Almost there…

I have 122 squares in my sticky little hands–so only 22 squares to go until we reach our target! It’s so exciting!

We had an impromptu knit-in today–I was contacted last week by the Kentucky Kernel who are planning to run a huge feature on the Project in this Thursday’s edition of the Kernel and they wanted to send a photographer to get some pictures of the knitting in action, and of the squares themselves. We were small in number, but it was an incredibly productive meeting and we’ve decided a few crucial things. Mary-Beth and Margie have very kindly agreed to start work on finding a venue for displaying the finished blanket. Top contenders right now are The Kentucky Theater, Central Library, and the empty space in Lexington Green shopping area. I’ve left this in their very capable hands and will keep everyone updated with progress.

We also talked about how best to go about raising money from the completed blanket. Initially, I had thought that a charity auction would be the best way to raise funds but I admit I’ve had some concerns about whether or not anyone would actually bid for the blanket. Today, Kerri came up with a superb idea–sponsorship. She suggested that we could offer the squares for sponsorship–either by individuals or businesses–with a set minimum donation. That would remove some of the uncertainty about raising funds and would be a much more viable proposition. Sponsors would have their name listed next to the square that they have sponsored. We’re thinking of a minimum donation of $15-$20 (can’t decide–opinions would be welcome on this point) but, naturally, we would be happy for sponsors to donate more, if they chose to. I’m so grateful to Kerri for this gem of an idea–seems far more workable to me than a charity auction. And it removes the deadline of June–although I’m still planning on getting the blanket finished by the end of March and getting the funds in by the end of June so that we can start with scholarship applications.

Finally, we’re going to have one last knit-in before I close the door to squares. Next Wednesday, 18th January at Coffee Times on Regency Road, 6.30pm start. I’ll continue to accept squares until the end of January, though, so carry on knitting–if we get more than 144 squares we’ll just make a bigger blanket!

Sunday Brunch Knit-In Planned

Our next Knit-In is planned!

It’s going to take place on Sunday 20th November, 11.00am, at Great Bagel, 396 Woodland Avenue, Lexington, 40508. They’re relatively new to the Lexington area, situated on the corner of Woodland and Euclid (the same block as Lynagh’s and Cosmic Charlie’s).

They’re happy for us to sit, knit, and hang-out with them for as long as we like–I’ll get there around 11am but if anyone wants to show up earlier, then please do so. Their bagels are out of the oven at 6am, 9am, and noon, which you might want to bear in mind–can you think of a better way to spend a Sunday than with a warm, oven-fresh bagel, a mug of coffee, and knitting? Oh, and for anyone with food allergy issues they also make a gluten free bagel (I had the cinnamon raisin last weekend, which was delicious) and I’m almost certain that I heard they have lactose-free milk products for their drinks.

Anyway, make sure you put the date in your diary, come along and join us!

40 and counting…

That’s how many squares I have in my physical possession right now. And they’re all beautiful. That’s a pretty good number (and it’s a substantial pile) but we still have a way to go – 104 more to go, to be precise. I know there are still a lot more out there and I’m trusting to everyone who keeps telling me that we have this under control. But can we do it by Christmas so that I can start getting this blanket pieced together in time for it to go on display in March? I’m determined that we can.

Last night’s Knit-In at Coffee Times was another fabulous success–some familiar faces, some new faces, lots of coffee, a few pieces of cake, and a lot of knitting. I’ve put some photos up on facebook, please feel free to tag yourself in them if you were there.

Thomas, the brother of my lovely partner, Susan, has spent the better part of a week working on some collection boxes to make it easier for you to get your squares to me. I’ll be getting them in place this week, so hopefully more squares will come rolling in. You’ll be able to find the boxes in the following locations:

UK Campus:

Patterson Office Tower, 13th floor (outside room 1353)

Outsource (ground floor of the Student Center)

WT Young Library (in the Writing Center, 5th floor)

Gaines Center for the Humanities (Raymond Betts Building, on East Maxwell Street)

Downtown Lexington

ReBelle (371 South Limestone Street)

I’ve got another two boxes currently without a home so if you have any suggestions for drop-off points, please let me know!

GREAT Bagels!

Several people have mentioned to me recently that they’d love to come to a Knit-In but for one reason or another can’t get to the evening events. With that in mind, I’ve been pondering over the last couple of weeks about the possibility of a Sunday brunch event, but hit upon a stumbling block regarding potential venues. We need somewhere that’s willing to let a bunch of knitters and crocheters eat a little food, drink a little coffee (or tea), talk a lot, knit a lot, and hang out for a couple of hours without causing problems for other diners. Last week, the lovely Jenna made the suggestion of having a Knit-In at Great Bagel, and I charged her with the task of finding out if they’d be willing to let us congregate there.

I’m delighted to say that they’re more than happy to let us come in and clog up their tables with yarn, needles, hooks, and bagels. In fact, their email said:

“What a great project to be a part of – you all can eat, drink, and knit as much as you’d like on whichever day you’d like.  I will say that it does get pretty crazy here on the weekends…we have alot of families on the weekends, as well as a very large volume of customers so a quiet spot this is not, ha!  If that doesn’t bother you folks, you’re more than welcome to come here and create that wonderful blanket!”

So, it looks like a Great Bagel Knit-In is on the cards–all I need to do now is figure out a date and send out notifications–I’ll be finalizing this by the end of the week so bear with me.

Just so that I could be certain that it was a good place to eat (*wink wink*) I popped in with the family on Saturday to sample their fare. I’m happy to report that the bagels are wonderful–and they even do a gluten free bagel which more than made my day. If anyone needs a bagel fix before the Knit-In, they’re located at the corner of Euclid and Woodland, open until 4pm every day.

And, whilst we’re talking about Knit-Ins, don’t forget this weeks event at Coffee Times on Regency Road–let’s get those squares turned out! Looking forward to seeing you all there, do you think we can beat the 20-person turn out that we had at 6 Friends? I challenge you to make this happen!

Save the Date–More Knit-Ins Planned!

The next Knit-In has been planned and facebook invitations sent out. If you didn’t get a facebook invitation, it’s because for some reason I can only send invitations to people on my personal friends list, and not people who “like” the Diversity Project. I’ll never quite understand facebook’s settings but never mind. Anyway, if you want an invitation, or just to be kept updated with events as they’re planned, either friend me personally on facebook or email me at ukdiversityproject@gmail.com, asking to be added to the mailing list.

Anyway, the next Knit-In will be held at Coffee Times Coffee House, 2571 Regency Road, Lexington. It will be on Wednesday 2nd November (that’s a week from today), starting at 6.30pm and ending at 9.00pm. The usual guidelines apply–I’ll have plenty of yarn but please bring some needles or a crochet hook–and, of course, bring a friend! Let’s make this one as successful as last week’s 6 Friends Knit-In!

A couple of people have mentioned to me that it’s hard for them to make an evening event so I’m thinking of hosting a Sunday brunch Knit-In. What I need, though, are your suggestions for good venues, somewhere we can get something yummy to eat but where it won’t matter if not everyone is eating and where the proprietors won’t mind us sitting and knitting for a couple of hours over our eggs and coffee. Any ideas?

In the meantime, though, Joseph Beth Booksellers are hosting a PFlag event on 12th/13th November where 20% of all sales will go to Lexington PFlag. I’m thinking of getting a merry gang of fiber fiddlers to head along and do a spot of knitting at Joseph Beths, and wondered who might be interested in joining me on either the Saturday or the Sunday. Perhaps I should also think about making some kind of sign to display as well… Do let me know, though, if you might be interested in coming along

And on that note, it’s time for me to say goodnight. Don’t forget to put the next Knit-In date in your diary!

It’s The Little Things…

I was inordinately pleased tonight, when logging in to the site statistics, to discover that someone had arrived at the website by googling “the diversity project knitting”. In hindsight, I realize that they probably already knew about the project and just needed to get hold of a link, but nonetheless it made me smile.

There have been plenty of big things happening today too, as alluded to in last night’s rather late (and rushed) post. I met Sandy for coffee this morning–we’ve facebook “known” each other for a while now so it was great to finally put a real face to the name. Sandy is wonderful. We spent ages chatting about the project and she’s given me some fabulous pointers about raising awareness and potentially raising funds.As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, I’m aiming to raise money to provide a one-off scholarship for an LGBT student here in Lexington. When I first thought of the project last week (was it really only just over a week ago?) I had the rather lofty ambition to raise $1,000, primarily from the auction of the finished blanket. Sandy thinks I’m being conservative, as do several other people that I’ve spoken to. I’m astonished. Raising $1,000 would be incredible but raising more than that would really blow my mind. I need to really believe that together–because this won’t happen without lots of help–we can make it happen.

Amongst other things, Sandy gave me some great tips for news releases and getting in touch with local television stations (I’m not sure I’m ready to be seen on television…) but we also talked about the possibility of raising funds for the project prior to the blanket being auctioned. I’ve already realized that I’ll need some sponsorship from local businesses to cover the immediate overheads of the project–buying yarn and needles for community knit events and possibly printing flyers and business cards but I hadn’t considered the possibility of raising funds for the scholarship by other means than the auction. It sounds like a great idea, but I need to check with the Gaines Center that it’s something I’m allowed to do. That will have to go on my to-do list for next week. After meeting with Sandy, I flew down the road to meet with Tiffany, the new director of UK’s OUTsource center. She’s really enthusiastic about OUTsource supporting the project in a variety of ways, I think it has the potential to be a mutually beneficial collaboration.

And then, two more lovely things happened. Just before the summer break I made a new English friend, Alison. She’s been here in Lexington for a couple of years now and as it turns out she’s from pretty much the same part of England as me, we’re both northern lasses. I’d promised Alison I’d make a gluten free bacon, lettuce, and tomato salad for an event she was involved in planning–when I popped by to drop it off (with no small amount of regret, I might add–it’s an incredibly yummy salad) she handed me an envelope with $30 inside and instructions to buy some special yarn for the project. We’re going to meet “fer a brew” next week so if I haven’t managed to buy some yarn with her donation by then, I’ll rope her in to choose it with me. And her donation makes me all the more aware that I need to start keeping very careful records of contributions, especially if there’s money involved. I need to hop in to the Credit Union on campus tomorrow and have a chat with them about opening an account for the project so that I can keep things well organized. And a record-keeping book wouldn’t go amiss either.

The second lovely thing happened when I got home. MB, my community juror, mentioned last week that she thought her mother-in-law (who very sadly passed away not too long ago) had a huge stash of quilting fabrics. MB very kindly offered to pass the fabrics on to me so that they could be used to back the finished blanket–not only will this look pretty but it will also help prevent the squares stretching when it’s displayed. Well, it also seems that her lovely mother-in-law also had quite a stash of yarn that MB would like to donate to the project–and according to her post on the facebook page’s wall, there’s a lot of yarn too! I can’t wait to start getting it knitted up into squares!

I’ve tentatively spoken to one of the girls that works at Coffee Times about hosting some community knit events there. She was very positive about it but I really need to call and talk to the owner very soon. All the donated yarn is definitely going to come in very handy for that. Did I mention yesterday, by the way, that Nadean on Ravelry has already donated 4 skeins (about 800 yards) of a rainbow-coloured yarn? Things are taking shape.

I’m noticing that I’m saying “very soon” in almost all my posts–right now I’m really starting to feel that I’m doing a lot of talking and not much action, which is a bit concerning. Certainly, things are happening in that the word is getting out and people are starting to contribute, but I need to start organizing concrete things–setting dates for knit-events, organizing news releases, sending out emails, I need to make real, tangible progress and I don’t feel that’s happening yet. Maybe I’m being impatient. It might help if I plan a schedule rather than just keeping things in the back of my mind–there will come a point (if I’ve not reached it already) when my mind will refuse to cooperate and I’ll forget everything I want to do. Time for me to get a notebook and start making lists, I think. Soon.

Crazy Day Ahead!

There’s been LOTS happening behind the scenes today which should start to pave the way for more publicity and more collaboration. Tomorrow, my one day a week (almost) free from classes, will be spent juggling the class work that I’ve got to get finished alongside meeting a couple of people who could be extremely influential in making or breaking this project.

At 10am I’m meeting with the PR specialist I mentioned last week. She was involved with an organization very close to mine and Susan’s hearts, so it will be a delight to finally meet her (we’ve corresponded before but haven’t actually met) and I’m very much looking forward to hearing her suggestions for moving the project forwards. Plus: we’re meeting in a coffee shop I haven’t visited before which is always fun. I know, I’m easily pleased in that regard.

Sometime after that, but before lunch, I’ll be getting together with the director of UK’s OUTsource organizations, Tiffany. I’ve had a couple of classes with Tiffany over the last two semesters and she’s really dedicated to LGBT issues. It will be fabulous to have the backing of OUTsource and could really raise the profile of the project on campus. Plus” more coffee. Yes, I’ll be highly caffeinated before the afternoon is out.

Today, one of my classmates, Eric, who is in my current writing class sent me a wonderful email. Eric has very kindly passed on a list of useful LGBT contacts here in the community–it’s an astonishing list and I’m grateful to the work he put in just to put the list together. I’ll be starting to email people tomorrow and hopefully promote the project in places that campus promotion wouldn’t ordinarily reach.

Also on my list of tasks for tomorrow is to contact a local printing firm (or two) to enquire if they’d be prepared to donate some printing services for the project. Miss Ashley emailed me her flyers last night and they’re great. They will definitely have more impact if they’re in colour though, which means I’ll need to get a real printing firm involved. And as I now have two confirmed volunteers on board to put some flyers up (thanks, Tasha and Bea!) the sooner we get those flyers printed, the better. On that note, I’ll still need more volunteers for the campus area so if you can help with that, please get in touch.

Totally off-topic, but definitely worthy of sharing is the news that we are kitten-sitting the two sweetest kittens for our friends this weekend. Mandula and Mazsola are currently curled up sleeping whilst our three cats look bemused and just a little perturbed at our guests. I know, kittens have nothing to do with the project but they’re always worth talking about.

And as the kittens are sleeping, so it’s time for me to sign off and get ready for a crazy day tomorrow.