Saturday, November 28, 2009

Following up on Warm Woolies

I was sad also about Warm Woolies closing. A group of WW regular knitters/crocheters on ravelry are talking about continuing there as C/KAL. I'll be sure to post about active a 4 A campaigns there.

Friday, November 27, 2009

more 6-inch squares

I've noticed that I'm not the only one who knits blanket squares in anticipation of a future campaign that will include a request for blankets. Now, making it clear that I have no idea what's coming, and emphasizing that blankets may not be requested again for another year or two or even ever (we never know what's going to happen), here are two more patterns in my monthly series of 6-inch blocks. I didn't post them earlier, because I didn't want to introduce any confusion or distract from the youth or baby blanket campaigns.

These squares are great for using up the last bit of a ball of yarn -- each takes about half an ounce of yarn -- or when you're between projects, or when you just want to knit something but nothing you have in progress appeals to you. I'll post these using the name of the month I originally assigned to them, just to help me keep track. And I'll add pictures once I've blocked mine -- right now they're kind of rumpled and/or all curled up. I try to make four of these squares each month, wash them, and then put away in their box. Sometimes all four are the same color, but not always.

Square #2 (October)

Diagonal Rib
multiple of 4 sts +2, 8 rows (but you do can stop on whatever row you need to to make your 6-inch block)
Row 1 (RS): *k2, p2* across, end k2
Row 2: *p2, k2* across, end p2
Row 3: k1, *p2, k2,* end p1
Row 4: k1, *p2, k2* across, end p1
Row 5: *p2, k2* across, end p2
Row 6: *k2, p2* across, end k2
Row 7: p1, *k2, p2* across, end k1
Row 8: p1, *k2, p2* across, end k1
Block directions:
Cast on 30 stitches.
Knit 4 rows (2 ridges).
Keeping first 2 and last 2 stitches in garter stitch (I find it helpful to place a marker to remind me that those 2 stitches are outside the pattern), work in pattern stitch for your magic number of rows– i.e., the number of rows you determined in block 1 would give you a 6-inch block. For me, that’s 42 rows – I will knit 42 rows of pattern stitch for every block I make, in each stitch pattern. For you, it may be 38 or 44; just do what works for you.
Knit 4 rows (2 ridges).
Bind off.

Square #3 (November)
Garter Rib
multiple of 4 sts +2, 2 rows
Row 1 (RS): *k2, p2* across, end k2
Row 2: Purl across
Block directions:
Cast on 30 stitches.
Knit 4 rows (2 ridges).
Keeping first 2 and last 2 stitches in garter stitch (I find it helpful to place a marker to remind me that those 2 stitches are outside the pattern), work in pattern stitch for your magic number of rows– i.e., the number of rows you determined in block 1 would give you a 6-inch block. For me, that’s 42 rows – I will knit 42 rows of pattern stitch for every block I make, in each stitch pattern. For you, it may be 38 or 44; just do what works for you.
Knit 4 rows (2 ridges).
Bind off.

The square for December will be up soon; that one will be easy, too, in deference to the chaos that is December. January and February might be slightly more complex.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Be the first one on your block

Does everyone who belongs to this blog get the announcements of new campaigns via email? If you don't, you can sign up right here, on the first page of the a4A site, and never again be the last to know what's coming. . .The latest word is that there's a really good chance the next campaign will be another one for kids aged 7 to 14, but no firm guidelines have been established yet. I have mittens to finish that didn't make it for the last one, but I'm not planning to start anything new until I hear what's most necessary. Stay tuned, and sign up for the mailing list!

For those who have wondered -- there's no afghans for Afghans staff, sitting somewhere in a big modern office. It's just Ann. And she doesn't just decide "Hey, we should do baby blankets again." She formulates a campaign only in response to a specific request from a reputable and trustworthy group in Afghanistan, and even then, it's not a campaign until shipping has been finalized. The logistics of shipping halfway around the world are complex at the best of times; when war is added to the mix, it becomes exponentially more so. There have been requests that couldn't be met, and some of those very speedy campaigns have taken shape because an opportunity to ship arose almost at the last minute.

I don't know how she does it, but I'm very glad she does.

--Elizabeth D

Ann, this is for you!

Ann has been wheedling, cajoling, suggesting, hoping. . . that we will post pictures of ourselves along with our knitted and crocheted contributions. Now, no one hates being photographed more than I do, but I decided to bite the bullet and do this for her. My daughter tends to get better pictures of me than most people, so I enlisted her help. So here I am (last time Ann saw me, 7 years or so ago, my hair was still brown and very curly -- this is what 7 years will do).

The weather forecast was damp, which has been the case for the last several months, so I rushed the blanket to its photo shoot pre-blocking, on what was expected to be the one good day. It looks OK here, but it looks really good now that it's been washed and everything is nicely evened out and flattened. I made 12 10-inch mitered squares, starting with two blue sides and working down to the bright little squares. It required 4 and most of a 5th skein of blue Peace Fleece, with odds and ends, also of Peace Fleece, for the other colors.

Things never come out quite the way they looked in my head, but I'm pretty pleased with this one. If I were to use this design again, I think I'd add blue on the two edges where the small bright squares come abruptly to the edge, but this one is on its way to keep some little person warm!


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Done and on its way

Here at last is my corner-to-corner garter stitch blanket. It started out to be a "Stegs" but I decided that finished and in use was better than eventually having a pointy knitted edge. Instead, it has a border of two rounds of half double crochet. Thanks to Bloo for her instructions (back in August) for making a corner-to-corner rectangle instead of a square.

Many of you will recognize the variegated Wool of the Andes a number of us got last year on a terrific deal. I used it double, with size 13 needles, and the colors worked out very nicely. Even better in real life than in the photo. The yarn for the edge was also a sale find mentioned on the blog. Thanks to those who've informed us of sales in the past so I could produce this and so many other items I've made for a4A.

May we all have a wonderful Thanksgiving remembering all we have to be grateful for.


Friday, November 20, 2009

yet another question!

Does "due date" mean the postmark date or the "must be in the basement by" date?

I love reading everyone's posts and especially seeing your beautiful projects!

an announcement, a question

Hi everyone--

I just got an email from Warm Woolies that it is going to close down at the end of 2009 :-( I figured some of you knit for WW also and would want to know. WW has assisted a4A in the past.

Also: Any early info on details for the next campaign? I am ready to start something new!


Not making Monday

Ah, well. Best-laid plans and all - but I won't have another blanket finished by today, which is when I need to mail it for Monday's deadline.

On the up side, since the CURE Hospital seems to have a need every year, I am going to finish the blanket and tuck it away for the next campaign. I use lavendar and cedar to protect woolies so it should be fine. I may make a few more blankets with other yarn in the A4A bin on principle and tuck them away as well.

If I feel moved, a couple vests also, since the youth campaigns seem to come around regularly. I find a vest easier to knit than socks. For one thing: no having to match two items!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Blankets and Mitts...

Here are a few pics to share what I have been working on.

This is a corner-to-corner knit blanket which I made and mailed a little while ago. All the orange/gold/red/brown colours were dyed with kool-aid so that I could use up cream-coloured wool (except the pale yellow yarn).

This orange blanket below is going in the mail tonight - the orange is a 50/50 llama/wool blend that I bought online at a great price, and the brown/green yarns are leftover Light Lopi wool. This is the Finnias pattern which I think is a great pattern for our purposes (although, you can tell I miscalculated the size a bit and had to add on to the ends to get the right length!). I crocheted the border twice over and still ended up with a bit of a wavy edge but in the interests of time I decided not to redo it a third time so I could get it in the mail.

These mittens were sent for the recently-completed youth campaign - all of them are made with leftovers of Lopi using Elizabeth D's excellent pattern.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


As a new member I'm wondering if blankets are part of a campaign or are always for a Cure drive? If they are not for Cure is there a size requirement?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I've made a few things for the youth campaign (mailed them in time!) and the CURE Hospital. The first two photos show the three vests and two pairs of mittens I sent for the youth campaign.

On the left, a vest of Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky in mistake rib, with mittens in sock yarn (one green and one black together) and a red-black tweed wool. On the right, a vest of the same BSLPB with some accent stripes in blue, looking darker because of a photographic difference, and another in two different colourways of Lighthouse Ocean Sunset with ribbing in Naturespun Sport used double. I alternated the two colourways of Ocean Sunset and really like the effect of the striping. I have a few more balls and may do another for a future youth campaign.

These are two blankets I have made for the CURE Hospital and already mailed:

On the left is the one that is my profile picture. I didn't realize the pictures were not automatically connected. I made it of various oddballs of wool yarns in fingering (used double) to worsted weight, in garter stitch. I call it "doodling in yarn." On the right is one with a centre panel of Noro Transitions, one skein I obtained very inexpensively in an oddballs bin and I never used. When it ran out I worked rows of the same BSLPB that I used in the vests above; I have quite a lot of it! The greyish band is some leftover Noro Kochoran. In the photo it almost matches the carpeting underneath, an interesting effect I will admit.
I am crocheting a blanket now, using some coned wool I got inexpensively a number of years ago. One strand of red and one of off-white held together. Just a very quick thing, I may add a row of another colour in the edging for a bit of zip. Hopefully it will be done this weekend to be mailed in time for Monday. I need to have that hook flying!

Finished Baby Blanket

It's done! The edges are still a bit wavy, but it's not too bad. I had two main problems: my starting chain and the first few rows tend to be looser than the body of the afghan, and the light green yarn is actually a different brand that's slightly lighter weight than the rest. I was able to add some width to those sections by using a half-double crochet in the border instead of a single crochet. The steam blocking helped!

Now to get it packed up and in the mail ...


Blue mohair blanket, all done!

Blue Cloud Baby Blanket

I posted about this blanket a while ago; it was set aside so I could focus on the Youth campaign which had a shorter deadline, and I finally finished it about 2 weeks ago. I knitted it in the round, with one strand mohair held together with one strand of fingering-weight wool. The mohair was always the same -- Laines du Nord Kiddy Print in variegated blue, and the thin wools varied from light blue to navy blue to periwinkle. I used up quite a few half-skeins of blue wool this way. The wools also softened the mohair and made it more suitable to babies.

Once the knitting was finished, I steeked the blanket and knitted facings to cover the raw edges. I know the word "steeking" strikes fear in many knitters' hearts, so I described the operation in detail on my blog here to reassure any doubter that this is a fast and enjoyable way to knit a blanket!

Afghan becomes a shawl

New to A4A and yarn activities, except for those assigned by junior high school home ec teachers years ago, I would like to say hello. My name is Lynette and I live and work in Minnesota where warm wear is essential for survival. I learned about A4A via a blog mentioning the American Red Cross and how its former war-time knitting projects serve as inspiration for A4A. My first crochet project, pictured here, was supposed to be a baby afghan for the CURE baby afghan project due November 23. Alas, my afghan grew 20 inches in length and shrunk two inches in width after a machine washing (my bad, I know), and became a toasty warm shawl that will never have the dimensions required for CURE. (Experts at my my local yarn shop confirm this.) So, I will not make this coming afghan-making deadline, but will, perhaps, try for the next one!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Source of crochet patterns

I just wanted to share these. A lot of FREE crochet patterns can be found through the linksat - I often go here if I don't find a pattern Iwant to try in my collection of old pamphlets.

As for me - longtime A4A contributor, first time poster here. I've been knitting and crocheting for most of my life and have contributed both knitted and crocheted items. My photo shows a blanket I recently sent, just "doodling" with random oddballs of yarn. I may get one more done in time to send for the November 23rd deadline, but I have a baby gift to finish first.
Dear A4A friends,
I'm excited to be able to attend the Parliment of World Religions in Melbourne Australia in Dec. for my work (with an interfaith organization) and look what I found on the schedule! I'll attend this (with my knitting of course) and send the blog a report!

Knit Together in Love: Communities Enriched by Altruistic Handicrafting
Alison Hood
Academic Paper and Interactive Workshop
When you make a handmade object, you reconnect to the process of creation. You transform raw materials into a finished product, rather than simply buying a mass-produced item. You experience fellowship and connectedness with other craftspeople, as well as with those for whom the object is intended. This research-based workshop will highlight individuals and small groups that employ their handcrafting skills to make unique textile objects, created for the sole purpose of giving them to those in need, often complete strangers. Knitters and crocheters are welcome to bring their crafts with them to work on as we discuss how, through engaging in this process, individuals build
relationships with themselves, each other, and the community at large. This session will focus in particular on how knitters and crocheters respond to the needs of the community, as well as their empowering role as stewards of knowledge, skills, and resources. These creative processes are explored using the theoretical framework of ‘lived religion’, which examines how religion and spirituality function in the creative process of handicraft, as well as how they are manifested within the daily lives of people who participate in them.

Alison Hood is Chair of Religious Studies at Huntington University. She teaches courses pertaining to the contemporary issues of technology, spirituality, and ritual and their effects on life experiences. Alison is a member of the Canadian Society for the Study of Religion and is currently pursuing her Doctorate at the University of Queensland, researching altruistic handcrafting as ‘lived religion’. She holds a BA from Laurentian University and an MA from Wilfrid Laurier University.

A book and an article

Here's a book for kids aged 9 to 12 with a major thread about Afghanistan. Andrew Clements is a wonderful writer -- I've read almost all his books, even though I'm considerably older than his official target audience. I've requested this one from the library and can't wait.

In other news about Afghanistan, I found this article when reading on-line news reports from my college, Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. It's about an extraordinary family of siblings from Afghanistan and how all of the kids are pursuing their educations with the goal of going back and rebulding their country (one of them is at Bates). These are remarkable kids, and there's a little bit of insight into what life has been like over the past 20years.

slip-stitch hat (knitting)

Hello, everybody! Sewing those blankets together frantically? Yeah, me too. . .

I wanted to share this terrific pattern with you. I know that we try to discourage people from making all hats all the time -- because other things are equally or more needed, but (1) requests for hats do come around from time to time; (2) this is a brilliant pattern for using up all the scraps that are left over from your bigger projects; and (3) the designer is one of the moderators of the Fans of Afghans for Afghans group over on Ravelry.

I can't wait to try this one -- but I'm afraid it's going to have to roll over into January.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ann, Here It Is!

Ok, Ann, I promised to be in my photo once I got my blanket finished and here it is!

Thanks again for all the help figuring out this 'X' cable stitch. I wouldn't have the courage to try these harder patterns if I didn't know Sue, Pearl, Cti, and others were out there waiting to help when I get stuck! It made for a nice thick blanket though it did use a lot of yarn. (Over 10 skeins of Lion Brand Wool.) My hubby took the photo for me and did the closeup inset of the border, (don't ask me how; I'm not the computer whiz he is!) I really wanted to do more than one color on the border as Cti suggested, but I didn't have a color that would work at home since I was working on this pretty late most nights.
This will go out in the mail this week.
Shirley (off to rest my wrist)

Two more blankets

These are 2 more blankets I crocheted for the CURE campaign. I have another one half finished, but I don't think I'll have the time to get it done and mailed before the deadline. I'll just save it for the next campaign.

PS Depending on who you are talking to, some people call me Mary, some Mary Rose, and some Rose. I'll answer to any of these names. :)

Friday, November 13, 2009

another crochet sweater

Never ending blanket

Finally, the never ending blanket is done! It's a real stash buster with each stitch taking 3" of yarn. I'll get it in the mail tomorrow.

Crochet sweater from the files ...

This is in response to cti's post about designing a crochet pattern for a4A ... this terrific cardigan was made a couple years ago by Pamela in NYC. She told me the pattern is from an old and out of print Better Homes and Gardens crochet pamphlet. I am posting the photo here for inspiration.

I think my only suggestion might be that the torso might be better with a little more length, but I am not sure, as I can't tell from this photo exactly (and I don't quite remember when I had the sweater in hand at the Basement.)

Pamela has been hosting a wonderful knitting/crochet group for a4A in NYC. They make individual projects and group blankets. Very creative women, often adding extra flourishes -- charming buttons or a touch of embroidery and mixes of stitches on the group constructions. If any New Yorkers are reading this and want to contact Pamela, please email me, and I will put you in touch. This photo is from 2007 when I had a chance to meet up with them at the Point knitting shop/cafe in Greenwich Village. Kay from Mason-Dixon was with us too, but must have escaped before the photo. I love New York ...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

baby blanket of leftovers...

Here is the blanket that I made from the leftover squares of the youth blanket. It looks a lot the same, just has wider borders around each square and the whole blanket in order to fill it out to a 40x40 size. That is the end of that yarn!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

thinking about patterns

When we are all done with this campaign, I might take some time this winter to work up some crochet sweater patterns that would be good for A4A. I've made a post on my personal blog so as not to clutter up this one -- if you have any interest or preferences, I would love your comments. I make a lot of "one-offs" and don't generally put the effort into creating directions that others can use as a guideline to make it again, so this may take a while :). (BTW, I work in computer software and believe in "open source", so anything I design would be free for anyone to use).

Peggy's article to read

Peggy Gordon of Fairmount (near Philadelphia) sent me the article -- "Global Warming ... In a Positive Sense," Home News -- from their local paper that tells the story of her knitting group making blankets for Afghanistan. I found the online link so you can read: Fairmount Knitters Keeping Afghans Warm.

The online version does not include the print version photo of Peggy at her home surrounded by their group blankets on the sofa, so I am posting this Basement photo we have that features Pam holding one of their blankets from earlier this year --

Great job, Peggy, on getting the story in the press and the blankets!

(Very smart, too, to ask the public for donations of wool for your group.)

Peggy told me that Margaret Tobin does all their crocheting and has the great color sense for the assembly. And, small world, I think Elizabeth mentioned that she knows these folks in her local knitting world.

(That's Mary-Ellen on the left. Unfortunately, she no longer works for AFSC cause of budget-cut layoffs. We miss her. We wish her the best, and her next employer is going to be very lucky.)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sue? Pearl? Cti? What do you think?

Ok here's a small shot of the blanket I've been working on.
I measured it and it's 32" X 38".
I think the minimum size is 30" X 40".
Should I try to add to the border?
If so, what's the best way?
The current border is sc skip two sc 5 dc in next sc repeat.

Here's a colorful blanket in progress! I'm glad I stopped and took a picture - I didn't realize how wobbly the edges are. I'm backing up and fixing one of the problems and hoping the rest will get evened out with the border.

The hexagon blanket for the last campaign didn't work out very well - it ended up too long and the half-hexagons didn't make a straight edge. It can be fixed, I think. By the time I had it all put together, I realized what I should have been doing! It should be ready for the next youth campaign, whenever that is.


More blankets

This is the blanket I made with the yarn donated by Shirley. I wanted to do something special with her yarn - not just the usual stripes or 10" squares - so I found this free pattern on the internet. It's called "City Blocks Afghan". (Free Crochet Pattern 90174AD City Blocks Afghan : Lion Brand Yarn Company ) I had to adjust the pattern to make a baby afghan, but it came out a little wider than I expected. Thank you Shirley for the beautiful yarn - I really enjoyed making it.

anybody making blankets?

The A4A blog and ads

Hi, everyone --

I need to bring up a subject that some may not have seen when I last posted about it in the comments section. Ann and I have decided it's necessary to bring it up more visibly now, but I hope doing so does not make anyone uncomfortable.

A few weeks ago, in the comments section, I noted that that we wanted to keep this blog totally noncommercial. I had hoped to avoid writing a featured post like this one. When people come here, from links on the A4A site, or when they do a search for A4A, it's so much more inspiring for them to see all of our beautiful work and enthusiasm. This blog is intended as a community of knitters working together to aid the suffering civilians of Afghanistan, especially children, and that's what the focus has always been intended to be.

I know that the people who post info about the sales on wool yarn are doing it purely in a spirit of sharing, and hope you all will understand why we're asking that the blog pull back a bit to its main focus. The enthusiasm of the last few weeks as we raced the deadline for the youth campaign was so exciting -- I'd love to see us all keep feeling that way!

When I asked, before, that no further sales be mentioned on this blog, I did mention that all of the "big box" craft stores offer email newsletters that you can subscribe to. They'll send you advance notice of what's on sale next week, and they often (some of them always) include a pretty good coupon. That's an even better way to find out what good deals are around.

So, does that mean you can't ever mention a store by name? A gray area, indeed. If your local store is having a knit-in for A4A, by all means say who and where they are! If your local store is a place that carries great wools, has a nice owner, and you really think everyone should try to shop there -- no, that's an ad. If a local yarn store gave you all the yarn you used for your afghan, that's even grayer -- but I think a public thank you would be OK.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Yarn Sales

Apparently, we are not allowed to post messages about yarn sales on this blog. Has anyone else heard this information? It seems I've seen quite a few references to sales in the past.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

I Didn't Even See It!

I didn't even see the new info that Ann sneaked onto the blog page early last week -- the due date for baby blankets has been set! November 23 in the U.S., November 16 if you're mailing to the Canadian collection point. Clearly I need to stop procrastinating on weaving in ends and get those squares seamed together.


Friday, November 6, 2009

I didn't know that.

First of all, congratulations to everyone for the 50 cartons for CWS. And in such a short turn around time! Those hooks & needles were really flying to accomplish all that. A special thanks to the Basement Crew. What an awesome job they have.

Well, here's what I didn't know:

To eliminate 'ladders' on socks or mittens, when you reach the end of a double-pointed needle, always work two or three stitches from the next needle onto the working needle. Doing this will move the boundary between needles and will help prevent a line of loose stitches between needles.

The next thing I didn't know is to help eliminate the holes at the base of the thumb. Pick up a couple extra stitches, then when knitting the first round, decrease to the number your pattern calls for.

I read about these hints on Knitting Daily. I haven't tried them, but will, the next pair of socks or mittens I knit.

The last thing I didn't know comes from ACECO or Afghan Children's Education & Care Organization. If that sounds vaguely familiar, it's because they were featured on the NBC Nightly News: a young Afghan woman has opened an orphanage for 150 Afghan children. What I didn't know is that it's equally important to sponsor boys in Afghanistan. In my knitting, I've always favored styles & colors that I think girls would like. My perception is that girls are severely disadvantaged & I want to support them. But what I learned is that by including the boys, they are being taught tolerance & that girls have value. That does make sense to me.

See? You can teach a semi-old dog new things.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

circular blankets?

Hi all,

I see on the a4A website that for square baby blankets, the dimensions should be 40 X 40 inches. Is a 40 inch round (circle shaped) blanket acceptable or not?



Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Our wool gifts have left the Basement

Our 50 cartons of wool blankets, sweaters, vests, mittens, socks, and hats shipped out yesterday. Stephen (Associate Director at AFSC in SF), me, Elizabeth, Val, and Pam had the honor of final labeling, inventorying, seeing the truck loaded ... and holding up this beautifully scripted sign in Dari that says something like "handmade with love for the kids."

Where did I get our banner? On Sunday, I was at a Bay Area conference about rebuilding Afghanistan. (Rene, the moderator of the a4A friends group on Ravelry, kindly joined me at our info table.) We visited with many Afghan-Americans, and Fareed wrote the sign for us. I will email our photo to the CWS staff in Afghanistan, and I think they may share it with the children.

I will inform our whole email list with an item count and total when I get a chance. I also need to read all the notes that came with packages and send back the SASEs. Plus, we will pick new stash drawing winners. I may not get to this for a few days. I have a few things to catch up on. For now, I thought you would enjoy this photo -- at street level -- and knowing that our winter collection for youth has started its journey to Afghanistan.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Volunteering has all kinds of benefits

I was on my way to Ninth Street in order to help pack, using a November Fastpass on October 30. I thought you could use it for three days before it started. Turns out it's three days AFTER the first that you can use the PRIOR month's pass. Checking everyone as they exited, a very nice police officer asked me for my proof of payment and I casually showed her the fastpass. At which time she told me it was not good; I'd failed to pay my fare and it was a $75 ticket. Well, she then asked me where I was going, and I told her I was going to the American Friends' Service to pack sweaters and afghans for A4A. She asked me what that was, and I explained--people send knit and crocheted items from all over North America and we pack them for sending to families and children in Afghanistan. She then called the other officer over and told me to tell her where I was going. So I explained it again to her. They looked at each other, looked at me and the officer took my driver's license and sent me around to pay the $2.00 fare. I then traded my proof of payment for my id, and went on my way to pack with a bunch of nice people. Volunteering is great for all kinds of things!! Come join us.