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Flashes of gold and silver

31 May 2011, 15:18

the gold

Yesterday I ran a 10km running race to celebrate my 2nd rebirthday of my bone marrow transplant (well, it’s a month early but this race is so much nicer than the July one I ran last year!).

The race went really well, and I truly gave it EVERYTHING I had, running the first 4 kilometers at an astonishingly fast 5min per km pace, and then I tailed back to a bit more realistic 5:30/km pace until the last 200 meters, when I gave an all out sprint for the finish!

Like last year, I ran with the memory of my three departed BMT friends firmly in my mind – this was for Vera, Rob, and David, who fought so so hard, and who even today inspire me to push and fight even harder on their behalf.

I wasn’t quite sure how well I did until I viewed the official chip times on the website last night… 51:21!! That’s only 7 seconds off my pre-illness Personal Best! I really was only trying to beat last year’s time of 53:38, and I honestly didn’t think I’d come anywhere close to that magical 51 minute point for me!


And this little piggy stayed in bed all week long...

8 December 2010, 14:40

I have been laid low and barely able to get out of bed since Friday. After an entire weekend of cold/flu symptoms and a fever of 38.8 (102F), I dragged myself into hospital to make sure it wasn’t anything serious…

…only for my swabs for come back positive for H1N1, aka swine flu!

Oh joy. I’m barely able to stand long enough to make a cup of tea, or sit long enough to write some work emails, so needless to say, I’ve been unable to get any sewing done from laying in bed. This has put a severe damper on my Christmas gift sewing schedule. At least my latest Patrones order arrived (296, 297, and 298) for me to read through.

The doctors have said I need to stay off work for this week at the least, but I’m hoping maybe I’ll feel better this weekend. Until then, muse on the fact that I got this despite having the combined flu vaccine which is supposed to protect against H1N1. :( And here I thought swine flu was so 2009…


First rebirthday 10k race

11 July 2010, 14:13

Last Thursday was my one year anniversary of my bone marrow transplant, which others have taken to calling a “rebirthday”. James took me out for lunch and a very chill session at a super posh tea shop, followed by a surprise card and flowers when I got home! I’ve been planning a special celebration of my own for about six months now, when I got it into my head that I should run a 10k for my one year post-transplant.

The British 10K London Run was this morning, and even though I’ve been running around the river for the past 3-4 months to train for this, I had only managed 10km in my last three runs so I was feeling pretty nervous and hoping only to run the whole thing (no walking!) and to maybe finish in under an hour.

(More race photos here…)



23 August 2009, 09:22

Apologies for the short intermission this week – I intended to tell you all about the lovely knit dress I made for my mom and show off our great photoshoot, but I’ve been snatched away for the weekend to sunny Camberwell. I can now say I’ve had a headache that’s tougher than paracetemol (Tylenol), codeine, AND morphine, as well as all three combined together!! Don’t worry, it’s sorted now- the drs were pretty sure it was caused by one of my many medicines making my blood pressure spike, but they had to keep me in to dis-count any other nastier options to be absolutely sure.


Chemo hats - with pattern!

12 August 2009, 17:56

It was inevitable, but still I hoped I could avoid the hair loss that comes with the chemo in my bone marrow transplant… I was expecting it to be instantaneous, but in reality, my hair didn’t start falling out until 3 weeks after the first dose of chemo, so I’m really glad I thought ahead and made myself some comfortable knit caps before I went into hospital, based on my own design.

I know there’s tons of chemo hat patterns out there, but IMHO, most just scream “old lady chemo” to me, and as I’m neither old nor wishing to particularly associated with chemo, I wanted something a bit cleaner and less, err, wacky/zany. I mean, if I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing that hat when I’m well, why would I want to put it on my head when I’m feeling crappy, fat, and unattractive already??

So I came up with this method for making what’s essentially a swimming cap made from stretchy knit materials. I knew I definitely want the back of my head covered, though, so you’ll see that my pattern dips down in the back to cover every last bit of Homer Simpson-esque wisps. If you’re a sewer, it’s a great use of scraps, and if you’re not, it’s a great way to recycle old teeshirts! Even if you’ve got some great wigs like I do, I find these absolutely indespensible for wearing around the house and sleeping in! Think of the wigs like your heels, and these like those comfy slippers…

The finished photo here is quite grainy and this one’s looking more baggy than it does in real life (honestly!), but you can get the idea of what we’re aiming towards here!


That was fast!

22 July 2009, 12:47

I’ll make this short because I really try to keep non-sewing posts to a minimum, but… I’m home! It was really short notice – I thought it’d more more like Friday but on Monday the doctor said “get ready to go tomorrow” so I frantically pulled down all my decorations and packed up my stuff, only to have it all eclipsed by the two ENORMOUS bags of medicines I have to take now (good thing they lay it all out in a nice grid or I’d be totally lost!). The only problem is, since James & mom were counting on 4-6 weeks to get everything done, and I came home in exactly 3 weeks, hardly anything was ready for me! So there’s some intense boat disinfecting going on today, and tomorrow the old (and frankly, disgusting) saloon carpet is being ripped out and new stuff installed, so I’m confined to my bedroom with the air purifier on high for a few days.


Khaki KnipMode puzzle trousers

19 July 2009, 13:15

I’ve been doing more sewing “on the inside” – this time I’ve made these curvy-seamed trousers (#12) from the May 09 KnipMode which should come as no surprise since you already know that I prepared them in advance as an activity pack.

I sewed most of these last Sunday, but took my time handsewing the invisible zipper, waistband, and hems, which I’ll explain later… Once again, apologies for the iPhone photos, but I’m planning on doing a nice & crisp DSLR photoshoot again once they and I!) am finished. But for now…


Boredom busters!

15 July 2009, 13:13

I’ve been keeping myself busy within my four walls, and a lot of this is down to you all who sent me boredom busting parcels and activities to open up each day! So I thought I’d share some of the seewing and crafty ones so you can see what I’ve been up to (though there’s way more yet to open!).

First up is from Rachel, who sent me two “retro” issues of BWOF from her stash, 07/2000 & 12/2002, with a note challgenging me to find some hidden gems and just giggle at the rest. I’m up for a challegne!

(sorry for the iPhone photos – it’s the best I can do since I’m away from the scanner and the DSLR)

In the 2000 issue I absolutely fell in love with this skirt:


Hospital activity packs

5 July 2009, 19:34

To accompany my my little red sewing machine on the inside here with me, I made up some “activity packs” in advance that my mom or James could just bring to me when I got the sewing itch. Into each gallon ziploc bag went all the cut fabric pieces for that project, plus the thread and bobbin, any notions, and the scanned line drawing & instructions. That way I should hopefully just be able to get down to business when the feeling strikes me without having to do all the boring prep stuff!

First up is already in my activity drawer (I’ve only got four drawers and a tiny wardobe in the room, so one is designated for fun!), a hat from the May 09 Burda, with all the pattern pieces cut out in the red & white floral cotton poplin, with all the appropriate pieces fused to some super heavyweight canvas interfacing.

I’ve also got this top and trousers from the May 09 KnipMode ready to go…


Embroidery and bunting

2 July 2009, 23:00

I seem to be pretty lucky so far to have escaped the constant chemo nausea I was told to expect. I’m on two different chemo drugs now until Sunday when I switch to a third on its own, and so far one of them has had zero affect on the way I feel, and the other seems to be giving me wildly different comedy afflictions each day (first fever & headache, then the next day a weird bumpy rash like mosquito bites all over my body plus breathing problems, then tonight it just seems to be a 2 hour long sneezing fest. weird.). In any case, it’s so far much easier than I was expecting (knock on wood), so it’s given me some time to do some crafting in amoungst my tv and film watching.

Yesterday (Day -7) (in bone marrow transplant land, the day you get your stem cells is Day Zero, so right now I’m counting down to that, 8 July. After I receive them, I’ll go into the positive numbers!)

Yesterday I did a bit of ham-fisted embroidery, finishing up a bit for a baby present, which I’ll reveal when it’s totally finished, as well as finally finishing that Sublime Stitching apron kit I’ve been working on here and there over the last few months (remember this from the al fresco sewing day?).


Sewing in hospital

30 June 2009, 15:11

You may have noticed the new banner at the top of the site (or not, if you’re an RSS reader!) :


From 30 June for 4-6 weeks, I’ll be confined to a special germ-free room for a bone marrow transplant. For at least 6 months after that, I’ll be unable to go into any public or crowded places (shops, restaurants, cinemas, public transport, my office, etc) until my immune system rebuilds itself with the new stem cells.

What’s happening

Roughly speaking, it’s 7 days of intense chemo, then the next day I’ll receive the bone marrow stem cells from the donor via an IV drip, then the next few weeks are a waiting game filled with constant transfusions and battles against infections until the stem cells migrate to my bones and start producing new blood cells. After they reach a certain level, I’m allowed to go home, though I’m told to expect to be readmitted at least a few times after that.


Summer sheep pyjama addition

24 May 2009, 10:45

When I first thought I’d be going into hospital, I was anticipating wearing winter pyjamas, but with all the delays and waiting on a bed, it’s now rolling into summer time. Luckily, I sewed my pyjama sets in medium weight knits rather than thick fleeces, but I had a tiny bit of Sharon’s sheep fabric leftover so I thought I’d create more wearing options for myself.

If you recall, I made a snap-front long sleeve shirt and drawstring trousers before:

And now I’ve got a camisole to wear either under the long sleeve top or on its own with the trousers!


Thank You Part Two

8 May 2009, 13:30

Following on from the post “Thank you!” from a few months ago, I’ve now got three weeks to go before I go into hospital for my bone marrow transplant so I wanted to get my address up for any of you who’d like to send some boredom-relief packages.

Please read the earlier post for an idea of what I’m talking about here (it’s okay, I’ll wait. . . . . All done? Great!). In addition to all that, I will have my little red sewing machine and my Mac laptop (with low-bandwidth internet) in my little room with me, if that helps with ideas.

Ground rules

  1. Please wrap all boredom-buster(s) individually inside the postal envelope, enclosing your name and email address inside! (as I will gather them all together in one place to open one each day so they’ll get separated from their envelopes and I want to know who to thank!) Newspaper/magazine/recycled flyers are more than fine for wrapping!
  2. It is extremely important that you do not send anything if you or anyone in your home has even the slightest cough or sniffle. Please wash your hands for good measure anyway before wrapping, too (I will have zero immune system and what would cause a slight cold for you will result in a serious illness for me on top of everything else!)
  3. I am not allowed any flowers or fruit you cannot peel (though, admittedly that’s probably more pertinent for in-person guests…) because of the chance of fungal infections.
  4. If you’d like to send a card, please hold off – I’ll post up my hospital address as soon as I’m in so they’ll come straight to me (I don’t want the nurses to have to deal with any early arrivers, and I don’t want my co-workers to have to lug in a ton of post for me, either!)
  5. Please forgive me if I sound like a bossy, ungrateful cow. :(

Address for parcels only:



22 April 2009, 13:07

Yesterday I had an all-day hospital visit, but instead of being the super dull day I was dreading, it actually turned into the most relaxed and chilled day I’ve had in months! Some women go to the spa, I go to Nuclear Medicine for a bit of radioactivity, ha.

Part of the day was that I had two hours free before having to report back in, so instead of wandering around Camberwell, I went into the big park next to the hospital. We’re having absolutely gorgeous weather in London right now, and everyone was out with their babies and dogs, having impromptu picnics and tennis matches, so I found myself an empty picnic table and brought out my embroidery. Here’s my view of my project, and of my view of the bandstand:


Thank You!

8 March 2009, 10:49

I’ve been so touched by all the kind thoughts and words that everyone has sent to me since I spoke about my illness here. A few of you decided to send cards and gifts, too, which just blows me away! I never expected such an outpouring of camaraderie and kindness, and for that, I thank each and every one of you.

These adorable wooden koala and kangaroo buttons are from Sandra in Australia, through whose quest for instructions on the KnipMode twist top, I discovered the pattern myself!

She got them from this local shop, and I really must find the perfect place to use these as an accent!

Then I got a mysterious package in the post with a card from Cidell!


Hospital pyjamas

22 January 2009, 17:42

As soon as I received the sheep fabric given to me by Brian and Sharon in the post, I knew I’d be making some comfy pyjamas from it in the form of Jalie 2686, which, you’ll remember, I’ve already made in purple silk for my friend Pip.

They’re not quite as luxurious as the silk, but they’ve still got a silky sheen to them, they’re super soft, and the one big advantage over silk is that I can throw these in the washing machine without fear.


November workwear log

28 November 2008, 11:54

At the beginning of the month, I thought it’d be an interesting experiment to document exactly what I wear to work over the course of a month in order to observe how much of my wardrobe I actually wear, and how much of that I’ve made. I made a really informal attempt at this in the form of my Most Worn Awards last winter, but I felt it was high time to do something slightly more scientific and allowing FehrTrade creations to go head-to-head with ready to wear.

I didn’t include weekends into this because my clothing choices are usually the same grotty work clothes for doing boat DIY, and also because I change a few times during the day which would complicate things. I made a real attempt not to let my experiment influence my clothing choices in the morning, and I think I’ve been as impartial as I could’ve been.

Monday 3 Novbrown twill trousers and Uni Qlo white cashmere sweater
Tuesday 4 Novgreen corduroys, brown sleeveless turtleneck, and mom’s vintage mustard cardigan
Wednesday 5 Novchocolate brown bamboo wrap dress
Thursday 6 NovThames jeans and beige cashmere sweater
Friday 7 Novstretch jeans and blue KnipMode twist top