Thursday, March 31, 2011

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week - Day Four 2KCBWDAY4

Today's assigned topic is:

Whatever happened to your __________?
Write about the fate of a past knitting project. Whether it be something that you crocheted or knitted for yourself or to give to another person. An item that lives with you or something which you sent off to charity.

Over the course of my knitting years I've given away countless knitted items and very few stick in my mind.

In my 20s, when I and everyone else I knew were having babies, I knitted baby sweater after baby sweater for all the little babes that were (seemingly) so important in my life at the time. At the time, I had a favorite pattern, a top-down little raglan from a Bernat book and I probably made 15 or 20 of them. I have no idea where any of those babies or the sweaters are today--I guess they weren't that important at the time after all. But the thought was nice.

And for many years--10 or 12--I knit socks for Russian orphans. Adoptive parents would gather up those little socks and stuff suitcases full of them and carry them with love when they made their pre-adoption visits to visit orphans in far-flung places in Russia--back when Russia was the USSR. Why Russian orphans? Why not?

The idea was that the parents would travel to Russia to meet a child they might or might not end up bringing home and would be appalled by the living conditions the children were in. One of the things that has stuck in my mind is the fact that we were encouraged to make the socks (or sweaters or hats or whatever the item of the month's challenge was) out of pure wool. Yes, our own babies wore acrylic to avoid shrinkage, but it was unthinkable for hot water to be wasted washing an orphan's socks, so they would remain pristinely unfelted for all time. And if some hideous circumstance resulted in a sock being shrunk, there was always another orphan that would fit it, no matter the size.  I have no idea how many socks went to Russia, or whether any of them ever got there, or whether any child ever wore one of my sock pairs. But it felt good to send them off, like releasing butterflies into the wind.

Eventually, things being what they are, the cost of taking those hugely stuffed suitcases on an airplane became so outrageous that parents stopped carrying them. I'm assuming that socks are still mailed off but I don't really know. For some reason, I stopped knitting them when the push went from knitting garments to finding the money to ship them. 

There are so many amazing knitting-related charities--Afghans for Afghanistan, knitted hats for preemies, Caps for the Capital, squares for Warm-Up America. It's amazing to me that there are so many people in this world who are so selfless. The anonymity of the whole thing is the most amazing part--no one wants or needs credit. They just want to help.

Then there are the things I've made for swaps, mostly on Ravelry--little knitted bags and socks and once an IPOD case. I sort of know where they went but ... not really.

But the garments that I always wonder about are the helmet liners. Our guild has made over 650 knitted helmet liners for soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Frankly, there's something wonderful  and awful at the same time about knowing your knitted helmet liner might be keeping a soldier warm in a cold war zone. The people who collect them say that they're needed because the government supplies acrylic or polyester liners that don't keep the head warm--I'm sure there's some fiscally responsible reason for this, or that they wash better, or some other esoteric reason to send something that doesn't work to someone who's defending your company, but I don't understand any of them. I've heard that sometimes medics use them to keep a wounded soldier warm as he or she is Medevaced to a clinic--that may be an urban legend but I'm clinging to it. I hope that our liners have done some good to the people who make sure we can live free.

Well, this was a way too serious trip down memory lane. I guess I should have stuck with the sweater my ex got in the divorce settlement!

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