May 31, 2009
Here’s a brief outline of today’s topics.
I had an amazing experience visiting one of the shelters. This reinforced my determination to broaden the scope of Handmade Especially for You.
We distributed more than 200 scarves and received donations from two more yarn companies.
We’re busy researching and trying out patterns for summer scarves, which are much in demand.
Thinking ahead to how many scarves we will need for Thanksgiving and Christmas donations.
The number of people who participate in every aspect of Handmade continues to grow. We couldn’t make and distribute so many scarves without everyone’s contributions.
And now for the details.
When I delivered scarves to one of our new shelters (we donate to 11 shelters now), the director wanted to show me the remodeling going on there. In the kitchen, I saw a woman eating an ice cream. She almost jumped out of her skin when she saw us. She tried to hide the ice cream. She looked down when we tried to acknowledge her presence. I was truly shocked. She didn’t feel worthy of having that ice cream. I wanted to reach out to her and tell her that it was OK to enjoy the treat but it was clearly inappropriate for me to do so. I saw the woman a few more times as we toured the shelter. She always seemed like a deer caught in headlights.
I thought about her for a long time afterwards. Suddenly I understood what other directors had been telling me about the impact of our scarves. They say the women are amazed that anyone would make anything so beautiful for them. They feel they are not worthy of receiving such a gift (like the woman felt she wasn’t worthy of enjoying the ice cream). Yet receiving it starts to break their cycle of low self esteem that allows them to accept abuse. For the first time, I understood what the directors were saying. We must keep on with our project and distribute scarves to as many abused women as we can. It is one important way to stop abuse and domestic violence.
We distributed just over 200 scarves this month, 50 each to two shelters who needed more for Mother’s Day after our initial donations in April. We received inspiring thank you letters from several shelters. “Everyone” at Laura’s House sent us a colorfully decorated handmade card with many signatures thanking us for the “beautiful” and “gorgeous” scarf the woman received.
Robert Armstrong, President of the Board of Directors of Interval House, wrote: “Dearest Friends, We can’t begin to put into words how very appreciative the women in our shelters were to receive your fabulous scarves. It is very obvious that a lot of love went into making them and all the women felt very special. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts…”
Sherelle Robertson, Project Director at Jenesse Center, also wrote a lovely letter. She said: “Thank you so much for the donation of the handmade scarves. We were very excited to share them with the ladies in our shelters. We gave the scarves to the transitional shelter residents for Mother’s Day. They loved them so much. The shelter staff reported that they were wearing them the next day.”
Judy Hessick, Director of Development at Rainbow Services, signed into our website and sent this note of appreciation. “A GIANT THANK YOU to you and all the volunteers involved with Handmade Especially for You. The scarves you have given Rainbow Services are truly “comfort” scarves to our clients. When the women come to our emergency shelter, they come with very little. We try to provide the basic necessities to get them started ….. But when we are able to give them one of the scarves, their eyes brighten and smiles come forth. They are really moved by the kindness, thoughtfulness and caring of your organization. Your scarves are like “hugs.” They wrap around each woman just like out-stretched arms…. Knowing someone cares about them helps to build their self-esteem. Your support and kindness are very very important. Thank you for all you do for Rainbow.”
Yarn companies are still sending donations. In addition to the yarn companies mentioned in previous newsletters, we received new donations from Blue Heron Yarns and Knitting Fever. When Trendsetter Yarns read our April Newsletter and saw that we distributed 464 scarves in one month, they sent another donation! These contributions allow us to make exceptionally beautiful scarves for abused women, many of whom have never before received a personal gift, much less a handmade one. We appreciate the tremendous support of these companies.
To our group of OVER THE TOP KNITTERS (Annie, Auntie “D”, Cindy H., Diane, Janet, Kathy, Leslye, Lisa, Sharon, Tammy, Vicki, Wednesday Night Knitters at Concepts in Yarn) and the women from the Meyler Family Literacy Program, we welcome Beverly P. (who sent us 15 scarves). Keep up the good work, everyone.
This month, Concepts in Yarn and Needlepoint, our wonderful sponsor, donated 15 scarves the staff made as store samples. They are exceptionally beautiful, showing off both the quality and variety of yarns Concepts in Yarn offers as well as the skill and talent of the staff in knitting them. Many thanks.
Chris wrapped all the scarves this month—a tremendous effort. The scarves look colorful and special when she finishes wrapping them. We have a good system going. Every time I have 20+ scarves, I take them to her for wrapping and pick up what she has finished so we don’t get behind. Plus it’s very 1950s to have a little chat as we make the exchange. Many thanks.
Karen continues to wind big skeins of yarn into smaller balls. She uses the yarn winder my son Mitch donated. Kit making still is a big job, but it’s a lot easier when I have so many pre-measured balls to work with. This is a great contribution. Many thanks.
As the Handmade Especially for You website plays a greater role in our work recruiting participants, I must say a special “thank you” to my husband, Phil. He smoothed out and refined the appearance of the website, got everything into the right type, and made a page filled with good keywords so people searching the web can find Handmade if they’re looking for an organization like ours. In addition, he built a yarn table in my office (really the yarn room), which holds my swift, yarn meter, and yarn winder so I could remove kit making from the dining room. He still makes all the tags that personalize each scarf. What would I do without him. Many, many, many thanks!!!!!
Summer is upon us although you wouldn’t be able to tell if you looked out the window at my house today. The sky is grey, there is so much fog in the air that the patio looks as if it has just been raining, and it is only 64 degrees outside. I want to knit for winter but I know in just one month it will be so hot that just the idea of wearing a scarf will cause me to turn on the air conditioning. So we need to make lighter weight, more open scarves. I have been experimenting with knitting lace and have come up with a pattern or two we can use. Even continuing with your regular patterns will work if you use bigger needles or hooks and lighter weight yarn. If you have suggestions for lighter weight scarves, please share. I will post all the suggestions on the Handmade Especially for You website, www.handmadeespecially.org
I surveyed the shelters asking them all to anticipate their needs, especially for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Their response has been overwhelming, so we must plan ahead. Adding up, I expect we will need at least 1000 scarves for November distribution and 2000 for December. Monthly, we will need about 200-250, especially during hot weather. I have been setting aside (all wrapped) the heavier scarves for cooler weather. So don’t think you cannot contribute if you cannot make lightweight scarves. We need every scarf you make, light or heavy weight, as you can see from the numbers above.
We depend on each one of you for Handmade’s continued growth and success. We couldn’t donate scarves to 11 shelters if you didn’t make your contribution. We understand not everyone can make 10 scarves a week, as many of our over the top knitters do. But whatever you contribute adds to the total. And whether you have knitted or crocheted a scarf, donated money, equipment, time winding or wrapping, it all is important. Many, many thanks.
If you want to donate scarves or yarn or if you want to send a check, please mail to:
Handmade Especially for You c/o Leslye Borden
30065 Grandpoint Lane
Rancho Palos Verdes CA 90275