Deadline time has arrived, and I have shipped my package to New York.  What, you ask?  It’s time to send hand-knit goodness to Christmas at Sea .  Go see their page, I’ll wait.

It’s exciting to think that they have been putting together Christmas boxes for merchant mariners for 175 years!  My great-grandmother, Delilah, taught me to knit.  She said she learned to knit socks for “the war”.  It turned out she was referring to the Spanish-American War.  So you see, the tradition of knitting for others who serve our good has been in our family that long.

This year I didn’t do as much car travel as last, and that is a wonderful time to knit the scarfs and caps for Christmas at Sea.  I shipped only two matching sets of scarf/caps, but added six big bottles of unscented hand/body lotion and six chap sticks.  Oh, and there was one more “gift”.  I fastened the scarf/cap sets to their Christmas card (including care instructions) with a honking big safety-pin.  When you need a pin at sea, it’s worth its weight in gold!

At Sea for Pentecost

Yesterday was Pentecost, the day the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples, and the birthday of the Christian church.  We had a lovely service, marked by the first attendance of baby Emmanuel (the premie I knit a white blanket for).

At home, I decided to mark the day by doing something different.  I put aside the two sweaters I’m knitting for moi, and worked on a scarf for Christmas at Sea.  Last year I knit scarf and cap sets for them as I traveled in the car.  This year I’m not on the road every weekend (whew!), and have to make an effort to keep my charity knitting in the schedule.  This weekend, to show for my renewed efforts, I completed a long-ignored cap which went with a scarf that was done.  I also cast on and knit 2/3 of a scarf for a new set.  I’m feeling so productive!

The Knit Before Christmas, their newsletter for 2009, arrived this week and prompted me back into action.  You’ll want to go take a look, because there are several neat patterns included for using up scrap yarn.

In addition, there is a project for sending personal care items that non-knitters could help with, too.  DH and I are buying the items a bit at a time, to have a packet to go with each knit gift by shipping time.  He was very helpful at finding a hypoalergenic, non-scented hand lotion as our first purchase.  DH is taller than I, and has the useful talents of being able to read fine print higher than I can, and then being able to actually reach the bottles.   I just love my tall, handsome hubby!

A little therapy at the Asylum

Yesterday I went to the Knitting Asylum for some much-needed therapy.  Having made that radical statement, I should explain that the Knitting Asylum is Dez Crawford’s new spinning and yarn shop in Baton Rouge, LA.  (Do go see her November 3rd post about her opening Halloween party.  I’m on the left in the group pictures.)

Dez has begun a delightful tradition of offering grab bags of yarn for charity.  Select a bag to knit for Covenant house, A for A, or chemo hats in memory of Dez’s cousin.   When you bring in the finished item, you get a 20% discount off your purchase.  Neat, eh?

That Halloween night I selected a bag marked “hat” for Covenant House.  This project is in memory of Auntie Gail of Knit U fame.  Covenant house became one of my charities when Gail died; I was pleased to find them among the choices for charity knitting.

When I got home I opened the bag to find two skeins of black super wash wool.  Black?  Aren’t I too old to knit with black?  There was nothing for it but to knit.  I decided to use the Oliver’s Cap pattern offered by the Christmas at Sea program of the Seamen’s Church Institute.  This pattern is designed to allow for a main color and accent stripes of a contrasting color(s), and is perfect for using those bits of yarn left in a skein from another hat.  I felt that hats for teenagers in New Orleans had to have some color interest.  I found some scarlet Cascade 220 super wash in my stash, and used it to put stripes in the black.  This gave me a bonus:  I got the hat out of just under one skein.  Now I could knit two hats!  Back into the stash, where I found bits of that Cascade in green, purple, and gold:  Mardi Gras colors.  The second hat got six stripes, using these three colors.

The hats were finished before my surgery, and were excellent therapy to keep my mind from fretting.  Yesterday the circle was completed when I delivered the hats to the Knitting Asylum.  After all, it’s 36 degrees this morning…cold, damp winter temperatures have come to the bayou.

Knitting for Christmas deadline

I’m knitting on only one project (gasp!), trying to beat the Christmas deadline.  What, you say?  Has the heat gotten to her?  Nope, I’m knitting for Christmas at Sea.  Here’s their introduction:

The Christmas at Sea program of the Seamen’s Church Institute brings hospitality and love to deep-sea and river mariners by distributing gifts containing handmade scarves, caps, vests, helmets or socks, as well as other useful items. These gifts are knitted or crocheted by more than 4,000 volunteers from every state. Each year, more than 17,000 gifts are distributed. We would love to have your help.

Their website provides patterns and all the instructions you might need.  Distribution occurs when the ships are in port in the fall, and then opened up for Christmas, wherever that finds them.  Knitted items can be sent in anytime, of course, but for this Christmas they should be shipped by September 1st.  (Knit faster, knit faster!) Go to, or look at the Ravelry group Christmas at Sea.

Oh, what do I have done?  4 scarves and hat sets.  On the needles:  a vest, that I modified to knit in the round to the underarms, and separated the front/back at the underarms.  Fronts are done, back in progress above underarms.  I promise pictures when I can.