Monday, March 17, 2014

A few of us, along with our ever-energetic leader Ann, spent a recent afternoon in the AFSC basement, where we were greeted by our favorite sight:

Piles and piles of envelopes and boxes, all full to the brim with gorgeous, colorful and warm hats, socks and mittens. Our mission that day was to open each package and to sort items by category, which left us plenty of time to admire the quality and creativity of so many knitters and crocheters.

Marina (left) and Sue got a first-hand look at the latest package from a4A cheerleader, Renée. It was great to see all these socks and mittens in person after admiring them on Ravelry, where Renée (revknits) co-moderates the "Fans of afghans for Afghans" group.


These fair-isle mittens are the work of another long-time supporter, Gail. Not only are they beautiful, but the color-stranding makes them exceptionally warm. What a truly special gift to pass on to an Afghan child or teenager. No wonder we all came out from the afternoon's shift motivated to cast on for even more small handknits for this campaign. Please join us if you haven't already, and continue to send mittens, hats and socks to the AFSC -- these small handknits are going to make a world of difference to so many.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

That's Bolani with a capital "B" in Culver City.

Last December, I was knocked out to find Bolani's bolani for sale at Costco in San Francisco. (Bolani, with a capital B, is now their trademark.)

Well, lo and behold, I was at the farmer's market in Culver City (next to Los Angeles) a couple weeks ago and ran right into the Bolani booth! Meant to be, no doubt. I was with my friend Wendy. We spent quite a long time hanging out with the hospitable Ahad, who joyfully served samples of bolani, including spinach, pumpkin, and lentil, with sauces. He's was a magnet for shoppers in a place where no one slows down for much. How about a bumper sticker that says: "We brake for Bolani! (I am going to email Ahad about that.) We had such a fun time and went home with several packages, but not enough. One of Wendy's sons is a vegan, so she was thrilled to find a new option for the family table.

Ahad's family left Afghanistan in the 80s, and he talked with us some about their experience. Ahad is a marvelous ambassador for his homeland. He's also modest and doesn't really like photos, and I think he was just too darn nice to say no --

(I am the one in the Noro shawl.)

If you or your friends are in Los Angeles. Visit the Culver City farmer's market on Tuesdays and say hello to Ahad.

Tell him you are knitting and crocheting for the people of Afghanistan. Stock up on Bolani.

Monday, February 24, 2014

a quick pattern update

The link for Mrs. Murdock's mittens, a very fine crochet pattern, has changed. In case you were looking for it and couldn't find it, you can now find this pattern here:

Remember -- socks and mittens are being accepted!

Friday, January 31, 2014

deep winter

For most of the United States, this has been an unusually cold winter. There have been several mornings when it's been 7 degrees (that's Fahrenheit; Celsius equivalent is -14) when I've driven my daughter to school. Now, for those of you in Wisconsin, I know that's short sleeve weather [joke] but here in southeastern Pennsylvania, that is uncommonly cold. And a lot of people all over the country have seen temperatures that you usually don't. Now imagine it without mittens. Or even socks. And pick up those needles and start knitting frantically for our friends in Afghanistan!!

Although there isn't an official campaign at the moment, small things -- especially mittens and socks, but also hats -- are being collected steadily. In fact, Ann tells me they're packing on Wednesday. It's great to have things on hand when the opportunity to send them over comes up, because there isn't always time to organize a campaign.

In other news, Ravelry hosts an event that accompanies the Olympics. Many Ravelry groups participate, and our friends at Fans of Afghans for Afghans are involved. Renee -- a long-time member of this group as well -- sent us this information:

Ravelry hosts a crafting challenge along with each Olympics called The Ravellenic Games. You can join Team Afghans for Afghans as they knit mittens and socks for their campaign. Participants establish projects on their Ravelry project pages tagged appropriately, but wait to cast on until the opening ceremonies in Sochi, and to get their Ravellenics "medal" they finish their project before the closing ceremonies are over! It's a lot of fun and knitting together gives us motivation.

Stop by the Fans of Afghans for Afghans group where group moderator Renee Rico (aka rev knits) leads the team. This link takes you right to the Ravellenic information.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

A new year

Happy 2014, everybody, and so many thanks for everything you did in 2013. Right now epically cold weather is bearing down on the northern middle states in the U.S., and my own part of Pennsylvania is also in line for historically cold temperatures. While I fret about tomorrow's forecast of freezing rain and how it may spoil plans I had to do something fun, I am forced to think about the people we knit and crochet for in Afghanistan. I have heat, and food, and warm winter clothes, and a sturdy house, and I have no reason to expect that won't see me through this spell of rough weather. Many of them do not have those luxuries. 

Even though we don't currently have an official campaign going on, I am going to cast on a pair of mittens right now for the Afghanistan box, and I invite you all to join me in that . . . 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

a4A at the Textile Museum in DC, Last Sunday

For more than a year now, Sarah's been representing the afghans for Afghans project at the Quarterly Knitting Circles at the Textile Museum in Washington, DC, near Dupont Circle. Thank you, Sarah! Wish I could have joined you all. I've always loved the Textile Museum since the days when I lived in DC during the Reagan Administration. Too much information, I know!

Below, Sarah is to the left of Textile Museum Curator of Education Tom Goehner in the middle. I've mentioned previously that Tom has been a friend of a4A since the beginning, back in late 2001 when I contacted Tom, then the curator of the Red Cross Museum, about knitting during wartime. Andrea, on the far right, is a long-time crochet volunteer (ask her for advice on crocheting superb, well-fitting mittens). Knitting volunteer Debra is to the left of Andrea. And, Museum volunteer Linda is on the far left. This is not a political spectrum, don't worry! The turnout may have been low because no exhibits are on view, with the pending move, coming up. Small is beautiful in any case.

Here are the ladies posing with the ancestor above the mantel. Oh, this house will be missed ...

I actually don't think we're saying good-bye to the historic house in Dupont Circle just yet. There may be one more Quarterly Knitting Circle in March. We'll post to our email list when we can confirm.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Bolani at Costco!

Boy, was I surprised when I walked into an Afghan food display at Costco in San Francisco. Now, that's making it in America! Very cool. I bought 1 spinach bolani. Must go back for more.
A little blurry ... low-calorie and low-carb. Super marketing!
This is Yasmen, the son of the owner. We visited while he and Daoud packed up their display at the end of the day. He was only a kid when he emigrated here. From time to time, he returns to his homeland to visit.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Visiting a4A friends in NYC ...

While in NYC, I stopped by Knitty City on 79th near Amsterdam. Just happened to walk by. Met owner Pearl and had a chance to personally thank her for their a4A knitting. Mason-Dixon Knitting's Kay Gardiner has organized a4A knitting from time to time at this small and very loaded shop. I could have spent hours in Knitty City, but I forced myself out to get over to the Met Museum for the exhibit, "Interwoven Globe, The Worldwide Textile Trade: 1500-1800." What a great day, and then there was the night ... what's with the cake slices and cookies in every storefront window on every block?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

All our boxes delivered to NGO Trust in Education!

I will write soon to our nationwide email list with the final count on our 2013 campaign for NGO Trust in Education (TIE).

We finished reviewing and packing up all the top-quality wool garments for NGO Trust in Education. Our devoted local packing crew used some muscle taping up the bursting boxes. We always over-stuff to prevent the boxes from crushing. Terrific team work and greatly appreciated. Stephen McNeil, the associate director at AFSC, is very pleased with our cartons ...

This past weekend we delivered the last of our boxes filled with sweaters, socks, mittens, and hats. We loaded our rental truck on 9th Street, in front of the AFSC building. On the left side of this photo is Twitter's new HQ (retrofitted in the old merchandise mart) ... the neighborhood is changing rapidly. Mind-blowing, but that's another story. We're just a couple blocks from San Francisco's beautiful Beaux Arts City Hall. Sharon's on the right, Monty (our truck driver) and Ann on the left.

We drove our truck -- over the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge! -- over to the East Bay where TIE's founder Budd has a warehouse. Our boxes are added to Budd's other humanitarian supplies, and the whole mass gets staged for the plane to Afghanistan. This is Budd on the right ...

Why the blue tape? Why the orange tape? What's wrong with other colors? (Nothing!) The blue tape identifies our boxes as they move overseas as part of a large shipment. The orange tape is code for "girls sweaters" to help the distributors get the boxes to their intended recipients. We're not sure yet when the plane departs, but will report to our email list when we hear.

A big heartfelt thank you to the knitters and crocheters for Afghanistan. You are generous, talented, and caring. You keep all the packers motivated and inspired. Thank you for reaching out to the Afghan people during war time, especially after so many years. Can't wait until our wool gifts get to the Afghans -- imagine Afghan families wearing our handiwork on the other side of the world!

Thank you to Trust in Education for including the afghans for Afghans project on their plane and in their plans.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Sharing a few photos here ...

Thought you would like to see Kim's photo (in Wisconsin) of her socks for the TIE campaign. (I can't bring myself to call this yarn-bombing on our blog, but we don't have to name it to enjoy it.) Thanks, Kim!

We've seen a lot of sweaters in the AFSC Basement across many years. Always surprising when we receive a garment that looks like nothing received previously. Check out this crocheted sweater design made in the round (sorry about the lousy photo ... the arm gusset appears smaller than actual) --

This is sad, but I feel like noting here (and hope you don't mind) ... this very red sweater was knit by Rita, a long-time member of our community garden at Fort Mason in San Francisco, for the TIE campaign. Rita passed away this summer. She was knitting this sweater from wool provided by Lou (another gardener), and a hat, but got too tired to finish. Her friend, Erna, completed the sleeves with wonderful deep cuffs that can be rolled up and down as needed. We packed up Rita's gifts for a child in Afghanistan. We miss Rita.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Three pairs on the way

I didn't produce as many things as I'd hoped to for this campaign, but these three pairs of mittens = three pairs of warm hands, so that's something. I did finish the striped ones, but they needed a bath. I am hoping I'll be able to send them tomorrow, but I wanted to be sure the rest would get there on time.

For the blue pair with a cable, I used Momogus's cabled mitten pattern, with a few adjustments; that pair used a Green Mountain Spinnery yarn that I love, and that has been discontinued. The other two pairs follow my basic mitten pattern. The grayish-green are made with Elann's Peruvian Highland Chunky, also, I am told, about to be discontinued. The brick-red pair are made from Peace Fleece. I think these hefty worsted weights are probably my favorite yarn category. At least today.

What is everybody doing? It seems that with 4 days to go until the deadline there should be a fair number of boxes on the way!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The countdown continues

Socks from my sister, the mysterious RTD2:

Twelve pairs, adult size, all in Peace Fleece. They'll be on the way tomorrow!

P.S. I did finish yesterday's mittens. Now, in a fit of something, I'm thinking I can do just one more pair. . .