Bandits and Blessings

My mother-in-law, Michele Belletete, has been volunteering for Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans-Frontiers) at Jude-Anne Hospital, an obstetric hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti for the last nine months. On average, there are 1,200 births every month, with over 4,000 consults. Without exaggeration, all of the women who deliver there are the poorest of the poor. Many of the women have a laundry list of complications,  both maternal and fetal due to malnutrition and poor hygiene. Most of the babies are born premature and underweight, many with tragic birth defects which make it impossible to live more than a few days or hours.

She is coming to visit in April and asked if we could collect some supplies for the women who come to her hospital for their births. If the women make it to the hospital for their delivery, they have four hours to recuperate and then are sent on their way, simply because the hospital does not have enough beds. These women do not come with changes of clothes, for themselves or for their babies, so they are sent back into the streets wearing the same clothes they had on for their delivery.

Owen and I went to Goodwill to see what we could find:


Six pairs of underwear, and three light nightgowns.


I couldn’t resist getting some onesies, undershirts and a couple of sleepers, though the last items will be for older siblings and not the newborns leaving this hospital. I’d like to embroider the undershirts and the plain onesies with something sweet.

Michele hopes to return to Haiti with a 50lb duffel bag full of nightgowns, underwear and ultra maxi-pads. We’ll be making several more trips to Goodwill, Thriftko and Value Village to see what we can track down for her. If you would like to contribute to the cause, you can send a donation to my home; just leave a comment and I will contact you privately.

 Thank you for the work you do Michele.

Madrona Recap

Sittin’ around knittin’, bumping elbows with designers and knitting superstars, sampling delectable eats around the city with our own personal tour guide, playing with lots of colored yarn, laughing until I want to lie down and growing my brain. I can’t imagine a more enjoyable way to spend 72 hours. I sincerely hope this becomes an annual event for this group of fantastic women from the Fiber Gallery.

 Let’s start with some of the silliness:


Loren writes a note to the driver of a Mercedes SUV who has straddled two parking spaces in a very crowded lot at the Sheraton.


When we finally get inside for the evening lecture by Fiona Ellis on “The Knitter’s Muse” the silliness continues with a little nametag fun.


We discover the largest bundle of roving known to man or woman, though, it was considerably larger the day before, according to Jessica.

I took a class on “Uncommon Finishing Techniques” by Helen Hamman of Andean Inspired Knits, recently published by Interweave, and “Celtic Cables” by Fiona Ellis; both full of inspiring garments and a few good tips (always hide a decrease “under” a cable and never bind-off when you can just create another piece of your garment).

The highlight of my classroom experience at Madrona was a six hour class taught by Janine Bajus on fair isle color work and techniques. There were only twelve knitters lucky enough to get in her class, but it sounds like there are rumors that Janine will be teaching more in the near future. Watch the Madrona site for upcoming classes.


Janine brought her stash of Shetland 2-ply yarn for our pleasure and learning. Our materials fee bought:

  • a color wheel
  • a value finder
  • a hat pattern designed by Janine
  • more than enough yarn to knit the hat with leftovers for more swatching

I messed up the hat pattern she handed out in class, so I had to wait for her to email the .pdf to the class before I could chart out my colors and get started. I can’t wait to start.

The silliness continued on Saturday night when we decided to skip the banquet (I hear that was a mistake) and go for dinner at Asada…or was it Masa? We were the most flamboyant group at the bar for a while and then some stiffer competition sidled up next to Loren. When she offered them our seats, she got a big squeeze and hug. She is such a sweetie!

Returning to the hotel, we stumbled into the same group of Capitol Hill knitters who had shared their chocolate cake the previous evening (thank you Daniel!). Melissa was coaxed to share her amazing cat & yarn tattoo inspired by Buffy, her beloved tabby who is no more of this plane, and a skein of Manos from Mary’s shop.


That is Suzanne Pedersen, one of the organizers, getting closer for a good look at Melissa’s tattoo. The color is amazing, particularly for anyone who appreciates a good skein of Manos.


The artist who created this work of beauty is Jimmy the Saint at Seattle Tattoo Emporium.

By that point, Erin, Melissa and I were getting so silly that I felt it necessary to bolt upstairs.


Loren remembered that the teachers hang out upstairs in the lounge after hours, so she spent the rest of the evening swapping stories with the Yarn Harlot and Fiona Ellis.

Erin observed, between fits of giggles, that Madrona was like camp for adults, a la carte. You get to eat when you want, where you want and intoxicants are shared freely.