February 28, 2011
We delivered 815 comfort scarves again this month
Shelters really appreciate what we contribute
The wrapping party gets bigger and bigger
Stitches West was an incredible experience
Yarn companies, yarn shops, and individuals continue their generosity
Affiliated groups throughout the US are making and delivering comfort scarves in their own locales
Some scarf makers were abused women themselves at some point in their lives
More tips on making comfort scarves
And now for the details:
In February, so many participants contributed scarves made both from our kits and from their own stash that again we were able to deliver 815 scarves to 22 shelters for abused women in S CA. Considering we were wiped out of our stock of scarves at the end of the year, I am thrilled that we have made so many scarves both in January and February that we could deliver 815 in each month. That is a lot of dedication, knitting and crocheting, on your part. When you realize that it takes about 3 hours to make one scarf, not including getting the yarn and wrapping the finished scarves, 815 scarves represents 2,445 hours of your work! Wow! I hope we can keep up this level of intensity because the demand for our scarves is growing.
I personally appreciate what you do and so do the shelters. Su Casa sent us a Certificate of Appreciation. In the accompanying letter, Christina Satki, Director of Community Outreach, wrote: “We thank you and all the wonderful people at Handmade Especially for You. Your donation. . . was wonderful. Your generosity towards our families championed that seed of hope and boosted the families’ spirits to amazing heights.”
Taking the time to acknowledge our contribution keeps us motivated. Shannon Fors, Executive Director of Domestic Violence Center of the Santa Clarita Valley, also wrote a very moving letter. “Thank you so very much for the scarves you provided for the women in our shelter. I wish you could see their faces. . . . They are SO excited. Some of these women can barely afford to feed their families so you can well imagine what a beautiful scarf means to them. . . . They feel ‘pulled together’ with such a wonderful accessory. When self-esteem is at an all-time low, improving appearance can be just what a woman needs.”
Joanne David, Director of Development at Haven Hills, wrote in a similar vein of thought. “I wish you could have seen the faces of the women in our shelters and counseling clinic when they received the scarves you so generously donated. They were so fabulous! We appreciate your support. . . “
Donna Miller, Director of Operations at OPCC, wrote: “Please extend our sincere thanks and appreciation to everyone who helped make and donate the comfort scarves we received. They were beautiful and given to the women at Sojourn’s emergency and transitional shelters.”
Heather Finlay, CEO of the YWCA of San Diego County wrote: We are especially grateful for your commitment to us during these hard economic times. . . . Thank you for helping to improve the lives of thousands of women, children, and families in San Diego.”
I have received many more letters, all expressing similar heartfelt gratitude. When I started Handmade in October, 2008, I had no idea that a comfort scarf would be so powerful. I also didn’t realize that there was power in the knitting needles, crochet hooks and the hands that wielded these tools.
It takes a lot of people to process all the scarves that we distribute. In February, we had a huge wrapping party. Twelve people helped wrap and pack all the scarves for shipping. Of course, we had a lot of fun. We worked HARD too. Thanks to Barbara Klein, Chris Needham, Evelyn Dow, June Wisner, Kathy Allen, Linda Freige, Maria Cesca, Maria Denzel, Marie Cortez, Mary Gravlin, and Yumi Wu wrapped and wrapped. We want every scarf to look like a personal gift so the wrapping is really important. Thank you wrappers!
In addition to wrapping, kit making is essential to Handmade’s success. The kit makers meet on Mondays at Barbara Klein’s house. This group includes Barbara, Linda, Marie, Mary and Yumi. Others participate when they can. Kit making means that anyone who wants to make a scarf can do so whether or not she has her own yarn. They have made well more than 500 kits this year. Knitters can pick them up at Concepts in Yarn. June Grossberg, the owner, has supported Handmade right from its start. June keeps a bin for kits and another bin for finished scarves at a prominent place in the shop. We mail kits to those who can’t get to Concepts in Yarn. Kit makers are really busy. The demand for kits is a big as the demand for scarves. Thank you kit makers! Thank you June!
Stitches West (in Santa Clara CA) was an incredible experience. Hilary Cohen, Handmade’s lawyer, and I drove together. We set up a good schedule so we both got to knit on the way. We both took lots of classes, none the same, and learned a lot. I took several classes from Barry Klein, owner of Trendsetter Yarns, one of our most generous donors. From him, I learned ways to combine stitches I already know to make patterns that are new to me. I expect our knitters will like them. We all enjoy something new.
Stitches West, unlike TNNA, is geared to the retail yarn shopper. The frenzy of yarn shopping there reminded me of shopping at Filene’s Basement. It was a madhouse. The air crackled with excitement. Happily for Handmade, many of the vendors were generous with their products. Becoming Art, Blue Moon Fiber Arts, Brooks Farm, Creatively Dyed Yarns, DJ International, Ellen’s ½ Pint Farm, Fiesta Yarns, Helen Hamann Yarns, Interlacements Yarns, Judy’s Novelty Wool, Sunshine Yarns, Tess Designer Yarns, Twisted Sunshine, and A Verb for Keeping Warm all donated yarn on the spot. They liked knowing that we really make their yarn into comfort scarves that we really give to shelters for abused women. Many other vendors promised to donate yarn once they returned to their studios.
Yarn companies have been particularly generous, especially after TNNA. Berroco sent a huge case filled with absolutely beautiful novelty yarns. Trendsetter did the same. These decorative yarns are key to individualizing each scarf. Brown Sheep sent a case of soft turquoise wool. Skacel sent 2 cases of big yarn. Luckily I have lots of their size 19 needles to distribute with this yarn. Crystal Palace sent a case of multicolored cotton ribbon yarn. Susan pointed me to several of their patterns for using this yarn. As I’ve mentioned many times, without yarn, we cannot make kits. Without kits, we cannot make scarves. Every part of what we do is connected with every other part. Thanks to the generosity of these yarn companies Handmade can make comfort scarves for abused women.
Individual donors have contributed a lot as well. Barbara Klein again donated $50 toward shipping scarves to shelters. Her business handles all the shipping for us, which is a huge help. Barbara’s son, Jason, does the actual shipping. He complained that I didn’t use enough tape on the packages so Barbara bought shipping tape and donated it to Handmade. I guess the word about tape got around because Marie Cortez also bought shipping tape. Believe me, we use a lot of tape. Yumi Wu, Lydia Ornelas, and Karen Ing also donated yarn. Given our voracious appetite for yarn, I am sure we will never have enough. Thank you all so much.
Our affiliates are going strong too. Vicki Ringer, leader of the San Fernando Valley group, reports that her group donated 280 comfort scarves to Haven House in 2010. Good work, Vicki!
Renee Hoffman, leader of the Long Beach group, donates 20 comfort scarves each month to Interval House. She is a hard worker and dedicated knitter. Some months she makes all 20 scarves herself.
Ann Miller, leader of our newly started affiliate in Pueblo CO, reports that she donated 12 scarves to the YMCA of Pueblo. Loretta Masterson, Program Manager of the Pueblo YMCA, wrote me: “I wanted to personally thank you for the beautiful scarves that Ann provided to our domestic violence shelter. Your project is amazing. We at the Family Crisis Shelter appreciate donations from the community to help victims of domestic violence.”
Karen Walborn started an affiliate in Carlisle PA. She reports that she delivered 22 scarves to her local domestic violence shelter and the women there LOVE them.
PA is one of the most active states. The Delaware County group, headed by Dr. Laura Guertin, told me they donated 100 scarves (making their total 200) to the Domestic Abuse Project there. One of the staff shared with her that ‘each woman receives her scarf in a basket when they arrive. They really appreciate and enjoy the scarves.’
Barb Kochuba, in Pittsburgh, founded Comfort Scarves. Her group of scarfers and list of shelters to which she donates is growing so quickly, she is now helping others form their own groups. Really. Handmade is now a real movement!
In Burlington VT, Sarah Barlett has started VT Handmade. Sarah is Director of Women Writing for Change. She contacted Women Helping Battered Women, a group of 12 shelters in VT to provide comfort scarves. She is starting with the shelter in Burlington, and then will add other shelters as she grows. Keep us posted, Sarah.
While I have been involved with Handmade, I have met many wonderful, generous, artistic and creative people. I have heard many stories about why they want to make comfort scarves for abused women. The most moving (to me) stories come from women who had been abused at some time earlier in their lives, somehow escaped their abusive situation, and went on to enjoy happy and productive lives. Some, such as Judy, say “when I was being abused, a scarf made by someone who cares would have helped me feel that it all wasn’t my fault!”
A new friend on Ravelry, wrote: “Thinking about when I was stuck in a abusive marriage, I would have loved to have . . . .a comfort scarf. It would have given me strength to do what I had to do—leave the marriage. . . .It still annoys me that there needs to be women’s shelters when there’s a perfectly good place to put abusive me, called JAIL.”
Natalie told me: I am very happy to say that my Mom did leave and get counseling. . . and I am even happier to say that we broke the cycle together. My kids have never been exposed to a violent or insecure home life.” All these women make comfort scarves for abused women. They all want to give back to the community and help others change their lives for the better.
Finally, a few comments about the scarves themselves. We really want them to be at least 4-inches wide, but not wider than 5-inches. We hope they will be at least 60-inches long. Theoretically a scarf should be as long as the wearer is tall. I am 60-inches tall. I know not all women are 60-inches tall, and most are taller, but our scarves should be at least 60-inches if not longer. Some scarfers using our kits say the yarn is too short. Often we find they are making scarves 15 stitches wide, instead of the 10 or 12 we suggest. Whether you are knitting or crocheting, the 3-stitch differential makes a big difference. When I was trying out one of the new patterns I learned at Stitches, I had to keep track of each row I knit. From that, I found it took me 192 rows to make a scarf on size 15 needles, not counting the decoration at both ends of the scarves. Now think about this. I was knitting 12 stitches. 192 x 3 (the number of extra stitches on some of the ‘short” scarves) is 576. Divide that by 12 (the number of stitches per row I was knitting) and it turns out 48 more rows are possible. If the scarf had been made using 12 instead of 15 stitches, the finished scarf would have been the desired length. We measure out all the yarn in the kits. All a scarfer has to do is follow the directions and the scarf should come out perfectly.
Of course, if you are a loose scarfer, you can use a smaller needle or hook; in like manner, if you are a tight scarfer, you may have to use a bigger needle or hook. If you use a bigger needle or hook, you may also want to use fewer stitches. Adjustments such as these are not in the directions that come with the kits. But we have assumed that most of our participants are so experienced that they know how to make these adjustments.
Now don’t get the wrong idea. We need everyone. We need scarf makers, especially as we are now distributing 800 (not 400 like last year) comfort scarves each month. We need yarn winders. We need postage patrons. Many people who want to make scarves cannot afford to mail back their finished scarves. We need cash donors. Now that we are shipping to so many shelters, the cost is around $150 per month. Barbara Klein pays $50 each month; I pay the rest. We still don’t have a workshop where we can consolidate our activities. There’s room for all of you to do whatever you can.
Thanks in advance for whatever you contribute. Keep up your good work. I count on your dedication. Thank you for making a difference!
So, if you want to donate scarves or yarn, please mail to:
Handmade Especially for You c/o Leslye Borden
30065 Grandpoint Lane
Rancho Palos Verdes CA 90275
If you want to send a check, please send it to the above address or donate through PayPal, which you can access on our website: www.handmadeespecially.org.
Thanks in advance, Leslye
501(c)3 EIN: 26-9359292