The seeds of this mitten tree were planted by a tragedy. They were nurtured by hope.
My heart broke when the Newtown School shooting happened last year. There are no words to describe imagining your own kids in that classroom or what it was like for those trapped there. Nor are their words to fully outline what it might feel like to be the shooter’s mother. There is just so much grief to go around.
Later that same week, a friend sent a link to me about a Norwegian mitten tree made of hand-knitted mittens. Because I am a knitter, I did what knitters do in times of despair; I started to knit a green mitten and toy with the idea of making something bigger.
Wouldn’t it be neat, I wrote on my blog, if we could all knit some mittens and build a tree by next November?
My expectations were low. And then a box full of mittens arrived. Then another. Another pair was left for me at work. Then a pair from Australia hit my mailbox. Then three pair from Buffalo. For nine months, mittens made their way to me -- and Melany, the owner of Project Anthologies, volunteered her front window.
From the barest suggestion and almost no plan, this tree grew. There are mittens here from places far and wide. There are mittens plain and fancy.
Once the holiday season ends, the mittens will be donated to Oneonta’s Family Services Association. If you are so moved, I invite you to make a donation to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence or to your local family services agency.
Each pair of mittens represents comfort and hope. We can be awful to each other. We can also be so amazing.
The above is the little hand-out that I typed up to explain why there was a tree made from mittens in Melany's shop window. But there is so much more to tell you about the tree.
First thing: it was such a relief to get these little knitted symbols of hope out of my house and onto the tree.
Second thing: I'm really bad as estimating surface area. Scott was about to build the framework for the tree and asked a reasonable question: how tall should it be? If I were a sensible person, I would have calculated the average area a pair of mittens covered, broken out a geometry text, and run some numbers. Instead, I held my hand at my chest and said, "This high?"
Here's my Dad and the Husband finishing up the structure:
Third thing: All of the mittens are sewn on, which took a little bit of time but wasn't that bad.
Fourth thing: I did my best to not art direct the mittens too much and just grabbed them at random. We started by sorting them into two piles - big and little - and went from there. It worked, mostly.
Fifth thing: My estimate was off by about eight inches. The top bit of the tree -- the part covered by the Santa hat -- is mitten-less. The hat, however, looks dead charming so it all worked out in the end.
Sixth thing: The Project Anthology elves have since decorated our tree with lights and holiday cheer.
The last and most important thing: You guys. Thanks so very, very much for knitting and spreading the word.