Dec 27, 2010

2011: The Year Of The Vest

Some of you have been following my knitting long enough to remember my knitting One Hundred Hats for charity. I donated all the hats to Nest: Maine, a group that focuses on bringing handmade items to those living in rural areas of Maine in need of some extra warmth during the cold winter days and nights.

I loved everything about the experience of knitting towards a goal like that, and have missed it in the months I’ve been without it. In fact, I've noticed a distinct lack of knitting focus in general when I don't have a goal like this! To appease myself, I tried knitting a large number of squares to donate to charity, but have found there is something lacking – apparently I like to make garments more than I’d thought!

As I think about my knitting focus, I realize more and more I want to be single-minded in my knitting - back on track with my unreasonable goal of knitting 10,000 items to donate to charity in my lifetime, done with all the extras that I've gotten caught up in, and moving my life more and more towards one that is shaped around my passion.

If my passion is knitting for charity, then all other knitting goals and ideals must take a back-seat to this goal, and I must figure out solid ways to help me reach and surpass ever-growing goals.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to do another big project - I’m making 2011 the Year Of The Vest!

My plan is to alternate between a few vest patterns featured on Ravelry and one I'll be writing myself – I’ll be kicking it off with the Spring Shirt {which is super simple and a great way to ease into the project}, then moving on to the Plain Vest from Pickles, moving into the fall and In Vest for Peace, and then finishing out the year with my Nest Vest {I'm working out the details of this pattern as we speak, and will share it when it's ready}.

My personal goal is to knit one vest a week, in varying sizes and colors, and then donate all I’ve got in batches between Nest: Maine and Wool Aid. As I fill up a large paper box {sourced from work!}, I'll be sending them on!

I’d like to knit at least 52 - one for each week. If I can knit more than one vest each week, that's awesome, but my goal is at least one a week.

How You Can Get Involved:

You Can Knit Along With Me! I’d love to turn this into a knit-along for those who want to join in! I’ll be tracking my vests by knitting each pattern for thirteen weeks before switching to a new one, and my goal is to knit at least one vest each week.

If you’d like to knit along with me, just follow the 2011 Vests thread here on the blog. Throughout the year I’ll be sharing more about the patterns I’m using, my tips and tricks for making these vests work up easier and faster for you, and information about the different charities you can donate your finished vests to.

I’ll even hopefully be able to offer up prizes throughout the year-long knit-along – I haven’t worked that out yet fully, but wouldn’t it be fun?!

You Can Donate Yarn. If you’re not interested in knitting vests all year, or have your own big projects you’re involved in, you can still be part of the fun. Just like with the One Hundred Hats project, I’ll be accepting a few wool donations to help sustain the project. I’ve got some wool already in my stash, but I know it won’t be enough to knit up 52 vests. And as Nest: Maine likes their items to be made from animal fiber, purchasing all that yarn could start to get expensive.

If you’d like to help out in this way, shoot me an e-mail {rmcdevine at gmail dot com} before boxing up your wool stash! I’ll have a few parameters that will need to be followed {yarn weight, fiber content, yardage, squishiness} and I’d hate for you to send me out a bunch of yarn that I won’t end up being able to use.

Knit Something And Donate It. I know not every knitter likes to knit the same items – it’s a big part of what makes the global knitting community so great. We all have our favorite fibers, patterns, and charities to donate to – so let’s take advantage of that in 2011.

If you love the idea of knitting for charity, but don’t want to knit a vest, knit something else and donate it to Nest: Maine. If you love the idea of knitting vests, but always donate somewhere else, knit up a vest and donate it wherever you like! My goal is to get us all knitting, and to hopefully give away some prizes while I work up at least a vest a week for Nest: Maine.

Spread The Word. For those of you who aren’t knitters, you can help this little project out by spreading the word. Tell your friends and family, talk about it on your blogs, and let every knitter you know in on the fun. In 2010, Nest: Maine collected just over 250 items for distribution – mostly hats {in no small part my fault there}. I’d like to bombard them with wooly goodness in the form of vests of all sizes this year, and will need your help to do it.

My goal is to not only donate my 52 vests, but to get 200 other vests and sweaters donated – that’s right, I’d like to see us reach their collection number from 2010 in vests alone! To do so, I’ll need all the help I can get spreading the word! 

Today is December 27th. I’ll begin knitting officially on January 1st, although I may knock out a vest before then if I can manage it! If you’re considering participating in this knit-along, take the next few days to figure out how many vests you’ll challenge yourself to knit, how you can knit from your stash for this project, and how to best reach your goals.

We’ll be kicking off the year-long knit-along on January 3rd with a full month of festivities: a link to the first pattern, some yarn suggestions, a bit more on Nest: Maine, and a deadline for the first prizes! Until then, let’s get ready to knit!

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