Archive for the ‘Day’s Eye Hat’ Category

Day’s Eye Hat, Take 2

April 21, 2011

One thing I’ve learned over time is that I am not an intuitive editor of my own knitting patterns. I desperately need a tech editor and test knitters, because my brain is absolutely certain to fill in the missing pieces in my own charts and patterns. The Day’s Eye Hat was originally published with PopKnits, which magazine generously gave me a chance, but try as I would, I could not seem to get the chart right for the hat. I could knit it myself, and did, several times over, without running into the problems other people were having. I’ve been wanting to fix this for ages, but finding the time has been a challenge. I had a little downtime after finishing Understory, and I used it to rewrite Day’s Eye.

New Day’s Eye is knit in Malabrigo Merino Worsted. I am still not sure how I got a slouchy hat out of the Rowan Felted Tweed, but I did. However, as written, Day’s Eye comes out as a beanie for many people. The new version should allow for more slouch. Of course, Malabrigo is a favorite of mine, and I think the yarn is ideal for showing off twisted stitches. The pattern includes instructions for working with or without a cable needle, so you can choose whichever way is more comfortable for you.

I apologize for the time it took for me to get this right. I hope the new version of the hat is easier to follow and that many people who’d put off knitting Day’s Eye because of the difficulties with the pattern can now knit it with ease. As always, if you have any difficulties or frustrations with the pattern, please grab me through email or at my Ravelry group, Dangerous With Pointy Sticks.

Click here to download the free PDF of Day’s Eye.
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Autism Awareness Month rant

April 11, 2009

I’ve been very busy lately with classes and secret projects and children who are on Spring Break (oh my!) and such, but there are a few things I’ve been thinking about that need a little space.  Last year, around this time, I had an Autism Awareness Month contest. I asked people to donate to the Autism Research Institute to be entered into a raffle.  I won’t be doing that this year.  I’m disturbed by the presence of Jenny McCarthy’s book on the front page of the Autism Research Institute, as well as the slogan, “Defeat autism now!”  These are separate and complicated rants, so I’ll try to parse this as best I can.

Jenny McCarthy is, I’m sure, a caring parent, but she is not a doctor.  I saw her site, the now defunct “IndigoMoms”, prior to the time when she claimed to have “cured” her son’s autism, and it was there that I saw autistic children referred to as “Crystal Children” and “Indigo Children”, higher evolved beings with auras of indigo or crystal.  I shit you not.  At the time, I found this view beyond naive, even potentially dangerous.  If a child is too highly evolved to function with the rest of us non evolved beings, I don’t see a lot of motivation for parents to accept the interventions that make such a difference in an autistic child’s life.

Now, Jenny claims to have “cured” her son Evan.  Once autistic, she says, Evan is now autism free!  And your child can be, too!

Oooookaaaaay, then.  There are so many issues here that it’s hard to know where to start.  But, picking at random, let’s start with the fact that Jenny, on her new, less flaky website, is still promoting the idea that vaccines cause autism.  There is no reputable study that indicates that this is the case, but still, vast amounts of autism research money are still being spent on yet more studies to prove that the unreliable studies are false.  This after the doctor who sparked the scare was found to have lied and fixed the results of his study linking vaccines to autism.  Dr. Wakefield still has his supporters online, supporters who are curiously open to the possibility of a conflict of interest in the case of other studies, but not to their idol’s own conflicts of interest.  Dr. Wakefield chose the twelve research subjects for his study.  Of those, at least four, probably five children were selected from among a group of parents suing the companies that provide vaccinations.  Dr. Wakefield himself was paid up to £55,000 to find evidence of a scientific link between autism and vaccines for use in the lawsuit.

So there’s that.  I have a real problem with wasting money on research where there isn’t a strong indication that it will do any good.  There hasn’t been a single study disproving the autism/vaccine link that hasn’t received a chilly reception by those who wish to believe the opposite.  And believe me, I understand the incentive.  It would be so, so lovely to have an easy source for the rise in autism diagnoses.  We must remember, however, that correlation is not causation.  Yes, autism rates have risen around the same time more children began getting the combined MMR vaccine, but without evidence linking those two, the two rising charts do not indicate a solution to a knotty problem.

At the moment, the research is pointing in a different direction – a combination of environmental and genetic factors.  I personally, from my non-scientific stance, think it’s entirely possible that for some small percentage of children with a genetic predisposition to autism, vaccines could be a trigger.  But we don’t know, and when the research indicates pretty conclusively that for most children with autism, the MMR was not the cause, I think it’s foolish to keep harping on the matter.  Autism research has long been driven by parent concerns, and this is good and bad.  Without the influence of parents, we might still be living in the bad old days of refrigerator mothers, an idea that still has some ground in parts of Europe. Parents pushed for more and better research, and today in the United States, the idea that autism is caused by frigid mothers is luckily a thing of the past.  At the same time, parents are, for the most part, not scientists, and we don’t always understand the scientific method.  The plural of anecdote is not data, but for most of us, anecdote rings truer than any study.  We believe what we want to believe.  I’m not immune to this, though I’m trying to approach the mass of information before me, as a parent of an autistic child, with as little bias as I can, and with as much concentration on the method as possible.

Jenny McCarthy finds it comforting to believe that her son is no longer autistic, and were she a private citizen, this would be a harmless belief.  But she’s not a private citizen.  Jenny McCarthy, actress, former Playboy model, is driving research in autism.  Jenny McCarthy is writing books about how to cure autism.  Jenny McCarthy is being given an enormous public forum for her ill informed ideas.  The tyranny of equal time in American media means that her claims are taken as seriously as the claims of actual doctors doing actual research. This is comparable to times when we’re shown one of the few scientists who doesn’t believe in global warming debating one of the 90 plus percent who does.  It is not fair, and it is not an accurate portrayal.  Most doctors studying autism do not think there is a link between autism and vaccines, and they do not think that autism can be cured.

This is a good time to discuss the second part of my rant: curing, defeating, or fighting autism.  Personally, I’m not for any of those things.  Don’t get me wrong, I want lots more research and I want lots more interventions and help for the children (and adults – they do exist, even if they’re hardly ever mentioned) who have autism.  But the militant language that often comes with autism research from organizations fronted by parents really disturbs me.  My son has autism, and I have no desire to erradicate it.  His autism is a part of who he is.  His dear, loving little quirks are part and parcel of the whole package.  Take away his autism, and you’re taking away a part of who he is.  What I want is to teach him how to live with his differences, not make him exactly like a neurotypical child.  There’s a lot he has to learn to fit into a society in which the balance of people are neurologically different from him, but you know, it’s not just those with autism who need to learn.  We who call ourselves normal need to make an effort as well.

The problem with the language of cures and fights is that it starts with the premise that autism is something wrong with people.  At this point, people with autism will live out their lives as autistic people, and many autistic people do so with great success.  There are quite a few blogs by autistic adults on the internet, and if you read them you’ll notice that what most of these people want is not to be unburdened of their autism, but to be treated as capable human beings with autism.  In my personal scope, I think that autism is less “something wrong” than it is something that requires a different approach.  My son is not medicated.  All of his therapies involve learning to parent and teach him differently, to maximize his success and help his differently wired neurosystem succeed.  I would love it if life was a little easier for him, but I would not love it if we lost the gifts that come with his autism.

This year, if you want to do something for Autism Awareness Month, my suggestion is just to learn a little bit more about autism from several different viewpoints.  You’ve just gotten some of mine, but my view is pretty limited in scope.  Check out some of the blogs out there by parents of autistic children, by autistic adults.  Read an article about autism.  Learn a little bit more.  Our children can only benefit when people are better informed.

Day’s Eye Hat again

March 4, 2009

Popknits‘ Spring issue went live today, so you can get the Day’s Eye pattern now!  I thought I’d tell you all a little more about that pattern today, and the process that went into designing it.  The pictures accompanying this post are the pictures I decided NOT to send to Popknits.  It was cold out when we did the shoot, and the original pictures had me in coat and scarf, which I decided was probably not the best idea for a Spring issue.

This is, to date, my best planned pattern.  I drew the cable some time in December on a piece of graph paper and liked how it looked, so I knit a swatch.  I had the cable in mind for a hat from the moment I drew it, so when I knit the swatch, I incorporated the decreases I planned to use in the crown of the hat.  The swatch in question was knit with leftover Cascade 220, and it came out bigger than I intended for the final hat, but it was a great roadmap for when I actually sat down and made the hat itself.  It was basically a matter of transcribing the swatch into a chart, and that was 90% of the process that usually bogs me down out of the way, there.

Now, a more experienced, more naturally organized designer would probably have been planning projects in this logical way all along.  I am not a naturally organized person, so this sort of planning is a major milestone for me.  I usually sit down with skein and needles in hand and have only the basic idea that I want to make a hat, or a scarf, or a sweater, or whatever, and then I go from there and have to go back and decipher what I did later.  Not truly the best way to manage things.

So, the planning out of the way, it was a matter of choosing yarn and making a hat.  I settled on Felted Tweed pretty early on.  I wanted to pick a yarn that had enough yardage to make the hat from a single skein, and I’ve been itching to work with Felted Tweed again for some time now.  I’d originally planned on a different color, but the colors I wanted weren’t in stock at my local yarn store, and the purple seemed to fit well with the daisy pattern on the top of the hat.

The pattern is called Day’s Eye because day’s eye is the Old English name for the daisy flower.  One assumes it refers to the way the blossoms open and shut in response to the sun – the day’s eye opens in daylight and shuts at night.  Chaucer referred to the flower in verse:

Men by reason well it calle may
The Daïsie, or else the Eye of Day,
The Empresse and the flowre of flowres all.

Daisies are one of my favorite flowers.  In general, the daisies I peer at on my walks are probably not the day’s eyes referred to by Chaucer or Ben Johnson.  The term is used for a wide variety of flowers, but they all have a basic shape in common – a simple center surrounded by elongated petals that rarely overlap.

I hope you enjoy the Day’s Eye pattern!  It was a great deal of fun to create.  I think I may make one for myself, actually.  The one shown here was given to my sister after she tried it on and it looked adorable on her.

Day’s Eye!

February 26, 2009

One of my secret projects is no longer a secret!  The Popknits Spring Preview is live, and you can get a sneak peek at the Day’s Eye Hat.

I’ll have more to say about the project when it goes live (March 4th), but for now, I just wanted to show off!