scrooge, soldier boys, & mary freakin' pickford

Happy New Year, everyone.

Wouldn’t it be nice to actually do something really nice this year that you really feel like you could accomplish? How about considering a little giving this year?

Before we opened our store, I acted briefly as the volunteer coordinator for a local guild that was floundering. It didn’t take long for our business to get much too busy for me to continue in that position, but in the brief time that I worked to invigorate the waning membership, I came up with an idea for a giving group.

Some of you my recall me mentioning Ebenezer Project. The idea behind Ebenezer Project is that, as Dickens’ Ebenezer Scrooge discovers, the spirit of giving… the spirit of living… isn’t just a once-a-year kind of activity. If you don’t live it every day, it doesn’t happen, and your entire life is poorer for it. Ebenezer Project was created to keep that spirit of giving and the joy in life that comes with it in our lives and in the forefront of our minds throughout each year.

Basically, as coordinator for Ebenezer Project, I look for charities that are interested in receiving donated gift items, find out what types of gifts these organizations are looking for, and collate that information for folks interested in making something to donate so that, if you know what you want to make (as opposed to knowing who you want to donate to), I can tell you who’s looking for them, how many they need, what kind of materials they’ll accept, etc.

Now, of course, it has to start somewhere, and I do know that there are infinite numbers of charities out there, but my specific interest is in finding earnest people who specifically want donations that will then be distributed with some compassion for the recipient and with respect for the love and concern that were worked into the stitches of the donations. One might think that it would be a slam dunk, but it just isn’t. For some charitable organizations, receiving donations of knitted or handmade items is more a chore than anything else. And there’s one very good reason why: we, as knitters, have an unfortunate tendency to either take entirely too much pride in our work by either not knitting with yarn appropriate for a particular organization’s needs, or too little pride in our work by making things that are not of a quality to make a recipient glad to have received the gift.

I’ve heard the argument that any recipient should be glad they’re getting something. That so doesn’t work in the real world. When was the last time that you got a gift that was either hideously ugly, wildly inappropriate, or simply made it clear that the person who gave it to you either didn’t bother to find out what you liked or needed or just didn’t care? It happens. It will always happen. Did you feel grateful to receive it? Yeah, me neither.

So here’s my point: find out one of two things before you make donations. Either make sure that what you’re giving is appropriate for the use to which it will be put (most grandmotherly types probably won’t need a lime green jester hat with fuchsia pompoms, and there aren’t likely to be too many teenage boys interested in receiving gossamer lace shawls), or know that the organization to which you donate is willing to accept the onus of finding the right recipient for your donation.

And speaking of donations…

I’m such a geek sometimes. Rob’s probably laughing to himself that sometimes includes all days ending in -y. The whole impetus behind this post was that I noticed an article in the most recent issue of Interweave Knits about WWI and WWII era Red Cross drives for knitted donations to "our boys" overseas. The Red Cross website has a page in their Museum area that offers .pdf versions of several of their patterns from those drives. I was delighted. Having grown up rifling through my grandmother’s old Workbasket magazines and the myriad craft/fiber arts books that I found in my wanderings through the antique malls of the Atlanta area, seeing that someone was taking the time to scan these old patterns and make them available for public consumption was very heartwarming. That, and the sheer nostalgia of these patterns is amazing. If you have family or friends that lived through that era, you may well have seen, at one time or another, photographs of these dashing young men in one of these very donated garments. Now, you can make one yourself. For me, that’s actually a pretty hard jones. Like I said, I’m a geek.

And to make my geekiness complete (if creating words like geekiness doesn’t do it) what really caught my eye in the article was the Red Cross poster of Mary Pickford (early Twentieth Century star of stage and screen) knitting, herself. "Mary Pickford was a knitter?" thought I. "How cool is that?!?" Here it comes folks; this is the geeky part. "She’s an Aries, too!"

*sigh* I’m hanging my head in mock shame. MOCK shame, people. I don’t need e-mails telling me that I shouldn’t be ashamed for being a receptacle for useless knowledge.

Yes, I did know that Mary Pickford was an Aries. Her name was on an Aries coffee mug that I begged my parents for in some shop in Gatlinburg when I was maybe six. Her birthday was April 8, 1892 (I had to look up the year), and she was both beautiful and apparently talented though I’ve never bothered to find out myself. I can do some old film, but that particular era’s a bit of a stretch even for me.

Apparently, she also used her celebrity to promote the Red Cross knitting drive. How cool is that?

Ok. Enough drivel for one day. I’m off to get the shop up and running. We’re actually open today for our football-free knitter zone New Year shindig. If you’re interested in providing charity information or donations to Ebenezer Project, contact me at or call me at the shop.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.