I’m a Knittin’ Fool! And autistic, too!

Well, after finishing up the shawl – and delivering it this morning to Nancy’s office – I had this knitting void to fill, but when you’ve got a bunch of projects waiting NO PROblem (she says with slight Jamaican accent!)….
I didn’t know what to do, so I figured I’d do all I could yesterday while the wash was moving along. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

That poor yarn has been through so many permutations (mutations, LOL!). But I have enough for a vest/tanktop and thought why not? This pattern from the latest edition of KnitSimple is fascinating. It uses the tendency of ribbing to pull in to create waist shaping – which should be all the more interesting with a variegated yarn. The ribbing is triangular in shape, starting at the sides and tapering in toward the middle. I’d like to give a shout out to Denise C., from the Columbia, MD Knitting Meetup for turning me on to this magazine. The covers sometimes look too elementary and for those of us a bit older and wanting more classical looks in our knit items (sorry, I cannot spend hundreds of dollars on yarn for something that will only look good this fashion season on a size 0 model on the cover of Vogue, however lovely), I have to admit the cover of Knit Simple seemed, well, a little too simple? But I was very wrong. There is a lot of knitting know-how in the pages of this magazine and some very nice patterns, even for those of us for whom the chubbiness fairy has been all too kind;). As one can see, I’ve only gotten just past the ribbing and on to the stockinette section. The yarn is a little rough, but it’s cotton and I have high hopes that it will soften with washings (that’s me- ever the optimist!).

And on to the sock knitting. OK, I know, I know. I have often said on this blog that knitting socks is a waste of resources, time, money and color to be putting sush loveliness on stinky old feet. But you know, we all have to grow and change with the flow of life. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. There have been some evil influences to get me to this sad state of affairs and Yarn Harlot, you know who you are!!!!!
These pics don’t do the colors justice. The first one does a little better – hard to believe these two are of the same subject, eh? This is my first foray into toe-up sock knitting and as I get better at it, I cannot imagine I will do it any other way, but then aren’t those famous last words? This is the advantage of going to a knitting meetup or a stitch ‘n bitch or a sit and knit thingie with other knitters. You always learn something. Denise is our best teacher in the group. Lynn has an amazing sense of humor – and there are men and women from all walks of life in our knitting group. As someone for whom knitting has been a solitary activity, this is a lot of fun and it’s really remarkable how much knitting I get done in two or three hours of solid knitting and chatting. How did I ever live without it before?
This is the beginning of a cuff-down pair – my first attempt to imitate what was done by the YH on Knitty Gritty. I liked her style so much, I have her book, Knitting Rules (so yeah, Yarn Harlot, I’m a fan, LOL!).

And finally another pair of cuff-down socks in an Online cotton sock yarn. That’s the thing about sock knitting. You get to work with so many cool colors and yarns and it doesn’t cost much because you’re not investing in the stock market to make a sweater:) OK I get it. I get it!
Finally, some more work on the Mason-Dixon Log Cabin blanket. I decided I’d do Four motifs like this and then piece them together with the darker colors in the center, like a star pattern. We’ll see if it works. I like these purples and blues and greens. Gee, can you tell I’m a “Winter?” But seriously folks, don’t you get sick of pinks and blues for babies?
I even worked a bit on three unfinished scarves not pictured here. Diane has dibs on one in a raspberry color. I don’t know who gets the black/silvery one; same with one in blue feathery novelty yarn – called “Boa.” They’ve been sitting around so long, they’ll need washing before anyone gets them.

So yesterday was a nice day to knit – a little too hot to go out and walk.

This morning I went to church with Diane and Ann from choir. It was great to see her get out and about. Ann gave her a ride to church and Diane did just fine. The music was amazing. Nancy has such dedication! The quality of her art and the musicians with whom she works never wavers – even on her last sunday for the summer! I think she wants us to really miss her when she’s gone. No fear of that! There was a soloist this morning – I think it was a friend of Bonnie D. – who had a voice like an angel – a soprano whose tone was as pure as that of a child but with adult strength. She sang “Come Unto Him [or is it Me??] All Ye that Labor” – an aria from Handel’s Messiah – and added just the right improvisation necessary for genuine Baroque-era musicianship. I could tell Diane (herself a professional singer and music teacher) was pleased. For communion, she sang “The Lord’s Prayer” – the old standby – but very well done and given that today’s Gospel was on just that topic, very appropriate. In the foreground was our associate pastor, Rosemary B. She had memorized the gospel and spoke it as though Jesus himself were talking to us. Her homily was stirring, simple and elegantly written. Rosemary is a professional journalist – or was until she felt a call to be a priest. Her experiences, both past and present, are inspiring to me – as is her deeply held and mature faith in God. I really appreciated what she had to say about prayer – and how the Lord’s Prayer really shows us so much about what it is meant to be. It is first about praise, then about unifying ourselves with God’s – or GodasBBL’s (don’t ask) – will, about uniting with others and persistence, then about petitioning. When prayer is only about petitioning for favors for ourselves or others, it becomes shallower and God becomes an imaginary friend whose will we can bend, instead of a relationship with the Divine.

In other words, I came away from the service having learned something I hope to keep with me.

Well, today is Sunday and with any luck, we’ll be seeing all of our children – and grandchildren -at dinner tonight. Talk about counting our blessings! All of them live within a half hour drive. Speaking of grandchildren, I’ve been reading this excellent book by Ellen Notbohm about children with autism. It’s called, Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew. It is really helpful. Here are the Ten Things:

“1. I am first and foremost a child.

2. My sensory perceptions are disordered.

3. Distinguish between won’t and can’t.

4. I am a concrete thinker. I interpret language literally.

5. Be patient with my limited vocabulary.

6. Because language is so difficult for me, I am visually oriented.

7. Focus and build on what I can do rather than what I can’t do.

8. Help me with social interactions.

9. Identify what triggers my meltdowns.

10. Love me unconditionally.”

In the introduction, on page xxxi, she writes something that had me breaking down in tears:

“And finally, three words: Patience. Patience. Patience.

Work to view my autism as a different ability rather than a disability. Look past what you may see as limitations and see the gifts autism has given me. It may be true that I’m not good at eye contact or conversation, but have you noticed that I don’t lie, cheat at games, tattle on my classmates or pass judgment on other people? It’s also true that I probably won’t be the next Michael Jordan. But with my attention to fine detail and capacity for extraordinary focus, I might be the next Einstein. Or Mozart. Or Van Gogh.

They had autism, too.

The answer to Alzheimer’s, the enigma of extraterrestrial life — what future achievements from today’s children with autism, children like me, lie ahead?

All that I might become won’t happen without you as my foundation. Think through some of those societal rules and if they don’t make sense for me, let them go. Be my advocate, be my friend, and we’ll see just how far I can go.”

Wow is all I can say to that. It’s true. For example, Madison may do what others perceive of as “bad” and yes, she has bad days, but in reality that child doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. She doesn’t know how to be mean. She gives hugs to anyone who wins the video game and shares her toys with her baby sister. And she does love to pay attention to detail and she loves playing on the computer and she loves to rewind every Wonder Pets show we watch together. And all of that is just fine with me:) Who knows what her future holds? One thing I do know: It will be filled with love and really, what more can we ask of this world?

If you’ve read this blog a few months ago, you might recall those boys hitting Madison on the school bus and her asking her mom what a “retard” is. I keep thinking about that and strangely(!) about the movie “In and Out” starring Kevin Kline as a teacher who finally realizes he’s gay. At the high school graduation at which he was supposed to receive an award that was being withdrawn because of this disclosure (this was supposedly in a small town somewhere), people got up and said, “I [have this good quality of this teacher], so I guess I’m gay.” Over and over again, people got up – sometimes so hilariously unlikely ones, saying “Well, I’ve known him all my life, so I guess I’m gay too.” By the time the scene was over, everyone in the room was saying they were gay as a showing of support for the Kevin Kline character.

Well, that’s how I feel about autism. If being autistic means having a good heart, being honest, showing love in unusual ways (!), being curious, being confused and overwhelmed at times and needing the understanding of your family and community, then I want be autistic, too.

Dori, Madison’s mother, has purchased buttons to educate people about autism when she and Madison are in public. One – for Madison – that says to be patient if she acts strangely or has a meltdown in public and explains why. I think the button says something like “I’m not being bad, I have autism” or some such thing. And she got a button for me in support of autistic people. I keep hoping she would get me the one Madison has, ’cause Lord knows I can act pretty strangely in public myself! At least I could wear it in court- the masters and judges would certainly understand, LOL!

It’s afternoon now and I am going to wait for John to get up before doing any grocery (and liquor store) shopping for dinner, so maybe I’ll do a little work on the Cables and Os cardigan (tee hee….).

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Quick P.S.: Thank you everybody! My WordPress blog went over my first thousand this weekend!

Two Down – Seven to Go!

Well, the Hexagonal Shawl adapted from MaryJane Butters’ book, MaryJane’s Stitching Room is done! I had all the motifs done by Thursday afternoon and had hoped to get the finishing- i.e. sewing together and blocking/ironing done by Thursdays’ choir practice, but it was not to be. Thursday afternoon consisted of going to Baltimore City’s Juvenile Justice Center to take part in a delinquency hearing for one of my clients. I’m very happy to say that she’s doing a lot better and finally is in touch with a wonderful group called MDChoices. They have such a positive approach to kids and their needs! For the first time in a long while, I have real hope for this client.

So… I finished the shawl Thursday after choir practice and stayed up until about 3:30 AM to finish it. You know how it is, once you get done with something, your curiosity won’t let you rest until it’s finished. The shawl is basically four Hexagonal scarves sewn together rows of 7 and 6 (each motif is approximately 10 inches width/height, so it ends up being 70″x 40″ – more than ample coverage for a petite 5’3″ woman, I hope!)

Anyway, here are pictures of the shawl:
I was so nervous about it, that I actually sent pics to a mutual friend, Diane, to get her opinion. I never know how someone’s taste runs, although I do know that the color is pretty close to the dress Nancy will be wearing to the wedding. In the long run, though, I tell myself it doesn’t matter. Objectively speaking, the piece is pretty and I have no doubt that Nancy or someone in her family could use it for something, so the work isn’t lost or wasted, LOL!

Also completed is the prayer shawl. I did not take another picture of that, since the most recent picture isn’t too much different than what was posted last week. But it’s done and now someone else can use it and can take it as a sign from our faith community that we are with them in their time of need or joy!

I actually frogged the wave cable shawl and decided to make a simple vest or tank top out of the 1300 or so yards of that handspun/handdyed yarn from the Sheep and Wool Festival – only because I am working on so many shawls/blankies this summer, that I needed to do something different.
On other fronts, next week I am “it” again for the county office – my two co-workers are on vacation until mid-week. I have so many meetings outside of court, that I think my car will be on automatic pilot. Luckily, there’s not a lot going on in court. One thing they’re starting in our jurisdiction is the “Family Team Decision Making” thing where before a child is moved – either removed from a home or foster placement – a team consisting of the various stakeholders in the decision meet to see if there is anything that can be done to prevent it. Given that the constant moving around for kids in care contributes to so many of their difficulties – failure to bond and form lasting relationships and educational setbacks are two of the biggies – this is a good thing if it works. However, it just becomes one more thing I need to be able to do at a moment’s notice. Ah well, that’s why they pay me the big bucks, LOL! Not that I’m complaining, believe me. (Did I tell you I truly truly love my job?)
We’re heading into the last month of summer. August. In the first three weeks, I will get caught up on any paperwork and reading and practicing and knitting I need to do. And I will get ready for the conference in Atlantic City at the end of the month – my week off. John may be coming with me for part of the conference, which is nice. I plan to learn as much as I can about interviewing children. The more I do this job, the more I realize how little I know, so this will be helpful, I’m sure.
Well, onward to the wash and other fun Saturday activities:)+

My summer projects

Here’s what I’m hoping to accomplish by the end of September (it’s still pretty warm here until October). There are a total of 10 projects, two of which should be done by the end of next week, and I suspect the sock knitting will be an ongoing thing to take along for “down” times, so really do they count? If not, I really only have about six projects to complete. Then I’m going to start snuggling with my winter knitting (forgot to tell you: I’m such a pervert!)Hexagonal “Wedding Shawl” for Nancy’s son, Joe’s, wedding. Seven more motifs to go and then I get to stitch them all together! Hoping to finish by this coming thursday.

Prayer Shawl – almost done!

Mason-Dixon Log Cabin ‘Blankie”for Katie.

No Sheep for You -Cables and Os cardigan for me.

Sock knitting (!!!!!!) Two pairs underway.

Nina Shawl – haven’t lost hope yet! Either will be for Kate or Chris and Jessica’s new baby – we’ll see!

Not a WIP, but I’m kind of pleased as to how this turned out and wanted to show off, LOL! This fair isle number started out in the round as a sweater for yours truly, but was so huge, I could double it, fold it over, stitch it up and add handles and I had a bag of course. Now it holds the Nina Shawl Project. That’s what I get for not checking gauge! The yarn is all acrylic and the pattern is taken from the Green Mountain Spinnery book – a wonderful pattern book that brings back such fond memories of my college days in Vermont!
Lily of the Valley Shawl from Lace Style (Interweave). Can’t wait to get back to it – I love the color and the cotton knits up nicely! Heartbeat sweater in some sort of weird cotton viscose (weird yes, but I like it too:))
And finally this is a wave cable wrap from Janet Szabo’s Twists and Turns. An EXCELLENT newsletter with lovely cable designs and innovation and creativity in every issue. Well worth the price of a subscription. (Plus, she has back issues!) Your LYS might carry it – one of mine does. The yarn was my sole purchase at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival this May.

I am posting this so that I do not embarass myself on September 30th and have yet another mess of unfinished business sitting around the house (well it actually is sitting around the house and looks like this:

Why you’d never know it was all there, would you??

Well, I’d better get upstairs and get ready – John and I are going to see Danny’s play tonight. Lisa, his mother-in-law, will be there, too. I swear, Tori and her family are as good to him if not better than we are – hope he appreciates it!

auf Wiedersehen!+

Nice day

Last night, I went to my knitting meetup and learned how to start toe-up socks. Way cool and thanks, Denise C! John called toward the end of the meeting and told me he was coming home for dinner. Turns out he wasn’t feeling well and so came home for the night. We had dinner late and went to bed early and I slept through to 9:30! Got downstairs, had a little breakfast and the headed for Staples for a replacement printer/fax/copier/scanner thingie the 7/4 storm zapped, but not before nagging John to CALL the DOCTOR. Had court this afternoon and was home by 3:30. I sat down to read the printer instructions and got a call from Nancy wondering if I’d like to do dinner at the Panda buffet. She didn’t have to ask me twice, LOL:) We had a nice dinner and conversation. Her family is getting ready for a wedding, which is a lot of fun and she seemed in good spirits. I showed her the shawl thus far and she seemed to be happy with it, which is encouraging. I went back to the church to work on it a bit more while she and Sally L, an alto with a beautiful, strong voice, practiced a duet and a solo for Sunday’s service. Then we had choir rehearsal (we’re having three extras this summer because we’re doing something like 3 or 4 evensongs and various locations in addition to the usual and this was the second of those three rehearsals). Of course I loved it. Then home.
Not much to say tonight. It was a lovely night, it’s been a lovely day and there’s tons more I could do, but I have to be in court extra early tomorrow morning, so I’m going to hit the proverbial sack. Will get pic of toe-up sock uploaded soon! I promise! (if she’s the Yarn Harlot, I’m the fiber slut…..)
G’night:)+

Back from the City of Brotherly Love or Yarn Harlot – YOU DID THIS TO ME!!!

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingMonday night, we had a lovely time with my Dad and stepmom, Maureen. Betsy, Sabrina and JoAnna joined us. We had dinner in the center of the city – or I think it was the center of the city – at a place called the Rose Tattoo Cafe’. It was in a building that at first had us wondering if the place was OK, but once we took a good look at it inside, we realized we were in for a treat. The food was good, too good in fact. And the wine was not bad:)
The only tough thing was a call from my friend, Diane, you remember her, the lady recuperating from knee replacement surgery? She was having trouble breathing and swallowing and was feeling rather panicked, wondered if I could stay with her that evening – but there I was 2 hours away. Another friend from choir stayed with her that evening and all went well.
After rush hour, Betsy, John and I drove back in one car and Sabrina and JoAnna stayed behind to do a little sightseeing/shopping. Betsy had to work, I was on call for 1 PM shelters and John needed to get a haircut and rest before he worked his usual double shift that evening/night. Getting home, we were greeted by sunshine and not-too-terrible temperatures. Our little herb garden is doing well. The basil especially is growing like crazy. Had to take a couple of pictures.

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As it turned out, we had no shelters and I was a bit lazy. I stayed a bit with Diane last night, working on the hexagonal motif shawl and got another three done. 10 more to go! I am hoping to do a big push tonight and this week to get it done by next thursday. We shall see. Diane and I talked until midnight and I think I just tired the poor girl out! She did not need me to stay with her and I think she got a good night’s sleep.
Photobucket - Video and Image HostingPhotobucket - Video and Image HostingThis morning I worked on the shawl again while waiting for the carpet cleaning guys from Sears to arrive. They came, they saw, they cleaned, they treated. Life is good – or at least it looks better, LOL!
Besides the shawl, I worked on a baby blanket for my great-niece, Katie. I decided to do the Log Cabin blankie from Mason-Dixon Knitting instead of the Nina shawl. The jury is still out on this one, although I do love the colors:
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Photobucket - Video and Image HostingPhotobucket - Video and Image HostingNow HERE’s something I SWORE I wouldn’t do! No, I did not buy any new yarn – this was sitting in my stash, innocently waiting to be a scarf. But it is sock yarn. Stephanie Pearl-McPhee a/k/a the Yarn Harlot, was recently on Knitty Gritty and demonstrated how to knit a sock in her inimitable fashion. I have her book, Knitting Rules and would love to have all of them. Philisophically, I have been opposed to sock knitting. I believe that yarn that beautiful does not belong on stinky old feet. Stinky baby feet, maybe, but not stinky old feet. Watching the sock demo, I felt my determination never to knit socks begin to waiver. OK, so I’ll knit a few socks….. With all of this just waiting for me to continue to knit some more….Oh, have I no morals?!!

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Tonight is knitting meetup with my fellow enablers! Can’t wait. Tomorrow is a very short court day, a visit and then choir praxis! Yippee!
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Monday, Monday can’t trust that day

I have to laugh. I got this biorhythm report thingie in my e-mail from this woman who has been sending me my weekly horoscope. Nothing ever seems to work out as predicted (DUH) but this one took the cake. Apparently this week my emotional biorhythms are starting out at an all-time low and gradually moving up, while my intellect and physical condition are at high points heading for an all-time low. Does anyone out there understand this stuff? So does this mean next week I’m going to be happy as a pig in you-know-what but too stupid and too sick to know it? Bummer, man…..
The above picture has my son, Danny, and another actor in the play For Boston which is one of many entries in the DC Fringe Festival this summer. This picture was on page N4 of Sunday’s Washington Post. We are very proud of his work. His sisters say the play is excellent – and they are tougher than any drama critic I’ve ever heard/read/seen! We will be catching the play probably this coming Saturday since John will not be working the hotel that night and CC is off for the summer on Saturdays.
Anyway, I am sitting here at the office. My co-worker is covering the one case I have this morning, but I need to be there this afternoon to do a hearing for a very problematic case. Then, it’s home for a quick shower and change and off to dinner in Philly with three of our kids, my Dad and stepmom, Maureen. We always have a good time when we see them and the kids enjoy their time with them because they are not the kind of parents/grandparents many of my friends have who feel they need to hide things from. We’re spending the night there and driving back tomorrow morning early in case I have any shelter hearings that afternoon.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketHope everyone’s weekend was fun. I had a very lovely one. First, I spent Saturday driving to and from Garrett County (Maryland’s farthest western county – about 2 1/2 hours from where I live in central Md.) to visit a client of mine and three courtesy visits with clients of my colleagues. It had to be the most beautiful day we’ve had all summer. The sky was clear, there was a lovely breeze in the woods and the trip and the visits couldn’t have been lovelier. And thank God for my GPS system, LOL:)
On the way back I stopped in Cumberland and visited a yarn shop there. Good thing I didn’t have much cash with me or I’d be in big trouble, LOL. That shop had good prices – it was called Millicent’s Yarns and More – terrific selections (the Euroflax was to die for) and wonderful, friendly staff who let you browse without making you feel like a potential shoplifter. They also carry a nice selection of locally made yarns, all of which were lovely. I will definitely make this a stop on my next visit around Christmastime:) But of course, I had to remember “knit from your stash, knit from your stash, knit from your stash….”
When I got home, I was happily surprised to find that all of our kids were there, grandchildren in tow. (Well, except that Danny was in DC getting ready for his opening night performance.) John was in the yard, finishing up the lawn and the house was (of course) a disaster. So I immediately went out and did some errands (clean? moi? now that would have made too much sense!) In the midst of pandemonium – and too many interruptions (sorry, Nancy!), she called to see if I wanted to go with her to keep our friend, Diane company after church the next day. Her call made my day. Diane leads our church’s children’s choir and she is recuperating from knee surgery. She is the lady I visited last Monday. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my afternoon and since we weren’t going to be doing the Sunday night dinner thing, I knew I could really enjoy myself because I wouldn’t be worrying about having to rush back home much before 5.
As I predicted, the day was wonderful. Diane looked much better than she did on my visit Monday and was moving around quite a bit. She still has pain, but is on the mend. We had a nice lunch, cleaned up a bit, did some dishes, changed her bedclothes, got her comfortable and situated and sat a talked a bit. That may not sound like a rock concert to you, but there’s nothing in the world better to me than to be with people I like and admire. That’s why I love being with my family (I know you guys read this thing – come on, admit it!).
I am hoping to get in some more walking this week especially if the weather holds up. Today is not looking too hopeful, but maybe tomorrow or even Thursday since I don’t have too many hearings.
On the knitting front, the shawl and cardi are neck in neck and I have to get some work done on both.
Well, better go so I can get my work done! Have a good day and a terrific week. I hope I can be a blessing to someone today!
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