Friday, December 17, 2010

A month away from our next delivery!

We're so excited at Hats Off to Gaza-- still have a month left to knit for the underprivileged, needy, cold orphans of unstable, volatile, beseiged Gaza.

So happy to have this extra time, which was only made possible due to the new delivery girl deciding to postpone her trip. It works out so much better for us hat-makers.
I'm going to be including some small, friendly, woolly softies with my hats. I have four children and know the importance of toys. I don't have traumatized children but can only imagine the need would be even greater.

If you or someone you know would like to contribute to our cause, which is purely to help the children, please email us.
Thank you.
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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Knitting Away!

We're so thrilled to be able to send more hats at the end of the year! This will be our third batch, and I know it will be our best yet.
I have already ten hats ready to go, nine are pictured below along with a super-cuddly all-cotton security blankie buddy! The kitty-ear, and cream ribbed are from a girl who is a friend of mine. I knit test knit the keffiyeh hat for TikkunKnitter, and knit the baby blueberry one for my own baby, who I (wrongly) assumed was going to be a boy. The pink one I also knit, it was my first time knitting the Aviatrix. The blankie buddy was also a first-try. Come to think of it, all the hats I made were first-tries. I really like to try new patterns, and before HOTG I had knit just one hat, a chulo for my husband.
Of all the hats I knit so far, I will definitely knit a few more keffiyehs, I think the kids would like that, and the aviatrix. I already have a burgundy one almost done, with plans for more. 

Included in the picture above are The Four Hats from Irving, Texas. A super sweet mother-daughter team emailed us back in the winter (or last year, yes... sorry!) and asked if they could send us some hats after stumbling upon our blog. How. Cool. Is. That! Speaking of emails, we do get email from people who are interested in our cause, and in fact we got an email from the founder of a very important website for Gazan children (I promise a separate post on that this week!)
So, it's always encouraging when you see your blog actually making a difference and doing what it's supposed to do, ya know?

These beautiful blue hats are a testament that blogging makes a difference!

To end, if there are any knitters or crocheters out there who want to give us a hat or two, then feel free to email us above. Thank you.
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Thursday, September 9, 2010

One More Delivery and Some Hope

Last month, one of our founding members (Shunra) managed to gather a few hats and hair scrunchies and send them to Gaza with a friend who is a member of Code Pink. We just heard that the hats and scrunchies have been delivered successfully to a childrens center.
The deadline for this last batch was short because the opportunity was sudden. However, success is success! Thank you from the bottom of my heart Shunra and Kit:)

While the last delivery was on short notice, we do have another upcoming opportunity to make a difference. We have a tentative date....January. Details will be posted soon. Sharpen your hooks and needles ladies:)
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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Teaching Others the Craft

Interestingly, I and a friend were approached a couple weeks ago to teach some kids & teenagers to knit and crochet.

I say "interestingly" because I suggested this as one of the "youth activities" for our Center and was scoffed at ("Knitting? (laugh) These girls don't want to knit.")
Of course, this quote was from the mouth of a 51 year old woman, not the girls themselves or even the Youth Coordinator.
Little did she know...

So, next month will be the first time I teach knitting to a group of youngsters. (Yes, I feel old just saying that.)
Nervous?  You bet!
I am not the most outgoing person the first time I meet someone. And I'm so out of their league.

But, with a lot of good advice, ideas and kind words from the lovely gals at the Hats Off to Gaza Ravelry group, I am confident that I will at least inspire a few to want to learn, and actually knit. I think the hardest part won't be teaching them, but keeping them interested and engaged. Hopefully, if I plan it all right from the beginning, I will pull it off.

If anyone out there has any good tips/advice, please comment and let me know!
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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Psychological Effects of Life in Gaza

I came across this blog post about a ten-part documentary on the psychological effects of life in Gaza, with an emphasis on the lives of the children.
I feel its a long time coming, and am glad someone took the initiative to do this. They did an excellent, if disturbing in its reality, job.
I was very moved after watching just the first part...
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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Green Hat

When a friend proposed the idea that we, as fiber artists, could use our skills to provide hats for Gazas children, I wasn't at all pessimistic. We could indeed knit or crochet those hats if we wanted. The question was, "Then what?" All other ideas my friends and I had come up with in the past had always been thwarted by this one question!

My friend was much more certain than I. The hats would be delivered to the children they were made for. When I realized the possibility, which was to me, nothing short of a miracle on earth, I found myself becoming manic. I would knit a hundred hats, I vowed! This didn't happen since we had a very short deadline but that number remains a personal goal for the future.

My first hat is the one that stands out the most to me. It was intended for an infant and fit in the palm of my hand. I chose a green yarn because green is the color of renewal and growth. And it is the color of nurturing. I had yet to worry about the details of the delivery during the making of that hat. My emotions were very high and positive and I poured this energy into that hat.

I wanted the baby who wore this hat to grow up to be healthy and strong. I prayed over this hat like I did over all of the 12 or so that I knit and crocheted. Please God, let the child who gets this hat grow to a prosperous adulthood, allow this child to feel secure, to not feel hunger or fear, to feel that there is love in the world and to be loving in return.
The day that I received the first photo of the delivery, I saw that my green hat was taken by a boy who couldn't be more than 10 years old. It is a tad bit too small for him, but he wears it proudly just the same. I thank the heavens that I tend to knit rather loosely!
You can see him in the first photo in this post. He is the one that is leaning on another childs shoulder and looking at the camera in that matter of fact way. I like to think that my prayers reached him. That when he put it on, he felt loved. That he felt a subconscious connection to me as a fellow Palestinian, that we have an agreement that he will rise above his desperate existence to be a man of peace one day, and that I am here for him-always.

However, as other hats began to arrive, I was taken outside myself (and my romantic imagination) . This is why this post is hard for me to write as a testimonial to my own contribution. The hats that arrived overwhelmed me, not just with their quality and beauty, but with the love and prayer of others who trully cared about those children.

The box in which I collected the hats for mailing positively overflowed with love. I was certain that the postal clerk might think that there was something alive in there! LOL! In a way, there was. It was a box full of humanity.

I look forward to doing this again and again. As long as its needed. I am not one of those knitters that can discuss the intricacies of the art. I simply knit in the same way that my Palestinian grandmother taught me and like her, I knit for others, to make them happy. In other words, I knit as an act of love and for Gaza, as a weapon of peace.
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Monday, February 22, 2010

Story of a Hat

This is the first in a Series of "Hat Stories" that will be posted by us, with submissions from our hat makers/contributors, to express what the project meant, and still means to them, and to let them tell their story of why they felt the need to help with this. 
The story below is from me, Beeba.

Although everyone must tire of hearing me say this by now, I must say it again:
I am still warmed inside by the success of our first campaign.

I loved seeing one of my hat contributions in particular popping up in several different pictures, on different kids.
The hat that I had the most reservations about as far as color and style, seemed to be pretty darn popular! (You can see another of mine, brown with a couple green striped in the 21st picture down, looks like its being handed to someone. I just found that out a few days ago. Call me crazy, but yes, I have come back to the Delivery photos post fairly frequently!)

I wanted to write about the story of my black and white hat, my Hurricane Hat, because its been on my mind; not just because, contrary to my initial feelings, it was popular, but also because it amazes me to see something that I made and donated after it was delivered. I mean, I always have given clothing and household items away that I no longer need, but once they were left at the drop off spot, and unless I was giving them away to friends/family, that was the end of the story and I never saw them again. Which is fine, of course, and the ordinary way donations and contributions to the needy work. Right?
But to be able to have inside information and see the beautiful recipient of something you lovingly made and donated is truly heartwarming, motivating, uplifting, and inspiring!
It has motivated me to make more, and inspired me to tell the story of that hat, the one I titled on my Ravelry Projects page, Hurricane Hat for a Gazan Child.

The story begins in Kentucky. While my mother lived there, she bought roving from a local spinner. This roving was either Lincolnshire or Cotswold (we can't remember which exactly!)-- a natural white.
My mother was at this time beyond the beginner phase and was getting really good at spinning. She spun the natural white with some natural (undyed) black alpaca, and the result was gorgeous black and white and silver in some places, thick-n-thin yarn. Truly precious to any knitter.

When I got my three skeins before she moved back overseas, I held onto them close and would fantasize about what I'd knit with them. A Fuzzy Lamb for my boys, perhaps? Leg warmers for me? Trim for a coat, sweater or jacket? The possibilities were too man, I couldn't narrow it down so I hung onto the yarn, lovingly smelling it from time to time (mom uses uplifiting peppermint vegetable based soap, maybe Dr. Bonners?), and squeezing it, trying to conjure up what I would knit with it. I kept seeing Barbara Prime's Fuzzy Mitten cuddlies. I am such a fan.

I had only knit one hat prior to helping with this project. I found some easy patterns and started knitting. I started with the Swriled Ski Cap in Knitting for Peace, but that was, sad to say, a disaster. I then completed Hat #1, and Hat #2, both Rolled Brim from Knitting for Peace, in Lambs Rode worsted, Noro Kureyon, and Cascade Ecological. I then attempted a lace hat that had major pattern issues and was set aside. Then, I tried a somewhat complex slip stitch hat that is absolutely beautiful, but that was extremely slow going. What with the deadline looming, it had to be set aside for a later date, too.
By now I was getting a little bored with frogging (had frogged 2 or 3 at this point!), and setting aside (I set 2 aside, the lace and the slip), and wanted something new and delicious.
I raided the box of yarn mom sent me before she moved, and rediscovered the handspun. I knew I wanted to use it, and what better recipient than a needy child? I knew Mom would be happy by that, too!
I scoured Ravelry for a fast, fun, simple pattern, and can't remember how I came across the Hurricane Hat, but cast on immediately. It was fast and fun.
I had an issue with the swirling part of the pattern, but the designer was really helpful and considerate.
I finished it really fast, and loved the outcome: a beautiful, natural, stormy colored hat.

It did occur to me that maybe the colors were too dark, but my son seemed to love it so that was a passing thought.

Jump ahead to a few months later, and I saw for myself that this hat was really popular with the kids! I read the Hat distributors post, below, and was happy to read the children's reactions to the hats, how they would swap them around, etc-- that explained why in one picture one kid had it on, and another kids in another!

It also broke my heart to read that they never got anything new before, and certainly never got to CHOOSE something all their own.
Knowing this only strengthens my resolve to keep on keeping on, knitting more hats, toys and whatever else I can for these very deserving, innocent children, victims caught in the middle of the crossfire.

I hope everyone who reads this will be inspired and motivated to do the same!
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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Yes We Did!

Did you all notice the lovely slide show (look to the top right) that Beeba put together for the blog? I know its a work in progress but I want to thank you Beeba. Great idea and a wonderful end result!
So ladies and gents......Yes We Did! It was a call to action that didn't Change the larger issues but even if only for one winter, our work, which was from the heart, changed the lives of 113 children, innocent victims of the ongoing Israeli blockade on Gaza.
While we want to steer away from out right political discussion, its hard to seperate the fact that as a nation (in the U.S), we are called to action for positive change and yet, as far as matters close to our hearts (the children of Gaza) our hands remain tied. We can work our fingers to the bone for the children but unless U.S. policy towards the situation shifts dramatically, nothing is going to Change.
At this point in time, it's rather hard to envision a free Gaza. In most news articles, when the peace talks are discussed, Gaza is not even mentioned as being on the table! Is Gaza in a permanent state of siege then? And if so, can we accept that?
The less we hear about it, the more it becomes the norm. It isn't normal to imprison an entire population. We should never allow ourselves to become desensitized. Further we cannot allow our neighbors to become so either.
By all means, lets keep knitting! But I am interested in ideas that might help put Gaza on the "Change" list officially, in the White House. Isn't it time we say, "Enough" and demand Change?
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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Guest Post: An Update on the! Information!

I know you all have been waiting for a report on the hats being delivered, and I appreciate your patience as travelling through Rafah is at best difficult. The crossing is only open at certain times and these times are difficult to even know and can change at the drop of a hat, excuse the pun:)
I am happy to report that the hats were delivered and were a great hit with the children. The hats were delivered to a group of children whom the majority were orphans, all of them were refugees who lost their homes in the war last year. Please remember that you can click on the photos to enlarge them, now here is my report:
Upon arrival at the community centre where the group of children were to receive the hats I had no idea of what to expect. People themselves were very friendly, all smiles, very happy to see an outsider visiting them. Some spoke broken English, this combined with hand signals and animated expressions allow for eager communication.
I was speaking as best I could, to the lady in charge of the local “Women’s Affairs Centre” who arranged the children’s visit. A heavy set jovial woman whom you can’t help but like, even if you can’t understand everything she is saying. As we waited for the children to arrive, she had arranged a small lunch for me and I felt guilty taking their food as they are so short of things due to the siege. But you soon discover you cannot say “no” to the hospitality, as they will attempt to feed you if you don’t eat a sufficient amount and you must try everything at least twice LOL.
After this we entered a room where chairs were arranged in a circle. All the while this woman either held my hand or had her arm around me, smiling and talking a blue streak of broken English. She told me that the majority of these children were very traumatised as a result of the war. All of them were from refugee camps, many of them had stopped speaking after the war and were now non-verbal. Some had reverted to child like behaviour such as thumb sucking and rocking for comfort. So that set the scene.
Shortly they began to arrive, a group of women, whom were involved in caring for the children arrived and began taking seats around the centre area along with the smaller younger children surrounding where the box of hats were located. The children also arrived and the smaller shy ones sat on the laps of the women or hid behind the chairs, peeking out every now and then to see what was happening.

The children ranged in age from toddler to 12 years old and there were more boys than girls, although not by much. The difference was the girls were younger and on the whole, much more shy, only three of them ever mixed in the larger group after they got their hat, most of them remained hiding behind chairs or on the laps of the women care givers. Overall the girls were much younger than most of the boys and maybe more fearful of strangers. If you enlarge some of the photos and look way in the back you will see some of the traumatized kids with hats, but hiding behind chairs and people. The photo below was actually clipped out of a large group shot and I have enlarged it just to show how they hide behind adults and chairs or anything else they can get behind, because the kids that were hiding were too traumatized for me to get them out from behind the chairs and they were afraid of everything and so I did not want to force them to be in photos. Example below:

The most striking thing for me, and what I will never erase from my mind, was the faces of the children when they first arrived. Their faces were utterly blank, devoid of expression or emotion; their eyes were lifeless and hopeless. It was as if they had lost their identities and personalities, they were so damaged. To be honest they looked like the walking dead. I’ll never forget that for as long as I live and you will see this in some of the photos like the ones below as an example:

This little girl did begin to smile later on after much coaxing on my part and you will see her smile in another photo. The rest of the shy hiding ones never did smile nor come out after they got their hats.
So, it was arranged for the hats to be distributed in some sort of orderly fashion, but once it was announced by the interpreter that the hats were actually for the kids, the kids became all excited once that sunk in, and soon it descended into chaos with scenes reminiscent of a 70% off sale at the mall. It happened so fast that the first pictures I was able to get only show throngs of kids surrounding the hat box. You cannot even see the box of hats, it was madness.

But the kids were so excited and I’ve never seen anything like it, with each one looking for their perfect hat in their favourite colour. Grabbing three at a time and trying them on. Like kids everywhere, some were crying or sulking because someone else got their favourite hat first. Once all the hats were taken, they then began to swap and trade and try each others hats on. So if you see your hat on a kid, you may also see it on another kid later on after all the trading was completed. It was so cute! It was explained to me that they never get anything new, and they never get a choice. So to be able to pick a hat on their own was a really big thing to them. And they enjoyed every second of that foreign experience.

In the photo below you will see a young boy wearing a teal sweater, he is standing with his arms folded looking like a thunder cloud. This is because he did not get the hat he wanted, someone else got to it before he could. He attempted to trade numerous times but to no avail and so he remained sulking the entire time mostly.

Most of the girls took their hats and immediately went back to the women caring for them, back to lap sitting and hiding behind chairs. However, there were three little girls who were curious of the stranger and remained within the larger group of mostly boys. These three girls were so cute and they allowed me to photograph them a few times.

Also, there was the cutest little boy he was 4 years of age and an orphan who had stopped speaking after his family was killed. Although he never spoke or even smiled, he was fascinated with me and his special hat! He followed me everywhere and I made a fuss over him, hugging him and speaking to him, smiling and playing with him. And although he never smiled, he was keen to have my attention continue and would appear at my knees often just staring up at me hoping for more attention. His photo is below:

The trading and trying on of each others hats went of for about 15 minutes more. Some of the children were starting to become more interactive as well. Evidently in school they are taught some English phrases. The two they all seem to know are; “Hello” and “How old are you?” What was funny to me is that they never get to actually try the phrases on real English speakers, so picture a room full of kids and one English speaking stranger to practice on. Are you laughing yet? For the remainder of the time spent there I was continually told “hello” and asked “how old are you?” to which I replied “How old are you?” back, and they’d show by fingers how old they were. Some were intent on me answering them, so I had to do the ten fingers thing a few times to reach my age, which made some laugh and others look shocked at so many fingers LOL.
After this the group moved outside to a small grassy area next to the community centre. Grassy areas are few and far between. I was told this tiny area has been planted after the war as a park type area for the kids to play when visiting the centre. These were the final photos of the day taken here in the grassy area where the kids really by this time were laughing and horsing around with their hats. Many had also become little celebrities and were competing for camera time. They all began holding the hats in the air, like graduation day at your local college. Smiling and waving and celebrating. More group and individual photos follow this section below:

Again this same group who hid behind chairs, continued to hide behind the grown ups and were fearful of being photographed or interacting with me and I did not push the situation, I just let them be and every now and then I’d catch one of them watching with interest from behind their safe space.
So, below are the rest of the photos. I tried my best to take out from group photos, individual kids so people could see their hats on as many as possible. Also once the kids attacked the box of hats it was so difficult to find individual hats, between them all running around and the group of shy kids hiding all over the place. But all of you who contributed to this project should take away a great source of pride from this. Because for just one day in their lives, they got to pick their own thing that had never belonged to anyone else, and you all allowed them to have that experience. Additionally, they know that somewhere outside of their little lives, there are people who thought about them and cared enough to give them that experience, and while that is a small thing in the grand scheme of the humanitarian situation in Gaza, it is actually a big thing to the kids who participated and got a hat of their own and a little bit of attention that was just for them. Next are the groups photos followed by the individual photos:

Individual photos next:

So, I will end by saying thank you to everyone who participated, and by asking each one of you to give yourselves a well deserved big pat on the back for giving this small experience to these traumatized orphans from the refugee camp.
Well done everyone!
Thank You from the kids in Gaza!
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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mission Accomplished!!!!!!!!!!!

I just heard the news, more photos and information coming when our friend gets home again!!! These hats are just some that we sent.
I quote my dear friend from her email to me
the kids in the photos are orphans from the war, they went nuts over the hats and when the bag was oopened they attacked it............seriously they spent 45 minutes trading with each other and they all had to try each hat on, although some would not give up theirs too funny!!!
Thank you all so much for your patience and understanding while we waited to hear news. Our good deed made a difference.
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Thursday, January 14, 2010


Please keep the people of Haiti in your prayers. The citizens of that country have been living in a horrific situation for years now and I have felt empathy to their plight.
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Monday, January 11, 2010

Gaza Children Drawings

Publish Post

Please also visit this site to read more about the exhibit and you can also visit Rod Cox's blog where he talks more about this very important work he does in Gaza.
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Tuesday, January 5, 2010


I was just looking around here, making sure that all comments have been answered when I scrolled all the way down to the visitors map (at the very end of the page). It's heartening to see that we have visitors from all over the world visiting this blog! We are getting the message across and our members are spreading the word! Thank you all for that.

I know many do not like to comment on blogs so I don't gauge our success by actual comments, but by actual hits. However, it would be nice to hear from visitors now and then. So don't be shy! Let us know you are there!
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Friday, January 1, 2010

Viva Palestina Emergency Appeal.

Edited: Link (let me know if it works!)

Please visit this link to see how you can help bring medical supplies safely into Gaza.
I know that many are reading this and if you can't donate, you can still help by passing the appeal around. Thanks.
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