C is for Charity

Charity can have a negative Connotation. Yet in Latin, “Caritas”, the root word for Charity, is “love” — one kind of love: loving kindness towards others, or Charitable selfless love. There is a song I sang in high school Choir, a Gregorian Chant, which still resonates with me:

Ubi caritas et amor:
Deus ibi est.

A little hard to translate…. (where there is love and love?)
but usually translated as

where there is Charity and love —
God is there also.

I myself Conceptualize amor as love for people whom you know (granted, perhaps fairly well!), and caritas as love for people whom you don’t know. And I have come to realize that this is one of my most fundamental beliefs:
I believe we have a responsibility to give back, to make a difference in this world, with whatever talents, abilities, gifts, material things we are given.

Although I couldn’t think of a stunning Eye Candy photo to illustrate this very important Concept, I found it very appropriate to show and tell you just a little bit of what it means to me. As the old adage says, “Charity begins at home”.


First, Mr. Bear is showing you six little Caps which are about to be donated to my local hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, prompted by Chell and Jeanne‘s 4th Annual January is for Charity k3tog Preemie Hat Knitting Extravaganza. (I’ve finished seven, but one — a very nice Cream-colored one with sage stripes — didn’t show up for the photo shoot. What was that phrase they sometimes used in school pictures, for missing photos? It was something other than “Not Pictured” — there was some rather Cutesy phrase, like “Too Shy” or something.) The hats are in all sizes, because although we think of premature babies as being the ones in the NICU, and indeed they do make up most of a NICU’s patients, full-term babies can also need to come to the NICU for a shorter or a longer time. And preemies can be anywhere from a pound or less, to six pounds or more!  Plus, they grow while they’re in the NICU, of course.  These hats were made from my Grow-With-Me Baby Hat pattern, found on the free pattern page, which fits longer than you would think by flipping the brim down when needed. (Just take care to knit it with some ‘give’ to begin with, so that it’s not so tight that it won’t stretch.)  And the second part of the ‘giving’, besides giving the hats, is that I’m giving the pattern away.  Little enough, but I’ve already seen it knit up on Ravelry — by someone I don’t know!  Pretty cool.


Citrus, our (apparently emotionally abused) Cat, reminds me that I’m not just talking about human people above.  Fur people need our loving kindness, too! My fellow knitblogger, DishRag Tag teammate, Cat Caretaker, academician and something of a philosopher, Sarah-Hope, is celebrating her First Blogiversary in a most Caring way: by having a raffle to support Animal Rescue Charities. Please go to her post here for details, but in brief, if you donate to any of a number of animal Charities and let her know, you will be entered for a number of wonderful prizes, the first and foremost being her beautiful hand-knit Swallowtail Shawl!

(I wanted to describe S-H as a Cyber-Friend and Cotton Commando Sister, but that started sounding a little Cyber-Punk. So I restrained myself.  But go there anyway.)

Lastly, for my Three Exemplary C’s of Charity, let me point you to Christy’s House That Yarn Built.

Christy, of Confessions of a Misplaced Southern Belle, says it best, and so here she is:

As everyone will remember, Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans on August 29, 2005 and devastated not only Louisiana, but also Mississippi. One of the hardest hit areas in New Orleans was the Lower 9th Ward which was flooded when the levees broke due to faulty engineering. Over two years later, New Orleans and what happened there has largely been relegated to the back pages of newspapers, or only mentioned when politicians are trying to get elected. Many of you may have seen interviews with Brad Pitt and his foundation, Make it Right, whose goal is to build 150 homes in the Lower 9th. The Lower 9th had the highest percentage of homeowners in New Orleans, and when Katrina happened, many of these homeowners lost everything. These homes will be raised to withstand flooding and will be environmentally friendly. Make It Right is asking for donations to build these homes. Each home costs $150,000 to build. Homeowners will then receive a need based finanacing package insuring that they are able to afford the home. People are not just given a home and it’s “see you later, good luck making the payments.”

Where am I going with this? Well, for the last two years, I have hosted the Hurricane Sock Party, which is a swap where participants knit one sock, and send it and a ‘hurricane survival package’ to their partner. This year, I’d like to do something to make a difference. Many of us have yarn stashes that can keep us in yarn for years without ever having to darken the door of the local LYS or point and click on our favorite online shop. Many of us have declared 2008, the year of the yarn diet. I know that I can certainly knit all year at least with the stuff in my stash. For HSP 2008, I’d like for everyone to donate money to Make it Right. I figure that an average skein of sock yarn runs about $20.00 and that if 7,800 knitters would donate the equivalent of one skein of sock yarn, a family in New Orleans might just be able to get their lives back on track. I’m not saying that the donation should be $20, any amount is appreciated, I just used that number, because it was a nice round number! I cannot comprehend what it would be like to lose absolutly everything I own, and then as I try to rebuild meet roadblock after roadblock. I would love for knitters, who have proven that we are a generous bunch–look at The Harlot’s amazing Knitters without Borders–to say that yarn built a house in New Orleans. Within the next week, I’ll have a dedicated website up and running so we can track our progress. I have already contacted the Make it Right foundation and they have put us up on the Team Page so we can see the progess of the donations. I have it set it up so you donate directly to the foundation–that way, the donations don’t go through me, and you have a tax record. On their existing Team Sponsored Home page, The Ellen Degeneres Show is raising money for house #2. I know she has millions of viewers, but I think knitters can build a house, and therefore I’m calling this project, The House That Yarn Built. If should decide to donate, you can click on the big pink house in the header, then as you donate, you can choose from the drop down menu of the team sponsored homes and have your donations added to our house. When you donate PLEASE MAKE SURE THAT YOU CHOOSE THE HOUSE THAT YARN BUILT AS YOUR TEAM. I’m also hoping to be able to give out door prizes at the end of this, so if you are a business who wants to donate things to give away, please contact me at christy@thehousethatyarnbuilt.com or christy@misplacedsouthernbelle.com. Once you’ve donated, you can send me your name to put in the drawing, and when we reach certain levels, I’ll do a drawing. Let’s shoot for the first $10,000 and we’ll have the first drawing! The first site won’t be up and running until the this weekend, but the email should work. If not, please use the other one. What do ya’ll think? Can knitters build a house? I think we can! For more detailed information on the Make it Right Foundation, you can visit http://www.makeitrightnola.org.

PS, I’d love it if everyone who reads this can get the word out. That would help so so much!

OK, Cathy-Cate back here. When I saw this, on Norma’s blog followed shortly thereafter on kmkat‘s (Brad Pitt LOVES kmkat! He told her so!), I donated — well, not the price of a skein of sock yarn, I bumped it up to the price of a really nice skein of lace yarn.

But I was thinking again about the comfortable life I lead; and I just found out yesterday that I am going to get to indulge myself, in a couple months, in a way I haven’t gotten to do in — well, I can’t remember when. Not indulgence as far as material stuff or outrageous amounts of money, but the fact that I will be doing something just for me, me, me. (You’ll hear more about that in due time.) I found this exciting, fiber-related news out on the same day our pastor, who is my friend, spoke about Lent, and considering giving up an indulgence — something we don’t really need — for same. I don’t necessarily usually do that.  But, specifically, also, donating the money saved by denying yourself that little luxury, for good.

But, when I look at the overflowing stash yarn collection I have, and the fact that I am indeed going to get to indulge myself (sorry to keep repeating ‘indulge’, but it’s ‘le mot juste’) in a pre-eminently yarny way in a couple months, without having to worry about children, school, work, husband, car, chauffeuring/carpooling, feeding the cat, or feeding the snake; and I look at Christy asking us to donate the equivalent of a skein of sock yarn to the House That Yarn Built to rebuild the Lower Ninth in an environmentally sound way:

today I came to a resolution.

I will buy no yarn from now until the end of March. (Even though I just saw in their newsletter that elann is going to have a full bag blowout sale on discontinued colors of elann esprit! [cotton/elastic, like Cascade Fixation but less expensive, great for baby things] Well, I can live vicariously through you — go, check it out, the full bag sale starts at 11 am CST Feb. 19th.  Why, yes, I’ve shopped at elann before, why do you ask?) 

All the money I would have spent on yarn — I pledge to donate to Charity:  to one or two of Sarah-Hope’s list of animal rescue and protection groups (I’m still narrowing it down, it’s hard to decide) and to Make It Right via The House That Yarn Built. I’m both embarrassed and proud at the same time to say that that will add up to a fair amount. (You understand.)

There will be a couple boxes of yarn coming in the mail in the next week which I have already ordered; and a few sock club boxes in the next two months (three or four boxes total?). To be fair, I’ll prorate my sock club memberships and donate those also. (This is adding up by the moment, heavens.)  If I had just sworn to go on a yarn diet — my willpower would have been weak.  I admit it. But for a certain amount of time, in a good cause, after publicly affirming it — YES, I CAN!

Christy is getting some great prizes donated, including — just in — Hanne Falkenberg kits! Wow! (I’d better start getting out my calculator so I can donate here, soon!)

BTW, Citrus is also pledging to give up ‘nip and tuna temporarily.

So I would encourage you, too, to:

Make A Difference.


Ubi caritas et amor –
Deus ibi est.

10 responses to “C is for Charity

  1. What a wonderful post! Thank you! My daughter cast on yesterday for a baby hat to be donated (along with some other things she has been knitting and collecting) for a local safe house for abused women and their kids. I’m thinking I’ll join her in some charity knitting.

    Your Latin reminded me of a reassuring line in the Yom Kippur liturgy – after a lengthy list of sins that may or may not have been committed in the previous year (but we atone for them anyway, just to be safe), we are reminded that “repentence, prayer, and charity soften judgment’s severe decree.”

    As long as we’re philosophizing on this early morning, the Jewish scholars teach that charity counts even if the giver has no love in her heart – even if the gift is made grudgingly, it’s a gift nonetheless, and benefits the recipient. The key, I believe, is that a gift made grudgingly does not necessarily benefit the giver – but the giver makes that choice.

    Happy Monday!

  2. C is for Cathy-Cate’s Caring. This is just lovely. Good for you!

  3. What a great post! Thanks for the shout-out. (Brad is blushing even as I type.) And as one who struggled mightily to get her preemie hats to sit up nicely as though they were filled by warm little preemie heads, I admired your hats for more than their knitted goodness; I also marveled at their realistic posing.

    Way to go on the yarn diet/substitution/contribution!

  4. Thanks for the mention Cathy-Cate! What a great blog entry–so much to think about.

  5. Thank you so very much for the post and the donation. Your post is very eloquent and so on the money! Good for you!

  6. What wonderful hats! I knit one of your Grow-With-Me hats along with the others. It’s a good pattern I’ll use over and over.

  7. Yes, Cathy, that’s a great post! All of us who blog and knit, I think, are indulged in a way that most of the world can’t imagine. I have planned to donate to the house that yarn built… so I’d better get to it! I agree there with that fundamental belief… I also have one, it’s a bit broader…. That we are put here to learn how to love one another. In all ways. Even the people we don’t much like. So this encompasses giving back, donating, helping, speaking kindly, etc etc. Not always easy to do, especially the speaking kindly when we’re angry! (and this can be about people we don’t even ‘know’). Did you read Paul Farmer’s book Mountains Beyond Mountains? I got through the first third or so, it’s good (then I got distracted….oh so easy), but it made me feel like none of us can do enough.

  8. DH just walked by… he saw this in the sunday paper…. I’m wondering, is this your indulgence? ‘Great Balls of Yarn’???

  9. Great post, and just in time for Lenten almsgiving. This is indeed a very good cause!

  10. Pingback: Little Hats for Little Heads « Hither and Yarn

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