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A Motley Collection of Squares

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An Assortment of Squares for Oliver's Blanket

One of the nice things about long weekends with family is that I get a little time to play with my knitting needles. I didn't work on any large or complicated projects, but I was able to finish up a few small things. These squares are going to be sent off to be part of the blanket being assembled for a raffle to support Oliver.  You might wonder why I picked the particular self-patterning sock yarn that you see above.  Well, as you all know, Emma and I have traded and shared yarn for some time.  The green squares and the squares with the yellow stripes come from Opal that I have gotten from Emma.  It seemed to me that knitting it up into simple squares for Oliver's raffle blanket was absolutely the perfect way to use the last remainders of this yarn.  So I'll be sending in seven little squares (two of which may be off in size... but I figured I would leave the decision to include them or not up to the intrepid seamstresses). 

Most of you who want to share in this project probably already know that Kay at Mason Dixon Knitting has graciously offered to seam up squares on this side of the Atlantic Ocean.  So I'm going to be sending my squares to the US blanket as soon as I can get to the post office!  

Swatching and Rolling

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With a little help from my favorite 16 week old baby, I actually accomplished a little knitting project this week:

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A Pair of Squares

The swatch on the left is made out of the Tess Designer Yarns Sock Yarn in the Confetti colorway.  The swatch on the right is made out of Opal Sock Yarn from the Southwestern color series.  I found the pattern stitch for the Tess Yarn swatch in a Japanese stitch dictionary that I purchased a little while back and I like it quite a bit.  It is very easy to memorize and very easy to work even when nursing a squirmy small person.  It may have to find it's way into a pair of winter socks.  I think it would be the perfect in a toe up design! 

The swatches don't look quite square... they are pretty close.  The Tess Yarn swatch needs to be stretched a bit, the Opal swatch needs a little compression. I'm hoping that Michaela won't mind working with them.  Hopefully they will make it into the post on Monday or Tuesday. 

And because no Friday would be complete without an appearance by Z:

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Z Wearing A Very Special Hat

Here's Ms. Z getting ready to go for a walk last weekend.  It was a bit chilly so we got to dress her up in some knitwear.  This hat has got some more outdoor time since then.  It's the perfect size for her and it is absolutely adorable.  Which fits so well with her right now.  She's started making a lot of sweet little vocalizations -- sometimes it almost sounds like she's trying to copy what we say to her. 

We're rolling off to Ann Arbor to see Grandma and Grandpa this weekend.  It's a guarantee that that hat is going to come with us!

P.S.  The comments should actually really work now!  And, of course, I've learned a few more things about MT4.  Now maybe I'll be able to start bringing some of my own look and feel back.

Swatching for Oliver

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Before I had a child of my own, I could be sympathetic to a lot of child-related health issues, but I really didn't understand the depth to which they affect the parents. Now that I have a child of my own, I have a much better idea of how it feels when something happens to your child that causes them some kind of distress. Fortunately for me, Zosia hasn't had to undergo anything more distressing that the vaccinations that every child gets, but I do have friends and colleagues who have had to go through significantly more to ensure the future good health of their child or to help ensure that their child has a good quality of life.

One of those friends is Emma Emma has been my "blog neighbor" in the Knit Bloggers ring since 2002 (although, sadly, now it appears that we have been separated in cyberspace). At that time, I wasn't a very adventurous knitter and I was really just getting my knitting legs underneath me. I can still remember the incredible good feelings I got one evening after coming home from work and finding a package from England on my door step: my first sock yarn. How amazing that someone I knew only by email would send me a thoughtful gift to encourage me in a new direction. It was the start of an addiction, a fiber trading experience, and, best of all, a friendship.

Since that time, Emma and I have sent quite a bit of fiber back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean. She's remembered many of my special events with lovely electronic greeting cards and when I had problems with miscarrying, she was one of the first to email and talk to me about it. I know she's made relationships with many knitters around the world -- she's left many kind and positive comments on many blogs. And I know she's been generous with her words and her needles to many people. I don't know if I will ever get to meet Emma in person, but I know I would love to have her living on my block here in Chicago.

Emma has a very lovely son, Oliver. I've been enjoying Emma's pictures of Oliver since I started reading her blog a long long time ago. He has a beautiful smile. He also has cerebral palsy, and, as he grows, he's had increasing needs for equipment that helps him to be mobile and helps Emma and Alan give him the kind of experiences that every child deserves to have.

Right now, Oliver is in need of a larger car seat. Any of you out there that have kids already know how much gear costs for kids. A good car seat can cost anything from $50 - $300. Oliver's equipment costs significantly more. In order to help out Emma with some of those expenses, Michaela has started a project that can help you de-stash a little and feel good about helping out a fellow knitter and her child. She's sent out a call for 4" x 4" knit squares. She's collecting them and is going to seam them together into what she hopes will be at least 2 blankets. And then these blankets will raffled off to help out with some of Oliver's needs for new gear. She initially envisioned the squares out of left over sock yarn (although she is open to squares out of almost any yarn except lace weights and super bulkies).

Since, we all know I have a lot of left over sock yarn, and I've been able to find some extra knitting time while Z nurses, I thought I might be able to put this time to some extra special use. I talked it over with Ms. Z and she enthusiastically endorsed the project with a big smile and a willingness not to squirm too much while she nursed. So I pulled out some yarn, and my copy of Barbara Walker's stitch treasury and started on my first square.

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Swatching for Oliver

For my swatches, I'm using some Opal (in honor of the fact that the first sock yarn I ever knit with was from Emma and was Opal -- it's still one of my favorites) and some Tess Designer Yarn's sock yarn that was left over from my Jaywalkers. The first swatch, done in the Opal, is in a pattern called "Quaker Ridging" which I think works pretty well with the self-patterning Opal and isn't too complicated to work on while keeping an eye on a hungry baby.

There's still plenty of time if you'd like to contribute to the project as well -- I believe Michaela has extended the deadline for squares until the beginning of December. Maybe you have some swatches of the right size that you've already knit that have been looking for the right new home? Maybe you've been looking for an excuse to try out some stitch patterns for fun? This is a neat way to play with yarn and help someone out without having to knit an entire garment. Isn't it nice to think that a 4" x 4" square of knitting could help make a kid's life a little better?

The Red Scarf Project

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Red Yarn for a Cause

For this blog post, I want you to remember back to when you were starting college. For me, that means going back almost 20 years. For some of you, it might be longer, for some of you, that might be last week. College was the start of an incredible adventure for me. I was excited about starting a scientific career, meeting new people, being on my own and getting to pick what I was going to have to dinner. The feeling of independence was absolutely incredible. At least until I came face to face with a regularly empty mailbox. Who knew an empty mailbox could make me feel so lonely? Those days when I got mail, especially mail from home or from another friend at school, those were always great days. And there was absolutely nothing quite like turning the combination lock on my mailbox to open and finding the slip that indicated that I had an actual package!

My mom put the best care packages together. I remember one box that came right before my winter exams in December. In it, in addition to a gallon sized container of Pepperidge Farms Goldfish (still one of my favorite snacks) and some other indulgent food items and some cute office supplies that she had hand stamped to personalize, my mom included a miniature Christmas tree that came complete with a small set of lights and some ornaments. Getting that box from home reminded me that 1800 miles away, there were people that loved me and knew what I liked. People who would support me on my road to becoming an independent adult. It was a wonderful feeling to know that no matter what, somebody cared and wanted me to be successful in what I was doing.

But not all college kids that have worked hard enough to get to college are lucky enough to have that kind of support once they get settled in their dorm rooms. Imagine what it would be like knowing that you didn't have any support structure somewhere to help you through the rough patches. How tough would it be knowing that your mailbox was going to be empty most of the time?

The Orphan Foundation of America (OFA) is working hard to make sure that these students know that someone out there does care about them. Their Care Package Programwas set up to make sure that these students who have worked so hard to try to achieve their goals know that there are people out there who do support them and want them to succeed.

The Red Scarf Project is one of the ways that us fiberly inclined folks can reach out and cheer these students on as they try to achieve their dreams. For Valentines Day, the OFA wants to send out a very special set of care packages -- one that really lets these students know that people out there care enough to invest their own time in creating something for them. These care packages will all contain a handmade red scarf. If you knit, crochet, or weave and have some red yarn and want to help make someone's college experience a little brighter, I'd really like to encourage you to take part in this project. Here's the basic parameters that you need to know about:

  • Size: approximately 60” long and 5” to 8” wide. Scarves should be long enough to be wrapped around the neck with tails long enough to be tied in the front.
  • Style: Think unisex collegiate. Fringe optional. Should drape, tie easily and be soft.
  • Color: Red! This could mean burgundy, cherry, russet, red stripes with other colors, multicolor hues including red. Other unisex colors, including black, navy, gray, teal, olive or gold, are also welcome.
  • Finished & tagged: Yarn ends securely sewn in. For the personal touch, attach a tag saying “Handmade for You” with your first name, city, and group affiliation, if any. Donors have also included washing instructions, messages of encouragement, and gift cards/burger bucks/book of stamps.

For more information, I whole heartedly encourage you to check out the OFA website for the project, and to check in at the special Red Scarf Project 2007 blog that Norma, the blogger who I found out about this effort from, is hosting to provide information, encouragement, and progress reports for and by those who want to participate. Norma did a great job of getting the word out last year and she's working hard this year, too, to make sure that this project gets noticed.

I'm trying to get some local energy moving on it as well. Myself and a number of other very cool people in the ChicKnits KIP group are going to be knitting up a small storm of scarves. Bonne Marie very kindly created this very fun button to help us kick off our efforts.

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If you are in Chicago, I'd like to encourage you to knit along with our little group. In early January, we're going to have a "scarf fashion show" and gather up all the scarves and send them on their way to the OFA -- I'll post more about this closer to the date. Even if you're not in Chicago, I'd like to encourage you to take part in this project and be a part of our little group. I'll happily make sure that any scarves that get to my house at the same time will get included in the package to the OFA.

So dig through your stash, find some red yarn, and plan to make somebody's Valentine's Day a special one in 2007

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