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!

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!

About Last Night…

The first Knit-In for the Diversity Project was a great success and thanks so much to everyone who made the effort to attend. It was lovely to see new faces–some I’ve already got to know “virtually” through the facebook page but some were completely new to me. I’m grateful to everyone that came, brought yarn, ate cookies, and knitted. We even had three completely novice knitters–Jenna, Brandi, and Mary–all of whom picked up needles and yarn for the very first time and all of whom were knitting by the end of the night. That’s real effort, ladies, and thank you. Thanks too, to Bea and Tonya for helping out with the knitting lessons. And to the other ladies–Dani, Melissa, Margie–thanks for adding to the fun and I can’t wait to get your finished squares.

We also had press coverage–the Kentucky Kernel sent both a reporter and a photographer to cover the event. The article itself hasn’t been run in their print edition but it is available online. Click here to read it.

WRFL, who have been massively supportive of the Diversity Project, also sent a reporter. DeBraun was busy taking soundbites for his upcoming “Campus Voices” show, which I’ll also be part of. Campus Voices goes out live from the WRFL studio on Wednesday 12th October at 5.30pm. Listen in, it should be a great show.

So, after the excitment of last night it’s on to the next thing and I got home last night to discover that two other local news sources want to run stories about the Project. I’ve been contacted by the UK Student News Network who want to conduct an interview with me and a contributor this coming Monday evening. The UK Student News Network is run by broadcast journalism majors which leads me to believe that it’s a television thing. Scary, huh? I need someone who is participating in the project to be interviewed with me so just let me know if you’d like to come–I’ll buy you coffee!

And it seems that the Diversity project is also on the radar of the PR department here at UK. They’ve been talking to the editor of the Chevy Chaser and Southsider who is also keen to run a story about the Project. Hopefully we can get a meeting set up soon and spread the word to more people.

Finally, a date for your diaries. The next Diversity Project Knit-In has been booked. It will be on Wednesday 19th October at the 6 Friends Cafe on Kentucky Avenue, Lexington, between 5.30pm and 8.00pm. This is a great opportunity not only to work on the Project but also to support a great local business. If you haven’t been before, 6 Friends serves wonderful crepes and paninis, and their gelato is simply amazing. Kentucky Avenue is in the Woodland Park Triangle area and 6 Friends is directly opposite Woodland Park itself. Mark this is your diaries–it’s going to be fun!

I Wonder if Portia Knits?

That was one of the very random thoughts that occurred to me when I was walking across campus this morning. Lots of celebrities, both past and present, like to click their needles–just check out these blog posts from Eclecticiti and Cheaty Monkey to see the who’s who of the knit and purl world. Anyway, I found myself wondering whether or not the lovely Portia de Rossi knits–and if not, she should do,but then, that’s my advice for everyone that doesn’t knit. From curiously pondering what Portia does in her free time, it was natural that I’d then wonder about Ellen and hot on the heels of that came the surprising thought that maybe I should email Ellen about the Project. So I did.

I spent most of the day talking myself out of it, then back into it, then back out of it again. I’m sure that she gets thousands of emails every day all from people who are doing incredible things in the world, and as much as I have complete belief in this Project and the people contributing to it, I just wasn’t sure whether that would translate to anyone else–silly really when I remember just how many people across America have already thrown themselves into the Project. I must have visited her website a dozen times today, clicked on the link to email the show, and then closed the window in terror. I can’t quite say what made me shy away from sending an email, other than perhaps an irrational fear that there’s a slim chance that she might just get to hear about the Project and like it, and what then?

Earlier this evening, though, I finally managed to put those fears behind me. I wrote a very brief email (actually, the submission form only allows 1500 characters so I had to be brief) outlining the Project and its aims. I’m not sure I was entirely coherent–my email was the written equivalent of an over-excited 5 year old meeting Father Christmas–but I think I got the main thoughts down. I did remember to send a link to this website and to the podcast I did for WUKY yesterday, if nothing else, maybe she’ll like my English accent. But the email is sent now, and all I can do is wait, and hope.

If, though, anyone else feels like petitioning Ellen on the Project’s behalf, here’s a link to her “contact page”–I’d be thrilled if you told her about the Project from your perspective.

 

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.

Making Progress

It’s been quite a day and I’m posting this at the wrong end of it, and after my brain has been taxed to capacity so please forgive any scattered thoughts. But let me just give you a quick update on the day’s progress before I hit the proverbial hay.

My Jury is, I think, in place. I had coffee with a couple of friends earlier today. Side note: I always wonder about declaring that I “had coffee” with someone when, in fact, I don’t drink coffee. But “having tea” sounds just a little awkward, even for an English lass. Has the term “having coffee” simply come to represent the act of socializing with generic hot beverages? If that’s the case then I did, indeed, “have coffee”. Anyway, I’ve known MB for about a year–we were in a writing class together (yes, I’ve taken more than my fair share of them) and quickly became friends, although we barely get to see each other anymore and communicate mostly through facebook. I’ve only met Margie once, at a knitting group (of course) here in Lexington but she’s a very close friend of MB’s. Both of them are very excited about the Project and have dozens of great ideas for publicity and possibly sponsorship.

I’m rambling though.

To cut a long and unnecessary story short, I asked MB to be my community jury member. She’s been a member of the Lexington community for a long time and has her finger on the pulse of everything from politics to fine arts.  I respect her experience and intellect greatly and really value her opinions. MB has agreed to serve on my jury so all that remains now is to check with my Fellowship directors that both she and KJ fit any criteria that the Gaines program has. Assuming that they are happy with my choices, then the jury is complete.

In other news, the Diversity Project now has a facebook page. In the 24 hours since the page was set up, an astonishing 49 people have “liked” it. At the risk of being repetitive, I am once again amazed at how many people are interested in this Project. And, even better, I’ve noticed that a significant number of people who don’t actually know me are joining the page, which is even better–the word is spreading!

I still have to apply myself to the mathematics of this piece–with so many people expressing interest it’s really important that I keep the momentum going and publish specific details about how to contribute before that energy fizzles out. Besides, if I’m going to meet my potential deadlines, this Project needs to get going in a physical way pretty quickly.

Today, I had plans to get all of my class work done in the sanctuary of a local coffee shop (20 credit hours this semester…you all know what that means for my sanity!) but the best laid plans and all that mean I only got through a fraction of what I needed to. I’ll be on campus and in class all day tomorrow with no time to catch up, and we’re out for dinner with family tomorrow night so I don’t expect much progress will be made on the Project until Saturday when, hopefully, I’ll have had chance to catch up on my class work. The next few months are going to be an exercise in time–management and juggling, I think. Still, it will keep me out of trouble.

As ever, I’m eager to hear suggestions and ideas. Keep liking that facebook page and start planning your blanket squares!