plane - John Denver or Peter, Paul & Mary (both are good)
  16. Rocket - Def Leppard
  17. Flight of the Bumblebee - Nikolai Rimsky- Korsakov
  18. Learning to Fly - Tom Petty
  19. Fly me to the Moon - any version
  20. Flight of the Icarus - Iron Maiden
  21. Fly Like an Eagle - Steve Miller
  22. Aeroplane - Red Hot Chilli Peppers
  23. Learn to Fly - Foo Fighters
  24. You Can Fly - Peter Pan!
  25. Come Fly with Me - Frank Sinatra or Michael Bublé
  26. Breakaway - Kelly Clarkson
  27. Find Your Wings - Mark Harris
Whoo-hoo I KNOW there are several winners in this batch! Now. It looks like you have to start making choices. :D

I like the fact that there are all different types of music, but most are upbeat (no drearie's here).

Theme - Things That Fly

I've been helping with ideas for the local Ice Skating Show. Right now, they are entertaining the Theme "THINGS THAT FLY".

We've got a list of ideas for each act, but now we need to come up with music to go along with the idea. Costumes and props are no trouble for me, but music is. So, I thought I'd solicit my wonderful readers for ideas.

Here's the list of things we've thought of that "fly":
  1. Bugs (Butterflies, Bumblebees, Dragonflies, Mosquitoes, Etc.)
  2. Birds
  3. Angels
  4. Witches / Warlocks
  5. Dragons
  6. Dinosaurs
  7. Faeries
  8. Pegasus
  9. Reindeer / Santa
  10. Superheros
  11. Flying Squirrels
  12. Pigs
  13. Planes
  14. Helicopters
  15. Rocket Ship / Space Shuttle / Astronauts
  16. Flying Saucers (UFO's)
  17. Satellites
  18. Hot Air Balloons
  19. Balloons
  20. Kites
  21. Shooting Stars
  22. Snowflakes
  23. Embers
  24. Time
  25. CAT-a-pult
  26. Ballistics (missiles, bullets, arrows)
  27. Fireworks
The ONLY songs I've thought of are "The Greatest American Hero Theme Song" and "If Pigs Had Wings" by Heywood Banks. If I keep at the song list, it will be pretty eclectic and totally weird! So. Pretty much ANY song you can think of, send to me!

Of course, if you think of any other themes, feel free to add them to the list too. :D

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Taking Closeup Shots

I notice that people tend to have a lot of trouble taking close-up photographs of items, especially things for sale, or example online. I just left some comments about how I make it work, and while I'd *like* to include photos, I probably won't get around to that any time soon, so, here are some pointers (text only).

Often pictures are washed out (from the flash), dark (no flash), and or fuzzy. Here are some things I do to eliminate these problems:
  • Wait for the sun to shine through a window, then place the item in the sunlight and get to the side of it for some pictures. (If the sun's at 12:00, and the item is at 6:00, you and the camera should be around 2:00 or 10:00).
  • Pay attention to where your shadow is relative to your item (I usually try to keep my shadow off the item).
  • Then, place the item just into the shade, right by the ray of sunlight and take some more pictures.
  • Using natural light, you shouldn't need a flash. This will help with color, though it can also seem to make auto-focus camera images "fuzzy", so, try using different pre-set settings to take pictures of the same item. (Go crazy here! So what if you're taking a picture of something you've hand-crafted, maybe the best pre-set setting is one for "food" or "text" or "animals", try a whole spectrum to see just what your camera can do for you!)
  • Also, get the camera a little closer and a little further away. You can try zooming in and out (though for this kind of close-up work, I usually prefer not to zoom).
  • Take note of which settings you're using, and then, go look at them on the computer.
  • This first set of pictures, you might take 20 different shots.
  • You should find at least one or two settings that "work" for you, your camera, and your lighting!
  • You may want to (even plan to) crop your pictures, especially if getting too close makes things fuzzy or washed out, you can crop after and still get a nice shot!
I hope this helps; let me know if you try these experiments and how they go!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Felted Wool Cornucopia Birthday Hat

In October I was working on some crocheted wool Candy Corn bags. The entire time I was working on them, I was thinking my Mom’s Costume at the Arizona Renaissance Festival.

My Mom wears a Wicker Cornucopia on her head, as a hat, with a carrot dangling off the tip of it, right in front of her nose. It’s actually become her trademark to where another actor tried to wear a Cornucopia and the Management made them stop. I thought it would be great to make her a brown wool cornucopia, complete with wool carrot, and send it for her birthday (January 20th) which is just two weeks before the Faire Opens.

Yesterday I started working on my design. Ripping it out twice before really “getting into a groove”. Today, I wanted to make good progress and hopefully finish it tomorrow. I’ve made progress, but I’ve also realized I’m going to run out of brown… and I only have the one skein.

So. Here are The Options for Mom:
  1. Do you want it finished for your birthday, with another color around the brim? If so, what color(s) do you prefer? (I have scraps from the candy corn bags.)
  2. Do you want me to order some yarn online (same color, but different dye lot, so probably a different shade of brown) and have the hat around beginning of Faire?
  3. Do you want me to try to contact some other people who have the EXACT same Dye Lot in their Ravelry Stash, and beg them to sell it to me (which some people will do)? This option could take the longest but be the “most perfect”.
  4. Oh yes, I could finish it in another color and then it could be over dyed... or I could even try to dye the white, but with our current temperatures I just don't know how I'd dry the wool without felting it, so, you'd probably have to try and dye it later.
  5. I guess I could also start all over in a totally new yarn that I’d go out and buy (my least favorite idea).

What do you say, Mom?

PS: How big around would you *like* this to be? I'm not sure about my FELTING skills, but I'll try!

15 Jan 09: Mom "choose" number 3 and one of the people on Ravelry was more than willing to share from his stash! (I'm still hoping for a third skein, but the second will be wonderful!) I should be completing the transaction and moving along toward finishing the hat soon! YEAH for generous people!!! :D

Wound Care and Heavy Hitting Antibiotics

I thought I’d intersperse a few pictures of the progress of the site of Frank’s incision with an update on recent progress.

Last Monday we decided to try to eliminate the Pre-Dosing of Tylenol and Benadryl for Frank. We missed five doses, then, Frank started throwing up. The vomit continued for five times in the next 14 hours.

That night I got just four hours of sleep. That day, I took Frank to the ER to have blood drawn and to the local doctor. As we knew it would be, the doctor said “this (was) way out of (his) league”, but he was able to be the Eyes and Ears for the SLC Doctor, whom he called.

Through phone consultation, they were able to determine that since Frank’s GI and ENT, as well as heart and respiratory was clear, all the nausea and vomiting was an allergic reaction to the Vancomycin, because we hadn’t been pre-dosing. Experiment failed… much to Frank’s discomfort and our dismay.

Just as Frank’s stomach settled down, a night-time dose of Benadryl wound up missing it’s target (it fell out of his mouth) and was discovered late the next day. Soon, he was throwing up again. Just one session with one missed pill.

A few days later, with the vomiting under control, explosive diarrhea started. My guess is it was another allergic reaction, however, it happened on the weekend and on Monday morning, we encountered another set of troubles.

The nurse came to try to clear Frank’s line (again). When it didn’t work, she ordered some Activase, then started to do the weekly bandage change and cleaning of the site of the PICC line.

When we were in SLC last week, the Nurse was very quick about pulling off all the tape. This time, Frank asked our Home Health Care Nurse to go quickly. I think she went to quickly. It only took about 35 seconds to loosen the adhesive, but in the process, she also pulled the line out 1½”. Then, she tried to push it back into him (which I think was unclean and dangerous since it’s originally put in during surgery with Ultrasound and X-Ray’s for proper placement). It popped right back out.

At this point, the Nurse had me call the Infectious Disease Specialist. When I got them on the phone, instead of talking with the Doctor’s Assistant (like normal) the Doctor himself was retrieved. He said that because we’ve “been having so much trouble with the line, pull it and switch to oral.”

We called the Home Health Care Pharmacy. As we were telling them to wait to send the medicine, the delivery driver was pulling up, so, three doses of Vancomycin and one of Activase had to be scraped. Man! That Pharmacy is FAST!

By this time, the itching and discomfort, combined with fear, caused Frank to start crying and getting all-worked-up. We calmed him down and pulled the line. Immediately after we pulled the line, SLC called and told us to wait and pull it the next day, since NONE of the local pharmacies carried the new medicine in the proper form (liquid suspension). Since the line was already out, Frank wound up going 35 hours without a dose of any antibiotic.

Last night, Frank and I slept like the dead. It was the first time in over two weeks we were able to get a full-night of uninterrupted sleep. Heaven.

Today we started Frank on the Zyvox. Tonight, at 12:45 am, one hour after I “usually” get up, VOILA, I’m awake! After tossing about and starting to rouse Tom, I finally got up to write this. Hopefully, I can go back to sleep before 3:00 am!

Tonight I needed to give Frank a dose of the Zybox, tomorrow, we’ll have shifted him to a 4am – noon – 8 pm dosing schedule. It actually took Tom’s help to convince Frank to swallow his medicine tonight. He has to take 13mL, and it tastes awful. With him being practically asleep, I needed Reinforcements to insure that he didn’t spit it out on / at me… it’s “just” $1.90 per mL! Like Tom said, “you’d think that for $24.70 a dose, they could make it taste good!”

I was completely drained physically and emotionally after yesterday’s hour-and-a-half session with the nurse (after pulling the line, we still had to draw blood for weekly lab-work). I was also disturbed at the change. I’m a SERIOUS creature of habit, and we were suddenly being forced to change methods of application and types of drugs. Would Frank have another allergic reaction? Would he be susceptible to some of the more serious side effects of the new drug (namely bone marrow troubles and or blindness)? Only time would tell and we were suddenly being forced to figure it out.

I wonder if we should have another PICC line put in. This one had a lot of troubles, but were they caused by us (I overslept once and put in the Heparin and hour to late, then the nurse pulled too fast). Would another line slow down too? Is the risk of putting Frank under anesthesia greater than the risks from the Zybox?

What about the cost of all of it? The PICC Line costs “about” $5,530.82 per month, just for the pharmaceuticals and supplies, plus the insertion cost, the Home Health Care Nurse and Weekly Labworks.

The Zybox costs $285 per bottle (our co-pay portion is $140 every 3.8 days) or $2,565 for the course until we see the doctor in February. The original plan was PICC for 6 weeks then oral for 4-6 more weeks, so, will we be on this Zybox for 8-10 weeks? That’s a lot of time to be on such a Heavy-Hitter. Of course, the alternative is to stop taking all these strong medicines, in which case, the infection in Frank’s bone would likely prove fatal.

These aren’t things a parent should have to think about.

We all want our kids to be healthy.

Frank is healthy, except for this one “little problem” he was born with. I AM grateful that once treated this shouldn’t affect him, I just hope the side-effects are short-lived and limited to fatigue and gastro-intestinal woes.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Jack, By Special Request

The Great, Great Uncle, whose name he shares, has made a special request to see what our Youngest has been up to during all the on-goings with his big brother's surgery. And since I'm all-about People Pleasing, here's a fill of pictures of My Little Trouble Maker.

Jack has no problem wearing his clothes inside out, Actually, he has a problem if you try to convince him that maybe, possibly, he could turn them around!

Throughout the surgery and hosptial stay, Jack was almost ALWAYS's.side.

By Frank's side except when Jack couldn't be, like here, in the Surgical Waiting Area for families.

Bringing a present as Frank woke up from the Morphine.

Showing off the Ronald McDonald House, where he kicked Daddy in the back two-nights-in-a-row in the "Twin" (says Daddy) "Full" (says Mommy) size bed.

Going on walks around the hospital and wearing the gloves, just because brother had to, so then, Jack must also hae some gloves.

Jack still gets up at his normal time, kicks Dad it the back for two hours, and then waits bedside for Frank to wake up.

Waiting on the "guest bed" while Mom packs up to go home from the hospital.

Watching the final blood draw at the hospital.

Always trying to help (and often being held back)!

Chilling at home.

Most days, Jack dresses himself.

"Helping" Grandad remove the Steri-Strips.

"Holding up" the stairs at our local Community College / Dinosaur Exhibit.

Watching the surgeon remove the stitches.

Playing with the camera outside the Ronald McDonald House.

There you go. A snapshot look at Jack for the past little bit... there's no turning back now!

There may be "no turning back" but, when Jack gets a look in his eyes like this, make CERTAIN that you DON'T TURN YOUR BACK on him! Mischief will soon follow in his wake!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Grandad's Visiting

Besides being wiped out from maintaining a medication schedule that includes me being awake from 11:30 pm to 2:30 am, my Father-In-Law came into town on New Year's Eve. We've been having a good time visiting with him and so, my posting just has not been happening!

Here I am with Jack at lunch today. He kept covering his face and I'd grab his hands and pull them away for a picture. I love how playful this shot is... even the fact that Jack's a blur because: A) Frank was taking the shot, and B) Jack was playing so much!