Saturday, November 27, 2010

Stocking Stuffing Day

The table is full of stockings, the elves are lined up to come over today, so we will get the stockings stuffed and ready for shipping.  There are about 1300 stockings on this table. 

More stockings came in yesterday. 
Susan B. continues to knit and brought these over yesterday.
Bitsy again made these beautiful stockings for OHS.  Bitsy has been sewing stockings for six years now. 
Margot in Massachusetts knit these beautiful stockings while attending her first semester in college.
These are from Stephanie in Bellevue.  Love these knitters.
Melanie in Grass Valley made these darling stockings.  The red and white stockings are the cutest little snowmen. 
Jolaine sent these to us from Minnesota.  She made these with the softest fleece.
 Well, off to get started. 



Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Why we do what we do.

About a week ago I had someone ask me why we go to all of the work to send stockings over to our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.  First of all, I really didn't think this person deserved an answer but I gave it to her anyway.  We do this out of love and support for our troops who are away from home over the holidays.  I know the war is old news, and there are many who totally ignore it.  As I explained to this person, this is not about politics, this is about our sons and daughters, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, and grandchildren needing a connection with home. 

This year is the first year we have had a website just for Operation Holiday Stockings, thanks to our Webmaster Joey.  Through the site, I have heard from our soldiers directly.  Let me share some of the comments I have received, and then you will know why we do what we do. 

First let me tell you thank you for the support. It's nice to know people are still there for us. This is my fourth deployment and I am wondering how do you decide who to send to. I am deployed in Iraq and I was wondering how I go about putting me and my troops on your list for some stockings. I am sure they would appreciate them. Any information would be greatly appreciated. God bless.

 I am currently serving in Afghanistan and was put to the task of Christmas decoration and logistics. We have a team of around XX Soldiers here. We are … away from the rest of our units. We would appreciate anything that you can do for us. Thanks again for everything you do to support the Soldiers.

We are currently deployed to Afghanistan. I was talking with a friend and they told me about Operation Holiday Stocking. I currently have about XX Soldiers within our company and we would love if they could each receive a stocking. Also I would like to take time out to thank you and your staff for what you do in supporting soldiers.

As hard as it may be to believe, there are many soldiers who never hear from someone at home, and the holidays are the hardest for them to be ignored. 

Everyone involved in Operation Holiday Stockings remembers these soldiers.  We are a small group made up of those making the stockings, those collecting the items for the stockings, those stuffing and packing the boxes to send to our troops, and those organizing collection drives.  We have knitting guilds, moms and grandmas, sisters and brothers, wives and husbands, dads and grandpas, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, classrooms, and service groups, all working for this project.  We have people collecting toiletries while traveling, and collecting loose change for OHS.  We have businesses who donate quantity items for this project, and cash for postage.  In other words, we have a lot of people who care and who refuse to forget our troops in harm's way. 
In the past few days we have received some more stockings. 
These are from Julia in Oklahoma.  I love the little snowflakes on the middle stocking.  These are so cute.
Pam in Texas knit these for us, and the colors are so bright. 

My cousin Sam and her grandaughter Katlyn in Pennsylvania again made these beautiful stockings for us.  They have been participating in this project for six years now, and have been strong supporters. 
Sessa in Washington knit these two darling stockings.  The yarn is so soft and shiny. 
Ginny in Wisconsin sent us this lovely assortment of stockings for the family parties we will be contributing to. 
Mary of Wisconsin sent in another batch of knit stockings.  I love the stocking in the middle, the colors are very pretty. 

Karen in Arizona sent these lovely stockings she knit, each one with a personalized note to the soldier.

We are up to 1257 stockings with more on their way.  I am sure we will reach our goal of 1700 this year.  None of the volunteers participating in this project want any of our troops to be without a stocking, and we've committed to 1700, so 1700 is what we will have. 

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone, and be sure to give thanks for the men and women who have taken on the task of protecting the freedoms we have.



Saturday, November 20, 2010

Go Beavs!

I commute to work every day and so I have some lovely knitting time each way, about 20 minutes to be exact.  I realize that in the world of commuters that is a very short commute, but it is enough time to work on small projects.  I generally have a sock in my bag to work on, or a hat. 

Hats are nice commuting projects, especially when the weather starts to get colder.  You can knit as many as you want and there will always be someone who will want it.  You can knit any color, size, or style, and there will be someone to wear it.  I like to knit with a washable yarn, especially for children.  Hats do need to be washed on occasion.  I also like to have wool in the yarn, be it 100% wool, or a nice blend with at least 25% wool content.  Wool is what makes hats toasty warm, absorbs moisture, and when a hat does get wet, still stays warm. 

One of the gals at work is collecting warm clothing for her church to be distributed to the homeless and displaced.  These are individuals and families who have recently found themselves homeless because of the economy.  If they fortunate enough to have a place to live, their income is primarily for rent and food, not clothing.  If you add children into that equation, which is appropriate 90% of the time right now, clothing is a luxury necessity.  I decided the hats I'm knitting need to go to Lindsey's church to help keep people warm.  I know I love my hat, especially when it gets cold and the wind is blowing, so hats it will be.

This hat was knit out of Universal Yarn's Classic Worsted Tapestry.  I think this particular color has been discountinued, which makes sense since I purchased it several years ago at A Dropped Stitch in Sequim.  This is a nice yarn at a reasonable  It knits up well, and after it has been given it's first washing, is very soft. 

I was curious what this yarn would look like if I used the Helix technique with some other colors. 

Here is the simple rolled brim hat with a soft rose color used.  Looks like a hat for a young lady.

Here's the same hat with turquoise. 

Here are the three together.  This was fun using the different colors for the second color.  It's also a great way to use of orphaned skeins of yarn in your stash. 

I did another hat using the Helix technique and it wasn't easy for me.  You see, the hat is in U of O colors (the Ducks).  I knit it for a baby present for one of the attorneys at work.  I graduated from OSU (the Beavers), which is the arch rival of U of O.  Each year the week before the Civil War game when OSU and U of O get together for their football game, several people at work make a big deal of it to see how Jason and I are going to react.  We are very professional about it. 

Getting back to the hat ... as I said, the hat wasn't easy to knit because the colors were gaging me.  The hat came out really cute, and I am proud of it.  However, I had to do something to counter the hat ...

The hat was presented to Jason in Beaver colors.  He thought it was very funny, and he and his wife loved the hat.  All's fair in love and war they say.

Well, I've finished up my big project, so I'm off to dig through the UFO's and my stash to see what I can knit now.  Stay warm, and wear a hat.



Wednesday, November 17, 2010

On a Wing and a Prayer

In the middle of November for the past six years I go into a panic, a stocking panic.  The first year hit on November 19th when my dear LT asked for 233 small knit stockings by the first of December.  Considering I had never knit a sock in my life, I first prayed, got an answer from God that you don't say no to your son in Iraq, and then PANICKED.  I panick because the number of stockings we need gets overwhelming, and I can't say no to our troops. 

In the last few days I have received emails directly from soldiers deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq asking if we could send them a little something.  Morale is down, and these officers are asking on behalf of their troops if we can send them anything to help with the morale.  Of course I said yes.  Right now we need about 1700 stockings, and yesterday I entered into my panicked mode.  I have received emails from loved ones asking if we can remember their soldier's units, and of course I said yes.  Enter more panic.  Dear David is used to this panic hitting in the middle of the month, and smiles sweetly reminding me that everything will be fine. 

Yesterday I mentioned how we were doing to another volunteer and she really went into a tailspin, and my comment was "on a wing and a prayer we will do this."  This morning I recalled what I said and reminded myself I need to listen to my own words.  On the angel's wing and with a heartfelt prayer we will send stockings to all of the soldiers.

Last night I shared my concern with the wonderful group of knitters on Ravelry who are part of the group I started called Operation Holiday Stockings.  Today I heard back that they are sending stockings, knitting more, and one is pulling out her sewing machine.  I heard from my cousin Sam and she's sending 50 stockings she and her granddaughter have made.  I heard from Kathy and all of her relatives that drive sewing machines for OHS, and I have received stockings in the mail.  My dear readers, don't ever doubt the power of prayer, and remember that we all have angels' wings just waiting to lift us up from PANIC. 

To all of you who are participating in OHS this year.  THANK YOU ON BEHALF OF OUR TROOPS.  One little stocking is going to mean a lot to our men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan.  It will be a symbol of love, support and prayer for each one of them.  I personally extend my thanks in helping me keep a promise I made to my own LT.

Now to show you all what we have received in the last couple of days. 

These darling stockings are from Becky in Kentucky, and one was full of lip balm, which will be very much appreciated by the troops. 

Enaud in Yelm, Washington knit all of these stockings in support of a project her son has started at his church in Oregon, called "Stocking for the Troops." 

Sgt. Pam in Texas knit these darling stockings.  I love it, the military supporting the military.

And then there is Kathy in Eastern Washington, and her friends and family sewing stockings at their "stocking bee."  Kathy wrote me and told me she mailed the stockings and laughingly said she hoped I liked her packaging. 

Alright there is nothing unusual about this Priority Mail box, most of the stockings have been coming in them.  I'm not sure what I expected, because we have received stockings in all kinds of packaging, but then I thought okay Kathy, you've been inhaling too much sewing machine oil.  That is until I opened the box ...

I cracked up when I saw the stockings in vaccumed packed freezer bags that only a home gardener and home food processor would use.  I love it.  Okay, can anyone take a guess as to how many stockings Kathy has "preserved" here? 
There are 95 of them. Kathy, you made my day.  I had an image of these stockings being in the freezer with all of those beans you froze this summer. 

Meanwhile, Edgar is bored, the cat is bored, and they both would love a little excitement around here.  Edgar has decided he's going to hybernate since we won't let him tear up the hill to harass our neighbor, and destroyed his repaired knee.  If fact, it's so quiet around here, Edgar and Abby are getting along with each other.

Well sort of. 



Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Week in Review

This has been a lovely week.  Edgar had the staples removed from his knee, the weather has been decent, David is officially 65 because he got his Medicare card in the mail, and we got stockings. 

MaryAnn from Wisconsin sent us a batch of beautiful stockings for the family parties.  Love the Big W stockings.

On Veteran's Day we had the stocking stuffing party at work, and around 300 stockings were done.  This crew managed to stuff all of those stockings in 20 minutes.   What a wonderful group of co-workers.  This group has been supporting Operation Holiday Stockings for six years.

When I got home I had two packages.  Mary from Wisconsin (yes, Wisconsin again!), knit up another batch of beautiful stockings for us.

Kim in Colorado sent in her beautiful stockings as well.  A friend of hers came over and saw what Kim was doing so she took care of stuffing some of them for us.  

 This fun bunch of stockings were decorated by a Girl Scout Troop in Edmonds.  The little stocking in front looks like happiness and friendliness and I know the soldiers will love it.

Yesterday I spent finishing up a project, with Louie's help of course.  This has taken a long time and I am so pleased with it.  I'll write more about this at a later date.

We now need over 1500 stockings and have 660.  I know we will make this goal, and I am not going to go into my usual panic.  There are a lot of knitters, quilters and sewers out there who have already told me they were doing stockings, for which we are truly grateful.  We seem to always reach our goal, and there is no reason why we won't this year.

Well, I need to get dinner finished and explain to Johnny (again) why little white dogs do NOT smell the Alpha Cat's bottom. 



Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I've Been Busy

 I've been busy.  Busy knitting.  I've been knitting baby gifts so haven't been able to post them before now.  I am now finally caught up with my new baby knitting.  All total, there were ten babies born last year (and in January of this year), for whom I've been knitting.  A lot of the items have already been posted, but these are two that I finally finished and mailed out. 

For baby TJ in Pennsylvania, I knit this hat and socks.  These were knit out of Encore DK weight yarn.  The socks are from Charlene Schurch's book Sensational Socks, in the smallest size given.  I am concerned that the hat may be too small and the socks too large, but maybe not.  I had fun knitting these little socks and love the way the colors worked out together.  There is a pattern here with the colors.  Can you figure it out?
 For Vivi Anne in Oregon I knit this darling sweater.  Vivi Anne is the first baby girl I've gotten to knit for in a while.  The pattern is Toddler Knit Down Bolero from Knittng Pure and Simple.  This was an amazingly easy pattern to knit, and a lot of fun.  The yarn is again Encore, but in worsted weight.  I understand baby Vivi Anne loves her sweater.  

I've been knitting hats for Children's Hospital in Bellevue, and so far have done eight.  One of the ladies at the Eastside Knitting Guild is collecting them and delivering them to the hospital. 

Finally, I'm in the midst of Operation Holiday Stockings.  Things really start picking up around the middle of September and get busier the closer we are to December.  We've received some more stockings.

Nancy in Oregon has been sewing again and sent in these lovely stockings.  Nancy has been making these for us since the first year. 
Nancy also sent these fun stockings for the family party for the National Guard Unit in Oregon.  This unit was deployed in September so the families, especially the kids, will be needing some holiday love from us as well.

Susan has been quietly knitting stockings, experimenting on knitting the OHS stocking in the round.  The stocking on the right is the original pattern knit in the round.  The one on the left is the Canadian version of the stocking knit in the round.  Susan's verdict ... the original pattern still is the quickest knit.

Today I went to the dentist, which isn't interesting in it's self.  No cavities, clean teeth, and the usual good time.  What made this trip of interest is the annual donation of toothbrushes.  Dr. Jeff Johnson has been donating dental supplies from the very beginning.  (He's also been taking care of our family's teeth for 23 years, love him.)

The colors this year are fun.  We need to make sure our soldiers take care of those pearly whites while away from home.

Well, it's election night, and the ballots have to be in by 8:00 tonight.  I figure it will be safe to plug in the phone and turn on the television at 8:15 p.m. to hear the results, and NOT hear ANOTHER campaign ad.  Time to serve dinner, pour a glass of merlot, and turn on the telly.