Thursday, May 17, 2007


I've been calling up the participating schools, trying to arrange to collect the mitten totes and leftover mittens, and get them ready for next year. I figured that it was just a simple task but I hadn't counted on how happy it would make me feel.

One of the schools' administrators commented that "it (the mittens project) was well received", to the point that there were no mittens left in the tote. Now that was music to my ears! One of their teachers wants to start a knitting group, too - using my pattern!I didn't have the heart to tell her that it's locked in my head. Suppose I'll have to write it out now ;)
And to make things even better, they want to participate again next year!

Never let anyone tell you that it costs money to make a difference. It doesn't cost a cent (but the feeling it gives you is invaluable)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Why Bother?

So many considerations go into projects like the Mitten Project – What will it cost? Who will benefit? Will anyone benefit? Will it eat up my precious time? Will it be worth the effort? What if no one supports my efforts? Why bother? They say that the devil is in the details but I say that it’s so easy to let details blur your vision, dull your intentions, stop your progress.

I meet so many good hearted individuals over the course of a month – people with ideas, hopes, the desire to ‘do good’ within our community. These people inspire me and push me to reconsider my plans, my abilities and my opportunities. People around us have great ideas every day, thinking up ways to help their neighbours, their friends, stray animals, the homeless, themselves but something happens in transition from their heads to their hands. The once great idea dissipates into debates of ‘why?’ and ‘how?’ Uncertainty slips into doubt; doubt slips into inaction which slips into antipathy. If we’re not careful, antipathy slips into hopelessness. The idea that inspired us now taunts us and reminds us that we let our own doubts build a wall between us and the action that we needed to take. As doubts pile up, the wall grows taller, overshadowing what once seemed like an opportunity. We see the wall, the risk, the fear - not the intention that started it all.

I started the Mitten Project with little doubt. The old me would have worried about that fact – there were no building materials for my own wall of inaction. Shouldn't I doubt...fear…stop myself? Why not? Probably because the acts needed to build the project were so small, so simple – knit 1 pair of mittens and share them with someone. It was so easy to see that one pair was simple to complete – why not another pair? Easy enough – put a good movie on or slap a CD into the stereo and pick up the sticks and string. Mittens were knit while laughing with friends, crying over loss, singing along at concerts, over tea, surrounded by love and while alone. In private and in public, I just knit. That one pair turned into 40 something pairs in the course of a few months. Like the snowball that becomes the snow fort, these mittens multiplied before my eyes, leaving little time to doubt or question. The process took over and set the priorities – just knit one more pair.

A simple pair of mittens provided me the chance to change my possibilities – a life without doubt achieved by listening to my heart, knowing with certainty what needed to be done and just doing it. By shutting off the voices of doubt that sing my personal background music, I was able to complete the first leg of this journey. Throughout the quiet knitting time, I envisioned happy children with warm hands, playing in the snow alongside every other child in the playground. An inclusive playground community where no one stood alone, shivering, left out of the game. The voices of this imaginary playground were loud enough to drown out the voices of doubt and their energy was enough to help spur me on to fill a basket with pairs and pairs of warm mittens.

What would you do to change your community for the better if money, time and ability were not a problem? How would you make a difference? Improve the lives all around you (and your own, in the process)? What voices strengthen your resolve or stop your action? What is standing in your way, blocking you from sharing your unique gift? What materials are you using to build your own wall of inactivity? I know what I used to build my old walls with. I know what little action it took to tear down those walls. Small acts make the difference. Like every journey beginning with a single step, a project grows with single small acts, the sum of which builds the change that is needed. Imagine what we could do together?

As Gandhi told us, action expresses priorities. Express your own priorities every day by doing one small act that shares your gift with others. Listen to the voices of your own imaginary playground and let them drown out your doubts. Like the man said, an ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching - I’d better get knitting.

In the meantime, take a few minutes to visit and listen to the voices of change that surround us. Be the change that you want to see in the world; support others as they strive to make this playground inclusive. Do it today.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Mittens just so divine

You get a dozen for a dime (croon along with me; you know you want to. I have images of Bugs Bunny, singing to a carrot - you know this one, don't you). Well, most of the mittens have been sent off to warm little (and not-so-little) hands. There were a few bumps along the road but all said, it's been a positive experience. Knowing that you can directly help someone without them ever knowing is just magic. Knowing that one less child will have chapped hands and that s/he will be able to join their friends on the playground, make snowballs, laugh - if that doesn't convince you that the effort is worth it, your heart is made of stone.

One of my favorite quotes has always been, “Fifty Years from now… it will not matter what bank account I had … the sort of house I lived in or the kind of car I drove… but the world will be a little better, because I made a difference in the life of a CHILD”.

We forget that sometimes,that small differences are still differences. Making a difference does not need to be extravagant or cost a lot of money. All of the yarn used for this project has been scraps from other projects. The total cost to me has been a couple of dollars (literally, $2!!!) for the clear vinyl that I used for the backs of the tote bags. Your hands can create the difference that is needed, once you push aside the thoughts that your work needs to be large, expensive or perfect to matter. To a cold child, these mittens are a small contribution that makes a huge difference. They're not perfect. They didn't cost a cent. They didn't change the world. But to that cold child,...

Monday, January 22, 2007

Baa Baa Black Sheep - have you any wool?

Why yes, I do - 5 bags full!
I chose the most democratic method of selection for the recipient schools - numbers on chits of paper, selected from a hat (eyes closed, thank you very much) and then the numbers matched to a spreadsheet list of area schools - phew - long story short, the schools have been contacted and arrangements for delivery shall be made. It's a pretty exciting day in the Bumbershootska haus

Monday, January 08, 2007

Flashlight is not too impressed with knitting,
but I happen to like it... a lot
here's a little proof

And no, your eyes are not seeing double; I tend to make duplicates of mitts in certain, more popular colorways, like the camo yarn
I've got a couple of pairs on needles right now so I will be making up sets for delivery later in the week
How do you think I should distribute them?
should I start locally and give them to the 5 Mississippi Mills schools or should I draw school names from a hat so that selection is totally random?
take a second and drop me a line with the method that you think is 'right'. I would really appreciate your feedback :)

Friday, January 05, 2007

Knitting, Gathering, Distributing

It's been almost 4 months since I started this project and I am finally able to make a mitten-run. The first batches of mittens are ready to go to schools, just in time for the big return to school after the holidays. Instead of shoe boxes to hold the pairs of mitts, I've decided to make simple drawstring bags. I think that a basic shoe bag pattern, decorated with a felt mitten/ embroidery would be nice and roomy enough to hold the first installment of mitts. I'll try to run off a few this weekend. With K the elder at work all weekend, I'll have free time to do so and I surely have enough fabric to make a 100 or so of these.

I'll post photos of the distribution as soon as I can

Even though I have been the only knitter on this project (so far, at least), it's still exciting to be able to do this. Because of my limited resources (time, $, and the limitations imposed by my PA), I only have enough for 5 schools at the moment but I'll keep plugging away. I think that I can make enough for at least 2 more schools in the coming weeks. Next year, it'll be different. Thanks to my fellow Craftster, Ooak_Diva, I may have a few more pairs for distribution. Many, many thanks to her inspiring work!

Happy New Year's thoughts to all of you - may this year bring you a wonderful creative outlet, personal peace and collective prosperity. Most of all, may your hands be warm and your hearts be light.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Blue, Green & Red

I love bright colors... I can no longer deny this fact
Here are some of the brightly-goodness that I've managed to wrangle off of my needles in this turbulent time of tradition and terror (of the best kind, of course)

I am planning on whipping up some more, smaller ones in brights, too. I love to see kids in brightly colored mittens, playing with their mittens, loving their mittens . Hell, I like to play with mine too so I guess that says a lot about mittens

They bring out the best in you!

Here's to 2007 bringing out the best in all of your lives -
*Be kind to others as often as possible - you never know when your act of kindness will make the difference that is needed
*Walk with soft feet and leave as little a mark on this delicate planet of ours as you can
*Be the best you that you can be
*Knit more + give more = smile more (now, isn't that a cool equation?)