May 31, 2006

The Scam Finally Pays Off

(Picture-heavy post, Dear Readers!)

What you eat for lunch the day after a party and your guests leave their potluck leftovers behind (with no protest from the hostesses, mind):

3 chocolate-covered cherries

4 dried banana chips

3 dried pineapple pieces

16 jelly beans

12 savory crackers

11 peanuts

3 iced animal crackers

A slice of watermelon

A slice of chocolate tofu pie

Urp.

Speaking of which, take a gander at my favorite surprise of the party: The Dulaan-colored jelly beans brought by Elaine! Seriously; she hand-selected the jelly beans to match the colors in the Dulaan logo. I thought this was pure genius.

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The morning of the Knit-In/Garden Party was not auspicious. An hour after breakfast I found TMK lying in bed trying to ward off a cold; the sky looked like this...

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..and the rented tents were destined to stay in the garage, shrink-wrapped and folded up like giant, white, metal spiders, until Tuesday morning when they were returned to the rental company, never having seen the light of day.

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But no frickin’ cumulonimbi were going to harsh our mellow, no, sirree; especially when we had la crème de la crème of charity knitters arriving chez nous. And just as we predicted, the party ended up being fun, cozy and cheerful (if tinged with a little sugar-fueled hysteria) and even more importantly, extremely Dulaan-productive.

Our attendance worked itself out just enough so no one had to sit on anyone else’s lap (Plan B after the gymnasium risers and bunk beds). Present were Janine, Rebecca, Jessica, Duranee (aka Perclexed aka Moirae), Ginger (new to me but could be a new fave!), Beth (also new to me but could be another new fave!), LindaK, MaryB, Diana, Elaine, April, TMK, me...

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...and Frankie, who was so exhausted by the end of the day that 30 seconds after the last person left, she was on the couch in her famous cheesecake pose, and there she stayed.

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On a whim, we provided all the knitters with “goodie bags” which contained Dulaan buttons; refrigerator magnets sporting the image of “our” cria, Dulaan; and stitch markers made by TMK and me one night, hunched over the small kitchen table, wielding pliers and wire cutters and fighting ferociously over our favorite accent beads and the concept of form vs. function.

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And now for, to put it crassly, the “haul” all of the items I've received from local Dulaan knitters since the beginning of Dulaan 2006:

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Proof that everybody wanted to get in on the act...

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A picture of just the hats (!):

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The sweaters:

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Mittens, scarves, socks, etc.:

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The Plan is to get this all packed and shipped this weekend so we can add to the 2,955 items already in the F.I.R.E. office!

Lastly, give a thought, if you will, to Cuzzin Tom who wings his way back to Mongolia today! Bon voyage, Cuzz!

Posted by Ryan at 10:32 AM | Comments (11)

May 24, 2006

What Would You Have Done?

(Update: No postings on Friday or Monday, Dear Readers. I'm taking an impromptu day off, mostly to figure out, now that the weather refuses to cooperate, how to fit the 25 people who are coming to the Knit-In into TMK's tiny living room. We're leaning toward tiered seats like in a gymnasium and, for those who want to linger after the Knit-In is over, bunkbeds, all outfitted with Ott Lites for late-night knitting. Then Monday is the Memorial Day Holiday, of course, which we will dedicate to consuming large amounts of alcohol in order to recover from fitting 25 people into TMK's living room.

Knit on, dudes!)

In 2005, when the Dulaan Project started, Meredith, the Executive Director of F.I.R.E., made it clear to me that I should send to her all the items I receive, regardless of quality. She explained to me that the Mongolians, especially the children living on the street and in the tunnels under Ulan Bataar, are so cold and desperate that anything that will help protect their bodies from the -40 degree winter weather will make a difference.

This black-and-white, very clear, and actually very freeing rule of thumb worked extremely well for me…until the day I received The Scarf That Would Not Bend. The scarf (not knit by anyone I know offline or on) had been knit so short and on such small needles relative to the bulky yarn used that it had, astonishingly, no give. In an agony of indecision about whether to mail it to Arizona (after all, much heart and effort had gone into the knitting of it and Meredith's rule was very clear, and yet...), I showed it to other local knitters on the off chance I had forgotten how scarves are supposed to work or—remembering how I didn’t know what a gaiter was when I started this project—that it was a unique piece of winter wear that I'd just never seen before, but they said that, no, it wasn’t a unique piece of winter wear; yes, it was a scarf; no, it wouldn’t bend; and, no, it wouldn't be very useful to the Mongolians. Sigh.

Fortunately, that scarf proved to be the absolute exception because 99.999% of what I receive or what gets mailed looks like this!

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Except for the pink sweater, which has a story of its own, these sweaters were all knit by Laura Simeon who works at Acorn Street, my LYS. Aren’t they outta this world? How skwoodgy-woodgy is the tiny gray, green and blue sweater at the bottom? And don’t miss the one with the people-holding-hands motif around the yoke, and the one with shawl collar and the teal one and…heck, I just love ‘em all. Yet another moment when I want to go, “Squeeeeeeeeee!”

The pink sweater, as I said, has a different story. Through her other job as a school librarian, Laura knows an apparently very special first grader by the name of Olivia. When Olivia learned about the Dulaan project, she wanted to donate one of her sweaters and chose the pink one. First grade, people, first grade! This ranks right up there with last year’s story of Marylee’s physically and mentally challenged students making blankets for Dulaan, don’t it? And yet again, “Squeeeeeeeeee!”

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So, how are we doing on the “50 State, 10 Provinces, 3 Territories, and 1 District” Project? The news is good!

Anne Hibbert, who lives on PEI, says she has two hats that are ready to mail. Thank you, Anne! This means that, in Canada, we are down to Northwest Territories (just waiting for official confirmation) and Nunavut (where things are a’boilin’). I fully expect to take both of these territories off the list soon.

In the United States, Oklahoma and Mississippi are accounted for and I have actual proof of a hat being knit in Wyoming…

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…so we are down to Arkansas, Kentucky, and North Dakota (just waiting for final confirmation from knitter Mara Trygstad for this state).

Woot!

Posted by Ryan at 11:44 AM | Comments (12)

May 22, 2006

The Adrenaline Kicks In

For those long-time readers who are members of the Cuzzin Tom Fan Club (you know who you are, Patti), and for those of you who want to see video of beautiful Mongolian art and music (and who have a computer that can run video without shooting sparks and shrieking like an R2D2 droid hit by enemy fire):

1. Turn off your pop-up blockers. They seem to interfere with navigation of the site I’m going to point you to.
2. Review steps 3 and 4 below and click here.
3. The GPB page behaves kinda wonky (at least for me) so, to get to where you need to go, click on some month other than May, and then click back on May. Some choices should show on the right-hand side. If that doesn’t work, try again.
4. Click on “Portals to Shangri-La: Masterpieces from Buddhist Mongolia,” and enjoy the 9+ minute documentary which includes segments showcasing our very own monk (plus the cutest miniature ger (yurt) ever, playing a supporting role).

While you're all busy trying to figure out how to run the video, I want to happily make good on a promise by sending a “howdy” out to Kimberly Turnbow of the Warm Woolies organization. Kimberly and I “e-met” last year when I asked her for permission to include a link to their Warm Woolies vest pattern on our list of suggested patterns for Dulaan, which she very generously gave. I received an email this morning from Kimberly this morning saying:

"I wanted to let you know that since January, Warm Woolies has sent 805!!! [Emphasis and exclamation-mark overkill mine. Ed.] pieces to F.I.R.E. as follows:

222 vests and sweaters

364 hats

187 pairs of felted wool slippers

12 pairs of mittens

20 scarves"

Kimberly, I can't do anything more except, in return, send you 805 thank you's. Or how about 1610 thank you's, 805 from me, and 805 from each of the Mongolians who will receive your items!

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So, what is that slightly nauseating, slightly bileous, slightly burbly feeling in my stomach? I think it’s...why, yes, it’s panic! Panic caused by the realization that I have three sweaters on my needles right now, all destined for Dulaan, and only 40 days to finish the pieces, seam the pieces together, add various ribbed button and neck bands, sew on the buttons, box the sweaters up with 100 of their closest friends, and get them to Arizona. All of a sudden I feel great empathy for the R2D2 droid. Let the sparking and shrieking commence.

Project #1: The Staring Contest With Fate Sweater which has now had one sleeve sewn on three times despite much measuring, calculating, and matching up of carefully placed markers. Perhaps it was premature of me to moon Fate out the window of my car after I successfully finished knitting all the pieces.

Project #2: A Guideposts “Knit for Kids” Sweater using some forest green, slate gray and navy blue variegated Wool Ease. Curiously, everybody, from non-knitters to, er, pardon the pun, dyed-in-the-wool yarn snobs, is drawn to this Wool Ease. There’s just something about the richness and subtlety of the colors that is making people come up to me with great commenting and fondling (of the yarn, that is). Wool-Ease! Who knew?!

The Guidepost sweater is the simplest of the simple: two blocky, t-shaped halves (which—I can't help it—make me think of Tetris pieces) knit in stockinette and garter stitch and then sewn together (although this new extreme, “living life on the edge” variation I just found has—hold on to your hats—a ribbed hem. Can it be?!).

Of course, the new bold and adventuresome Ryan couldn’t leave well enough alone so here is one finished side showing the—oo-lal-la!—checkerboard pattern I threw in for grins.

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A close-up of the checkerboard, which looks remarkably like all the other checkerboard ever knit so feel free to yawn:

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When the two halves are seamed together, I’m going to add a folded cuff to the sleeves to cover the kind of lumpy-bumpy unfinished look of the edges. Oh, I’m just so crazy and wild and reckless! Can you stand it?

Project #3: The now-named Variation on a Theme Sweater which is, as I mentioned last entry, inspired by these colors, and which is, for some reason, going speed-of-sound fast. Here is the back, completed, and I’m lerving it.

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Spark! Shriek! Spark! Shriek!

Posted by Ryan at 01:57 PM | Comments (3)

May 19, 2006

A Gift To You

Having a bad morning?

If it rains for one more second, are you going to start slowly and deliberately pulling your nasal hairs out?

Is your coffee too strong, too weak, too milky, too bitter? And did your usually sunshiny barista just really annoy the crap out of you this morning?

Did your cereal get soggy before you put even one spoonful in your mouth?

Did your commute make you think darkly murderous thoughts that astonished even you?

If your computer hiccups one more time, are you going to find a high window to drop-kick it from?

Are you wondering what you ever saw in your husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, significant other?

Is your gauge off and are you cursing the name of that stupid person who ever got you hooked on knitting in the first place?

Well, have I got the cure for your morning blahs!

Those of you who read Cuzzin Tom’s blog will surely remember the time he made perhaps not the brightest decision of his adult life, entered an alpaca enclosure alone, and was knocked arse-over-teakettle into a pile of hay by an alpaca herd sire overcome by the alpaca version of road rage. After having been warned that that was exactly what would happen. What you may not know is that, after learning about the Dulaan Project from The Cuzz, Susie Homire, the owner of that alpaca and of the farm where he lives, Dogwood Hill Alpacary, was inspired to name one of her 2006 crias after the project!

So, it being alpaca birthing time…

It is my indescribable pleasure to introduce “Dulaan!!”

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Don't you just want to go, "Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee?!" Even you macho guys out there, I know you want to go "Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!"

Dulaan's mother is Noire (whom you will see below) and her father, who belongs to a different breeder, is named Silver Legend. Dulaan's fleece is silver-grey.

Some more photos, all taken by The Cuzz:

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Doesn't the self-satisfied smile in every photo just kill ya'? Methinks she knows she's special. I also suspect that, when she's older, Mom and Dad will have to beat the boys off with a stick but that that won't prevent her from sneaking out her window at 2 a.m.

My hope is that, while The Cuzz is in Mongolia, we will be able to get more photos from Susie of "our" cria growing up. In the meantime, Susie, a heartfelt thank you to you for acknowledging The Dulaan Project in such a wonderful and unique way.

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Thanks to an unexpected but astonishingly productive mention by Stephanie of the now-named “50 State, 10 Provinces, 3 Territories, and 1 District” Project, we’ve seen some faboo progress!

Drrrrrum rrrrrroooolllll and loud trumpet fanfare!!! I am officially able to mark Yukon Territories (!!!) off the list, thanks to my new best Canadian friend ever, Tasha, who now lives in Ottawa but is mailing a pair of thrummed mittens she knit while living in the Yukon. Ka-ching!

(Note the use of the phrase “the Yukon.” How cool am I? I now know to say “the Yukon” instead of “the Yukon Territories” and to say “PEI” instead of “Prince Edward Island.” I am sooo happenin’. If I cut myself right now, I’d find tiny maple leaves swooshing around in my bloodstream. But then I’d faint, so, nah...)

Thanks to my other new best Canadian friend ever, Michelle, I can also mark Newfoundland and Labrador off the list! Ka-ching! Ka-ching!

And thanks to my other new best Canadian friends ever, Jennifer, Jessica, and Jessica's grandmother in Iqaluit, look what's happening on the Nunavut front! I find this remarkable. (Jennifer, pleeeease take a photo of the hat and mail it to me before you mail the hat to F.I.R.E. I must to see a picture of this hard-won contribution to the project!)

I also have a nibble from Northwest Territories and am awaiting final confirmation from the knitter. Er, ka-ching?

So, Canada-wise, we are left with: Northwest Territories (just until I get a final confirmation), Nunavut (ditto), and Prince Edward Island PEI.

Alaska, Arkansas, Hawaii, Iowa, Nevada, and Washington D.C. and are now officially marked off the U.S. list and I have some 99% fer sher nibbles from Wyoming, Mississippi and Oklahoma.

So we still need: Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi (just until I get a final confirmation), North Dakota, Oklahoma (ditto), and Wyoming (ditto).

Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn't mention that we are receiving at least one item from China! Awesome, just awesome.

Six, almost only three, states left, people! Three, almost only two, provinces/territories left! 43 days until everything has to be in Arizona! We can DO this!

Posted by Ryan at 11:12 AM | Comments (20)

May 17, 2006

You Just Never Know...

Wednesday Afternoon Update: If you've ended up here from Stephanie's site, here is the latest about the "50 State, 1 District, 10 Provinces and 3 Territories" challenge.

Officially, although there have been some good nibbles on and promises made regarding some of these states, we still need to hear from: Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nevada accounted for!, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Wyoming.

Both Hawaii and Washington D.C. have officially moved to the "Done" list. Woo-hoo!

In Canada, we are still looking for Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Prince Edward Island, and Yukon Territory. All other provinces are accounted for.

To qualify, a knitted (or crocheted) item must have been at the very least knit (or crocheted) from start to finish in the state, district, province or territory, even if you were only there on vacation. Ideally, it would both be knit and mailed from the same location but the “mailed” part is not a deal breaker.

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Eight hours of Red Cross First Aid training and my knees ache, my shoulders hurt, my lips look as if they got vacuum-sucked into a bottle for way too long and, while I still couldn’t save an ant, I’m now so filled with an unhealthy, twitchy paranoia about horrendous, bone-splintering, skin-searing, life-altering accidents that could happen AT ANY MOMENT!, ANYWHERE!, TO ME!, MY CO-WORKERS!, MY FRIENDS!, MY FAMILY!, MY NEIGHBORS!, EVEN COMPLETE STRANGERS! that Monday I drove home like a 90-year old woman. 5mph tops. Which looks particularly stupid when you’re driving a sporty convertible with the top down. I don’t think a single strand of my hair moved the entire way home.

It doesn’t help that, now, whenever any of my co-workers who were in the training with me walk by my office they stagger, clutch their throats, roll their eyes back in their heads and gasp, “Help me, Ryan! Save me!” Buncha clowns.

And I’m still trying to figure out why, in the guidebook, pregnancy and helping a woman give birth was listed under “Tending to Wounds.” Eh?!

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The garden tour of which TMK’s beautiful garden was a part, and which was an effort to drum up funds for these folks, was held last weekend, giving us the ultimate, guilt-free excuse to spend the entire day—truly the most beautiful spring day since the Big Bang—outside reading (her), knitting (me), barking (Herself), lounging (all) and chatting up the (disappointingly few) people who dropped by.

After the tour, we hied ourselves over to a potluck hosted by the woman who had organized the tour and her partner (strictly coincidental; not everything we do has to involve "the gays," pinky swear). One of the women is a birding-obsessed (she even gives the Cuzz a run for his money, birdmania-wise) so their yard is designed entirely to entice birds with a myriad of bird feeders, fruit stations, and suet feeders; various water sources from birdbaths to sprinklers to misters; and flowers, shrubs and trees all designed with the shelter and nesting needs of the birds in mind. As a result, the women have now have over 60 types of birds in their very urban yard. In fact, by the end of the night, I had added three birds to my life list: a black headed grosbeak, a chestnut-backed chickadee, and a golden-crowned sparrow. Suh-weet! (Or would that be "Tuh-weet?")

But all of that pales in comparison to the fact that we:

(1) Spent the morning of the next day writing up TMK’s (TMK’s!) life list which, to her utter astonishment, has over 62 birds on it, including the almost extinct California Condor.

(2) Spent the afternoon at a local one of these, and TMK’s yard now has this...

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this…

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and this:

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The results so far: One crow hanging upside down on the suet feeder, decimating the feeder's contents. TMK is pouting greatly.

(3) Spent the evening birdwatching at a local pond and added the violet green swallow to both of our lists. And, bonus!, we saw three of the resident beavers. And, super-bonus!, walked by this beautiful "sun disc" art installation at just the right moment.

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All of which is too, too bizarre because, as I've mentioned before, TMK is pee-your-pants terrified of birds and has been ever since she was a child and a large cockatoo got stuck in her hair (which makes me laugh just typing it, which is awful of me, I know).

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On the knitting front, I am trying to make something similar to this sweater I knit in September 2004...

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but using these colors.

I found Cascade 220 in perfectly matching red, purple, robin's egg blue, mint green, chiffon yellow and peach sherbet, have knit the red ribbing and purple stripe, and am ready to move on to the blue.

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So far, so good, although I do have a question for you knitters: My swatch was supposed to be 20 stitches by 26 rows, and came out a very annoying not-quite-perfect 19.5 stitches by a perfect 26 rows. Would you even bother switching to a smaller needle and trying to swatch again (a question which I realize is moot since I've already confessed that I've started knitting the actual sweater)?

Posted by Ryan at 11:12 AM | Comments (29)

May 12, 2006

Camping It Up!

(MONDAY, 5/15: No posting today, Dear Readers. I am in First Aid class, learning how to help people survive broken bones and the damage done by overly enthusiastic camp counselors wielding abrasive scrub brushes.)

Apropos of an upcoming trip to Meg Swansen’s Knitting Camp, Franklin recently wrote about his experiences at Boy Scout camp as a yout’, which reminded me of my experiences at camp as a yout' which (a) I had, thankfully, forgotten and (b) at the ripe old age of 46, I now realize were truly bizarre.

To wit:

brush.GIFOnce a week, besides our regular showers, we were subjected to an ice cold one, and then a camp counselor, in full view of everyone else in the bath house, would scrub you top to bottom with a scrub brush. Not a loofah, not a bath puff, not those ultra-soft brushes you can safely use on your car but a hard, bristly, medieval torture implement, the kind of brush you would use to scrub your kitchen floor. This whole process was incredibly painful and humiliating, if, I must hesitantly admit, ever so slightly invigorating, if you could feel past the abrasions and the rawness. Surely there are other, equally effective and hygienic ways to shower besides removing your entire epidermis? Note to the camp counselors: It works for snakes, not humans.

Secondly, and also once a week, we were required, and the operative word there is required, to participate in communal skinny dipping which, even at the ripe old age of 9, I knew was a little hinky. We lined up on the lakeside beach by tent, wearing nothing but our robes, and then, tent by tent, at the sound of a whistle, threw off our robes and ran shrieking into the water, where the more demure among us, which was most of us, would immediately submerge ourselves up to our necks in the dark and concealing water. We would bob around aimlessly and pointlessly for about ten minutes, not wanting to swim lest our derrières pop up out of the water, at which time a second whistle would send us scrambling out of the water and back to our robes. (Which, being a modest sort and rather confused by all the proceedings, I was very relieved to be able to do…until the day I discovered a very angry hornet inside my robe, or rather, it discovered me. Yowza.)

Thirdly, every day, without fail, we had to report to our camp counselors on the success, or lack thereof, of our bowel movements so that at dinner time, in front of all the other campers, the names of those whose digestive systems had so spectacularly failed them could be called out loudly so those campers could make the required post-prandial visit to the camp’s version of Nurse Ratchett and her dreaded bottle of Milk of Magnesia. Again, très humiliating, especially since the other campers would hoot and laugh and whisper as The Constipated Ones (sort of like The Anointed Ones, only not so spiritually grand) filed out of the dining room. A discretely delivered notification would’ve been just as successful, would it not have?

And just now, 37 years later, at 9:34am PDT on May 12, 2006, it occurs to me that I coulda shoulda lied. D’oh!

To this day, I have never again been skinny dipping, I give the Milk of Magnesia shelf at the supermarket a wide berth, and I approach my kitchen scrub brush with great trepidation.

Good times.

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So where are we in the "Name That Province" Game?

Remarkably, we are down to just 10 states (and one district) that are holding out on us, although projects are promised from Alaska and Hawaii.

Here is the list of 40 states that are considered officially to have contributed to Dulaan:

Alabama
Arizona
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Idaho
Indiana
Illinois
Kansas
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
Ohio
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin

We're still waiting on:

Alaska (very close; Eve promises to knit and mail something while there. Just waiting for a confirmation.)
Arkansas
Hawaii (also, very close; have heard from two people who are starting projects so this is 95% a done deal)
Iowa
Kentucky
Mississippi
Nevada
North Dakota
Oklahoma
Wyoming

…and the lone district, Washington D.C.

Canada remains the same. We've heard from...

Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
Ontario
New Brunswick
Nova Scotia
Ontario
Quebec

...and still need to hear from:

Newfoundland and Labrador
Northwest Territories
Nunavut
Prince Edward Island
Yukon Territory

The maps, kindly contributed by TMK:

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C'mon, Brigadiers! I can almost taste 100% success!

Posted by Ryan at 09:34 AM | Comments (31)

May 10, 2006

Marital Strife

I am excited that you are excited that Dulaan is going to continue into 2007. The one person who is not so excited? TMK.

When I found out that F.I.R.E. wanted to continue the project, I, of course, called TMK prontissimo to let her know. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Hi! Get this! F.I.R.E. wants us to do Dulaan for another year!

TMK: (Silence)

Me: So? What do you think?

TMK: (Muffled sigh.)

Me: Ooookay; whaaaat’s wrong?

TMK: Um…

Me: What is it?!

TMK (teetering on the brink of petulance but knowing better than to go there): Um…When am I going to get some new socks?

Interpretation: Because of Dulaan, I’ve waited patiently all year for a new pair of hand-knit socks and, in the meantime, thanks to some yarn sent to you by that wascally wabbit Norma, I’ve discovered Koigu so, since then, I’ve been waiting specifically for a pair of Koigu socks, all under the assumption that, come July, Dulaan would end and you would immediately slap some Koigu on some needles and churn out my long-awaited pair of socks, and now you tell me Dulaan is going to continue and you’re going to keep knitting like a madwoman for Mongolian children and I might not get some Koigu socks? I. Don’t. Think. So. Woman.

So, to keep peace in the family, I’ve promised TMK I would knit her some socks during the (actually nonexistent but don’t tell her) time between the end of Dulaan ’06 and the beginning of Dulaan ’07. She only has, what, five pairs already? But none of Koigu, and that seems to be the main issue that her attorney will be bringing to the table.

Speaking of socks, remember how I finished Cuzzin Tom’s Buddhist-Monk-Robe-Saffron socks way back in August of 2005? I mailed them to him right after I kitchenered the second toe, cross my heart. Okay, maybe a leetle later. Okay, maybe after he came back to the States. Okay…well…last week. And here, finally, is a picture of the world’s longest socks on the world’s longest feet.

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Cuzzin Tom reports that the Buddhist nuns at the spiritual center are jealous of the socks. I’ve introduced friction and dissension into a contemplative, compassionate order—my work is done.

That, and I have a sinking feeling that he’s too polite to tell me that he doesn’t even wear saffron robes, only maroon, but what the hell. Maroon and saffron make for a spiffy color combination.

TGD (The Gory Details): Saffron-colored WoolPak, Evelyn Clark/FiberTrends Railroad Rib sock pattern.

The “Name That Province” Challenge continues to yank my naïve state-centered rug out from under me. First, I figgered I’d get a thumbs-up from just the 50 states...until the Canadians started in with, “What are we? Chopped liver?” so the Canadian provinces and territories were duly added. And now Cuzzin Sarah, Cuzzin Tom’s sister, has reminded me that I neglected to include our 51st “state,” which is actually a district, Washington D.C. Anyone from D.C. knitting for Dulaan and close enough to mailing a box for me to move D.C. to the “Done” column?

And are there any more states, provinces, territories, districts, cantons, commonwealths, kingdoms, principalities, dominions, enclaves, or colonies that I need to add? Speak now or forever hold your peace.

I’m thrilled to report that we have some very promising activity in Alaska and Hawaii. Eva, who seems to have a covert job that involves travel to deepest, darkest Alaska and deepest, darkest Canada, is doing her best to get something knit in and mailed from The Final Frontier, even if, apparently, she has to call in some Mafia-type favors to get it done.

Frustratingly, she also has plans to go to Nunavut, but not until 2007. So close yet so far away. Literally and figuratively.

I also received an email from knitter Connie Severin who lives in Waipahu, Hawaii, saying that Kathryn Kienholz (is that you, Kathy the Tax Accountant?) had contacted her about our mad scramble to reel in at least one item from every state. And Connie is ON it, baybee!

Speaking of people who are ON it, baybee, a shout out to Lee Ann for already getting Vogue Knitting’s buy-in on a blurb to let their readers know the Dulaan Project will continue. Smooches and hugs to you, Lee Ann!

Posted by Ryan at 08:15 AM | Comments (16)

May 08, 2006

Dulaan 2007?!!

Happy Monday morning, Dear Readers and Brigadiers! I have some very interesting news to share with all of you.

I received an email from F.I.R.E. on Thursday asking why on earth I (I?!) was stopping Dulaan at the end of 2006. Imagine how bowled over onto my well-padded derrière, denim-clad legs flailing in the air, that email left me! The last I’d heard—and straight from the horse’s mouth, this were—was that F.I.R.E. was ending Dulaan after 2006 because they were going to start focusing more on providing medical and educational supplies and services to the Mongolians rather than clothing, and that the knitted items and blankets would no longer be needed. (A certain Buddhist monk concurs with my remembrance of this. The Cuzz has my back, yo!)

I sent F.I.R.E. back the email equivalent of "Whuh?!!!," and have now learned that, apparently, thanks to all of you and the article in Vogue Knitting, Dulaan is so successful F.I.R.E. has no intention of stopping it! In fact, Meredith, the Executive Director, hinted that they couldn't stop it if they wanted ta' when she wrote, “At this point, the momentum has gained such strength that it would take some work to discontinue the project.”

(Any of you old-timers remember how Dave, the man who founded F.I.R.E., doubted that we would even send 500 items? And now, here we are, on the cusp of our third year of the project. 6,000+ items later, Dave, all I can say is, "Har, har, har!" and "Neener, neener!")

So there you have it, Brigadiers:

Dulaan 2007!!!!!!!!!!

What this means is, first, if you bought something from CafePress because in my naiveté I had announced we’d be taking the site down on July 2, my apologies. (Watch me really end up running a scam! Oy.) However, every dollar we make through the site will help F.I.R.E. this year so we very much appreciate your purchases. Besides, who knows; since there’s no controlling The Mysterious K, we may have a completely different logo next year. Maybe we’ll even start the Dulaan haute couture line. Milan, New York, le Gay Paris, here we come!

Secondly, because, unfortunately, the Vogue article does indeed say the project is ending in 2006—this is no reflection on Lee Anne, the author, since that’s exactly what I told her—help me get the word out as much as possible that the project will indeed be continuing.

In the meantime, our deadline for everything to be in F.I.R.E.’s hands for 2006 is still July 1 (54 days from now, tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock), so don’t let the fact that we will be continuing the project into 2007 slow you down. In fact, let me share with you the latest numbers:

2,472 items received; 2,046 to go. We've passed the halfway mark!!

Thanks to local knitters, I have at least 70, maybe 80 items to send myself so we should soon be below the 2,000 mark for items needed.

In the "Name That Province" Game, we’ve added Alabama, Nebraska, Oregon, South Carolina and Indiana to the list of “states heard from,” thanks to Martha in Mobile, Minnie, Laurie, Kirsten and Mindy.

Still nary a peep officially from Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, or Wyoming, although Patti is trying to see if she can get something going in Georgia; Laura is trying to goose knitters in Indiana, Oklahoma, and Wyoming into action; and Carrie is trying to cobble together some activity in Nevada (although, no, Carrie, it doesn’t count if you knit everything in Arizona except the last row and then send it someone in Nevada to finish and mail, you schemer, you). Who knows a knitter in Hawaii?

On the Canadian front, JenH plans on mailing items knit while on vacation in Newfoundland and on Prince Edward Island and may, through her sister, be able to make some contacts in Nunavut. Since neither the vacationing nor the knitting is happening as we speak, I’m going to hold off on marking those provinces off the list, but I am SO counting on you, JenH! In the “Done Deal” column, however, thanks to Knit Picking and her sock-knitting mother, we can officially and with a grand flourish of our quill pens, add New Brunswick. Woot! (Celtic Knitter, are you listening?)

By way of explanation to our readers who may just be catching up, we are trying to acquire knitted items from every state and every Canadian province and territory for the Dulaan Project. To qualify, an item must have been at the very least knit from start to finish in the state, province or territory, even if you were only there on vacation. Ideally, it would both be knit and mailed from the same location but the “mailed” part is not a deal breaker.

On the knitting front, I promised you a few entries ago an update on the “Staring Contest With Fate” Sweater.

Fate blinked. I had enough yarn.

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This cardigan is a combination of saffron-colored WoolPak and a brightly variegated wool-acrylic yarn from Berroco called Foliage, which I love so much I have a poster of it over my bed. The weird blobs of color at the shoulders were a spur of the moment attempt to add an epaulet-like, colorful design element up at the top.

I can't wait to see this thing blocked and put together.

Oh, you mean I have to do it?

Posted by Ryan at 01:31 PM | Comments (30)

May 05, 2006

Feeling "List-less?" Then This is the Entry for You!

This morning I sat down with my mug of tepid, flavorless, nuked tea—the best our work microwaves can produce, even after I doctor the tea with a gallon of half-and-half and fifteen teaspoons of sugar, I exaggerate not—and pondered what to write on this “eh” Friday morning. Then I realized I don’t have to write anything; I can just let these new photos from Mongolia (yay!!!) speak for themselves. I have no descriptions to go with the photos, but, judging from the surroundings, the conditions of the children’s clothes, and the smudgy faces, these are the "street children" we've all heard about since the inception of the project.

I love all of these photographs but the ones of the boy clutching the red sweater to himself and the boy all bundled up in the scarf are my favorites. You guys do fabulous work.

(As always, if you see anything you knit in the pictures, please let me know so we can celebrate!)

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The latest on the Dulaan game of “Name That Province!:”

Amazingly, thanks to reports from knitterly “roving reporters,” and from F.I.R.E. itself, we are up to 33 34 35 states and 7 of the 13 Canadian territories and provinces (Saskatchewan and Alberta can claim their places on the list legitimately now yet, sadly, we’ve heard nary a peep from the North Pole. How can that be?).

We have the following states…

Alabama
Arizona
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Idaho
Illinois
Kansas
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Missouri
Montana
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
Ohio
Oregon
Pennsylvania
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin

We still need to hear from:

Alaska
Arkansas
Georgia
Hawaii
Indiana
Iowa
Kentucky
Mississippi
Nebraska
Nevada
North Dakota
Oklahoma
Rhode Island
South Carolina
Wyoming

We’ve heard from the following provinces (in the past week, I’ve learned enough about Canada to know that none of these are territories. I’m starting to scare even myself with the depth and breadth of my newfound knowledge about Canada.):

Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
Ontario
Nova Scotia
Ontario
Quebec

We still need to hear from:

New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Northwest Territories
Nunavut
(my Holy Grail)
Prince Edward Island
Yukon Territory (also a Holy Grail, if one is allowed have two. If not, then, Nunavut is my Holy Grail; Yukon Territory is my Arc of the Covenant.)

Per various requests, and thanks to TMK, maps (note the sophisticated use of the "Dulaan Gold" designer color)!

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For the Dulaan Knit-In, so far I have heard from:

Rebecca (and friend)
Jayme
MaryB
Elaine (and Bling?)
Jessica
Diana
Janine
Perclexed
Dorothy
Joan
Kim
Sandy
Erika
June
LindaK
Ginger

If you expected to see your name on the list but didn’t, lemme know. If it doesn’t show up after that, then you know it’s personal. ;-)

Posted by Ryan at 10:52 AM | Comments (16)

May 03, 2006

Who Knew This Game Would Actually Require Rules?!

I must say, you Canadians are a wily bunch!

As much as I would heart to mark off Saskatchewan and Alberta, dear Amy S., it’s not as much about the location of the post office as it is about the location of the person who did the knitting. Take Mary Beth, fer example. She lives in not-Delaware (dunno where exactly) but is mailing a box that contains items knit by her sister in Delaware, so I can now officially add Delaware to my list. So, in Canadian-speak, if something is knit by someone who lives in (…yet another quick Google search for the name of some Canadian provinces…) Northwest Territories yet is mailed in Quebec, I would consider it a Northwest Territories item.

And, no, Celtic Knitter, just because you knit something from yarn sent to you by someone who lives on Prince Edward Island...well, you know where this is going.

However, I think if Carrie were to, as she suggested, fly to Nunavut, knit something in Nunavut, and mail it from Nunavut, that would have to count as a Nunavut item, wouldn’t it? And then I would have to find a way to (a) thaw her frozen extremities; (b) reimburse her for all her expenses and (c) have her committed to a mental institution for being way too caught up in this Dulaan craziness.

And now, for all you Americans out there, because this process is making me realize what a clueless ninny I am, here is the official list of Canadian provinces and territories:

Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Northwest Territories
Nova Scotia
Nunavut
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
Quebec
Saskatchewan
Yukon Territory

Read it, learn it, memorize it, eat the paper when you’re done.

So, Canada-wise, I can now officially mark off Ontario, British Columbia, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia. More, dear Canadians, more!

On the United States front, I added California, Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, New Hampshire and Wisconsin to Monday's list of 18, so we are up to 24, 3 fewer than last year, 26 below our goal of 50. There is a faint possibility, although so far only very faint, that my sister will be able to make a hat and mail it from Alaska while on a cruise up there, so keep your fingers crossed. More, dear Americans, more!

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Although my plan had been to write about last weekend’s great watermelon-planting adventures and the outcome of the Staring Contest With Fate Sweater, since Dulaan seems to be the order of the day, this seems as good a time as any to announce TMK and Ryan’s Last Ever Dulaan Knit-In or, hopefully, if the weather cooperates, Knit-Out.

What: A casual, open-house-type gathering of knitters who want to drink, eat, chat, share, and work on Dulaan projects.

When: Saturday, May 27, 2006, 1pm-6pm-ish.

potluck.GIFWhere: TMK’s house in the Seattle Northend. Email me if you are interested in attending and I’ll send you the details.

What to Bring: As always, the party will be a "snack luck" so bring snack food to share, plus your beverage of choice (although we’ll provide regular and diet sodas, coffee, and iced tea); yarn and patterns to share; any Dulaan projects you want to work on; and any finished Dulaan items you want me to mail.

RSVP: Even if you only think you might come, please email me to RSVP so we can get a general idea of how many people will be there. Again, I’ll send you phone, address and direction information in return.

P.S. Mary Lou's free donated-on-behalf-of-Dulaan pattern mistakenly had a price on it, so a new version of the sweater has been posted, sans price.

Posted by Ryan at 11:07 AM | Comments (18)

May 01, 2006

The Latest From the Oh-So-Informal Dulaan Knitting Poll

Duck, everyone! Wildly out of control, dancing, happy woman barreling her way through again! Arabesque! Jeté! Pirouette! Plié!

Groan. Pant. Gasp!

So far, not including people who are trying to make Northern Vermont a completely different state from just plain old Vermont (you know who you are....Norma), we’ve heard from 18 19 states, to wit:

Arizona
California (added 3:27 PDT)
Colorado
Florida
Illinois
Kansas
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
New Jersey
Ohio
Pennsylvania
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington

I thought we had 23 but my ability to count is apparently en par with my ability to cook. Or clean. So, 18 19 it is! Almost 19 20, thanks to Jennifer who suggested that I could count her donation (from Florida) as the ever-elusive Hawaiian donation in memory of her late Hawaiian grandfather who “taught [her] what it is to give with both hands,” which is, obviously, the Dulaan philosophy to its core. I was tempted, sorely tempted, ‘cuz I was moved by her story and the obvious love and heart behind it, but, nope—the items have to be mailed from the state proper.

And, of course, it doesn’t stop there. From our international contingent, we heard from two people from Kent, England, one person from Scotland, and one from Earls Barton, Northampton.

And then there’s the issue of our Dulaan soul mates to the North, the Canadians. I knew, even before I posted Friday’s entry, that I would get a metaphoric tug on my pant leg from Celtic Knitter who is truly, as he labeled himself, the Dulaan ambassador from Canada. This dude jumped on the Dulaan bandwagon with both feet the instant he stumbled across it and hasn’t stopped since. Now, knowing that I would hear from him, I made a concerted, proactive effort to include the Canadians in my “get one item mailed from each state/province/territory/what-have-you” list but my good intentions died a quick and ugly death when some judicious Googling revealed that the Canadian territories include a place called Nunavut that extends into, get this, the North Pole. If I don’t think I can get entries from Hawaii and Alaska, people, there’s no frickin’ way I’m getting an entry from the North Pole.

So, for the Canadians, my tracking of your whereabouts will have to be a little more loosey-goosey, but, please, please, do chime in! So far we’ve heard from, obviously, Celtic Knitter so I’ve put a big, fat, happy check mark next to Ontario. (Now watch something get mailed to Dulaan from Nunavut.)

Stop the presses!! I just received an email from Mary Anne in Canada which is great news on two fronts: (A) I can add British Columbia to my list of Canadian-places-heard-from and (B) I can post this adorable picture of the 45 (!!!) items she knit for Dulaan:

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Mary Anne’s picture reminds me that I also have to wholeheartedly acknowledge Petrified, who is surely not as frozen in place as her name would imply, since she has knit 48 hats and scarves so far. Woot! And Sara and her mother and her mother’s co-workers who have generated 50+ items for the project. Look at this blog posting of Sara's for pictures of more hats than you could ever imagine. I am stunned.

And lastly, my favorite part of Dulaan—a new pattern (large pdf file), designed specifically for the project! This Cloud Sweater (different from Melinda's equally wonderful Cloud Sweater) was designed by Mary Lou Egan and is a mohair and worsted weight raglan cardigan, inspired by the Cloud Hat. Thank you, Mary Lou!

Posted by Ryan at 11:49 AM | Comments (22)