Tender

Balancing RocksThe anniversary of my final cancer treatment has passed, but I’m still getting used to it. I want to be kind to myself, and honor where I am, so I’ve needed to be quiet these last couple of weeks. Most of the time I am like a little beach rock, cradled in my own hand – mostly smooth, a little rough in places, but reassuringly solid. At other times, I’m a bit delicate, like I need to be handled with care. No jostling, please.

When I saw Dr. Pearl, we congratulated each other. “We did it!” I said, and he nodded and smiled. We talked about what’s next (the same: monitor my CA125 levels and PAPs with the same vigilance as we have up to now), how often I’d like to see him (every six months, please), and how I’m doing (pretty well). We talked about statistics, and that they really do matter. And that yes, considering the advanced stage of my uterine cancer, there was a strong chance I’d experience a recurrence within these five years.

Some would say that I beat the odds, but I prefer to say that in my travels I left the percentages behind. I’m lucky – lucky that I’m in the artful care of Dr. Pearl, and lucky that I found the strength to do the work. And I do believe that my magic parking space helped.

While I was at the Cancer Center, I went down the hall to the Medical Oncology department, past the door to the chemotherapy rooms (I avoided looking at the door, and surprised myself). I found the office of the cancer patient advocate, and asked her if there is still a need for hats for patients at the Center – and there is. I explained that I’m on a hat-knitting bender, and that I’d love to knit hats throughout the summer until my next appointment in October. “Men’s hats, too?” I asked. “Most definitely!” she answered.hats 2014

So my sock yarn hats will have homes, and I get to keep going. They’ll be soft, just right for tender scalps. They’ll be warm and bright, because I know how cold and dark that journey and those chemotherapy rooms can be. They’ll make me happy, because I remember how much the hats I received meant to me back then.

And because I get to say things about my cancer travels like “I’m lucky” and “back then” and “I get to keep going,” I’ll leave these thoughts where they are. I’m going to keep being kind and tender to myself. I’ll keep being grateful, and I’ll stay on this road into the next five years.

Five, and time

pansies 1Five years ago today, I sat in the chair at the Cancer Center for what would be my tenth and final round of chemo. I don’t remember much about that day, except that it was rainy, and I was worn out. In the world of a cancer patient, five is the magic number, the recurrence-free goal.

I’ve been marching toward this date for five years—counting down, marking time, on rough roads as well as smooth paths. The passing of the months and years means something. They measure me, even if only to myself and Dr. Pearl.

I don’t really need to think about where I was then and where I am now, do I? I don’t need to take stock, because I do that all the time, measuring and counting. Time is my capital. I have nothing to account for, no one else to be accountable to. Just time. It is the thing that I have, that I had, that I hold dear.

The years that I’ve spent chanting “all will be well” have been the preparation for this moment. This is the truth about waiting, and about time: All will be well. Now, and on and on.

In a few hours I’ll be back at the Cancer Center for my regular appointment with Dr. Pearl. My usual rituals will be in place: my good-luck earrings, the happy music, the parking space. Nothing terrible is happening, no surprises are in store. There’ll be the exam, and the test, and the conversation. We’ll smile, and we’ll congratulate ourselves on the anniversary and a job well done.

And I’ll go back in six months, and I’ll keep going back, for the rest of my life. And every time, we’ll be pleased and grateful and all will be well.

It’s all so simple, really.

Diverted

sock hats 2Last week was… affirming, frightening, gratifying, hectic, enlightening, tiring, inspiring. The week ended after much joy, many kind words, and miles of Cormo 1.0. The official launch of Clara Yarn was a sold-out standing room-only event. The Noyac Bay patterns have been a success, too, and I’m thrilled and thankful.

I needed a diversion, and sock yarn hats were just the thing. I’ve been playing with the idea for a while, and now seemed like the right time. I reached into my bin of Sundara Sock, rooted around until I found a loose ball, and without thinking twice I cast on.

sock hats 1I used Ann Budd’s Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns to decide on the measurements and stitches that suit the gauge of my yarn, and then I took off. The first one has a basket weave brim. The second one rolls and has a few stripes.

This is mindless/mindful knitting at its best. I don’t have to pay attention unless I want to. I find myself falling into a soothing stockinette rhythm, and my thoughts wander happily. I’m resting my brain before I tackle more complicated knitting.

sock hats 3The hats don’t take long to knit, even on small needles. I’ve been using US 3 for the body, and US 2 for the brim. I might try to find that 16″ US 1 that I know is here somewhere, or I might not. I’m approaching these hats casually. Once I make a few, I’ll look closely and see what I like or enjoy the most about each, and I’ll head in that direction.

I guess I’m taking the scenic route.

Noyac Bay Toque & Cowl

Noyac Bay 16

When Clara Parkes asks you if you’d like to play with her new yarn, you say yes without hesitation. She has an eye and a feel for wool, and you know that what you hold in your hands is bound to be an incredible knitting experience. She sent me a bit of this wonderful worsted weight, called Cormo 1.0. I sketched and swatched, again and again, until I found the magic combination of stitches for the perfect hat and cowl.

Noyac Bay 1They’re called Noyac Bay, after — no surprise — my favorite place near Sag Harbor. It’s where I go to breathe deeply, sit for a while, take a little walk on the rocky shore, or watch the sky. It is my Happy Place.

The stitches I combined are textured and cozy. The toque has a bit of length to give it a comfortable slouch, and the cowl will keep you toasty even on the coldest days on Short Beach. I’m really, really pleased with the the way my designs work with Clara’s Cormo 1.0.

Noyac Bay 8

This yarn is the embodiment of a good worsted weight wool. It’s plump, robust, and ever so soft. The knitting is like dipping a spoon into a rich, dense ice cream — you just sigh and smile and enjoy the experience. Its four plies take on texture with exuberance, and once your piece is washed and blocked, you’ll see why Clara chose Cormo for the debut yarn in her collection.

I’m also proud to offer something to you that helps present this amazing yarn project to the world. The story of her adventure in making yarn is here, at Clara Yarn. The patterns are available on Ravelry, and Cormo 1.0 is available on the Clara Yarn website (there are links at the bottom of this post).

So this is what I’ve been doing — keeping a happy secret, giggling and knitting my way through the end of this wearying winter. I’m so very content, even while the ground beneath me is a little shaky. Knitters know that knitting can save you, and I’m saying amen to that.

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Noyac Bay 15

The Noyac Bay pieces were photographed a couple of weeks ago right on the shore of Short Beach. It was a chilly day, but one that let us know that winter would indeed be over soon. I was fortunate that one of the Remarkable R’s was home on break — Rachel was a wonderful and intrepid model, and we had a lot of fun posing and snapping and laughing. It was cold out there!

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Noyac Bay Toque

Noyac Bay Cowl

Clara Yarn Cormo 1.0