Wednesday, October 29, 2008

An off-topic political message: VOTE!

Dearest U.S. readers, consider all those who have struggled, fought, and suffered for your right to cast a private ballot in any election, from the Revolutionary War to the Suffragettes to the volunteers right now who oversee elections to make certain they are conducted fairly. Honor them by casting your vote on or before November 4. (For those in Virginia and other places were the dumb flyer went out telling people of a particular political party to vote on November 5th -- ignore it. It's a stupid, desperate attempt by some to negate the votes of others.)

But when you vote, vote informed!

Rumors are flying at the speed of electrons around the internet about both presidential candidates. Make abundant use of,, and, and to check your facts. Here is just a sampling of the many false rumors about both candidates that need to be trashed:

Rumors about John McCain:

"McCain admitted to being a war criminal who intentionally bombed women and children." Fact: It was only when he was coerced by torture in a Vietnam prison that McCain wrote this "confession." In a 60 Minutes interview, McCain admitted that he cracked under the pressure.

"McCain fathered an illegitimate black child." Fact: John McCain and his wife, Cindy, have an adopted daughter named Bridget. Cindy McCain had found Bridget, who has dark skin, at Mother Theresa's orphanage in Bangladesh.

"McCain wasn’t born in the United States so he’s not a citizen." Fact: McCain was born on a U.S. military base in Panama to U.S. military personnel who are U.S. citizens.

Rumors about Barak Obama:

"Obama’s career started in Bill Ayres’ living room. Ayres is a known terrorist." Fact: Ayres was a radical in the 60s and did commit illegal acts – when Obama was 8 years old. Later as adults they were both hired by William Annenberg to serve on the Woods board. They do not “pal around” as rumors claim.

"Obama is a Muslim" Fact: Obama is a Christian. And even if he weren’t, the U.S. Constitution grants everyone freedom of religion. There is no religious requirement for the presidency.

"Obama wasn’t born in the United States so he’s not a citizen." Fact: Obama was born in Hawaii two years after Hawaii became a state. The birth certificate can be found in the public records in Hawaii, and a birth announcement appears in the archives of the local newspaper.

"Obama plans to raise taxes for 95% of U.S. citizens." Fact: Obama’s plan actually lowers taxes for people making $200,000 or less – the majority of U.S. citizens.

"Obama suspended his campaign and went to Hawaii to [fill in unfounded rumor of your choice]." Fact: Obama's grandmother is dying and he suspended his campaign to be with her, as any good grandchild ought.

Vote informed! Look up the facts, read your voter's pamphlet, think, question, reason -- and most importantly, VOTE!

ETA: Comments will be screened. Nutjobs from both ends of the political spectrum need not waste their time trying to post rants.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day Post: Sharing the Love Through Knitting

The score so far:

2 thick, woolly baby blankets and one all-wool child's sweater for Afghans for Afghans.
3 knitted bears sent to Africa to comfort AIDS-afflicted children and AIDS orphans via the Mother Bear Project.
1 scarf for a local women's shelter.

And still to come, a hat or scarf or two for Gayla Trail's collection on the You Grow Girl site for a women's shelter in Toronto.

When you love to knit and you love people around you, it's natural to love to knit for the people you love as well as for yourself. Extending that love to people in need isn't much of a leap, as knitters are often naturally generous people who take care of each other as well as others around them. Just ask the lovely people at any knitting group.

Today is Blog Action Day, and this year's theme is Poverty. I took a few moments to reflect on what I have done, and what I might done, to help alleviate poverty in my community and around the world. The Charitable Fund drive is on at work, and I've submitted my pledge in support of a group of local charities. I help provide capital for microloans through Kiva, taking on all the risk and earning no interest other that the good feeling of helping people across the world help themselves. I donate to Heifer International, the worldwide organization that believes in gifts that keep on giving, as the gift of a livestock or trees through Heifer carries the expectation that the recipient will pass on the gift by distributing offspring throughout his or her community.

And I knit. It's easy to sit back in the comfort of my own middle-class home -- pallatial compared with the housing most people in the world live in -- and write checks. It's easy to sit back and knit there, too, but at the very least, knitting requires a certain amount of physical effort on my part. The gift of something made by someone's hands carries with it a personal message of caring that money alone might not convey.

Readers -- and I know I have at least a few -- can you add to the measure of knitted love that's going out into the world? Even just one small item -- a hat, a scarf, a pair of socks? There are so many charities one can knit for, both locally and abroad. Hospitals are often in need of preemie clothing and chemo caps. Women's crisis centers appreciate gifts of toiletries for women who have had to flee from ghastly domestic conflict with only the clothes on their back, and a hand-knitted scarf, cap, or vest is a thoughtful addition to their comfort. Organizations to help pregnant teens and single mothers are in need of baby clothing and blankets. Homeless shelters need warm hats, scarves, gloves, and vests for people who spend most of their time on the streets. Project Linus provides handmade blankets for children enduring trauma. Adopt an Elder needs hand-knitted socks and donations of wool yarn, food, and financial support for impoverished Dineh (Navajo) elders.

There are so many charities one can knit for that the only difficult part is deciding which ones to adopt. After that, it's a simple matter of setting aside a little time each week to work on a charity project. I've discovered that knitting for charities, particularly those with deadlines, has increased my total knitting productivity. Amazing what a deadline can do! And amazing what a little knitted love can do, once it's sent out into the world.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Oh, baby! It's booties!

When there's a baby shower coming up quick, and you just have to knit something... 'cause either everyone there KNOWS you're a knitter and are expecting something hand-knit... or, as in this case, everyone there IS a knitter and it's just kind of the order of the day... booties in DK weight or bigger can be whipped out in no time in anyone's busy schedule.

This pair for a surprise shower coming up this weekend (which I'll have to miss ::sniffle:: because of family obligations that popped up, but I'll still send this gift along) I worked on in bits and pieces, taking about a week to do it, a little at my desk at work, a little at home. If I'd sat down to do them all at once, they would probably have taken no more than an afternoon all together.

And after doing them up in this lovely speckled aqua blue (Cleckheaton Country 8 Ply DK washable wool blend) it finally registers that people have been saying this baby is going to be a girl. Well, never mind. Girls can wear blue, too.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Afghans for Afghans sweater is done!

Last night I finished doing up the seams in mattress stitch -- and now that I've carefully followed the directions in Finishing Techniques for Hand Knitters: Give Your Knitting that Professional Look by Sharon Brant, I understand how to do mattress stitch properly, so that the seam is flattish and the strand I used to sew it up is hidden completely.

After the sewing up came the weaving in of ends, and then it was done! It's ready now to box up and ship off to the Afghans for Afghans collection center.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Absolute unassailable knitting rules

All hail the absolute rules of knitting!
  • Never stop in the middle of a row. Always, always finish the row before you set down your knitting!
  • Never store your knitting for long on the needles. Always put the live stitches on a holder!
  • Never start a project without making, washing, and blocking a swatch. Do not scrimp on the swatch! Do not skip the washing and blocking of the swatch! In fact, do several swatches!
  • Never under any circumstances join a new yarn in the middle of a row. Never! Always join at the ends of a row!
  • When knitting in two colors, always carry floaters loosely across the back of the work. Never weave them in as you go! The color might happen to peek through!
Ah, phooey. Never say never, I say. I've broken every one of these rules at one time or another, and the knitting police have never shown up at my door. Of course, there are consequences for breaking each one of these rules, but if the consequences are terribly minor and you can live with them, then carry on as you will.

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