Saturday, June 20, 2009

World Wide Knit in Public Days X 2

From a knitting standpoint, it's been a busy week. About a month ago I decided to become involved with the project World Wide Knit in Public days. It sounded like a lot of fun, and since I truly enjoy organizing things, it was just the right thing for me to be involved in. Good distractions like this can keep one sane.

>>> Our official sign, which I dumbly left at The Coffee Bar today and will have to return (oh darn . . . Heilman's chocolates . . . ) to pick up. >>>

Before long, fellow knitter Mary Adrian Gunkel joined me in working on local KiPs. Soon we were able to secure many door prizes from four different yarn shops - some local, and some 30 to 60 miles away. Most yarn shop owners recognize that a serious knitter will travel a distance to find the kind of yarn she's searching for, so we were really pleased to have excellent door prizes donated from shops near and far.

>>> Outdoors on the deck at Chocolatea, a table full of door prizes >>>

Door prizes included gift certificates, yarn, books, needles and patterns, plus each of the cafe locations donated food gifts too. It was a wonderful way to introduce local knitters to several different yarn shops. Each shop had minimal investment in their donations but hopefully will have strong returns when these knitters (and their friends) visit these shops. At both KiP events, I overheard several gals comparing notes on the different yarn shops, and all shared very positive information.

The first KiP was held at Chocolatea, in Portage, Michigan last Sunday. Chocolatea - as you can probably guess from it's name - is a new cafe specializing in a variety of specialty coffees and teas, as well as first class chocolates by the piece or the pound. They have a beautiful outside deck that overlooks Portage Creek, a silent gem of a trout stream.

That morning, the local paper had published an interview with me about the two KiPs, and it resulted in a crowd showing up - more than 40 knitters and crocheters of all ages! They arrived before the KiP actually began, and were still coming in after it officially ended. Not to worry - the Chocolatea staff was very happy to have our group stay later. We packed that deck with people (yes, we had four men knitters join in) and the group overflowed into the main portion of the cafe. It was a perfect weather day, partly sunny skies and 75 degrees; fortunately several brought their own lawn chairs, and we squashed together on the deck. The owner later said that was the most people who have used her deck since she opened.

>>> Jane and her son Alex, knitting away . . . > > >

One of the WWKiP goals is to promote the fun of knitting, and the knitters attending this event helped three newbies begin their first stitches or learn a new technique. Another goal is to support local businesses, and we were able to promote both the four local yarn shops plus the two cafes.

>>> The Chocolatea deck, overlooking Portage Creek . . . > > >

We certainly made the owner of Chocolatea happy - we kept her staff very busy with orders for three hours. The owner showed her knitter-appreciation by setting dishes of free chocolates on every table. It was a very good marketing plan and we eagerly took advantage. She even showed us her interpretation of chocolate knitting - a single round ball of chocolate and two long sticks of chocolate, representing a ball of yarn with needles. (Sorry - no photo of that. The photographer ate them.)

Then on to the next KiP weekend - today was our second event, held at The Coffee Bar in Oshtemo, Michigan. Great food and good knit friends made for an excellent day. It was another good turnout - 30 people came, some returning from the previous event, and some attending for the first time. I was so pleasantly surprised to find a friend who'd seen the newspaper article and came to specifically to see me - we haven't seen each other in many years. So good to see you, Myra!!!

>>> Instructor Kay and a new knitter . . . oh crap, I'm not supposed to tell anyone she's an instructor . . . but she's really good at it. > > >

We did show-and-tell knitting at both events, and we displayed business cards from the donating LYS (Local Yarn Shops), maps to help knitters find those shops (courtesy of Mary Adrian, the mapmaker!), plus free patterns too (thank you Ideal Images, Kalamazoo).

We also placed a sign-up sheet for new knit groups for both Chocolatea and The Coffee Bar - mid-week evenings once a month. Both cafes have invited us back! Guess that means we pretty much behaved ourselves (though I remember quite a bit of raucous laughter throughout both events) . . .

>>> Karen with her door prize - a sock yarn kit from Stitching Memories . . . > > >

Thanks to all who came. I had a blast. Especially, thanks to those of you who offered positive feedback. I'm in process of firming up the once-a-month details for both Chocolatea and The Coffee Bar. If you left your email address on your door prize ticket, I'll be sending you the knit night info when it's available.

> > > and the final word: Live to Knit! Paula had this henna-ed on her arm, which will last a few more weeks. Go Paula!! > >>

Local Yarn Shops involved:

Stitching Memories, Portage
Ideal Images, Kalamazoo
Your Local Yarn Shop, Battle Creek
Threadbear Fiber Arts Studio, Lansing

If you won a door prize from these shops, please tell them how much you appreciate their generosity. A quick note would be nice, but a visit and purchase from them would be even nicer. Support these shops - they sure can make us happy, can't they???

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Change is Good

The past three weeks have gone by so quickly. We had several downs, with some ups mixed in. But we're staying strong.

The bad news: Tom's latest CT scans are showing increased tumor activity in his lungs. The good news: they are very small, and not obstructing his airways in any way.

With new tumors, that means that the trial chemo is no longer working. But there's good news there too - the trial chemo attacked the cancer in his liver, with those tumors knocked down by more than 80% over the past six treatments. Now they're just tiny little buggers, not nearly so scary as they had been. His doctor is quite pleased with this, and reminded us that the liver cancer was the most life-threatening, so she feels he's made major progress.

Since the trial chemo has done it's job, Tom's doctor has taken him off the trial and has now switched him to a different chemo therapy that specifically targets lung cancers. One of the things we've been very happy about with the U of Michigan staff is that they are quick to move in a different, positive direction when it's necessary.

At first Tom was quite disappointed to be taken off the trial chemo study. But when he learned that the next rounds of chemo will specifically work on his lung cancers (the other cancers appear stable right now), he realized that he was getting excellent care and that it's definitely in his best interests to move forward with the next set of drugs. We're keeping our fingers crossed, since this pairing of chemo drugs has worked well for others.

He had his first treatment today, and will repeat it in two weeks. It went well - so far - and we'll wait to see if he has any side effects from these different drugs.

He'd taken a five week break from chemo to let his body become stronger, which initially was a good plan. The idea was to give his body a break from all that toxic treatment, and allow him to gain some weight.

Unfortunately, he had a severe drug reaction to two prescription drugs he'd been taking for chemo side effects. These caused him to have zombie-like symptoms to the point where his brain just wasn't working at all - his conversation was non-existent (I should have video'd this, since anyone who knows Tom knows he can't be quiet for more than 30 seconds). He was showing Parkinson-like tremors, and he was having a difficult time mentally processing even basic information. His doctor took him off the offending drugs, but that caused him three straight days of severe nausea. Oops - a side effect of the side-effect drugs! Finally, it's been resolved by finding a new drug to replace the two he can't take, and he's been feeling a bit better these past few days.

He's also been sleeping a lot, which is always worrisome to me just because he can't eat when he's sleeping, and one of my major goals is to stuff him full of good food. Or even not-good food. I actually smile when I now see him eating a Whopper. He's actually eating meat! And if eating meat means it's a Whopper, I don't care. It meets our criteria - high calories and protein - and it makes him gain weight. The more weight he can recoup, the stronger he'll be in his fight against cancer.

But right now he needs rest more than anything else, so it's time for me to let up on the feeding frenzy. That made him quite happy - no more stuffing-of-Tom for a few days. Today's weigh-in at the doctor's office was a nice surprise - even though he couldn't eat for five days last week, he only lost a half-pound of weight, much better than we expected. So Tom gets a temporary food-reprieve, at least until I find a new recipe that I want him to guinea-pig for me . . .