An Update

June 15, 2013

It has been awhile, a very long while, since I have posted here. I hope your knitting has been going well. My breast cancer came back , not in the breast but brain bone and lung. I had a chest x-ray not long ago and it didn’t show any lesions, whereas before starting chemo I had a pet scan Medieval Dresswhich showed them. I am feeling good though, today is the  best day I have had in several weeks, thank God.  I can say I have missed my creative side. My mind was so fuzzy. I knew I was feeling better when I  was going through some yarn and ideas started to flood my mind, and I was pulling yarn .  Healing is an interesting process. One of the things I have found interesting during this process is LARP’s (Live Action Role Play, it is a game where you have a character you develop that you act out). There is one in Michigan that I thought looked like fun. I found out about it through some friends I met that LARP. Creativity can come in many ways, and I enjoy how my own creativity is stimulated by other types of and others creativity. This LARP is KANAR and is set in a medieval time period.

I was planning on going to weeklong right before TNNA, but with my cancer coming back being fuzzy headed and mobility have been issues. I ended up having radiation to my brain for 10 sessions, then after that they started chemo. By the time I started chemo, I needed to use a walker as it was painful to walk. Then after the first cycle of chemo my blood counts took a nose dive, I ended up getting platelets and two units of blood, and being in the process of getting pain medicine managed so that my mobility is not gone. That has been an issue for me, because of the bone cancer. Walking has been difficult because of bone pain. Now it is much better, the medicine is getting fine tuned and I am making progress.

It was pretty scary for me when I was fuzzy headed as it affected my creativity. One thing that I was thankful for with  looking at going to the LARP weeklong was that looking at the medieval dresses was very stimulating creatively. So was planning the story of my character.  I find that when I am in a slump looking at things outside knitting can flood me with new ideas for knits. Don’t be afraid with your knitting to look at things OUTSIDE knitting, for inspiration. you may see color combinations you like, textures, silhouettes, drape, line, the list goes on. Color I suppose is the most obvious but enjoy the things around you with an open mind and eye as to what is beautiful to you. You can apply this to your knitting and it will empower you.

To my family and friends, I love you so very much. Thank you for all you do for me.

To my knitting friends who have been praying for me or sending good karma my way, thank you so much! I am making progress and I appreciate what you are doing for me. Please keep it up!

To my friends at week-long, I wish you a happy and full week. I am so sorry I could not join you.

To those going to TNNA, I am sorry I will miss you there. Next-year my goal is to be there.

Peace and Knitting, JoLene


Chemo Knitting

April 20, 2012

It has been a long time since I have posted. In November I was diagnosed with  breast cancer. While tired from Chemo I am really doing very well. For those who don’t know, I have no hot spots and it looks to be early. I have been very fortunate.

With this of course I have done less designing as I have been tired. My thoughts have been fuzzy and my mind has not wanted to work. I have admittedly wanted nurturing. You may know someone with cancer yourself that you want to knit something for but feel at a loss as to know what to say, what to do, what to knit.

From my experience, and everyone is going to be different, I have needed both normal everyday living and understanding as to where I am at. Nurturing without being defined by it. Yes I have cancer but it does not define who I am. I am not suddenly craving pink ribbons on everything. Your loved one may, as I said everyone is different. What I appreciated was being asked if someone wasn’t sure what I would like. I also liked just getting nurturing things that focused on me as a women.

Things that didn’t scream you poor cancer patient. I decided at the beginning I am not a cancer victim, I am someone who has cancer yes. But I am not a victim.

I still knit what I love, and my step daughter has knit me some hats. I do have a beautiful wig but I am not afraid to go out bald either. I put on some makeup and some beautiful earrings and smile as I always do. There is so much beauty in the world, so much to be happy about and thankful for.

In the end I find that chemo knitting for me is little different than regular knitting. Why do we knit for others? We love them. We nurture them by giving them something that is uniquely part of ourselves and them, linked together by  the works of our hands and the bond of our hearts. We choose yummy fibers and things we love to do this. In the end, isn’t that what anyone going through something needs? A little love, a little nurturing?

While it is admittedly traumatic for a woman to loose her hair (it is hard for me too) I have to be honest. I hate most chemo hates because to  me they  scream “I am hiding no hair!” because they just don’t look like regular hats. I would much prefer a really great hat that is just fabulous, than a hat that just hides my head. Our loved ones don’t love us for our hair. And we shouldn’t love ourselves for our hair either.

Practical considerations on yarn if you are knitting a hat for someone going through chemo: chemo can through a woman into menopause. Temporary or permanent. If she is borderline on being pre-menopausal she has very good chances at permanent menopause caused by the chemo. She will have abrupt hot flashes caused by her body trying to balance it’s temperature. Use fine gauge yarns for best comfort. Like  sock yarns. Worsted weight for indoor use as a hat is in my opinion a waste. It will be way too hot.

As far as fiber, a newly bald head can be very  sensitive. Use very soft yarns. Hold yarns to your inner wrist or cheek, or back of your neck. If it is prickly the hat will come off. If it is too warm, the  hat will come off. It is great to have a nice soft lightweight hat to sleep in when you need it too, again soft soft soft. If the hat is too warm it will make hot flashes worse.

Peace and Knitting, JoLene Treace

p.s. My chemo is just over the halfway point, I have through June yet and then surgery and radiation. Reconstruction when it is all done, I am hoping for a lumpectomy.

The Design Process

July 8, 2011

I realize this is a very broad title. I have just today finished a design going into a book for SoHo Publishing, publishers of Vogue Knitting. I normally don’t work under a deadline as I am frequently sick and we are renovating. But from time to time I do projects that go in a book or magazine and I have to ramp things up a notch and move at a different pace.

The process of creating a design from conception to completion is rather like giving birth. It is thrilling, challenging, and exhausting. There are labor pains along the way. And when you hold it in your hands you can forget about those pains.

This little garment I have been working on is a baby sweater that has been fraught with little difficulties. I had trouble getting gauge to be consistent between swatch and garment, from flat to in the round, and from double pointed needle to circular. Of course, since I am an extremely loose knitter minute changes are amplified in my knitting.

In the end, I did probably 10 swatches, did the sleeves twice, and redid the yoke 4 times altogether. It is awfully cute and will be two days late. Of course this is with communication with SoHo. I would much rather have a design done the way I feel it needs to be done and if it works with the publisher’s time frame be two days late, than rush it through and not be right. Or done not as good as I know it can be.

It has been a draining process. In all honesty, I have worked on little else and am looking forward to working on some hat designs I have in mind. My mind feels like jello at the moment but when I look at it, I am so proud of how cute it is. And I do feel very satisfied. When the book is due to come out I will post pictures. The name of the design  is Garden Party.

My distributor would like me to design more baby things, perhaps I will add more to my line we shall see.

As for this little project…one more read through the pattern, package it up and it is a wrap.

Peace and Knitting, JoLene Treace

Photography and Inspiration

June 21, 2011

I love photography. It is interesting the things that you can capture on film that you may not have noticed when looking at your surroundings, and inspiration abounds for colorways and textures that can be the springboard for interesting designs.It helps me appreciate things on a simple level, for the beauty present in our day-to-day lives that we take for granted or the humor that we can miss.

by JoLene Treace, Kristmen's Design Studio, all rights reserved.

I have had many photographs that have made me chuckle over the years of animals I have taken when shooting for design inspiration later, as they have their quirky personalities just like people do.

This little guy is so cute. I know he looks grumpy or sad…perhaps he didn’t get enough treats today.

I love the textures in this picture, aside from the appeal of the monkey itself. You have the texture of the fur contrasted with the texture of the log which is quite interesting.

The colors are beautiful too, and show how fantastic neutrals with a punch of color can be. This would make an earthy and interesting colorway for a fairisle or other stranded knitting garment. Black, offwhite, greys, shell pink, and the gold to rust colors.

As with most of the animals I photograph, this one was snapped at a zoo…our local zoo, the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo. It is a wonderful zoo and I love to go there and photograph the animals and the flowers.

I hope you find inspiration in your day from little things as well as unexpected places.

Peace and Knitting, JoLene Treace

Knitting Relationships

June 21, 2011

My recent adventures at TNNA for the summer show reminded me about the appeal knitting has in many ways beyond the fiber itself. To me knitting is about relationships. You have a relationship with your yarn and the things you create with it. You have a relationship with those in your knitting community…the local yarn stores you go to, the knitting clubs or guilds, and the online knitting communities you frequent. You have a connection to knitters in other cultures and times in history.

I enjoy that connection. I love meeting people and seeing their enthusiasm for their projects, a special yarn, their new product, or a discovered technique. Granted there are some knitters out there that are perhaps not as friendly as one might like or what have you, but by and large the fiber community is filled with warm and friendly people.

It is the warmth in knitting that draws me to it. I have done many creative things over the years, and done them very, very well. Being creative is like breathing for me…I do it without thinking, without ceasing…a drive pushes me forward and it happens without my will, and I cannot stop. I will always do something creative.

But knitting has a warmth to it that draws me to it. The warmth and softness of the yarn as it slips through my fingers as I knit. The relationships I have with the yarns, and the people. It is so portable, too. I can quite literally be creative anywhere, anytime, anyplace. It is soothing to me on many levels.

I hope your world brings you peaceful and soothing moments.

Peace and Knitting….JoLene Treace

Barton Park: Colinton Angoras, Colinton 2000 Lace Weight

May 14, 2011

I just finished a new design in time for TNNA in June. It is a triangular shawl worked from the back neck down. The shawl was actually inspired by a call for submissions from one of my favorite publishers, who is doing a Jane Austen themed publication. I chose Sense and Sensibility, as we have the movie and I enjoy the story. This is one of her first (maybe the first published) novels. In the movie, the Dashwood sisters wear these beautiful everyday shawls, and so I decided to do a shawl utilizing some very old stitch patterns.

Barton Park, by JoLene Treace

Barton Park

I had participated in the Great Wall of Yarn for TNNA last June, and swatched the design in Colinton 2000 from Colinton Angoras.

Many designers I know help knit swatches for the Great Wall of Yarn, a special display at TNNA (the June trade show). It gives the shop owners and industry attendees an opportunity to see the yarns in the display worked up, and it gives the designers more visibility.

I was delighted when I received Colinton Angoras lace weight to swatch, as I had asked for lace weight yarn. I had not picked a yarn for this design yet. they liked the swatch and the result is that I have found another wonderful company to work with.

The yarn has a beautiful luster, and is springy and lively. It is amazing how it looks when blocked compared to when knit. When the knitting is in progress in any lace, you have to see it pinned out to appreciate it’s’ beauty. The yarn itself felt nice in the hand and was easy to work with. I have other ideas in mind for this yarn, and will of course share them here when they are done.

I pinned it out to 72 inches wide along the top of the shawl, and 33 inches from the top to the bottom point.

When Will the Army Pay Retirement?

October 19, 2010

This is a short post, and I beg your indulgence for straying from the topic of knitting. My husband was recently on active duty for a couple years and passed his mandatory retirement age. So, he was “retired”.

Here we are, 4 months later, and he still has not received his orders. He still is not receiving his pension. He cannot drill because he is past the mandatory retirement age, nor can he volunteer to be on active duty. No orders have been cut.

When he first came home there was a back and forth between his original home unit and one in San Francisco as to who owned him and who was responsible to cut his orders. That took some time to track down. Oh yes, it was his original home unit.

Then someone told him he had to fill out a form so they could have proof he was eligible to retire. Hmmm, they should have known that. It was the Army who mandated his retirement after all. They had to get that information somewhere. Presumably the clerk in Indianapolis would have access to the same information.

He had his packet started and lost, started and re-done, and done again.

I am beginning to wonder just what it will take to get that several months back pay the government now owes us. Without interest.

We have contacted our Senator’s office three times. And the word from the individual working on his packet in the Army, as of today is: “Sir, I am going to start your packet over again and do it from scratch because of the problems with your packet”.

Which means probably another month.

Did I mention that there are liaisons that handle problems like this? Scary isn’t it, as that would indicate that this happens too frequently.

I have some sort of hope though I know it is not likely, that this story will go viral. It is shabby treatment of anyone who has served our country to have to repeatedly fill out paperwork that is already in the hands of those who control their pension, and wait months on end for income that they have worked hard for.

Peace and Knitting, JoLene Treace

Canadian Geese and the Joys of Kntting

August 2, 2010

One thing that amazes me is the amount of email that I receive. I get very little email from knitters with problems, and for that I am thankful. I do work hard at making my patterns easy to follow. Occassionaly there are errors or things just are not explained by me in a way easily understood by that individual. It happens. Once in awhile I get an odd email, like my friend’s puppy ate my copy of your pattern can you send me a new one (this was one that was in a magazine). Recently I received an email from someone who apparently did not care for my using the phrase “Canadian Geese” in my pattern Flying Geese.

Well, where I live that is what we call them. First, I am 25% Norwegian. That alone means I have just a little stubborness. Second, I am from the Midwest. We are very practical here. While I don’t want to offend anyone, really, are there not better things to take pointy sticks to? There are better things to have as a pet peeve, more worthy causes to put our energy into. I prefer to put positive energy into the world around me. If in someone elses part of the world they want to call that goose something else, hey it is their corner of the world to live in they can call it what they want.

For those who are terminally curious, I did find this page regarding the issue. Quite entertaining it was to read too. I really like what they call it in Canada. You’ll have to read the page to see what that is.

We sometimes get wrapped around our needles about things that are not in the end all that important in the big scheme of things. I hope you enjoy the stories and the imagery for what they are, and that you enjoy the world around you equally well. Including your knitting.

Peace and Knitting, JoLene

Knitting Mojo: Getting Your Groove Back

July 19, 2010

I could talk about how my life has been a difficult one for me in many respects over the last couple years, but really how is my life different from anyone else? We all have things in our lives that are stressful, or times in our lives that are just plain rough.

I know knitters handle these periods in their lives in different ways: some turn to difficult projects to absorb and trap their minds. A distraction if you will. Others turn to simple projects that don’t demand more out of them. Others cannot turn to their knitting at all, and are disturbed that the call of needle and yarn has seemingly left them.

We all have times in our lives where burn out can approach. It is important to remember that the things you love are not a chore. And how you handle the things in your life that you do for yourself is completely in your control.

It goes back to knowing what kind of knitter you are and ultimately what is important to you. And not being afraid to give yourself what you need in that moment.

Knitting, as any other way we choose to spend our time or cope with stress, can be very positive (or not a very effective way to cope). It all depends on the choices we make. As in knitting itself it boils down to self-awareness giving us the best choices.

When I feel like my batteries are drained, I like to do things that are creative that don’t have any strings attached to them. Creativity unfettered by constraints of designing for anyone or anything. Gardens, architecture, artwork, nature…these are all things in unrelated media that refresh my creative world. It is hard to create in a vacuum, and looking at others artists work can be very liberating in the flow of thought and ideas. Not to mention just helping to feel centered and connected to what is around me.

I hope, if you are having trouble finding your groove right now, that you are able to feed your soul with what it needs.

Peace and Knitting, JoLene

Knitting Mojo

June 16, 2010

Recently I went to TNNA. For those on Ravelry, you may have seen some of the feed from the trade show, or you may have heard of it from other sources. The big summer trade show in Columbus, Ohio is always interesting and fun. In many ways it stimulates in ways other shows do not, as the yarn companies feature what is new and trends in the market can be seen and touched.

For me these things are a boost to my creativity, but what I love most is seeing people who have become friends that I don’t get to see much. It has been longer than I thought since my last post. In many ways my life can be hectic, just like anyone else. We all have our own stresses in our lives that can affect our “knitting mojo”.

It is hard to feel creative if you live in a vacuum. So too it is hard to enjoy things in your life that you normally enjoy. I hope that you are all well and that you are taking time to send a little love your own way.

Peace and Knitting, JoLene Treace