Saturday, December 6, 2008

Homeless in Daegu, South Korea

I have passed this man, who would be identified as a beggar in my new home: Daegu, South Korea. I have probably given him around W10,000 total, but it never seems enough. When I was walking up the steps today from the underground mall, I completely didn't see him. One of my students, D.W., asked to use my camera. When I asked why (because I was already up the stairs and couldn't see who or what he was taking a picture of), he stated, "Because I want to remember those less fortunate." So, hat's off to D.W., age 17 years old, who brought up my remembrance of all the knitted items I could donate to this very cold and miserable individual in a blisteringly cold day in Daegu, South Korea.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Where Do You Get Your Yarn?

I received an e-mail today from a fellow member of Knitting for the Homeless asking where we get the yarn for our projects. I thought this was a really good question that I'm sure new members will have as well, so I am posting my reply here.

Personally, I can't stand having extra yarn lying around (no stash for me!), nor can I bear to throw my extra yarn out, so most of my charity projects are made from yarn leftover from other projects. However, there are many more ways to get your hands on some yarn without spending a ton of money.

Begin by checking your local thrift stores and garage sales. Back in my "stashing" days, when I finally got around to destashing, I donated a large amount to our local thrift store, and other knitters and crocheters do as well. No luck there? Try Craigslist, an online classifieds listing that will bring up ads in your area. If you can't find anyone trying to get rid of any, you can always post your own ad asking for donations.

Are you a member of Crochetville? Check out their For Sale, Trade, or Free forum in the Recycling Center (although I think you need to have Villager status to be able to access it). And of course, Ebay is always an option, if you're looking to buy out someone else's stash.

I hope that helps. Does anyone else have any suggestions?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Home for the Holidays

I was awakened the other night by a phone call from my dad’s cell phone. The stranger on the other end was not my dad. It was the man who shares his body with him. The one who suffers from anxiety attacks, hallucinations, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The one who came back with him from Desert Storm in 1991, and who still threatens to overtake him today. It was not my dad. I quietly told him I would call him in the morning when he was himself again, then turned off the phone and went back to sleep, the stranger haunting my dreams.

My dad is one of America’s disabled veterans. I mention it here, in Knitting for the Homeless, because of a very disheartening and scary fact: although veterans make up only 11% of the US population, they account for 26% of the homeless population (according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness). Knowing how my dad’s mental state has frightened away many employers, friends, and even family, I can’t look at a desolate on the street asking for change without thinking, “That could be my dad.” And I want to cry in frustration, knowing how our country so frivolously throws our soldiers at meaningless wars and then neglects their well being on their return, if they’re broken and no longer useful to the military.

I, like many people, look away when I see a desolate on the street, afraid to be reminded of how close my own father is to being in that situation. My husband, however, being somewhat removed from the situation and braver than I, will take the initiative to buy the person a meal, and I am reminded that there are still good, non-judgmental people in the world and that I am lucky enough to be married to one of them.

I am ashamed for being so weak, for not doing more to help the homeless. But a few weeks ago, I saw a call for help on Knitting for the Homeless. A wonderful group of women in Hawaii had spent all year long knitting scarves for the homeless and, Hawaiian weather not necessitating scarves, were now looking for someone on the mainland to distribute them to those in need. I knew immediately that this was my chance to be more proactive with the homeless, so I sent them an e-mail and volunteered.

Homeless Scarves 1Homeless Scarves 2Homeless Scarves 3

These amazing women sent me no less than 60 scarves to distribute! As the packages arrived, one by one, I began to wonder how I was ever going to hand out so many. So I began researching soup kitchens in the DC area, and I eventually found one that was willing to assist me in my endeavor.

Homeless Scarves 4

I arrived at Miriam’s Kitchen at 7am last Friday, my husband assisting with the transportation of the scarves. There I met a young woman named Ashley Lawson, with whom I had spoken a few times over e-mail. She was very excited about my idea to distribute the scarves there, and offered to show us around.

The kitchen was already bustling with activity, as the cooks had been preparing breakfast for over an hour before we arrived. I was awed by their enthusiasm. There was not a single note of sadness or pity at their diners; they were all too happy to be there and more than willing to help out. It was a small kitchen, I thought, but overflowing with kindness and good will.

In the dining room, Ashley introduced me to Trevor, a regular diner of theirs. She told him about the knitting women in Hawaii and the scarves, and that’s when he told me he was an avid knitter himself. Miriam’s Kitchen sponsored arts and crafts activities after the breakfast program every morning, and Trevor never missed the sewing and knitting group. He said he had learned the art from his mother. He thanked me for the handmade scarves I brought for the diners that day, and Ashley led me to meet some more of their regulars. One of them was ecstatic about finally getting a copy of his birth certificate, the first step in getting back into “The System,” as my husband calls it. Everyone there had a story, and each one began with when they were just like everyone else.

I left Miriam’s Kitchen that morning feeling a mix of emotions: satisfaction, sadness, and guilt. How could I go home and eat knowing the people I had met that day might not eat again for days? I admired the volunteers I had met, who went back day after day without losing their spirit. Maybe the subject hits to close to home for me, or maybe I am still too weak, but I don’t know that I could do that. But I am very grateful for my experience that morning. It has given me much to think about, as well as some resolutions for the New Year.

On a side note, today is December 21st, National Homeless Person’s Memorial Day. I will honor today by calling my dad, the real him, and remind him that he still always has my sister and me. That’s the only thought that keeps him from giving up on everything and becoming just another homeless veteran. As long as he has my sister and me, that’s all that matters to him.

Monday, December 3, 2007

A time for giving, a time for sharing

Meet the KFH group from HAWAII !!!
SIXTY FIVE (65) Scarves are on its way to USA
where STACY will give them to homeless people
for Christmas!!!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

My scarf for an homeless guy

Hi everybody, I'm probably the slower knitter here. Since this project has started I haven't been able to finish not even a single scarf. In my partial apology I can say that it isn't easy to knit warm wool in the hot Italian summer, but the truth is I am a turtle-knitter.

Now that the autumn has seriously embraced Milan I'm knitting faster, and I'm about to finish my first scarf. Finally.

Yesterday, though, while I was at the park with my dog Valda, I've noticed that the homeless guy who lives there, and that I meet almost every single day, was freezing cold. So I asked to myself: shouldn't I give the scarf I making to him, instead that sending it oversea for other homeless guys?

I'm turning this question on you fellow knitters, because I'm not sure I will be able to complete another scarf for this project I committed for, along with you, so if I give this scarf I'm making to the homeless guy who lives in the park down here, somehow I feel I will turn my back on this great initiative. At the same time, we are knitting for homeless people, aren't we?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Dear Members: S.O.S.!!!

Hello dear members!
Do you remember the this post about the Hawaiian ladies
knitting scarves for US homeless?
Well, we have a problem
but I pray you´ll help me to find a solution.
The member from California -who had wrote me telling me she
would get the package with the scarves,
and give them away-
changed her mind and unsubscribed from KFH.
Thing is, the wonderful Hawaiian ladies knitting group have
FIFTY (50) SCARVES ready to mail to the US
and be given to homeless for Christmas.
Please e-mail me to

Friday, October 26, 2007

Scarf and a half!

One down, one on the needles... both of very nice Argentine wool. The finished one is very thick and warm - but possibly a bit on the rough side so I'll try to give it to a man with a beard.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A Scarf Complete!

As many of you know, I have a new job that I'm thrilled with and have had a very busy summer and fall season. I know this is waaaaay past due, but I've completed this scarf and I'm pondering how I'm going to give it. I've shared in the past that where I live we do not see homeless people and where there are some I believe is about 10 miles into the city. I know Vik didn't like the idea of giving to 'groups' etc. but I have found mission that directly gives to homeless and does NOT have any federal support...only from private citizens. I found this out through a place I bought some new furniture and they gave me a number to give my old furniture. I didn't want to give it to 'Goodwill' or 'Salvation Army' (though those ARE very helpful companies sustaining jobs for many people) but I just didn't want my old furniture to sit somewhere with a PRICE on it...I wanted it directly GIVEN for free. A guy from the mission came and picked it up and told me all about it. Anyway, it's cold now and we just received our first snow of the season, so I better get some more projects done. (on top of the ones I have going on right now!) Tootles!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Beating the Big Chill Coming to NYC

I am giving a little blog shout-out for those who are possibly just getting started on their knitting for the homeless donations. Here in New York City I have a small core group of women (and men too!) who are interested in making afghans --individuals making squares and then sewing the squares together, hats, gloves and other items. I have also suggested (by way of discovery) that individuals donate old sweaters or old knitted garments that I can felt and turn into afghans, hats, sweaters (embellish old sweaters...which is something I have done recently with a great deal of success!). I turned a men's plain Banana Republic sweater (cost at a recycle shop: $12) into a beautiful women's sweater with simple red yarn which I embroidered onto the sweater. Imagine what we can do!

I know that when I worked as a drama therapist many of my clients had been homeless at one or many points of their lives. Many of their dramatic works would focus on this fear of either becoming homeless again or their experiences with homelessness. I enclose the following photos as inspiration for our mission in Knitting for the Homeless. May we see fewer faces of anguish and despair. May our season of giving, sharing and knitting be long and fruitful.

Monday, July 30, 2007

From BsAs to NYC with love

I am really excited to be an ambassador for New York City and happily announce the matching gorro y bufanda (hat and scarf) that I just finished knitting here in Buenos Aires with Argentine yarn! This set will be donated to a homeless shelter in New York City. I have been excited by the opportunity to design some apparel for the upcoming winter in New York (which is bitter!). I am always thankful for my generous friends and family who are so kind to me, it is exciting to pass the love along to others who are in difficult circumstances. ~BlancaAsiatic

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

A Poem by B.G. Wetherby

A homeless man or woman,
Another child of God.
You'll turn your back. and then walk away,
Because you find them odd.

No fireplace or warm, dry bed,
No family to call their own.
In the cold is where they sleep,
That's where they call home.

Exposed to natures elements,
On a frozen bench they lie.
While you sleep in your warm house,
Fed, secure, and dry.

That could have been you instead,
You are but one bad break away.
Then everyone can treat you
Exactly the same way.

Buy them a warm and hardy meal,
And stop being critical.
Give them shoes with out holes,
You can be the miracle!

Friday, June 1, 2007

Hawaii - Argentina - California

I want to share with you a very nice story.
Checking the mail I found this...

I found your website while looking for a group to send scarves that my mother and her friends have been knitting. We live in Hawaii, as you can imagine the need for neck scarves is limited. My Mom who is 88 lives in a retirement community and enjoys knitting. I suggested that she knit scarves since they are simple and she can use her leftover yarn. Well, she got about 12 other ladies interested and they formed an informal group which meets once a week to knit.

The yarn they are using is mainly synthetic and I think the scarves vary in length as well as width. They have about 18 completed scarves. We have a homeless shelter here, but I think the scarves would better serve people in colder climates.

Could you please assist us in finding someone we could send these scarves to. The ladies would appreciate a little feedback from your program and whoever becomes their ambassador or contact person. My mother enjoys the social and personal satisfaction this project has brought her, she was recently widowed and has had to make many adjustments. Knitting has been her answer to meeting new people and making new friends.

Thank you for your assistance"

I wrote back...

Nice to meet you! Thank you for your friendly mail. What your mom and the other ladies are doing is great! Thank you for your interest in Knitting for Homeless (KFH).

As you could read in the blog, it all began during this Winter in Argentina. People in the South Hemisphere -like Argentina, Australia, India, etc- where is Winter now- are knitting and giving the scarves away these days. People from the North Hemisphere -US, Can, Europe- start knitting but will keep all the scarves for a huge 2007 KFH Christmas Scarves Marathon.

I wouldn´t tell you to send the scarves of your mom´s group to Argentina, because I don´t know how much the shipping would cost. Maybe is a better idea that they keep the scarves and continue knitting, and in December they could ship them to an KFH ambassador in California, where many homeless live. I guess shipping between Hawaii and US is much more cheaper than to Argentina. On the other hand, of course I could give your scarves away to argentine homeless. It´s so sad. Every day I find more homeless in the streets downtown.

Keep in touch! Let me know what the ladies prefer to do! And please send HUGS to every one!"

"Hi Vik,

Thank you for the information. My mom thinks that sending the scarves to California this winter is the best idea. I think she feels she can relate to the area, having visited California many times. I also think that it will be a nice Christmas activity for the ladies.

Do I just go to your website and contact the ambassador there in November for the shipping address, etc?

Thank you for all the help you are giving to the homeless of the world!!! We need more people like you! Aloha!"

I think about this wonderful ladies in Hawaii and their generosity...
How beautiful are they!
I hope other groups join us too...

Monday, May 14, 2007

Yeah! We are a TEAM!

Hello everybody! Yeah! We are a TEAM! THANK YOU!!!

Last weekend I started a list at the sidebar writing your names, cities and countries. But it will be better, if each of us adds herself in the map above. Please mention the category you are joining:

- Ambassador: You are the first one from your city joining KFH. In the future, you may organize a KFH local group. Countries where is Fall/Winter now: Let´s start knitting and giving away. Countries where is Spring/Summer: You may start organizing a 2007 Christmas Scarves Marathon. Ambassadors are also contributors in the blog, they are able to post telling their experiences, plans, etc. Please e-mail to get the invitation.

- Member: You live in a city where there´s an ambassador already and you want to join her You may get a certain neighborhood or aerea to give away.

- Volunteer: For those of you who prefer to knit just one item and see what happens when you give it away; or you prefer to knit and give the scarves to an ambassador/member to give them away; or you don´t know how to knit, but will colaborate in the giving away or with chocolates, etc.

Special thanks to PJ, for your co-administration, and to Petra, who is thinking about buttons and design!

Let´s get started!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Knitting for Homeless

It all began here and here ...

I´ve read every comment you wrote...
Then I had this idea:

Why don´t we do this together?

Think about it:

If 19 of you join me by knitting/crocheting

5 scarves for homeless each,

we´ll complete 100 scarves!

If you don´t have time to knit 5, do 1...

If you don´t have time to knit scarves, you can do very simple mittens or hats…

Or what about a small simple afghan, or socks, or a pillow cover…

We´ll be looking for homeless in the city where each of us lives...

If you live in the country or in a club without homeless,

I´m sure you have a friend in the city who will be willing to help

and look for a homeless in the park, train/bus station, church, etc

We´ll keep the way of giving "secret".

Very still we´ll leave the knitting beside

the head of each homeless while they sleep...

Small details would be nice,

like a chocolate inside a scarf, or a soap, toothbrush and paste, or...

About colors:

Let´s use happy colors to cheer them up!

Enough grey/brown for them, don´t you think? Let´s bright someone´s day!

Look in your stash, maybe there´s some yarn waiting there for someone...

Using thick needles/hooks this goes very fast.

There´s no need for cables or laces here, just plain simple knitting.

Some people may tell us that homeless take drugs, or that they "would be working, if they looked for a job", or that they are "illegals in the country", or that they get enough security money from the government… I wish no comments like that. We are people helping people. No prejudices. No jugdements. It´s not our business why they got to that situation. Who knows where we would be, if our circumstances changed drastically...

Mail to

knittingforhomeless AT gmail DOT com

I´ll start our "Knitting for Homelesses" members list as soon as I get your mail.

Don´t forget to tell the city where you live.

Be the first to join from your city and get the “ambassador” category.

If more people from your city join us later (hope so!),

you´ll be organizing that group and maybe you´ll be giving away together.

Let´s try to join knitting groups!

Let´s get started!

Next Monday I´ll publish here the TEAM we´ll be having so far!