At the end of April, I ran into a friend of mine who teaches third grade. She is an incredibly energetic, creative, progressive, passionate, organized, intelligent human being with loads of empathy and patience and humility. It's impossible not to like her. She is always upbeat and positive without being overwhelmingly perky, a rare quality to be sure. Anyway, when I asked her how she was doing, I was surprised to hear her reply with a sigh, "Well, I'm just ready for school to be over." This was approximately six weeks ago and we still have a week to go, folks.

Have you read about the worst end of school year mom ever? If not, go do so. I just about peed my pants when I read that post. 

All this build-up is to justify my actions the last couple of days. Everyone mentally checked out of school at the end of May and I'm struggling to maintain the routine. On top of that, this week Stuart is out of town for work, I've got a sick kid at home AGAIN (seriously, if he misses another day due to illness they may come after me for truancy, but it's either that or send him to school with a temperature of 101), and I've just about reached the end of my tether. That's why after my third game of Monopoly for the day, I ordered a pizza for dinner, plunked the kids in front of the TV, and opened a beer. Sometimes that's just how it goes.

Anyway, on to the knitting! Afghans for Afghans, the only charity I knit for, is collecting 500 sweaters this summer. There is a new all-girls' school opening in Farza, Afghanistan, and A4A wants to have a new, warm, wool sweater for every child on her first day. What a wonderful thing. I've not contributed to the last couple of campaigns, but I had to knit for this one.

For all the problems there are with public education in this country, it's still relatively easy to take it for granted. Compared to other parts of the world, I mean. Schools in the U.S. run the gamut from excellent to failing. The reasons are varied and complicated, but we assume our schools will always be here - at least until the voucher fanatics get their way and everything is privatized and entirely without standards. There are places in the world where it's nearly impossible for girls to go to school. It's a difficult concept for me to wrap my head around, but it was only a few generations ago in the U.S. that girls were discouraged from learning too much. Getting a college education was for many an act of rebellion, or an insurmountable obstacle. 

Anyway, I had to knit for this campaign. Below is sweater #1:

The pattern is Sawtelle, and it is available free on the Berocco website here. I used Lopi Lite yarn that had been sitting in my stash for a couple of years  after I bought in on impulse to make a sweater for myself that never materialized. Lopi is 100% wool. It feels hardy and is even a tad scratchy at first, but I think it got softer after a soak in wool wash, and it should be quite warm.

I made a couple modifications. The first mod isn't a big deal; I just put buttonholes all the way down the front instead of the three at the top in the original. 

I also made significant changes to the sleeves. The original pattern calls for knitting the body in one piece, dividing at the armholes for the fronts and back, which I did. Then you're supposed to sew up the shoulders, pick up stitches in the round, and knit in stockinette stitch down to the cuffs. I wanted garter stitch for the whole sweater, so I picked up the stitches from shoulder to shoulder without sewing the seams, and worked the sleeves in garter stitch back and forth. Then I used the contrasting color for an exposed crochet seam (just like the one I used for Tom's blanket) up the top of the sleeves and across the shoulder seam. 

I'm quite happy with how the sweater turned out. It should fit a 7-year-old child, the smallest size A4A is accepting for the current campaign. I've already started another sweater, one that should fit an older child, perhaps age 12-14. It's going well, so if I finish it quickly I may be able to knock out a third by the deadline. I'm nothing if not ambitious!

Pattern: Sawtelle
Yarn: Lopi Lite, about 4 skeins total
Needles: size 8, plus one crochet hook of unknown size (whatever it was, it worked) for seaming
Mods: Noted above. Added buttons all the way down and changed sleeves to garter stitch with exposed seams


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