December 29-2015: Still Searching

For a cure.  

That said, on the T1D treatment front, the news is encouraging.  Clinical trials are beginning in Edmonton on the use of stem cells implanted in the patient to create Islet cells (insulin-producing cells).

It's not a cure -- assuming no complications, the packet of stem cells has to be replaced every 24 months -- but it certainly reduces the Mark on the Body.

Dec. 29-2015 - hand detail

Dec. 29-2015 - shoulder detail
Blue stitches = days before HMB's diagnosis, aged 7

Dec. 29-2015 - thigh detail

For more participants in MOB II: Making My Mark.

Between now and June 30, 2016 I'd like to collect  100 small quilt sandwiches, stitched by those whose lives have been impacted by Type 1 Diabetes.  To date, I've sent out 20 kits, and received in return 14 completed squares.

Early returns to MOB II: Making My Mark

If you are interested in participating -- I supply the squares, the embroidery floss, labels and instructions; you stitch up a square and mail it back to me (your only cost is time and postage) -- contact me by e-mail: margblank AT xplornet DOT ca.  Make your mark to honour a loved one or to identify yourself as someone living with the dailiness of T1D...and the need not only for better treatment, but for prevention and a cure!

In January I will begin MOB III: Sock It to T1D!

For help with a few stump socks.  I mentioned this in last month's post (scroll down)...for the knitters among you.  Again, I would supply a pattern and supply time and return postage.  I need only 9 of these, and start my first one in January...stay tuned to this page for photos...

Meanwhile, thank you again for reading, for supporting this blog and this effort to express the impact of Type 1 Diabetes.

Blessings to you and yours for a healthy, happy and creative New Year!

November 29-2015: Two Years On

When I started this project two years ago, I wasn't certain I could carry it on for the intended duration (through Aug. 9, 2016 for the stitching, then to the end of 2016 for finishing and starting to try for exhibit opportunities).

But...with the support and encouragement of family and friends -- especially those in my SAQA cyber-support system -- I'm still here, still stitching.

Nov. 29-2015 - Right hand

Nov. 29-2015 - Left hand

Nov. 29-2015 - Left upper arm

Nov. 29-2015 - Abdomen, hips

Not only that, but I've been able to give voice to a participatory second section of this project: Mark On the Body II (or MOB II): Making My Mark...and have received, to date, a dozen completed contributions...with another dozen or so out there to be finished.

Some of the MOB II: Making My Mark contributions

I have a third portion of the project in mind -- for the knitters among you, Gentle Readers.  

When my DH was alive, I knit him 2 pair of stump socks.  Yes: stump socks.  He'd lost both legs below the knee, and when not wearing his artificial limbs, had a need for soft, comfortable socks to wear over his stumps.  I didn't know then (2006, just a few months before he died) that there were patterns out there for them, so I made my own, based on his legs. I used a cotton blend yarn that had a bit of stretch to it, and softened beautifully when washed.  I still have some of that yarn.

But I'm not suggesting that participants in MOB III make stumps socks for living people.  I no longer have the pattern I made -- I think I threw it out after giving away the socks when DH died -- but I've found a couple free online that would work.

My hope for MOB III would be this: to knit up (with or without help) a series of socks -- perhaps 9 or 12 -- stuff them appropriately so that their purpose would be obvious, and hang them in rows as part of this entire installation.  Aside from "MOB III" an appropriate working title has yet to occur to me, but it will come in time.

If any of you are interested in making a contribution to either MOB II or MOB III, I would gladly appreciate it!  For MOB II, I have materials and instructions I'd send you.  For MOB III, I would do the same, as far as I have yarn.  Your only cost would be a little time and the return postage.  If you're game, send me a private e-mail.

In just over 8 months, this entire project will be closed, and the finishing/assembly process will begin.

Who'd-a-thunk it?

Thanks again to any and all of you for your kindness, and your support!

And thanks to the dear man who was and remains my inspiration for this work...

Howard Martin Blank
November 29, 1952 - August 9, 2006

October 29 - 2015 - No Ifs, Ands, or...



In the quest to find new insulin injection sites, remember the butt or buttocks or bum or behind.  Most of us would think that injecting there would require another pair of hands.  Not my late DH.  He was amazingly agile.  He could twist himself around at the waist with remarkable ease and jab himself in his nether region -- one side or the other -- not far from the hip.

This month, in my quest to find new places to stitch, I too turned to the hip area.  Because this is a two-dimensional piece of work, I couldn't literally make marks on its behind, but I did manage these;

Hip 1

Hip 2

And the work continues...


Late afternoon in the Outdoor Studio...basking in unexpected sunshine and warmth...

The twentieth kit for "MOB II: Making My Mark" went out this week.  I continue to be grateful for the support and encouragement of my colleagues and readers!  Thank you!

Aug 29 - 2015: Passing Forty

Aug 29-2015 - Upper Arm
Earlier this month, I marked the fortieth anniversary of my marriage to the man whose life and struggle with Type 1 Diabetes is the inspiration for this project.  He died nine years ago...on the same day.

Aug 29-2015 - Right Hand
Blessedly, the memories are less painful now...and for #40 I was able to celebrate with friends and family, including my Maid of Honour (my sister) and one of my Bridesmaids.  It was a very special time!

Another blessing this month was the return to me of more stitched squares for "MOB II: Making My Mark".  Eleven have now been returned to me -- many with lovely notes of inspiration and encouragement that touched my heart.

Aug 29-2015 - Pre-diagnosis "Blue Sky"

But more are needed!  So...if you've been thinking about it..or if this is the first time you've heard about it...READ MORE HERE...and if you are interested, drop me an e-mail.  I'd love to hear from you and to have your help!

And thanks for your continued support!

Early responses to "MOB II: Making My Mark"

Early Returns

Just over a year from now, this project will be nearing completion.  I stitch on...expanding the area covered bit by bit, day by day...

MOB in the Outdoor Studio - July 29-2015

The excitement for me now comes in the mail almost daily.  The first three contributions to "MOB II: Making My Mark" have arrived since Friday:

They come from California, Virginia
and the State of Washington

Thank you Eileen, Judy and Jenny!

Each one is unique to its maker.

If you are interested in participating in this part of the project, please e-mail me.

The Idea is Taking Shape

So...last month I posted about this idea I had for a participatory piece that would be part of my MOB Project.   I linked this post to my 3F Creations Facebook Page...and one dear friend responsed.

So...I linked this post to the JDRF Facebook response.

So then...I "screwed my courage to the sticking place" and went to the general membership who subscribe to the SAQA Yahoo Group.

Enter Susan Lenz, a cyber-buddy who is the most amazing, imaginative, connected, prolific textile and mixed media artist I've ever come across.  She took the trouble to forward information about the project to a friend, as an introduction.  And she encouraged me to jump in, regardless of how many responses I currently had -- or didn't have.  In her words,

My advice is not to wait for the responses but "go for it".  The world will answer and what donations you receive (be they too many or too few) will tell you exactly what to do with them.  You'll look back and know it was all in the Great Creator's plan!
Who can argue with that?!

Today marks 19 months into the project, and 13 months (plus a few days) till the end of it.  I'm still stitching...and the marks are still spreading...

Even the wee bit of pre-diagnosis "fresh air" stitched in pale blue...

But today, I've gone a step farther.  Or maybe, a few steps.  I've heard from a dozen people now, so have drawn up a spread-sheet with their names and contact information.  (Organizing this way helps me to get my thoughts in order.)

I've drafted a letter to enclose with materials that will be sent to them by week's end.

And once this post goes up, I'll be linking it to my 'regular' blog, and to my 3F Facebook Page, and maybe even farther afield...

I'm going to remember why I'm doing this, and what it means...with sincere thanks for those who've volunteered, and those who will do so, and to all my Gentle Readers for their support.

            Are you in earnest? Seize this very minute; 
          What you can do, or dream you can do, begin it; 
          Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.*
*Attributed to Goethe 

I Have This Idea (MOB II)

Image: Mary Englelbreit
Text: Dick Sattler
May 29, 2015 -- yesterday -- marked 18 months on this project.

Sometimes, working away each day, it feels like 'same old, same old'.

I find myself wondering if my DH -- or anyone who's lived with T1D for several years -- ever felt this way.

Daily blood testing.
Daily urine testing.
Daily dietary monitoring.
Daily insulin injections.
Daily adjustments to activity.
Daily living. Period.

For me?  Just daily stitching -- and if I miss a day, I can make up for it the next.  Not so with T1D. No second chances there.  It's just so daily.

Mix it up a bit?  Not so much.

But with stitching, yes... maybe a bit...

I've decided to add a couple of 'sub-projects' to this piece I'm creating, which will turn it into...more of an "installation".

And one of these 'subs' will actually (I hope!) make it a participatory project.

Here's the idea:

To anyone who is interested, I'll send a small quilt sandwich (a pair of 2 1/2" squares of fabric, with batting sandwiched between them) and some coloured embroidery floss -- red, blue or flesh-coloured, as in the "main" piece.  The sandwich will be stitched together about 1/4" from each edge.  All the recipient has to do is fill the centre of the square -- inside the "borders" -- with stitching using the floss (one or two strands at a time will be enough, but I'll send you a length of 6 strands).  The stitching can be any size, and can be random or orderly, straight little lines or an "X" or a French knot.  (No stripes, please!)

Once stitched, the square should be returned to me (I'll provide an addressed envelope but the postage is up to you).   The squares will then be assembled into a second "MOB" that you've created, one that reflects the road on which you or someone you know and love, living with T1D, is travelling.  Oh, and it would be really great if you could sign it (initials are fine) and date it somewhere on the piece.

Yes, there needs to be a deadline.  August 9, 2016, marks the end of the stitching portion of this project -- all parts of it.  After that will come assembly and finishing and trying to put it out into the wider world.

So...August 9, 2016, will be the deadline for me to receive all the wee squares for inclusion in this second part of the MOB project.

Interested?  Leave a comment on this blog (with a link so I can contact you) or send me a private e-mail: margblank AT xplornet DOT ca.


April 29, 2015

Mark on the Body is a 33-month project.  Today marks the end of the 17th month -- more than half-way there.

As of today, all of the key areas for insulin injection depicted on MOB have some indication -- via stitch -- of the Marks on the Body those injections make.  And the fingers of each hand are covered with Marks made by blood sugar testing.

April 29-2015 - 'Thigh' stitching

April 29-2015 - Hand stitching

As of tomorrow, the stitches will be moving more broadly into the space of the body.  The hands will be more fully marked in those red stitches.

This is the process of Type 1 Diabetes too.  With longer involvement, it moves out more broadly into the space of the body.  As it's impact interferes with blood circulation in the miraculously tiny blood vessels of the kidneys, the brain, the eyes, the nervous system, it leaves its mark.  Those systems begin to deteriorate; their functions begin to shut down.  The losses seem small at first, but they are cumulative.

Over time, the body is "covered" with the marks of T1D.  There may be bleeding into the eyes, blindness, mini-strokes that impact memory and speech, loss of hearing, slowed digestion and waste evacuation, loss of feeling in fingers and feet resulting in injuries that don't heal, and perhaps amputation...

At the same time, the people living with T1D -- including well spouses or parents or siblings -- know that despite the encroachment of the disease, every day is an opportunity to manage its mark on their lives with hope and joy, to live the kind of life that's as full and rich as possible in the face of its impact.

Tomorrow is another day.

Inside Out

This month, I thought I'd show you the 'back side' of this stitched piece... as if it were a view "inside" the body...

Back side - hand stitching

Back side - thigh stitching

Back side - shoulder and "air" stitching

Of course these webs of stitches on the underside of this textile project, while complex, are nothing at all like the complexity found inside the human body, and its workings at the most microscopic level -- whether someone has Type 1 Diabetes or not.

We can really only understand insulin production, release and utilization in very elementary ways, with very basic images, such as this one from an article published on the Beta Cell Biology Consortium website:

Diagram of Insulin Secretion

And so I stitch on, trying to represent T1D's Mark on the Body...from the

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
- Psalm 139:14 (NIV)

Feb 28/March 1, 2015: Rotation, Rotation

Just for a lark, I checked the topic of my February 28, 2014 MOB post...and it was about rotating injection sites around the body.

So was my January 31, 2015 post.

And...what was the hot topic at JDRF for the end of February 2015?  Lipohypertrophy!

Say what?!

"Lipohypertrophy" is the medical term for the fatty tissue lumps that develop as a result of too many subcutaneous insulin injections in one place...and it's the reason rotation of insulin injection sites is important for those with T1D -- so important, in fact, that JDRF Canada just concluded an entire week devoted to Lipohypertrophy Awareness. (Link to JDRF Canada's Facebook Page.)

Lipo Larry Teaches JDRF Canada 
About Lipohypertrophy

And...that's why I too rotate the stitches marking insulin injections -- their Mark on the Body.  In February, I moved from the abdomen to the left thigh....and yes, I also moved to a new finger on the left hand...with the stitches that mark blood testing.

(L) "Injection" stitches on left thigh
(R) "Blood test" stitches on ring finger, left hand

Type 1 Diabetes: It Leaves Its Mark on the Body

Additional resources:
Lipohypertrophy: What's the Big Deal 
JDRF Canada on Facebook

The Spread

Photo courtesy of

Those with Type 1 Diabetes are generally taught to rotate the site of their insulin injections to avoid the development of hard lumps or extra fat deposits under the skin.  Some thoughtful planning is important, though, because insulin is absorbed at different rates from different parts of the body -- the abdomen's being the quickest and the buttocks being the slowest.

Even if you rotate carefully, over many years, insulin injections leave their Mark on the Body.  I've been illustrating injection rotation by where I've placed the flesh-coloured stitches -- first one upper arm, then the other, and in recent months, the abdomen.  (In this two-dimensional piece, those stitches are intended to include the buttocks.)

As of yesterday's anniversary -- the end of Month 14 of the project -- these stitches have just about spread across the entire "belly"...

I can tell that within the next few weeks I'll be moving down to one of the thighs...

And the stitch goes on...