Tuesday, April 29, 2008


I know I haven't updated in a while. There's been little knitting to speak of, but I hope that won't last long. I'm also not feeling very enthused with what I've been knitting, which doesn't help. I've done a little spinning, and am in the middle of turning the heel on the second of the STR socks, neither of which make for very pretty or interesting pictures.

The Mystery Lace KAL went all pear-shaped, too. The designer hadn't actually finished the pattern or had it test-knit. She also didn't seem to manage things very well. Part of this was, I think, that she wasn't prepared for what she got herself into. You can't start a KAL with thousands of participants of all skill levels unless you're completely set with the pattern and able to delegate a little bit. Part of this was also, in my opinion, her own fault. I looked at the legend for the first clue before I started knitting it, and some of it was pretty vaguely written. In the case of the purl double decrease, it was impossible to tell from the legend which one she wanted used. So that led to a lot of questions. Plus there were errors in the chart, which is not uncommon, but also led to confusion. Then she made an offhand comment about whether people were wrapping their yarnovers the correct way, which caused a lot of confusion and lead to a lot more questions. Life got in the way, and she wasn't ready to deal with all the questions and getting the next clue done in time (see above about having things done before you start), so she packed up and decided to charge $10 to participate, because she felt like she was giving too much and should charge for lessons. On top of all this, she seems very thin-skinned.

Hmmmm. I don't need lessons. I need correct charts, with clearly written instructions. I would have been happy to wait, had the designer just said, "Hey, I need an extra XX amount of time to get you a foolproof pattern." I'm not going to pay $10 for a pattern, sight unseen. (That seems a bit much for an untested pattern, anyway. A lot of lace patterns I've purchased lately are in the $6-8 range. And they've been test-knit and proofread.) The appeal of a free mystery KAL is that it's free, so you can quit if you don't like how the pattern is developing, without having wasted any money. If you like the pattern, you pay at the end. I purchased yarn for this that I wouldn't otherwise use, too. Nonetheless, given all the drama both on the Yahoo list and on the Ravelry list, I think I'm well out of this one.

But this left me with a hole in my knitting agenda. I wanted to knit something lacey, so I searched around Ravelry and saw a lot of Luna Moth shawls that I thought were very pretty, so I got out some yarn and cast on. This is what I have so far:

Here's a slightly closer view:

I can't decide whether I like it. I'm using Melosa Lace in the midnight colorway, from One Planet Yarn and Fiber. It's a singles yarn, a slightly heavier laceweight in very subtly tonal shades of blue. I like the yarn, but I'm not sure I like the shawl. I definitely prefer the arier version of this shawl that I've seen. Any opinions?

Any other recommendations? Nothing really seems to be calling out to me right now. If I had the energy and the will, I'd get out the books and design one of my own, but I'd rather be knitting. Well, maybe...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

When Good Lace Goes Bad -- An "After the Fact Lifeline" Tutorial

(Please forgive the awful photography. I don't have any little helpers today.)

Occasionally when knitting lace, something goes wrong. A lot of the time, we catch our mistakes pretty quickly and can tink back and fix it without too much bother. Other times, we realize we made a mistake several rows back, and the idea of tinking 700 stitches will drive us mad. (This is why a lot of people, um, smart people, use lifelines when knitting lace. Some of us are overconfident and a wee bit arrogant.) If you have discovered a mistake that is too far back to tink and you haven't used a lifeline, or if your lifeline is so far away that you feel like going all the way back would waste some good knitting, here's a technique to add to your arsenal.

It's Loren T's Patented After-the-Fact Lifeline. This works very well on lace with resting rows -- rows where all you do is purl back, or if you're knitting in the round, you just knit around. It can be done on pattern rows, but it requires a lot more concentrations.

You are going to pick up stitches you've already knit and place them on a holder or a needle. I like to use another circular needle to do this, because that way, when I'm done, I'm ready to knit. You can use an appropriately sized contrasting yarn as well.

First, identify a resting row below the row in which you made the mistake. You will simply pick up all the stitches in this row and place them on your holder/needle. If you want, you can baste a contrasting color thread through this row to ensure that the stitches you pick up are all on the same row. (Again, some of us who are impatient, overconfident, and arrogant skip this step.) Slowly and carefully, using the tip of your needle, pick up one leg of every stitch in the row. You can go from right to left or left to right, it doesn't matter. If you pick up the right leg of the stitch, the stitch will be oriented correctly on the needle when you're done. If you pick up the left leg, the stitch will sit twisted on the needle, and you'll have to knit it through the back loop on the next row to correctly orient it.

Keep picking up stitches, all the way around, being careful to stay in the same row, and being extra careful at the juncture between two needles, where it's sometimes hard to see if or where there is a stitch. Here's a picture once I've picked up a needle's worth of stitches:

Here, you can see that I've picked up the stitches all the way around the doily:

When you are sure that you have picked up all your stitches, pull out the old needles. (I feel like I should give instructions a la EZ, and require you to down a glass of wine first!)

Scary looking, isn't it? But since your new needles are holding all your stitches, there shouldn't be any problem. Next, rip out the stuff above the new needles. If you've done it correctly, all of your stitches are on the needles, and the yarn is at the beginning of the round, ready to go:

There you go!

Now I'm ready to keep going with my doily.

I also started the second STR sock club sock:

In other news, the cat is recovering nicely from her ordeal at the vet's.

I'm too sick of this presidential race to comment much beyond marveling at how the Democrats have managed to completely fuck up what should have been a gimme year, and that I'm thoroughly disgusted with Hilary Clinton.

Now I'm off to start the Mommy taxi service as we head off to multiple activities in multiple places.

Monday, April 21, 2008


One of our cats is at the vet's right now, having a procedure done under general anesthesia. It's not surgery, and hopefully she'll be fine, but I'm waiting nervously until I hear from the vet.

As you can surmise, not a whole lot got done this weekend. Saturday was filled up with two baseball games, one birthday party, and an emergency trip to the vet's. Yesterday was a horribly rainy day, yet Mr. T and Sr. Jr. went off to the Twisted Tire mountain bike race. Mr. T won his race and Sr. Jr. came in second in his! They got thoroughly muddy, but broke no bones. Jr. Jr. and I stayed home and tried to keep the basement from flooding. Fun times, indeed.

I had hoped to show you a completed STR sock club sock, but life intervened. So here's a picture of it almost completed:

This is a thicker sock yarn than I generally prefer. It's knit over 60 stitches on a size 2 needle. Generally, when I use sock yarns appropriate for size 1 needles, I use 60 stitches as my general stockinette guide (adjusting a bit up or down depending on what number I might need for the stitch pattern, or to account for a pattern that tightens up a bit, for example). So this sock is a little looser on me than I prefer. It'll just have to be saved for the loosest of shoes that I own.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I'd signed up for Susan Reishus's new Mystery Lace KAL (closed to new participants now). She posted the first clue on Friday, and it's lovely:

This was a very short clue, so I'm chomping at the bit to get the next one, which debuts this Friday. In fact, I may just rip this out and redo it, because she suggested a different way for doing one of the decreases than was originally charted. It didn't take too long to do, so it won't be a big deal to redo it. I'd rather pick which decrease I prefer now, early on, than knit half a shawl and decided I'd prefer it the other way. Here's a close-up view:

Participants can add beads to the shawl (around 1500, I think). I think I'm going to do this beadless. Beads would make the shawl a bit more formal than anything I'd need, I suspect. If I wanted to make this a wedding shawl, I'd definitely use the beads. But I wear my shawls over jeans and don't attend too many dress-up events, so I prefer a more casual look. From the looks of this clue, the shawl will be pretty lacy and less casual already, so I might was well stick with that.

Since I won't get the next clue until Friday, I have the rest of the week to keep working on the doily!

Also, I'm going to start adding labels or tags to my posts. I've noticed a lot of people coming over hear from Ravelry, looking for info on particular projects, and this will help get all that info in one place. By the way, if you do stop by, please say hi. Sometimes I feel like I only have two readers, one of whom lives with me and hears this stuff anyway (and doesn't knit), which leads me to ponder why I continue...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Distracted by Spring, with Baseball Report

Spring seems to have finally arrived here. It's been sunny and warming up; flowers and trees are blooming; and the goldfinches have returned to the feeder:

At this time of year, I spend an awful lot of time outdoors. I went for a long 4 1/2 mile walk this morning, and it felt very good. I haven't picked up the doily, but I did do some work on the STR sock club socks, guessing that the next installment would arrive before I finished these if I didn't get a move on:

This is STR mediumweight, on size 2 needles. I've never used this yarn before, since I typically prefer the thinner sock yarns. It's pretty cushy and soft (again, unlike my typical experience with STR). The picture of the sock on the pattern doesn't have as much color variation as mine does, however. I'd prefer it with less variation, but this is still a lot less eye-singeingly bright than last installment. The pattern is pretty easy to follow, and goes quickly on the size 2 needles.

Baseball Report -- Long

The other reason I spend so much time outdoors this time of year is Little League/Babe Ruth baseball. Here in Arlington, Babe Ruth and Little League are two separate entities. We started our kids out in Babe Ruth, because you could pick which kids and coach you wanted to play with. Mr. T coaches Jr. Jr.'s team with a friend from down the street. Sr. Jr. started out on one team with a very nice and very good coach, but after two years, we switched him to another team to be with boys from his school. He played with his new team for three years, I think. His new coach, while a very nice guy, just wasn't able to control his team very well. The kids were losing a lot and sniping at each other, and a couple of parents who were assisting him were taking over the team. All in all, it was getting pretty dysfunctional. We thought about switching him back to his original team, but we didn't want to risk hurting his new coach's feelings. Several other kids from the team also left. So this year we switched Sr. Jr. to Little League. In Little League, the teams are chosen by the coaches in a draft system, so the teams end up roughly comparable in terms of skill levels, and there's no favoritism shown by the coaches toward their own children. Sr. Jr.'s new coaches are just two young guys who want to coach. They've been very good so far.

Sr. Jr. pitches. Even though I'm his mother and therefore pretty biased, I can see that he's really good. Last night was the opening game. As fate would have it his old team (with the not so good coach) was playing his first team (with the good coach) one field over from where Sr. Jr. was playing his game. I got to say hello to friends and keep an eye on their game too.

Sr. Jr. was the starting pitcher. The game started even though the ump hadn't shown up yet. Up Sr. Jr. goes and fans the first two batters. The next batter made it onto base on a pop-up that should have been an easy out, but all the infielders called for the ball and at the last minute backed off, in a typical Little League play. It was okay, because Sr. Jr. fanned the next batter to end the inning. When the other team was about to start, the ump arrived. At this point, the opposing coach started complaining that Sr. Jr. hadn't been pitching from the right place on the mound, and it wasn't fair because he'd "blown it right by our players." So the ump made them redo the game. Sr. Jr. walks up to the right place on the mound and proceeds to fan the first three batters all over again. Ha!

This meant, however, that when he came up to pitch the "second" inning, he was really in his third inning of pitching, and was clearly tired. He started throwing balls and walking some kids, so the team switched pitchers. In the end, the score was 11-11, but the game was called because there was another game scheduled. Sr. Jr. had been about to come up, with the bases loaded. He was so upset! He was mad about having to pitch the first inning twice, because if he had pitched two scoreless innings instead of one, the team would have won.

I pointed him to the scoreboard of the game his old team had been playing. They had lost, 19-7. I reminded him that no matter what, his team was in the game and being competitive, and that he should be proud of his pitching.
At the end of their game, Sr. Jr.'s first coach -- the good one, whose team won that game -- came over to say hi and chat. I said, "Looks like your team had a good game!" "Nah," he said, "It wasn't competitive. We must have had 21 walks in the game."
(I promise I won't do long play-by-play baseball reports for all the games this season!)

Gotta run to the bus stop now, so I hope you're all enjoying your days, as well.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Water, Water, Everywhere But Here

On Friday, we were notified by a County employee that our sewers were going to be relined this week. Monday (yesterday), to be specific. In order to perform this feat, our water would have to be turned off for 8 to 12 hours. If we were to flush a toilet, sewage could back up into our house. Plus, even if we didn't run any water at all, the house would still smell of the relining stuff. Yay! Well, yesterday also happened to be one of those random "teacher work days," so the kids would be home all day. So I planned to have the kids out of the house all day. We went to the bagel store for breakfast, then we went off to the mall, where we did a little shopping, had lunch, and saw a movie. ("Nim's Island." It was ok. Jodie Foster has serious old lady hands.) When we returned home at around 4:30, the guys were still working, so I pulled up and asked how much longer they'd be. "Oh, until around 7," they said. Great. So we went home, where it really did reek like nail polish remover, planning to go out to dinner. Five minutes later, the doorbell rang. It was one of the workmen. "Your half of the street isn't being done until tomorrow, you know." What? The woman specifically told me Monday! So, we had water all day, but today we don't. Quick change of dinner plans in light of circumstances. At least today I'm home alone, and I can handle waterlessness. BUT, and this is a big BUT, the work didn't finish last night until TEN O'CLOCK. That's a big hassle. The boys can live without their bath, but what about getting ready for bed? I can't really bring them down to the library in their jammies to get ready for bed. Also as a result*, there's been very little knitting:

You can see that I haven't made too much more progress, doily-wise. Of course, there are almost 300 stitches per round at this point. So, to distract you from the lack of knitting content on this here "knitting" blog, I'm going to give you some pretty pictures:

The last happy place I showcased was Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and the spectacular Grand Teton Range. Continuing our mountain theme, we have this past summer's vacation to Yosemite. Above we have the pair of Jr.'s at the point looking out over the Yosemite valley. The mountain in the foreground is Half-Dome, named because, clearly, it looks like a dome sheared in half. Below is a picture of a family of deer we encountered on our hike through the giant redwood grove. There looked to be two female adults and two babies. We were ever so quiet when we saw them and they trotted about in front of us as if they had no fear.

Below is a shot of the granite steps going up the Mist Trail. I love mountains, and I love to hike, but I have a slight case of vertigo, and these steps were a killer. They go on and on and on and on, and in many places are extremely steep and narrow. I can't imagine climbing these when the falls are in full force and the mist makes the granite slippery.
Here's Sr. Jr. when we got up to the plateau for the first set of the falls:

Here we are on top of Sentinel Dome:

This is an actual mountain top. There's no more up from there. The views are spectacular. The aforementioned vertigo means that I get very nervous on top of things from which I can fall a long way. I didn't include a funny picture of me sitting down on a rock in the middle of the dome, clearly trying to stay away from any edges.

This picture was taken the first day we went up to see Half Dome. There were forest fires in different places in Yosemite, and the wind was blowing the smoke in our direction.

I have many, many more pictures, but we all now how boring those never-ending vacation stories can be.

This year we're breaking with tradition and renting a house in Hilton Head to do the beach thing. I'm not really a beach person, but I'll bring my knitting and some books to keep me occupied.

Hopefully by Thursday or Friday, I'll have some actual knitting progress to talk about.

* Also distracting me from my knitting is that time-sucking soap opera on Ravelry known as the "MCY thread." Who knew the knitting world could produce such shenanigans?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Drive-By Posting

Too little time here. Weekends at this time of year are for baseball and other such activities. We managed to get half a game in yesterday before getting poured on. Today was the "opening ceremony." It was grey, drizzly, and COLD, after several warm days. Here's Sr. Jr. at the opening day festivities. I said, "Smile!" and he said, "I am smiling."

Jr. Jr. tried tickling him. It didn't work.

In my last post, I showed you a picture of my Mystery Lace swatch, blocking. Here's what it looked like five minutes after I finished that post:

I imagine the the pins couldn't have been too comfortable.

I continue to work on the Annette doily. I'm almost at the midway point in the row count, but obviously, since the rows get bigger and bigger, there's a lot more than half the knitting left to be done. This is a lot of fun to knit. Kippi of the comments mentioned that she had gotten some of the recommended cotton yarn to knit hers, and wondered why cotton would be the appropriate choice. Now that I've come further along in the knitting, I can see that cotton would have more body that the silk and alpaca lace yarn that I'm using. My yarn is great for drapey shawls, but you want a doily to be a little stiffer. I think I might get some cotton yarn to do any future doilies. Here's a picture of where I am now:

Here's a close up:

Please note that this was just pinned out quickly for photographic purposes. It will look a lot bettern when it's blocked correctly.

Tomorrow, the County is relining the sewers on our street. This means that we will not be allowed to use our water for 8 to 12 hours, starting at 8:30 am. As luck would have it, tomorrow is also a Teacher Work Day, which means the kids are out of school. Having no water with the kids at home is bad enough, but we're also not allowed to flush the toilets! Doing so could cause sewage backup in the house. So, I need to vacate my house tomorrow, and figure out what to do with the kids for 8 to 12 hours. Nothing's open at 8:30 in the morning, either. Bleah. It's already shaping up to be a crappy week.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Is it Back?

My mojo stumbled back last night, bloodied, bruised, and very weary. It's clearly not back at full strength yet. I've put it to bed with a nice cup of tea, and hope that it will feel all better in the morning. In the meantime, I finished my "Will Spring Never Come?" socks:

These are made with Duet Skinny sock yarn, purchased from the always wonderful people at The Loopy Ewe. I used size 0 needles and whimsically added the ruffle at the top. When I had the top ribbing as long as I wanted it, I changed to the solid heel/toe yarn and knit one round. On the next round, I k1f&B into each stitch, then knit 3 rounds even, then bound off. I think they're cute :) I liked the yarn a lot, and was tempted during the last Loopy sneak peak to buy some more.

I also restarted the doily, this time using off-white Alpaca Fino with a Twist yarn (one of my favorites for lace) and size 1 needles (Knitpicks Harmony wooden needles, to be exact). Instead of casting on 6 stitches as the pattern directs, I cast on 12, which gives me the six petals seen in the book:

Looks much better, doesn't it? This pattern, more than anything else, is responsible for the slight return of my mojo. It's a lot of fun to knit. (At the end, you thread the tail from the cast-on through the center stitches to pull that hole closed.)

I also joined a Mystery Lace knitalong. I've never done one of these before, because I'm pretty picky about what I like and don't like in lace knitting (as in everything else). But it's free, the yarn was cheap, and if I don't like it, I don't have to keep going. You can find the KAL in Yahoogroups under "MysteryLace." There's also a Ravelry group going. I'm using Lane Borgosesia Cashwool in the Pearl color, which is a very light grey:

It's billed as a springy shawl, in a stole shape. The swatch motif is leafy. I'm not sure I love it, but I'm going to give it the benefit of the doubt for now.

Knitter's Magazine, Spring '08

My issue arrived yesterday. To be blunt, what a fat bag o'crap that was. What a long way down this magazine has fallen. When I reorganized our study not too long ago, I took the opportunity to look through some of the really old Knitter's that I have. They used to have such beautiful designs, even sweaters knit in the round and steeked! Now, it's all brightly colored yuck. (Not that I'm opposed to bright colors, but not like this.)

A while back, I commented on how the editor's of Knitter's have a place on their site where readers can vote on which sweater makes it onto the cover of the next issue. I noted that it often seemed to be the case that the sweater that got the most votes didn't make the cover. This continues to be true. This sweater:

did not get the most votes. Shocking! And what's more, the sweater that did get the most votes didn't even make it into this issue. Maybe they're holding it for the summer issue, but still. To make matters even worse, the cover sweater is actually in two pieces. That little asymetrical cape thing comes off to reveal that the sweater underneath is actually STRAPLESS! Because yes, strapless knits are what we all crave. Who the hell would wear such a thing? Other than its inherent fug, you'd spend all day holding the damn thing up! Most of the offerings in this issue were of this ilk.

I've held onto my subscription for sentimental reasons, mostly, and because there's occasionally a decent technical article and an interesting Perry Klass column. After this, I can honestly say that I will not be renewing.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Lost My Mojo

Sad to say, sorry to report, I can't find my mojo. Mr. T was out of town all last week, and didn't arrive home until yesterday evening, so I was single-momming it last week. I normally don't mind doing the single mom thing now that the boys are old enough that taking care of them isn't an overwhelming job. But dealing with K's death and funeral without having my normal sounding board around was rough. Plus, I didn't get very much knitting time at all, even on the weekend.

I always get in a little lull if I've finished a project and haven't gotten another one lined up and ready to go (meaning the swatch is done and I'm ready to cast on). This time it's particularly tough because I haven't even had time to think about my next project yet.

In addition, I gave up on the prior incarnation of my little doily. As Kippi correctly noted, the picture of the doily in the book had 6 little motifs running out from the center, while my doily, knit exactly as the directions specify, only had three. I continued along gamely for a while to see if it would make a difference. Last night I put the whole thing on some sewing thread to see if it would block out into a circle. Alas, no. I'm sure someone out there thinks a triangular doily is cool, but not me. I was really enjoying the knitting, however, so I think I'll go ahead and cast on a new one, using the correct number of stitches.

My emergency back-up knitting, the second Will Spring Never Come sock and the new STR sock club socks, will have to carry me through for now.

What should I knit next? This is an odd time of year for knitting, isn't it? If I start another spring sweater now, it'll be too warm to wear it by the time I'm done. (And I really don't wear too many Spring sweaters here in hot and humid Virginia. Once our lovely week of Spring ends -- if it ever gets here -- we move straight into the hot days of summer.) But it doesn't seem like a good time to start a heavy winter sweater. I could go back to the Bleeding Hearts stole, but truthfully, that's not very fun knitting right now. A vest? I keep threatening to make one for myself. Another piece of lace? I don't even have the energy to go diving through the stash to look for inspiration right now.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!

So, as a last resort, I called up my other mojo, and baked some oatmeal raisin cookies for the boys:

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

A Finished Object, A Started Object, Fun and Sadness

The Flutter Sleeve cardigan is done!

Here's the back view (no comments about my ass, please!):

Here are the specs: Flutter Sleeve Cardigan, Spring '08. I used the called-for Classic Elite Classic Silk, in the moss colorway. I used the needles called for in the pattern, except for the ribbing section in the middle, where I used US 4s instead of US 3s. I started out knitting the small size for my hips and midsection, but added about an inch and a half for my bust. I didn't block it too carefully, because my gauge swatch (after washing) was spot-on. I just pat it into shape. Now that I've sewed on the buttons and tried it on, I may try to block a little bit more ease into it. That, or lose the 5 pounds I've put on in the last couple of weeks. I like the sweater. I usually spend my summers in shorts and tee shirts, but this will be nice to have for going out to dinner.

I also started the doily I've been threatening to knit. It's "Annette" from "Knitted Lace," by Sonja Esbensen and Anna Rasmussen. (I got these a while back from Lacis.) Here's what I've knit so far, not really blocked, obviously. Please note that I've followed the pattern exactly:

Here's the picture of the doily in the book:

Can anyone spot the apparent discrepancy in the pattern? I'm having fun knitting with it. It's hard to put it down because I want to see each new row and motif unfold. Life, unfortunately, does not allow for that. I am wondering whether I'll need to rip it out and redo it to fix the seeming discrepancy, or whether it will work out the way it is, and I'm just an idiot.

As I mentioned, Monday was the school field trip to go see "Horton Hears a Who." 120 first graders and 70 or so parents trooped off in the cold rain to the metro station. We got there at about 10:00, which is still the tail end of rush hour here in the DC area. As a result, when we all packed onto the train, it was so full of bleary-eyed commuters that there were no seats left. As we hustled the kids in and got them to hold onto the poles and the seat backs, I could see that a lot of the passengers were wondering if they were going to be in for a ride that was just too noisy for their pre-caffeinated states. As soon as the train started moving, all 120 kids, in unison, said, "Whoooaaaa!" The passengers all laughed and smiled. We only rode for one stop, but I like to think we brightened a yucky Monday morning for a bunch of people.

So, on to the sadness. What do you say when a young woman in her early forties dies, leaving behind 3 children under 13? K. had been undergoing treatment for breast cancer since September, and seemed to be doing really well. I just saw her several weeks ago, and we had a lovely conversation about middle school, about life, about finding the inner strength in one's family. Even with the treatments, which can be really physically grueling, she still showed up for almost every PTA meeting and every meeting we had on school boundary changes. Apparently, she went into the hospital with shortness of breath, and eventually they diagnosed a blood clot in her lungs. Blood clots are, unfortunately, a potential side effect of chemo and radiation, as my father-in-law's doctors warned him. Her daughter is in Sr. Jr.'s grade, and they were in class together several years ago. Her youngest son is a year older than Jr. Jr., but was on the first t-ball team that Mr. T coached. When Jr. Jr. came home with the news, his eyes were wide, and I could see he was fighting off tears. I could see that he was really thinking about the fact that bad things happen, not just to mythical people "out there," but to people we know and love. It seemed to really hit him that the people he loves aren't immune from harm.

I think we take it for granted these days that breast cancer is treatable, especially if caught early. What we fail to remember is that the treatment itself is dangerous.