Sunday, July 13, 2008

How Many Mashed Potatoes Do You Have?

The other night I dreamed that I was on a plane flying to the Ukraine. And (in my dream) I had that unsettled feeling. The one when you are two blocks from work and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you left the curling iron on at home, right next to a box of kleenex. That feeling that you forgot to do something but can’t quite put your finger on it….unsettled. And so I was flying and looking out the window and it went from day to night several times (after all, that’s how dreams are) and we finally landed and we were getting off the plane at the airport (though it was the Houston airport, but we were in the Ukraine – again, dreams). We were standing there at the baggage claim when I realized – in one of those horrifying moments of clarity – that I had forgot to pack the hats. And I sat down in the floor of the airport and cried like a baby. And I kept telling some stranger standing next to me, “What am I going to tell all the knitters? How am I going to explain this?”

Then I woke up with a start, in a cold sweat, feeling sick to my stomach. I got out of bed and went in the spare room and opened up the box of hats, made sure they were all there. Reassuring myself, I guess. I sorted through some of the new hats that I haven’t put in the box yet because I haven’t photographed them for ya’ll yet. (I’m working on it.)

Apparently I don’t have my neuroses quite as tightly controlled as I’d like to think. I mean really, as if after all these many months of planning and preparation, I might actually forget the hats! Of course, it is more deeply rooted than that.

So big news: I’ve decided to raise the hat goal to 400. (If you’ve been over by the Ravelry group, this isn’t actually big news to you.) We are making great progress and I am beside myself excited about this. Every time new hats arrive in my mail or someone drops one off to me, I am inspired all over again. We have “declared” knitters/crocheters from 23 U.S. States (including the absolute myriad of super cool ladies down at the LYS) and 15 other countries. I’ve received hats from 37 different crafters. We are 72 days into the project with 70 days to go until I leave.

In an earlier post, I mentioned that my coworker Mary had gotten her mother on the hat knitting bandwagon. A couple of weeks ago her mom, Maxine, game up from Arizona for a visit and brought with her twenty hats that’d she been working on over the last couple of months. And during her brief visit, she has continued knitting hats but I’ve yet to convince Mary to bring her to work so I can thank her. Wednesday Mary brought me two more lovely lids (for a total of 30 from Maxine!) and she told me that her mom needed to take a break because her arm was tired! Well, I would think so. I gave my whole-heartedly blessing to Maxine’s well deserved break. (as if my blessing mattered!!) Thank you Maxine!

This week I’ve received hats from all sorts of fabulous people and places.

Erin in Sunnyvale sent a package which was fabulous – I made my coworkers try on her hats when they arrived but I didn’t have my camera with me.

I received a package from the always wonderful Trixie in Alaska…10 fabulous hats (brims lined with cashmere!!) and two beautiful, perfect, heavy glass jars of blueberry jam, handmade by Trixie and her children, from blueberries handpicked in their very own backyard. Thank you Trixie, so much. You are just lovely. If I show up on your doorstep one day, will you let me sleep on your couch for a few days and take pictures of your beautiful surroundings?

Hats came from Lynn in Florida. Richly-colored, thick lovely hats. She made mostly rolled brim hats and when she packaged them in the box, she rolled them up and stacked them. When I took them out, they looked like delicious, wooly candy! (Lynn, did you mail these quite a while back? If the postmark is right, it took them nearly three weeks to get here. Crazy!) My co-worker, Judy, also brought me more hats. They are crocheted and just as cute as can be. I missed Wednesday night knitting this week because I went to San Francisco to pick up my SIL at the airport so I’m guessing Kaylee probably has a hat or two over there for me. (Every time I’m there, she seems to have something lovely that one of the “day time knitters” has dropped off. Have I mentioned a flippin’ awesome it is to have an LYS?)

Kim, whom I “met” so many moons ago through a scarf exchange, sent me four soft and lovely hats. Reds and greys.

If you’ve sent hats and I haven’t mentioned them or emailed you, please please drop me a line so a) we can make sure I got them and 2) so I can thank you publicly. If I’ve neglected to email my thanks, I pray that you will forgive me. People email or message me asking for the address to mail the hats to and yet, when the packages arrive (at the very address I so recently provided) I am surprised and excited. I get them out of their various packages and I ohh and ahh and admire them as a group and then I look at each one individually and admire the craftsmanship – because the artistry in each of these hats is endlessly varied and inevitably stellar – and then I hold each one and admire the smooshy softness and touch them too my face (ya’ll know…) and I almost always find someone standing nearby to try them on so I can admire them from afar. And then for the next several hours, I show them to anyone and everyone who will stop to look. I’m like a child on Christmas.

If ya’ll will humor me for a moment, and forgive me a little philosophizing, I’ll tell you something. Here’s the thing: If you were to ask me, I would tell you that I am a pretty cynical person. That I don’t have a lot of confidence in the goodness or decency of people in general. I would tell you that I have a very strong faith in God but very little faith in humankind. I would tell you that I can be mean-spirited and I am sort of a hard-ass. But the reality is, if I told you all of that, I’d mostly be lying. People who know me best would likely tell a very different story. I can be realistic about people’s nature when I need to be (professionally, for example) but as a general rule, I am about as soft-hearted as they come. I’m probably not cynical enough, really, and I am too willing to expect the best of people. Some might even call me a bit of a goody-two-shoes. I am generally a rule follower and a peacemaker, and usually expect people to do the right thing and be good and decent, even when they’ve made it clear they can’t be trusted. In fact, I have so much faith in human decency that I am (not shockingly but still shockingly) disappointed on a regular basis. I know this about myself and I try to tell myself to hope for the best but expect the worst but it never works out for me. It is just my nature. I take things personally even when I shouldn’t

So this project…it really does my tender little heart good. I’m not really sure I can impress upon you very how much this hat project means to me. I think it is maybe one of the greatest things I’ve ever been a witness to. Maybe that is silly, but hear me out. I know that these hats are not for me (heck, I don’t even like hats – for me, I mean) but there is something so heartwarming and uplifting about watching this come together. To have a simple idea (These orphans are cold. I know how to knit. The orphans need hats) and to see other people – friends, strangers, coworkers, neighbors, friends-I-haven’t-met-yet – join in to help warm the heads of these children – children I haven’t even met yet…children most of these knitters will never meet this side of heaven – it is probably one of the best things I’ve personally ever known. There is something so purely decent and kind and selfless about it all. I feel vindicated. I feel like all the times that people have ever disappointment me are washed clean and that maybe I was right about people after all. It makes me think that in the midst of all of the screwed up goings-on on this earth, there is hope for us all. No one objects to making handknit (excuse me: handcrafted) hats for children who, by no fault of their own, have had a tough go of things in life. People who are usually hard-nosed and uninterested find a smile and a kind word for this hats-for-orphans project. I cannot tell you how many people from all corners of my life have, upon hearing of this project, told me “Oh my aunt (mother, brother, cousin, sister) knits. I’ll ask her to make a hat.” Or “I don’t knit but can I give you money to buy yarn to make something from me?” Or (maybe best of all) “I don’t knit but I’ll makes hats if you’ll teach me how.” It is humbling and wonderful to be a part of this. After the rather trying time I’ve had of things in the last couple of years, it is wildly comforting and refreshing to see so many people so willing – and enthusiastic! – to make hats for these kids. So thank you – all of you – for every stitch and every email and every kind word and every contribution. Long before these hats ever make that long trip to the Rivne orphanages, goodness has come from this undertaking.

When I first started this project, someone said to me, “That’s a lot of hats. Do you really think people will want to do that? I mean, that’s gonna be expensive.” I told her my thoughts: most knitters I know are generous people and most knitters I know are willing to dip a little into their yarn budget to do something good for the world. And every single day, someone out there proves me right. Thank you for that, too. I came across this quote and I think it is apropos.

“Empty pockets never held anyone back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that.” -Norman Vincent Peale

In more fun news, the ever fabulous, ever generous Susie has volunteered to dye up a couple of skeins of prize yarn especially for this project. I won’t tell you what they’ll look like but I will tell you they will be in colors related to the project.

Also, I have been working on this for a while but wasn’t ready to tell anyone. I’m going to have a “Participation Prize” for every knitter who has sent hats by the time I leave. (Not per hat, just per person.) See, for the last several weeks. I’ve been making sets of stitch markers for each of you. My ever lovely (still sockless) SIL Lori is helping me and they are going to be so cute. (If I do say so myself….) Anyway, I tell you this because it wasn’t until after the hats started arriving that I decided on this plan so, while I have kept note of every person who’s sent me a hat or hats so far in order to put their names in the prize drawing at the end, I hadn’t been keeping up with mailing addresses. If you’ve already sent in hats to me, please email me at crickitleighhotmailcom with your snail mail address so that I can make sure you get your stitch markers in October. Also, FYI, as you probably know, RC is handling the logistics of the prize part of this project and she and I have been trying to decide if we should draw for and mail prizes while I am gone (which would be sometime between September 20 and October 8) or if we should wait until I come back (which would mean prizes would go out sometime during the last two weeks of October). Obviously, the advantage of doing it while I am gone is that everyone gets their stuff sooner but if we wait there is the dual advantage of me being here (which is really only an advantage for me) and secondarily, that we could include a picture from the trip with all of the prizes and stitch markers. I’d like some participant input on this.

Side note: There has been some discussion over at Ravelry about fiber content. The plan was to have hats from natural fibers or natural fiber blends. This is not a matter of yarn-snobbery but simple a matter of function. These hats, while intended as gifts to brighten these children’s lives, are primarily gifts of necessity. It is very cold there and the goal is warmth. I’ve received several hats that are acrylic or other synthetic fibers. One Raveler mentioned that acrylic hats are largely decorative outside and provide little warmth; this is very true but I know that they can be used so I’ve made the decision to take these hats along anyway. I’m keeping them separate so they will know that these hats should probably be mainly for indoors or layering but please know they will go to a good home. If someone brings you a synthetic fiber hat or mentions that they have made them, please go ahead and send them to me. While wool and animal fibers are still best all hats will be lovingly received.

So, anybody interested in knowing how many hats we have now?

Including the 120 shown in the previous post, 12 hats at RC’s house and these

91 additional hats, we’ve reach (drumroll please)


Only 176 to go!

Disclaimer: It has been approximately 150F degrees here for the last couple of weeks so my brain is cooked and I've been running a fever, too, so please forgive me if any portion of this post is incoherent.

*ETA correct number

Today’s Quote

"Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success." -Henry Ford


Deb said...

Okay Kristy, while I love reading your blog, you should have put a disclaimer on this one. Need to have tissue ready cuz it's gonna make you tear up.

You are so right about how great it is to see people come together on this project. In your heart, you know they will, but still it is so darn amazing to actually see it happen. Thanks for letting me be part of this miracle! Love you.

RC said...

correction... make that 13 hats at my house..
that makes 224 and only 176 to go!

Personally, I think you're going to get way over 400.
are you updating the spreadsheet?

Tactless Wonder said...

It is so awesome to see this coming together for you!

My doctor just "officially" cleared me for some light knitting -- long story, tendon problems in my arm...and I've been really bad and not following instructions... so I might actually be able to participate! And yet no guilt if I don't finish cuz you are rolling in hats! :)

Yey all you hat knitters! You rock!

kim said...

Wow, that is some undertaking; you should be very proud of yourself for organizing all of this!

Karen said...

Just popped over from "To Knit, Perchance to Dream". I think she must have posted links for folks doing projects or having contests. I hadn't heard about the hat project, but if I can squeeze one or more in between knitting something for donation to the folks in the flooded midwest, I will. I can't resist a good cause, especially one with the knitting world and the blogosphere and prizes, oh my!

Trixie said...

I am so sorry you are baking in the weather department. Sheesh! That would rattle me, too.

I do have to say one thing about my hats. I lined them in fleece, just plain old fleece. I wish it were cashmere, but it's just fleece from the fabric stash.

The girls and I will be blowing cooling air your way. We can spare it, trust me. And you are always welcome on my couch.

marit said...

The hats are just awesome! What a great project! Take care:-)

Lynn said...

OMG you are gonna make it!!!! That is alot of hats, but now I'm worried abt all the fees the airline's gonna charge you to bring them!

And I'm so glad you got my hats. I was worried since a week after I sent them you posted the first pic of all the hats you had and mine weren't there. I wasn't sure what had happened, but I'm SO glad they got there!!

RuthieJ said...

Hi Kristy,
I finished my 10th hat for you last week, but I want to get them washed up before I send them on, so I'd better get moving. I've enjoyed this knitting project so much that now I'm moving on to knitting for flood victims in Iowa. It's very gratifying knowing that I can use my knitting talents to benefit others.
P.S. And BIG THANKS to Trixie who told me about your project, otherwise I wouldn't even have known I could participate in something like this.