Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Knit, Knosh and Meet Other Knitters

Please join us for this event!

Saturday, November 20, 1:00-5:00 p.m.
StevenBe's Yarn Garage
3448 Chicago Avenue South, Minneapolis (door in the back)
RSVP to Barb

See for yourself what's happening at StevenBe's Yarn Garage! Meet other knitters who have been knitting Hats for the Homeless, see the display of beautiful hats that have been turned in so far, pick up hat patterns and purchase a hat kit. There will be experienced knitters on hand to help. If you have never knit a hat before, come with a US7 16" circular needle and we'll get you started.

Music! Refreshments! Ongoing knitted fashion show!

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The wind is blowing...

Wind speeds in Minnesota last night were up to 60mph. I heard it mentioned that the combination of the low pressure system that planted itself over our state and the high speed winds created--in essence--a level 3 hurricane right here in the midwest. Temps dropped into the 30s in these last few days of October and we all received a wake-up call that winter is most definitely coming.

I immediately started to get the hats, mittens, scarves and boots located, sorted and ready to go for my family. But for every hat that I pulled out of storage and dunked into a warm bath in the sink to wash for my loved ones, I thought of all of the people who aren't so lucky this year.

Homeless shelters in Minnesota have already turned families away due to overflowing capacity this month and (up until yesterday) it's not even that cold yet. With this flat economy that we're still stuck in, this news doesn't bode well for the coming winter.

What can we do? One way we are choosing to help is to knit warm hats for the people who aren't so lucky as to have a bed--either in a home or a homeless shelter--this winter. This handmade gesture is for more than just warmth. We are sending a message that our homeless neighbors matter and are not forgotten.

Our numbers are way up in this second year of Hats for the Homeless and we are astounded, amazed and grateful! Already, more than 160 hats have been collected and distributed to needy folks and we have another 330 sorted and ready to go.

Folks, that's almost 500 hats and we're not even at our "deadline" yet!

But let's not get too comfortable with ourselves. This work is amazing and this engine seems to be running at steady pace. But we are intentionally not capping (pun intended) our limit this year, knowing that there are an estimated 13,000 homeless people on the streets of Minnesota every night.

We have a great stockpile of hats for women, teens and kids at this point. Our current need is:

1.) Hats for men. Big, warm, "pull down over your ears" hats for men. If you are a female knitter, the hat should be a bit big on you. (See the notes in the Knitting Patterns page at the top of this blog for details. The homeless men we met last year really wanted plain, dark hats. Please pay attention to this and avoid stripes, embellishments and patterns.)

2.) Hats for newborns, babies and toddlers. We have a new connection to an organization working with homeless teens and a lot of them have small children. We need to cover all the heads.

Please keep up the knitting and keep sending your hats in (details and mailing address here). The hats we've received so far are so beautiful and so warm. They are very much appreciated now and will be even more appreciated once they are given to our homeless neighbors.

Thank you!

p.s. USE WOOL! Minnesota winters are too cold for synthetics. 

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Charity Knitting at StevenBe's

We had 25 knitters at our charity knitting event at StevenBe's Yarn Garage in South Minneapolis on Friday--what fun! Hats are already being turned in for our project, UU knitters came from all over the country for GA and stopped in to knit with us, and the food was incredible! Thanks, everyone, for helping us kick-off Hats for the Homeless 2010 with such a big shebang!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Come knit with us!

StevenBe's Yarn Garage is graciously hosting a charity knitting event for our Hats for the Homeless project during the General Assembly meeting of the UUA in Minneapolis at the end of the month!

Hats for the Homeless Charity Knitting Event
during General Assembly

Friday, June 25, 11am-2pm
3448 Chicago Avenue South, Minneapolis

• Bring your needles and yarn or pick up a free charity knitting kit at the event.
• Lunch is $10 with an RSVP (612-598-4914).

Transportation options:
• A cab ride from downtown Minneapolis is about 10 minutes.
The #5 bus runs between downtown and the yarn shop every 7-8 minutes during the day. 
• Local knitters are available to shuttle visiting knitters to the yarn shop. Leave a comment on this post if you are looking for a ride!

Hope to see you there!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Welcome to Hats for the Homeless 2010!

We are excited to officially open the doors for Hats for the Homeless 2010 and invite you to participate with us! Last year's effort was so JOY-filled that we can only imagine it growing this year. Please see the links at the top of this page (under the photos of the amazing hats from last year!) for complete information and check back often, as we'll be updating the pages with more links and details as we go along.

It seems strange to think about needing wool hats when today was a record-breaking 95 degrees in the Twin Cities area, but we know Mother Nature will blow her frosty air on us once again in a few months. Are you a knitter looking for a small take-along project for your summer vacation? Tired of working on those big sweaters and seeking a quick project to fill the gaps? How about knitting a Hat for the Homeless for this coming winter? Hats are fast, hats are easy and HATS ARE NEEDED.

Thank you, in advance!

Christmas Eve Joy Revisited

(This post was originally published at yogurt & granola, 2009.)

My friend Tracy from church just sent this story out over email and he gave me permission to share it here too. It's an insider's view of the preparations and celebrations that occurred at the Simpson Housing Shelter for Christmas Eve. Our Hats for the Homeless project was a part of this joy, but only a small part, as you'll see when you read his letter. So many other amazing pieces of the puzzle had to come together to make it all work and what a beautiful picture it made. I think of our homeless neighbors a lot these days since our temperatures are dangerously cold even in the middle of the day. Tracy's email signature is sticking in my head too:

"Everyone wants to help. The problem is that not so many want to get involved."

Let's make 2010 the year that we collectively get over the "getting involved" hurdle and help others whenever we can.

Christmas Eve at Simpson Housing Shelter, by Tracy Jones

Months before Christmas, the infectiously wonderful Barb Melom called me and exclaimed "We got Christmas Eve." Immediately, I knew that she meant that our small group of volunteers from First Universalist would be serving the Christmas Eve meal at Simpson Men's Shelter. The level of her excitement was reached only by my level of nervousness. We've served countless meals at the Shelter before, and all have been successful, but Christmas Eve is special. And I was afraid that my friends who live at the shelter would be sad because of it being Christmas, and I wouldn't be able to help them with their sadness. But it's Barb, so I decided to join in her jubilation.

Almost weekly she would call me. One family had decided to donate 100 steaks. Another promised to make her special au gratin potatoes. One lady was going to make pies. Another family, dozens of Christmas cookies. She called to say that she had snagged tablecloths from a church group. That we had new socks so that each guest was going to get a new pair of socks. And toothbrushes. And toothpaste. We had centerpieces for the tables. Another evening she breathlessly explained that we had enough food for an appetizer table. That she talked to a chef friend who explained how to cook the steaks. That this was going to be an event of a lifetime for the Shelter.

And it was.

Just like the song says, "the weather outside was frightful." The Shelter staff opened the doors early to that the men could warm up. When I arrived, they were watching a movie on the TV and sharing bags of chips that someone had donated. When I went back into the kitchen to start working, there is only one word that can describe the scene. Joy. Joy in the family with their 5- and 7-year old sons who were already setting the tables with placemats and red and green napkins. Joy in the men cooking the steaks. Joy in the people chopping the greens for the salad, and those washing the pots and pans. Joy in Barb as she directed this crew like a conductor with an orchestra. Joy. Joy to our world in South Minneapolis, were we came together with like ideals, with like love, and with like compassion. Joy.

A young mother with her two children and husband in tow gave out the hand made hats knit by the people at First Universalist and our greater community. Every person who wanted one got a new, beautiful hat. Joy. The guests feasted on appetizers of meatballs, chips, dips, crackers, cheese and sausages. Joy. They sat at their decorated tables and ate wonderful steaks, potatoes and salads. They had dozens of desserts to choose from and I'm sure some ate dozens of desserts. Joy. No sadness or melancholy. Just Joy.

I'm sure that the guests didn't expect the decorations, or that there would be children at the Christmas Eve dinner. I'm sure that they thought that they'd be forgotten on Christmas Eve, because it's a special night when most spend time with family and friends, not at a Shelter. But I'm also sure that now they know that they are our friends. That there isn't a place in the world where we would have rather been. That the children, sitting quietly, were fascinated with their stories. That we not only wanted to see the hat that they had chosen, but wanted a keepsake picture of them wearing their new hat. That they could talk forever about their own children because we wanted to know about them. And that we could sit quietly with them and explain that perhaps they didn't have dinner with their biological families but they were now part of our family, their logical family.

Cleaning the kitchen took a little longer than usual on Christmas Eve, the special night. Not because we were slower, but because we didn't want the night to end. The night that we were supposed to be anywhere else. The night of Joy.

In past years, I always like to walk to the Christmas Eve services at church, because I like how quiet the streets are on the special night. This year I didn't have time to go to the church's Christmas service, but I did get to walk home from the Simpson Men's Shelter. It was quiet. It was a silent night.

It was the most Holy night.



(This post was originally published at yogurt & granola, 2009.) 

Hats for the Homeless 2009
234 of the hats are pictured here, 50+ were already donated to the women's shelter and there were countless piles of homemade scarves, polar fleece caps and gloves...

Hats for the Homeless Program on the News!

(This post was originally published at yogurt & granola, 2009.)

50 Hats for Christmas Project Update

(This post was originally published at yogurt & granola, 2009.)

We have reached the initial goal of 50 Handknit Hats for Christmas for the Simpson Housing Shelter (that's 65 hats on the table there in this blurry cell phone photo...yes, sixty-five hats) and are so heartened by the generosity that is pouring in from all over. Thanks to our friends on Facebook, Twitter, Ravelry and fellow bloggers/loyal readers, we've received hats from all over Minnesota and as far away as Pennsylvania with Wisconsin and Illinois in between. These hats are multiplying like rabbits in their storage bags tucked in our dining rooms and it's truly a miracle to watch the stacks grow.


Rest assured, everyone, that ALL of these hats will find a chilly head to rest upon and more are still graciously being accepted. There are 46 beds in the shelter which was the inspiration for the original goal, but more people typically come for dinner each night. And then you figure in that there are different people who come to the shelter the next day, and the next day. And then there is the women's branch of the Simpson Housing Shelter that has 20 beds so women's hats are needed too. Not to mention the 9,000 people who are homeless in Minnesota each night... More hats are always needed.

The deadline to participate in this awesome project is December 5, details repeated below:

1. Knit a hat for a man--or a woman. Any weight yarn (wool yarn is recommended, Minnesota winters are COLD). Any pattern. Knit something that you would feel comfortable giving to a person in your life whom you love. Complicated or simple, it's totally up to you.

2. Mail your hat to:
50 Hats for Christmas
First Universalist Church
ATTN: Catherine/UU Stitchers
3400 Dupont Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55408 USA

Thank you for sharing your skill, time and love for our homeless neighbors!


(This post was originally published at yogurt & granola, 2009.) 

In just a week and a half since I first wrote about the 50 Hats for Christmas project, we have 13 completed hats and at least another dozen on the needles (both in our community and out in the world at-large). Well done, Knitters! I knew I could count on you.
Please keep them coming in! If we keep up this pace we'll meet our goal before Halloween but we're just going to keep on going with it. It's a delightful problem to have too many hats and will not be difficult to find other charitable organizations and homeless shelters to share the love!

50 Hats for Christmas

(This post was originally published at yogurt & granola, 2009.) 

Remember when I talked about knitting for charity more this year? So it begins. And true to form, it's not starting out small.

Well, each individual knitting item is small. (We're talking hats here.) But combined, the effort can be BIG.
My friend at church mentioned that it would be super cool to have handknit hats to bring to the Simpson Housing Shelter on Christmas Eve to give as gifts to the homeless folks there. Our church has a strong relationship with Simpson House so it's a logical connection. She wondered if I could get the knitters at church on it and get a bunch of hats made up.

My reply to her was: "Definitely. Great idea. I'm on it."

But then I thought about all of the knitters who are so interconnected online (blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and decided that it would be pretty awesome to open it up to all of my knitting friends, and their friends, etc.

The Deets:

1. Knit a hat for a man. Any weight yarn.* Any pattern. Knit something that you would feel comfortable giving to a man in your life whom you love (husband/partner, dad, brother, friend, etc.). Complicated or simple, it's totally up to you.

2. Mail your hat to:
50 Hats for Christmas
First Universalist Church
ATTN: Catherine/UU Stitchers
3400 Dupont Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55408 USA

Deadline: Saturday, December 5, 2009

I'm putting this out here so early to give you all a chance to work it into your holiday knitting schedule and also to put a bee in your bonnet for the fall season when you may want to start working on something other than summer lace/socks (ahem, I can't be the only one?) and are thinking of winter woollies. Simple hats typically don't take very long to knit so it can be a very easy project to whip out. (You could do this hat or this hat or use this hat recipe or search this free knitting pattern site for ideas or check out Ravelry...)
The pattern for this "Turn a Square" hat is available on Brooklyn Tweed's blog here. (This is an AWESOME hat.)

*Remember: Minnesota winters are COLD. Being homeless in this state is a tragic thing (being homeless anywhere is a tragic thing) so having a warm hat to pull over your ears will go a long way towards keeping a person's spirits up and feet moving in the right direction. To that end, wool yarn is definitely recommended.

The goal is 50 hats for Christmas. Think we can do it?

Thanks, Knitters. I knew you'd agree. :)