Monday, September 17, 2007

Style or substance?

I'm not much of a charity knitter. I'm picky about what I knit and especially about what I knit with. If someone wants acrylic sweaters for babies, I'll send them a check, but I won't knit those sweaters! And I always have so many things I want to knit that squeezing in another project and meeting a deadline is hard.

But I have knitted (a little) for Dulaan and for Afghans for Afghans, because I was persuaded that handknit wool garments were really wanted and useful in those places. I particularly enjoy the little lecture on the Afghans for Afghans site about Why Wool is Best.

I had, however, pretty much forgotten about Afghans for Afghans until I read that they were moving the due date up this year, to October 12th which is pretty soon. So of course I decided I had to make a sweater.

I'm using some Icelandic wool that I bought in 1986, enough for two or three sweaters. I only made one, and the rest has been languishing all this time. I've moved it from Chicago to Vermont to Michigan to Minnesota to Oklahoma. (Yes, I am a packrat.) It's a sturdy wool -- some might even say a little harsh -- and the sweater I did make looks brand new. Surely this wool is suited for Afghanistan.

It was purple, teal, and white -- you could date it to 1986 even if you had no idea when it was from! I dyed the white red, orange, fuschia, and yellow. The yellow was supposed to be gold but instead is a screaming lemon, so I might not use it. But the rest are nice.

I'm using a pattern from Anna Zilboorg's book on Turkish stockings -- not even close to Afghanistan but I wanted something a little different. Of course, now that it's knitting up, it looks sort of like a Sanquhar check that wasn't alternated, if that makes any sense. What I mean is, it doesn't look all that unusual to me. But at least the pattern has a cool name: Well Buckets. Makes no sense to me, either.

We were asked to focus on 7-14 year old kids. Unfortunately this looks more like about a 5 year old at best. I'm going to make it long and hope there's a skinny Afghan kid who needs a new sweater.

So here's the thing: if I hadn't given knitting for Afghanis a thought until I saw it on someone else's blog, and I'm all excited about using up my ancient yarn, etc., etc., am I really being generous? Or am I just amusing myself in a trendy way? I am reminded of some very uncomfortable passages in Angela Thirkell's novels, about do-gooder Englishwomen selling Eastern European handicrafts to raise money for refugees. But I tell myself some kid is going to be warmer, right?

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