Saturday, October 31, 2009

50 Cartons of Wool Gifts Ready for Long Journey Overseas

Stephen at AFSC came into the office to give us a rare Saturday packing session to be ready for shipping-out on Monday. The CWS container is waiting for us. Reunion time for the Saturday gang -- Natalie (chief inspector), Teresa (our a4A blog admin), Joan and Joe (who drove up from Santa Cruz), and Keiko (our Stash group hostess in Berkeley).

What a pleasure to see the boxes sealed up, labeled, and stacked.

Joan bonded with Frank, but drove back to Santa Cruz with Joe at the end of the day. Joan has good judgement.

Whole lotta love packed into these cartons.

Then we headed down to the corner restaurant for low-emissions vegetable barley soup.

A broken bridge could not stop this group from our assignment this week.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Friday Shift in the Crypt

Chris, Carol, Pam, Antje, and Karen (guess who the 3 above are) worked on getting as many sweaters, vests, socks, mittens, and hats as possible through our review process and into the cartons. Karen was recruited last-minute on the Ravelry group -- bless the Internet -- and gave us a much-needed boost so we could stay on pace with our carton-filling. What a response from knitters and crocheters -- with packages coming in from across the US and Canada, PR, a couple from Italy, and one from Qatar -- especially considering the short campaign time. You have to wonder if some were especially motivated by what seems like endless tragic news from Afghanistan these days. Your gifts are beautiful -- heart-warming in many ways (hearts there and here).

Halloween is akin to a national holiday for us in San Francisco. Not really so much for the kids, especially since high-fructose corn syrup is almost a banned substance here. Have a ball -- eat some Tootsie Rolls and Milky Ways for us!
I made this sweater in record time using lovely natural yarn I had purchased last year in a large spool from A New Yarn, a non-profit yarn store in Seattle (regrettably no longer open). The pattern is from Hip Knits. I felt like I was practically finishing it on the way to the post office! Completing it stretched me, but I kept thinking that it would keep a young teenager warm this winter and that kept me going strong. I have been making things for afghans4Afghans for years, but this was my first sweater. I send heartfelt thanks to all of you in San Francisco who work so hard to make this possible.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Photos from the Crypt,
formerly known as the Basement

Hello, Boils and Ghouls. Yesterday, Ann Rus, Karen, and Candace toiled underground, along with non-pictured Carol (who escaped to catch her ferry) and Annette (who ran screaming from the camera flash). Steady progress. Every incoming package a real treat. No need to be scared -- everyone can be very pleased with the magical response from knitters and crocheters for our youth campaign for CWS youth in Afghanistan.

We're happy pumpkinheads, folks.

9th Street Basement Boogie, We're Swingin' Now

The Divine Miss Diane ... note her halo.

The Go-Gos -- that's Ann B, Judith, Diane, and Laura -- jamming with AFSC Associate Director Stephen McNeil.

What's this guy thinking?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Turning Elizabeth's yarn into an afghan.

Thanks Elizabeth for the yarn! I enjoyed working with the soft fluffy green! Cyndy

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

So I managed a sweater and 4 pairs of socks for the quickie campaign. Hope we meet our goal! I love seeing everyone's beautiful work!

In the nick of time

Every day there is more eye candy to admire on the blog -- I am in awe of the beautiful work that has been accomplished here, especially under such a short deadline.
After a marathon knitting spell last weekend, my pullover finally has sleeves and a collar. Even better, it is blocked and dry, and ready to be delivered to the basement tomorrow where I'll be on the packing shift.

This was a really fun knit and I am determined to try more fair-isle garments in future drives. It is such an interesting way to combine various wools from my stash without resorting to stripes. Great motivation to practice two-handed knitting, too.

Kiki pullover for Youth drive

Monday, October 26, 2009

Last week in the basement..............

Mounds of packages to open ... Beautiful, colorful items spilling from boxes and envelopes ... Lots of oohs and aahs ... No time for chit chat ... Volunteers focused on their jobs ... Pam and I interrupt the beehive of activity to show our latest blankets.

Thank you all for your hard work and gorgeous creations.

P.S. How about those lime green Crocs?!

Sideways Mittens

Here's the link for them:


Small Things

Just a few small things. Thank you to Irishrose51 for the sideways mitten pattern. The socks are my first ever pair. They came out OK, except for a little whoop-dee-doo on one of the heel-to-arch transitions. (Those Afghan persons are going to say, "Humph. Those American men don't know how to knit.) I think it will be all right with a foot in it.


been busy, too

These mittens and hats will be on their way to San Francisco today. You'll recognize the green and lavender Blue Sky super bulky as leftovers from the baby blanket project from earlier this year. The hats went really fast on #15 needles using the "Really Warm Hat" pattern from The Blue Sky mittens are "Outsider Mittens" from They worked up fast, of course, except that knitting the super bulky yarn down to a tighter gauge made my hands hurt.

The other four pairs of mittens are all from Ann Budd's Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns with the thumb attachment tweaked to eliminate the hole and the need for darning it together where the thumb meets the hand. I think darning is for worn items--it rankles me to need to do it on newly created things. The yarn is bulky Icelandic Lopi for the mittens on the ends and SERRV yarn from Nepal plus sock yarn for interest for the others. These mittens actually took no more time than the super bulky ones even though there are more stitches simply because the yarn moved more easily on the needles.

The mittens were great on-the-go and sit-and-wait projects for me. I was so pleased to turn down time into productive time this way. Now to pick up that baby blanket again . . .


the weekend...

So in the middle of last week I finished the last square for the blanket, but blocking & finishing was going to have to wait for the weekend. I celebrated by using the leftover yarn to make a hat in my favorite style (not sure why it put the image in sideways like that).

I also made another pair of those mittens with chunky yarn, although this yarn (Araucania Nature Wool) was less chunky than the first pair, so I was able to use a smaller hook and tighten up the gauge. I wanted to decorate the cuff, but had no more matching yarn so I threw on some popcorns in a contrasting color.

And then we come to the blanket...
I had started this when the CURE campaign was announced. When the Youth campaign came along, I decided to make more squares to size it up. Originally planned for 4x5 squares (each 9"), I had just enough yarn to go to 5x6 squares, which we put me at the top end of the measurements. Although I joined the squares tightly, after sewing together the first row of 5 I discovered that I was a couple inches over the limit. So I decided to downsize back to 4x5, and add a really wide border :). I was deliriously happy when I was able to find another skein of Paton's Classic Merino at Michaels in the right color to do that. So here it is:

Now I have 10 squares left over and decided that if I added rows I could make them 12" square, do a 3x3 square baby afghans with another really wide border to get to 40" square for CURE. Not done with that yet, but will be by end of week. So I get a baby blanket and a youth blanket. Can't feel better than that!

Sent by USPS Priority Mail this morning, should arrive Wednesday.

UPDATE: I forgot to credit the source for the square design -- I was inspired by a square in this Leisure Arts booklet.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

To SF Bay Area people ...

On the chance that some Bay Area people come across our a4A KAL/CAL blog, I will mention ...

Tomorrow 10/25, from 3-4, I am speaking at the JCC in Palo Alto on the afghans for Afghans project and Afghanistan with Marsha MacColl from Afghans for Tomorrow. We're showing a lot of slides. Stop by. No charge for this program.

On Sunday, 11/1, a4A is participating with an information table at the annual Rebuild Afghanistan Summit -- this year in San Rafael. Please contact me if you would like to sit at our info table and chat with the public. Those in attendance are mostly Afghan-Americans, although the event is also to reach a wider audience of people to get involved in supporting Afghanistan. Speakers and workshops are listed on the event website. The day will be stimulating with plenty of interesting people and learning about rebuilding projects in the areas of education, health care, and agriculture, for example.

If you would like to help us pack on Wed, Thurs., Fri, or our special Sat session, please email me at afghans4Afghans at aol dot com. Monday, 11/1 is probably ship-out date if all goes as planned -- contact me if you can help lift boxes that weigh 20-25 lbs each for about an hour in the late morning.

What else highly local ... I had dinner last night at the Helmand Restaurant. Ate my favorite heavenly Aushak (sort of ravioli filled with leeks). A sauteed eggplant dish for an appetizer. Chatted with the manager for awhile as I always do. Very resigned about the election. Heart-breaking to hear from those who called Afghanistan home. The restaurant on Van Ness Ave is about 5 blocks -- steep downhill and uphill! -- from my apt. so call me if you want to meet up for a bite anytime. Swensen's is on the return hike. Maybe we'll have a get-together at the Helmand after our campaigns are done and before the year ends.

Blanket in progress

Hi! I'm new to the blog, but I've been crocheting for A4a for a while now. I'm in the middle of a crochet marathon this weekend, in hopes of finishing this in time. The dimensions are about right - I just have to turn it into something resembling a rectangle! It's done with a heavy alpaca yarn and a N hook, so it goes fairly quickly. More later - back to my hook!

Gwyneth in Durham, NC

Two hats for the campaign. Am to work at A for A on Thursday and will bring them with me. I am so impressed with all of you on the blog. You have knit and crocheted and poured your energy into your projects. It will be a warmer winter for Afghan children.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009

I Finished the Sweater-Thanks for all the help1

Hi to my fellow a4Aer's.
Here's the sweater I finished today. I had hoped to get my neighbor's girl to model it, but it's pouring rain here so I probably won't see her today, and I need to get this in the mail. And Sue ordered me to post a photo when I was done. ;-) This was crocheted with Lions Wool yarn that I picked up last March when Hobby Lobby decided not to carry it anymore. (Thanks again to whoever gave the heads up on that great bargain; I don't remember who it was.) I followed the largest size in the instructions (12) and went up one size for the hooks because I tend to crochet tightly.
Thanks again to cti and Sue, for all your help and encouragement when I got stuck on the pattern, to my hubby for picking out the buttons, and especially for not grumbling about how behind I got on my house work while I crocheted night and day to finish this sweater. It turned out thick and warm!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hats and mitts in the mail

Woke up to cold, rain and news of intense fighting in Pakistan. Seemed like a good day to parcel up some wooly warmth.

The five hats are ones I've worked on off and on over the past few months. The yellow and green are my favourites, really thick and warm. The pattern is Cabled Cap from Vogue Knitting on the Go: Cables: Mittens, Hats & Scarves. The mittens are Elizabeth's pattern and I finally got the hang of making thumbs without gaping holes where they attach. Many thanks to the Knitting Nurse at Home Ec Workshop. Now that I can make decent thumbs, I'm hoping for an improved mittens to hats ratio for future collections.

In-Vest for Peace

FAST Bulky Hat

I had decided that I was not going to be able to make anything for the campaign this time, but felt a little tug on my heart. So, I put aside all my other knitting projects yesterday morning and made this quick, bulky hat. I used some bulky 100% alpaca yarn that came in a Nicky Knits poncho kit. Very soft and warm.

So, now at least ONE child will be a little warmer. :D
A4A Bulky Child's Hat

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A good start

Here's a photo of the start I made tonight on the alpaca-wool mittens. I'm doing them two at a time because I'm using scraps of yarn and don't want to find myself a few inches short on the second mitten. Though I generally prefer to use double points, this method does have some very useful applications.
Thanks to Elizabeth for finding the newly posted "Outsider Mittens" pattern. I like the fact that both mittens are made the same.

Michaels Yarn Sale

Michaels has Patton's classic merino wool for 3.99 a skein this week.
In case anyone needs to restock. :-)

My recent sweater I just sent to a4a for the current Youth Campaign - might have a pair or 2 of mittens too

Youth Campaign Deadline is October 29

The deadline for the youth campaign was just announced. Everything must be in San Francisco by October 29 -- that is one week from tomorrow. So get your mittens, socks, vests, hats, and bigger blankets -- minimum dimensions of 40 x 45 inches (100 x 115 cm), not to exceed 40-50 inches (100-127 cm) x 45-55 inches (115-140 cm) -- in the mail. I am picking up one last pair of mittens from a friend tonight, and I'll mail my package tomorrow. Yes, I have another pair of mittens and a pair of socks in progress, but it looks like those will roll over into the next youth campaign, whenever that might be.


5 hats and no literature review

Hi all - no pics, camera should be here this week from QVC (love it!) but I just wanted to say that I was able to crank out 5 hats in two weeks when I should really have been writing my lit review for my dissertation. But hats for warm little heads felt much better to spend time on. I love checking on this site! Take care.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Update on 8/18 Yarn Weight Question for Baby Blanket

Hello, I finally finished my baby blanket for the baby blanket campaign. I promised that I'd send you pictures of my final product. I knitted most of the blanket in an alpaca wool/silk blend and the rest in a soft baby wool. The edge is a heavier weight alpaca/silk blend in crochet. Measurement is roughly 55"x45". If it's big enough for the youth campaign then I hope it gets there, if not, I hope it is good for the baby blanket campaign that I originally planned for it to meet. I'm re-posting my original image, because that picture shows the color and texture better than my new pictures. I stitched a chain stitch where I had changed colors in my knitting. I ran out of the brick red and kelly green color, so the tip of my blanket is not green as I originally planned. I hope it will be OK for one of the 2 campaigns.


One for the Campaign

I've been distracted by Christmas gift knitting, so I finished only one pair of socks for the Youth Campaign. I will post them tomorrow.

This pair will probably fit a 7 - 8 year old.

I've admired all the beautiful blankets, sweaters, and mittens others have posted. Good Job!

Five pairs of socks

I just posted five pairs of socks - one smallish, two mediumish, and two largeish. I took some photos and will post those soon, but wanted to stoke the momentum by sharing this bit of progress. Not sure if I'll make another pair for this drive, with some other knitting commitments.


Does anyone remember where to find the mitten pattern that was recommended on a prior campaign for using the super-bulky Blue Sky alpaca-wool yarn? I have leftovers from the baby blanket we made earlier this year that I think will be about right for a pair of mittens.



One youth sweater and a pair of mittens

First-time poster, long-time knitter for a4A.

When the youth campaign was announced, I pulled out my go-to sweater pattern, Knitted Seamless Raglan Sweaters, by Leisure Arts. Cast-on, knit, increase here and there, and suddenly there is a sweater. This yarn, Patons Classic Merino, is nothing if not colorful. I hope it keeps a girl or boy warm.

These mittens are made top-down also. The thumb is knit separately and then attached, knitting back and forth, with a k2tog. Eventually you start knitting in the round again. There are not the usual holes at the thumb that I usually get knitting wrist to top.


I did some mittens last night, based on this pattern. They use bulky yarn and a "J" size hook, which I rarely use and I'm a little bit concerned about them. They are very thick and feel warm, but with any bulky yarn the "holes" in the crochet are larger than they would be if you used a finer gauge yarn and hook. If anyone on staff has feedback, I'd appreciate it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Fourth Blanket

Here is my 4th blanket. It is done in a shell stitch with Paton's Classic Merino in blues and greens.

The reddish/brown blanket is an Acrylic replacement for a wool blanket that my daughter-in-law felted down to a pot holder size in the washing machine. (I know...not a4A, but I thought you'd like to see it.


Another double-stranded youth blanket

Again, the constant strand is purple sport yarn from Bear Farms. The lanolin has not been removed from this yarn so it is not very soft, but it is waterproof. When mixed with a soft yarn it makes a beautiful warm blanket. The gray, yellow and orange yarns are Emu Super Wash.

Two Scrap-ghans..........

….one for baby, one for youth. Both are made with double strands of wool using an N hook. The constant strand in the baby blanket is Bear Farms sport yarn; in the youth blanket it’s an angora strand. The rest is made of those little 2” balls of leftovers, Russian joined. At the end there are just 4 ends to weave! The pattern is #43 from ‘101 Stitches for Afghans’, my new favorite pattern – mindless but not boring. I also like this pattern because it will accommodate mixing various weights of yarn without ending up lumpy and misshapen. Both blankets are very warm, but the youth with the angora is also ultra soft.

reversible scrap afghan

When Irish Rose posted the link for the garter stitch mittens, I (of course) looked at everything else. Look at this amazing, reversible, totally from scraps afghan! I wish I could steal the picture, but that's bad blog manners; do go see.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Sue! Are You There? Pearl? Someone Who Crochets?

Sue, Pearl or somebody,

I am trying to make a sweater as fast as I can for this campaign. I just wished I had made some notes the first time I made this one. I am working on the sleeves right now and I wanted to ask what's the best way to add the increases as I'm working up from the wrist to shoulder.
work only with CA (blue for me) and at the same time inc 1 st each side every other row 3 times...
This pattern is alternating sc then dc all the way across the row.
What's the best way to add these extra stitches at the end of the rows and maintain the pattern?

new here...

I just joined the KAL. I also started a blog of my own as part of that process. I am a crocheter -- for some reason never got into knitting. I have been making things for A4A for a couple of years now, but I have been terrible at taking any pictures -- I figure the blog will encourage me to do that. Last month I sent in a baby blanket (no pic) for the CURE campaign and started another, which I am adding to for the Youth campaign. But meanwhile I knocked off a pullover (the "Wiggles" pattern pointed to from the A4A website) which is going in the mail today. It's not a good picture, but here it is:

Socks and Mittens

I've stopped making the baby blankets for a short time, to make socks and mittens for the youth campaign. As soon as I finish the last sock, I anxious to get back to the baby blankets. I have a lot to do before a mid-November deadline.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Hello everyone,

I haven't made anything for Afghans for Afghans in quite some time. For this Youth Campaign, the timing was perfect--I had just finished a Clapotis for which I'd bought 8 skeins of Noro Silk Garden. I had a 1.5 skeins left and just happened to get the email about the campaign right before I finished the shawl.

So, these mittens became my next project, and I finished them in 3 nights. The Noro will be nice and warm and they fit pretty well on my 14-year-old son. The colors are vibrant and interesting. I will now continue to knit for Afghans for Afghans--on this, the coldest night of the year so far on the East Coast, it feels good to be contributing something warm for a child who has so little.

Deb in NJ
(Ravelry: JerseyShoreDeb, and Blog: I'd Rather Be Knitting at the Beach)

We packed yesterday at AFSC Basement

That's Emily and Jo smiling and holding gifts knit by Carol (who traveled by car, ferry, and street car to help us pack!) I know Carol posted the baby blanket photo sometime back, but I will say that the blanket is even better looking f-2-f (we all are!). I think this is the way with most items -- photos don't do justice to the talent (still a lot of fun to see photos here of what people are making, so keep on posting). Carol's vest is handsome and well-styled -- perfect for the older kids in our youth campaign. We had a productive day -- as always! we have our dance routine down, plus enjoy each other's company so much -- with Pam and Chris, too. Our heartfelt thanks to all who have been mailing in their packages for both the youth and baby blanket campaigns. You are all talented, generous, and people of action! Glad we can work together during wartime.

I will post to our main email list when I can pin down the final due date. We're still looking at the end of October. Don't want to miss the boat, but trying to get as much knit and crochet time as possible for our youth campaign (7-14 years) for this winter.

-- Ann,

soon to be a blanket

These squares (you may recognize the colors from two of yesterday's pairs of mittens) are going to be a blanket very, very soon. All from stash -- how I love Peace Fleece!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Four pairs!

The smallest size will fit a kid around 7 years old; the ragg pair with red trim is about right for a 12- to 14-year-old.
The blue pairs used up some Peace Fleece that you will soon see in blanket form. The green pair were finished too late for the last mitten campaign, and by some miracle, I found them this time. The ragg pair with red trim were started for the last campaign; I ran across them in a bag. One mitten was finished except for the thumb, and the other was up past the ribbing. They'll go in the mail tomorrow.

Now to start sewing squares together. . .and work on my photo skills! And maybe reblock the checkerboard pair. . .

Monday, October 12, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving, Canadian members!

I am not Canadian -- Thanksgiving is more than a month away for me down here in Pennsylvania -- but the fact that it's Thanksgiving for my northern neighbors got me thinking about some of the many reasons I became involved with, and remain committed to, Afghans for Afghans.

I am grateful that my daughter can go to school, and that this afternoon she will be playing soccer, and that she does not have to worry about being hurt because she wants an education and that she can dress in clothes that won't interfere with her ability to run and play her sport.

I am grateful that I am sitting in this house feeling really really cold because I'm trying not to turn on the heat. It's a choice! It's there when I want it, and I know that.

I am grateful that if my electricity goes out, I know it will be fixed quickly. And that it probably won't go out again tomorrow or the day after or every day for a month.

And I could go on. I can't imagine being a woman or a mother in Afghanistan right now -- honestly not knowing how you can keep your kid clothed, fed, and warm, and even, many days, whether you can realistically expect that kid to reach adulthood.

So I knit. Just to say to those women, or to that kid (for the many homeless ones -- a degree of bleakness that exceeds my understanding) that someone hopes you will be warm, and knows that you are there and believes things can be better. . .


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mittens ready to go

Here is the pair of mittens I finished from stash for the youth campaign -- will pack them in with baby blanket I am sending for the CURE Hospital campaign. I hope to finish some more before the due date.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Stockinette, boring and not-so-boring

Here is a glimpse of my almost-finished baby blanket. I wanted to wait until it is totally done to post it on the blog, but since I saw the recent discussion of stockinette blankets, I wanted to chime in with my solution to stockinette-boredom: This blanket was knitted in the round, which means that although the stitch pattern was indeed a tad boring, it also got done very, very quickly.

I used a size 10 circular needle and combined one strand of mohair and one strand of fingering-weight wool. Every few rows I changed for a different fingering-weight wool as I had several shades of blue and periwinkle in my stash. I started with 2 inches in seed stitch, then went on in stockinette until the blanket was 40" long, and I reverted to a seed stitch border. (I know, that makes it longer than 40", but my blankets always tend to contract a bit once I launder them so I wanted to anticipate any shrinking).

After I bound off, I pulled out my "How to Steek" notes and carefully cut right at the end-of-round marker line. Then, I picked up stitches all along each long side to knit a seed stitch border, then a facing that will eventually cover the cut edges. I'll post detailed photo of this knitting surgery on my blog when I am done so you can all see how easy and fast the process really is. Plus I figure it is good practice for the day when I am finally brave enough to steek an actual cardigan or pullover, instead of a plain rectangle.

For now I am procrastinating on this finishing touch because I suddenly found my inspiration for the Youth drive. My project of choice is a pullover; I gathered a bunch of worsted-weight wools from my stash, mostly reds, purples, some greens and browns too. This is what I have so far:
Kiki Mariko pullover

I am following a chart I found for the Kiki Mariko rug pattern in the second "Mason-Dixon Knitting" book. This is a lot of fun and the color-stranding makes it very warm. I haven't decided what will happen once I get to the armholes however -- probably some solid blocks of color. We shall see...