donderdag 29 december 2011


I love to sew, but it isn’t always easy. Technically, I’ve learned bit by bit these past years, but I still have mishaps. Appliqués that don’t work out, combinations that are over the top, finished garments that are too plain for my liking. They usually do not find their way to Flickr or this blog. And although I have many fabrics, I am now encountering another problem: the leftovers I have from former projects are too small for yet another round. I had this idea about an orange sweater to match the brown pants I sewed. I traced a pattern and had it all worked out in my mind. I envisioned a hood with a striped knit lining. And pockets with a small binding on the edges made from the same stripy fabric. Green stitches and a green cord.

The plan.

And then I discovered I simply did not have enough orange sweater fabric. So I ordered another piece online. It arrived yesterday, but it simply doesn’t match. (It doesn’t have to be exactly the same, because I can easily split up the front and back, but the two colors really don’t go together, although it’s hard to see on the photo).

The mismatch, although hard to see.

It’s so frustrating. I looked forward to making this and now I have to put in on hold and wait till I can go into town on a Tuesday when there’s a fabric market.

I guess the only thing I can do now is turn my head around and choose between two other options: using the pattern and make the sweater from different fabrics or start with another winter pant.

Alternative 1: the original pattern, different fabrics.

Alternative 2: Warm red fabric (2 coats) for a pant.

Well, compared to all the problems in the world I won’t complain and make a start with either one. You'll find out soon.

zaterdag 24 december 2011

My guy.

My guy turned 50 yesterday. Hooray! I love to live with him as he's a great husband and father. We had a wonderful day and celebrated this landmark with friends and family.
Up for another 30 or so years.


Sweater. by oddwise
Sweater., a photo by oddwise on Flickr.

Via Flickr:
This sweater is made using a Dutch pattern (Roos 3000 A). I had my doubts about using a zipper so close to his face, but I am glad I persisted since the neckline is wide enough and the edges don't bother him. The instructions told me to cut of the corners of the zipper, but next time I will fold them back, since now I was left with two pointy pieces. Fortunatly I was able to Icover them with the wooly fabric so it still feels soft.
The elbowpieces are not in line with his elbows, although I used the pattern : - ( . Maybe I will replace them, but I'm not sure, because it's so much work.

I like the way the sweater turned out. Because it's a dark pink colourscheme , I used some denim accents to make it look more boyish. The fabric is a gift from a friend and funny enough I used a yellow variety of it a few years ago when it was on sale in a German webshop.

donderdag 22 december 2011


After the summer holidays, the serious work has begun: Pelle is learning to read, write and calculate. He's still in the school he started out when he was a toddler, but has a different teacher. And although she has more than 40 years of experience, she told us that Pelle is the first autistic kid she has in her class. In former years, he would have gone to a special education institution, but now policies are changed here in the Netherlands and the aim is to let kids with special needs stay in school in there own community, for as long as it’s possible.
She told me she seriously had her doubts, those first weeks. Pelle was so overactive, she didn’t now how to handle him. She quickly called in aid and a woman of the special education organization came and observed him a few times in the classroom. She gave his teacher advice, like working with a time-timer to help him concentrate and letting him go if things become to overwhelming, like raking leaves in courtyard. (I myself had my doubts, especcialy on the time-timer, because it's not focussing on his intrinsic motivation. But as it seems to be off real support for him I changed my mind). And now his teacher is very enthusiastic. “It’s a difference between night and day”, she told us a few weeks ago. She feels empowered now and her efforts are effective: Pelle's concentration is improving and he is more able to do an assignment now. And as he likes to learn, she feels she can let go if he needs time on his own. I’m so glad she dared to ask for help and respect her a lot for that. And besides that, she’s very nice and warm to the children and loves to hug them and give them affection.

Pelle's really enjoying school. Every day, he tells me if they have learned a new word, and if so, what it is. Of course he’s a strange duck in the class, but his classmates don’t make a problem out of that. They are used to him and tell new classmates that he’s a bit different. The teacher told me that last week it was his turn to read the words on the digital board and he was so fast, the other children spontaniously applauded for him. He has a ‘personal assistant’, a girl who is doing this third grade for the second year and she’s so very lovely and supportive. She helps him to organize his table and pick up the stuff he needs. He started out with special booklets for processing the language, where the pictures and instructions are very clear. But as he is doing so well, he’s now entering the mainstream method.

Easier and early version for processing: connecting the picture to the word. Looking for the right spelling of the word icecream.

More complicated (mainstream and later on in the curriculum): encircling the word 'huis' (= home) ánd connecting sentences to drawings 'een huis met een hek ervoor' means 'a home with a fence in front'.

Calculating (math). It says: 'draw the balls'. You can see he has a hard time drawing and his fine motorskills need some more practice.
The remedial teacher found out a great way to motivate him: he's allowed to draw on the digital board in front of the classroom and he loves it!

Now a new goal in our Dutch Son-Rise program is arising, and that’s to learn Pelle how to interact with other children, because he hardly does that. In January we are going to work out a plan for that, like inviting playmates. I’m very optimistic. It will be another step and I’m looking forward to a new dimension in our program. But for now, the holidays are on our doorstep and we are up for a special birthday and Christmastime. I look forward to that.

zondag 18 december 2011

Chrismas decorations.

Come on in, I'll show you some things.

Yesterday, we put up the tree and decorated the house. Every year I do it differently, according to my mood and energy. Some years I make green decorations, and I might do that this week, but until now the only thing I did myself was putting thing together.
Here are some pics.

The quilt is made by my mother. I bought the hyacint, because Pelle wanted to watch how an onion grows :-)

On top of our desk.

The small pine was made by a local craftsman, the hedgehog is made by Pelle at school, some years ago. The angel on the right is from felt and made in a former Russian Republic. I bought it through a charity foundation.

Next to our fireplace is a plastic tree from the bookstore for Pelle and an angle ornament from Germany. It used to have petals but they were to attractive for an inquisitive toddler. It stands on an embroided table runner from Poland.

Small detail of the runner I bought through a Dutch second-hand website..

And finally a simple tablepiece of candles, regular and South American balls (charity, again, a zilion years ago).

So that's it for now. I hope you're enjoying your home, too.

donderdag 15 december 2011

In between.

Not much to tell at the moment. We’re in between Sinterklaas en Christmas. Already bought a tree, but it’s still standing outside. We’ll probably be decorating on Sunday and then the tree will stay till the 6th of January (three kings’ day).
My eagerness to sew comes in waves and when it’s wintertime I often rather read at night. But the boy really needs some warm clothes and once I start again, I love to continue. It’s the swinging on the momentum, if you know what I mean, that’s the hardest. So here are some pictures of this afternoon, while Pelle was at school. Will show the result soon.

donderdag 8 december 2011

About presents and playing

Pelle dressed as little black Pete with gran.

Last Monday we celebrated Sinterklaas and it was cozy. My mother came, my mother-in-law and an aunt of Mark. So here we were: 4 woman, 1 man and a child sitting together, unwrapping presents and reading rhymes. Afterwards we had diner together, to top it of. It was an old-fashion family experience and it felt good.

It used to be hard to select presents for Pelle, because he hardly played with toys, except for cars, trains and busses. I think the biggest challenge for him and us is not communication. We always had good eye-contact and although he learned to speak a little late, it came reasonably fluently. I even think Pelle has a natural feeling for language. Since he learned to speak he asked a lot of questions and was very repetitious. He could ask “Is the door of the mill open or closed?” twenty or even forty times a day. As I, thanks to Son-Rise, though he needed this in some way I could deal with it and take his questions seriously. And it has faded away; we now really, truly have interactive communication. He has opened up.
He’s now at school learning to read and he loves it. I’m glad. Finally, there’s an aria in which he can come along with his classmates and I think that’s very good for his self-esteem.
But playing with his classmates is still something he’s not able to do, yet.
This last year, in our Dutch equivalent of the SonRise-program the players and I focused on enticing him to do pretend-play. We played roles, introduced puppets, imitated animals and did all kinds of other things. I also read a lot of books to him. And now our efforts are paying of. He’s starting to fantasize! In a small way, like a Sinterklaaspuppet he placed in a hoop and saying: “Sinterklaas is imprisoned now” and in a larger way: last week he was pretending there was a lion in the bookstore who wanted to eat us. We escaped on our bike and the lion was hit by a car. But then someone kissed him alive again (the echo of the tale of Snow-white I read him) and we had to escape again by climbing up the largest tower in the land. I was elated and think this growing ability will help him to interact with children more easily.
I also recon next year will be fun to give him toys, because they will speak to him much more.
For now, he had some books, a puzzle to make into a highway, a game with cards where he has to imitate actions and animals and this bag I made him. The fabric says: "Be A Hero" and I ordered it long ago at Spoonflower, I think. As you can see he already used it, because it's stained and will go in the laundry now.

When he’s older, I enlarge the straps. Now the corners curl up, but otherwise the bag would hang on his bum, and I don’t like that. So there’s room to grow for my hero!

donderdag 1 december 2011

He's in town again!

Coming Monday we celebrate the birthday of Saint Nicolaas and hopefully he will bring some presents to our home.
The Saint already arrived in Holland some weeks ago and of course we were there to watch him step ashore. Pelle placed his shoe by the chimney, with a carrot for the horse of Nicolaas and the following morning the little Black Pete had placed a small present there.
Now we anxiously await his arrival at school on Monday. Last year he came by in his camper and wasn’t even dressed because he overslept! And two years ago he arrived steering a tractor. Who knows what he will do this year? Well, as long as he doesn’t forget us, I’m in for a surprise. (Sshh, I already know that his assistant made a nice bag for the little boy to host his sportswear, but don’t tell anyone).

maandag 21 november 2011

About a boy in the States.

When I started blogging, I had no idea what a wonderful spin-off it would bring me. At the time I was so worried about Pelle and I felt so sad. And than Maria, whom I met because of the wonderful T-shirts she made sent me an e-mail. She found out that her son was autistic and in the same dark weekend upon realizing this, she found a wonderful treatment. I might be interested. And I sure was. It was the turning point for me. There was a way I could encourage Pelle to grow. No limitations, but opportunities. No gloom, but hope. Oh, how I needed hope at that moment. So I started by playing in Pelle’s bedroom and now we have a program running at our home and my boy is thriving.
I will always be thankful for Maria’s e-mail. She made a fabulous video about her son, Joaquin, and their journey with Son-Rise. Look, listen to the wonderful music and enjoy.

Joaquin's Adventure Part 2 from mafemaria on Vimeo.

donderdag 17 november 2011

Dear baker, thank you very much.

Almost two weeks ago, the children of Pelle’s school had breakfast in their classroom. Sponsored by the trade organization of bakers, the children ate krentenbollen (raisinrolls, picture at the end of this post), bread rolls and regular bread with cheese, sprinkles and applesyrup together with a glass of milk and an egg.
It was very cozy in the classrooms and the children ate a lot!
Since our local baker delivered all the bread the children thanked him by making a nice drawing. As I volunteer a lot at school and participated in the organization of the event the small drawings ended up in our home and Mark and I assembled a bunting line. Yesterday I went to the baker with two toddlers from school and we gave him this present. He said he would hang it in the store and invited us to take a look behind the scenes. There we saw one off the employers busy making chocolateletters (a tradition this time of the year) and further along there were the ovens, still warm from the making of eggcakes. As our own house is not that far away we can often smell the scent of bread being baked, very early in the morning. Delicious.

The drawings below are made by children from 4 till 12 years old.

dinsdag 15 november 2011

Warm brown pants

Since the weather is getting colder rapidly, I had to make my boy some warm pants. Until now, I used the regular Ottobre patterns and since they are usually a bit baggy I sized them down a bit. (He is now 122 cm. long and I would have sewn a 116 pattern without the seam allowances). But this time I wanted a straighter fit. Not too tight, as in the latest issue, but nevertheless a bit smaller. And I found it! This one is from the winter issue of 2006 ( # 19) and I like it very, very much. I am definitely going to use this pattern for a long time.
For this probe, I used a thicker stretchy corduroy from my stash. I traced the legs in one piece and cut in into diagonals, based on an Farbenmix pattern I like. I played around with the grain of the fabric. Since Pelle never uses his fly (he just pushes his trousers and underwear down in one move, not even undoing his belt and than wrangles it up again) I made a mock one. Probably my last, because he will not be able to get the pants over his bottom and hips when the fabric is not stretchy.
First thing to do now is make a sweater to go along with this dark brown color. I already have some things in mind (orange, and red, and pinkish. Oh where to begin first?)

zaterdag 12 november 2011

Saint Martin

Yesterday it was Saint Martin. Every year at the 11th of November the children go from door to door with the lantern they made. They sing songs about Saint Martin and in return get some candy or fruit.
So every year, Pelle makes a lantern in school, like I used to do when I was a kid. I can recall my brother carving out a sugar beet when he was little, but that tradition is fading. It is always a joy to watch all those kids with there beautiful glowing lanterns and to hear songs about the Saint, who offered half of his coat to a poor, cold beggar.
Last year it rained cats and dogs, and the wind swept those fragile carton light bulbs away, but yesterday it was clear and crisp in the air. Perfect to go along with dad as I opened our own door for the little singers.

donderdag 10 november 2011

Picking up the thread again

Hello everyone,

Since I’ve started writing in Dutch so much I’ve neglected this blog way to much. The Duch blog is all about Pelle and the program we’ve set up for him. My aim is to make SonRise more familiar in Holland.
Now the intensity of creating the program is wearing of there’s more place here for my sewing and the world outside me being the parent of a special boy. I’m intending to post one blogmessage here every Thursday, in line with the way I started. Talking about my everyday life and the things I create.
But I feel I have to start with an update about my boy. He is learning to read and starting to do sums. Here in Holland, you start school when you’re 4 years old, in group 1. Now Pelle’s attending group 3 already. Academically, he’s doing fine, but he has a hard time concentrating and writing, since his attention span and fine motor skills are still not that advanced, yet. He also does not engage much with the other children in his class. But I’m optimistic, very optimistic. Because he is responding to the SonRise program so well. I play twice a week with him upstairs and every Tuesday there’s a wonderful woman called Lila who comes over. She has lots of experience with autistic children and was drawn to the philosophy of unconditional love when she read the book about Raun Kaufman. She’s also a Buddhist, like Mark, my husband. I think the Buddhist lifestyle and the concept of loving your child no matter what go very well together. Every Friday Tamara is coming over. She helped out with the toddlers at school last year and has finished her education. They do a lot of crafting together and unlike last year, Pelle is enjoying it very much. We’re now enticing him to draw and after a lot of scribbles and spirals there are forms arising on paper. You can see them on the pictures I made. I love, love, love it. Our other goals at the moment are to stimulate him to do pretend play and to play a simple board game. And he’s really growing it those arias.


train (Since he also likes automobiles I guess he will love the movie when he's older).

But the biggest changes since we started are his communication skills. I can talk with him just like a boy his age. I can reason with him. We understand each other. And we have so much fun.

This was recorded during the hollidays, 2 weeks ago. He's doing silly walks. At the end he's saying "And now the small film has ended. Can I have a look?".

I’m so proud of him. About the way he stretches his world. It is so apparent when I see him in the pool. Every week he has swimming lessons and every week he dares just a bit more. He jumps in and puts his face in the water now. He can float on his back without support. Every week he does just a bit more of the things he that scared him in the beginning.
I see him grow before my eyes. And what happens physically also happens mentally. He takes his own steps and every time he is going a bit further. I love him so much for this bravery. And for his sweetness and innocence. For the way he is. And I am so thankful of finding a way to stimulate and motivate him to explore his world. Which has become our world. There’s no autistic separation there, anymore. And that is a great, great gift.

dinsdag 7 juni 2011

Playing with my boy

Sorry for not writing so long. I’m busy playing with Pelle, organizing the program and doing promotion work for the Dutch foundation who introduced Son-Rise here in Holland. And I’m still volunteering for the Rent-a-Toy organization in our village and doing a lot for Pelle’s school (organizing a fund-raise for children in Africa, serving drinks tomorrow when they have their sports day etc.). I’m busy and happy.
If you want to see me play with Pelle, take a look at my Dutch blog, here. Mark recorded the start of our session, last Friday. Of course there’s a lot of talking going on in Dutch, but maybe you’d like to see our dynamics. Pelle starts by singing songs from a little booklet and asks me several times what the next song is. As I’m not allowed to sing, I show it to him (the song about a paper hat). You can also see me very briefly talking to Mark, who discovers that we only have 5 minutes of tape left in our Handycam. I tell him that that’s probably enough.

I had to cut the recordings in 3 pieces, because I’m not able to upload more than 100 MB on Blogger, but it’s all from one take. The next two pieces are here and here and you can see us while Pelle takes an attention in his mill and I tease him a bit while blowing and touching the ‘wieken’ (don’t know the English word). Next we play with his wooden blocks until he starts talking about swimming lessons and not daring to jump into the water. I contradict him by telling him he did just fine, the other day and showing him the jump he made.
We then start pretending we’re in the swimming pool, but unfortunately, that’s not on film.

I try to make as many eye-contact as I can, inviting him to look at me verbal (by asking) and non-verbal. I also try to express myself in a fun way. You can see how he reacts.
Our goals for the moment are to learn him how to do pretend-play and role-play and to invite him to draw (no example there). And to stimulate him to physically cross his arms, because he needs that to learn to write, next year.

If you like to see how he has progressed, I’d invite you to look at this film, which was shut in August last year. There’s so much more contact, flexibility and sharing now. And there still is so much fun. I love doing this and being with him.

zaterdag 19 maart 2011

Pelle is doing just fine

In front of the mirror.

Finally, I am writing this post about Pelle and his progress. Sorry it took so long. There are a couple of reasons for that, one of which is that I started to write in Dutch about the SonRise program. And I love doing that. I have a mission, being to popularize the Dutch version of SonRise. But I also feel like a true writer, who loves making little stories of each post. But it takes time. And as the program itself is growing it also takes more time to organize. We now have two people coming over every week, Christa and Lila. Christa is a student doing part of her apprenticeship here at our home and Lila I’ve hired myself. I give them feedback, raise funds to pay for Lila, talk to school about SonRise and what we do at home (they are very interested, because Pelle’s progressing so much) and next week we have our first meeting with everyone who is involved. Sometimes it feels like I have another career, similar to what I’ve done as a teacher and trainer, but also as a manager. And it’s benefiting Pelle so well.
Our goals for this moment are to learn him how to play. And it’s paying of very well. He is now able to do some pretend play, role-playing and a little game. We played a bit of memory the other day (16 cards), and that was a first. He’s stretching his imagination. He has a new pet, a tiger, which I once bought years ago and was totally neglected until a few weeks ago. They now sleep together and Pelle’s starting to fantasize about Tiger being ill and having a fever. He’s starting to interact with his classmates. He’s starting to read and taking up his interest in books again. He’s not asking the same questions over and over again anymore but in stead is being more active with his trains, Loco (a game used at school to stimulate cognitive development), puzzles and skeelers. He’s not a normal 5-years old, and maybe he never will be normal. I really don’t mind. He’s my very special kid. And he’s able to learn so much. I’m so proud of him.

woensdag 9 maart 2011

Robot T

Dear people,
If only I had more time, I would write more often. For now, I just leave you with some pictures of a T-shirt I sewed this week. I loved making it and intend to upgrade the pattern one size and also make a velours sweater, since Pelle loves wearing those in spring.

Robot T by oddwise
Robot T a photo by oddwise on Flickr.

I love the way this turned out. When I saw the pattern in the Ottobre magazine, I knew I had just the right fabric for it.
I was a bit worried that the sleeves would be too wide under the armpits, but the fit is just fine for my 5-years old boy.


Sleeve by oddwise
Sleeve a photo by oddwise on Flickr.

zaterdag 26 februari 2011

For my little wizard

For my little wizard
Originally uploaded by oddwise
To stimulate pretend-play for Pelle, I sewed him a wizard's cloak. I used pattern # 30 of the 4/2004 issue of Ottobre and added a collar with velcro (the original pattern calls for a satin biasbinding to use for closing, but my boy can't do laces yet, so I though this would be a better solution).
It's made from a cheap black kind of velour and a golden lining. I appliqued the stars with the fabric of the lining and added a fancy trim on the collar.

For my little wizard
Originally uploaded by oddwise

maandag 21 februari 2011

Cozy Jacket and pants.

I’ve been neglecting this blog a bit, since I have been so busy with my new Dutch one (about the Dutch version of SonRise) but I haven’t stopped sewing. Those of you who know me from the Ottobre Flickr group are in for a repeat, since I copy the lines I wrote there for this blog. A girl can only write so much.
Here's a jacket I made for Pelle, in size 110.

Close-up of the fabric.

I made a few minor alterations to the pattern (Ottobre, # 28, 1/2006), changed the pockets and adjusted the lining, with help of my sewing teacher. As I thought a kind of cuff would be nice, I lengthened the arms and curled them up. I also wanted buttons, so I made the front a little broader to accommodate for them (the original calls for snaps). It’s made from a kind of light patchwork wool blend. The lining is also light and soft, from a large stash donated to me by a colleague from the rent-a-toy organization where I volunteer. I used a babyrib for the trims.
I’m very pleased with the result and with the ease I sewed it.

I also sewed Pelle a snowpant. It's very basic. He loved the idea that it can get wet, and muddy and spoiled. And that it's warm.

I made it using the most basic trouserpattern I could find, the Taku of spring 2009. I did not add any pockets. The outside is from blue taslan, the inside from fleece. The waist is made from a strip of corduroy.

I'm planning to slim down this blog, if you know what I mean. I keep on posting about my sewing, and show you my stuff whenever it's finished. And am planning to post an update on Pelle's development every month. But that's it, for some time at least.
More on my boy and how he's doing (GREAT!), very soon.