Monday, March 23, 2015

Dear Class of Pam Belshaw

Hello from the Warm Hands Network!

I have to tell you that we packed many many boxes this month, but I absolutely do remember your beautiful handwoven blanket.  In fact, one of our volunteers, who has been weaving for many many years, picked it up and admired it.

Here is the note that I received from your teacher:
Originally the blanket was intended for the Igloolik shipment in January but it took longer than I thought. We looked at pictures of Igloolik,  circled where it is on a map of Canada, compared it to where Fort Severn is, and then Brampton. Grade 3s learn some Ontario geography and some history of First Nations and Inuit people so the project was a nice introduction.

For the second panel of the blanket, I had the students work with a partner to create a symmetrical design. To fit in some math, I also had the students calculate how much yarn was needed for their design, how many skeins of yarn were needed and the total cost. The students voted on the design they liked best and I put it on the loom. Once the weaving was done, the students had to sew the two panels together and make the fringe. 

Every student in the class was involved and did some of everything…weaving, sewing, fringing. The letter my students wrote you explains our process very well, too:

Kids of Castlemore Public School, your blanket was packed in the boxes for Cape Dorset and within a month, the boxes will arrive in city (so your blanket went from Brampton to Ottawa, then will climb onto a plane to Iqaluit and finally to Cape Dorset - a very long journey!).

The box will be opened, and the hats and mittens and blankets and sweaters distributed.  Your blanket is the perfect size and softness for a baby.  Maybe it will go to a new mother, and will be used whenever the baby goes out in the cold.  To give you an idea, a sunny day in Cape Dorset in May is like a cold day in Brampton in January.   And once the baby gets bigger, maybe she or he will pass it on to a younger sister or brother where it will be loved again, and then it will go to another family, where it will be appreciated, and used again to warm another baby.  Maybe your blanket that you made, with your hands when you were eight or nine years old, will be loved and used by someone while you are in grade 7, and then high school, and even after that.  Maybe when you are 18 years old (18!), the Belshaw blanket will still be loved and appreciated by someone in Cape Dorset.  I think it will be.

You are now community builders too, connecting Brampton with Cape Dorset, through your beautiful, cheerful red, blue and grey blanket.

Thank you for that, Jeevan, Avin, Tharun, Katrina, Shanit, Iknoor, Gursimar, Priya and the rest of the class!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Tyler's Hat Project

Tyler was the grand-son of one of our most prolific knitters, Karen.  Karen's been contributing to our project since almost the very first day.  Tyler passed away last summer, much too young.

I thought that we could do a hat project in Tyler's memory.  Here's the idea: if you're looking at your stash, and thinking about making a hat, we'd love it if you would use purple (Tyler's favourite colour) or blue (the colour of his eyes) as your main colour, and weave in other colours.  It would be a nice way to pass a good thought from one young man to some children in the North.  Any hats that we receive in those colours will be photographed together before they are boxed and shipped to a community.

Karen wrote a bit about Tyler, below.   I think he would have been pleased with the idea that kids in the North were wearing his hats.

He was born in Red Deer Alberta and grew up in Russell, Manitoba.  He was a delightful little boy, very happy, a bit shy, and very curious.  I loved the time he asked me to teach him needle point, by the time he tackled it for about 20 minutes, he agreed with me that it was a LOT of work!  He loved pumpkin pie and became quite an expert on pie crust and who made the best one.
He was very very close with his sister, Cody, they were less than 2 years apart and were always together.  He took very good care of her.
I don’t know what I could write, I guess that to me, he was an angel, here on Earth.  A good, good person.  He thought of and did for others, out of the goodness of his heart.  He is so so missed.  The sadness is great and doesn’t seem to want to leave.  Our whole family is very happy about this hat project, it will honour our Tyler and hopefully bless others with lovely warm gifts from the heart.

The Kiwanis, Pizza, Cake and Packing

The Executive Committee (I dubbed them that on Friday - sounds much better than "the ladies who pack") came over last Friday and eyes boggled when we put together the piles and piles and piles of stuff we got since January (January!).  I'm going to show you the finished product first (I think Suzanne is standing on a chair in the back).  From left to right its yours truly, Suzanne (suzanneknitter), Carlene (Carleneruns), Claire, and Jeanine (douceaubergine).  They were like machines, photographing, sorting, boxing.  I will say that after 6 years of this (I think its been that long, as a group), we've kind of got it down.  There's very little conversation about what goes where anymore - its more catching up as hands and legs move around my main floor, grouping and packing.

Claire is a relative (2 years?) baby to the process, but man we love that girl.  She's does it all - bagpiping, traveling, fund-raising, and yet finds time to come over and build 11 boxes, pack hats and mittens, pile and organize and keep up on the conversation.

What a great way to spend a Friday night.

Lots to say so I'm going to keep things very short and sweet:

1. The boxes were packed for both Arviat (the school will distribute) and Cape Dorset (the Justice Committee will coordinate distribution).  As soon as I hear back from either, I will be sure to post.

2. Needless to say, this was our biggest shipment ever.  First Air has been incredibly generous, but the size of our shipment has been so big this time, that there is no way we could request 100% sponsorship.  To give you an idea, I dropped off just 5 of those boxes at First Air Cargo today and the total weight was 116 pounds.  

This month I went to speak with the Kiwanis of Orleans who presented us with a wonderful cheque to help with shipping.  What this means is that we are able to ship all of the boxes to Cape Dorset and Arviat right away.  Can you see kids smiling, wearing new sweaters, lap blankets on elders, hats on preschoolers?  Yeah, me too.  What would we do without First Air and the Kiwanis?

3. Lots of other stuff going on: we've got another shipment targeted for Iqaluit in June - stuff will be going up with the Doctors again.  As soon as I get some dates, I'll let you know.

4. We're going to do another campaign called Tyler's Hats.  I'll post more about this later, but if you're looking at your stash, here are the high level deets:

We'd love for hats to be made using purple or blue yarn as the main colours (you can add any other colours you want as accents).  The hats will go to a community to honour a special young man who passed away far too soon and is the grandson of one of our stalwart contributors.  His eyes were blue and his favourite colour was purple.  He was special and important, and it would be like you were knitting and crocheting on his behalf for some great kids.

Okay, the comments below are going to be short and sweet today.  Please know that as we opened your boxes on Friday, we passed around your lovely hand knits, tried them on (yes we do that sometimes) and marvelled at the details.  The brevity of my comments by no means reflects the level of appreciation of your lovelies. 

Here we go now:

Claudette (Marie-Claude on Rav) is a wonderful and consistent contributor.  Suzanne brought in her items.  Everything she makes is thick, if you know what I mean.  We love thick.

Also by Claudette.

Sweater by Claudette, that will be loved by a five-year old.

Warm warm warm balaclavas by Claudette.

Claudette's neck-warmers.

Claudette's blankets.  I think I'm standing on a chair for this picture.
Um Claudette: this is what I made in the same time that it took for you to make all of the above.  Its a neck-warmer and I had to photograph it with a zoom.

These hats were dropped for by Jenny at Wool 'n' Things.  Clare met Jenny on a First Air flight to Bahamas (did I get that right Clare?).  They were reading the inflight magazine and Warm Hands was in it.  Somehow Clare wound up talking to the knitter, and it turns out she was knitting for us.  The world is way too small, is all I can say.

"Belleshaw" from Creemore Ontario made this beautiful woven blanket.  Belleshaw if your out there and reading this, I'd love to hear more!

Cathy Kihle of Sarnia Ontario, thank you for these great mittens and socks!

Jeremy!  How much do we love Jeremy!  He is our graphic designer.  Jeremy I hope you can tell from all of the pictures above that lots of people are using your labels.  Thank you!

Pat McCue (Wlspner on Rav) from DesMoines Iowa made the four pairs of socks and woven blanket above.  I particularly love the striped socks - very cool pattern to them.

Suzanne (Suzanneknitter on rav) - what can I say.  How much do we love this woman?  Much.

These two vests and the hat were made by Mary Gannon, a friend of Suzanne's respectively.

These blankets were dropped off at Wool 'n' Things.  We don't know who made them but we love them.

Jeanine brought these blankets.  They were created by Anna Bing from Morrisburg Ontario.  Anna says she's never done socks before.    Check out the socks she made below.  Anna, just so you know, the Executive Committee agreed: you are a total sock knitter.  PS love the red and white sweater.

These items were contributed by the lovely douceaubergine, who also contributed the yummy cake to Friday night.  You can always count on Jeanine to knit up a storm, and I don't know how she does it because I know we're not her only project.

This photo does not do these blankets justice.  These six woven blankets were made by Jeanine as well.  They are stunning.  

Hats from the Ottawa Knitting Guild.  Thanks, OKG!

Suzanne and Debbie made these brown blankets. Beautiful and warm.

Rebecca in Ottawa, thank you for the baby mittens, and for using Jeremy's tags!

Wentheknitter, thank you so much for the lovely contribution!  We tried on the giant hats - they are very comfortable.

These mittens are from Merilyn from the Spinning Guild.  Thanks, Merilyn.

JCL on Ravelry, aka Jackie Lambert from Washington made these socks and mittens.  We love Jackie - she's a regular!

Five hats made by Kathy Tobin of Montreal, QC.  Thanks, Kathy!

 And the last of the pictures are cameo appearances made by all of the items you lovely people have sent in since January.  Can you spot your stuff in the piles?

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Thanks, Canadian North!

We have been busy, and it looks like the craziness won't be abating any time soon.  Its good craziness though, because we're getting lots of feedback from our community partners, and we're sending lots of stuff up North.

So first things first: thanks to the wonderful folks at Canadian North, we were able to send up a shipment of three large boxes of furs coats.  We were featured in the Ottawa Citizen in January, and the article included a summary of our fur coat up cycle project: we send the coats to Igloolik, the people up there unstitch them, wash them and reassemble them into linings for parkas, kamiks and into new mittens.  The response was beyond anything I had imagined:  wonderful people pulled mink coats out of storage to donate, women donating their mothers' fur coats: it was the quality that blew me away - beautiful, warm, high quality items which the community can use.  I love the idea that the community is using their artisan skills to turn these coats into something that will benefit many.  A perfect partnership, really.

And now its time to turn our heads to packing for Arviat and Cape Dorset.  We shipped to them in January and both said that the warm woolies were gone in a matter of days, and that they'd be happy to distribute more.  More?  We got more!

Here's a sample of what I've received in the past week:

Morel D'Amour and Nicole Garneau from Iles de la Madeleine, QC sent in the blanket and package of mittens.  THe mittens were donated by Arthure and were knit by her deceased mother.  Thank you for our first contribution from Iles de la Madeleine!

Peggy Wallace (Dr Peg) is a favourite of ours.  She knit the balaclavas above and the scarves below.  Peggy, I can guarantee that those balaclavas will be very much appreciated - my daughter tried on one of them, and they definitely do a good job on the ears and neck.

The blankets came from Nancy Murdoch of Lindsay Ontario. (Rav name grandma10).  My photo doesn't do the vibrancy of them credit, so I took a close up of the one on the far left so you could see the stitches.

These booties are also from Nancy - thank you.

Karen Zorn of Bredenbury SK can always be counted on for a box - I loved that you used the labels, Karen, so I took a close-up.  Really nice!

And here are the neck warmers by Karen.  My favourite are the pink and yellow.

Mitts and hats?  Karen can do that too!

Sandra Halpenny of Pembroke ON is a first time contributor.  Thank you to you and to Riga!

Bonnie Belanger (panther on Rav) put together these blankets, using squares sent into her from constanmak and plentimawfish.  Perfect and thick - thank you to all three of you!

…and more made by panther…nice sets!