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CIC 2003 Vest Project

Where to send your vests

I am still amazed by the huge surge in our Sock Project for this year. A month before the deadline, I thought we didn't have a prayer of making our goal but thanks to the overwhelming generosity of the knitters on this list, the Socknitters list, knitting guilds, knitting shops,and knitters all across the world, we actually did it! What an incredible group knitters are--to reach out to children in need so far away, children that most of us will never see, but whose lives have in a way touched our own.

While I was watching the sudden big push that happened on this list and the Socknitting list in the last few weeks of the project, and felt the growing enthusiasm, I thought perhaps we could try another project to benefit the children. I read the account of the Children in Common's 2000 trip on their web page (www.childrenincommon.org) and I was horrified to read of the conditions in some of the orphanages. In one of them, the children were clothed in tatters. They were only covered because there were several LAYERS of tatters. We have done so well in providing socks to cover those poor little footsies--can we do something to help clothe these children further?

At the same time, I noticed that a number of us have been asking for more knitalong projects. This inspired me to write to Elizabeth, Karen Porter, and others about my idea, and posted it to the list in November. So far everyone thinks it is a good one. I hope you think so too.

I propose that we do a knitalong to produce vests for the children so that we can send Karen and the rest of the CIC relief team off with a batch of vests to warm the tummies and backs of the children when they go to the baby homes this winter.

The Project

When I originally proposed this project, I suggested the "What's In My Pocket" vest, designed by Claudia Krisniski. The vest was designed several years ago to support CIC, and Claudia has kindly agreed that we may use it as our knitalong project. They are really cute--the picture on the countrywool.com website shows several of these vests, with little miniplush animals tucked safely inside the pocket. Many of these vests have made their way to the orphanages since 1999, and they are always very well received. Since I first posted this, some other wonderful vest patterns have emerged and been posted on the CIC page, including a crocheted version. Feel free to use whatever pattern you want.

One of the beauties of the "What's In My Pocket" vest is that it is designed to work up extremely quickly. It is designed for bulky weight yarn, knitting up at a gauge of 3 stitches per inch. However, you don't have to use bulky yarn: you can use two strands of worsted weight together instead. The majority of it is worked in the round. You divide the stitches into back and forth knitting only when it is time to do the armholes, and you use a three needle bind off to seam the shoulders. This means that you don't have much sewing to do!

You don't have to buy new yarn for this project. You can, of course, but the project is ideal for using up leftover yarn. Stripes work great! So do bright colors. The only thing is, the usual guidelines for CIC knitting do apply: it does need to be all or mostly wool. It doesn't need to be fancy wool, but the animal fibers really do make a difference in how much warmth they provide. (In perfect fairness, it actually doesn't have to be wool. It has to be an animal fiber--so I guess if you have alpaca, quivit, cashmere, or whatever exotic animal fiber there is out that you don't know what to do with, you can use that too.... :-) No, seriously, I said wool because it is less expensive and more readily available than other animal fibers, but you can use another animal fiber if you want.

Logistics

The project officially starts in January, and is designed to end by February 1st, so that we could send the vests on the Big Trip to the baby homes. You can, of course, start now if you want--and many people have. These vests are desperately needed, and the more we send the merrier the children will be. I volunteer to keep count, just as Elizabeth has done for the wonderful sock challenges every year. You can email me privately if you want (jandjbickers@earthlink.net), or post it here on the CIC list. Since this project isn't about socks, it probably shouldn't go on the socknitter's list. But please let your friends, relatives, and knitting guilds know about the project--you don't have to belong to this list in order to participate.

Karen Porter has said that it would be most helpful if we knitted vests in sizes 2 and 4, because the children in the orphanages are a little on the small side. This means that your yarn can go even further, and the project even faster. I found that a size 2 takes a little more than a skein of Lamb's Pride Bulky. I got two vests out of three skeins in about a week, I think. Elizabeth made a size 4 in doubled worsted and used just over 400 yards.

The pattern can be found at http://countrywool.tripod.com/freepatterns/cicvest.htm . Claudia has just revised the pattern to make the vest a little shorter, but you can use either version for this project. I recommend printing it in the landscape (sideways) mode, rather than the portrait (vertical) mode, as it is a little easier to read that way. In most programs, all you need to do when you click on print is to click on "preferences" and then click on "layout" to find this option. As with all multisized patterns, your life will be easier if you take a highlighter and go through the pattern, highlighting the numbers for the size you choose to knit.

As Elizabeth said on this topic, you don't have to explain your personal, financial, or geographic circumstances. We trust you to ask for the yarn if you really need it, and to knit for CIC with it.

This being the height of the holiday season, many of us (including me) have put our charity knitting on the back burner. It is perfectly fine to wait till January to start. We aren't setting any formal goals with this project. Instead, I challenge each of you to set your own goals. The vests are among the most desirable of knitted goods at the orphanages, so be assured that every one you knit will be cherished.

I hope you will all support this project--the children do need our help most desperately.

Jill Bickers

Send your vests to:

Kathy Graziani
9124 Flamepool Way
Columbia, MD 21045


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