Sunday, June 28, 2009

Special Project, Finally Unveiled

A is for "Alex"!
Last month I got an email from a friend and former kyarns staff member in Florida. Many of you will remember Alex, who worked with us at the shop on Saturdays for about 2 years. Alex moved to Florida over a year ago and emailed me that she had just found out she has breast cancer and was planning a mastectomy, chemo and radiation for this summer. We were all devastated. We just felt awful, and wished she were closer so we could pitch in and do whatever she could possible need help with. But we're in Vermont, and she's in Florida, so that wasn't really going to be possible.

I had just spent several hours seaming one of our Plymouth Encore charity afghans, and I had also just finished a little baby sweater out of Berroco Pure Pima. I was feeling really good about the charity afghans, and was loving the Pure Pima and sad that the project was over. So the idea was born... I came in to work the next day and asked everyone on the kyarns team if they would help knit a square or two for a blanket for Alex. I thought it would be a nice reminder of all the well wishers that she has up here in Vermont, and she could also use it to cuddle up in whenever she was feeling yucky or in need of a little love. Not to mention - doing something like this for charity makes you feel good. But doing it for someone you actually know personally is an even better feeling. Everyone on the kyarns team was thrilled to help and so the ABC (Alex's Breast Cancer) Blanket was started.We figured out the finished size that we wanted (40" x 50") and determined that it would take about 20 skeins of Pure Pima. I picked 10 colors and grabbed 2 skeins of each. Then I contacted everybody on our team and gave them general instructions - pick a color, cast on 50-60 stitches and knit until the end of the skein, or until desired length. The great thing about this project is that no two pieces would be alike. People chose all different patterns - some they just liked, some they were sampling for a future project, and some that had special meaning.
I knew that piecing it together would be a bit of a challenge, but this wasn't a perfect quare thing we were aiming for. It was more of a chance for each of us to choose a design or pattern and just go with it. (I can't speak for everybody else, but I did choose my green cabled design -pictured at bottom in this next picture - because it reminded me of different sized "boobs" and that old commercial for the cross your heart bras... the ones with a tape measure... and after all, this was all about the boobs, you know?)
So everyone pitched in, got the squares knit and blocked, and I began the job of piecing it together. And it was an interesting job! 100% cotton is not as forgiving in seaming, so several seams were done over and over and over. And in the end, I longed to be seaming the charity blankets out of Encore. Boy are those simple compared to this one!
Going in to this, I knew the edges wouldn't line up properly - that was sort of the point - but I also had to make sure that the colors were evenly spread out. In the end, it worked out pretty well. I only had to knit 2 small rectangles to fill in a bit of space along two of the edges. I then used the leftover scraps of Pure Pima to do 3 rows of single crochet around the edges.
I washed it and dried it, and popped it in a box to send to Alex in Florida. We were all on pins and needles - having really enjoyed participating in this special project, but also anticipating Alex's reaction to it. She received it on Friday afternoon and was really touched. Here she is with it:
She's a few weeks post surgery, and hasn't started chemo yet. We're all thinking of her, and even though we can't be near her in person, at least we're there in spirit, with our blanket.
Special thanks to everyone who contributed to this blanket... Barb, Shawn, Michele, Emily, Polly, Suzie, Tom, India, Andrea, Marilyn and Kali. And special wishes that it brings Alex love and warmth whenever she needs it.
Oh yeah, I'm overdue for my mammogram this year. Don't worry - I'm calling tomorrow to make the appointment.


Amy said...

Oh my gosh, what a beautiful thing you did. That's one of the reasons I love you guys and your shop. I'm sure Alex will appreciate that forever. It is such a selfless act and how special that the blanket has just a little piece of each of you in it. What a treasure. Best wishes, Alex, for a speedy and healthy recovery!

choo choo knits said...

you gals (and guy) are beyond awesome!!!

Alex said...

I cannot thank you guys enough! I miss you and Vermont desperately - but I'm in good hands here.