April is the national month for many things, but the first one that always comes to mind in our family is Autism Acceptance Month. We have several people on the spectrum in our immediate and extended family, and their unique perspectives have opened up our worldview. It is our hope that society will eventually adapt to reduce the number of challenges that neurodiverse people face when navigating the world.
Since there is some controversy surrounding the puzzle piece symbol for autism, I wanted to focus on a slightly more modern symbol. For those on the spectrum who find meaning in and identify with the the puzzle piece, there are a number of patterns available from different sources that I am happy to help you track down. The rainbow infinity loop represents the diverse spectrum of neurological differences, including autism. You can also piece the pattern entirely in gold to represent autism specifically. This could be used to brighten up your own space or that of someone on the spectrum, or would make a great end of year gift for SPED teachers and therapists.
The block is 10" finished and is very easy to piece. The biggest problem you will run into is lining up the sections properly. What I like to do when sections must match up is clip them together with Wonder Clips before sewing to gauge the position visually. I then sew about 7 stitches over each seam (without backstitching) where the design is supposed to match up, leaving the threads on each side a couple inches long. I open up the sections and finger-press the seam to check my positioning. If it is off, the minimal stitching is easily pulled out to try again, and if it is correct, I sew the whole length of the seam and then remove those stitches using the long tails. These methods usually mean my patterns end up matching up almost seamlessly, although it does sometimes take a time or two to get it right.
You can find this pattern in the Holiday Freebies section of the shop.
In honor of my favorite person with autism, I also designed a gentoo penguin block that will be available for purchase as soon as it is tested. Our son is the world's biggest fan of the movie Mr. Popper's Penguins (I'm pretty sure we have watched it literally more times than we can count), adores penguins in general, and loves gentoos best of all. Santa even adopted him one for Christmas and he keeps a picture of his penguin "Captain" in his room. He has named the penguin in this pattern Captain as well, and Captain is in need of a tester so she can be listed in the shop. Ultimately I hope to stitch up all the penguins: Captain, Loudy, Bitey, Stinky, Lovey and Nimrod. I will probably have them all face one direction in a quilt but reverse Nimrod just for fun. You may even see a quilt block of Mr. Popper at some point; if I do add him to the quilt he will be added to the shop as a fandom freebie.
The gentoo penguin pattern is 10" finished and is a very easy stitch-out for the most part. The only place that gets even a bit tricky section-wise is around the head, but it's not too bad. Let me know if you are interested in testing this block!