August 01, 2007

Smiling Through the Tears

You may have noticed that the Dulaan information is gone. Sadly, this time it’s gone for good, Brigadiers, after a spectacular three-year run.

tragicomedy.gifThe Very, Very Good News: Per Cuzzin Tom, who started Dulaan and who, as you know, has lived in Mongolia and wallowed in Mongolian culture for almost two years, and knows whereof he speaks, “Mongolia is not a country in crisis now, it's a country that's developing.” He feels strongly that Mongolia now has in place so many workable political, sociological and economical structures that it’s time for it to start standing on its own two feet, and that what it needs now, more than clothes and knitted items, is, for example, help with rural education and medical training. This was not at all the case three years ago when we started Dulaan. What this means is that we have been an integral part of helping Mongolia maintain the status quo during some very difficult and complicated growing pains. You should be so proud of yourselves.

For this reason, and for some others, Cuzzin Tom and I had come to the decision that, after sending 33,978 items to Mongolia, it was time for Dulaan to close its doors. (Of course, even now I'm thinking, "Dang. We just missed 34,000.")

The Very, Very Bad News: After we told F.I.R.E., they went all diva, all Jekyll and Hyde, on us. Un-frickin’-believably, they are now laying claim to the entire Dulaan idea, to the name, to the concept, to, essentially, the entire project. They have labeled Mossy Cottage merely, and I quote directly from an email, a “promotional tool.” In short, they plan on continuing with a pirated version of Dulaan, with or without our permission, our support, or rights to the name. I repeat: Un-frickin'-believable.

Oh, there is so much more I could tell you but Cuzzin Tom has called for cooler heads to prevail. I have since stuck mine repeatedly into a bucket of ice and am struggling mightily, from within the clouds of resulting steam, to have some class. So hard, so very, very hard. I want so badly to say many, many, many four-letter words.

At any rate, Dulaan, at least the legit Mossy Cottage version, is rolling up its ger camp for now. Whatever happens, nothing, nothing can take away from the amazing and miraculous events of the last three years, and everything that you, we and F.I.R.E. did together as a team made a difference.

So, what does this mean for you? That’s up to you. If you have items already made, feel free to send them wherever your heart says is best, even to F.I.R.E. Personally, I have a date with some red yarn.

Finally, if I could, I would climb to the top of the Space Needle, spin around in my pinafore a la Sound of Music, and shout the loudest 360-degree thank you’s I could to all four corners of the world—until I fell off and made an unattractive sploodge on the sidewalk.

(This will stay up for a while so that as many people as possible will see it, but I’ll be back in a burst of pudgy, princess-y glory in a few days.)

(Update, Since People Seem to Be Asking: Heck, no, the blog ain't goin' nowhere! I'll be spouting my knitting inanities again very soon if for no other reason than to show you the cutting of the Olympic Squirrel steeks, which is on the verge of happening.)

Update #2: The Other Side of the Story
Because I don't want it to get lost in the comments, some valid and important thoughts from Cuzzin Tom:

"Yipes! Hell hath no fury like knitters scorned...

Now, you know, and I know, that my lovely Cuzz has been the 8-piston engine driving Dulaan's success. But. Current revisionist spat notwithstanding, I feel I have to defend F.I.R.E. a bit. There could have been no Dulaan without their wholehearted cooperation -- I mean, who has the wherewithall to ship and distribute these thousands of items in Outer Mongolia? They have had so many dedicated volunteers, both in Flagstaff and those who paid their own way to Mongolia. Those excellent people sometimes endured very adverse conditions in order to not just dump your items in some warehouse to be picked over by whoever, but to travel throughout the country, literally going door-to-door to find the people most in need. Very time-consuming, very emotionally trying, but very effective. They really made sure your lovingly crafted goodies reached the most deserving hands. I saw it for myself, and you saw the pics. So yes, there are definitely some seemingly irreconcilable personality clashes among the main players, but let's hesitate a little before dogpiling on FIRE as a whole, OK?

Anyway, you have definitely proven knitters to be a formidable force for compassionate activity, and this dulaan-s my heart more than anything. That's the spirit to nourish, whoever may be in need, in whatever way we can help. And maybe our work in Mongolia isn't quite finished {cue mysterious music}. Stay tuned!"

Posted by Ryan at August 1, 2007 09:29 AM

Ryan, we all know what an outstanding job you the co-creator of Dulaan have done! Unfortunately Buddhist lessons in non-attachment and no-ego are very difficult for us westerns, well at least for me! But we all know what you have contributed and so do you.You did a great Devorah

Posted by: Devorah on August 1, 2007 10:51 AM

Stunned speechless. Hugs to you and yours.

Posted by: Elaine on August 1, 2007 10:54 AM

Oh, Ryan! *you* should be so very proud of *yourself*! Without you and Cuzzin Tom...... Well, the world wouldn't be quite as nice a place. And the idiots at F.I.R.E. will soon realize that what goes around, comes around. There are several other charities which will gladly accept my knitted items and $$$.... Afghans for Afghans, Children in Common, anyone? Be proud, Ryan; be very proud.

Posted by: Beebs on August 1, 2007 10:57 AM

You have done Good in this world. You and your cuzzin Tom and every single person who contributed to Dulaan whether in material goods or in spirit, have done Good. I applaud you. I applaud you all. And I think everyone will join me in that applause.

What can I bring to the wrap-up celebration?

Posted by: Leslie on August 1, 2007 11:04 AM

Ryan, You and Cuzzin' Tom (and TMK too!) did an amazing job in creating the Dulaan Project. You have spread not just warmth to Mongolia, but warm fuzzies on every continent to participants and non-participants alike.

'Promotional Tool' my left kidney. *grumble*

I am sending gobs of extra-squeezy cyber hugs your way.

Posted by: Margot on August 1, 2007 11:04 AM

You have got to be kidding!! I still have a bit of avalanche yarn, I will knit it up and send it on to FIRE, but I think anything else will have to be sent somewhere else. Non-attachment and non-ego be darned . . . you did a great job and deserve better than this.

Posted by: Ginger on August 1, 2007 11:05 AM

I don't think anyone would hold it against you if you rounded to 34,000. Congratulations on making Dulaan such a huge success. I'm glad that I could be a part of it. I hope it is some comfort to know that those of us who know you (in person or via this blog) know the truth of who started the Dulaan project and who made it happen. Those other guys can claim until they turn blue, we know. As for me, I totally support the "mother bird" ideal of giving aid when needed and allowing, encouraging or forcing when necessary the stand on ones own two feet bit. My charity knitting will await the next tug on my heartstrings to come along.

Thanks for stepping up and meeting that need, you are amazing!

Posted by: Visionsister on August 1, 2007 11:05 AM

Ah, well. Nonattachment is a two-way street, so far better of you to take the high road on this one. You've helped an unbelievable number of people when even helping one would have made a difference. Good on you.

Posted by: Mel on August 1, 2007 11:11 AM

DUDE. They should know very clearly that this was YOUR scam and all those 34000 items are in YOUR garage, not theirs. They suck rocks. And Magic Cones. And now I'm GLAD that I didn't mail them my one measly hat and I will donate it to someone else instead.
Oooh, and Ginger brings up a good point - what do I do with my remaining avalanche yarn? (Yes, I know I also suck rocks because I begged and begged and didn't finish it.) Can I use it for other charities or must I send it to fire?

Posted by: Carrie on August 1, 2007 11:13 AM

The demise of Dulaan? I'm crushed! It's rare that we actually get to see the difference we make in someone's life, so at least we can all take comfort in that. And to personally know the Founders of Dulaan made it even more special.

Seattle-area knitters may want to consider Warm for Winter, a worthy effort to keep local homeless people warm, and to bring greater awareness to this problem. (

Posted by: Diana on August 1, 2007 11:18 AM


And sniff.

Posted by: Gwen on August 1, 2007 11:24 AM

Nevermind, I looked in your archives and see that it must be used for Dulaan. Sigh. I will try not to knit nasty thoughts into it.

Posted by: Carrie on August 1, 2007 11:35 AM

That is an amazingly crappy thing.
I am stunned. Buttheads.

Posted by: Renee on August 1, 2007 11:46 AM

Wow. Class-ay (and yes, I do mean the ASS in class) on the part of the F.I.R.E. folks. Regardless, I'm very impressed by all the work you put into this. Thank you for all that you've done!!!

Posted by: moiraeknittoo on August 1, 2007 11:49 AM

Most importantly, congratulations on your success. Definitely, round up to 34,000.

I am really sorry to hear about F.I.R.E. and their [insert many four-letter words here] inexcusable behavior. Knitters are a powerful force, and we will find many other deserving charities. Thanks for the Red Scarf link; I didn't know that the deadline would be much earlier this year.

I'm happy that I was able to send things, but I regret sending a donation to F.I.R.E.

Posted by: Lisa on August 1, 2007 12:07 PM

So, it's time to move on? So be it. A while ago, perhaps a long while, someone mentioned (and I think it was Cuzzin Tom) that there were chilly children in North Korea. So.... how do you say "warmth" in Korean?

Posted by: Jenn on August 1, 2007 12:07 PM

I am disappointed to hear about F.I.R.E.'s revisionist tendencies, but *nothing* can change the fact that you did what you did - and you did it both selflessly and splendidly. I'm honored to have been associated with you and Konchog and the project.

Maybe the red yarn can take you out for a nice dinner and a movie.

Posted by: Franklin on August 1, 2007 01:18 PM

While it's wonderful to hear that Mongolia has progressed to developing nation status, it's upsetting to hear about FIRE. (And I just started Dulaan-ing this year!)

For what it's worth, Afghans for Afghans has a September 21 deadline for a winter delivery of all sorts of wooly items.

Posted by: abby on August 1, 2007 01:23 PM

wwwwaaaaahuh? No more Dulaan? Oh man. Ladies, it has been an honor--an absolute honor to work with you on the Dulaan project.

Who can we pick to give our goodies too? Any suggestions?

I have probably a dozen items that I have in a box, ready to go. I have 2 sweater dresses, 4 or 5 hats, 4 or 5 scarves, and a few more items on the needles.

Posted by: Nancy O. on August 1, 2007 01:33 PM

well now aren't they going to be surprised when they only get a trickle in next year -

geeze.....if they had asked to use the name, logo, etc and credited you all with the whole thing I would feel completely differently... but now just geeze....

Posted by: rho on August 1, 2007 01:36 PM

I am speechless as well. You and The Cuzz and TMK and all the rest of us done good. F.I.R.E., too, their present behavior notwithstanding.

My problem is that I assumed the Dulaan Project would last forever (like, duh!). I have, um, accumulated an amazing whack of worsted weight wool, i.e., non-machine-washable, yarn. Since my family and I don't wear much wool -- we tend to be too warm, even in winter -- it is not really useful to me for personal knitting. I'll have to look into other charities that could use that kind of knitted items. I know there must be some.

Not that it is a bad thing to have lots of yarn, you understand...

Posted by: kmkat on August 1, 2007 01:37 PM

You and Cuzzin' Tom made a wonderful thing happen and there is no one and nothing that can take that away. Not even those ungrateful rat bastards in AZ. ♥

Posted by: Cookie on August 1, 2007 01:43 PM

I'm extremely proud of you and Konchog, and you know my inbox is open, should you feel the need to fling around those four-letter words.

There are a lot of kids in Canada who are not warm enough in winter...I've talked with Steph about this and I don't exactly know how to organise anything to help out,'s on my mind. There are probably organisations up here that have taken on the challenge, but not nationwide, as far as I know. Got to research it.

Thank you, Ryan, for everything you've done. It's in large part thanks to you that people know how generous a whack of knitters can be.

Posted by: Lee Ann on August 1, 2007 01:54 PM

Hmm, rat bastards, very eloquent, Cookie. Always liked that expression. Ryan, I enjoy your blog, love your sense of humor and your vocab, i.e. splooge! I am a very new knitter (about 6 wks.) and was looking forward to trying to knit a hat for Dulaan. Well, since red's always been my favorite color, I guess I'll make something for them. I've always thought I'd rather help people here first, then spread my charity outward, so maybe once we yarnies get everyone in North America warm and cozy, we can look elsewhere. F.I.R.E., you should be ashamed.

Posted by: Barbara on August 1, 2007 01:57 PM

Sadly, that's the way life is. I dedicated many years to community work and this sort of thing happens more often than you might think. But WE know the truth about Dulaan and your, TMK's and Cuzzin Tom's effort (and the effort of dozens of Dulaaners).

Thank you, Ryan.

Posted by: Judith in NYC on August 1, 2007 01:58 PM

Well, Cookie just told me about this. If this is not occasion for my favorite word -- fucksake -- then nothing is.

Anywayyyyy, you've done such a marvelous job, my dear -- and break out the red yarn!!!

Posted by: Norma on August 1, 2007 02:02 PM

Like many others, I am so happy to have been a very small part of YOUR Duulan project and I have always admired the wonderful way in which YOU shepherded this project along and got all of us excited about participating.

And yes, won't they be surprised when no knitted items show up. ***holes.

I personally find the high road a very difficult path to travel - your restraint is admirable.

Posted by: Susanna in Seattle on August 1, 2007 02:03 PM


I want to say THANK YOU to YOU who inspired a very slow and inexperienced knitter to try new techniques, (inclusing the dreaded DPN, and circular knitting--hey, I ain't kiddin' when I say inexperienced!)because YOU made me feel it was worth it to help the folks in Mongolia.

I really owe my improved knitting skills to YOU and your Dulaan Project. I made DOZENS of items I NEVER would not have attempted without the thought of helping the little ones(and not so little ones) in Mongolia.

Thank you so so much! Now I am getting a little teary eyed....

so, can I still re4ad your blog????

Pat in Virginia

Posted by: Pat on August 1, 2007 02:05 PM

all the people who knit for the Dulaan Project know how much you had to do with it.
I'll be looking for some red yarn really soon.

Posted by: susanna eve on August 1, 2007 02:16 PM

What a crap way to end a beautiful collaboration. :(
I still have a GIANT box of items for Dulaan. Man...

Posted by: Jessica on August 1, 2007 02:17 PM

Well! I am speechless!

But there are other charities that need wool for warmth. The northern Reservations here in the US and Canada come to mind.

Posted by: ann on August 1, 2007 02:19 PM

Thank you, Konchog, Ryan and TMK--the Dulaan project gave me another opportunity to exercize my generosity muscles, which can go slack from time to time! I met a lot of people through the Dulaan parties, learned about Mongolia, and had many many laughs. And I know that I made things that help keep people warm--meeting some very basic needs. The child, the prisoner, the old woman on the doorstep. Pretty amazing, really. So I pronounce Dulaan a success on many levels and I thank you all.

Now, on to the next adventure!

Posted by: Janine on August 1, 2007 02:31 PM

Wow. You're right. UnFREAKin believable. What an awful way for an organization to act. I'm speechless.

But thanks for the fantastic job you did..and for the memories!

Posted by: Bron on August 1, 2007 02:31 PM

Pat in VA says it for me. I learned how to knit cables, in the round on dpns, color work--all while knitting for Dulaan. Thank you for all you've given us. And I'll STILL be readin' that there blog, Missy! Have to keep up with the neighbors, dontcha know!

Posted by: Laura Sue on August 1, 2007 02:49 PM

Thank you for all your Dulaan work! I've had a recent hard lesson in understanding that difficult people are actually "agents of change" which I can appreciate (while not being exactly grateful).

I will drink from my Dulaan coffee cup with pride and think of your, TMK's and Konchong's generosity of spirit in organizing Dulaan.

Posted by: martha in mobile on August 1, 2007 02:55 PM

Whoa (in my best Keanu voice). I'm sure the folks at F.I.R.E. could have handled the situation better, but I have to agree with Cuzzin' Tom here - don't waste your energy on the issue. In the grand scheme of things it's not worth the effort and aggravation. You created and nutured an amazing movement. We were able to help so many people in a far off land. There are many more that need help, so why not spread the wealth a bit.

Thanks to you and TMK for all that you did.

Posted by: Kat on August 1, 2007 03:06 PM


Posted by: melissa on August 1, 2007 03:30 PM

What a wonderful testament to the warm hearts of knitters, and the strength of the people of Mongolia who have endured so much. And how lucky I was to bumble into this in the past year! Gal, you sure know how to throw a party!

Posted by: Gail on August 1, 2007 03:35 PM

I can only second all the other commenters. We all know the Dulaan story. And we now all know the FIRE story.

Posted by: Donna in Virginia on August 1, 2007 03:44 PM

Ryan, thank you from my heart for putting three years of heart, soul, brain power, and wrist power into Dulaan.

Posted by: Becca on August 1, 2007 05:17 PM

Ryan, I know how much it stinks to put your time and energy into something so wonderful only to be left with a bad taste in your mouth. Just remember that the world is a much better place because of what you've done. If there's no longer a need, it's because you helped us fill that need. You've earned a break from saving the world. Thanks for everything you've done.

Posted by: Jennu on August 1, 2007 05:24 PM

Yipes! Hell hath no fury like knitters scorned...

Now, you know, and I know, that my lovely Cuzz has been the 8-piston engine driving Dulaan's success. But. Current revisionist spat notwithstanding, I feel I have to defend F.I.R.E. a bit. There could have been no Dulaan without their wholehearted cooperation -- I mean, who has the wherewithall to ship and distribute these thousands of items in Outer Mongolia? They have had so many dedicated volunteers, both in Flagstaff and those who paid their own way to Mongolia. Those excellent people sometimes endured very adverse conditions in order to not just dump your items in some warehouse to be picked over by whoever, but to travel throughout the country, literally going door-to-door to find the people most in need. Very time-consuming, very emotionally trying, but very effective. They really made sure your lovingly crafted goodies reached the most deserving hands. I saw it for myself, and you saw the pics. So yes, there are definitely some seemingly irreconcilable personality clashes among the main players, but let's hesitate a little before dogpiling on FIRE as a whole, OK?

Anyway, you have definitely proven knitters to be a formidable force for compassionate activity, and this dulaan-s my heart more than anything. That's the spirit to nourish, whoever may be in need, in whatever way we can help. And maybe our work in Mongolia isn't quite finished {cue mysterious music}. Stay tuned!

Posted by: Cuzzin Tom on August 1, 2007 05:53 PM

Hey Ryan! Dontcha know I just posted (on my new blog!) about 'assuming Dulaan 2008 would be on'... oh well! You and Tom did such great things and also all the knitters who were on board the project. I was awed by how much folks sent in and their enthusiasm (I had such high hopes, got my 5 in but not more). Sucks about FIRE. But let it roll baby, roll, not worth getting too upset. I'm sure there are plenty of worthy causes that would love some hand knit woolens...I'm doing at least a red scarf this year too.

Posted by: lisa on August 1, 2007 06:10 PM

So sorry Ryan about how things turned out-Maybe cuzzin Tom does have a point?! I know I have a straight girl crush on you and just a plain old fashioned crush on cuzzin Tom! Such good people!

Posted by: tayloe on August 1, 2007 06:20 PM

Perhaps Cuzzin Tom is right on this one, as much as it hurts. And you totally busted your ass, so you deserve some time to rest on your laurels.

Posted by: Kristen on August 1, 2007 06:25 PM

Well that just sucks. But we know who the founders of Dulaan are and will never forget it.
You done good, Ryan, in cheering us on to do more and more. I've learned so many new things too while knitting for Dulaan. Thanks for all you have done. I've totally enjoyed every bit of it.

Posted by: sheila on August 1, 2007 07:41 PM

Knowing nothing of the direct correspondence between Ryan and FIRE, I am going to spout off a bit:

Cuzzin' Tom may be right, but we all know it's not just what you say, but how you say it. Had it been something like what happened with the Red Scarf Project, I think I would have been more understanding.

The Red Scarf Project was overwhelmed with the number of scarves sent in, they didn't have the resources to get it them all distributed, so they asked us to scale back, limit the numbers we were sending in so that they could be sure of getting them distributed.

Had this been the case, had it been a "we just can't keep up, Ryan, reign your knitters in" I think we would have been just as understanding. If they were finding it difficult to distribute the vast numbers of articles we were sending in, say so, don't just pull it away from Ryan with no regard for the hard work she has put it.

I guess it just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Posted by: Ginger on August 1, 2007 07:50 PM

Well, ratsandfrats. And here I've been channeling Dulaan and knitting a hat a week for over a month.

My Dulaan stash tends to be donated acrylic. Anyone have a suggestion for a group that accepts non-wool items? (I'd offer them to my local Salvation Army but I've been making things extra-thick for Mongolia and they're too hot for a Virginia winter.)

In the mean time, Ryan, I'll still be reading the blog. I started at the same time you started the dyeing garden. I remember thinking "Who are these crazy people?" Looking forward to more craziness.

Posted by: daisy on August 1, 2007 07:54 PM

Dear Ryan, TMK, and Cousin 'Chog: I'm not all that shocked by FIRE's behavior - if you've ever worked with non-profits or NGOs you've had a taste of how the best intentions get turned into politics and saving face. Nothing changes the fact that we were part of a wonderful system that was actually getting the items directly TO the participants without them being bribed, siphoned or black-marketed away before they even hit the country. This is amazing in itself. I hope we'll see more pictures this fall of what good uses our work went to. Why was Dulaan such a successful scam? It's all down to you three (of course especially Ryan) who made it fun, easy and very very motivational to get things done. So now we have a LOT of serious knitting-for-others mojo going on and I'm excited to find new places to research so I can keep on cranking. Few of us are willing to take the time out of our lives to run something like this - yet we all learned tons about what it takes, and that it needn't be onerous to crank things out with groups of like-minded friends.

Quick take on the Avalanche yarn -I'm guessing that it just has to be used for charity knitting - as the donors intended - not for personal use, and if we no longer have a direct association with F.I.R.E., the donors might happily leave it up to each person to use it for their group of choice. Anything that would put the leftovers all back in Ryan's lap to be mailed to FIRE or some other tedious redistribution would be too teeth-gnashing to think about.

Posted by: Linda "K" on August 1, 2007 08:07 PM

What a shame that something as vital as this had to end. It feels like I have lost a friend. It was so rewarding to see our knitted garments putting smiles on the children's faces.

Is there a possibility to get our knitting energy and momentum shifted to another cause?

You did a superb job, Ryan, and in my humble opinion, F.I.R.E. should work with you to keep this group going. I am sure there are many impoverished children who would benefit from our efforts.

Thank-you, Ryan for all you have done. Few of us can say they have helped make a difference in 34,000 lives!

Posted by: Kellie on August 1, 2007 08:12 PM

What you did will never "go away" so be proud...and send other woolly things the way of Afghans4Afghans
as they too use woolly items.
Make the best of what is!

Posted by: Susan on August 1, 2007 10:49 PM

I was going to ask what I'm going to do with my bag of oddballs that were going to be next year's Dulaan hats, and I saw Susan's post right above mine. Does afghans4afghans really take hats? I would love to see our ability to knit up lots of hats and scarves pointed somewhere else, especially a place like Afghanistan where we bear some responsibility for the situation the country is in. If you would be so kind as to post the true skinny on groups like this that would take our donations (without in any way making yourself a campaigner again), it would be wonderful.

Posted by: CarolineF on August 2, 2007 06:13 AM

Congratulations on a job so well done that its actually done! In many year's worth of experience in volunteer work I've rarely seen instances of actual success to the point of completion!

On the flip side the nasty bits happen with surprising frequency and sometimes truly shocking vigour. Blow them off and don't let them taint your spectacular accomplishment!

Again, many well deserved congratulations to you and all the Dulaaneers!

Posted by: Marie on August 2, 2007 07:00 AM

"Hell hath no fury....." Brother Konchog, I had to laugh. NEVER mess with women who own lots of pointy metal sticks, and who know how to use them! :)

I am greatly disappointed about not having Dulaan, and I will continue to pray for the children of Mongolia. I truly hope that the infrastructure continues to grow and develops the ability to reach ALL the people who need it.

Just a suggestion if anyone is interested, the World War 2 Museum has a program where they collect scarves and distribute them to veterans around the country.

ps Ryan, what's the word on TMK and that adorable Frankie? Did they heal up okay?

Posted by: Nancy O. on August 2, 2007 07:46 AM

Please tell me people aren't buying the whole "All's fine in Mongolia now, no more need for warm stuff" rat poop? I mean, puhlease, does anyone really believe all's fine in Mongolia? Yeah, and there are no starving people in Ethiopia, either, right?

Whatever.You and your cousin want to walk away from this? Hey, kewl, no one is obligated to do something like this forever and, hey, mega-props for all your hard work and all. But what's with all this ownership crap? Was this about helping people or who can rightfully use the term 'Dulaan'? F.I.R.E. is going all 'diva'? And you'd call your response what exactly? Diva^2?!?

Something like Dulaan should be about helping people who need it, not arguing about who gets credit. It should be about helping people, not stroking one's already oversized ego. This post and many of the comments in response are an utter embarrassment -- or, at least, they should be to their respective authors. If FIRE wants to continue Dulaan, under whatever name, more power to them and I hope knitters will continue to help -- it was a worthy cause last year and it is, blatantly disingenuous claims to the contrary, a worthy cause this year. If FIRE doesn't continue it, well I hope knitters will find another worthy cause to support -- god knows there's always a need for warm clothes.

Posted by: Christa on August 2, 2007 08:06 AM

Ryan and Cuzzin Tom,
I am so very very glad. It is not that I don't enjoy knitting for those in need (obviously we all do), but I am so very glad that Mongolia is at a place where they do not need so very much. Even better is that we Westerners have learned when to bow out and let others be self-sustaining. One question that I have heard over and over in the "empire" conversations I've had is "What is our stake in perpetuating global poverty?" Sometimes the answer has been that it feels good for us to provide for those less fortunate than ourselves- it gives us some sort of ego-boost, just when we think ourselves to be selfless.
I rejoice that our brothers and sisters in Mongolia are now past the emergency needs for survival and are now ready for becoming engaged in providing for themselves. Perhaps we could encourage F.I.R.E. to send knitters there to teach classes to a few Mongolians who could teach others, assuming that knitting knowledge has been lost along the way?

Posted by: Abby on August 2, 2007 08:08 AM

Well, that stinks about FIRE. But I hope it helps to know that a whole whack of knitters know the real truth. (ES toddles off to reread her Dalai Lama books esp. the sections dealing with being grateful for irritating people because they give us the opportunity to learn patience)

Anyway, thank you so much for giving me the excuse to try new things and patterns I wanted to make but I didn't personally know anyone who needed them. (EZ's Baby Surprise Jacket, baby leggings, the, Pinwheel Hat)

To anyone else reading, just do a google search for Charity Knitting and you will be overwhelmed with the number of groups that are collecting things (Interweave Knits maintains a particularly comprehensive list) Don't worry, we've warmed Mongolia but there are many more chilly people out there who can use our mad knitting skillz.

Posted by: Elizabeth Spinner on August 2, 2007 08:23 AM

Ryan, you and your Cousin are very wise and brave to think deeply about what Mongolia needs rather than what knitters might want for their self-gratification.

I recently read a fascinating book, a different view of the world, called _Adventure Capitalist_. The author travels around the world with an open mind and a critical eye toward economics, namely, where should he invest his money. He is very critical of NGOs in general and what he thinks are misguided attempts at helping the world's most poor. One example in particular is sending clothing because it hurts the local economy --- people who had been earning a living making or repairing clothing are pushed out of work.

I considered Dulaan and decided that warm hats and sweaters for the very very poor were an immediate need and narrow enough category not to fall into that problem. But I did consider it. I trusted Cuzzin Tom's views due to his travels and understanding of the area. I just wondered if I would feel uncomfortable had Dulaan expanded and sent too much clothing.

Wouldn't it be so great if we could support microlending so that the folks in Mongolia could start their own businesses making and selling warm clothing to each other?

Posted by: Dorothy on August 2, 2007 08:29 AM

I just picture thirty-three-thousand-nine-hundred-and-seventy-eight (what-a-number!) adorbaly shy and cute children holding their hands, wearing mittens, hats, scarves, and sweaters, and that is plenty for me!

Ryan - you did way beyond good in this world, and I am happy I was part of it. And now, I believe Warm Woolies needs some booties for orphanages in Russia - DA! 'knit that bootie!!!!!


Posted by: Irina on August 2, 2007 08:32 AM

I have a few items I didn't send on this year, because I hadn't finished weaving in the ends and blocking (because I was lazy mostly - they had been otherwise done for months). I will take this to heart and find local charities. I don't want to give up on charity knitting, because I love using my hobby to do some good.

Posted by: Seanna Lea on August 2, 2007 12:33 PM

Ryan - I am so sorry this project ended for you with hurt feelings, but know that you did a fine thing and changed the lives of many many people - knitters and knittees - in a positive way.

Posted by: MBT on August 2, 2007 03:42 PM

Christa -- while you're entitled to your opinion about the tone of this contretemps (I wasn't crazy about it myself), I think you're missing the larger point. No one's saying "all's fine in Mongolia". What I have been saying, as someone who actually lives in Mongolia and observes the scene here, is that Mongolia is relatively stable and its economy is growing and it will be a greater kindness to the Mongols to "teach them to fish" rather than "giving them fish". You see? For so many reasons, it would be much better to channel energy into helping develop sustainable micro-enterprises, for example, rather than handing out charity. It is less a matter of "dropping it" than seeking ways to bring the efforts up to the next level.

Posted by: Cuzzin Tom on August 2, 2007 05:23 PM

Well, we all know where Dulaan really came from, and that's what counts!

Too bad it has come to an end, but I'm sure there are plenty of other places that will want lovely hand knits! (I made something red this year, too.) I was just thinking yesterday about Dulaan going another year when I was cleaning up my sidebar.

You and Cuzzin' Tom have done a tremendous job! Thanks for allowing me to contribute to such a fine and worthy cause. (And do my first ever charity knitting!)

Posted by: Sheri on August 2, 2007 05:24 PM

We'll always have MongoLEEa!

Posted by: marylee on August 2, 2007 05:49 PM

The amazing work that you have done is never going to be forgotten. Well done!

Posted by: gerald on August 2, 2007 09:59 PM

Like many have commented: I am utterly speechless. I could not believe what I was reading.

I had my goal outlined and a plan to actually make it happen this coming year. Through many painful lessons I have learned throughout my life is there is always a reason. You will, in the future, understand why this has to happen right now. (Don't hit me when I see you!)

The way this ocurred and the way F.I.R.E communicated this to you was amazingly unprofessional. I'm still a bit shell shocked at the message that was sent.

But my dear(s) you have shown me many admirable qualities that I would like to take with me and incorporate into my being, and I will.

As Janine said, my charitable muscles can go slack from time to time. Your commitment to Dulaan has shown me that my charitable muscles need more time in the gym.

I have a feeling I have rambled on and on so I'll stop.

Thinking about you all! As much as Ryan is not a hugger type - big hugs to all of you!

Posted by: Naomi on August 2, 2007 10:43 PM

Much as I admire your ability to take the high road, F.I.R.E.'s still getting nothing next year.

Posted by: Marie on August 3, 2007 04:12 AM

Ryan - I read your message on Wednesday and had to take a few days to process. I'm glad to hear that Mongolia is starting to get onto it's feet and very sad the F.I.R.E. is acting they way they are. Meeting you a couple of times has really made me feel a part of a community and I think because of that it made the charity knitting feel more personal and meaningful. I will miss that. What will you do to occupy yourself now that you won't be wrangling an avalanche of yarn and spurring on the masses? Thanks for a good ride. Beth in Seattle

Posted by: Beth in Seattle on August 3, 2007 12:21 PM

"Whoever saves one life, it's as if he saved an entire world".

Let them have their false glory. Let them bask in the icy cold light of imitation fame. You've saved lives. You've provided warm hands, warm heads, warm feet and warm hearts. They might not know your name, but when they thank their higher power for your gift, the higher power knows to whom goes the glory.

God's blessings on you.

Posted by: HedgeMom on August 4, 2007 07:37 AM

Hmm, maybe F.I.R.E. could either modify the name to Dulaan II or something so as not to be creating hard feelings on donators'' part? Or change country? Surely there are other countries that could use warm stuff?

Posted by: Carol on August 4, 2007 10:01 AM

Hmm, just reread your entry and the dim bulb that keeps my head functioning burned a bit brighter for a moment. I'm heading to my lys that imports yarn from Mongolia! I will experiment with the Yak and Camel and whatever it is that they have, and make something nice for someone who's cold. Charity knitting will have double the impact if we use Mongolian yarn!

That is a part of Cuzzin Tom's point, is it not?

Posted by: Gail on August 4, 2007 12:17 PM

This is all so very bittersweet. Thanks Ryan, for everything you do.

Posted by: Romy on August 4, 2007 03:43 PM

I can think of nothing better than putting yourself out of business because the initial goal has been met (no, wildly exceeded!). Thanks to you, Ryan, and Cuzzin Tom and F.I.R.E., for so much enthusiasm and planning and care: through your combined project, I was inspired to learn new skills, stretch my creativity, and help others in the process. The "dulaan" the project left in my heart will warm me for a long, long time!

Posted by: Ann Rose on August 6, 2007 08:13 AM

I was out of town for a few days and came back to find out about the end of your involvement with Dulaan and FIRE. I agree with Ann Rose -- what a wonderful thing to have put ourselves out of business because our goal has been met -- and I will put my trust in Cuzzin Tom when he says that this is so, even though FIRE will be continuing its relief efforts.

We have all done good work -- Ryan, who kept us enthused here at home, Cuzzin Tom with his reports from Mongolia, the tireless people at FIRE who saw to it that our garments were delivered directly to those who needed it most, and most especially, the worker bees, aka the knitters, who have proven quite formidable.

As for me, I will be flexing my knitting generosity muscles (as Janine so aptly put it) to the afghans for Afghans project on a full-time basis now. It's my "other" favorite community knitting organization. MaryB

Posted by: MaryB on August 6, 2007 08:34 AM

Ryan, you and Tom did a wonderful thing...and for that, you will be long rewarded. I am so happy that I at least found out about Dulaan this year and got to send in items. Whether it's something close to home, like Warm for Winter, or Afghans for Afghanistan, I'll continue charity knitting....and will look forward to participating in whatever you and Tom guide us to next!

Posted by: Deb J on August 6, 2007 12:20 PM

Dear Amazing Knitters,

I can not express enough heartfelt gratitude and deep appreciation to you, your fellow, amazing knitters and Ryan and Konchog. Ryan and Konchog helped give this project its life. Ryan carried it on her back and gave it its heart and soul! It is because of them and knitters like you that so many lives have been effected on the other side of the planet in the middle of nowhere. We are honored to serve as the middle man.

I was as surprised as everyone else to learn that Dulaan was ending. Ryan and Konchog want to end Dulaan, F.I.R.E. would like to see it continue, with full credit given to those who began the project (Ryan, Knchog, Kathie and you!). If we need to change the name, then so be it.

It pains me to no end to think that any of you, especially Ryan, feels that, even for one second, we do not hold you in the highest regard and have the upmost amount of love and true appreciation for all of your hard, beautiful work.

If you would like to hear our thoughts, from us, please contact us at

Thanks again for your support. We remain committed to receiving, packing, shipping and distributing these hand made pieces or love.

Heart broken, in great sadness and with tremendous appreciation,
Meredith Potts
Executive Director

Posted by: Meredith from F.I.R.E. on August 6, 2007 01:38 PM
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