Saturday, October 2, 2010

Of ships, hats, & holidays

Elianastar: My stepdad was a career U.S. Navy man and I spent a fair amount of time on or near Naval Bases growing up. A goodly portion of my 8-10 year-old years were spent on the U.S. Territory Island of Guam, and my 13-16 year-old years were spent on the main island of Oahu, Hawaii. (The main island, not the Big Island.) The rest of my 7 to 17 years were spent within driving distance of a U.S. Naval base. My stepdad retired from the Navy my senior year, weeks before my graduation. As a result, I have a soft spot for those in the U.S. Navy. I hasten to add however, that my brother was U.S. Army Airborne, my husband was in the U.S. Air Force when I met him, my son-in-love is in the Oregon National Guard, and you don't spend any time near a U.S. Navy base without meeting your share of Marines... so I've got a broad support for the U.S. Military as a whole.

Which brings me to the point of this particular blog. I follow Wendy Knits blog and she posted a couple of days ago about a blog that she follows, Adventures in Paradise. The author of Adventures in Paradise has a daughter who is in the U.S. Navy. She will be taking command of the U.S.S. Decatur sometime in December of this year. It is her goal to demonstrate support for each sailor on the ship with individual gift boxes. Central to these gift boxes, she'd like to include at least one warm, knit or crochet cap, in Superwash Wool, but she has included a list of additional items that will be greatly appreciated by the crew during off hours. There are 278 sailors on board and any overflow of gifts will be passed on to other ships in the area. 

If you have kids or are a teacher, these sailors would love letters from kids! This makes a great writing/English exercise for students and will make the day of any sailor who receives the letters!

If you have the heart and will to participate, you can get all the details @ Adventures in Paradise. You do not need to be able to knit or crochet to participate... there are lots of other things that are requested, in addition to cash which will be pooled to purchase a number of things in bulk from Costco, particularly those things that do not arrive in sufficient quantity. However, if you do knit or crochet, or know someone who does, warm hats on a ship at sea will be profoundly appreciated!

Please note: All donations must be received no later than November 1, 2010, so time is of the essence!

If you need pattern ideas, Wendy Knits wrote a second blog that includes some optional pattern ideas. If you don't have a Ravelry membership, (and if you don't, that's easily fixed), here is a Google search of potential knit & crochet patterns to consider. If you are a member of Ravelry, here is a search of free patterns &/or patterns that can be downloaded via Ravelry.

When you are deciding on a pattern, keep in mind the conditions under which these hats will be worn: at sea, on the deck of a ship, often under very windy conditions. They either need to be of a design that will hug the head fairly well (don't make them too shallow so they can be pulled down over the ears and stay put), or have some sort of ties to secure them under adverse conditions. There are no color specifications, so unlike on the battle field, you can be a lot more creative with these hats than you can with those who must remain under camouflage conditions. 

Whatever hat you end up making, it must be made ONLY in 100% washable wool... no blends, no acrylic... only 100% washable wool. This means it will be labeled as either "washable" or "Superwash" and include the word "wool" and no other fiber content. This may be merino wool, peruvian highland wool, a nondescript wool... any wool of any kind that is washable/superwash and can pass the "burn test." If you have any questions about whether any particular washable wool is acceptable, perform a "burn test" on a small scrap of the wool. (Do this outdoors and have copious amounts of water nearby... just in case.) Basically, if it is very difficult to ignite, if it smells like burning hair, it it does not "bead up" or appear to "melt" rather than burn, and if it turns to black and hollow ash, it will pass inspection by the military. Include one yarn band for each hat and tape a scrap of yarn to the label in case it needs to be tested for suitability.

If you are at a loss or unsure, these are some safe yarns you can consider:
Cascade 220 Superwash
Lamb's Pride Superwash Worsted
Mission Falls 1824 Wool
Also check out the offerings from other vendors in the right sidebar under the heading "Gathering Fleece..."

You can also do a search on Ravelry for Superwash Wool... just make sure whatever you choose is 100% wool, no blend of any other fiber content. From there, you can check with your LYS (Local Yarn Shops) or do an internet search for resources that fit your budget.

If you've got any spare Greeting Cards, toss a few in with anything else you send... and toss in a book of stamps if you can. Or maybe consider grabbing an All Occasion greeting card assortment at your local department store.

Please keep in mind that there is very limited storage space on a military ship and factor that into your choices. If you'd like to add some of the other items to your donation, you might consider some of these:
Skip-Bo Card Game (my husband and I adore this game and it is more fun with more players)
If you choose to order from any of these links, you could have them delivered directly to Lynne... no extra shipping costs for you and no hassle getting them out for delivery. Just obtain her mailing address before placing your order.

If you can find your way clear to participate in this, in any way, let us extend our gratitude to you here and now. You will be making a huge difference in the lives of people who have voluntarily chosen to leave their friends and family in service to their Nation. We appreciate your generosity almost as much as they will.

Thank you for your generosity. If you aren't able to participate, please consider sharing this with someone you know who might.

Joy in the journey!

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