Wednesday, 22 February 2012

The Constant Knitter

To say I love books would be a gross understatement. Books have been a central part of my life for as long as I can remember. I can spend hours perusing books in a book store and I still harbor that childhood dream of living in an English manor house with a library where the bookshelves go from floor to ceiling and there is a sliding ladder to help you reach the books up high. Just thinking about it makes me smile!

So, that is why I like to share books that have touched me in some way, in the hopes that they might interest you too. Today it is not a book about yarn, but a book about Africa.

John LeCarré was a British spy and throughout most of his career wrote espionage novels. You may not like this genre (I love it! and there really aren't many that I don't like!) but you will be hearing more about his novels thanks to the film version of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Whether or not you like spy stories, LeCarré is a fabulous writer, and in The Constant Gardener, he delves into a very different subject matter.

You may have seen the movie. It was beautiful. With Ralph Finnes, what's not to like? But the book is one hundred times better and much more complex. The Constant Gardener is my favorite contemporary novel. The first part of the book is written in the third person, different characters describing who Justin Quayle, the main character, is. By the time you get to around page 100, you have formed a pretty good idea of who this person is. Then Justin takes over the narration and everything changes! The character development, from a psychological point of view, is extraordinary!

The film was publicized as a love story and it certainly is, an extraordinary love story. But, it is so much more than that. It is about culture and class,  power and greed, prejudice and hate, violence and suffering,  poverty and despair, but also love and hope. I have read it many times and know that I will be reading it again.

The only advantage that the movie has over the book is that we see the beauty of the land and the people, but we also witness the destruction and the desolation, the horrendous poverty that the people live in. These were not actors. The scenes were filmed on location in Nairobi, Kenya. Kenya is not South Africa (I'm very subtle, aren't I ?) but we can imagine that the shanty towns where the Aids orphans live in South Africa are very similar.

I have mentioned this before, this deep desire to right injustice in the world has been with me since my early teens. This is certainly part of the reason that this book speaks to me in such an important way. And now, that I finally have a way to do something concrete to help, to change, even in a small way, I feel extraordinarily blessed!

And it is thanks to all of you! All of you who have joined the call of Knit-a-Squillion Challenge, who are making squares that will go directly around the shoulders of children in South Africa to wrap them in warmth and hope, you give me faith in humanity and the energy to be a constant knitter for the children of South Africa!

Now to some updates!

Trina from North Carolina, Denielle from Massachusetts and Jayme from Texas, have joined us. Thank you and welcome!!
Tally for Knit-a-Square - squares sent to S.A. - 77, 878
Tally for us - squares I have received - 22!!, plus one hat!
Our first squares - all 22 of them!!

I received the first squares this week! Saying I was thrilled is, again, an understatement. Dayle from British Columbia sent in 5 beautiful squares. I have faith in all of you, but actually having this first package in my hands was a fantastic confirmation that this is real!

Jenifer from Michigan sent me this beautiful square. She was planning on using it for an afghan, but changed her mind. Since it is bigger than 8", she told me that I could unravel it and make something else. Perish the thought!! As you know, I don't crochet yet, but I am going to knit this square into a sweater. It is too beautiful to destroy!
Jenifer's beautiful square. Stay tuned for the sweater!
Trina is a new knitter and sent me a picture of her first two squares and the yarn she is using for the third. Aren't they lovely? !
From Trina and to think she's new to knitting!

I wanted to share a few facts that you might find helpful.

- I have received updated information from KasCare. There are now an estimated 2.4 million orphans in South Africa.
- It takes 35 squares to make a blanket.
(These two facts are meant to ENcourage you and not discourage!)
- If you live in the northern hemisphere, remember that our summer is their winter in South Africa.
- The average winter temperature is 39 degrees F or 4 degrees C. I have had several people ask me why they need blankets in Africa. . .
- Rhonda, who is the incredible person responsible "on the ground" in South Africa tries to give a hat to each child with the blanket. If you would like to contribute hats, please try to make them big and stretchy so the children can grow into them. For most of the children, this will be the only hat they ever have.
-As mentioned, sweaters are also needed particularly for the young children, aged 2 to 8. They also need to be long to cover distended tummies.

So, I can't say it enough, THANK YOU all so very much!!

Please go "Like" the Knit-a-Square Facebook page if you haven't already. We are only 7 likes away from 4000!!


Sweet Posy Dreams said...

You've gotten some lovely squares so far! Mine are coming along slowly!

Laurie Fortier said...

Not to worry Lynette! That's the idea behind "constant" and every square counts!!

Fellowship By Design said...

A brilliant post Laurie and very much resonated with me! I am another book addict (we have so much in common!) I finally got into the Kindle, because I have limited room and I need that for yarn (of course!)lol. But I will definitely get the printed version of the book, I can't wait now that you have given your review! I loved the movie, so I'm sure I will love the book. I also read a lot of espionage and so I've been excited for the movie coming out. Anyway, I haven't blogged lately, so busy crocheting....but I will be sharing your post on FB and on my blog again.
Your writing is excellent and thank you for sharing about the book....I will look forward to some more reviews like this!
Mary Anne

Fellowship By Design said...

Laurie, I'm so excited! I figured out how to add the "Squillion" button! Whootwhoot! It doesn't take a whole lot to get me excited LOL :o)

Sonya Kanelstrand said...

And now, we are just 5 likes away from 4,000.

Dear Laurie, the squares you have received are gorgeous!I wouldn't have the heart to unravel the on e from Jenifer either, it is too good!

Trina's squares look so good, I couldn't tell she is a novice.

In other word, YOU ARE AN INSPIRATION! Thanks to you we are so hooked on squaring (is that a word actually?)

I guess I will concentrate on knitting squares in the next days because you were right when you said on my blog that I needed rest. My God, do I need it! My eyes are in terrible condition!

Thank you for all your support along the way. You are precious to me!

Laurie Fortier said...

Mary Anne, Thank you so much for your support and your kind words! I do hope you like the book. Please let me know. Thank you so much for adding my button. You are really getting good at this computer stuff! LOL

Laurie Fortier said...

My dear friend Sonya, you are always there to encourage me! What would I do without you??

Now, unless you can knit with your eyes closed, I'd like you to take a little break from everything. Remember, you deserve it!

Laurie Fortier said...

I wanted to mention that Lynette from Sweet Posy Dreams has posted about knit a squillion again today. If you haven't visited her blog yet, please stop by. She has made 8 beautiful squares and shares fabulous recipes!

Additionsstyle said...

All your squares look wonderful.
Thanks for sharing all that information. I did not know some of those facts about Africa, it's nice to be informed. I know you will make your goal, for this amazing project.
Everyday Inspired

Melinda said...

Yay, another book recommendation, and it definitely sounds like one I'd want to try! I'm also a rabid reader, sneaking little times throughout the day to pick up my current book. :) I'm thrilled that you've started to receive squares. We have a box here full, just waiting on Jordan to finish up her current one. Hopefully next week we'll get them headed your way. Thanks for all of the Africa facts, I loved to read them (yes, I am a nerd ;). Several (hmmmm, probably more than several by now...) years ago my sister organized a fundraiser and we make quilts for orphaned children in Africa. It felt wonderful to ship them off, I get the same feeling with this fundraiser. :)

Laurie Fortier said...

Melinda, I'm so glad you enjoy the "tidbits"! I can't wait to see your squares, but there is no hurry! It is amazing isn't it that doing things for others can make us feel so good? !

Taylor Lynn said...

Reading is one of my absolute favorite hobbies, and those floor-length book shelves sound glorious! *sigh* Someday I'd love to have a home filled with books! One of my favorite places to be besides home is the library, so if I could combine the two? Heaven. ;) And The Constant Gardener sounds like a really good read, thanks for the recommendation!

Also, it sounds like your project is off to a great start! I know how you must feel, receiving all of the squares...back in 2010, I participated in a project called The Butterfly Project. Basically, a Holocaust museum in Houston, Texas is collecting 1,500,000 handmade butterflies for a traveling exhibit to commemorate the 1.5 million child victims of the Holocaust. Me and my friends and family - and even some strangers! - made over two hundred butterflies for a package we sent to the museum. Butterflies don't really compare to the helpfulness of quilts, but I still felt beyond excited to have collected so many of them for a good cause. I know you must feel the same way! It feels so good to know that you're making a difference. :)


Laurie Fortier said...

It just occured to me that someone should open a resort for readers. Sort of a retreat with that fabulous library we dream of at our disposal for a week or two...

What a fabulous project to be involved in Taylor! I hope you realise that you have already done more in your life to make a difference than most people do in their lifetime. That is not a small achievement!

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