Red Scarf Project

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Red Scarf Project 7: UPDATE! Red Scarf Project UPDATE!

The response to the Red Scarf Project has been tremendous. To say the least, I have been amazed at the outpouring of support! People everywhere are knitting and purling for this cause that is so close to my heart.

My friend Danielle had not knitted since she was a child; she picked up her needles and created three beautiful scarves. Another friend, Deborah, is a crocheter. Despite the fact that I told her crocheted scarves are welcome, she put down her hook and picked up some needles long enough to create four elegant scarves. A teacher at my school, Melanie, had a scarf waiting for me the day after I emailed her about the project. She has since given me five lovely scarves. Students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade at my school Piedmont Open IB Middle are knitting in their spare time. A parent volunteer, Mrs. Leighton, who is our resident knitting expert, gave me two scarves yesterday. Jane, a teacher at another school, heard about the scarf project and she sent over a BOXFUL of hand-woven scarves -- some have red threads but most are every other color imaginable. My friend Dana is making jewelry to sell at the scarf parties.

The scarves are starting to come in from new friends: I received a gorgeous "Opera Scarf" in the mail from Margene in Salt Lake City. I received a beautiful long, bright red scarf with fringe from Rin in Charlotte, N.C. I drove to Barbara's office in Charlotte yesterday to pick up an extravagant eyelash scarf she made after I met her last week in a yarn shop.

Here are several updates and/or changes to the project:

  • Jean at the Scottish Lamb designed and created the super effective Red Scarf button. This fabulous button is popping up everywhere!
  • My original post and letter mentioned the possibility of working for one of two organizations, the Hope Foster Home or China Care. I have been in touch with the director of Hope and I have decided that is where I am meant to go. They have a desperate need for assistance in their Special Care Unit in Henan Province, so that's where I will go in June.
  • Thanks to some very generous donations, my travel expenses will be taken care of. All proceeds from this point forward will go directly to Hope Foster Home. I will appreciate everyone's help in getting the word out about this change.
  • The first Red Scarf Party is being planned for Monday, Feb. 7, after school hours at my school. Faculty and staff will be invited, and parents will be welcomed via online newsletter.
  • There will be a silent auction at a major event at my school in March. The PTSA has agreed to put our scarves up for auction or to have a separate booth for information and sales.

I want to thank the many people who have responded in one way or another. Whether you've knitted a scarf, passed the word along, bought a scarf, or given words from experience -- I truly appreciate your support. I emphatically thank all of you!

Friday, January 28, 2005

Things I Learned from a Week in the Online Knitting World

  1. When you cast on with 81 stitches, you can call it one of three things: the German Twisted cast-on, the Old Norwegian cast-on, or the Twisted Half-Hitch cast-on. [link]
  2. Variegated yarn is crazy. [link]
  3. Cutting the toe off a sock is called "sockumcision" [link]
  4. Life is crazy, school is a killer, and it's hard to post when you're out of town. [link]
  5. Those may be the most adorable pewter dachshunds ever. [link]
  6. Aino Praakli's "Kirkindad: Patterned Mittens" is full of fabulous charts, many of which are surprising and new. [link]
  7. A blanket made with a garter stitch has more spring, and yarnovers at the ends of the rows give a place to stitch strips together. [link]
  8. Knitters can help save lives all around the world. [link]
  9. US10.5 needles suck. They take the same amount of time to complete a row that's half as wide as US5 or 6 needles. Plus, there is no flow and your hands get tired. [link]
  10. Bernat DenimStyle acrylic and soft cotton yarn makes a pettable sock monkey. [link]
  11. Sweet Grass Wool it is so different from Magpie Aran Tweed. It caresses your hands as it passes through your fingers [link]
  12. Tuesday is Knitalong Day [link]
  13. On first review, "Spinning Designer Yarns" by Diane Varney looks to be a very well done book. [link]
  14. When giving a gift a yarn to a knitter, surprise them by weighing the box down with books. [link]
  15. A Kitchener stitch requires three things: blunt tapestry needle, a good light source and patience. [link]
  16. If you guessed that this week's work in progress was an Eyelet Rib Wristlet from Terri's pattern, you were right. [link]

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Adoption Journal 4: A Surprise in the Mail

I was thrilled when I got home and saw the mail -- there was a package that I just knew had a red scarf in it. I put aside everything else (including a packet from our adoption agency that was obviously the finalized homestudy that we've been awaiting forever) to focus on the manila envelope. I saw Margene's post last night about a contribution, so when I unwrapped the tissue I knew instantly that it was a beautiful OPERA SCARF! I jumped up and down and grinned ear to ear, and then called Jacob to tell him about it.

Margene's scarf is the first one I've received in the mail. Several friends and students at my school have given scarves, but this is the first official donation from Blogland. We have put a link to Zeneedle on our site, and we are working on putting buttons by all the knitting sites.

I truly love the Opera Scarf. I might try to knit one myself. I'll have to visit the candystore tomorrow and get the right kind of yarn.The most interesting coincidence about this is that Jacob just spent four days in Park City for Sundance. No sooner does he come home then this amazing gift from Salt Lake City shows up. That makes two great gifts in one week from this beautiful part of the country.

Blogland's first official contribution to the Red Scarf Project.

Deborah's contributions...

... And Danielle's

Lisa models the generous donations from Jane Prater, a handweaver from the Northwest School of the Arts.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Red Scarf Project 6: Scarves!

In the time since I last posted on the subject of the Red Scarf Project, a lot has happened.

  • The official web announcement went up
  • The first Ebay sale went up
  • Emails went out to about 150 knitting blog owners
  • A few blogs like The Knitty Gritty and others have posted the announcement, and just as importantly emails have come in offering to help Lisa's coworkers gave her a half-dozen red scarves to sell (see Deborah's cool contribution) with more on the way (two from Danielle alone)
  • Dana reached out and pulled in a knitting friend who contributed another 10 or so great-quality scarves
  • Mom, Mark, Judy and others have all bought or promised to buy

At this point, the greatest concern is how to sell the great contributions we're currently getting. Ebay isn't looking like the strongest outlet at this point -- other handmade scarves don't sell for much more than the $10-$15 range. Our best hope is a little advertising and the fact that this is labelled a "FUNDRASIER."

Speaking of fundraising, I had to share a comment from "amysue" found on QueerJoe's Knitting Blog:

I don't know the family adopting from China so can't speak to there situation, but as both an adoptee and an adoptive parent (my kids were born in Asia) I am put off by two things. ... The personal one is simply my own queasiness about fundraising for one's childs aoption-I acknowledge this is *my* issue and what is right for me (not doing it) isn't necc. right for another family. [snip]

I have no idea what could be wrong with raising money to help pay for an adoption. Who loses and/or is hurt?

Friday, January 14, 2005

Red Scarf Project 5: Our First Volunteer

Lisa did a mass email to all the knitting blogs we could find (There are knitting blogs? Yes, hundreds) and within hours had our first response:

Lisa--a great project. I assume you got my email from reading my blog or from one of my several friends who has made the trip to China for a daughter. I went with one friend in 2002... one of my life's great experiences. So I'm off to get the details from your link but surely to God I'll knit a scarf. Good luck with the project and the adoption. Kay

We are learning quickly that there's a large unexplored intersection between the worlds of knitting and China adoption. Kay's site is Mason-Dixon Knitting and her friend Elisabeth who went to China writes at CurlsandPurlsNYC. Lisa is already hooked on both sites.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Red Scarf Project 4

Lisa makes her famous first scarf which eventually sold for $400.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Red Scarf Project 3: Fun with Bamboo

I hope everyone is having a great knitting and Super Bowl weekend.

We went to Huntersville (N.C.) last night and stopped in at LYS Knit One Stitch Too. I always wondered why people indicated what needle types they use (bamboo, aluminum, casein, etc.). I'm a $5 Michael's plastic needle person myself. What could be the difference?

Instead of buying yarn that a friend suggested, I spent my funds on needles – with Jacob’s support and encouragement. I couldn’t decide between the $8.35 Japanese bamboo and the $21 Vietnamese coconut palm, so I got both. (Jacob bought a techy toy for himself, so it was only fair.)

Back at home I started in with the less expensive and wow, I could tell a difference and knew that I would never go back to plastic. I finished that red scarf and then cast on another using my ultra fancy ones, and wowsy wow wow. Now I’ll never be able to go back to even regular bamboo. My eyes have been opened and I see now what a difference the needles make.

Thanks to Lori and hubby for helping me take my knitting fetish to the next level.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Red Scarf Project 2: The Red Thread Brigade Takes Off

Once again, Lisa has amazed me with her initiative.

She decided recently that she wants to spend her summer in China volunteering at an orphanage. Our adoption referral won't come until October or later, so instead of sitting and waiting she wanted to get to know the country and help out some of its orphans who don't necessarily have an adoptive family on the way. In short, I think this is a spectacular idea, and I'm behind her 100%.

Two agencies will help an American make such a trip, and both require a financial contribution (travel, some living expenses, and an orphanage donation). So Lisa decided to do a fundraiser to help pay for this trip, and her first idea was to knit some red scarves which she could sell for $20 a pop. The scarves don't take too long to make, but still she was looking at a somewhat slow fundraising process.

When I suggested that other knitters could contribute their own wares, which we would sell, suddenly we're off. I put together a web page that we will soon begin advertising, and we've already started spreading the word to local knitters that we're sure will want to pitch in.

In the end, we may only drum up a few hundred dollars, but I think there's also a chance that word of mouth will help it really take off. The knitting community is surprisingly close (er, "tight-knit"?) -- not to mention blog-savvy -- and I wouldn't be surprised if lots of people respond with donations that we can sell off on Ebay.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Adoption Journal 3: Prints and Printses

It's 8:30 on Friday morning, a time that both of us are normally at work. Instead, Lisa is moisturizing her hands so that we can go to the feds and get our fingerprints scanned. The immigration office will send these prints to the FBI who will in turn report (hopefully) that we're not wanted criminals and can therefore get a visa for the baby. Whew.

Giving over your fingerprints may not seem like a big deal, but Lisa has been pretty stressed about it. The first time we got printed was for the state, and the technician said her hands were so dry they could barely get a print. So Lisa has been wearing moisturizing gloves every night for the past couple of weeks, and in the end they only helped a little. The technician had to re-scan several of her fingers, and in the end they weren't 100% certain that the prints would be accepted.

Nice surprise of the day: Guilford alum Nikos Chremos works for Mandala Adoption in Chapel Hill which is handling our home study. We'll get to catch up in March at Christina Pelech's wedding.

Second nice surprise of the day: The Charlotte police ran background checks on us and found nothing. As we had expected. No, really -- we truly expected that. Now, if this had been Michigan...

Final Thought: If dry hands really do prevent prints from being lifted, why would any career criminal ever use hand lotion?

Monday, January 03, 2005

Red Scarf Project 1: Dear Friends

I'm putting my knitting compulsion to work to help Chinese orphans. If you knit or crochet or can make scarves of any kind, you can help me.

Here's my idea: I'm going to sell as many handmade red scarves as I can to raise money. You can help by making one also and donating it for me to sell. And if you don't make scarves but would like to own one, you can help by buying one.

My story: My husband and I will be adopting a little girl from China in late 2005, but before we do that I want to give her country something in appreciation for the amazing gift we'll be getting. Working with the Hope Foster Home, I plan to spend two months in the Special Care Unit of an orphanage in Henan Province, giving the children there my time, energy, attention and love.

My trip: The money I raise with the scarves (and any other donations) from this point on will be donated to Hope Foster Home. (My travel expenses have already been covered, thanks to several very generous contributions!) I will be living in an orphanage where I will do whatever is needed: perform clerical and administrative tasks in the office, help with preschool activities, teach children English, sing songs, play games, spend time with the babies, lead day trips, clean the facilities, do maintenance work. In short, I will provide human interaction for children who desperately need it and help improve their living environment. (In the event I can't make my trip, the funds will be donated directly to HFH.)

Why red scarves: The Chinese have an ancient belief that says all people who are destined to meet are bound by an invisible red thread. The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break. I made my first red scarf because it seemed like a fitting tribute to the daughter we haven't yet met. And since I'll be working with children who are waiting for their forever families at the other end of their red threads, it seemed only right to make as many red scarves as possible.

Thank you in advance for your help, and may your red thread lead you where you need to be and may the ladybug of luck always be with you.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Adoption Journal 2: It's Greek to Us

Lisa has strode undaunted into the raging sea that is the Chinese language, and I'm damn impressed by her confidence. To me, all languages are impenetrable and impractical walls of chaos, and I thank my stars that I was born in the country that controls the world's dominant tongue.

We have two CDs of spoken phrases that Lisa gave me for Christmas, and we have a few websites to augment our learning, but otherwise we're on our own. So far, we've locked down the following:
  • Wo Ai Ni (I love you)
  • Bie Ku (don't cry)
  • Bie pa (don't be afraid)
  • Guai HaiZi (poor baby)
  • Wen yi wen (kisses)
  • Bao yi bao (hugs)
  • Wo DuZi E Le (I'm hungry)
  • Wo GuanDao KouKe Le (I'm thirsty)
The sad part is that we've heard hundreds more phrases, but they don't stick. Learning a new language at 34 makes you realize how pourous your brain becomes.