on the needles

Friday, May 29, 2009

Crazy Colors Blanket for Nyslin's Project

Aura's House update:

Ana's Project: $1548/2770 - we're over halfway there!!
Nyslin's Project: $414/550 - only $136 left to raise!!
Zoila's Project: $293/824
Joey's Project: $236/723
Lesly's Project: Completed!

The totals for my fund raising projects over at Aura's House continue to creep up. Slowly but surely we are getting there!

To add a boost to the fund raising process and to say Thank You! to the generous people who have donated, I am giving away this blanket:

I hand crocheted this blanket from cotton sock yarn. I love the happy colors!

This picture shows a good idea of the overall size of the blanket.

Do you know a child that would love a cozy blanket for their crib? The blanket is machine washable so it would be perfect as a snuggly blanket for a child. Or keep it for yourself to keep warm while watching TV this winter. :)

The close up photos are an accurate depiction of what the blanket actually looks like. The others are slightly washed out. (My photography leaves something to be desired. Sorry!)

The bright colors make me think of the famous traditional woven textiles and embroidery of Guatemala. So I will be giving this blanket away to anyone who has donated to Nyslin's Income Generating Project.

The giveaway will work the same as the one for the blanket I am giving away for Jester's Project. Every $5 donation to Nyslin's Project will be assigned a number. So if you donate $25 you will get 5 numbers. (I realize that some of the donations are smaller than $5. Any donation from $1 to $5 will also be assigned a number.) Donations that have already been made will count. When Nyslin's Project is completely funded I will have a random number generator choose the winning number. Then I will announce the winner and send them their new blanket!

Nyslin's Project is only $136 away from being fully funded! Let's see if we can get all the way to the $550 we need. I want to give away a blanket! :)

Good luck and thank you to everyone who has been so supportive!

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Tale of Jester's Birthday Package

At the beginning of summer 2008 we sent Jester a package for his birthday. I made sure to mail it about 8 weeks ahead of time so that it would be sure to arrive in time.

We got these photos about six months after we sent the package. Somehow, it had taken months and months to arrive. I'm just happy that it arrived at all! Children International was so great. They tracked the package down and stayed on the case until Jester had his birthday presents. So far I have sent several packages each to Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras and the Philippines and this is the only time we have had any trouble at all.

At this point I mainly only send small packages to the sponsor kids - mostly so that I can send them pictures of me and my family. They love getting photos of us just as much as I love getting photos of them! It makes them feel connected and more like I am a real person rather than some mysterious being that they never get to see like Santa Claus. Other than sending little small things I have decided to stick with giving special needs gifts of money because I think it is more useful for the family.

That said though, Jester was very happy to get his presents. You can see the plaid button up shirt in the middle there. That's the one he chose to wear for his yearly photo. When I got the yearly photo I thought I recognized that shirt...:)

I really hope we will get to visit Jester someday. Although the description of the traveling we would have to do to get there made me shudder a little. It involves flying from the US to the Philippines for hours and hours and hours. Then taking a smaller plane to a smaller city, then a bus to the port, then a boat to another island, and finally hitching a ride in a small fishing boat because the larger boats are too big to go into the port city. Not to mention whatever we have to do to get to the CI center and Jester's house. Yikes! I keep telling myself it will be fun but being the nervous traveller that I am I know I'm lying to myself. :)

I'm going to make the effort though. I'm not going to let life go by without meeting my sponsor kids!

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Jester's Summer Package

Other than his new yearly photo - these are the most recent photos that we have of Jester. I got these about two months ago.

We sent him (along with all the other sponsor kids) a package of things we picked up on our summer vacation last year.

The package included family photos, books about animals, postcards of the places we went, stickers and other little things of that nature. Each package for each sponsor kid was slightly different based on their age and gender.

In Jester's package we included a necklace - a leather cord with a lion pendant that was carved out of stone. I thought that the lion really suited Jester's personality. The lion's symbolism of courage just struck me as fitting for him.

Jester especially liked the necklace and singled it out as his favorite item. We tried to include something individualized in each child's package. Even though we have 18 sponsor kids I don't want to relate to them on an assembly line level! Many people ask me how I can "keep track" of all of them. I actually find it easy to do. Once you get to know the kids then it is easy to see how individual they all are.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Fugly Sweater

Just because Chris said she had to see it...(and if you have to gouge your eyes out after seeing the horror - blame it on her!) :)

Presenting the Fugly Sweater - otherwise known as the Beast.

At first glance it's not so bad. The yarn, Schaefer Elaine in the Renata Tebaldi colorway, is reasonably pretty, it knits up well and didn't pool or flash.

Although boucle isn't normally my cup of tea (okay never my cup of tea) - still I had fun knitting this sweater. The pattern was perfect for mindless tv knitting - you knit the front and back panels and the two sleeves and then join them together and knit the yoke in the round. Minimal seaming - what's not to love about that? The pattern for the High-V Sweater was created just for use with this particular yarn - which pretty much implies a guaranteed success, right? The pattern was well written and easy to follow. Also, it came free with the yarn.

So far so good. It's only when you finish the sweater and try it on that you realize how horribly wrong everything is.

No - I'm not going to model it for you. The silly face picture is as far as I am willing to go in the self humiliation category. Suffice it to say that if you are "well endowed" a slim fitting sweater in a bulky boucle yarn is not going to do anything for your figure. Not anything nice anyway.

This yarn and this pattern were never meant to be joined together in my opinion. Not unless you are a size negative zero and really need a sweater that will disguise your severe anorexia. Otherwise, I don't care how slimline the sweater is - you are going to look like a linebacker. A linebacker that got puked on by a truckload of pastel mini marshmallows.

Absolutely vile.

However - don't you think this yarn would cute on a little girl? Maybe as a Tomten ala Elizabeth Zimmermann? Or a Baby Surprise modded to be more like a coat? What do you think? Is there any hope at all? I do want to try to reuse the yarn since it is obscenely expensive.

The silver lining in this cloud is that I looked up Renata Tebaldi. She's fan-freaking-tastic! (Not sure if I think that Schaefer's colorway really fits her personality though...)

See Renata Tebaldi performing Madame Butterfly! (I dare you not to get tears in your eyes.)

And performing O Mio Babbino Caro (one of my all time favorite arias!!!)

And I have to throw in this one just because her hair is ultra-fab! You go opera girl!

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Blanket for Jester's Project

This is the new yearly photo we recently received of Jester. He is wearing a shirt that we sent him for his birthday last year. I love it when the sponsor kids wear clothes we sent them for their photos. It's so sweet of them! I think they do it on purpose as a way of saying thank you. I think Jester looks so handsome!

Fund raising for Jester's project has been going amazingly well. We're almost halfway to completion! I'm so surprised and thankful for all the support!

So, to say thank you to everyone who has helped out with Jester's project, I am going to be giving away this blanket:

It is hand crocheted by me out of cotton sock yarn.

I'd call this a good sized lap blanket. It's also suitable for a child to snuggle up in. It is machine washable so you wouldn't have to worry about letting a kid use it. :)

Hubby is holding the blanket up for the camera - gives you a fair idea of the size.

And a close up. This is a better picture in terms of showing the true color of the yarn. I had a hard time capturing the colors in natural light. In real life the colors are much richer.

So here's how the giveaway will work:

Every $5 that is donated will get you a number. (Donations that have already been made will count!) So if you donate $25 you will get five numbers and so on. When Jester's project is fully funded I will have a random number generator choose the winning number. Then I will announce the winner and mail them the blanket. Simple as that!

Here is the link to Jester's Project.

PS - I will also be offering similar prizes/thank yous for the projects at Aura's House as well. So look for those in the next few days. :)

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Queen Victoria's Knitting Bag Sold

I came across this interesting bit of historical knitting news today... Hope everyone is having a great Memorial Day!

A knitting bag once owned by Britain's Queen Victoria was sold at auction yesterday (21.05.09).

The purple, velvet-line pouch - thought to have been knitted by the monarch herself - went under the hammer in Lichfield, Staffordshire, where it was expected to fetch over £1500.

Bidding was sluggish and the bag was eventually sold for just £800. It was bought by a Spanish collector who placed his bid via a telephone link.

Auctioneer Charles Hanson was disappointed with the sale, as he had hoped the item would go to a public collection of royal memorabilia within the UK.

He said: "I think it was an accessory of great personal importance but I am pleased it's sold."

Victoria - who died in 1901 after 63 years on the throne - was a keen knitter, whose pieces were said to be "worth their weight in gold" when they were sold at fairs.

It is thought she gave the bag to her doctor, Sir James Reid, as a thank-you gift.

Meanwhile, furniture the once belonged to Victoria will be auctioned later this month.

The antique items - which once furnished Windsor Castle - are expected to fetch up to £12,000 when they go under the hammer on May 29.

A pair of gilt wood chairs, a silk screen, a table and two cabinets will be up for grabs at the sale.

Read more: "Queen Victoria's knitting bag sold - Monsters and Critics"


Thursday, May 21, 2009

On the Subject of Dogs, Contacts, Charity and the Fugliest Sweater Ever Knit

I haven't had much time for blogging lately. We're in the middle of the inevitable end of the school year frenzy of activity. Every year we are pretty much booked solid for the last four weeks or so of school. It's exhausting but at least it's all nice busyness. :)

So I'll just sum up:

I don't talk about my kids on the blog so all I can say about them is that they are awesome!

Some other things I'm happy about:

1.I got contacts and I'm absurdly pleased. I'm convinced I'm actually better looking now that I have contacts. Maybe I'm just not as blurry? :) The only sad thing is that I can't find colored, daily wear lenses in my prescription. :( Bummer. I totally want to change my eye color everyday.

2.I got an update on my projects from Aura's House. There was a long but unavoidable delay but happily the totals have still gone up!

Aura's House update:

Ana's Project: $1419/2770 - we're over halfway there!!
Nyslin's Project: $389/550 - only $161 left to raise!!
Zoila's Project: $293/824
Joey's Project: $236/723
Lesly's Project: Completed!

Hopefully Hubby and I will have a chance this weekend to complete the quilted placemat sets and get them up in the Etsy shop. We should be able to raise enough money to finish Nyslin's project.

And I got some beautiful pictures of Ana today so I will post those ASAP. She is such a gorgeous girl!

3. My fellow sponsors (and friends!) from our sponsor group are helping me to raise money for yet another one of my sponsor children! Click on the link to see Jester's fundraising page. We have started a fundraising group using a "pay it forward" philosophy that has helped us as a group to raise funds for Special Needs and Income Generating Projects for six children so far! Jester's project is to set his mother Agnes up in a reatil clothing sales business. If she can get this business started she will be able to live with her children rather than her current situation where she has to work and live in another city. If you think you might be able to help with Jester's project that would be awesome. Any little bit helps and, like Aura's House donations, these are also tax deductible.

4. I'm also happy because I was able to make another Kiva loan! I think I have 8 going right now. And I am tickled pink that the one that has been the most successful so far has been the one I made supporting a crafts group in Bolivia. Go crafters!!

5. In non-charity related news - After much thought we decided to get Clementine and Sarah ready for summer with some pretty drastic haircuts. Here they are sporting their new looks:

Clementine had hair that a showdog would kill for. Her feathers were literally down to the ground. But it was a really big pain to keep up with because it tangled and matted very easily. She also gets the typical spaniel problem of ear infections so I thought taking away all that extra hair would help get some healthy air circulation going there.

You can't tell it from this photo but Clemmie loves her new haircut. It's like we cut off a couple of years of her age rather than her hair! She has been playful and happy and frisky like a puppy. Actually exactly the opposite of her usual self. :) Some dogs act ashamed and embarrassed when they get a drastic haircut. Not Clemmie. She gives her new look two paws up! We will be keeping her hair trim and tidy from now on.

We let Sarah keep her long ear hair. She doesn't have the same tangly type of hair as Clemmie and no ear infection problem. The rest of the fluffy hair had to go though.

Sarah always looked like a fat little muffin with all of her hair. Now she looks like a lowfat muffin. Both of the dogs are so soft and pettable now - they feel like bunny rabbits.

The verdict on the haircuts is: A+.

Sadly, there is also one item on the unhappy list:

I recently knitted the worlds ugliest sweater. I'll try to get a photo to show you (if you think you can hack it) before I frog the beast. It's pretty appalling. Not only did I knit the whole thing, but in defiance of logic I actually sewed it all together too. Shudder.

I had to cast on for a February Lady in Noro Cash Iroha and Silk Garden to try to erase the memory of the fugly sweater. It's really that bad.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Video of Hermelinda

I (hopefully) figured out how to embed video on the blog.

So here are some videos of one of my little Guatemalan girls, Hermelinda. "Super Sponsor" Steve took these videos for me last month when he visited his own sponsor kids in Guatemala.

The first video is of Hermelinda (in the pink shirt) and her family at the Children International center in Guatemala. Hermelinda was too shy to smile or wave at the camera. Plus it looks like she was given a lolipop and I doubt she wanted to let go of that long enough to smile. :)

This is video of Hermelinda's family in the van on the way to her home. Hermelinda is still overwhelmed by all the attention. And the CI field worker keeps urging her to smile "or else your sponsor will be sad". Poor Hermelinda! I hope she doesn't think I'm disappointed with her. I think she is adorable with or without a smile.

This video is of Hermelinda's family home. I think the video gives a much better idea of what the situation is really like. My poor kid lives in a level of poverty I've never seen in real life (and I've been to some seriously poor areas in the USA). I'd like to say a big thank you to all the sponsors who have expressed an interest in helping Hermelinda. It means so much to me!

I am waiting for word from Children International about plans to improve Hermelinda's situation. I'll update you all as soon as I hear anything.

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Happy Birthday Yumi!

Today is Yumi's birthday. She is one year old.

For her birthday, Yumi got two special doggie biscuits and this wonderful birthday crown.

Yumi just loves her special birthday crown. She hopes your day was special too.

Happy Birthday, Yumi!


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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Aura's House News and New Lesly Video

Lesly with her "summer vacation package" 2008

I thought I'd share this news from the latest Aura's House newsletter about my ongoing projects for Ana, Nyslin, Joey and Zoila as well as an update about Lesly's roof project.

"Hello there Aura’s House Community,

Here are the latest goings-on at the Aura’s House website. We’ve been making great progress on all of our current projects, with some just a few hundred dollars away from completion. For example, donations to Ana’s Income Generation project are still being tripled up to the first $1500 raised. The goal for this project is to help Ana’s disabled father start an electronics repair business. We’re just about halfway there! Also, we are only $306 away from being able to help Nyslin and family of Guatemala purchase chickens that would enable them to earn extra income and lift some of their financial burdens. Finally, there is just a little over $500 to raise each for Joey’s Hog Income Generation project in the Philippines and Zoila’s Chicken Income Generation project in Honduras. Thanks again to all who have helped these families so far get a little bit closer to a better standard of living.

We’ve also recently finished our Roof Project for Lesly and family of Guatemala on April 17, 2009. Thanks to our generous donors, Lesly and family soon will have a safe and sturdy roof that keeps them dry and healthy during Guatemala’s rainy season. Our goal was $393 and $554 was raised in total. The extra funds will go towards other pressing family needs such as food and clothing supplies. Stay tuned for photos and updates of the gifts purchased!"

I'm very excited about Lesly's project. I can't wait to hear how the family reacted when they learned they would be getting a new roof! Lesly's father Hugo will be doing the labor himself. I think Children International will also send before and after photos so we can really see the improvements in their home. Yay!

Check out this sweet video fellow sponsor Steve made for me of Lesly and her mother Aura at the community center in Guatemala.


Aura is telling Lesly what to say and then Lesly repeats it in her little high voice. Adorable!! Lesly keeps trying to shyly chew on her fingernails and her mother keeps "reminding" Lesly not to do that by pushing her hand down. Too funny. Mom's are the same everywhere eh? :)

And in other news, Hubby and I spent part of last weekend making some more quilted items to sell in our Etsy shop to raise money for the sponsor kids. I'm really happy with how this last batch is turning out! Hopefully we will finish them this coming weekend - So watch this space!

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Ana - I'm Proud of You!

These are photos of the "summer vacation" package that we sent to Ana in Ecuador.

Ana is very special to me. She's like a daughter that I have never met. She has such a great attitude and is so thoughtful and really takes her schooling seriously. I hope that she will go on to gain a higher education. I've told her to keep up the good work because I will help her with whatever she needs to continue her education.

Since sponsoring Ana and Jhonny (and now also Alison and Stefany) I have the impression that the Ecuadorian people must be quite friendly as a whole because all of my Ecuadorian sponsor children are super sweet.

If Ana could read my blog I would tell her that I love her, send her a big hug and tell her that I am so proud of her!

Ana's Income Generating Project is still on going over at Aura's House. While you are there check out Joey, Zoila and Nyslin's projects too. The project totals so far are:

Aura's House update:

Ana's Project: $1334/2770
Nyslin's Project: $244/550
Zoila's Project: $288/824
Joey's Project: $200/723
Lesly's Project: Completed!

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Monday, May 04, 2009

Gracias! from Jhonny

In October last year we sent each of the sponsor kids a big package of photos, coloring books, stickers, postcards, and other goodies that we had picked up for them on our summer vacation. I haven't had a chance to post them before now - but these are the photos we got back from CI.

Isn't this the sweetest thing you ever saw? Jhonny took the photos of us and made a poster. He told me that he was going to hang it in his room so he could always think about us and know that we are thinking about him. It's such a sweet gesture and that "Gracias" brought tears to my eyes!

Jhonny is very anxious to get to met us in person. He always tells me all the things he would show me about his "beautiful city" in Ecuador. I hope and pray that I will get to meet him someday. He's a really special kid. It's been a privilege getting to know him.

We also got a new yearly photo of Jhonny. He's so cheerful - always smiling. In fact the first thing that he ever told me about himself is that he is a "cheerful" person. He must be a nice kid to be around. :)

Jhonny 2009

I can't wait to get a progress update on his family IGP. I hope it is going well!

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Friday, May 01, 2009

His Favorite Sweater Ever

Ta da! The Cobblestone Pullover by Brooklyntweed via Interweave Knits. A nice woolly sweater just in time for summer! LOL!

I'm probably the last person in the world to knit this. Bandwagon's don't seem to stop at my house...

No blocking has been done because Hubby pretty much grabbed the sweater as soon as it came off my needles. :)

The Yarn: Rowan Yorkshire Tweed in "Muffin"
The Needles: Addi Circs and Knit Picks size 8
The Details: Size small used up about 7 balls. Yorkshire Tweed has great yardage.

This was a fun knit. I like anything that has lots of knit stitches and can be done pretty much in one piece on circs. I should have taken a photo of the armpits because I kicked ass on that Kitchner Stitch. :) I'm still not sure I was picking up the wraps right, it looked a little weird to me... but I couldn't find any guidance other than what was in the pattern so...I just did what it told me to.

The back side. LOL! I think that Cobblestone pattern done in this color looks like a beehive which of course reminds me of Winnie the Pooh which makes me think of cuddly, comforting things like woolly sweaters so...Success! Can you follow the logic there? No? Okay - moving on...

I do love the rustic look of the Yorkshire Tweed. Some people might find it scratchy and if you knit too fast with it you will get yarn burn but still, I love it. I think it will bloom and look softer when the sweater has it's first bath.

Hubby raved about how much he loves it. His favorite sweater ever! I've got more Yorkshire Tweed - should I knit another one? :)

(And you guys thought I didn't knit anymore.) :)

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