Blue Ribbon Valley Grange!

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Bob Carroll’s eye for precision gets applied to the staves during set up

Valley Grange walked away (well, some of us shuffled… it was a lot of work taking the booth apart) with the first place ribbon for our booth display at this year’s Piscataquis Valley Fair! We’d already agreed it was our best booth in recent years and are glad the judges agreed! The booth followed the theme of “Field to Feast” and included step by step instructions and materials for preserving the harvest.  Our judging guidelines also call for us to tell as much of the “Grange Story” as possible, including information and samples of our Community Service, Family Health and Hearing, and CWA work. Community Service Chair Mary Annis turned out an incredible poster with colorful pictures and descriptions of some of our projects.

While we all mutter and complain, we really do enjoy working together to build the booth every year on what usually turns out to be the hottest day we have in August. This year the crew included Mary and Jim Annis, Judy and Roger Ricker, Linda Erwin and Bob Carroll and Janice and Walter Boomsma. We can always count on Roger for some bad jokes and Judy is constantly sweeping… Mary and Janice do most of the preliminary work… and just about everybody gets a turn being sidewalk superintendent.

Congratulations to our closest (and only!) competitor, South Sangerville Grange for a well-deserved second place ribbon. Walter set up the Pomona Membership Booth again this year in an effort to assure fair-goers that the Grange is alive and thriving in the area. Unfortunately, Garland Grange was unable to compete this year, but we hope they’ll be back next year! Space in the Grange Exhibit Hall is always filled. This year we were joined by 4-Hers with their project work–they were great neighbors and added a lot of fun to the hall.

That blue ribbon looks great!

That blue ribbon looks great!

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Warm Mittens and Hats, oh my!

Mary Annis models while sorting mittens and hats.

Thanks to our “Blistered Finger Knitters” our annual mitten and hat distribution is well underway with large shopping bags already delivered to P.C.E.S. in Guilford, Harmony Elementary School, and SeDoMoCha in Dover Foxcroft for distribution to students when needed. Mary Annis was recently assisted by Linda Erwin and Sandra Scott with the sorting and bagging. The group stopped frequently to admire the color combinations and handwork. “We didn’t actually count,” said Mary. “But we certainly are providing schools with more hats and mittens than ever before!”

The knitting group doesn’t meet; they don’t plan. They just knit, and knit, and knit. The group this year included Mary, Debbie Burdin from Cambridge, Pat Engstrom from Dover Foxcroft, and Roberta Fitzgerald from Shamong, NJ. Roberta surely sets the record for the mittens that travel the furthest–she delivers her work during an annual visit with family in the area. Debbie must have the record for most knitted with a personal goal of 1000 pairs this year.

A yarn drive earlier this year kept the knitters supplied with material. (Any leftover or unused yarn you have can be brought to the Grange Hall and will be put to good use. Colors don’t matter as our knitters are adept at multicolored mittens!)

We also ended up with some afghans which will be donated for use by residents at the Hibbard Nursing Home in Dover Foxcroft. It gives our knitters a warm feeling to know they are helping others feel warm! For more information about the program, contact Mary Annis at 564-0820.

Clicking for Babies

Angela Hobson, South Sangerville Grange has asked us to help publicize this… Valley Grangers and friends who’d like to participate can also bring hats to the Valley Grange Hall at any meeting or event, including our meeting on October 19th–we’ll make sure the hats get to Penquis!

http://clickforbabies.org/South Sangerville Grange is supporting the “Click for Babies” program–a drive to create knitted or crocheted PURPLE caps for newborn boys in and girls. The project is designed to help educate parents about the “Period of Purple Crying,” a normal, but frustrating period of increased crying all infants experience in the first few weeks and months after birth.

Granges in the Piscataquis and Penobscot area should get their purple caps to the Penquis Office in Bangor (262 Harlow Street) or Dover Foxcroft (50 North Street) by October 26, 2012–Caps will be distributed in November and December. Caps can also be mailed to Wendy Pace, Penquis, PO Box 1162, Bangor ME 04402. You can download a Purple Hats Poster from this site and visit the CLICK for Babies website for additional information including patterns. Let’s hear some clicking!

More Yarn Projects?

Another knitter discovered our site and the information about our Mitten Project and Yarn Drive… “Crayons and Milk” is a resource that might be of interest to those who love to knit… you’ll find photos of toys she has knitted and a number of resources for knitters–both on the web and off. Interesting site where information seems to be shared freely!

Yarn Drive Temporarily Suspended…

With thanks to all who provided lots of yarn, we are suspending our yarn drive until fall… bins are being removed from all locations except the Grange Hall. (We’ll never refuse yarn, we’re just not actively seeking donations at the moment.) Thanks to PCES, “The Pulse” Radio, County Extension, and Penquis for providing bin locations. Our “blistered finger knitters” are still knitting and we anticipate having lots of mittens and hats for our kids this fall!

The Power Of The Press Lives On!

Coming soon to a theatre near you?

While some talking heads are predicting the death of newspapers, Valley Grange can testify to the fact that the power of the press lives on! When we started our “blistered fingers knitters” promotion and Yarn Drive a few months ago we never really dreamed that our program would result in one knitter who lives in New Jersey joining the effort.

Things started with a feature article written by Shelia Grant for Hometown Newspapers… and the yarn started pouring in. Most area newspapers were happy to list collection points and help spread the word. Then just as collections started slowing down Bill Pearson of The Piscataquis Observer decided to showcase the story and included some follow-up information.

Shortly after that article appeared we heard from Roberta Fitzgerald in New Jersey, Roberta suggested that she’s actually more of a “calloused fingers” knitter, but she wanted to help us by knitting some hats for the kids. Roberta explained that her “roots to Dover-Foxcroft are actually my mother’s. She grew up in D-F and graduated from FA in 1939. Mom went to NJ in 1940 for nursing school, met her husband, and raised four daughters there. Every summer, however, we all came to Dover Foxcroft, staying at Sebec Lake, and made lots of memories with our Washburn cousins, aunts and uncles.”

One fascinating aspect of Roberta’s story includes  her explanation that in 2006 she began making extended visits to her mother after she’d been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Roberta explains, “One of the marvelous things that happened was I was able to re-teach her to knit. After church one Sunday, she signed up for knitting the Seaman’s scarves! Yikes! I was amazed that I was able to re-introduce her to knitting and I think it was really good for her. I know it had been at least 50 years (maybe more) since the last time she’d knitted anything.”

And now that legacy lives on. “I’m a compulsive knitter  who can’t justify watching TV without knitting needles or crochet hook in hand, so knitting some hats for elementary school kids in Guilford & Dover Foxcroft is easy to do!”

We’re pleased to welcome Roberta to the knitter’s circle and look forward to receiving her first batch of hats when she visits the area this summer. We also recently took delivery of 97 pairs of mittens from Debbie Burdin. Thanks to the improving weather we’ll be arranging storage until they are needed next fall. All our mittens and hats go to Piscataquis Community Elementary School, SeDoMoCha, or the Piscataquis Santa Project. We’re still collecting yarn for a few more weeks, so visit a bin near you if you have some to donate!

Thanks to our local area newspapers, writers, and reporters for helping us help our communities and kids! We even made the marque of Centre Theatre! The power of the press lives on!

Keeping Kids Warm!

With a special thanks to writer Shelia Grant and the Hometown Newspapers, enjoy this feature article about our “Blisted Finger Knitters.”

Valley Grange brings yarn, knitters and bare hands and heads together

No More Naked Sheep!

The yarn kept coming...Wow!

Our first yarn drive was a smashing success… we ended up with skeins, balls, and spools of many sizes, shapes and colors! Knitters Mary Annis, Debbie Burdin, and Pat Engstrom sorted and shared… and thanks to Mary and Debbie’s latest donation of mittens and hats, we delivered a shopping bag full to SeDoMoCha this week–just in time to beat Friday’s big storm.  Thanks to these “blistered fingers” we now hope to keep both Piscataquis Community Elementary School and SeDoMoCha supplied through the winter, then begin building an inventory for the Piscataquis Santa Fund! 

 We’re not through we can use more yarn and more knitters! Yarn collection bins are available in Dover Foxcroft and Guilford (see sidebar) and we continue to recruit knitters. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop, it’s been said… so if you would rather be working for our kids and communities than for the devil, we’d love the help. Call Community Service Chair Mary Annis (564-0820) or send us an email. Thanks to all those who’ve helped so far!

Oh, the weather outside…

The weather outside is, at the moment, either frightful or lovely depending on your perspective. However, the snow is supposed to end this morning… and the Valley Grange Meeting for tonight is planned as scheduled! We have lots going on… starting with a potluck supper (bring a dish to share if you can) at 6 PM during which our blistered finger knitters are welcome to sort through our yarn donations… the meeting itself includes a short ceremony to honor recently departed members Laura Pratt, Marilyn Harvey, and Merna Dunham. Families and friends are invited to share in this… Garland Grange members are planning to “invade” us for the program featuring Denise Trafton of Penquis Journey House… the evening promises to be one of fun and friendship.

So come on down (or up or over)… items being collected at this meeting include:

  • sheets, pillowcases, towels and wash clothes to be sent to our troop arriving in Germany from Iraq and Afghanastan.
  • used Christmas cards (front panel only) children use to “manufacture” cards as a fundraiser
  • yarn for our knitters (knitters can, of course, bring any finished mittens/hats)
  • seed catalogs — a new request and it might be a bit early, but if you have any you’re not going to use or you’re finished with, we can take them to the school for an art project starting in February.

Of course you don’t have to bring anything but a smile! Come see what “Grange” is all about!

Bring On The Sheep!

Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy,
“Do you hear what I hear?
Ringing through the sky, shepherd boy,
Do you hear what I hear?
A song, a song high above the trees
With a voice as big as the sea,
With a voice as big as the sea.”

Thanks to the Bluegrass Music Association of Maine for making Piscataquis Santa the beneficiary of the “Jam” they held today in Cambridge… as a result, over $200 in cash was raised… along with a sack of presents… and over 100 pairs of mittens knitted by Debbie Burdin. So there were some voices “as big as the sea” raised today by some folks with hearts as big as the sea too! Thanks to all who performed and all who attended!

If Debbie has her way, there will be some naked sheep running around this year, because she’s already announced she wants to keep knitting… Valley Grange has a few knitters of our own and we are pleased to count Debbie Burdin and Pat Engstrom as “friends of the Grange.” Pat recently donated several afghans to our causes, including one currently being raffled by Penquis Journey House in Dexter.

We’d love to help these knit-wits by providing some yarn to keep those kneedles knitting! Colors really aren’t important–especially for the mittens. If you have any yarn hanging about that you’d like to see put to good use, please send an email or contact any member of Valley Grange.

Donate yarn! Save a sheep from being cold and support a worthy cause!