thank you for restoring my faith in humanity


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.

still lives (lives?) with mittens, scarf, corgi

First, the mittens:



Anj handed them to me at the recent Knitter's Review Retreat (which was the awesome!) and I put them in my bag, which I promptly failed to unpack all the way until yesterday. Ooops. Sorry Anj! The mittens are gorgeous and will go in the pile. One short week until I start to build.

(If you're wondering why mittens, click here.)

I did, however, pull out two finds from the stash lounge shortly after I got home. Have you ever come across a yarn that you find so very unattractive that it goes all the way around past hideous, then back into kinda lovely again? Curiosity got the better of me:


All in the house affectionately dubbed this the "road kill" yarn. What the picture doesn't tell you is how soft it it. The Tween fell in love with it, so took an evening and knitted her a scarf.


I love this picture, too, and couldn't chose between them:


The scarf met her approval. One skein - the yarn is Pagewood Farm U-Knitted Nations in "Fuzzy Purls" but I don't want to link to it lest the maker gets ticked that I called it ugly* - makes a scarf that is too short for an adult but perfect for a kid.

The corgi is thrilled by all of this knitting:


Thrilled, I tell you:



* Remember that ugly is in the eye of the beholder. And I honestly think this particular yarn has a quirky charm that is definitely not for everyone but ideal for my 11-year old.


And the mittens keep rolling in.


These are fresh from Jen Anderson in Brooklyn. Hooray, Brooklyn!

I'll be building the tree on the Friday after Thanksgiving. If you're local and want to watch me crawl around in Project Anthologies' front window, come on by.

(If you're wondering why mittens, click here.)

And for your viewing pleasure, a gratuituous corgi in a nest:


Scott was pruning our pines a few weeks ago and Lucy decided they made the perfect nest because there is nothing as lovely as pine sap in dog fur. 


I picked up some mittens that a kind soul dropped off at the bookstore some time during the last week. I'd love to thank that kind soul -- but don't know who it is. Anyone?


The handwriting looks vaguely familiar.



And, of course, in this house, you can't take a picture without help:


The black tail belongs to this one:


He will not look at me this morning, no matter how many times I say his name. Asshat.

a little behind...

I've been neglecting my mitten documenting duty. They have been coming in quickly over the last couple of days, which is so great. I can't even begin to tell you.*

This bag was waiting for me last night when I showed up for work at the bookstore:


I was confused, frankly, because I wasn't hungry. 


Ah. Thanks Barb! (But I do wonder why you had a spare (and clean) Burger King bag kicking around....)

These showed up in the mail:


From Gina, who knitted her first pair of mittens ever. I think she did an awesome job.


From Susan in the ROC, whose mittens seemed to have burrowed a hole in the space-time continuum so that they could get to my house in under 24 hours. We both agree that they just couldn't wait to share their cabled fabulousness with the world.

I mean -- look:



And, lastly (but never last in my heart), from kmkat:


(If you're wondering why mittens, click here.)


* I set a Halloween deadline for the mittens, even though I know there are some still out there, waiting to find their way to me. Send 'em on. (Or, if you're local or I'll see you during the next few days, just shove them into my hands.)


You guys amaze me. 

Serial mittener Fran is still knitting.


Two more pairs showed up last week!*

Also in the mail:


From Priscilla in Ithaca, who found that knitting mittens brought her peace. Knitting gives more than it takes, yet again.

It's starting to dawn on me that this tree is going to happen and that I** need to start engineering the tree frame and blocking off a weekend to build. I'm also thinking of printing up some flyers that explain why and how this all happened, which would be near the tree for people to take. Thoughts?

(If you're wondering why mittens, click here.)

* We've entered the time of year where those of us north of the Mason-Dixon find natural light hard to come by. I had to clear off the top of a bookshelf and turn on every dang light in my office in order to get halfway decent snapshots. 


And then I had to clear Barney off of the bookshelf. Too many animals up in here.

** By "I," of course, I mean me and the Spouse, who has been roped in for the structural component. 

mittens + internal organs

Not only did Ann Marie* from Delaware send a bunch of mittens:


She also sent what could be the most amusing mitten-related note** I've ever read. And I've read quite a few. 

Lucy like it so much that she stole it as I was snapping these pictures.


Corgis, they say, just gotta corg. Fortunately, I got to it before it  became so much confetti. It's a little damp, tho.

Thanks Ann Marie! 

(And if you're wondering why mittens, click here.)

In other news, Barney, the quasi-feral cat I refer to as "Jerkface Killa," can sense the coming of winter and that has ramped up his need to kill critters to get us through the cold times. He hasn't had much luck with actual living things this year - not that I have found, anyway - but still insists on bringing my husband and I tasty internal organs every night. Just this week we've stepped on a digestive system, an esophagus, and a liver. 


So what if they've been plucked out of the Tween's Visible Man


* Do you have an email address? Or did I have it at some point and have lost it? (I'm betting it's that last one.)

** Nova Scotia is involved, as is Food Saver bags, celiac disease, and border patrol. 


As I've said before, one of the best things about living in a relatively small town is knowing your neighbors.* And one of the best things about this town in particular is the Green Toad Bookstore, where I work a little bit, not because the cash is crucial but because I like being around all of the books. Some days, people bring me mittens.


The two pairs on the right were handed off by Barbara B., who I believe is a serial mittener. The pair on the left traveled from New York City and were delivered in person by Deb Murphy, who just happened to be in my small town for a wedding. Because it is a small world.

Thanks, y'all. There's still time, if you'd like to add to the ever-growing pile. I'd like to have them in hand (heh.) by Halloween.

(If you're wondering about the mittens, click here.)

For the Lucy lovers, my view on Tuesday afternoon:



* Yeah, it can get to you sometimes, seeing the same people, but that's a tiny price to pay for a sense of community. 

mittens! (and some other stuff)

The day after I posted my last mitten update, four more pairs showed up.


These are from Fran in Buffalo, a repeat mitten-er. Thanks so much! They are in the bin.

(And if you're wondering why, click here.)

Also in that day's mail was an ominous letter from the FBI:


The letter enclosed wasn't all that horrifying. What made me uneasy was what was stamped on the face of the envelope. (Click on the picture to make it bigger.)

I'm always unnerved when a government agency tries to act all human. I prefer my bureaucracy faceless, thanks.

Finally, our cat Barney, the asshat, goes outside every morning to harass the local fauna. He has started hanging out in front of my office window, which is on our second floor and requires a jump onto the roof, and waiting for me to let him in. The dog has caught on to this.


You can almost hear the theme from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, yes?

people are amazing

This, my friends, is what 31 pairs of mittens look like:


Way back in January, when I had this kooky idea to make a mitten tree, I had zero idea what to expect. My fondest wish was to get 200 pairs, build the tree, donate the mittens, and raise some money for either a family-centric or gun control-centric charity. That was the "A" goal. My "D" goal, the reality-based one, was that I'd round up a few handknitted mittens, buy a bunch of cheap acrylic ones, and say I'd tried.

I'm starting to think the "A" goal is increasingly possible, however, because with only a little pushing on my end, mittens are a'comin' in. What will happen if I push a little harder? My hope is only good things.

So tell your friends. Tell knitters you'd like to have as friends. Tell your enemies, too, but manage your expectations.

I'd like to have as many pairs of green mittens as possible in my hands by October 31. Email me for an address, if you don't already have it.*

We can do this. We can warm the hands what need warming. 

*(If you're local and need yarn, I have some to hand out. Even if you're not local-local but might see me in the near future, holler. If you're stalking me, a) stop it and b) ask for green yarn.)