Miracle in Seattle – The Gift from Annie’s Readers

In July I wrote about my friend, Teddy Sawka, who is a missionary working in Shichigahama, Japan — an area that was ravaged by the tsunami in March 2011. Teddy started an outreach program called Yarn Alive for the displaced, mostly elderly, women of the area because she was worried about them living with little privacy and no way to keep busy. As so often happens, after learning to knit or crochet the ladies found that their time together became a time of healing. As one of the ladies said, they “knit and chat and comfort each other one stitch at a time.” I like to call it the Sisterhood of Yarn.

I told the story about sending a large donation of yarn to Japan in 2012 and how I needed help sending another donation in 2013. Wow, thank you Annie’s readers!  Did you ever come through with the donations! Yarn came streaming into Minnesota from Annie’s readers all over the country. If you ever wondered what 2000 balls of yarn looks like, this is me standing next to the yarn after it was repacked and ready to go to Seattle.

From there it was loaded onto a shipping container and made its way into the hands of the beautiful ladies of Yarn Alive in Japan. I call this the Miracle in Seattle (part II). Teddy and I are both in awe of the way God has brought together strangers from around the world to help each other.

Getting the yarn to Japan is just a small part of the story. What happens with the yarn once it gets there is the true story of giving. The ladies of Yarn Alive lost all of their material possessions in the tsunami. Many of them lost family and friends as well. Even now they are still living in temporary housing and it might be another three years before they have their own homes again. One wouldn’t blame them if they used the yarn to clothe themselves and their families but the emphasis of the group is on helping others who are less fortunate.

In a recent email, Teddy told me about how she sees the handiwork of her ladies all over town. For instance, she noticed afghans on the chairs of the postal workers; a gift made to keep them warm in their temporary office. The Yarn Alive ladies are often called on to help others with their creations and “they are so happy to be useful and respected for something they are doing.”

Annie’s readers, you won’t believe what they’ve done with some of the yarn you sent this summer. They focused on helping the children of Syrian refugees in Jordan. With the yarn from Miracle in Seattle II, the ladies in Shichigahama, Japan made more than 200 articles of clothing to help comfort and keep warm a group of refugee children. Teddy told me that the ladies were so eager to help and very grateful for the donation from their Yarn Sisters in America.

I am truly humbled and thankful to think that I was able to play a small part in such an amazing story and I hope those of you who donated feel the same way. Teddy puts it this way: “Can you imagine that yarn that you helped collect went by way of Japan to be made into something useful to bless the poor and needy in Jordan!?”

Another important part of the story is what handwork and the community of knitting and crochet gives to the participants in Yarn Alive. Teddy writes this: “Last week I was talking to a lady that I gave yarn and needles to right after the tsunami.  She has a restaurant on a hill that overlooks the ocean.  She grew up down below in the village right at sea level.  When the earthquake happened, all the people living down below ran up to her restaurant that was a designated safe area.  She could see that the tsunami was going to be higher than her restaurant so kept calling for the people to come higher.  Many would not move, so she watched in horror as they were washed out to sea and of course, died.  It was such a traumatic thing for her, as you can imagine.  She told me the other day that the yarn helped her so much when she couldn’t sleep at night.  She created many beautiful things that first year.  She thanked me again.  She opened her restaurant again on the first anniversary of the tsunami.  She is doing well now, but I feel so thankful to have had a part in keeping her “sane” through that dark time.  Knitting and crocheting can be so helpful, as we know!

Yarn Alive continues to grow. Right now the program is offered in two temporary housing areas and Teddy has been asked to start another group in town. The yarn itself doesn’t stay just in Japan either. Plans are currently afoot to get knitting and crochet supplies to the Syrian ladies who are refugees in Jordan so they too can keep their hands busy and hopefully create a new Sisterhood of Yarn. In addition to yarn, the Yarn Alive program could really use your financial support. They often need to buy supplies in Japan. Also, it was difficult to get items into Jordan so a volunteer actually travelled there and hand-delivered them packed inside of duffel bags.

Please consider making a monetary donation to Yarn Alive this Christmas. There is a PayPal donation button on their blog that you can find here: www.yarnalive.wordpress.com

Even if you aren’t able to make a donation, be sure to visit the site. You can’t help but be inspired by the creations and have your heart warmed by the smiles.

Next July, I will once again be sending yarn to Japan (the Miracle in Seattle III). It’s not too early to think about helping. If you have extra yarn in your stash, set it aside to save. If your LYS has a sale, consider buying some special yarn for Yarn Alive. Also, send me your email address now so I can contact you with plans this summer; my email is carri@coldwateryarn.com. Finally, please say your prayers for the ladies of Yarn Alive and for their angel, Teddy Sawka.

YA 12-6

Carri Hammett

Carri Hammett is a popular contributor to Annie’s  and is the author of More Than a Dozen Hats and Mittens available on AnnieCatalog.com Carri is also the instructor of the Annie’s online class: Knit Finishing Techniques and has written several books which are available at your local yarn shop. Carri welcomes emails from her readers at carri@coldwateryarn.com.


The Editor Wants to Know: What are Your Holiday Knitting Habits?

The editor wants to know!

What are your Holiday knitting habits? Do you knit before, during or after the holidays? Or, do you find that your knitting routine stays the same regardless of the season?

I find that knitting provides me with even more comfort during the hurried Holiday season. I get so excited about the idea of knitting special gifts for friends and loved ones but sometimes I fall short because I overestimate the time I really have.

Watch the video below where I ask this burning question, and please chime in and let me know how how you keep knitting thorough the Season!


The Editor Wants to Know: Combining Knitting and Crochet Together. Is this a BIG Knitting No No?

The editor wants to know!

Combining knitting and crochet– From your perspective, do you believe this to be a total faux pas, or do you absolutely relish in the thought of using both crafts together? Please share your thoughts!

Obviously, you’ve visited this blog, so it would be quite silly of me to ask if you are a knitter. At least, we know that much! In addition to your love of knitting, do you also enjoy crochet? If so, do you creatively combine both crafts in a unique and interesting way? Or, do you consider crochet and knitting used together to be heresy?

yay for crochet!

I personally enjoy combining the best of both worlds. I get excited exploring what I can do with a crochet hook in one hand, while having my knitting needles close by. I really love the flexibility that crochet has to offer and take advantage of using it to enhance my knitting.

Please answer this question: Are you all about knitting, and wouldn’t dare touch a crochet hook, or do you embrace both techniques and find it hard to just choose one?


More Than Memories: Teaching Our Children to Knit

By Tabetha Hedrick

I have a beautiful friend who, after several years of illness, has made a hard realization that time might be much shorter for her. It’s a sobering thought, especially when one considers that it is true for all of us, regardless of circumstance. I’ve spent the past week thinking, deeply and heart-wrenchingly, about what I want to leave my own daughters with: a passion to chase after their dreams, a connection with the things that I love, and memories of something we share together. My first step is teaching my beautiful girls to knit.heart_2

Fortunately, they are eager beavers and want to learn! My youngest, Sophie, said at her kindergarten graduation, “when I grow up, I’m going to be a knitter.” Your own kidlets might not be ready yet, but when approached with the concept of enjoying something together, you’ll be surprised at how deeply they receive it.

When teaching children to learn how to knit, here are some tips to keep it relaxed and enjoyable:


-        Get comfortable. My girls and I squish together on the couch. In fact, the closer, the better! Research even shows that the more hugs, the more physical touch, the closer the proximity to parents results in smarter brains, easier learning, and stronger independence. Can’t beat that!

-        Set them up with easy to use materials. I like a simple 100% wool yarn because it has enough stretch and elasticity to make things easier with simple wood needles.

-        Be hands on. When I am introducing a new technique, I demonstrate several times and then guide their hands with my own to show things in slow motion.

-         Keep the lessons focused on one thing at a time. Start with just the knit stitch and let them work on that until they are comfortable. I don’t want to overwhelm them with casting on, bind offs, or purls; they’ll let you know when it is time to introduce a new technique.

-        Depending on the age of your child, their knitting time is going to be limited. My oldest at age eight will comfortably work 2-3 rows before she gets antsy. Don’t be offended or upset. This is a time for building your relationship, not a time for them to stress about getting it done.

-        Just have fun with it! Cuddle, pick out yarn colors together, share your own knitting, and involve them in the entire process. I take my daughters to the yarn store where we dream about different designs together.

This is an opportunity to establish something special in their hearts, in YOURS. Knitting is a portal that allows me to chase my dreams. My goal is to teach that same determination to learn, to strive, to believe that you can do anything. When I am in my last days, I want my children to know they were welcomed with open arms into a part of my world that means so much, and became even more meaningful because I got to share it with them.

Tabetha Hedrick

Tabetha lives by the belief that joy comes when fully participating in the present moment, especially when it comes to fiber. Surrounding herself with yarn through knitting, designing, spinning and teaching ensures that blissful continuity. Tabetha is a regular contributor to Creative Knitting magazine, and is the editor of the Creative Knitting newsletter. To learn more about Tabetha, visit www.tabethahedrick.com.

Make It a Mindful Monday: Knowing When to Be Flexible

Monday again, and those socks are still not finished. What started as a leisurely weekend project several months ago, has turned into a battle to beat the clock.

My intention is to make a pair of socks as a gift for a friend who I will be seeing next week. Having initiated this idea quite some time ago, I imagined months of carefree knitting to complete them, but it hasn’t quite turned out that way.

I’ve been loving the process of making these socks, but I’ve had to stop and start for a variety of reasons that were beyond my control such as: the yarn not working as planned and a pattern that just didn’t float my boat.

Then finally, I found just the right yarn– Saki Silk from Universal Yarn. What a dream this self-striping sock-weight yarn is to work with!  I couldn’t wait to get started, but then…another roadblock– my sock was too big. I knew this early on, but was in total denial that this sock would only fit Sasquatch. After binding off, I finally came to the conclusion that this would not fly and it was time to face facts and rip.

I think my biggest problem was working with a size #2 needle, so I bumped things back to a #1, and now I’m up to speed. Sock #1 is nearly finished, but the stress of getting the pair done within the next few days started creeping in late in the day yesterday. I was faced with the reality that other things in life had to get done like starting dinner for my family having craft time with my son London.

This morning I woke up with the realization that it was time to let go and practice patient acceptance. As soon as I released my grip, I felt a sense of freedom arise. It’s not always easy to make peace with the fact that most things in life are out of our control. Instead of clinging tightly to wanting to give my friend with this long-planned gift, I can choose to remain flexible, and I just may surprise myself and finish them after all.