Sunday, October 30, 2011

Knit-In at the Islamic Cultural Center, Oakland, CA, Oct. 29

Yesterday, we met at the Islamic Cultural Center in Oakland, CA, to knit for Afghanistan. This was part of the program offerings by the American Friends Service Committee for their Windows & Mirrors art exhibit on Afghanistan. We sat in the cafe where kids and parents and other visitors were hanging out in between their weekend activities. We met a few Afghan-Americans who were quite intrigued by our samples of authentic Afghan knitting and the patterns we wrote to document these designs for knitting here. Many have fond memories of knitting in their own families. We showed our slides of images from our distributions in Afghanistan over the years and many volunteer photos.

Local packing volunteer Laura helped hostess the afternoon. We were joined by long-time volunteers Gail, Keiko, and Jun, who are part of our East Bay gang. We met long-time volunteer Jody -- who drove all the way from Davis to deliver a box filled with wool socks and vests for the current campaign. The color combos were fantastic. And, Jody definitely improved our In-VEST for Peace pattern that has problems in the neck decrease area. (I discourage most people from using the pattern. Other patterns exist -- even if they take a little more skill ... better to have a well-functioning garment.) Big thanks to Jody for coming all the way to join us -- we're so glad we've met now, and we'll have to arrange a packing day around a future day trip to SF so Jody can have the Basement Experience.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

first sweater of this season mailed on Oct. 20, 2011

I mailed my first sweater of this season last week. It is a great pattern, fast with a nice cable down the front. It is a Bernat Chunky kid's pullover, although I have used Lamb's Pride Bulky yarn for one last season and this one is Nashua Creative Focus Chunky. Linda S.

First pair of mittens

Is this the first post for this campaign? Mittens are quick. I'm packing these up this evening. One pair of mittens fits in a small priority mail flat rate box very nicely.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

With Help the Afghan Children's
Suraya Sadeed on Saturday Night
At the Islamic Cultural Center in Oakland

Local packing volunteer Emily and her husband John visiting with Suraya and getting a book autograph --

Suraya was joined by local professor Mustafa Popal and AFSC's Peter Lems to talk about "Afghan Responses to War." She emphasized the important of building civil society and discussed her plans for a peace-education curriculum --

Notice the red scarf on Suraya? The alpaca scarf was made by one of our devoted local volunteers. We wanted Suraya to know how much we appreciate her ... that required a hand-knit gift, naturally!

Suraya flew back to Washington, DC, today. How lucky we were to have this opportunity to meet and visit together with this courageous woman who keeps on persevering after all these years. What an inspiration! Suraya departs for Afghanistan in a few weeks. She travels to her homeland a few times a year for her work.

The art banners are part of AFSC's Windows & Mirrors: Reflections on the War in Afghanistan, an exhibit that has been traveling around the country. The Islamic Cultural Center in Oakland is a fantastic old building that was once a Masonic temple.

Are you intrigued by the exhibit? Want to check out this unusual interior? Want to get together in real life? If you're near Oakland, California ... please Join us on October 29, next Saturday, from noon to 4 pm, to knit and crochet for Afghanistan.

Friday, October 21, 2011

With Suraya last night! Join us on Sat pm!

Here's our group last night at Suraya's first Bay Area appearance ... at USF (part of American Friends Service Committee exhibit program called Windows and Mirrors) ... we had such a good time visiting. Please join us on Saturday night in Oakland at 7 pm at the Islamic Center. Let your friends know, too. The event is free.

We were moved by Suraya's talk about serving the people of her homeland, and she was moved by seeing examples of such top-quality knits made especially for the kids in her schools. Then ... we had a small earthquake, and we all moved together!

Photo from L to R: Eric (from Emergency USA, Jo, Carol, Suraya's niece Zari, Suraya, and Ann. Jo and Carol are long-time Basement packing volunteers, as you probably recognize from past photos.

Suraya recently published her book -- “Forbidden Lessons in a Kabul Guesthouse” -- about her experiences in building schools and saving lives in her homeland. Please join us in welcoming Suraya to the Bay Area! Suraya would love to meet the volunteers knitting and crocheting for her kids. Suraya will be selling and signing copies of her book. Such a rare opportunity to meet the person -- Afghan-American Suraya Sadeed -- who is going to actually be distributing some of our wool gifts this winter.

Read more about Suraya and her book on her website.

Suraya autographing her book for Carol --

Books purchased through our website (via the Amazon affiliates program links) generate a small percentage of cash support for the afghans for Afghans program. Suraya's book is at the top of our list of course --

afghans for Afghans' bookstore

Thursday, October 20, 2011

some yarn

When I went on vacation in July, I knew there would be a picnic table on the back porch that would be just right for my swift and ballwinder, so I took a large plastic bin of yarn, mostly Bartlett's Maine wool. All set and ready to go:

This pile of yarn was designated for A4A and other such ventures, and the goal is to have the box empty by the end of the winter. I am making progress, but I don't have to knit it all up myself, so I am going to share with two people. Each set of 3 balls will make 2 adult-sized pairs of socks or 3 pairs of mittens -- or various assortments of mittens and socks. Send your name and mailing address (I am good with the computer, but have not yet figured out how to email yarn) to me at this address: It is Thursday night where I live; on Monday morning, I will pick two people and send the yarn on its way (not limited to people in the U.S.).  It's OK to state a preference for the left or right grouping, but you may not get the one you asked for. All of the yarn is prettier in person, and the stack on the right does, indeed, include 2 balls of the same color, a very interesting heathery purply bluish grayish mix.

I only ask that you post a picture, if possible, of what you've made when you send it in. If you don't have a camera, please email me when your socks or mittens are on the way.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Friday, October 14, 2011

10 years!

Sometime between now and the end of the year, afghans for Afghans will hit its 10th birthday. I can't believe I've been doing this so long. I really can't believe Ann's been doing it this long -- with the same level of energy and commitment as when she started. Thank you, Ann, for making it possible for all of us to use our knitting and crocheting skills to help keep some of the people of Afghanistan warm in these hard times.

I'd like to say I'd do something spectacular in honor of the occasion -- like knit 10 things for this campaign. But that would be a promise that I would almost certainly fail to keep. Instead, I'm going to just make sure that I finish things on time (or ahead of time) and send them on in as they're ready. I may even have something to show by this time next week. I just started a sweater that says my 5 skeins of Lopi are enough for the size 10-12. I am skeptical. We'll see! A last-minute "design element"may be required -- fortunately, it's a top-down pattern, so I can add a seemingly intentional broad band of a contrasting color at the bottom of the body and sleeves if 5 skeins doesn't quite do it.

What's everybody else working on?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

And -- we're back!

Ann just announced the new campaign this afternoon. Link in the sidebar. Please, please, if at all possible, make a sweater -- but if not possible, mittens, socks, vests, and blankets are all needed too. Again, kids 7-16; due date sometime in January. Go over to the A4A site to refresh your memory on requirements, sizing, etc.

I have a sweater that was soooooo close to going last time, but I messed up one of the raglan seams and put it aside for too long. It's coming out and getting finished, for real this time, next week.

Perfect timing for those of us who live where it gets cold in the winter -- just as the weather gets cool and reminds us how miserable life would be without warm clothes.