We distributed 520 comfort scarves in July; to almost every shelter in LA County.
Yarn companies and others continue their generous support.
Some scarf makers are abuse survivors themselves.
Several associated groups throughout the country are really taking off.
A beautiful thought about why we make and give comfort scarves
And now for the details.
We distributed 520 scarves this month, almost 5,000 since the beginning of 2010. I compared this number to July, 2009 when we distributed just over 200 scarves, and over 1,700 since the beginning of 2009. I’m trying to avoid the Beat Yesterday point of view, but really, Handmade has grown a lot. We make and distribute many more scarves than just a year ago. We have reached every shelter for abused women in Los Angeles County and 4 shelters in Orange County. These totals and destinations don’t include those of groups associated with us in San Fernando Valley, Long Beach, San Diego, and elsewhere in the US.
We feel the impact of this in preparing the scarves for shipping, and in the shipping itself. Last year, Chris Needham was able to do almost all the wrapping herself. This year, she still does a lot, but we need to have wrapping parties to get all the scarves ready. The wrapping parties are lots of fun, and we appreciate the support of all the wrappers: Chris Needham, Mary Gravlin, Barbara Klein, Kathy Allen, Myra Kumagae, Teresa Copley, and Sharon McCann participated. And we had a fun lunch afterwards.
While everyone wrapped, I packed the boxes for each shelter so Barbara Klein could ship them. When she first offered to take care of the shipping, we weren’t servicing as many shelters as we are now. By May, she realized she had taken on more than she could afford. “What happened?” she asked. “We didn’t used to ship so much.” The answer is the same as with the wrapping. We’re making and distributing so many more scarves than previously, no one person can do any of the jobs by herself.
The same is true of kit making. While I was recovering from my April surgery, Hilary Cohen took over kit making for me. As I returned more and more to 100% recovery (I’m still not quite there), Hilary wanted to knit more and make kits less. That was fine because I could take up the slack. But we needed so many more kits. I couldn’t keep up and neither could she. Luckily, Mary, Barbara and Sharon want to make kits too. They have bought the swift, yarn meter and ball winder and are setting up in Mary’s garage. We really do need a workshop! We are expanding slowing, even though it feels very fast, and have many volunteers who support this growth. Thanks to you all.
More scarves mean more kits. More kits mean more yarn. And luckily, we have donors keeping us supplied with yarn. Susan Druding, Crystal Palace Yarns, comes through for us every month. Her Labrador and Whisper yarns allowed me to make kits when I could hardly turn the ball winder. She’s the greatest. Carol Maldonado, Marie Cortez, and Lucy Ford personally donated many boxes and bags of yarn that we used up almost as fast as they brought them to me.
Lyn Almustafa, Biology teacher at Narbonne High School, contacted me about doing another knitting unit with her students in the Health and Community Service Academy. I contacted Becky Moss at Skacel Knitting about donating knitting needles for this project. Becky donated 100 sets of wooden needles! I did a class with the students yesterday and they are thrilled to have the needles and to learn to knit. I talked with them about abuse, comfort scarves, and how they can help the victims of domestic violence. They were very interested and really wanted to make a difference. They spent a lot of time learning the cable cast on and then how to knit. I have kits ready to give them once they master these skills. But we couldn’t have this program without the generosity of Skacel who supplied the needles and everyone who supplied the yarn. Thank you so much.
Tina Gettings wrote me about a similar experience. I sent her a box of 4 kits and she worked on them with her 2 daughters. She told me “it was great for my daughters to see that even as teenagers/young adults they can make a difference in someone’s life!” Of course, her next box contained 8 kits.
Peggy Bomba sent a box of scarves made by some of the female inmates at Craig County Jail in CO. I have written about them in previous newsletters. I am thrilled to have the scarves made by these inmates and they are proud that they are contributing to society in a positive way. Making comfort scarves raises their self esteem just as receiving them raises the self esteem of the abuse victims. I am happy to be in touch with Peggy again and look forward to receiving more scarves from her group. She asked me send more cardboard rulers, since her first group of scarf makers graduated and now she is working with an entirely different group.
Another wonderful experience for me this past month was opening a box from Catherine Linton. She wrote:
I am sending this scarf to donate to your organization. It is my first knitting project. . . .I made it with love and starting knitting as therapy from child abuseI felt badly that Catherine was an abuse victim. From her handwriting, I thought she must be a young teen. I also felt very happy that she was using knitting a comfort scarf for another abuse victim as therapy to cure her own scars. The more I participate in the making of comfort scarves, the more I see that knitting/crocheting them helps the makers maybe even as much as the recipients.
Occasionally I receive thank you notes from the recipients. The recipients often address their notes to the name the maker signed on the gift tag. Sometimes I know who that person is, especially if the name is the only one in our group. When I can attach a thank you to the maker, I send the actual note to the maker. I just sent one of these thank you notes to Lorraine Lary. She wrote back a very moving note to me:
I have been donating to Handmade for about a year now. It is very close to my heart as I was a victim of abuse for 13 years, but was able to get myself and 2 children out, not easy, it took 3 jobs (I always joked it was one job for each of us) The BEST thing I ever did was leave. . . my children are grown with kids of their own. I have 4 wonderful grandchildren, and the cycle was truly broken. . . I recently received a thank you letter from one of the ladies who got one of my scarves. I treasure it. . . it is on my fridge for all to see and every time I see it it inspires me even more.
Every month I have a lot of these moving experiences. I cannot share all of them but I feel I must share some.
Several of the groups making comfort scarves for abused women in their own neighborhoods are really taking off. Barbara Swanson, in Carrollton GA formed a small group with 4 women. So far they made 80 scarves and gave them to the Carroll County Emergency Shelter. Martha Boyce, Executive Director, appreciated their contribution:
Thank you for the beautiful assortment of scarves. Each one is so unique and special. I am deeply grateful for the time, effort and talent used to create these treasures and brighten the lives of those less fortunate.
Sue Sager in Barre, VT found a local shelter eager for comfort scarves. She just needed knitters/crocheters so she contacted her local newspapers who will run a story about her project. Good going, Sue.
Barb Kochuba in Pittsburgh has had a busy and successful start to providing comfort scarves to PA shelters. She says response to her request for scarf makers has been overwhelming. She is currently working with Womansplace in McKeesport and New Beginnings in Monewood and plans to add 5 shelters, some of which serve male abuse victims as well as women. In addition to making comfort scarves, she plans for her group to make items for children who have sought refuge in these shelters. Good luck, Barb. You’ll definitely be busy!
Finally, Ingrid Carfagno, a knitter who found Handmade as a result of the Lion Brand article, wrote the following to the women for whom we make our comfort scarves. I think it says a lot about what we all do when we make and give comfort scarves:
My love and best wishes are knitted into every stitch! Remember to love yourself as you fully deserve. . . I am your Granny, your mom and your sister and I care about your well being. . . All good to you!
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
Thanks for everything,
501(c)3 EIN: 26-3529292