Monday, April 30, 2007

Sneaking up on the Left Brain

Call off the hounds! The answer has been found and I've solved my neckline dilemma. Sunday morning I woke up and thought, "Oh, I know exactly how to do this." and wrote it down. It's a relatively common technique for problem solving. Write down the problem, do something else or sleep on it, and your brain will quietly work on the problem for you. I'm not sure why this is. Is it that both halves can only work together when no one is looking?

I'm sorry to do that to my blog readers, but I've noticed that I'm not alone. Many times I'll read a blog post that describes some knitterly problem, leave my suggestion (or sometimes just a "gee, that's a tough one"), only to find in the next post that the problem has been solved. And usually with something truly clever.

Me, I'm not clever. It was an obvious solution that worked with the fact that using a neck steek means I'm knitting in the round. I put one extra stitch on the holders on each side, then I'm decreasing a stitch on each side every round for 4 rounds, then every other round for 3. It's pretty close to the original slope, and it might look nicer since it eliminates the stair stepping of the cast off. Of course I'll post a picture when I'm done.

And speaking of done:

It took me one weekend and I like it! Maia, I felt almost guilty cutting up your handspun for a fringe. But I love the marled fluffiness of it and it makes the scarf look a little longer. I have lace scarves, and funky scarves, but no soft, warm scarves. This one just hits the spot. Thanks Maia!

Have a good Monday everyone.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Shifting Gears

As I suspected, many of you find knitting to be both a left- and right-brain pursuit, which is just one of the reasons so many of us love this hobby so much. I liked Nicole's theory that we are most happy when both sides are in balance. This makes a lot of sense to me since I believe that being in balance is the ideal goal to strive for in all aspects of life.

I've noticed that the nice weather has made my right-brain more active. After finishing up those Sailor's Rib socks, I came up with an idea for Maia's handspun. This beautiful yarn had quite an attitude problem and didn't like any of the ideas I came up for it. I'd already ripped it twice, and it sulked in my yarn basket for quite some time. Then I found the right stitch pattern and the right needle size and we were off to the races together!

I've decided to make a lacy version of a fisherman's scarf. The stitch is called twisted brioche stitch and it makes a lovely fabric with this yarn. The fabric is light and squooshy with a really good drape. Love it! Here's a close up:

I've also been working on my oldest UFO ever, Ford, or as I think of it, the Rainbow Lopi Fair Isle. It's amazing how odd hours of knitting, snatched here and there, accumulate:

Of course, I decided to put some steeks in for the arm holes and was quite prepared to do the same with the neck, when my knitting came to a screeching halt by a decidedly left-brain problem. How do I decrease the neck? The pattern calls for putting 17 sts on a holder, and then casting off 3 sts on the neck edge once, 2 sts once and then 1 st three times. It's those first three stitches that has me perplexed. Now I think I understand why so many Fair Isle designs have v-necks.

Here are the ideas I've come up with:
  • v-neck; tried and true, but doesn't seem to fit with this drop-shouldered design
  • knit back and forth; it's only for a couple of inches, I can suck it up
  • try a placket neck; that fits with the idea of an outdoorsy sweater like this, but I've never done one before. (Like that would stop me.)
So, dear readers, my most excellent knit pals, what do you suggest? What would you do?

This project has been through a lot and I don't want to abandon it again. It sat in the closet for 3-years, stuffed in a basket. It moved with us from one side of the city to the other. And it has grown in spite of only getting the most sparse knitting time. I just can't knit it in front of the TV or in company because of the syncopated pattern. Help me rescue this poor thing. Because in spite of the barfing rainbows, it is really pretty.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Right Brain Knitting

Have you ever heard of a book called Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain? Although I never followed through all the exercises, I did read the theory information at the beginning and it shaped my thinking about how I approach knitting.

The author, Betty Edwards, defined two types of thinking, left brained and right brained. Left-brained thinking involves language, logic, and symbols. Right brain thinking is visual and hence its tie to drawing. It's also perceptual and wholistic and therefore more closely tied with creative leaps of thinking.

Knitting is a task that integrates both sides of the brain. It is creative, yet mathematical. We read the task, but must translate it through our hands. I seem to admire knitters who channel the left brain, like Grumperina or Eunny. But I'm starting to open myself up more to the right brain knitters, such as Cara.

It's funny, but I feel slightly shy, or is it ashamed, of my right brain knitting. It seems somehow less legitimate than knitting that is mathematically precise. In the interests of facing up to my pre-conceptions, I present to you my right-brained socks:

I had two small balls of Lorna's Laces left from these mittens, so I started a pair of toe up socks and then just made it all up as I went along. I let my right brain decide what to do when I got there, no forethought in them at all. I did knit these in turns, so I wouldn't have to write it down in order to duplicate my first try.

Here's some of the details of which I'm not proud:
  • Increased one stitch just after the toe to make the Sailor's Rib pattern fit.
  • Decreased unevenly after the short row heel to make the pattern fit, yet again.
  • Modified the tubular sewn bind of in a less than graceful manner, again, to make the pattern fit.

I don't care, because they're just socks. But, I also don't think anyone should admire or emulate them. Honestly though, I'd do it again. Why not?

Okay, I am proud of those heels. I added a 5 stitch gusset before and after the short row heel to give it more depth for my big feet. I learned this little trick from Criminy Jickets. Only next time, I think I'll only increase four stitches. These heels have pockets. And I'm pleased with the stitch pattern. It's stretchy, and the purl bumps soften out the striping in the yarn. And I'm pleased with the way I used up my yarn.

No waste here!

So what kind of knitting do you do? What kind do you admire? Have you ever tried just letting the knitting tell you what to do?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Leaky Brakes 101 - Part 4

I personally had a tough time in tonight's Brake shop session. It was raining today, so I did yoga in the morning instead of a walk and it was raining at lunch, so I knitted a sock instead of taking a walk. This resulted in me having some pent-up energy. Then, during the talk, the people in front and behind us were talking. It really bothered me. Oh honestly, it pissed me off. Even the sock was annoying me. (I bring a sock to knit on during every session.)

It brought to mind an image that Dr. Dunc uses, of one's beaker being full. Imagine you have a beaker that holds every little thing that annoys you. In the morning your beaker is empty, but as you go through the day every annoyance, from rainy weather, to a noisy workmen, to a traffic jam, goes into the beaker. Put too many annoyances in the beaker and it starts to overflow. That overflow is a melt down.

I was very close to having a melt down myself tonight and suddenly that beaker image just clicked for me. Now the difference between me and my son is that I kept a lid on that beaker until I was out of the room. Then I let my husband have an earful! And I shook myself, and jumped up and down a bit, and then I had a hug. But Luke doesn't have the brakes to put a lid on the beaker. He probably would have had to remove himself from the situation (I've done that before too).

So I didn't catch the name of tonight's speaker, because people were talking. His discussion was about the accommodations that can be made in school for kids with Leaky Brakes. I'm not going to write out the list, because it was extensive. The key thing is that accommodations must be individualized, doable, and fluid. They must suit the child, teacher and school. It must be something that can actually be accomplished; it's no good saying that the kid can go outside to simmer down if it's the middle of winter in the country. And the accommodation must be subject to change as the child grows or his circumstances change.

In his current situation, Luke has received many accommodations and I honestly couldn't tell you what all they are. I just know they are working for him. Here's some though. He is a "copy kid" in that his homework instructions are written down for him. He gets to use special software at the school to create his written assignments. He gets time with the resource teacher. The accommodations are formalized in a written document called an IEP, or Individualized Education Plan (the link is to a pdf).

I was looking for Luke's IEP so I could share some of it with you, but I couldn't find it tonight. Instead I found my kid's class pictures. Here's Luke in Kindergarten. It made me feel much better.

Monday, April 23, 2007

A Nice Way to Start a Monday Morning

Before work I like to go for a walk in the woods. It's damp in there, but I have the proper foot wear.

These are serious rubber boots and they work well into the cold season with some nice wool socks. I left this morning at about 7 o'clock, just as the sun was coming up.

The woods are just beginning to awaken from their winter sleep, so the trees are bare, but the ground is alive with new shoots and wee flowers. It's a good time to see details that can get lost in the height of summer growth. Don't these fungi look like some feather and fan lace done in a variegated yarn?

This is my rock. I come to it to think, and feel, and cry. I love this rock. It feels like a hand of the mother earth, cupping me and supporting me.

This is the view from the road of Fox Hollow ravine. The street I live on backs onto this ravine and I come here to pick grass and weeds for my guinea pigs to eat. There's nothing much for them yet, they're still living off store bought food.

It's hard to believe that all this is in the midst of a city with a population of over 350,000.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Oh yes, I am well satisfied with these socks.

Pattern: Clessidra from Knitty, Spring 2007
Yarn: Sheepjes Invicta Extra less than 3 balls
Needles: 2.25 mm
Modifications: none

This is how I will be seeing them most often. Jim is a good person to knit socks for because he most often wears them in the evening while he watches TV. I'm hard on socks because I wear them all day, every day. But he can't have these yet, I'm going to save them for the Fair. I still have to go through the prize book to see what the categories are!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Knitting in the Park

It looks like somebody needs a new pair of socks!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Leaky Brakes 101 - Part 3

Whew. It's been a busy day and I'm tuckered out. I'm going to be brief. Tonight's session had two speakers, Kathryn Harris, Occupational Therapist, and Dr. Dunc.

Ms. Harris spoke about Sensory Integration Dysfunction. This occurs when the brain isn't sorting and processing sensory information, things like sight, taste and sound, the way it should. Some kids will have a high threshold, where it takes a lot before they will feel or see something. These kids tend to enjoy high impact activities like sports or will seek out heavy stimulus like loud noises. Other kids will have a low threshold and are extremely sensitive to things. These kids will say that their clothing is scratchy or the music is too loud and so on.

My son Luke is definitely a low threshold boy. He's always been sensitive to his clothing. For example, he won't wear t-shirts with an iron-on decal because he can feel the sticky part on the inside of the shirt. I understood this, easily, but Ms. Harris' speech helped me to identify one area that has puzzled me for a long time.

Luke is 12 and he still eats with his fingers. I gently remind him time after time and he still does it. Well, apparently, children with Sensory Integration Dysfunction can also be bothered by the feel of a utensil in their mouth. Luke eats with a spoon at breakfast, but I imagine a fork is just pointy enough to bother him at supper. I may suggest to him that he try using a spoon at dinner too and see if that helps. At some point, this boy needs to learn how to eat with out using his fingers.

Ms. Harris also offered some resources to help with Sensory Integration Dysfunction including these websites:
Dr. Dunc's talk was about "Brake Jobs", or ways to help kids with TS or OCD put on the brakes and stop some of their bothersome behaviors. For kids with TS there is Habit Reversal Training (HRT), and for kids with OCD there is Exposure & Response Prevention (ERP).

Dr. Dunc has used HRT himself, with success, but he reports that it is very hard work. First, you have to be aware of the tics, what they are, when they happen and what things are likely to trigger then. Then, starting with one tic only, you try to replace the tic with a different behavior that makes the tic impossible. The replacement behavior should be less annoying than the tic and easy to do. It does sound like a lot of work, and fortunately for us, none of Luke's tics are terribly annoying.

The Exposure and Response Prevention therapy for kids with OCD took up most of the discussion time because it was very dramatic. Basically, Dr. Dunc has a set of tools that he uses to help kids with OCD see it as something separate from themselves that is a mean bully making them do these things. He uses humor to support the kids as they tackle the OCD bully and turn it on its head. For kids with OCD, this type of therapy can be even more effective than medication.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Praise and Thanks

Tonight our local knitting club got together and we held a swap. I'd cleaned out my closets of my guilt yarns: things I'd bought on sale, but didn't enjoy knitting, or leftovers of yarns I'd loved while knitting, but had no desire to come back to. Only a few people brought yarn and the group is quite large, so my yarns sold quite well and I only brought a few things back home with me.

Looking over my yarn closet now, I love everything I see (the things I just like, but don't love, are stored out of sight). I'm looking forward to the time when I can knit with these yarns. And the money I earned went straight into my yarn tin which has grown to a respectable sum while I wasn't watching. So I know that I can buy the yarn for just about anything I can dream up. Or have a mad spree if I want.

Plus, I received a sweet present in the mail.

This is my prize yarn from Maia and it's just a bright ray of sunshine in these grey days. So soft and cushy, I'm thinking it wants to be a hat or a baby sweater.

I feel very privileged tonight. Very, very fortunate. I'm not a religious woman, but I do pray sometimes, mostly to give thanks, and right now my soul is giving a big thanks. Not just for yarn, but also for a kind husband, healthy children, and a safe neighborhood. I'm privileged to hear birdsong in the morning, and to appreciate the bare trees against a cloudy windswept sky. I've been gifted with a strong spirit and friends helping me to overcome adversity.

Thank you world. It's good to be alive. I'll do my best to pay it forward.

Monday, April 16, 2007


Well that was fast! The Frost Flowers and Leaves shawl is back in business. I've got two more 4mm circulars to work it on. I'll be using them like DPNs, just knit off one needle and onto an empty one. Except I think I'll put a point protector on the end of the working needle, for safety's sake.

Tonight was Monday night knitting, and Mary Jane kindly brought her longest 4mm needle, which is 100 cm, for me to borrow. Tomorrow knit is the knitting club and we're having a swap and trade. I was digging through my stash for yarns that might be better loved elsewhere, and I found my 4mm Addi Turbo. Yipee!

I'm really looking forward to tomorrow night. It sounds exciting, doesn't it? Don't worry, I'll bring my camera and see if I can collect some yarn p0rn shots for you all.

Hey Angelika! Here's a scan of the rainbow sweater, especially for you:

It's from the Lett-Lopi book number 13 which I purchased at a sale at Len's Mills about 3 years back. I don't know where you could get it from now.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Once again, knitting mirrors my life: I've been stymied in both. This left me with a mood all last week. By Friday I felt like a sulky 15-year old. All that was missing was the black lipstick and nail polish. But I've had a nice weekend that has left me in a much better mood.

It's funny, how I don't feel entitled to my bad mood. I know that I'm very fortunate in my circumstances. I have a lovely family, a house, a job and a closet full of wool. There's got to be some compromise between feeling our feelings, and still recognizing that things could be worse. Anyway, I'm working on learning what it is.

So, enough of life, I came here to write about my knitting. Unfortunately, write is about all I can do, since I don't have much of anything to show. The Clessidra Stockings are progressing; I've started the ankle shaping of the second sock. That means I still have one sock's worth of knitting to do.

The Frost Flowers and Leaves shawl stalled out because of needle issues. The largest 4mm needle I have is 80cm or 32 inches. I haven't finished the first repeat of chart 2 and this needle is already full. I tried knitting on two circs at the same time, but that's terribly awkward with lace. I'm considering buying a KnitPicks circular because they go up to 60 inches. The longest Addi Turbo I can find is also 60 inches. I have a Boye NeedleMaster, but when I try joining multiple cables together, they come together at an awkward angle. I haven't tried knitting with it yet.

The real problem is the jumperweight wool. It takes too much room on the needles. Does anyone have a suggestion as to how I can comfortably knit this shawl? Perhaps a large jumperweight shawl in the round is just a Bad Idea. I'm very close to ripping this out. I only started it because it was such a pleasure to knit, but without the right needle, the pleasure will be gone.

So, I'm tired of knitting blue socks. I wanted some color, and I found it in a 3-year old project that I've resurrected. It's a fair isle pull over in Lopi that I put aside when the weather warmed up in the spring and then never picked back up. Since this week has been so cold, I've enjoyed having it's warmth on my lap. I keep having the phrase, "barfing rainbows" go through my head as I knit on it though:

The sock in the picture was started on Saturday night as Jim and I watched Casino Royale. It was a good movie, so I needed something simpler to knit than what was currently on the needles. I'm loving the bright colors and the stitch pattern. It's Sailor's Rib, but I've added an extra knit row.

I gotta run, dinner is almost ready. Roast rabbit, roast vegetables, beets, mashed potatoes, and I've chopped some fresh pineapple for dessert. Hmmm.... I'm counting my blessings, including the support of all my knitting pals. Thanks to all of you. Cheers!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Leaky Brakes 101 - Part 2

It's a blustery, wet evening tonight but there was a full auditorium at Zarfas Hall as we gathered for another information session. Tonight's speaker was Rob Nicolson on the topic of medications. He gave a complete tour of antipsychotics, alpha agonists, and some other available treatments. Although his slides were full of multi-syllable words that baffle the layman, his discussion was easy to understand.

The most interesting part of the evening was the question and answer periods. There is obviously a lot of concern about giving kids medication. Parents want to be sure they are giving the right medication in the right amounts and it's an emotional topic.

What I learned from Dr. Nicolson is that, unless they are causing a definite problem, there is no reason to treat tics with medication and this has caused me to question Luke's medications. Luke is on Concerta for the ADHD, at a relatively low dose, and Risperdal for the tics, also at a low dose. Luke himself will tell you that his Tourette's isn't too bad. I've decided to ask him if he would like to skip taking the medication for the tics on the weekend to see how he responds. At twelve, he is old enough to make the decision for himself.

Once again, I am struck by how all diagnoses flow into one another. When we first started dealing with the doctors, I thought it was an either/or situation. Then different doctors put different labels on my child and each one stuck. I guess I thought they were sharing the diagnosis. As I did more research I learned that these conditions, Tourette's Syndrome, ADHD, and Obsessive- Compulsive Disorder, are all related. But these Leaky Brake sessions are really bringing it home for me. I predict that one day the doctors will invent one label to describe all these disorders.

Two other important points were made at tonight's discussion, medicate one thing at a time and "pills don't teach skills". When a child comes in for treatment, Dr. Nicolson works on the most severe symptom first. He believes in treating one thing at a time so you can see if the treatment is working and if there are any side effects. This makes a lot of sense to me and is part of the reason I want to see how Luke does off the Risperdal, since he started it at the same time as the Concerta. Finally, as Dr. Dunc told us before, the medications don't teach behavior. They just help the real intentions of the child shine through and they also give an opportunity for the child to learn better behaviour.

Dr. Dunc gave Luke a couple dozen of these business cards to help him explain himself to strangers. They demonstrate that we can choose to see this glass as half-empty, or half full.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Grab Bag

Thank you everyone for the nice comments on my Oregon Vest. Yes, I'm very happy with it and myself. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. I think my Dad's Fair Isle vest was harder to knit since the instructions were written for flat knitting and I converted them to in the round with steeks. Also, once the bottom leaves were done, the tree of life motif was very repetitious.

Especially for CC (who's got some beautiful pictures of her hand dyed yarn on her blog) here's a close up shot of the buttons:

I like that they are roughened glass, and the way the color blends from the yellow to the green. I used some sock reinforcement thread to sew them on. I thought that the added nylon thread would be a useful reinforcement.

I've got some new acquisitions to show you. One dear and dearly loved:

And one bargain:

The yarn is Schafer Anne purchased from the Loopy Ewe. Whew! The customer service you get from Sheri will blow you away. I changed my mind about my order, and Sheri accommodated me. There was a nice little handwritten note, some needle inventory cards, and some small samples of new sock yarns included in the package. The yarn was double wrapped, once in tissue and once in plastic. And the yarn itself! Well, I'm glad I ordered it and I must say I was this close to winding it up last night. The colors are rich, the yarn is soft and the mohair content makes it seem a bit sparkley, but in a natural way.

The book was purchased from the London Public Library's used book section strictly for inspiration. At $3, why not? I actually like this design:

Almost all the rest is just yucky, including one design that is guaranteed to get your son beat up what with the purple ducks on it. Sometimes it's fun to check out the fugly designs such as those on You Knit What - Part 2.

I just found out that Maia has posted her Banana Blossom Sock pattern! Geez Maia, if I had known nagging would get a dedication I would have spoke up. And all this time I've been just been patiently waiting for that pattern. I asked Maia to give me 5 interview questions to answer on my blog, so here goes:

M: If you could live in another time, when would you pick and why?
I think I'd like to live in rural Canada around the turn of the century, taking my inspiration from Anne of Green Gables. I loved reading those books as a girl and enjoyed the descriptions of handwork and cooking that were nestled inside. Of course, it's a romanticized view of the past, but I think I would enjoy the quieter pace of life and the tight-knit community.

M: Who has had the biggest influence on your life?
My first therapist. He turned my life around. I used to be an insecure, conflicted narcissist who had an opinion about everything and tried to help where she wasn't needed. Now I'm a secure person who knows how to keep her mouth shut now and again. I'm a work in progress still, but he was the catalyst that opened my heart.

M: Have you ever lived outside of Canada? If so, where. If not, where outside of Canada would you be interested in living?
No, and I can't imagine living anywhere else. Even going back in time, I'm still in Canada. I guess it's because I'm happy where I am.

M: Do you pick knitting projects or do they pick you?
Ordinarily, I'd say that I pick the knitting projects, but once in a while something bossy comes along, like red lace, or mittens that look like fish or a shawl that reminds me of a galaxy. Maybe I'm not listening to the still, quiet voice of those types of projects. I'd like to, because I really enjoy the process and the end result.

M: What is your favorite thing to do on a date night (just you and hubby and I'm only asking for PG13 details at most)?
Date night? I vaguely remember those. It's not the same thing as an appointment, is it? Seriously, between the children and the finances, we haven't had date nights in far to long. Thanks for reminding me Maia!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

And Back Again...

As soon as I left the computer Friday night I knew exactly what to do.

This is three repeats in to the Frost Flowers and Leaves shawl from Gathering of Lace. All winter long, this shawl has been on my mind. I knit it once before and there are many things I regret about that first time through.

But I loved the pattern, it was so entertaining. I guess I had some hang up that I shouldn't knit it twice and that's just silly, isn't it Peg?

And now, here it is, the completed Oregon Vest!

The blocking did wonders to even out my knitting. Its soft, warm and feels so rich. I'm really glad I could make this for myself.

For buttons, I used some glass ones that I purchased from Needles and Pins. I wanted something that picked up the color of the sweater, that had a natural, organic sense to them and also something that wouldn't compete with the vest because it's intricate enough all on its own. I've posted some more pictures on Flickr in my finished objects set.

Happy Easter everyone!

Friday, April 06, 2007

A Short Trip to Crazy Town

Have you ever had to laugh at yourself? I mean, has your own behavior confounded and perplexed you? Cause that's where I've been so far this weekend, in crazy town.

I'm at a spot in my knitting where I'm thinking of my next project and I've been traveling a merry-go-round of indecision. It goes like this:
  • I'd like to knit some red lace
  • But I was planning on doing some small projects next
  • But all the yarn for small projects is dark colors or blue and I want something bright
  • Well there's colorful sock yarn
  • But I don't want to knit with small needles and besides I have two socks on the go
  • Okay so knit some red lace
  • But that would be a big project and I want to do a small project
And so it goes. Nuts eh? This is why you need to have a big stash. I have a closet full of yarn and nothing to knit. What a crime.

I've completed the finishing work on the Alice Starmore Oregon Vest and you know, there was a lot of finishing to be done to that vest. It's lovely I'm sure, but all I see right now are all the tiny little mistakes I've made.

I was told by many people that the Alice Starmore kits are often short of yarn, but I had no problems. I'm thinking that this looks like a wonderful store of yarn for mittens and tams. Or it looks like Easter Eggs.

Wouldn't that be fun? An egg hunt where it was balls of yarn hidden about instead? Can you image all the knitters lined up with their Lantern Moon baskets scouring the bushes for balls and skeins of yarn? Oh yes! Sign me up! Wait, I just thought of the scuffle that could occur when two knitters found a skein of cashmere at the same time. And do you think that we would poach each other's baskets like the kids do on AFV?

Warning: Abrupt change of topic.

This is how far one ball of Sheepjes goes when knitting Clessidra.

It seems like I'm only going to need three balls of yarn to finish these up. I've actually completed one of these socks. That's what I've been working on this past week and I'm throughly tired of this shade of blue since it was also predominate in the Oregon Vest. My hands are also getting tired of sock needles.

Oh look. I've circled back to the beginning of the loop. What am I going to knit? Red lace, red lace. Ecalder. Nope, it doesn't work the way red rum does. Red hat? Tahder. Red sock? Kcosder? That's worse.

Time to wrap this post up. I think that's enough of a peek into my crazy head for one night. I seems I've got to knit some red lace. Only.... What pattern?

Help! I going to spiral off into another loop. And do you know how I know? It's because I've been through the pattern books, and I can't find the right shawl to knit. I think that's why I haven't knit red lace yet. Oh bother.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Leaky Breaks 101

Last night my husband and I attended the Leaky Brakes 101 workshop. This is a series of six information sessions given by various members of CPRI that are available to anyone who is interested in learning more about Tourette's Syndrome, ADHD, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Dr. Dunc was last night's presenter and he gave us an in-depth look into what it's like to have "leaky brakes". Leaky brakes are what Dr. Dunc uses to describe the disability that causes Tourette's Syndrome, ADHD, and OCD. To summarize it briefly, it's as though the the kid is driving a car with leaky brakes, no matter how much they want to stop, and they know they should stop, the ability to do so just isn't there.

What came through loud and clear from Dr. Dunc's presentation is the emotional price these kids are paying because well meaning adults just don't get it. The sheer frustration that they go through. I know my son must have gone through it because it took me several years to come up with strategies to deal with him.

In the example with the car, Dr. Dunc describes how the kid is driving down a steep hill, going really fast, with a cliff at the end. There's a stop sign, a little old lady crossing the street and a cop car with its lights flashing behind him. The kid knows it's time to stop. He's desperately pumping the brakes. Then there's this adult in the passenger seat saying "If you stop this car right now, I'll give you this whole bag of candies!" Well that's no help!

After the inevitable crash, the same adult is now yelling "What did you do that for? Didn't you know to stop?" Of course the kid will say yes, and he probably has a look of "Oh crap" on his face because he really wanted to stop and avoid the disaster that he knew was coming. Then the adult yells "So why didn't you?" and all the kid can say is "I don't know." Now the adult figures, this kid is just being bad, and hands out a punishment. The result is a stressed out, and of course, stress makes it even harder for the kid to work his brakes.

Luke has learned a lot through the various programs he has attended through school and I've learned a lot through my self-educating. As a team, we can now manage his leaky brakes pretty well. First, I learned not to get emotionally invested in the behaviour. Whatever it is, I need to be his calm, safe spot so that I'm not adding to his problem. Second, I've learned not to push. If he says no, I'll get back to him on it. Chances are he needs some time and he'll change his mind. Thirdly, I find that just changing the situation works well. For example, if he and his brother are poking each other at the supper table and just can't seem to stop when I ask them to, I'll make them change seats. The workshop we attended last night showed me why these things worked and gave me some ideas for fine tuning them.

I'm looking forward to the next five sessions. I don't even know what it is that I don't know, but I expect that I'll have a better idea when we're done. If you guys find this information useful, I can try to post after each of the sessions.

Monday, April 02, 2007

All's Well that Ends Well

You guys are awesome! What a great gang of good sports. I was chuckling all day long yesterday. I particularly enjoyed Julie's comment that she yelled so loud, her husband came running. But really, everything is just fine with the Oregon Vest.

Steeking isn't so scary. I will admit that I use the scissors slowly and carefully, and I've never steeked anything but shetland wool.

I've still got a lot of work to do before the big reveal. The steeks need to be trimmed and sewn down, all the ends must be woven in, it needs a good blocking and I must go button hunting!
The pattern calls for two-stitch button holes. It seems rather small to me, but I went with it. I'm thinking that the reason for a smaller button is because there is already so much going on in this vest.

Patience my pretties. There is work yet to be done.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


I can barely type through my tears gentle readers. I've been crying for hours and I could just kick myself.

I've cut my Oregon Vest.

Yes, I the brave steeker, the one who likes to "steek naked", the one who needs no wine, or support group to cut her steeks, I have royally wrecked my precious Alice Starmore.

I think this is it for me as a knitter. I don't believe I can ever recover from such a disaster. I may never knit again.

There's nothing more to say. Thanks for everything.