The Art of Tatting and Other Annika Stories

The Art of Tatting and Other Annika Stories

Postby Fiamat » Mon Mar 13, 2017 5:42 pm

Wow, I have had such a productive writing streak. I don't know how long this will last, but it does sort of go in spurts. I decided to designate this thread to post more Annikacentric short stories instead of making more threads from now on. This story was written in about four hours or so.

This is kind of a continuation from my second story that I did about Annika with the crocheting and knitting club where Annika learns the near-lost art of tatting and you also get to meet her succulent friends. I was told it was a good idea to learn to double space, but I don't really know how to, but I am trying to break up the paragraphs so it won't seem like a huge wall of text which was a complaint.

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The Art of Tatting


It was Saturday morning at the staff dorms for the staff that lived on campus and Annika woke up in her cozy bed. It felt like a morning where she would rather just stay in her cozy bed than just go into the cold grown up world, but she had to and at least she had a robe nearby. She gradually got up every thirty seconds pulling a new body part out of the blankets until she was sitting over the side of the bed and picked up her glasses from her nightstand. She looked at the window and noticed it was a cloudy day, but that didn’t matter, she was just going to go to her office in the school.

“Good morning Fluffles, good morning Jasper, good morning Coral, good morning Melvin.” she said to her bear paw, crassula, gollum jade, and her bunny ears cactus on her windowsill respectively each in terracotta flower pots with cozies crocheted around them.

“Time to get you dressed…” she said taking out a box from a nearby shelf and switching out their cozies into new colors like she did every other day not that anyone ever saw her succulents but herself.

“I think I’ll just take a shower in the evening after all, that’s what I did last night.” She said talking to her cacti “And no Melvin, coffee is bad for cacti, so stop asking whether or not I will make coffee for you!”

The coffee was from her single serve coffee machine, coffee in her dorm was only a luxury allowed to on-campus staff only. She couldn’t use a regular coffee pot just because of fire hazards, but that didn’t matter it was the season for everything pumpkin spice and she was very much on the band wagon after buying big boxes full of pods of pumpkin spice for her coffee maker.

She had no shame in cashing into such a silly fad by coffee shops and food manufacturers. She also had some pumpkin spice creamer and stevia sweetener and put enough in there so that the coffee was a very light color and had a slight hint of licorice taste from the stevia she was so addicted to. Unlike the rest of her family, Annika hated plain black coffee unless there was lots of flavor and cream in it to the point it was no longer considered coffee. Every time she ordered coffee it was usually a very sugary sweet latte-type drink with just a slight hint of bitterness from the coffee all but remaining.

“Well… she said sitting on her dorm couch. I will just be putting more data into the computer. Fluffles, I know, I want to convince them into using tablet programs to take data rather than pen and paper, but that is expensive even though it would automate this data entry process considerably.” She said to her plants.

After drinking her coffee, if you could call it coffee anymore with all of the stuff added, she got dressed in some more casual type clothes rather than the types of clothes she normally wears on the weekdays. She could have just put on her yoga pants and sweatshirt, but she still wanted to feel sort of professional while doing her busy work without being over dressed and uncomfortable.

She just went for some wine-colored slacks, a turtleneck, and a burgundy cardigan with a floral pattern. Comfortable, but still looked functional. Brushing her teeth, washing her face, and brushing her hair was next and then she was out the door heading downstairs.
She didn’t notice any other staff today. Even with the staff that live on-campus most of them go home for the weekend, but Annika rarely ever went home except for holidays, not that she didn’t like her home, but rather it was too much gas to go back and forth and by the time she got comfortable

“Oh shoot, my tablet! I don’t ever leave home without it!” she thought to herself “Wait a minute, did I forget to let it charge again? That is like not charging my voice, but oh well, it’s not like I’m not already used to talking on campus, this isn’t high school Annika!” she made it downstairs to the lobby and gave a look at the tiny slot-like mail boxes for the staff by the front desk.

She didn’t really check her mail in a week or so, so maybe she ought to before it overflows, but nobody really sends her anything unless it is her mother, but even mother usually informs her that she is sending a care package to her over the phone, but she has been on radio silence for a while. Hopefully nothing bad happened to her.

Unlocking the key to her mail box (wait, did she forget to lock her dorm room again?) she noticed a bright yellow slip of paper that was dated… a week ago? Gasp! That means if she didn’t check her mail today they could possibly throw away the package! Hopefully it didn’t have anything edible in it that would go stale either. The slip meant that there was a bigger package awaiting you at the front desk and you needed to bring the slip to the front and sign a piece of paper saying you received it. The woman at the front desk looked half asleep. It was only 9 AM, but she looked like she had been up for much longer or maybe she just didn’t like the fact she was working on a weekend.

“Oh hey, what? Annika? Oh! Annika, ummm yeah, that package I was going to get rid of later today if you didn’t claim it, you were lucky you came when you did. You need to check you mail more…” she told her in a slightly scolding tone as she took the slip. “Now let’s see… here it is. Now just sign here saying you received the package.” And Annika signed her name which looked like a bunch of scribbles like most signatures did so that wasn’t surprising.

The box was small and surprisingly light. She took the box and went back up to her room. This would also be good since she did forget her tablet and to lock the door after all. Also, she couldn’t believe she forgot her anxiety meds too. She was really not off to a good start. She walked up the stairs again to her room and plopped the box onto her bed. She grabbed the scissors from her crochet supplies and cut open the box taped shut noticing that the address it was from was from her mother. Why didn’t she call her at all this week about it? Oh well, she will talk about it after she finds out what this is.

Opening the box, she dug through a mound of tissue paper padding whatever was in there and pulled out what looked like two loom shuttles, but smaller and more pointed with a spool in the middle. One was bigger than the other and one was made of a darker, almost black type of polished wood while the other bigger one was a lighter chocolate brown shade. At the bottom of the box was a letter from her mother. It was written in Slovak, but it said something like this:


“Dearest Annika,
I was cleaning out the attic and rediscovered your great-grandmother’s tatting shuttles that have been around for generations. Your grandmother loved to tat and though it is a lost art, I know you are an avid knitter and crocheter and I’m sure that it is basically the same thing and you can pick it up pretty quickly. You will make your great grandmother so proud learning to tat. I can’t wait to see what you make with her shuttles. Unfortunately, I haven’t included any tutorials about how to tat or patterns or anything because there was none with the box, but I’m sure you can find some on the internet or something.
Mother”

Wow, she was sure lucky that she decided to check her mail box today, what would her mother do if she found out a family heirloom was discarded? Probably force her to go dumpster diving for the rest of her life probably! Her hands quivered as she clutched the shuttles in her hands. They were smooth and works of art. Now she wanted to just stop work altogether and instead just hang out in her room and try her hand at tatting, but she really had to get stuff done. Wait! The premack principle, a more preferred activity or stimulus will function as a reinforcer for a less preferred stimulus or activity. If she does maybe an hour or two of work, then she can have some time to learn tatting and crocheting.

Since Annika was hungry and wasted a lot of time already going back and forth from her dorm and picking up her package, she just microwaved up some instant oatmeal for breakfast and called it good. While that was waiting, she swallowed her small, white anti-anxiety pill with a small glass of water before she forgot. Yum! Apple cinnamon oatmeal with dried chewy bits of apple floating around the breakfast of champions! As she was eating her oatmeal she dialed her mom on her cellphone. She still really wasn’t comfortable talking on the phone usually, but with people she knew like her mother, this was an exception.

“Hello?” a voice answered

“Oh, hey mother, so, ummmm I got this package in the mail with some tatting shuttles? Why didn’t you tell me I was going to get it? If it wasn’t for the fact I picked them up this morning at the front desk they would have been discarded.”

“YOU ALMOST WHAT?!” she shouted shouting expletives in Slovak under her breath “Nevermind, nevermind, at least you got it and as for why I didn’t tell you is because I got really busy cleaning the attic and I sort of forgot and I should have. These shuttles are really important and I trust that you will take good care of them and use them well.” She said as she calmed down considerably from the initial shock.

“Yes, mother, I will I will try to learn to tat, but it looks confusing.” Admitted Annika

“At first it might be a little confusing, but you taught yourself to crochet and knit so it shouldn’t be too hard, right?”

“Well, I’ll just try, bye mom!” said Annika hanging up her phone. After she cleaned up with breakfast, Annika grabbed her tatting shuttles and some crochet thread for doily and lace making and put them in her book bag. Making sure to lock her room this time, she headed to her office which was about fifteen minutes walking distance from where the staff dorms were.

When she arrived at her office which was a room off to the side of her tiny classroom she did one to one and small group sessions and certain assessments in. There was a small window where her favorite haworthia retusa named Juicy was perching. There was also Fiesta her Christmas Cactus hanging from a crocheted plant hanger.

“Hello everyone! Juicy, Fiesta, how are you guys doing today? Today I am going to learn tatting and try my hand at it and hopefully won’t completely fail!”

she said to her plants as she opened up her computer and pulled out the data sheets and began entering and analyzing data.
With a 90 percent staff fidelity average on behavior plan fidelity assessments she will have no problem with both the validity and reliability. The ABC data she got from behavioral incidents was also interesting and revealed to her patterns in behaviors and whether a more thorough functional assessment was needed and helped explained spikes in problem behavior by giving a more detailed picture as to what was happening that moment.

Good, replacement behavior and acquisition targets going up and problem behavior going down is always good too. In some ways, filling up the spreadsheet program on her computer with data was surprisingly satisfying and in some ways relaxing.
It wasn’t long until two hours past and it was time to start tatting like she told herself she would. Annika took out her shuttle and thread from the book bag and looked on her computer in search of “tatting tutorials” she searched hoping to find some videos. Sure enough, she did and they looked promising.

She clicked on the first video and it didn’t even have any talking, just an instrumental piano piece and words popping out on the screen that were hard to follow along with, she hit back and looked for a video that was also on the list of results. This one was called Tatting: Lesson One. This one starred a woman that looked like a homemaker in her thirties that was showing off her tatted tablecloth.

“Hello, welcome to the first episode tatting lessons, I will be your guide. Tatting is a beautiful but dying art of making lace. All you need is a shuttle which you can find at your local craft store if you are lucky or the internet. People don’t tat anymore so you might need to do some searching, but once you have your shuttle and some crochet thread, that is all you need! Now, tatting takes a lot time, I have been working on this tablecloth on and off for several months now, but it is completely worth it in the end!”

“Show off…” Annika mumbled

“So, are you ready to learn to tat?” asked the lady in the video

“Yes! Yes, I am ready to tat and stop looking at me like that Fiesta!” she turned to her Christmas cactus

“Okay, first we are going to thread the shuttle and it is easy simply do this and then this….” And the lady was right, threading the shuttle was the easy part. Well, except for the fact that Annika forgot scissors, but she had some in her office anyways so it wasn’t a big deal as far as cutting the thread

“Come on! Is that all you got?” taunted Annika “bring it on lady!” Boy, Annika was going to regret what she said as the video’s camera jumped and zoomed to the woman’s hands to get a close up look at what she was doing.

“Okay, now let loose some thread from the shuttle…” as she unwound some thread from the shuttle as she made a snappy sound doing that.

“Good? Okay, good, now our first lesson I am going to teach you how to make a ring. There are rings, chains, and picots and today I am going to teach you to make the basic rings so let’s begin…”

“Okay, I can do this, cheer me on Juicy and stop being so cynical Fiesta, I can do this…” with the chocolate brown wooden shuttle in her hand all threaded and ready to go and hit play on the video.

“Okay, pause! Hold string in one hand, wrap it around… pinch! Dammit, this is really, really uncomfortable! How can people do this? I hate holding my fingers out like this! Oh, right juicy, like I would say to people starting knitting and crocheting, hand and finger muscles take time to build. Maybe it is just like that, I will get used to it! But argh, this is awkward!”

“Now, hold the shuttle pinching it with your thumb and index, wrap it around your other three fingers, go under, through the loop.”

“Wait, pause, pause!” said Annika awkwardly hitting pause as her hands were in a bit of a tangle of thread, how does she do that? My other fingers have to be stuck out? Ummmm… under?” she hit the play button again after she believed she got it

“...Through, pull and flick?” she said trying to repeat what the video said “What do they mean by flick? Ummm… probably not too important, ummm… ta da? It is a little messy and kind of awkward but I did it?” she just stared at her first tatting stitch dumbfounded, all that work for just one tiny stitch.

“Then under and through the loop again… Ummmm okay… and um… okay… maybe I can do this…” she paused the video again because the woman was going too fast and made ten stitches like she was told to in the video. They looked far from neat and even. Maybe flicking is indeed something important, but that didn’t matter to her what the heck was flicking anyways? Sure, it didn’t look professional, but it still looked like something, didn’t it?

“Okay, now all you do is pinch those stitches and pull the thread to close the stitches to make a ring! Congratulations you made your first loop.” Well, that congratulating was a bit premature for Annika because she couldn’t close the loop, did she do them all wrong? What was she doing wrong! Help lady in the video! Help!

“Ffffffff…. I was so close! Why can I do this! Annika said clenching the shuttle really tight bringing all her tension from her body into her fists then sighing.

“Oh Juicy, I can’t do this, this looked like the most promising video, but I can’t do this… I guess I could always try with some other video or find some books, but they all make it look so easy. I, I guess it was kind of like when I was learning to crochet and knit though, right? But there are so limited resources compared to those two crafts. I really can’t give up now. I mean, I gone through hard times before like my BCBA exam I can’t just simply give up what would my ancestors think?” she said in a soft tone to Juicy.

Talking to Juicy made Annika feel a lot better as Juicy took all of the words Annika spoke to them and almost absorbed them and melted them away. Plants are great listeners like that.

“I am not going to say I am going to give up, but I just need to put these shuttles away for some time. A long time, maybe years and years and years so maybe it is kind of like giving up, but there may be a time I might want to come back to them, just not for a long time, okay? I mean, I can already make a whole lot of other beautiful things with crocheting that I’m sure great grandma would be proud of anyways! Right? So, yeah, maybe I am giving up, okay, okay Fiesta, I kinda am, but it doesn’t matter, does it? Does it?”

Just then, she heard a knock on her office door. Who could that be? Did they hear her? A lump formed in her throat. Should she open the door? Another knock was let out again this time it meant business. She had to open the door. Oh, if only she had one of those peep holes like in hotels or apartments. Slowly opening the door she realized… it was Erik?

“Oh uh... sorry Ms. Zlny, did I disturb you? I just remember Tuesday you said I could come to your office if I wanted for knitting tips so I did and well… I’m here?” he said looking around the room “Who were the people you were talking to I assume on the phone?”

“Long story…” she whispered after a large pause as that was all she could muster saying at the moment clearing her throat. At least he was a relatively safe person and she regained her composure using a few tried and true breathing techniques. Still, a student figuring out her weird habit of talking to succulents? It wasn’t certainly anything scandalous, but it was certainly weird. Her tablet was also in her bag.

She could probably just go get it, but she was certain that, the initial startle would cease by the time she was finished typing out her phrase on her tablet and she could use her words again. After the longest minute of just staring at each other, gaining her composure with some deep breaths, and right before Erik was about to leave her, Annika faced Juicy as if she was directing the phrase toward her plant and said:

“You can come in, I was actually taking a break from work yourself. What would you like to talk about?” she said waving Erik in. That was the beauty about plants, they were safe things she could direct statements at in a pinch. Crisis averted.

To be continued?
Fiamat
 
Posts: 14
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Re: The Art of Tatting and Other Annika Stories

Postby Fiamat » Tue Mar 14, 2017 3:01 pm

Here is another Annika Story. This one is Erik goes to the Craft Store after a few months of being in knitting and crocheting club and after getting permission to work on knitting and crocheting projects outside of class. He goes to the craft store only to find Annika there and he witnesses Annika for the first time using her tablet to talk.

See, Annika in public is definitely way different, especially when she sees someone normally at the school out in public. She has almost a rule in her head that seeing someone not normally seen in other places means that they are not allowed to hear her voice except for in school. It is almost like in this case Erik seems a bit out of place for Annika.

Part 2 should be written either later today or tomorrow! Enjoy and remember anything that resembles the final product of the actual game is pure coincidence and just proves I have really mad predicting skills! I swear I am not a hacker or a clone of Hamadyne or anything as much as Gloom says I am.

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Erik Goes to the Craft Store

After a few months in knitting and getting permission have my knitting supplies outside of knitting and crocheting group, I decided I wanted to expand my horizons as a knitter and

As I got off the bus, I walked down the street to the craft store which had a slew of knickknacks and gewgaws on display in the store window. I opened the door and hear the jingle bells attached to the door jingle as I look around the store. It was a big store, but looked compact considering how filled to the brim all of the shelves were with craft supplies and knickknacks.

On the left side of the store and wrapping around into the back was a whole wall of yarn and other supplies so I headed there. I couldn’t believe how many colors of yarn there was! There was yarn for making baby blankets, really fine thread for making lace and doilies, cotton yarn in assorted colors for making things like dishcloths, fluffy yarn, eyelash yarn, really thick chunky yarn, yarn, yarn, yarn! Then of course there was basic yarn and even though it was basic yarn, there was every color of the rainbow you could imagine. As I was slowly moving around the extensive yarn section I bumped into a woman also looking at yarn.

“Oh, excuse me, ma’am” I said beginning to move around her only to realize the familiar straw colored hair and glasses. Ms. Zlny?
“HELLO…” said an automated female voice. Where did that come from?

“Oh, hello Ms. Zlny, I didn’t expect to see you here.” I replied. Just then Annika twitched her lips slightly holding out her index finger indicating her to give her one moment as she typed something on her tablet and hit enter

“I DID NOT EXPECT YOU EITHER, WHAT BRINGS YOU?” her tablet emitted.

“Well, I am just looking for yarn and maybe ideas for a project to do is all. What are you doing here? Why are you talking with that tablet? I see you carry it around all the time is that what it is used for?” I asked. Once again, she motioned to wait one moment please and took several seconds to quickly type a response. Her fingers were dancing on the touch screen hitting autocomplete options when necessary to speed things up. She didn’t mind me bending over her shoulder to watch her when she was typing.

“I AM HERE TO GET MORE SUPPLIES FOR THE CLUB, AS FOR THE TABLET, I WILL EXPLAIN IT TO YOU LATER, JUST KNOW THAT IT HELPS ME TALK IN CERTAIN SITUATIONS, THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE WITH ME TYPING.” Ms. Zlny said. Obviously, she said the things through her tablet, but in some ways it is an extension of her voice so saying said seems appropriate.

“Oh, okay Ms. Zlny, do you know what yarn I should get if I want to make a hat?” I asked her. She immediately went to type out her answer, it was worth the wait so I didn’t mind the delay.

“THERE ARE MANY CHOICES BUT PROBABLY THE BASIC ACRLIC IS GOOD FOR BEGINNERS, DO YOU HAVE A PATTERN IN MIND?” she asked

“Well, no I don’t, I should have looked on the internet or something. I didn’t think it mattered.”

“IT DOES MATTER, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES TO NEEDLE SIZE AND WHAT WEIGHT OF YARN YOU NEED. GENERALLY WORSTED WEIGHT IS THE COMMON ALL PURPOSE YARN BUT SOME PATTERNS REQUIRE DIFFERENT YARNS.”

“Okay, do you know any good patterns off the top of your head? I mean, there are probably pattern books and whatnot, but I have so little money right now and had I known that it mattered I wouldn’t have come here without a pattern.” I explained

“IT IS OKAY, FOLLOW ME” as she led me over to a bunch of pads of pictures of different projects. I closely examined one and they appeared to be patterns on the back of them.

“THEY ARE MADE BY THE COMPANY TO PROMOTE THEIR YARN THEY ARE FREE FOR YOUR USE SEE ANY YOU LIKE?” she asked. I scanned each free pattern looking for one simple for a beginner but still provide me with somewhat of a challenge. I found one for a hat pattern that you knitted as a rectangle, but when folded it and sewed it together it formed what resembled cat ears. It looked cute and perfect to give to a girl.

“I think I will pick this one.” I said peeling a copy of the pattern off the pad of patterns.
“GOOD CHOICE IT LOOKS CUTE, I ASSUME YOU ARE MAKING IT FOR SOMEONE?” asked Ms. Zlny

“Yes, I am, I just don’t know who, but it will give me practice and I might learn a bit of sewing. You do have sewing needles I can use when I am done with it, right?” asked Erik

“YES, I DO, YOU CAN GET THE PLASTIC YARN SEWING NEEDLES FROM ME AND I CAN SHOW YOU HOW.” She told me before looking at the pattern and then typing another message “NOW, WHAT DOES IT SAY ON THE PATTERN?”

“It says pink star chunky yarn and size 8 mm or size 11 in parenthesis knitting needles…”

“WELL, ANY SORT OF CHUNKIER YARN WILL DO THEY JUST GIVE YOU THE BRAND IF YOU WANT TO MAKE WHAT IS ON THE PICTURE AND TO PROMOTE THEIR YARN. AS FOR THE NEEDLES, YOU DON’T HAVE YOUR OWN, RIGHT? WELL, THEY AREN’T EXPENSIVE IT IS ABOUT TIME YOU BUY YOUR OWN IF YOU ARE SERIOUS.”

“Yeah, I assume plastic is cheaper and is more likely to be approved of me to have, right?”

“RIGHT…” I looked at the row of knitting needles and crochet hooks across from the yarn wall and pulled a pair of 8 mm knitting needles, they were large and easy to grap and slightly bigger than the one I was using to knit my scarf for. They were a baby pink color of plastic yet they called to me nonetheless somehow and were relatively inexpensive and within my budget.

“GOOD, NOW PICK OUT YOUR YARN.” said Ms. Zlny and I did just that. I picked out a midnight blue colored yarn with yellow flecks in it. It looked like a starry night and I imagined the final product on the picture looking like a mystical kitty hat and knew whoever I gave it to would love it. I still haven’t even decided who to give it to, but Christmas will come around before I knew it and maybe then I will decide.

“I GUESS YOU CAN GO CHECK OUT. I GOT WHAT I NEEDED FOR CLUB INCLUDING A FEW KNITTING LOOMS AND PATTERNS TO GO WITH THEM SINCE THOSE ARE IN DEMAND.” Said Annika going to check out.

I watched as Ms. Zlny checked out and noticed that she also used her tablet to talk to the clerk and the clerk didn’t even think it was remotely weird or anything. She must come here a lot. I also paid for my stuff which didn’t amount to too much above my budget for the day even with the knitting needles. Infact, there was a sale where you get 30 percent off knitting needles with the purchase of select brands of yarn which was helpful.

I hurried up to Ms. Zlny as she was walking back to her car and asked her.

“So, Ms. Zlny, why exactly do you use that tablet, will you tell me now?” I asked

“MEET ME IN MY OFFICE WHEN WE GET BACK AND I WILL TELL YOU EVERYTHING.” She typed before reaching for her car keys to unlock her car door in the parking lot behind the building. I might as well head back to the bus stop with my bag of new needles, pattern, and yarn. I’m sure this confusion would be no more after seeing her again in her office.

To Be Continued…
Fiamat
 
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Re: The Art of Tatting and Other Annika Stories

Postby Fiamat » Wed Mar 15, 2017 3:59 pm

Here is part II of Erik goes to the craft store. I am not as happy with this fic as other fics, but I didn't want to ruin my fic a day writing streak either so here it is. It does hint at the possibility of other fics like a bake sale which can be an interesting way to see how Annika interacts with other characters and whatnot. I honestly prefer writing in third person than first person tbh.

Anyways, here Annika explains it all to Erik and tells him how to read patterns.

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Erik Goes to the Craft Store Part II


I arrived in Ms. Zlny’s office just like she said. Ms. Zlny was sitting in her swivel chair calmly. Her eyes gazing at him with a serene smile. Her hands were folded gently on her lap as she turned her chair toward him.

“You came Erik,” said Annika. This time she didn’t need to use her tablet to speak “Please, ask away with whatever questions you want now that we are in private. I am pretty open to what I have so I’m sure it won’t be too personal of a question.” She motioned me to pull a chair from her tiny therapy room connected to her office and have a seat inside. I did just that closing to door to her office and then I began speaking.

“Well, first of all, why were you typing stuff on your tablet and now you can talk to me just fine now?” I asked. I didn’t think she was doing this on purpose to mess with me, after all, this school is definitely filled with people with many different problems. It is just I never thought that a teacher would have something like this. Perhaps it makes them more relatable for student?

“I have selective mutism. Basically, in certain situations I can talk and in other situations, I can’t. It is a bit hard to explain why, but I almost have these sorts of rigid, nonsensical rules in my head about when I can and can’t talk and usually it is when I am anxious. I don’t know, it is like I know there is nothing to be afraid about, but it is like I’m afraid it will come out weird or my voice will sound funny. When my voice clams up it is almost like some lump forms in my throat and my vocal chords constrict so that no sound comes out no matter how hard I try. It isn’t that I am choosing not to talk or I am, it is that I really can’t make words come out.” Answered Ms. Zlny.

“Interesting, how long have you had selective mutism? What are some places you can and can’t talk at? I notice you can talk perfectly fine at the school, why is that? How long have you been using this tablet? Tell me more about it.” I asked, there was so many questions I wanted to ask Ms. Zlny that they all just sort of came out in a sort of multi-faceted way. I hope she didn’t mind, but I just had to add “Oh, I am sorry if I asked too much questions at once, I just never heard of selective mutism before.”

“It is okay, not many have, but the reason I can talk at this school is because, well, I am an alumnus here. Infact, when I first came here I couldn’t speak at all except in the confines of my home, eventually with the help of a speech therapist I was able to by the last semester of my senior year here. It took a long time indeed, but it was worth it. As for the tablet, this specific one I have had for two years, but my very first one was probably the first semester at St. D’s. My old schools back in Slovakia before that didn’t really think of giving me a tablet and back then they were also kind of expensive back then. I was given a scholarship through a charity thought to get one and it has given me so much freedom even though back then they were very bulky, almost like bricks and not anywhere near as powerful as they are now. It is still unfortunate that alternative communication methods are marginalized still and people still think of them as nonverbal, when in the Skinnerian sense, they are indeed verbal behavior, rather they are nonvocal.” Ms. Zlny explained

“Interesting, that is unfortunately that people don’t think of communicating on your tablet is legitimate, you still didn’t answer what are some places and situations you can and can’t talk at and what is it like going to school and not being able to talk? What is some advice you have for interacting with a person with selective mutism?” I asked. I still thought it was pretty cool talking to an alumnus of this school. She probably knows more than any other teacher what it is like being a student. I am sure a lot of people like her for that.

“Oh, oops, sorry about now answering that. Well, as I mentioned, I can talk at home and at this school perfectly fine. Family members are also very safe people to talk to regardless of setting. The more unfamiliar and novel the place is for me, the less likely I will be able to talk. Also, if I usually see a person with the exception of my family in one place, usually I can’t speak to them if I see them in other places. An example would be when I saw you in the craft store, you were out of place so I went silent for that reason. When I was in college I also had a problem with talking too, but I was able to get accommodations to use my tablet and the support from disability services there. I find that the less pressured I am to talk, the easier it is to speak.”

“Okay, so you feel less pressured to speak. Doesn’t the tablet discourage you from ever being able to speak though? I don’t understand why you use a tablet when your goal seems to be eventually be able to speak everywhere.” I asked.

“That is a common misconception about alternative communication in that you are giving up, infact, it actually encourages speaking by taking the pressure off the need to speak. By having my tablet as an option to speak, I don’t feel like I absolutely must speak and it increases the likelihood that I will speak. Also, it is a gateway to communication and by speaking with my tablet in environments I am uncomfortable in, it helps me build confidence and build trust with those people so I eventually can speak in those environments if that makes any sense.” said Ms. Zlny. I guess that makes sense, I never thought of alternative communication like that. She then paused and spoke again before I could get another question in.

“Plus, the alternative to not having a tablet is not being able to communicate at all and not being able to have a voice. Without a means to communicate I feel very trapped and people on the outside don’t really know what I am truly like. They think I am stupid and have low expectation or shy when I am far from that. I am actually very fun-loving and energetic and I want to make friends more than anything, I just feel like there is this communication barrier that prevents me from it and a tablet allows people to see the real me, a person that only my family was for a while privileged to see.” I nodded in approval at that statement

“Ah, that makes sense, so were you able to understand and comprehend everything that people said to you when you are mute?” I asked

“Oh, every single bit. In some ways, this made me a really good eavesdropper and I got to hear a lot of secrets and other stuff that you wouldn’t otherwise say in front of me because they thought I couldn’t understand, but boy they were wrong. Only problem was I couldn’t talk back to the bullies. I thought about learning sign language a few points in my life, but the facial expressions that make up the grammar of most sign languages is what throws me off and just the fact that not everyone signs, let alone Slovak sign language so it wouldn’t be so useful to me really. People can understand what I speak on my tablet though, even random strangers.” Annika smiled

“Well, ummm… that is all the questions I was going to ask you. I must say I learned a lot from just this conversation with you. This is so unrelated but could you show me your latest project?” I asked

“Oh, of course I can!” said Annika pulling something from her crochet bad and holding out what looked like an elaborate shawl with feathery motifs crocheted into it. “They call these things pineapples, but they don’t really look like pineapples to me, they look more like feathers, don’t they to you?”

“Yeah, I can’t really see why they call them pineapples either. I would like to maybe learn to crochet later it does sound a bit harder than knitting though, is it harder?”

“Actually, I find crocheting a lot easier for me as I don’t feel so bound to the needles, but I will say I find it easier to knit in straight rows than to crochet. I admit I still have trouble as I tend to drop stitches when I’m crocheting in rows. In the round, it is different though and I very much prefer that way more hence why I like doing doilies. It is also let hot on your hands when you are crocheting lacey doilies in the summer too.” She said putting her shawl away “In my shawl’s case it is more of a half-circle, I plan to wear it to the special education department’s fundraiser coming up and plan on donating a few of my crafts to use for the silent auction.”

“Are students invited?” I asked

“At the silent auction? Normally it is just parents, but I don’t see why not. It is free to get in though the banquet and other things cost money.” She mentioned. The fundraiser does sound like it might not be really geared for students, but there was nothing stopping students from attending either. If I went I would only know Ms. Zlny and maybe my other teachers if they were attending and I don’t know if a date would like to come to an event like that not geared at people our age.

“When is the event?” I asked

“In about three weeks” said Ms. Zlny. “I am trying to finish up this shawl and my one lace tablecloth I am working on.” I guess that will give me some time to think about it.

“Oh, okay, just curious. I have no doubt you will get everything done in that time at least.” I smiled

“Yes, and why don’t I show you what a yarn needle looks like while I’m at it.” Said Annika showing a thick, plastic blue needle. It wasn’t really sharp, it was just pointy enough to poke through the knit work. It looked like a pretend sewing needle you would give a five-year-old who wanted to sew like mommy.

“When you are done knitting everything in the pattern, I will show you how to sew. Do you know how to read a pattern?” she asked gazing at the pattern in my bag then back at my face. She was right, I never knitted with a pattern before. I pulled out the pattern from my bag and it all looked like a bunch of gibberish to me.

“Well, knitting with patterns is easy, you just need to know the abbreviations so I will write you a cheat sheet that will explain everything and that is pretty much all you need to know. Easy, isn’t it?” said Annika taking a pen from the mason jar full of pens from her desk quickly jotting everything down

“Sometimes patterns will have special, unique stitches that they will show you how to do at the beginning of each pattern, if they confuse you what I sometimes do is look up the stitches online and chances are I will find a video tutorial somewhere. Just a protip, okay?”

She handed the scratch paper she jotted everything down. The other side of the scrap paper was part of the last page of a flyer for the past knitting and crochet club bake sale. It brought back memories of me, Annika, Kathryn, and a few of the other members sitting by a table by the cafeteria trying to sell small plastic baggies of cookies and brownies. Kathryn’s grasshopper brownies tasted like toothpaste, but that didn’t stop people from buying them. We had so many leftovers from the bake sale and nobody in the club wanted brownies that tasted like toothpaste so we had to throw everything away. Good times. She was right though in that it wasn’t too complicated, just a lot of abbreviations I needed to follow.

“Thanks Ms. Zlny, this will help immensely, thank you.” I said

“No problem, though if you are looking for help with picture patterns look elsewhere because those patterns still confuse me immensely and I don’t know where to start with helping you so sorry!” Annika laughed leaning back in her chair. Wait, there are picture patterns too?

“Ummm… I think for now I will just stick to patterns in text so there is no need to mention that. I noticed that this one near the end calls for a purl stitch? Will you teach me how to do a purl stitch?” I asked

“Oh, purl stitch! You are definitely ready to learn how to purl. I will show you next club meeting for sure. For now, just do what you can until you get stuck, okay?” as Ms. Zlny began to pack up her things implying it was time for me to leave soon.

“Right, I will. It was nice talking to you Ms. Zlny.” I said as I left the room and Ms. Zlny locked her office right as she left.
I headed back to my dorm eager to start my knitting project. Wait, how do I cast on? I will have to look that up on the internet since I forgot.
Fiamat
 
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Re: The Art of Tatting and Other Annika Stories

Postby Fiamat » Sun Apr 09, 2017 10:15 pm

This fic takes place when Annika is still in high school at St. D's. This is about Annika around the time when she got her first text to speech communication device, but isn't using it until Krista confronts her about it and they play with the voice options.

Annika’s New Voice

“Okay, come on printer, work with me for once!” said Krista saying a silent prayer to the printer in the library. Luckily for her, her essay printed with ease. She worked so many sleepless nights on the essay not for it to go to waste. Another essay from the printer came out with the name Annika Zlny printed on it. She saw Annika behind her and handed her the essay of hers.

Annika just stared at her and took the essay from Krista’s hands and smiled. Annika never spoke a word to Krista ever in her entire three months of knowing her. She often wondered what Annika’s voice was like. She received a large communication device of some sort recently but she would often leave it behind in her room. Krista didn’t know what this was for and Annika never really explained it to her obviously. Trying to be friendly, Krista smiled back and said

“So, do you want to go back to our dorm room with me? That is what I was going to do anyways at least.” Said Krista. Annika didn’t really know what she was going to do either, maybe have some tea (with a lot of honey of course) and read that one romance novel she has been breezing through out of boredom or something? She let out a small nod and they went back to their room from the library. There wasn’t much conversation to be had because there was really no use if it was just Krista talking and Annika could only really affectively respond to yes or no questions or by pointing to stuff.

When they got back, Krista sat down on her bed, she was in sort of a state where she was tired, but she couldn’t sleep because it was still light out. Annika’s bed was across from Krista’s and they each had a desk on their side of the room. It was sort of divided so that Annika and Krista had a designated side to their dorm that they kept to. Their specific dorm had community baths down the hall that they shared with the other girls on their floor.

Krista once again eyed the device on Annika’s desk and decided it was about time to ask about it. Annika meanwhile was making tea, decaf earl grey of course since having Krista as a roommate with sleep problems meant that, that was her only choice. She loved the scent of earl grey tea and gave the honey bear a firm squeeze (a tablespoon of honey at least!) after the single serve hot beverage maker brewed it.

“You are such a child, you might as well be drinking sugar water at that point. Maybe that is why you can’t lose any weight and have those ugly stretch marks” Krista remarked as Annika spilled a little bit of hot tea on her fingers from the shaking of her strawberry patterned mug with hippos prancing on it by being caught off guard from that remark.

Krista thought that she could provoke Annika enough to get her to snap out of this silence, but all she did was give her a death glare and a grumble as she set the mug of tea on her nightstand and drank it while sitting on her bed reading her novel, a Viking love story that she picked up solely because the cover looked silly. It had a buff guy in stereotypical Viking garb complete with horned helmet and flowy hair embracing a woman dressed like a Valkyrie. Whenever Annika selected a book she liked to pick the one with the weirdest cover and it was usually those b to z-list sci-fi fantasy novels that nobody remembers ever or those cheesy romance novels. The romance novels were her guilty pleasure and she never read them outside her dorm room unlike other books.

“So, what is that handheld computer thing you have on your desk? You got it the other week, but you barely use it, why? It looks expensive, you’d think you’d use it more if it had more value to you. Let me guess, your parents got it for you and you are just ungrateful for it huh?” asked Krista. She was only being aggressive to gain Annika’s attention and her nose out of her book and it worked. Annika had enough of Krista’s teasing and walked over to her desk and turned on the device and angrily typed on the keyboard of it.

“IT IS SO THAT I CAN SPEAK TO PEOPLE LIKE YOU WHO WON’T SHUT UP ABOUT TEASING ME” emitted the device in a robotic male voice with little inflection. It still didn’t even do justice to how seething Annika was otherwise the volume would have been much louder.

“Okay, okay, I’ll stop, but then why do you always leave it in your room? I mean, I have been wanting to get to know you, but it is hard with you being completely one sided and refusing to use anything but vague gestures. You won’t even pass notes around or write to me or anything. Do you even want to make friends?” Krista challenged her. Annika sighed a little and typed again.

“I DO WANT TO MAKE FRIENDS. IT JUST FEELS LIKE CHEATING IF I USE SOMETHING OTHER THAN SPEAKING. I’M AFRAID I WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO TALK AND I WANT TO TALK.”

“Cheating? You wear glasses right? Maybe I should take them away because you are obviously cheating by using them to see, huh?” as Krista walked up to her and quickly pulled off Annika’s glasses. Annika fought Krista as for several minutes Krista played keep away with Annika’s glasses. Krista eventually handed Annika’s glasses back to her.

“WHAT DID YOU DO THAT FOR?” Annika typed being able to see the screen of the device again.

“To prove a point to you. You use glasses to help see every day just like that gadget of yours is supposed to help you communicate!” Krista said
“YOU ARE SOUNDING LIKE MY SPEECH THERAPIST.”

“Well maybe because she is right. Wouldn’t you much rather be able to communicate with people than just remain silent all the time?” asked Krista. Annika paused for a minute then typed making sure every word counted.

“BUT I WANT TO TALK BY TALKING, CARRYING THIS DEVICE AROUND JUST MAKES ME FEEL SILLY AND MAKES ME FEEL HANDICAPPED. I HATE HOW THIS VOICE SOUNDS IT IS NOT MY VOICE AND NEVER WILL BE.”

“And you are right, it isn’t your real voice, but it is what you have and you don’t look much better just walking around silent with no means of communication either. Infact, this is the first time we actually had a meaningful conversation together because you actually had the courage to use that device and you are actually expressing yourself. I finally am getting to know that person hiding from me for the past three months.” Krista replied coming over to Annika’s desk to look at the device. She pondered for a minute then had an idea.

“Do you know where the manual to this thing is? I have an idea.” She said. Annika looked at her strange a bit wondering what Krista had planned, but decided to nod in agreement and pulled out a manual from a box, the one that the device came in that Annika saved for storage purposes. Krista thumbed through the manual scanning it carefully muttering some things to herself.

“Oh, here it is. Voice customization. I had a feeling it might be there. I was thinking, basically, that isn’t your real voice, but what if I can make it so that your device has a voice that is close to yours? I mean, that default voice on there is totally not you, Annika, but it looks like there are some options here that might be able to work as your voice, what do you say?” asked Krista. Annika nodded handing Krista the device for her to toy with.
Krista went into the settings and pulled up the list of voices to select each with sample sounds of what they sounded like when you pressed them.

“Okay, I am going to give you a sample of each voice, nod yes or no if you like it or not and we will eventually narrow it down. If you want I can also give my opinion about what voice would be good for your and see what you think.” Explained Krista “ready? I’ll begin going through the list.” Annika nodded and Krista began to go through the list. Some of them sounded child-like, one even sounded like a pirate, but eventually they were down to two female voices. They both sounded very similar except one sounded a little more reserved and mature and the other sounded more light and pleasant.

“Okay, so we are down to two voices, Annika do you know which one you want?” Annika shrugged her shoulders in a “beats me” sort of way as she kept listening carefully to each voice deciding what voice was better, but it was hard.

"WHAT DO YOU THINK, KRISTA, I WANT TO KNOW WHAT YOU THINK MY VOICE SOUNDS LIKE.” Annika typed.

“Me? Well… let’s see… I think you sound like this one, the more chipper, pleasant one because how I see you Annika is a person that really wants to make friends and wants to be around people, but you never had a chance to have that group of friends. That is why I pick that voice for you. Do you think it would help you use that device more?” asked Krista as she selected that one voice from the menu and saved changes to the settings.

“YES, KRISTA, YOU ARE RIGHT, MAYBE I WILL USE IT MORE, AT LEAST WITH YOU…” typed Annika

“Great, so yeah, please, tell me more about yourself. I feel like we got a lot of catching up to do since the beginning of the school year.” Said Krista

“YOU ARE RIGHT WE DO.” Said Annika.
End
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