This past week was an important one for me. We celebrated the 7th Anniversary of our Oddball Charity Blankets! Our beginning was very humble - it all began with an idea I posted in an online knitting forum on Feb 21, 2007. I had no idea that it would grow into such a huge thing!
Blanket #4 with me by Shandeh, on Flickr
We started out by making a big, full size blanket for charity - keeping it on the same set of knitting needles all the way through - as it traveled from house to house all over North America. Each person would add their own yarn, and knit a few inches. Then, they would send the blanket to the next knitter, often including little treats to show their encouragement. The knitters all loved being part of the project, and looked forward to receiving their package. Here's how one of our big blankets traveled:
Oddball Blanket #4 Map by Shandeh, on Flickr
We kept a blog, showing the progress of the blanket, and lots of folks cheered us on. Because of the popularity of the Oddball Blanket, many others wanted to make one too. So, eventually we had FIVE big, fullsize blankets being handknit by over 100 different knitters in the US and Canada. Of course, when the blankets got larger, the postage became very high. So, we decided that we'd better rethink our project. We then made a couple Oddball Lapghans. But, they too became very expensive to mail. Our lapghans were donated to a children's shelter in my area.
Oddball Lapghans Being Donated by Shandeh, on Flickr
So, then we started making Oddball Baby Blankets instead.
Oddball Baby Blankets by Shandeh, on Flickr
Only five knitters were needed for each blanket, and one crocheter would add a pretty border when it was finished. Quick, simple, and not too expensive to mail. Perfect. :) But, talk about a HUGE PROJECT! I was astounded by how many people joined in - more than 200!! It was just too much for me to handle by myself. (I was keeping track of every single blanket, communicating with knitters, giving out instructions, answering questions - it became a full time job!) So, to keep my sanity, I appointed region leaders to handle all the baby blankets. At one time, we had 6 regions: Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Deep South, West Coast, and Canada.
There were HUNDREDS of Oddball Baby Blankets being created, and they were all being given to hospitals all over North America. As time went on, our number of volunteers slimmed down, so we reduced the number of regions. Now, we have 3 active regions: US Eastern Region, US Western Region, and Western Canada. The groups are now all independently managed by their amazing region leaders. I just sit back and MARVEL at their amazing work!
At one time, we also made some lovely Oddball Shawls, using fancy yarn. But this project didn't last as long as the others. We are giving those shawls to a hospice care center.
Flower Garden - Complete by Shandeh, on Flickr
8 Oddball Shawls - fan by Shandeh, on Flickr
One day, as I was looking through all the lovely photos of our baby blankets being created, I thought, "Hmmm...I bet we could make some Oddball Pet Snuggles too." So, I looked online to find the guidelines for pet shelter cage blankets. Then, using two strands of yarn, I started a really chunky Oddball Blanket. When I started the discussion for people to join in, the floodgates opened up again! SO MANY PET LOVERS! And our Oddball Pet Snuggles are still being made today.
Kitty Cuddles after Spikey with Mikey by Shandeh, on Flickr
If you would like to start an Oddball Blanket group of your own, here are the guidelines to make it happen: How to Make an Oddball Blanket
Congratulations on 7 amazing years, Oddball Blanket Knitters! Your work is touching so many of us!