Friday, July 29, 2011

Summer Knitting

Here is the thing about Georgia in the summertime: it is hellfire hot here. Molten lava from the sun hot. 90 degrees Fahrenheit at midnight hot (you think I jest). And it's humid. Can't breathe because the air is so thick humid. I can see the haze on the city humid. It may be hotter in Arizona but they have a dry heat (I don't understand dry heat but I hear it is a magical thing, like unicorns and fairies) so it actually feels hotter here. The northeast is experiencing a little taste of what we in the South affectionately call "Every Summer of Our Freaking Lives." I'm sorry if I have no sympathy. The only place hotter than Georgia is New Orleans, Louisiana. I spent several weeks there one summer and lost half my body weight in water every minute I was awake. This, if you couldn't guess, is my least favorite time of year. The heat literally makes me ill and the only cure I have found is ice cream. So, until October rolls around I will trying to consume as much of this tasty treat as possible. I feel it is the only way I will make it.

One would assume then that any knitting I have been doing is small, light, and made of cotton. This is actually what I have been working on:
A large wool blanket made with bulky yarn. Ah! Perfect summer knitting. Ok, in reality this thing is huge, heavy, and hot. Sometimes I sweat a little while I work on it.

The blanket is for a collection of blankets that the Eastern European and Russian Orphanages Project is doing. 154 blankets for 154 orphans. By November. Tell your friends. I need more full sized blankets and 8" or 10" blanket squares. Seriously, tell your friends. Teach your children to knit. Teach your significant other to knit. Learn to knit with your feet and hands simultaneously. Send me blankets! (or squares)

The blanket isn't the only thing I've been working on. In fact that's just a few weeks old. While I was in Asheville for the Friends and Fiberworks Summer Retreat (vending) (2 weeks ago) I finished up my Red Dragon socks (finally).
Hotel room photo shoot.
Close up of "scales."
And on the sock blockers.
So glad to have these finished. I always want to jump right into another pair of socks but I'm wisely waiting. They take so much out of me. Oh, details on, I think I used a US size 2 needle. I know I cast on more stitches than the pattern called for (68 methinks). I ended up adding 3 reverse stockinette stitches to either side of the pattern on the foot and 6 on the leg (since the pattern is doubled). Used Lotus Yarns in the Hairdresser on Fire colorway.

Instead of starting socks next I started a little hat.
Worked from the top down (probably until I run out of yarn) in Vivid Creation Fiber's Hawaiian Hibiscus colorway. I was going for newborn but I think this is going to be a bit bigger (I'm such a precise knitter). Haven't really worked on it much since Asheville. Will probably be used for a sample in my booth.

Going back even a little further to the beginning of July (what sort of order am I blogging in exactly?) I made this little hat while I was in Romania.
I like making little international knits. This will be going to Project Hope for care kits for new mothers in Eastern Europe. I'll make some little magic slippers to go with it. I love how this was finished in Eastern Europe and it will eventually end up back in Eastern Europe.

In closing I leave you with a sheep picture, just because I can.
I'm going to go eat some ice cream.

Friday, July 22, 2011

All Romania, All the Time

Let's see...where were we...ah, yes, Wednesday...

We started the day at the "Little Kids Orphanage" about 15 minutes from the Heart to Heart house. We told the Bible story of the wise and the foolish man and did the song that goes with it. Then we made bracelets and played with the kids before it started to rain and we headed out for the day.

 Showing off our necklaces and bracelets.

Playing with the parachute.

The afternoon was spent at the second orphanage. We did the Bible story and song again and then started making necklaces and bracelets. It threatened to rain again so we took the kids indoors for play time.

 We made this necklace at least 4 times. Needless to say I think she's a process beader.
 Silly faces while cuddling.
 Making a log cabin.
 Love, love, LOVE this tough guy.
And his brother!

Thursday morning we went to the piazza for some shopping where I got some beautiful hand painted eggs and other souvenirs. That afternoon it was back to the baby hospital. The hospital was miserable that afternoon. It was super hot, the babies were dressed in long sleeved footed pajamas (!), and there was less help there. Romanians are very superstitious about catching a chill from drafts so apparently they had decided that the babies were too cold and needed to be bundled up. We were all sweating and miserable that day. After dinner that night myself and several other team members decided to walk down to the corner grocery store for candy, ice cream and Mountain Dew. Then we went for a little walk around the neighborhood.
 The Heart to Heart house.
 The neighborhood. We were in a pretty affluent area so there were some really nice houses and cars.
The lake (or was it a river?) along one side of the neighborhood.

Friday it was back to the "Little Kids Orphanage" in the morning where we talked about being a light to others and treating people with kindness. Then it was time for more games and climbing trees.
 Singing "This Little Light of Mine."
 The "Little Kids Orphanage."
 Such a cute little movie star :)
We love climbing trees!
Doing a little gymnastics.
Eating sour cherries.
That afternoon we got to have a pool party with some of the boys from the second orphanage. The Heart to Heart house has a pool in the backyard just for such purposes. It was fun to spend a little time with the kids doing something that many kids in America have been doing all summer long. This is a special treat for them. By the end of the summer many of the kids (except for some of the youngest) will have come to swim in the pool.

Saturday was by far the toughest day of my trip. Not because I was leaving the next day but because I woke up at 2:45 in the morning sick from food poisoning! I spent the day in bed (or in the bathroom) trying to stay cool despite temperatures spiking into the 95-98 degree Fahrenheit range. Meanwhile the members of the team not affected by food poisoning held a "family gathering" of sorts for some of the orphans who had graduated from the transition program. In hindsight I think God was preparing me to go home because I was ready to be with my family after my illness. If I hadn't gotten sick I might just have tried to stay in Romania!

All in all I had a wonderful trip. The kids touched my heart and I saw a great need. The kids need supplies and clothes but they also need someone to come and hug them and tell them they are special and love on them. I would love to go back after Christmas to spend time with them again.

Last, but certainly not least, I have to say a huge thank you to everyone who donated handmade items to the Eastern European and Russian Orphanages Project. I took 55+ handmade pieces of clothing and left them with the organizers of Heart to Heart to hand out to the kids once the weather gets colder.
This was the majority of the 45.2 pounds of my suitcase!
Now, 55 little people will be just a bit warmer this winter.

Next post it will be back to the knitting!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Romania Recap

As promised here is an update of what I did while I was in Romania with Heart to Heart International.

Left Atlanta on July 1st around 5:30 and arrived the following morning in Amsterdam. Waited around for a few hours until I caught my flight to Bucharest, Romania. Was picked up at the airport by Jen, Jenny, and Carolyn then taken to the H 2 H house.

The house was pretty similar to something you would find in the US, just with more bedrooms and no A/C.

Sunday was church, lunch at the mall and then a chance to meet some of the kids from one of the orphanages. H 2 H works with 5 orphanages: 2 close to Bucharest and 3 that are further south. We went to one that was about 45 minutes outside of Bucharest.
 School and girls dorms.
 Some of the boys. There seem to be more boys than girls at the orphanages for some reason.
 Boys dorms.
 A room in the boys dorms. 6-7 bunk beds in each room. Each boy gets one cubby to hold all his things, which usually isn't more than a few pieces of hand me down clothing.
 A box of communal shoes in the boys bathroom.
 The music group. We got to listen to a performance by them.
This little man stole my heart.
We played with the kids and listened to their little band perform a few songs for us and then it was back to the H 2 H house.

Monday we all headed to the music camp that was being held at the girls transition house. I helped cook and clean while Todd, one of the team members lead the music camp.
 Buying watermelon for a snack.
 Music group rehearsing in the back yard.
Girls transition house. During the year this will house the girls who have aged out of the orphanage. They learn basic life skills like cooking, cleaning, and shopping in addition to finding jobs and learning to live independently.
By the end of the day Monday all the rest of the team except for the members coming from Canada had arrived (they arrived Tuesday night). On Tuesday we all headed to an orphanage about 15 minutes from the H 2 H house. There are primarily younger children at this orphanage.

We spent the morning playing and coloring with the kids. In the afternoon I went with a small group to the baby hospital. There are 26 abandoned infants and toddlers housed in one small wing at a local hospital. They stay there until they get old enough to move into an orphanage or are adopted by someone in country (Romania is closed to international adoptions). Because the babies are wards of the state we couldn't take pictures of them or the hospital. It was tough to see babies that were 8 or 9 months old that could barely lift their heads. None of them reached for toys or looked you in the eye when you talked to them. The backs of their heads were flat from laying in cribs on their backs all day. Thankfully it was nice and sunny in their rooms and there were some volunteers who would take some of the babies out every once in awhile. And when they learned to crawl they were taken to a special playroom in another area of the hospital for a few hours a day to get some exercise. We held the babies and loved on them as much as we could before leaving for the day.

This is turning out to be a longer update than I had planned so I'll break it down into two parts. Coming soon: Wednesday-Saturday.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Today I'm leaving for the Friends and Fiberworks Summer Retreat in Asheville, NC. Of course this is not without its difficulties. First the power went out rendering useless my skein winder and printer (both of which I needed). Instead I sewed buttons on a vest (no picture yet but it's cute, take my word for it). Just as I had decided to go clean out the car to start loading for the show the power came back on. I was able to print the patterns I needed (free with the purchase of one skein of aran weight yarn!) and also to start winding some yarn. That's when things really started to fly. Literally. The yarn got tangled and yanked the swift at a very high rate of speed towards the skeiner and one of the arms of the winder snapped.
Can we say, impalement?

Honestly, it could have been worse. I guess this is why metal swifts are actually useful. I was going to fix it with Gorilla Glue but the stuff was dried in the bottle.
I guess it does work. Maybe too well.

So my second option was a glue gun.
You know it's ready when it spews molten glue from the end.

The following are my steps to fixing a wooden swift with a hot glue gun:
1. Make sure glue is super heated (see picture above).
2. Burn yourself on the glue once to get things started on the right foot.
3. Rig the pieces of broken swift into position.
4. Haphazardly apply molten glue to pieces of swift.
5. Make sure you leave gaps and bits of splintery wood exposed.
6. Fill in gaps with glue and cover splintery bits with glue as well.
7. The more amateur this looks the better.
8. Burn yourself with the glue once more for good measure.
9. Unplug glue gun and voila! you're done!
Extra points if you get a splinter in the process.

Testing of the "fixed" swift is about to commence. I hope I don't lose an eye.

Edited to add: Have tested the swift and it appears to be working! Huzzah!