Thursday, June 3, 2010

Memorial Day and an Epic Knitting Project!

I am a couple of days late with this post, which was intended for last Monday.  It was started with good intentions, but forces conspired to delay its completion.  Nonetheless, here we go:

Today being Memorial Day, we pause to remember those who have given their lives to keep the United States free from foreign aggressors, and I offer my thanks and gratitude to those who have served in our Armed Forces. 

Lately, I have been watching the HBO miniseries dramatization of the life of John Adams (which appropriately bears the title John Adams) and I highly recommend it.  It is amazing to watch the lives of this man, along with his wife Abigail, unfold on the screen.  You also get to see George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Ben Franklin in action, among others.  I have never watched any historical dramatization of these men, and it is wonderful to see them brought to life after having only read about them in books or seen their portraits, or illustrations of episodes in their lives (or perhaps a cheeky portrayal of Ben Franklin in some odd TV commercial, but I don’t think that counts.)

So, this Memorial Day, I have a particularly fresh sense if importance for the day, along with an extra helping of appreciation for those who chose to make it their profession to protect and defend the ideals of the great men who risked everything to launch our great Republic.

A special shout out goes to my cousin Tom, my other cousin David, and my good friend Wolfgang, all of whom are actual veterans of our recent and current wars.


This is also a post for the knitters (keep reading, I’ll tie this all together - trust me)

Last fall, I really got into making gloves.  Fingerless gloves.  I became interested in making them because I play the piano, but my house is really drafty and cold in the winter.  I wanted gloves that I could play piano in.  I made a couple of pairs, from my own made-up pattern, and got a lot of good feedback on the pattern development from my knitting buddy, deb.  (She actually was the one who came up with the gapless finger division technique that will appear in the final pattern.)

Then, this past spring, I showed a pair to my cousin, Tom (the same cousin Tom mentioned above.)  He is an avid hunter/fisher/outdoorsman-type, and told me that he thought they would be totally great for hunting.  With this comment, I made an immediate connection.  I had heard of organized Knit-alongs to make helmet liners to be donated for the troops.  If Tom thought that the fingerless gloves would work well for hunting deer and the like, what about fingerless gloves for hunting bad guys in Afghanistan?  What if I could get a whole bunch of knitters to make fingerless gloves for the troops?!

My buddy Wolfgang is an officer in the Marines, and I have dinner with Mrs. Wolfgang and him fairly regularly.  I mentioned the idea of an organized volunteer effort to make fingerless gloves for the troops, one evening over dinner, and they thought it was a great idea.  I brought out my sample glove, and they both agreed that they would be useful and very well received.  Mrs. Wolfgang happens to be a Family Readiness Adviser, and she has offered to assist with distribution logistics.

Thus, the Glove-Along for the Troops was conceived.

The schedule will be as follows:

- Memorial Day - Announcement of the Project
- 4th of July - Start your Needles!
- Labor Day - Gloves due for shipment to the Marines. 

Just take a minute and think about the freezing cold winter coming up in Afghanistan, and picture some brave soldier trying to operate some kind of technical equipment in a hurry, and how these gloves could literally save someone’s life.  This is not an exaggeration.  Join us and help make a difference for our men and women in uniform.

Plus, there will be prizes and lots of pictures and updates along the way, and tutorials and tons of step-by-step help, so even if you’ve never knit a glove before, you can learn!

I have made several gloves at this point, and have settled on this design for the ‘gloves for the troops’ campaign:

This sample is made from a slightly lighter weight yarn (Arucania Nature Wool) than the final glove, which will be knit on #4 needles, using Cascade 220 yarn.  Also, the donated gloves will need to be in either camel, brown, gray, or black, per military specification.  Once I finish the second one of the pair, I will be able to write up the pattern and finalize it.  I will have the pattern available prior to the July 4th start date. (It should be ready in about 2 weeks, at the rate I’m knitting.)

If you want to join the Glove-along for the Troops, then either join our Ravelry group  or our facebook group or follow us on twitter @gloves4troops.

Please help spread the word!  Our goal is to get 100 pairs of gloves to the troops by fall.  Help make a difference for the troops during the cold upcoming winter in Afghanistan.

Update 6/5/2010:

I want to clarify that the picture above of the sample glove is not to military color specification.  I knit it from some yarn that I had on hand, just to work out the pattern.

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