30 October 2009

Brioche Beret

No, I haven't been baking (well, I have, but not brioche ;)

I've been learning how to do brioche stitch, also known as fisherman's rib, using this web site.

This is a seriously cool stitch pattern - each row is knit twice, with first the odd stitches being knit / even stitches slipped, and then the even stitches being knit / odd stitches being slipped. It's a bit more tricky than that, but that's the basic idea.

And the reason for this, apart from always liking to learn new things? I simply had to make a Windmill Beret (Rav link) by Nancy Marchant (or pretty much any of her beret patterns, really - all free, on the same web site above). Isn't it stunning?!

I'm using 1 skein of Noro Silk Garden, and 1 skein of Naturally Loyal (leaf green). It's knit from the top down, and the first few rows are very fiddly - i think I had to restart about four times. In the end, I found using a long circular needle (magic loop) much easier than DPNs.

This is what it looks like on the 'wrong' side ...

It takes a fair bit of concentration initially, but once the technique 'clicks' - which it did for me around Row 10 - the whole process is much faster. I've got to this point in three days ... hope to finish it this weekend! And I think I'll be making more of these!

23 October 2009


Well, I've just got my official letter from the hospital, for my Pre- Admission Clinic for my hip replacement - 10 November! It can take up to 4 hours. This is where I'll get to meet the anaesthetist, nurses, and members of the surgical team, as well as have x-rays, blood tests, do the admission papers, etc etc.

And when I spoke to the Surgical Bookings lady yesterday, she said my surgery will be "mid-November" - I got the impression they've selected a date (probably roughly a week after my clinic) - they're just waiting on my surgeon to confirm the exact date now, I should hear for sure in a week or so! Eeeeek!

Some crafty things to share :

The dress for Dotter's Year 12 Formal outfit - I'm nearly finished the lined tailored vest that goes over this dress. Just have the zip to put in, and then a separate collar and tie to make! Really want to get it done soon, before I go to hospital ... her Formal is on 27 November.

Two super cute beanies for my favourite editor, Sarah, who's having her first child any day now. I'd better get these in the post soon!

A Berry Beanie ... I love this pattern :

This one is a "Sock Topper" baby beanie, using scraps of sock yarn. This one is in Opal "Feelings".

This is the Super Ben Cape (Rav link) for my nephew Ben - this was his gift for becoming a Big Brother - worn here with his favourite Power Rangers outfit, which he lives in! Pattern is in the New Knits on the Block book by Vicki Howell.

And the reason for the gift : Ben's new brother, and my littlest nephew, Thomas Rowan, born on 6 October ... photo taken when he was 3 days old - aaaaaaaaw :)

15 October 2009

Cheat Sheet

The Cheat Sheet for Cracking Codes & Cryptograms For Dummies is up! There will be a bunch of pages with 50 'extra' cryptograms to solve online soon, too, should be by the end of this week.

Actual book to follow soon - it's in press :D

11 October 2009

Hip Links

THR Day is looming, too close for comfort, really. The booking clerk at the hospital says my surgery will definitely be in November, and I'll be given 2 weeks notice. They only book the surgeons' lists 2 weeks in advance. So sometime in 3 - 7 weeks. Gulp.

I thought it would be useful to have a list of 'Hip Links' for people who are on a similar journey (and a place for me to refer to them too!). No doubt I'll add to this list over time.

ETA : don't worry, none of these links have graphic images of surgery. I can't handle them, either ...

So here goes :

Congenital Dislocated Hip (CDH)
Developmental Dislocation of the Hip (DDH)
Hip Dysplasia

Hip Replacements / Treatments

Revision Surgery (replacing an artificial hip when it fails)

Anaesthesia / Trauma

Physiotherapy / Hip Restrictions / Recovery

Patient to Patient Information
  • Surface Hippy - a patient to patient guide to hip resurfacing
  • Hips to You - a patient to patient guide to hip replacement
  • HipWomen - a great, active Yahoo group of women, who all have hip dysplasia. A wealth of information and support! Love you all, ladies!!
  • Hip Universe - THR, resurfacing, PAO group


I have lived with PTSD for most of my life, an effect of multiple traumatic operations and treatment in hospitals from the age of 20 months to 7 years. I don't want to write about all the details just now. Let's just say that hospitals in the late 1960s and early 1970s weren't even slightly child-friendly. What I went through was basically torture / physical abuse, despite the intentions of the surgeons and nurses - not something I could discern at 2 or 3 years of age.

I wasn't diagnosed with PTSD until some years back, but it explains a great deal (my heightened 'startle' reflex, chronic anxiety, hyper-vigilence, constant sense of impending death, inability to speak about my childhood experiences without crying, trouble getting to sleep, needing to sleep with a light on, and so on). I have had some treatment for it (counselling, EMDR) but a lot of fears remain. The nightmares are returning in the weeks leading up to this hip surgery.

This is an extract from the paper from Primary Psychiatry (listed above) :

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder After Surgery

PTSD is most common in trauma surgery patients (eg, victims of burns, motor vehicle collisions, industrial accidents, or assaults), but a significant percentage of patients also develop PTSD following other operations when the post-operative course is prolonged and complicated. Approximately 25% of patients receiving surgical treatment for secondary peritonitis develop PTSD symptoms.

More surgical patients develop some PTSD symptoms than the full syndromal PTSD. The severity of the injury or the illness requiring surgery is not correlated with the development of PTSD. Some patients with no apparent predisposing factors develop PTSD. PTSD appears to be less common in patients who were intoxicated or had a concussion at the time of the traumatic injury, possibly due to impaired memory of the event. PTSD symptom onset is variable in part depending on whether the major traumatic stressor was the injury or hospital experiences. As with PTSD following other traumatic events, the best predictor of the disorder is the presence of acute stress symptoms during the surgical hospitalization. Most post-operative PTSD symptoms decrease by 1 year, but some patients continue to experience chronic symptoms (eg, those with disfiguring burns). Diagnosis of acute stress disorder can be difficult in post-operative patients who have delirium, and in current practice patients are discharged soon after surgery and acute stress symptoms are missed.

Treatment of PTSD in surgical patients follows the same principles as in other patients with PTSD.

Hmmm, clearly my parents should have kept me intoxicated during my many months in hospital, and I would have fared much better ;)

Well, that's as much as I can handle for now ... there are of course a ton more sites, and blogs and much more! The main thing is to always ensure the source of information is reputable - and definitely avoid any graphic images / videos of the actual operation, it's enough to make you ill ...

What else can I end with but a cute pic of Petal, who's now nearly 7 months old!

06 October 2009

Cover Job

Goodness, time has slipped past a bit there ... ! Apart from trying to catch up with my long-neglected other work (oh yeah, that's right, I have other commitments ...!!) I've been busy with getting my 50 'extra' cryptograms ready for the Wiley web site. I've had several long phone conversations with Wiley's eContent Associate Director (the lovely Joyce) in the States. And very early this morning there was a conference call with 6 of us - Marketing, Promotions, Editors, and Mark (all in the USA) and myself (the lone Aussie). Dummies books aren't usually individually promoted, so our book is breaking ground on many levels!

This is the final cover design - it will be in bookshops across America and Canada in the first week of November. And it'll be the first 'loosely affiliated with The Lost Symbol' book to hit the shelves.

If you're in the States, keep an eye out for Hunting the Lost Symbol, on Discovery Channel Sunday 18th October at 8 pm. My co-author Mark is in this show :) If we're lucky, they'll leave in the mention of our book too (but we're not holding our breath on this one!).

I had a rather exciting moment last week - I was at my local Dymocks bookstore browsing, and came across a copy of Word Searches For Dummies - the first time I've seen it on the shelves in Australia! Dymocks do have American suppliers, so they occasionally get a few copies of overseas books in.

I was so thrilled by this that, I admit, I took it to the counter to tell the serving girl it was my book, and offered to sign copies, LOL. She said I should speak with the owner, who was there at the time - which I did. She was especially interested in the new Cryptograms book, and asked if I'd like to do an in-store appearance for their Booklovers' Club! Wiley (USA) will send me promotional goodies to hand out at the event too, and posters of the cover, and suchlike, too!

Australian bookstores don't stock a lot of the American Dummies book in general, but if it's a local author they do seem prepared to get stock in. So I might get a book signing or two after all, which would be pretty utterly awesome! I'll approach Borders in Civic as well ...

Stay tuned! :D

In news just in - both my sister and brother are in our local hospital today : my sister gave birth around 1am to her second child, a healthy little boy, mother and bub both doing well - HURRAH! And my brother was admitted with appendicitis, and is in theatre now - NOT HURRAH! Our family doesn't do things by halves!