Sunday, May 14, 2017

Three Stories

In April, we had an amazing 10th anniversary dinner at my place - noshing, giggling, catching up - the things we do on every packing day, but this time we were doing it without the whirlwind of sorting, shrinking, packing and repacking (there's always some of that).

I wanted to let you know that we did a couple of things this month with the items that you have sent us.  Everything photographed in this post and the. last one have been shipped:

1. We have a contact in Iqaluit who happens to come south every once in awhile - I love her, and she and her hubby met me for a coffee in April.  She took 45 pounds of your lovely things and provided them to Nakasuk school.  Here is what she said "They are having a land trip today where they take the kids out for the day sliding and doing things on the land.  Just a note that it is about 0 degrees at the moment and things are slushy and wet.  Ptarmigan have returned and I did see the classic V formation that geese are HERE.  I also saw a falcon overhead so SPRING is here in this part of the Arctic.".

2. We also sent 80 pounds up to Iqaluit for our contact to distribute on.  She will move the knitting on to Rankin Inlet, Cambridge Bay and she is looking at sending some things to a school in Pond Inlet.

People are kind!

I dropped off your blankets and furs to Larga Baffin and had the chance to sit and chat with the social worker there, who I happen to love but honestly, I'm usually in such a rush, that I race into the front door, drop off your stuff, and race out to my next errand.  This time, we talked.  He told me stories of Larga Baffin, but also of the North, as that is where he lived for 20 years.  I asked him for some advice about communicating across cultures, and that part was fascinating and changed the way that I think.  He told me that using words sparingly is not a sign of annoyance and sitting quietly, just sitting, in a group, works in the North.

Just another quick note - He did mention to me that Larga is a scent-free building.  I did drop off all of the little soaps and shampoos that everyone kindly provided, but I think we should take a break from them for now.

I also took a tour of the sewing/crafts room - love it!  The sewing machines are set up, and all of the crafting materials that we provided at Christmas are long gone.

Here are my 3 stories:

1.  Blanket:  I want you to know what your blankets mean to the patients at Larga.  The SW told me a story about a lap blanket/quilt that was given to a women who came South for a longer-term treatment.  When she was returning home, she called from the airport because she had forgotten her blanket on her bed and really wanted to take it home with her.  It was her comfort thing.  Larga managed to drive the blanket out to the airport.  So, you did that, WHNers.

2.  Yarn and crafting materials:  Sometimes you send me yarn, which either goes to WHN knitters or to Larga or up north - the goal is always to get it into someone's hands fast.  The social worker told me that he puts the balls of yarn aside.  As you can imagine, sometimes folks are having a rough day. When he meets a woman who is having a tough day, and he knows that she is a crafter (which is pretty much most people), he will give her 3 or 4 balls of the yarn.  In his words, you can see the change on the woman's face - and I can imagine it:  its kind of like the way I see the WHN packing night executive get when they look at yarn that has been dropped off - they get a gleam in their eyes.

3.  Seeing is believing:  So as the social worker was walking me out, he said, "I know you don't get to see what it means to people when they get the blankets.  The women will actually look closely at them, and then they turn them upside down, and inspect the edges to see how they are made.  Let me show you.".    Then he asked me to wait at the door.  He grabbed a bag of the blankets that I had just dropped off, and went to a group of women who were sitting quietly together, and said "Hi ladies, we just got these blankets.".  I swear, the energy changed.  They started pulling them out, talking to each-other, laughing, and scrutinizing them.  And by that, I do mean scrutinizing.  Again it reminded me of packing night.  The packers really LOOK at your stuff, the same way.  Its this, turning inside out, touching, talking thing they do: they look at colour, yarn thickness, stitches and then TALK about it.  Of course it was all in Inuktitut, but it was just like Carlene, Suzanne, Jeanine and Catriona: "Did you see how she joined this up?  She was knitting with 2 strands here.  Oh, I've seen this pattern before - loved it.  Amazing colour combinations.".  I swear that is what they were saying.

And here is the moment - again I am not part of this montage - I'm standing way far away.  There is a young girl who approached the ladies.  One of the women grabs a bright orange stripy (like really bright) blanket and throws it over the girls legs, and turns around to look at more blankets.  The young girl's face lit up in a smile that I won't forget.   Its not like she was smiling for someone, or smiling in response to someone talking her - everyone was doing their own thing, and she was just grinning.  You know what?  We live far away from our community partners.  In 10 years, we've sent maybe 15,000 of your hand-knits North.  Maybe more, because Jeanine has started to keep track of the pounds and I was amazed by the number - a box here and there adds up.  I'm sure we'll do close to 1,000 pounds in a year.   What if the orange blanket grin has also happened in Rankin Inlet, or Gjoa Haven or Iqaluit, or at Jimmy Hikok School or....?  What if there has been more than one orange blanket grin?  Just seeing that one smile made the last 10 years worth so much for me (as if it wasn't already!).  And maybe that's what this is about: we don't see the orange blanket smiles with our own eyes, but they exist, my lovely WHN co-conspirators.

Okay so I've been typing away, and Mother's Day is racing by.  I'm going to just list the creds on the photos below, but know that I loved everything.  All are boxed and shipped.  Thank you!

There was no label on these ones.  Rita are these yours?

Krisine Krupp of Toronto

Suzanne's mittens!

Wendy George of Smoky Lake, AB created 33 items from the B&L Regal sent by Suzanne

Not sure who sent these in, but all were labelled "Stay Warm".

Lynn Walma of Toronto

Rita of Ottawa

Mary Ballantyne of Elgin ON

More socks!  Please let me know the name so I can give you cred (Lynn they look like your work)

Anna Bing of Morrisburg ON

Jeanine, AKA Douceaubergine


Catriona "Blucanoe"

Claire Sheen

Wen the Knitter



No name on these but I love them.

Beverly Stevens, Quilter28  who also kindly contributed some beautiful needles for the 10th anniversary draw.