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Sat, Dec. 15th, 2007, 07:30 am
Charity knitting falls down, goes boom.

Although I am perhaps the very slowest knitter I know, and in general I'm a selfish and reclusive bee-yotch, this year I was inspired by Norma, of NowNormaKnits, to try to knit up some mittens for underprivileged kids in Oklahoma, via the Soaring Eagles project. Last year, I sewed up some polarfleece hats for Soaring Eagles, but those worked up fairly quickly and it didn't feel like too terribly much of a contribution. This year, since Rachel, the leader of Soaring Eagles, specifically wanted mittens and socks/slippers, and I don't trust my limited sewing skills to make anything fancy (yes, I think of simple mittens as fancy -- there's elastic at the cuff, right?), I promised to make two pairs of mittens and would try my best to knit up a third pair as a bonus.

The problem was, I have never knitted mittens before in.my.life. So, you can probably see where this is going. I knitted up the first mitten, and started in on a matching mitt, when I discovered that a) the second mitt DID NOT MATCH; and b) the first mitt was ug-lee. Like, uglier than Ann Coulter's soul, but I digress. All I could do was to complete the second, better mitten, then cut the top off the first mitten, pick up stitches near the cuff, and knit back up. For the second, smaller pair, I got the idea in my head to do some different color patterning (black cuff, pink hand/thumb, black tip), but then I didn't like the looks of *that* mitten either. More cutting, ripping back, picking up stitches and then soldiering on.

Finally, after much swearing and perhaps an ugly cry or a big bowl of ice cream or something therapeutic, I had my initial two pairs of mittens DONE. Yay! I tried for a third pair, in the colors of my mom's alma mater (Go crimson! Go, gray! Go, Wazzoo [WSU, Pullman WA, "Cougars"]), but I just ran out of steam after knitting exclusively on mittens for a solid week and feeling my self-imposed deadline pressing down on me. Now I have one thumb-less mitten possibly fit for a large child's hand which could either be completed one of these days and possibly even have a mate, OR ripped back to just-before-the-tip and made into a fingerless mitt for me.

The "fall down, go boom" part of the charity knitting comes, again, via Norma, who posted today that it looks like Rachel's goal will not be met and many deserving kids won't have much of anything hand-knitted for the holidays this year. I *think* I recall Rachel posting somewhere that she had extra hats and scarves from last year's overwhelming response, so every kid will get at least something this year, but maybe I'm delusional. I just hate the thought that Rachel worked so hard to organize this specific charity drive, and Norma and other knitbloggers I love to read worked to publicize it, but the kids will be left wanting this season. I'm reminded of the motto for the Buffalo-Niagara Catholic Church, "The drive that never fails," where every year they'd appeal for funds to support retired clergypeople. I wish that the Soaring Eagles project could boast that same motto, but now that things are looking grim, my heart is heavy and my gut is in knots. Sure, I did my (very minor) part and sent two pairs of mittens, but I'm left feeling as if I should have done more, even if, realistically, I did everything I could with the time I was able to give for the project. The deadline is Monday, and I can't do anything now except grump over what feels like failure, but perhaps I can do more, and start earlier, next year.

Sat, Dec. 15th, 2007 02:56 pm (UTC)

I think that a request for mittens & felted slippers should have been issued much earlier in the year. I think that Soaring Eagles didn't realize how much easier and FASTER it is to crochet, knit, and sew kids' caps & hats.

Both mittens and the huge socks that are shrunk into felted slippers take certain knowledge, skills & experience, whereas almost anyone on even their first knitting project could whip out a little ribbed hat in no time at all.

Mittens are very fussy, and mitten making for charity means that you want them stretchy - so that they can possibly fit a variety of sized & shaped hands - and this alone I find difficult when using acrylic machine washable yarns -- some of those products are more like string, with no flexibility and so it doesn't make what kind of ribbing stitch one uses, they are still stiff and unyeilding.

I've noticed in some blogs that there are plenty of knitters who didn't learn about Soaring Eagles, until well after I did - which was maybe ten days ago. I think this might be due to that Ravelry site, which currently has HUGE numbers of messageboards, I've read about them on blogs -- so it's a gated community, where people who've been invited spend most of their online time chatting in PUBLIC-NOT-WELCOME online forums, and so the knitting blogs which normally would have chatted this up, they did not.

I only found it because I was curious what kind of mitten patterns I could find online, for a different project. Frankly, I'm going back to books and magazines - I don't intend to join Ravelry, and I believe that they are fully responsible for how little "action" is happenning on INTERNET PUBLICALLY ACCESSIBLE TO ALL blogs and messageboards. I'm tired of clicking on interesting looking links, which don't identify themselves as being part of a GATED community and arriving yet again at the encrypted Log-In Ravelry Account page. I'm sick of reading all the stupid obvious blatant memes about how marvelous Ravelry is, it is so fake and phoney, so irritatingly pompous.

Soaring Eagles is still getting volunteers, but where one could conceivable take one day this weekend and with bulky yarn knit out a dozen caps, there's NO way one knitter could spend the weekend creating a dozen pairs of handknit mittens.

I'm sure that the children who receive your mittens will simply be thrilled, I remember how neat it was to get HAND knit mittens when I was a tot, don't you?

I felt so bad that I hadn't read about the Soaring Eagles Project months ago, when I heard the govenor of Oklahoma said yesterday that so many families lost all their food due to the power outages, that they cannot afford Christmas this year, as they have to restock their bare cupboards & pantries.

It's so sad, ice storms can be simply devestating and so very expensive.

Sun, Dec. 16th, 2007 02:22 am (UTC)

hey, send me the address for that would you? I have a mitten set minus a thumb I could send on monday.

I'll talk more privately about this via email with you.. but I am sorry you were frustrated and I know the feeling.