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!

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Gathering Momentum

As the Project approaches its one month anniversary I’m delighted that we’re continuing to make progress. Three beautiful squares arrived in the post last week from “A Perfect Stranger, Greater Chicagoland”, there have been massive donations of yarn from Mary Beth, Katie, and Asri (with lots more promised), and there’s been a phenomenal response to the upcoming knit-in. If you missed the post about it, it will happen on Thursday 6th October, 6.30-9.00pm, at the Gaines Center for the Humanities on East Maxwell Street. More details can be found on the facebook event page. The media frenzy continues–last week I had a wonderful time talking to Allie from WRFL on their Out Loud show and I hope to talk to them again as the Project develops. This Sunday, I’ve been very kindly invited to talk with the members of the Interweave group at the Universal Unitarian Church here in Lexington. I’m very much looking forward to meeting everyone there and certain that it will be a positive event.

But what’s most pressing now is getting squares for the blanket. I’m estimating that there are already around 30 squares that I either have in my possession or know to have been completed–that’s wonderful, but we need more! If you haven’t already started knitting (or crocheting) and want to contribute, I’d urge you to do so sooner rather than later. I know December sounds like an age away, but I really need to have all squares in by the start of December and that’s only around 9 weeks away. Please, if you can find the time (and these squares don’t take long at all to work up) make a square (or two!) and get it to me as soon as possible.

The first drop-off point has been set up this week, which should make things easier for you to get squares and yarn to me. It’s on the 13th floor of the Patterson Office Tower building in the University of Kentucky’s main campus area, and the box itself is just outside room 1353. Feel free to just drop your donations in–there’s no need to register them. There will be at least three other places on campus, as well as some downtown locations, so watch this space for more details. Until then, you can continue to contact me directly if you have donations ready.

Tomorrow will be a day of writing press releases and seeing what extra publicity I can drum up–although I already feel like my name is popping up every time I turn my head. This afternoon, our eldest daughter announced, on her return home from school, that a fellow student had asked her if her mum’s name was Catherine. When she answered “yes”, the student went on to say that she’d heard me on WRFL on Friday afternoon and thought it was an amazing project. I’m thrilled that the news is spreading. And our youngest daughter–who is just getting into Twitter–decided to tweet the website address to all her middle school teachers. Add to that my wonderfully supportive partner who, as well as writing articles about the Project for local newspapers, has been amazingly tolerant about the ever-increasing quantity of yarn in our living room and you can see why I am so incredibly fortunate. This project would not be possible without their support, or your support. I might be organizing it, but it stopped being “my” project a long time ago–it truly is a community effort and that makes me very, very happy.

Incidentally, Ellen hasn’t called yet. If you want to give her a nudge, you can do so here.

“It’s Just Knitting A Blanket”

Two weeks ago I had a plan to knit a blanket. Naively, I thought that a few hours with my knitting needles would be all it really entailed. Yes, I wanted involvement, but I wasn’t sure that anyone would be at all interested in what seemed like an eccentric English woman’s plan to knit at every available opportunity. I’m eating those unspoken words now.

This is so much more than just knitting a blanket.

Emails and messages have started coming in, not exactly in droves but in enough of a quantity that I’m spending more and more time replying to them. It’s really important to me that every message is replied to individually, that everyone who wants to contribute really knows how much their contribution is valued and that they feel a part of this project whether they’re here in Lexington or in Washington State, or Chicago, England, Canada, or Australia, and I’ve had messages and contributions from all these places. This local project is reaching out across the globe. That fact delights me. My life exists in places so much further afield than Lexington–my family are all in England, I have friends across the world, and all of these people are part of my personal community. The LGBT community does not exists in an easily identifiable geographical location–it exists in the family and friends that we have in far-flung places, and I’m so thrilled that this project will be representing not only diversity on an individual level but also diversity on a geographic level.

I’ve been especially moved this week by the messages and dedications that have been starting to come in. Every different story somehow managed to be both uplifting and heartbreaking and I’ve spent a lot of time wiping away unexpected tears. Susan will tell you (and I’ll openly admit) that I’m an emotional person at the best of times. I can catch the last 10 minutes of a movie and still weep uncontrollably at the end without any sense of what might have happened previously to those characters. I cry at soap opera weddings (Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan, I’m looking at you), and sad-faced kittens so I suppose it was inevitable that this project would bring out the tears, even though I really wasn’t expecting it to. Some of the stories that people have been wonderful enough to share with me have been incredible, and I cannot wait to work them into the finished blanket. There absolutely must be some kind of publication, or “virtual blanket” alongside this project so that its audience can learn about the amazing people that are making this project possible. I’m tempted to start sharing stories here, and I’m sure you would love to read them, but I think it’s more appropriate to save them until the blanket itself is finished.

What I will share, though, are pictures of some of the completed squares and the yarn donations we’ve had. Hopefully this will inspire anyone still sitting on the fence to get out their needles and hooks and start creating. I can’t promise that I’ll be able to share every square I receive in this way, but I’ll do my best to pop up some pictures when I get the opportunity. I was hoping to put the pictures in this post but I emailed them to myself from my home computer this morning, thinking I could easily open them and add them to this post from campus. Alas, though, I’m on a Mac and haven’t a clue how to get them from my email to this post so you’ll have to wait until this evening.