Wednesday, October 31, 2007

How's Jay?

People always ask how my littlest guy is and I usually put on a big smile & say, "he's doing great!"

But I figured maybe I'd share a little of Jay's world with you after reading Jenny McCarthy's new book, "Louder then Words".

I just finished the book last night. It will be great for my in-laws to read to see that what we have been going through physically isn't so bad as compared to what Jenny's little boy went through. While I didn't get a ton from it, I am glad that other people are reading it and seeing what it's like to be the parent of a child with autism.

So, what's Jay's life like? We are blessed to live in Pennsylvania. My son gets 10.5 hours of preschool in an autism only classroom with a 1:1 student/teacher ratio. He gets 30 hours a week of TSS - Therapeutic Support Specialist -- someone who is with him at school and at home or in the community, helping to implement his treatment plan and helping him to learn to interact with the world. At school he gets OT, PT & Speech once a week. He gets 3 hours a week with a BSC - Behavioral Services Consultant -- his TSS's supervisor who works on developing his treatment plan & facilitating his progress. He also goes to an after-school program 2 days a week from 3-6pm that is autism only and has a 2:1 student/teacher ratio. He is transported to and from school on the bus. He has a Service Coordinator -- a county employee of MH-MR who oversees all his programs and gets me any info I need on services, grants, etc. He has a BCBA -- Board Certified Behavior Analyst who is the eyes who oversees the entire process and makes sure we are moving along the right path. He also is going to be going to a feeding clinic at Penn State Children's Hospital/Hershey Medical Center to help him learn to eat more foods so we can switch to a GF/CF diet (maybe) someday. And he goes to Johns Hopkins to see a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon who is treating him for his toewalking (we are getting ready to do casting/bracing). And ALL of this is paid for by the state. The only exception is Johns Hopkins, which our private insurance (Capital Blue Cross) pays for because it is out-of-state.

Yes, we are the exception with the amount of services we utilize, but my son has a very high level of impairment & if these services are available to me, you better believe we are going to take advantage of them. But even with ALLLLLL that work & all those services, we are still basically non-verbal, non-communicative, non-potty trained, eating 5 foods, biting everything (and everyone) in sight and still lost in the world of autism. Sometimes no matter how much work you put into it, at the end of the day you are still not any further ahead then when you started.

I am slowly accepting the fact that Jay will heal at his own pace, but yeah, I occasionally want to puke when someone tells me what great success they are having. I'm happy for them, but sad for me.

So how's Jay? He's beautiful, gorgeous, wonderful, funny, and the reason I am on this earth. I am blessed that God chose me to be his mother.

He is also frustrating, draining, literally exhausting, he causes me to cry every single day, has given me gray hair, makes me get headaches from reading for hours on end learning everything I can about his disease, he makes me lose my voice for yelling at him to GET DOWN from every high spot in the house, he makes me wonder if I did the right thing all those years ago when the little line turned blue.

But here we are and there is no where to go but forward. So that's what we do. Every day, one day at a time, one little step forward.

I'm going to stop now & go cuddle my angel. :-)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Stitches East!

Stitches! I love stitches. It's like sensory overload while drinking a caf-pow and eating a snickers. I went Friday and shopped as much as shopping with Beastie in tow is possible. I went Sunday and worked at the Uncommon Threads booth.

While there, my friends at Uncommon Threads found this fantastic sock yarn that they have decided to start carrying at their store. Lucky me, they need some samples knitted for the shop, so Beth let me choose my favorite and she bought it for me, on the condition that I let her display the socks I make for a bit. Yay! Can't beat that!

So I started Baudelaire on 10/14, right after I got home from Stitches-Sunday. I love the yarn, the pattern I am enjoying, but I really wish I had made the toe wider at the cast-on. I hate that little tiny 8 stitch toe-tip, but yet I always seem to forget how much I hate the look of it when I cast on.

I've just finished my first leaf motif and I am really enjoying the look of it so far. I also enjoy toe-up because you get to learn the pattern completely before tackling the leg portion where you are doing the pattern in the front & back.

I'm also buzzing along on my TWO entrelac scarves. Pics of that in the next post.

Happy needling, everyone!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Saturday Self-indulgence

It's Saturday! Horray for Saturdays! Granted, I don't work so maybe Saturday shouldn't be much different then, say, Thursday, but it is different. Hubby is scuba diving today, so it's not even like I get to spend the day with my sweetie. But I do get to watch football & knit. College football, far & away my favorite. And guilt free knitting because after all, it's Saturday, and honestly, I can't be expected to do chores on a Saturday.

I am desperately trying to finish some of my WIPs so I can start on some new things without too much guilt. Right now I have half a tofutsie sock to finish, one entire baby sock to finish, one entire grown up sock to finish, 2/3 of a charity sweater to finish and a crocheted baby blanket that is about half way done that makes me want to puke everytime I think about it.

So I think the plan for today will be to finish the second baby sock in the morning (since football doesn't start for another 3.5 hours) and the baby sock is a new "sockitecture" for me, using Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitters book. Then that will be one completed checkmark.

During football I think I try to finish the tofutsie sock. I'm on the foot, about 2" from starting the toe decreases. With luck I can finish that during the Penn State-Michigan game. But if the game is going poorly, my tension will probably be off. Hmmm, maybe if Penn State is losing I will tackle one of the charity hats I am knitting for Hats for Alex. Then at least tension won't matter as much.

If it's charity knitting then it is guilt-free casting on, right???

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


If you are looking for the Material Whirled blog, it has moved! You can now find it here. This will now be my more personal blog, The Happy Needle Notebook. While you can still find fibery goodness & MW happenings here, this will mostly be my personal stuff, more knitting & autism stuff and less business-y stuff.

So, with that out of the way, let's talk about what is happening here in happyneedleland. I have become Ravelry obsessed. I have also become sock obsessed. I'm currently devouring Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitters.

I'm still on my first baby sock, and much like when I knit Elizabeth Zimmermann's patterns I am going on blind faith. I know these ladies are way smarter when it comes to pattern writing then I can ever hope to be, so I trust them to lead the way.

I'm headed to Etsy to go buy some alphabet stitch markers -- I tried to make my own, but it was dismal & I just resorted to markers that are dissimilar. Works for the baby sock, probably won't work so well when I need more then 2 markers. I have promised myself that as soon as I finish this pair of baby socks I will go back to my yarn over cable socks that I have been neglecting. But then look out New Pathway book, you are all mine!

Monday, June 11, 2007



MW switched servers today and I am still looking for the new blog files.
In case you were wondering why any recent posts are gone.


Saturday, February 10, 2007

Beulah the Bombshell

We've got great customers, we will be the first to admit it. Not even admit it, shout it from the rooftops is more like it. One of our favorite customers is Karen. Karen is a crocheter. And man, is she amazing. Amazing and humble. We told her she was an artist, and she shrugged it off the way most of us take off our jacket. Now normally you would have to hop in your car and drive to the Carolinas to see Karen's stuff in a boutique, but she is nice enough to share photos of her creations with us so we can go, "WOW! Our yarn made that!!!" This was made from Beulah. Beulah was a merino blend in the colorway "glam" with silk flowers. Major yum!

Meanwhile, in spinning news, Angela has been working on the ultimate luxury skein. Get this, a blend of cashmere, silk, angora, alpaca & merino plied on a pure handspun silk thread that is been beaded with Swarovski crystals. Oh yeah. It's gonna be so soft and pretty you will want to eat it. No word on yardage yet or pricing. She's still in the spinning the singles. Don't worry, we'll be sure to post pics soon.

Speaking of pics, Michelle from Knit.1 magazine is spending the weekend knitting up her nephew's Minnesota Twins baseball hat made from our Team Spirit Yarn. She promises pictures on Monday. Yay, Michelle!

Happy weekend, everyone!
~angela & reenie

Friday, February 09, 2007

Spinterns, Fiberfests, Blog-love & New Yarns!

So, things have been exciting, here in the Whirled. For starters, Angela's oldest son is learning to spin as part of his senior focal project for graduation. He's actually learning the entire spinning business, but he's mostly just thrilled because after two weeks of menial labor that included carding, stash sorting, niddy-noddying, setting, ball winding and yes, even drop spindling, yesterday he finally got to touch the wheel. We told him we will get him and his friend Nate (who is learning too) tee-shirts that say, "SPIN STUD" -- can you imagine how much attention two good looking young guys would get at the local fiber festival from the girls? He and Nate are already making plans for Maryland Sheep and Wool in May.

Speaking of fibery events, if you happen to be in the Western PA area, check out the Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival this weekend. We won't be there, but our exciting new scarf kits will be. Imagine pairing the squishy-gooshy decadance of Malabrigo Yarn with our handspun in a scarf that is simple enough for a beginner but will get oooohs and aaaaaahs whenever you wear it - yeah, it's that cute. Be sure to stop by the Uncommon Threads booth (#8 & #9) at the Festival, say "HI" to Beth and check out the kits.

Speaking of oooooohs, we are super duper excited, our friends at Knit.1 magazine have been nice enough to mention us in their blog. Yay Michele, Adina & everyone at Knit.1. We heart you!!!

And we had a big fat update yesterday. Some of the yummies are already gone, but go check out what's new, including this little number:
Yeah, that's right, glow-in-the-dark beads! Glow, baby, glow!!!

Happy Friday, everyone!
~angela & reenie

Monday, February 05, 2007

No, we don't have 18 hands or function on 2 hours of sleep a night...

As you may have noticed, Material Whirled has been growing by leaps and bounds. We've been adding more one-of-a-kind skeins on our site and we've started doing more specialty collections. We have increased our production to online yarn shops and you may have even found us when you walked into your LYS. Two questions people have asked us are, "How are you going to keep up with all of this?" and "How will you be able to continue producing and creating without being burned out?". Well, we are blessed to have found the answer.

As our business has grown and more and more opportunities were being presented to us, we knew we couldn't turn them down. We also knew we needed to occasionally feed our families, do laundry, remember to pay the cable bill, and do all those other non-fiber things. Reenie homeschools her two daughters and created and maintains the website. Paul (Reenie's husband. a.k.a. "Battman") has been dyeing, carding and prepping all of our fiber, in addition to running his business . Angela does the accounting and marketing, runs her local Autism Support group and is the mom to an autistic three-year old in addition to two very active teens. Angela's husband, John, is one of those 80 hour a week computer professionals, but has taken the time to help set up the server, security, and all the deep computer stuff that the normal person cannot comprehend (our own Yoda). So yeah, something had to're right! We can't keep up without burning out! We don't want to lose our passion and creativity by having our production overtake us but we don't want to have our faithful customer friends to have to wait weeks on end to receive orders. As much as we wanted to hire full time houseboys, our husbands wouldn't agree (they said it's not cost effective...whatever), so instead, we did the next best thing.

It started small. We both have sisters-in-law: Erin is Reenie's, Tracy is Angela's. They saw what we did and knew we loved it. They were both stay-at-home moms too and independently they had both mentioned (many times) their interest in learning to spin. They not only wanted to learn to spin but they felt the need, as many of us feel, for a creative outlet. So we taught Erin and Tracy how to spin! Nothing fancy at first, just lots and lots and lots of plain cream roving. They got sick of cream roving. Really sick of it. Then we moved onto dyed rovings and batts with glitz and texture. The amazing thing was the look of satisfaction when after a couple of miles of mess they produced their first usable yarns. There was a different energy about them and they would meet with us and get excited about all of our goals. They have thanked us many times because both were feeling caught up in "life" and said that this is something that has helped more than just financially but emotionally as well. Now, they each have purchased their own wheels, Lendrums, of course, and we have started working together to produce our yarns. We (Reenie and Angela) still do all of the designing and plying in all the "stuff", but we're creating a team of spinners who are thrilled to be a part of this business. In the past few months, we've been teaching a few other SAHMs (Stay At Home Moms) to spin too. Dayna, Kim, Bev, and Debbie who are also working on learning to spin the MW way. There are nine of us now-- WOW! We sure did not see this coming a year ago. Thanks to all of you! We have awakened a passion!!! We have big goals for Material Whirled and have no desire to limit our production and quality or squelch that burning drive to keep this momentum going for what we are envisioning for the future.

Don't worry, MW yarn still comes with the same 100% satisfaction guarantee as always, and honestly, you won't be able to tell the difference. We still spin ourselves into a frenzy and we will never allow a yarn to be sold without our approval and our creative energy. We feel this is a way that you, as the artist using our yarn, will have more skeins to chose from and more possibilites open to you creatively. By having a team of spinners, Reen and Angela can continue to focus on bringing you yarn you won't find anywhere else. We now can devote time to designing and finding cool stuff and inspirations. But the most important aspect of this is knowing that when you purchase our yarn you will not only be getting the quality and creativity of a Material Whirled yarn but will be making a contribution spiritually and financially towards helping stay-at-home moms be at home! See, yarn you can feel good about, yay!

Okay, this time, we mean it...

After dibbling and dabbling with this blog thing for, oh, a year or two, we are finally going to settle down and get serious about it. What does this mean for you? No more having to read two blogs to find out what's going on in the Whirled. Reenie will still have her ReenieArt and I will still have my Happy Needle Notebook, but now, finally, Material Whirled will have a blog of its own that actually gets content updates on a regular basis. We'll keep you posted about news, events, new products, MW in print and our favorite, customer shout outs.

So add us to your RSS feed, your bookmarks or maybe jot our new blog url in your magic notebook -- what, you don't have a magic notebook? Gasp! jk ;-)

We promise to post really regularly, maybe even more then once a day if life doesn't get in the way. Till then...

Happy crafting!
~angela (and of course, reenie too)