Therapy to avoid the Rabbit Hole

It has been a long while since I blogged. I had to place my blog on the back burner while I finished grad school. This past May, I graduated with my doctorate, which was both an achievement and a relief. Now I can focus back on my life, my family, teaching, and returning to blogging.

co-founder-1So one new thing that has happened while I was on hiatus is that my Autistic son started a new therapy. We had been trying to find a therapist who could work with him since he plateaued in his ABA therapy and they refused to continue services due to his violent reactions. He was deemed a threat. Yay, the teenage years. His new therapy focuses on talk therapy for Autistic teens who also suffer from depression. This seems to be effective for him right now. We are seeing slow progress, but we are seeing progress. I am finally hopeful. His focus is to work on his interactions within society, online, and with family. He also is working on hygiene, since part of his negative interactions with myself and his dad focus on a denial of bodily functions and then lying about his bodily state to us.

He has truly negative perceptions about women’s roles in society. He is a misogynist, which baffles us since neither my husband nor I teach the boys to act in this way, nor do we model this behavior in the home. In fact, we converse as equals in the home, my husband cooks and does a majority of the cleaning, and I study, read, and work on teaching and lesson plans. He also sees that my female friends are strong women, who have feminist viewpoints, and that I am similar in my viewpoints. We wonder if he gets it from friends or a faulty perception from his female teachers at school, but I have not seen this directly from them. We are very baffled by his development.

puzzle-piecesSo, developmentally he shows difficulty in his perceptions of women, continues to struggle with self-care of his bodily functions, and falls back on denials and lies as the best option to deal with his difficulties. He is working on communicating his needs, working on thinking about his impacts on others, and working on recognizing when he needs to attend to his physical bodily functions. We have added a fiber-enriched chocolate treat into his diet to help with defecation difficulties. Apparently it was painful for him after he decided holding in his feces was the best option to avoid painful bowel movements. That resulted in his inability to recognize or control defecation. We are working through this issue slowly. There are good days and bad days. I’m pondering a natural cleanse for him to use to help reset his bodily functions. He just needs to be willing to go through this.

His interactions with me are like walking on egg shells. There are days when he is kind and loving and there are days when he is absolutely disrespectful and rude. Today seems to be a good day. The days that are bad typically result in his unwillingness to trust that I have his best interest at heart. He assumes that I will embarrass him and thinks that I do not care for him. He believes that being honest with him and holding him accountable for his actions is being mean to him. What is interesting is that his dad could do and say the same thing as me, but have drastically different results.

61JBkyc1agL._SX425_There is a disrespect present from him towards me that is unexplained and difficult to understand. He says I am stricter than his dad is. He says he wishes I could be fun like other kids’ moms are, wishes I could joke around like they do. The sad part? – When I have joked around in the past with him, he takes it as insulting, embarrassing, and me picking on him. It results in him being angry at me. So, I am careful with him. I do not tease him. I try not to hurt his feelings. I try to be sensitive to his needs. I am direct with him and do not communicate with him in confusing ways. I am the careful, sensitive mom — not the “fun” mom. I am the mom of an autistic son with trigger points when you least expect them.

 

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I think I am mourning the husband I thought I had years ago. I just keep getting the return of a man who makes promises to treat me with kindness only to be talked to with sarcasm and venom. Then when I stand up for myself and what I deserve, he is sad for the rest of the night. I haven’t been perfect, but I’m aware of why I fight back and am refusing to feel bad about it.

The times I did feel bad about getting angry would spiral into pure rage at myself and the situation. That never made things better and only made it hurt worse. Now? I’m just numb. I know when I am not being responded to with kindness. I’m so aware of my anger, owning it, living it, and refusing to feel bad about it. That’s what my mom did, she would bottle up her anger because it wasn’t how she was supposed to react.

Me? I refuse to react like her. I’m a fierce woman with a sensitive heart. I need kindness and respect. Not to have that feels like knives cutting me to pieces. I need that to stop.

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Down the Rabbit Hole again…

Monday night our son had another fit of rage at bedtime. Due to soiling himself, his psychiatrist decided to try weaning him of the Depakote since it could be causing the soiling issues. Downside is that the Depakote was his mood stabilizer. Over the past two weeks he has been weaning off the medicine from 700 mg to 250 mg. We have seen the bonus of fewer soiling accidents, but the negative is that his anger and rage became uncontrollable at night during his bedtime routine. Most things that cause him transitioning tend to upset him, but the past few nights have been extreme. Monday night was our breaking point.

We had gone to Asheville for the day, and he begged me to teach him how to weave. I agreed and let him pick out two cones for his warp and weft. he ended up picking out the same hand dyed purple and gold cones I had, but in chenille. The child likes soft things. We ended up having a very good day. Then we got home. His younger brother decided he did not want to bunk with him, so that began the downward spiral. As usual, we stressed the fact that he couldn’t force his brother to bunk with him when he was being rude and aggressive. To our autistic son, we were being unreasonable.

He began lashing out at something in his room. I called up to ask him what he was hitting, since I needed to make sure the computer was safe and secure. He yelled, “I’m not telling you!” I asked again with the same response from him. Then I warned him that if he didn’t tell me, I would take his computer away. Again, the same response. So I did what I said I would do, I marched up the stairs (hoping he would fold and tell me what he was hitting as he heard my approach) and took the computer. We tend to always take it to safeguard it when he is raging. Tonight was different since he had progressively been getting worse. I told him he would need to earn it back. I also rescued the monitor and his LEGO Kylo Ren ship we had built together. I knew he would regret it later if he broke his new ship.

The removal of items from his room resulted in his anger progressing to violence. His father tried to hold him back while I talked with him, but our son punched him in the arm and kicked me in the chest fairly hard. we knew we were at another breaking point and were determined we needed to get help from his doctors again. we did exactly what the therapists told us we needed to do and left him in his room and refused to engage with him any further. The goal was to prevent from allowing him to harm us or his brother. We secured the lock on our younger child’s door so he would be protected from the violent outburst. (He has a key lock on his door so his brother can’t get in but those of us with keys could.)

My husband and I talked over the options we had. We discussed the possibility of having him hospitalized for a short period of time like he was at the beginning of the school year. We decided we would be okay with that if needed. We also decided what it was we needed from our son’s doctors. The first thing we needed was a way to decrease the outbursts. The second thing we needed was a way to tamp down the rage when it occurred, or to prevent it from occurring. So the next morning we called his doctors.

Lovely thing about his doctor’s is that there was an emergency unit we could take him to for help. Once we got him there they took him to the back and went through the process of asking us questions, him questions, and then discussing the options with us. Due to his lack of using the strategies from his previous hospitalization, the psychiatrist stated he believed it would not benefit our son to have another stay in the unit. Instead, we discussed adjusting his medications for the next two weeks and meeting for another appointment to further discuss the options. we asked about what the next options would be if the change did not result in positive results (because it is a continued decrease in the mood stabilizer and an increase in two other meds he is already taking). The next stage is Lithium and another drug in the same class (can’t recall the name). While this sounds scary and extreme, his doctors are in agreement that the present goal is to keep the family safe, especially his younger brother.

Over the past year we have seen our child progress to preteen inabilities to manage his rage. He’s threatened his school and teachers, become more violent with us, and continues to bully and rage at whomever he sees as the weakest person in the family. Sometimes that is his brother and other times it is me. He’s broken furniture in his room, kicked holes in his walls, and destroyed beloved items during his rages. He’s become abusive, which we are having a difficult time dealing with. As parents, we are stuck between a rock and a hard place knowing he’s autistic and wanting him to get the help he needs, but not having the insurance coverage for Applied Behavioral Therapy for autism and needing to remain safe. This year has become more difficult and frustrating, but our rabbit hole is narrowing and hopefully the right treatment is near.

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The Force Awakens – and I cry

Blame Facebook and Jimmy Fallon! My friend posted a video on Facebook today that showed the cast of Star Wars: the Force Awakens singing an a capella of the opening theme song of the movies.  As I watched the song being sung, which I adore and laughed at, I began crying. I sat there wondering why I was crying. Was it a release of stress after a long week (that isn’t yet over) of teaching middle school kids right before Christmas break? Was it just a frustrating day? Or was there something more to it. As I pondered the possibilities, I realized that I have only shared Star Wars with the most important men in my life, and now I was about to share it with my two boys.

May 25, 1979 I was two weeks away from turning four years old. I remember my mom taking me to a homebound student’s house, like she normally did during the week. This day was different, which is probably why the early memory stuck so clearly in my mind. My dad came to pick me up. I remember my mom being concerned about the decision he made and her saying to not scare me. What he did was far from scaring me; he took me to Star Wars: A New Hope. In the theater a man with a huge head sat down right in front of me, so my daddy put me in his lap so I could see. When the movie started and I saw Princess Leia with R2D2, I became a loyal fan forever. I went from adoring Dorothy and Toto skipping down the Yellow Brick Road to worshiping the image of a beautiful princess with a gun defending her people. As I grew up, my daddy took me to every Star Wars movie, telling me how the plan was to be a total of nine movies together. Once Episode 8 ended and no other movies emerged during my childhood I realized that there would only be three.

After college I reunited with my high school sweetheart (Joe) and moved to South Florida. When news surfaced that Star Wars Episode 1 was to be released we made plans on attending the movie. During our first years of engagement, marriage, and parenthood we saw Episodes 1-3. In the moments of Episode 1, Queen Amidala influenced my perception of womanhood as a strong woman defending her people against an oppressive force. Yet, what I didn’t realize was that I was doing more than watching movies with my husband. Instead, I was making a connection with him, as I made with my father a a young girl, through the genre of Star Wars. Joe became the important man in my life who meshed with my love of Jedi, droids, and independent princesses.

Now, as December 18 approaches and my two boys get excited about going to the new Star Wars movie, I find my life as daughter, wife, and mom coming full circle. I am about to continue a tradition of sharing Star Wars with the most important men in my life. It makes me a little sad my father passed in 2008 and did not get the chance to see the last three episodes. But I know he is proud I am taking his grandsons to it and immersing them in the world of Star Warsphoto-9 

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Hiatus of a Mom of Autism

The past year has led to a long time from blogging. Last Fall I began applying to PhD programs in English and one in Education. I was wait-listed by the University of Tennessee and was wanted for the program, but the person in front of me accepted. In the end I was waiting on a program in Canada and the one I ended up accepting in South Carolina. I ended up telling the Canadian school that I had accepted the local program. this allowed me to continue teaching in my field and attend doctoral classes. I also started my program in the Summer session, so I got started in an earlier cohort.

Right after I was accepted and the state high stakes testing began, we got a call from my son’s school. He had a breakdown like ones we only see at home. He ended up threatening to kill a teacher and then indicated that he would blow up the school. This then led to him threatening to kill himself. he was suspended from school and we were told he could not return until he underwent a mental health evaluation with the local psychiatric services associated with the school. Mind you, our son already has a psychiatrist, psychologist/behavioral specialist. He’s been through numerous evaluations, occupational therapy, auditory tests, and behavioral therapy — none of which the school would qualify him for receiving services because he just didn’t test on a high enough scale for their determination. We have paid everything out of pocket. At that time we had an official diagnosis of ADHD, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, Writing Graphomotor, and Auditory/sensory Processing disorder…due to these official diagnosis not being determined by county/school agency we barely got an Individualized Education Plan in place for him. It took us years to get that in order. Now he was deemed a behavioral issue for his school — a school district that determined in 1st grade and Kindergarten he was too smart to qualify as needing services.

Right before school started the next year we saw extreme changes in his behavior. He took a downhill slide into depression and anger. He is now 11 years old and about the start middle school. As a middle school English teacher, I experience every day the struggles my students face from their peers. The bullying and attitudes and lack of acceptance is heartbreaking for these teenagers who are still children but want to grow up so fast. My son is no different, yet his depression and rage undermined him and he fell into despair. He threatened to commit suicide. I couldn’t bare the possibility that he was possibly serious and that I could lose my son, so we did the hardest thing we have ever done and took him to the hospital to have him admitted to a psychiatric ward for another evaluation. That was a long hard 2 weeks. I cried when I was home feeling I had let my son down, but at the same time knew my youngest needed to know what a life without his brother’s rage and violence should be like. We were all sad and cried together. In addition, we knew our child was safe and getting treatment. The word from his psychiatrist was that he was probably bipolar, which my dad suffered from.

Once he did go through evaluations, the therapists at the hospital and then at the outpatient center began suggesting autism. I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs. I expressed my concerns about autism when he was 1-2 years old because of how he played with his toys and acted around other children. I was treated like the mom who just wanted her healthy child to be sick or have difficulty with something. Sure, my young son wasn’t pervasively ill, but my instincts told me things weren’t normal and being a mom of a child who would have 1-2 hour long meltdowns, bruises on her arms and legs from her child biting and hitting her in rage, get head-butted on a daily basis, and various other incidents was not what other moms dealt with from their toddlers. I realized this was the case when our second child was born and he did none of these things during a tantrum.

So, autism… guess what? We have amazing health insurance that covers Applied Behavior Analysis therapy for children up to age 6. Well, we tried getting him diagnosed before age 6 and were denied, and what about the kids that turn 7? Do they all of a sudden not have autism or are considered hopeless after age 7? But we have been told ABA therapy is the best thing for him. We have found that this diagnosis is the cause of his bowel issues and now he wears a protective pad every day to prevent accidents and to stay hygienic. The social workers through our insurance state that they’ve never seen scores as high as his in their autism evaluations, and that we should call 911 and hospitalize him when he acts out. We can’t see how this is a solution, when ten minutes later he is laughing and playing with pure happiness. I wonder every day if his is both autistic and psychotic at once, which has made a clear diagnosis and effective treatment impossible. To add to this, his symptoms have been creeping into his school life, which before seemed to be controlled at school by the medications he takes. His life, our youngest son’s life, and our lives/marriage have been negatively affected by this disorder.

I wish I could say he just views life through a different lens and that he’s so sweet and misunderstood. No, our son takes any reason to manipulate the situation with a firm grip and barrels ahead with the force of a rodeo bull. He yells in public when we tell him he can’t get a toy, he fights us and attempts to hit us in public when we stick to our answer, he runs away in the store and scares other families when he rages. He demands anything and everything of us and creates a scene when he does not get his way. I try to lure him out of his rage and redirect him, which is instinct as a teacher. My husband attempts to barter with him, which makes the manipulation continue. But I understand why my husband handles him in this way, the man hates conflict and this is much harder on him. Just this evening, the Target shopping trip before getting a Christmas tree resulted in a tantrum over not getting a toy. He refused to follow us, ran away back to the toys, and I heard my husband and son in the distance of the store. As I approached them, he child hit his father in rage over the lack of a toy. They were waiting on me at the register. Once in line the child ran off again. I went to get him. I told him he lost his computer but that if he got up I would buy him a coffee. Sometimes the coffee calms him down. He got up but was mouthy the whole way to the front. I had the running mantra in my head reminding myself that the child was walking with me to front as I asked him to. He was in compliance.

We got the tree then off to dinner. The boys were insistent on where we went. When we walked in and were seated, the hostess rolled her eyes at us. I cannot express how many times this happens to us. We are those people who don’t control our children to so many in the world. They have no idea that when an autistic child is excited about drawing on a chalkboard and think the cool stools that look like hamburgers are things he doesn’t want to give up is unruly, what they are seeing is pure happiness and joy. But happiness and joy from a child with autism is deemed as misbehavior because their excitement is loud and vivacious. Dinner was a disaster, and I know our server was confused. She did nothing wrong and I believe she began to see our calm and quiet struggle with our son who ordered a salad but didn’t want it on a rectangular plate. He obsessed over needing it in a bowl so he could mix it all together. She brought him a small bowl and I put a small portion in the bowl. Then he told me he didn’t like the salad. I felt defeated after I dispersed all the ingredients equally while my food got cold, and convinced our server to find a bowl, only to be told it was all a waste. I truly believe he plays games of power and control just to hurt us. In a blink of an eye he’ll just move on to the next thing. If I had told him to deal with it the next outburst would have occurred. Dinner was defeated before we even got our food.

Having a child like this is hard. Feeling defeated by the insurance company, doctors who ignored your concerns, and by the child you are fighting so hard for is impossible.

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Medieval Selfies

Just reposting so I will have a copy of this.

medievalbooks

Self-portraits of medieval book artisans are as exciting as they are rare. In the age before the modern camera there were limited means to show others what you looked like. In the very late medieval period, when the Renaissance spirit was already felt in the air, some painters made self-portraits or included themselves in paintings commissioned by others. Stunningly, the medieval painter Jan van Eyck showed himself in the portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his fiance: he is staring at you from the mirror that is hanging behind the couple. For those who still didn’t get it, he painted above it Johannes de eyck fuit hic, Jan van Eyck was here” (Fig. 1, more here). He added the date 1434 to the picture, making it a particularly early selfie.

Jan van Eyck, Giovanni Arnolfini and his fiance, 1434 (right) and mirror detail (left) Fig. 1 – Jan van Eyck, Giovanni Arnolfini and fiance (right)  and mirror detail (left)

As far as producers of books is concerned, there were only two kinds…

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I got bogged down in school…

There are a few things I need to address that I’m sure all of us bloggers have experienced. One is the negative poster, who thinks it is their duty to correct the grammar of everything they see on Facebook without ever reading the book where the quote came from. The other is the poster who attacks a comment you made to a friend, whom you were trying to help, without posting a helpful suggestion to the said friend. This may be a rant, but there area few points here that I believe need to be made.

Negative poster number one:
This morning, while perusing Facebook and drinking my coffee, a friend posted a beautiful picture from the upcoming series on Starz called Outlander. Some of you may know of Diana Gabaldon’s epic story of Claire and Jamie. Well this pic was of Jamie from the series with a quote, something he said to Claire, as follows, “Ye need not be scairt of me nor of anyone here so long as I’m with ye.” Now, that is the beautiful Scottish dialect,and is perfectly acceptable, but a man decided that it was grammatically incorrect since Ye is a plural pronoun. I am an English teacher with two Master’s degrees focused on English (M.A.T. & M.A.), so grammatically correcting dialect of a writer’s character makes me twitch. I responded, since I thought he was being too literal. I said, “Dialect…it’s dialect.” Simple, sweet and to the point. There should be no debate, right? Wrong. He responded with, “Dialect doesn’t matter. Ye has never been singular. If that is what you are implying.” Now, I didn’t imply anything, so I needed to clarify because I just can’t stand someone who thinks they know how a writer should write the conversation of a character. I explained that ye is how a Scotsman says you. I further explained that ye was commonly mistranslated during the shifts from Old English to Middle English when the letter thorn was dropped and then replaced with the letter y, and gave the example of shops that have the names Ye Olde…. The letter thorn has a th sound, so the y should be a th and say “The Olde…” I reiterated the Scottish dialect and also insisted that dialect was very important with the example of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. He responded with the insistence of the you I was implying as being plural. He bantered on about you in the form of ye only having a plural form, though you is both singular and plural. The character of Jamie is not written in Biblical or Shakespearean Modern English, but written with a dialect of saying you that sounds like ye.

I am frustrated since dialect is not important to writing to so many people reading books, or not reading books. I have an irritation toward posters who think correcting the dialect of a character is needed and that the dialect is a problem. Why is the dialect a problem? Mark Twain specifically used dialect to provide characterization and a sense that they were real and believable to his characters. In his time period it was controversial, but Gabaldon has only taken Twain’s lead in creating round characters for her series. I believe it is a sad situation when someone who is neither an English teacher nor a writer determines that a successful writer is grammatically incorrect because her character has dialect, and that the dialect (a Scottish brogue in this case) does not matter. So put the sexiest man in a great kilt, in the highlands of Scotland, and give him a New York City accent. Kill that image for you?

Negative poster number two:
So, a friend posted about a concern with her hearing and asked if she could get input from friends. I asked her if ever in our university classes she was distracted by noise and couldn’t hear the professor. I asked her this since I have this issue and have a mild case of ADD that doesn’t require medication, just strategies and management. She answered “Yes!!!” Now I perceive that as a pretty strong answer, so briefly responded with, “It’s ADD. I have a mild case of it.” This friend is one who I know will not self-medicate and will get an actual diagnosis from a doctor, so I feel comfortable being direct. She and I are very blunt with each other. Other posters were suggesting a busted ear drum or teeth grinding, but never asked the friend her experiences. Then came the poster who decided I had diagnosed our friend, was being dangerous and harmful, and negated that it could be ADD. Well, that was rude, plus, she didn’t give anything helpful to to post to help our friend out. I just said, “I didn’t diagnose her.” She accused me that I did since I had said “it’s ADD.” I told her I was giving perspective like everyone else, and that to me it was ADD. I also asked her to stop negating my perspective and my responses to our friend. Her response was ridiculous, “I’m not prohibiting you from talking to said friend but you are being harmful since you don’t have the expertise to diagnose.” I asked her to stop being negative since busted ear drums, TMJ, teeth grinding, and all the other “suggestions” were also to be determined by a medical professional. Now I’ve seen that I may have been blocked by my friend because I was attacked. This is disheartening since others were starting to state how ADD was an excuse being tossed around for everyone’s problems.

I truly believe that the “normal functioning people” in society think of ADDers as lazy and excuse makers. I get the feeling that society deems those with ADD as lesser humans because of how it affects those who suffer with it. Like I said before, I have a mild case of ADD and take no drugs to cope with it. I do have strategies in place as coping mechanisms and have learned to manage it. As a child, since there was not a diagnosis for me growing up teachers misunderstood me, I was bullied, and my grades faltered in elementary school. My intense desire to fit it with the smart crowd caused me to study probably harder than my peers. I did timed drills in math instead of playing. I read everything I could get my hands on because characters in books were my friends and didn’t make fun of me. I perceived attention of boys as flirting, when they were making fun of me. The best thing my parents did was to move to a small town and I got to start over. I was still a weird kid, but I came into my confidence in 8th grade when I became a cheerleader. Yet, all through school I felt distracted and annoyed by my peers tapping their pencils, clicking their pens, and even hearing the sound of dull lead scrawling on paper agitated me. I joined ROTC because it was a quiet place I could retreat to in high school. I excelled in it and even received a college scholarship. Yet, when I went to college I became distracted by all the activities around me. I burned my candle at both ends because I failed to focus on the most important thing, my studies. That is one perspective of an ADDer, and I am watching my son who is formally diagnosed go through the issues I experienced at his age. It makes me sad to see that the mere mentioning of ADD as a possibility to a friend is immediately attacked by society. The idea that an ADD diagnosis is a farce to those who have no idea what it is like to live with the symptoms is horrifying. There are new medical diagnosis every year for things we previously didn’t understand, so why is society so resistant to adults recognizing they may suffer from ADD, and why is that so very dangerous and harmful?

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A response to my MKAL opinion

Today, not only did I blog about the MKAL here, but I questioned the designer about the lack of interest and cohesiveness in her design. My discussion post was as follows:

“Will the edging be more interesting, Kristin? I was hoping for some more interesting lacework after last week was a 4row rib and two row garter stitch. I see that this week is a 4 row garter stitch so those watching the Super Bowl can have fun. I don’t watch the Super Bowl, and I have been following the clues by watching first and then knitting it by the next Sunday’s prompts. I feel like the weeks are failing to be cohesive with the stitches, so an uneducated eye can tell that certain portions of the shawl just don’t flow naturally. When my husband can point out parts that clash, then I question how it looks. I am a little disappointed by this week’s prompts. I don’t play drinking games, so the drinking prompts seemed wasteful and silly. I would be more on-board with the playfulness if the design were playful. I am just thoroughly disappointed.”

I upset someone…oops! I expected that there would be a gullible knitter out there who thought the design was fabulous. This is the response I got:

“I think that if you combine Weeks 4 and 5 (4 rows of stockinette followed by 6 rows of garter), it is a mirror image of the first 10 rows of our project, and nicely frames (instead of competing with) the more complex stitches in-between. So I don’t know why this would be considered “not cohesive”. But, if you don’t like the designer’s ideas, why don’t you suggest, in a constructive manner, some possible alternatives for the group? Who knows, you might inspire someone else.” 

So very aggressive since there were 3 ‘disagree’s on her response. I also received the following supportive response.

“I decided from the beginning that I was going to take ideas from the prompts but quickly realized that it just seemed like this was a “This, that and the other thing” thrown together look so I have held off until I figured out what I wanted mine to look like. I did not knit a shawl. I’m making an infinity cowl. It’s been weeks since I knit a thing, waiting to see if this pattern would come together but I am sad to say I agree with your husband and I don’t think it has. It HAS been fun however to follow along and pick & choose some of the stitches to use in mine (garter edging, mesh lace & moss stitch) but from there I’m using my own ideas & designing the center & will finish with my beginning rows reversed so there is some sense of symmetry which is what I feel this project has lacked. I have seen some others project photos and theirs is coming out beautifully. Happy knitting and enjoy tonight’s episode!!”

That was a positive response, considering that she also thought that the project lacked symmetry. I just couldn’t help from responding to the snarky response in an “elitest” manner as an English teacher, in order to point out that the designer was profiting from the MKAL from many of the group members. Here is my response, though I may have bordered on being rude:

“Considering that I joined this MKAL to enjoy myself, have a means to enjoy my knitting for relaxation, and that my career is to teach English not to recreate another person’s profitable MKAL, I believe I have the right to ask if there were going to be more interesting lace portions for the next two weeks. I am not obligated to redesign and inspire others because I am disappointed and bored with garter stitches for two weeks in a row. Bookending a shawl with the same stitches doesn’t equate to cohesive design. I have looked at other member’s shawl images, just to make sure I didn’t mess up at some point, but it looks the same. I have an uncanny eye for seeing stitches that fail to flow into each other. Week 2 failed to flow gracefully from Week 1 and then seemed heavy against the lace of Week 3. Then Week 4’s ribs and garter stitches did not flow gracefully from week 3 and seemed yet again heavy. Maybe you prefer heavy shawls that fail to drape lightly over the shoulders in the style and fashion of Downton Abbey, but I am a Purest. If it is going to be a crescent shawl, then it should drape like delicate lace. In order to “redesign” as you suggested, I would need to choose a different yarn, a completely different pattern of stitches based on the 1930s, and then have the time to devote to design work. Hmm…that sounds like a job. If I were making money off of people by creating a design in order for people to purchase my hand-dyed yarns, then maybe I would feel that obligation. But, alas, I am an English teacher devoted to my students — the career I chose. I still have a right to question a design that just seems to not flow nicely.”

I am grateful that I did not buy the designer’s yarn, but I have seen many on the discussion boards have concern over whether they would have enough yarn to even finish the project. Many are concerned, and i am furious for them since if they cannot finish the project with the yarn they bought, they will either need to buy more from the designer or add in another type of yarn at the end. I believe that this is highway robbery and taking advantage of people who had faith in her design capabilities, since it is her career and she has made money off of the members and has received free publicity for the MKAL, which brings her more customers. If this goes badly, then there will be those who have wasted time and money, while she has profited. I really do not see how this is a positive situation. too many members are worried about their yardage.

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Week 5 Downton Abbey MKAL

Well, last week I posted about the ribbing and the garter stitch and how I had expected something more feminine and pretty. I failed to post pictures because it was just uninspiring for me. This week is the last increases in four rows of garter stitch. How is this interesting? It was supposed to be a mystery, but instead she is saying it is a “catch-up week” and that she didn’t want to overwhelm us since we probably were getting prepared to watch the Super Bowl. So what if we are watching the Super Bowl today? In all the previous weeks she stated to watch the show first and then begin knitting in the correct order of the clues and when things occurred. Last week was the first week out of 5 weeks that the clues were not in order of how the storyline unfolded. I have been knitting the pattern the Wednesday night after and at my LYS’s knit night on Thursdays as a break from my hectic grad school and teaching schedule. As I have been knitting this I keep debating on whether this project was a waste of my pretty yarn. Then I think about how I am so glad I didn’t purchase two $25 skeins of the host designer’s yarn. My yarn was at least a little less expensive and didn’t incur shipping charges. Right now, the yarn and pattern look more like the camo marshland of Scotland, so it will be a great scarf/shawl to wear when I go out and shoot my bow in the woods. Here’s a couple pics…

photo 2-2 photo 1-2

Meanwhile, I have taken up a much prettier knitting project. This shawl became a viral explosion in our LYS. Berocco put out this inexpensive yarn called Folio in all these pretty colors. It is alpaca and rayon yarn, so it is very soft and light. When I say it was a viral explosion, I mean Every person at the table had to get in on making one. Then it continued into the weekend with the LYS people who go on Saturdays joining in on the knitting fun. I chose a Navy as my Main Color and a Coral as my Contrast Color. I believe this will be a much nicer project for wearing in public, rather than in the forest…

photo 1-3 photo 2-3

I have also decided that Cascade has this beautiful fingering/DK weight yarn white with an iridescent filament spun in that I will use to make a huge circle shawl for my Lord of the Rings geekness. The shawl is called “Evenstar” for the elfin heart and life that Arwen hands over to Aragorn/Strider. That should be my Spring/Summer project once I graduate from Graduate School this May. Now to count up yardage and order the yarn…

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My Mystery KAL – Week 3

So, I forgot to post for week 3 of my MKAL. Somehow between the preparation for the change of 9 weeks at my middle school and getting ready to see a new set of young faces, preparing for a new set of college students in my ENGL 101 class, and reading for my own classes, I forgot all about my blog. In my mind, I had convinced myself that I had written it. So, on to the knitting… this past week’s stitches were fairly easy to complete. In fact, I was bored at times. The repetition allowed for easy knitting, but the repeating of rows became monotonous. I was beginning to ask, “When will this thing end?” That is not exactly a good sign for a knitting project and me. This week looks fairly boring to me, too. It is rib stitches with increases. Now, rib stitches and garter stitch are fine and dandy for a scarf, but for a shawl/shawlet it seems down right masculine.  I hate the idea of going from a pretty open section of fishnet looking stitches to ribs. What was the designer thinking? I swear if this section is ugly I will rip it out and find a prettier stitch combo for my shawl. If the sections are in order then it will look like a little checkerboard. So far, this designer thinks that the mystery is fun, but she has put each of the clues in order as they happen in the show. I really don’t see the point in what she considers a mystery. The one thing I am grateful for is that I didn’t buy her yarn, but bought my yarn from my LYS. If I run out I can at least get another skein in the same colorway, or even mix it up with the edging of a different color. I doubt I will knit the MKAL with her next year. I’m bored.

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