Saturday, November 29, 2014

Plentimawknitting and the Shelter in Iqaluit

So a couple of weeks ago, I got the message from a teacher in Arviat who heard us on the CBC and thought we might be able to send in some stuff for the kids at her school.  Here are her words:

I observe the children shiver and shake when they enter school in the morning, their little hands red and their faces red from lack of protection from the wind and cold. 
I checked the weather in Arviat today.  Its -28 celsius.  When she wrote me the message, it was -15 celsius.

To digress for a second:  where I live (Ottawa), the main morning conversation in the elevators relates to weather:
"I heard the weekend's going to be rough."
"Low of -10 today and its only November."
"Its mitten time."
"Oh no, I forgot to put my mascara on." (ok that last one was me).
…and so it goes…

And I consider Ottawans to be pretty hardy stock. Minus 28 in November, compounded with the coming 24 hour cycle of darkness boggles my mind.  Kids still need to play outside, though, so they play in the cold and dark, and your warm things will mean they can stay out a little longer.

So December 9th or around then, we are meeting with kalyle's friend from Iqaluit and she will arrange transport of your beautiful stuff to Arviat, and the teacher will arrange for distribution.  I thought, "maybe we'll get a few items, then send another box later".

I think we've now got 2 medium size boxes worth of stuff worth of kids Grade 5 and under, and from what I see on Rav, more is on the way.

Life is sweet.

I named this post in honour of Plentimawfish from Waterloo, who has been part of Team Warm Hands for a long time now.  She is prolific and her stuff is also beautiful  Here is a photo our lovely model wearing one of her neck warmers:

This hat was sent in by the aforementioned Kara (kalyle) of Hamilton, ON.  Good timing Kara!

So this is from Pat, who drove in this week and dropped off a stack of stuff.  This blanket is extremely huge, and I think we will send it to the shelter in Iqaluit.

These slippers will also be great in the shelter - thanks, Pat!

More pretty hats from Pat.  I put the smaller ones towards Arviat.

And these guys are going to Arviat for sure.  The balaclava is going to make some child very happy.

I dropped by Yarn Forward, and asked them if there had been any drop-offs for us.  Apparently the CBC story got a few folks to get their needles to work for us and the timing could not have been better!  All of the items above (and in the next couple of pictures) were made in children's sizes and dropped off anonymously.

We love you, Anonymous Yarn Forward Knitter!

Plentimawfish had her needles clacking - the yarn was beautiful, fine and warm.  Some little girls are going to be very happy!

More from Plentimaw.  I call this "Find the neck warmer".

And on another note:  we got an email from the Qimaavik Women's Shelter in Iqaluit.  They run a 21 bed shelter for women and children fleeing violence and Sivummut House, a 12 bed shelter for women and children who are at risk of homelessness.  They are looking for the following items:

lip balm
purse size hand creme.

If we can get our hands on those items, we have shipping arranged to get them to the shelter.  I think of these things as those little things that make women and kids feel "normal" when they are going through a tough time.  We'll be sending up some hats, mittens, blankets as well.

The days are getting shorter, and the Christmas lights are coming out.  I love the spirit of my town at this time of year - kindness abounds.  Hugs to all of you.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Why I love Carlene Paquette

Do you know Carlene Paquette?  She is someone you need on your team.  Here is a typical conversation that I have with Carlene:

Carlene: "Anita I think we should"… (start a Facebook page), (contact the CBC), (make fliers), (ask the knitters if they could…)

Anita: "Let's think about it…sounds risky…I don't think anyone will…."

Carlene: "No we should do it."

Then we do it.  Three months later:

Anita: "Whose idea was it that we…?  What a great idea that was!  That really took off!".

Carlene (doesn't even sigh): "Yeah that worked out great, so next we should…"

Here is a picture of Carlene and I at First Air Cargo dropping off the Christmas presents and overflow to Igloolik.  First Air Cargo is actually a hoot.  You get to see the inside of a cargo bay which, for a desk jockey is awesome.  Right now they are shipping Christmas trees up north (never really thought about that but yeah, its too cold for Christmas trees in some places.  The best part is that the guys at First Air kind of know the Warm Hands story now, and they are very sweet to us.  Which includes coming out and letting us take pictures of them beside a truck, and not laughing too much about it.:

All that to say, Carlene got the CBC thing going and the fall-out has been amazing.  For the first time ever, communities are contacting us.

So we've got to get some projects going.  Here is an excerpt from an email from a teacher in Arviat:

I listened to a clip on CBC out of Ottawa yesterday morning on your Warm Hands project.  I am a teacher at Levi Angmak Elementary, Arviat, NU and I was wondering if your group would consider sending a donation (whatever size) to our school.  The weather now is quite cold (minus 15 and lower with wind chill minus 30 and lower) and I have observed  little children in the primary grades coming to school in the morning without any mitts/gloves, hat or scarf.  The same is true of some of my grade 5 students in the elementary.  I observe the children shiver and shake when they enter school in the morning, their little hands red and their faces red from lack of protection from the wind and cold. 

The children are aged 5 - 11. There are 375 students in the school - I would say about 20% percent currently lack hats, mitts, scarves - that sort of thing.  The phenomenal work you and your group do will make a huge impact to the children of Arviat, NU.

I  think we have to do something on this one.

We got another one from Cape Dorset which is similar.  There we will also be hooking up with the school as well as the local Justice Committee (a community of elders and respected community members).  The are looking for hats, neck warmers, socks and mittens for kids of all ages.  In addition the Cape Dorset connection will organize to get our items to 5 other communities if we want to.  I dropped off a box at First Air today of items to go up to Cape Dorset - I am hoping to hear back from them this week or next.

Also, do you know Kara (kalyle on Rav)?

Kara is one of our Rav contacts and a true maven in the Malcolm Gladwell definition of the word.

Kara put us in touch with a 35 year resident of Iqaluit who is connected all over the North.  We had some AWESOME conversations, and have identified a bunch of new projects.  Will blog more about those soon.

But here is serendipity:

Kara put us in touch with her friend who can put us in touch with someone travelling to Arviat PLUS "friend of Kara" is coming to Ottawa on December 9th.

So bottom line: if you've got stuff that you think would work for Arviat and you can get it to us by December 8th, please don't be shy…if not, no worries, we'll get it to a community in January - the doctors are going to Iqaluit at the end of January so Jan 15th is another deadline to get stuff up.


Oh and here are some small pics:

Here I am wearing Eric's hat.  We sealed the boxes before we realized that Eric's hat had not been packed.  Given the fact that I am not, shall we say, a star knitter, he was getting that hat if it killed me.  So I reopened the boxes, unpacked everything, found Eric's bag, inserted the hat and cursed myself (not in that order).

When I was unpacking a repacking, I noticed that I did not take a closeup of this adorable mermaid on a hat from California.  Is it me, or does this mermaid even look like my vision of a California girl?  Cute!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

CBC, First Air, QMR and Igloolik (oh yeah, and us)

Last night was cray.  Suzanne, Claire, Julia, Jeanine, Carlene, Amy and I were opening your boxes, sorting, photographing (usually, I've got about 80% of that done before packing night), oohing, aaaaahing, and then the CBC showed up.  We were expecting just a radio interview, but the CBC sent a TV crew as well (okay, one guy but it felt like a crew).  First of all, just have to say that the interviewers were extremely kind and patient with packing night nuttiness.  They looked a bit bemused.

All in all a good time.  Here's where you come in, dear knitters (and crochetters): we took many many photos but perhaps the logging isn't upto the standard that you're used to:  amidst the craziness, I didn't get to write full names and locations down, and I  am guessing that I'm batting 75 on attaching names to items.  One thing I can assure you of: everything was packed and will be taken to Cargo on Saturday.  Also (ok 2 things): because Carlene is a super-organizer, we made sure that if you made an item for Bonnie, for example, it got into the Bonnie package.

Finally, shout out to our sponsors:  First Air, for providing us with the free shipping, once again.  We love this airline - without them, we wouldn't have been able to do the Igloolik project.   Also, thanks to   QMR Consulting and Professional Staffing.  They provided the Christmas gifts that went with the packages of hand-knits for the kids.

The best part is that not only were we able to do the hand-knits, but we were also able to provide 2 boxes of "overflow" items.

So here are some pics and credits for the night - love you guys!

PS If I got names wrong or if you would prefer that I include your full name rather than your rav name, please just pm me on Ravelry and I will make it right!

PPS Here is the video of the interview.  We're at about minute 10.

So this is the house before we start - you can't see the boxes on the floor, just the envelopes here on the table.

And this is when I'm yelling at everyone to line up, posing with some of the boxes, creating more chaos rather than helping.  Nobody listens to my screeching.

And here we go now:  Jeanine, Suzanne, Amy, Carlene and wee Claire up at the top.

Janet Tomas of Toronto sent in these cute little stuffies and the sweater. Janet, we packed the stuffies in the gift bags for the 2 year old, and the 2 four-year olds.  

Here's a better picture of the sweater.

I love Karen Zorn of Bredenbury, SK.  She has been contributing since almost the beginning.  The pink sweater is for Marlene.

These matching mittens are from Cheryl of Sweetscorners Ontario (GrandmaCoco).  They are for Bonnie and Connie.

Vixen Von Tiki (Cheryl) and DameKnittinMama!  We loved the package for our littlest recipient, Anguti!  Thank you, and the little pillow-case is adorable!

Paulette dropped these items off at the KnitKnackers in Smiths Falls - the perfect Christmas colour.

Bonnie Belanger (Panther on Rav) sent these hats and neck warmers.  Panther, you've been with us a long time as well. Thanks for all of your contributions over the years.

Jeanine Turcotte (Douceaubergine) is the Jeanine from the photo at the top.  J, I hope your back wasn't killing you today, 'cause you were a trooper.  I think we did about 40 squats together to get all the goods ready for posing.

More mittens from GrandmaCoco - beautiful appliqué - imagine a girl getting the kitten mittens.

All the way from Japan, its Barb (Obassan)'s beautiful hats.  Barb has a kind of double-layered pattern that screams "bring on winter".

So instead of gift-wrapping, each gift was placed in a pillow-case or bag that a child could reuse.  These were made by Kate, (Femmeng).  Check out her blog at  Thanks, Kate!

Kathleen Thomas from Kingsfield Maine made these socks  and hats.  We all loved the sage green socks.  In fact, Kathleen, when I spoke with the community rep this week, she said "Send more socks" - so they will be very much appreciated.

These are from Darling Carlene (almost poetry).  I love her blankets.

This entire Makpa bag is from JCL (Jackie Lambert) of West Richland, Washington.  Jackie, I don't think we took photos of the contents. Rest assured though that we looked at them and were thrilled - the blue was beautiful.  Good guess on sizing!

….here are the contents of the Makpa bag from JCL herself. 

Serena Rose's sweater by Collielover of Calgary, Alberta.  Don't know how you find the time between this and the Collie Rescue, but thank you!

So this is the teaser: you have to scroll down to see the contents of Bus13knitter's gift bag for  Quunguliq.

Lovely pink socks and sweaters by Claudette (MarieClaude) from Buckingham.  Claudette has never missed a shipment yet!  Thank you for everything, including the cards - that is perfect!

Plentimawfish in Waterloo made this beautiful collection.   Plentimaw, the blanket was just beautiful - the turquoise really pops!

And here is a closeup of one of Plentimawfish's hats just because I loved it so.

Say cheeeeese, Suzanne!  This blanket was created by Bonnie Belanger (aka Panther).  Thank you!

Bus13knitter (Janet from New Brunswick) is lovely.  She's been with us since the beginning and is prolific in a crazy crazy crazy way.  Janet, my daughter fell in love with your socks: "cozy".  Thank you!

M Doppe of Concord California created the absolutely sweet baby sweaters and the adorable hat.  Is this your first time on Team Warm Hands?  Welcome!

Ailie Penny of Burlington, Ontario (apenny on Ravelry) made this lovely purple hat.  I tried it on (hanging head in shame).  I have a soft spot for cable hats.

Cheryl (aka GrandmaCoco of Sweets Corners): we wound up giving one of these hats to one of the girls because we somehow were short a hat.  It was the elephant one - its stunning.

GrandmaCoco: these are the mittens we thought we'd lost to the Snowsuit Fund, remember?  When I went back to Yarn Forward, Joanne picked them out of the pile and they've gone to Igloolike!  My favourite were the owl ones.

Serena Rose's socks by apenny of Burlington.  She will love them!

Claudette of Buckingham, QC MarieClaude on Rav) also threw together a stack of socks and neck warmers and mittens.  This lady is prolific!

Carolynh1 of Ottawa made this beautiful grey striped sweater.  I think it would be great for a 14 year old. Eric is going to love it! Check out her blog at

Carolyn, I didn't like my close up of Star's items, so I took your pic instead.  Gorgeous.

Laurie Kingston of Ottawa, thank you for the beautiful shawl.

Janet (bus13knitter) from Fredricton sent in these  lovelies.  I have a soft spot for cable hats, have I mentioned that?

No name is on this one - it was a beautiful package tagged for us that we picked up at Yarn Forward.  Hellooooo out there: whoever you are - thank you!

The Serena Rose package all put together - very nice!

Um, Jackie Lambert, this is wear I start to get a bit confused on who sent in what.  I these are all yours - can you confirm?

This is Star's pretty little sweater sent in by mamaaquarius, all the way from Tasmania, Australia.  Unbelievable!  Mamaaquarius, you get the newbie award because we've never received anything from that far away.

The group of gifts for Qunnguliq from Janet Wright of Fredricton.  Merry Christmas, bus13knitter!
Linda Heintz of Pendleton Oregon - I got these today via Expresspost.  They just made it into the shipment - thank you!

And here is a sky-view photo of the grouped items for each child - of course you're not seeing the gifts sent in by QMR and the 2 ENORMOUS boxes of overflow that are going out.