It’s a . . . sweater!

I’ve knitted many, many things. Countless socks, mittens, hats, scarves, wraps, blankets, even a set of golf club covers. I’ve knitted a score of baby and children’s sweaters, mostly as gifts or commissions for others to give. Yet, I’ve never completed an adult-size sweater that was functional or wearable. I gave up on it for a long time until I decided that 2018 would be the year that I would get over my sweater anxiety and launched #operationsweaterchest. My goal for the year would be to make five adult sweaters for myself and one for Joe. (I’m adding a stretch goal of one for Shawn, if I can find a pattern he likes and I’m confident enough that I can meet his exacting sartorial standards.)

The first sweater I made is the Carbeth from the wonderful designer, Kate Davies. This pattern has quite a following and was so fun to knit. It was very easy to follow the pattern and make adjustments on fit, even as a beginner. There were several helpful notes from other knitters on Ravelry that also helped a great deal. And such a fast knit, I finished it in three weeks! Thats usually how long it takes me to knit a pair of socks!

I used The Plucky Knitter Pluck Bulky in Wintery Mix. A super soft and squishy 100% merino yarn that gives this sweater such great texture and it is so warm!  The colorway is a light gray that has subtle variations ranging from cream to cement. I love it.

Some modifications that I made were using a provisional cast on for the body and sleeves so I could tailor the length to fit exactly to my measurements. You can see all my notes here. I absolutely adore this pattern and one of my projects will be to make the cardigan version to wear next fall/winter.

2018: Our life on the Spectrum

April is Autism Awareness Month. I wanted provide a small glimpse into our life and how it is affected by Joseph being diagnosed to bring awareness and understanding. You can read more about our journey here.

This has been an amazing year of growth for Joey. He is currently enrolled in a general education Kindergarten class and seems to be thriving there. He loves everything about school and takes great pride that he is “almost a first grader”. Joe receives speech and occupational therapy at school, in addition to private music therapy/lessons, and has some additional assistance from the resource room aide, his beloved Mrs. G, in his main classroom.

His teacher, Mrs. L, is wonderfully patient, yet firm enough to handle Joey’s considerable charm. She understands that his ASD gives him some extra challenges, but doesn’t allow that as an excuse or crutch. He is his champion when working with the rest of the staff to help them understand how his ASD “works” and does everything she can to make sure he is getting every opportunity. (I have volunteered in the classroom and have seen this for all her students. She is a true gem and I’m so thankful for her.)

Mrs. G is Joey’s cheerleader and possibly his biggest fan. Their relationship is so sweet and loving, I know that she would do anything for him.  It helps me knowing that he has someone there to give him that sense of security and comfort.

I have to say that the entire staff, have been nothing but warm, positive, and supportive to Joey. I love walking him into the school and seeing him say hello to the librarian, telling his gym teacher he’ll see him on Tuesday, or giving the principal a fist bump. His classmates have been amazing as well. His teacher explained that Joey has ASD and sometimes does things differently and they all take it in stride. After walking Joey into class after being absent for being sick, they all welcomed him back to school with hugs and smiles. It brought tears to my eyes.

This isn’t to say that we haven’t had some challenges this year. Joe’s impulsivity and stubbornness can lead to not wanting to follow directions or complying with non-prefered tasks. He also can find it difficult to follow spoken directions or adjust to things outside of his routine. However, overall, he seems to being doing quite well and continues to show improvement in these areas and I’m hopeful that, with the continued support, he’ll continue to thrive at school.

In addition to Joey’s current school situation, I wanted to share a little more about where he fits on the Spectrum. Although it is not an official diagnosis, Joe is considered High Functioning Autism (HFA).  Joey has been described as “scattered” when tested for ASD symptoms, meaning that some typical characteristics such as stimming and severe verbal limitations are not present while others, such as poor eye contact and sensory dysfunction.

Joey is bright, verbal, socially aware, and can show affection. He has age-appropriate academic skills. At first glance, most people do not realize that he has ASD. This creates a set of challenges that can be different than those who place elsewhere on the spectrum.  By being “high functioning” Joey is asked to navigate a world in a neurotypical way even though he has these extra set of challenges. This can lead to unobtainable expectations at school, judgmental attitudes in public, and sometimes even misunderstanding with family members. I highly recommend reading this article to understand why HFA is so challenging and that no matter where someone falls on the spectrum, “it is important to remember that autism is autism.”

April is Autism Awareness month. Please consider participating in some way. Perhaps by supporting a cause,  joining a walk,  donating supplies to your local school’s Special Education department.

 

Joseph 6.0

Another year has past and now I have a six year old. This year was a wonderful one, full of fun vacations, new adventures, and enjoying all that life has to offer.

Watching you transform from a pre-schooler to a kindergartener has been amazing. Your love of school has continued to bloom. I love seeing your confidence grow while learning to navigate all the ins and outs of being in kindergarten. You dearly love your teachers and classmates, referring to them as “your friends.” Watching you form those friendships and expand your circle is something that I have wished for you for a long time.

Your academic skills continue to amaze us, but I am more proud that you use that knowledge to help your classmates and be a leader. Your interest in science continues, and the questions about geography, weather, space and the world around you are becoming more complex and in depth. I love your curiosity and always wanting to know the answer.

You are still always so busy with your toys, whether racing your cars and trucks, building with legos, or building track for all of your Thomas trains. Your love of reading continues to grow and I can often find you quietly curled up with a stack of books. Some of your favorites right now are Do Dragons Love Tacos, Lost and Found, and any book by Mo Williams.  You’ve started to enjoy athletics; playing soccer, taking gymnastic lessons, and continuing your swimming lessons. You also have joined scouts and are a Lion Cub this year. You and Dad have had so much fun together building rockets and winning the Pinewood Derby!

I am astounded by how much you have grown. You’ve lost six teeth so far this year and lost your baby face and chubby limbs, morphing into a boy with long limbs and pointy elbows. However, you are still quick to share hugs and kisses and ask to sit on my lap every day. I am so blessed to be able to witness you grow into an amazing, wonderful, human being.  Happy 6th Birthday, Joseph William, you are my sun and stars. Mommy loves you so very much.

Seven Years

Time marches on, yet I can still feel the ache. We recently sold the house in St. Charles and I had to face that box. I peeked inside and then fled, leaving Shawn to physically move it for me. It is now tucked away on a shelf, patiently waiting.

Your brother continues to be the light of our lives. He lives life so joyfully and full of exuberance, it is a lesson to me. Remembering to focus on the best in life, despite the ache, and to cherish it fully.

I so cherish those brief moments, now seven years ago, with both of you in this world, they are some the most precious I hold in my heart. I also cherish this ache, because it means that I remember the joy that you gave to me.

Happy Birthday, Mary and Christopher. We love you so.

Derecho

I haven’t been posting much this year about my knitting, mostly because I’m working on some larger projects. Currently on the needles are two sweaters, a pair of socks, some fingerless mitts, and I just finished this shawl/wrap last week.

The pattern is Derecho by Laura Aylor using Hazel Knits Artisan Sock yarn in Quill, Nickel, and Periwinkle. I loved the log cabin construction of the pattern, similar to those used in quilts, and thought it was perfect to join in on Fringe Association and Mason Dixon Knitting’s #fringeandfriendslogalong KAL (be sure to check out all the beautiful works on Instagram!)

I decided to make the large size of the pattern (over 66″ wingspan) and used a little more than three skeins of yarn. The Hazel Knits yarn is fantastically squishy, but still light and soft, so it’s not too bulky or heavy to wear. There’s also some subtle shifting in color in each, which adds a little more depth and richness to the stripes. The construction is quite clever, but not overly challenging, and was an easy knit to work on while in the car or watching tv. I’d like to make it again, but perhaps trying a variegated or hand-painted speckled yarn for a different effect.

As always, full details can be seen on my Ravelry page.