I finished 5 more baby hats. Yea!! This next bit of info is for the knitters out there who might be interested in my hat construction and it is written in “knitterese”. Skip to below this section to get to the book review. All of the hats are made using the magic loop circular needle technique with size 5 needles (although double-points or 2 circs would work equally well). I’ve always heard that it is best to make charity gifts with acrylic and/or machine wash and dry yarn so I used Plymouth’s Baby Boutique for the pink, yellow, and brown hats. It is very, very soft (50% microfiber, 50% Nylon). The brown and blue multicolor yarn is Baby Crofter by Sidar (55% Nylon, 45% Acrylic). I basically used my own pattern- made up as I went along- but all of the round hats in the first picture started out with K2P2 ribbing for about an inch and then I switched to stockinette (Knit every row in the round). I only knitted about 2-2 1/2″, before I started my decreases and I’m not sure if I made the hats deep enough. I actually brought them to church today to try on my friend’s 7mo and although they all went on his head, they were obviously too small. His head is now 18″ in circumference and a newborn baby’s is about 15in and the latter is the size I tried to make. If anyone knows how “deep” to make the hats, please leave a comment on this blog entry. If you have a newborn (0-3mo) whose head you can measure, please measure it from the forehead, right at the eyebrows, over the top of the head to the bump in the back of the head and leave me a comment on this blog. Then I can better figure out how many inches to knit after the cast-on. The second picture shows two hats made completely by K2P2 ribbing all the way up. This actually fit my friend’s baby’s head best and the mom liked this style the best because it can last a little longer as the baby grows. I will be doing more of these.
I finished listening to The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World, by Jacqueline Novogratz yesterday on my way home from work. I’ve wanted to try Audible.com audiobooks for awhile now and I finally splurged and subscribed. I commute 60 miles each way to work and have done so for the past 8 years and listening to books on CD is what has made this bearable, even wonderful at times. I’ve been known to sit in the garage for a little while upon getting home just to finish up listening to a section in a really good book. 🙂 Most of the books I listen to come from the library or free library downloads but even though I have never been at lost to find something interesting to read, I can’t always find the exact book that I would like to read. Since I knew The Blue Sweater was about a woman who worked in Africa and I was soon going to Africa, it was my first Audible download and I wasn’t disappointed with this choice. As I alluded to in my previous post, it is about a young woman, college-educated and working in the banking industry, who ends up working for UNICEF in Rwanda developing a microfinance organization to help poor women make a better life for them and their families through small loans which they use to develop businesses. (This was prior to the Rwandan genocide.) Jacqueline Novogratz narrates the book as well has having written it and her voice is very pleasant to listen to as she goes on to tell the stories of her adventures trying to help the poor in other countries, letting the reader in on the lessons she’s realized along the way. I learned so much from her recounting experiences and providing us her self-reflection. Much of what she discovered resonated with my thoughts, although I haven’t yet had international experiences to back them up. One of the first lessons she relates is a failed attempt at developing a microfinance organization in Cote d’Ivoire (The Ivory Coast, Africa) because her goals were not the goals of the people she was working with. Coupled with this is the realization that charity grants are not as helpful as they seem when the people receiving them learn to rely on a source of money that may not always be available. So- teach skills, do not just provide charity and don’t assume the people’s needs, ask them- engage them in the process. [Now, I have to make a disclaimer that my recollections may not be perfect. Since I only listened to the book rather than having it in my hands to go back and check my recalled “facts”, I could be getting some of the details incorrect, though the gist should be the same. But that said, this is definitely a book that I would like to buy so that I could study it better.] Another learning point she shared is that just because someone is poor, doesn’t mean that they don’t have the motivation to succeed if they are given a chance. The author takes us through a chronological history of her life experiences that built up to her current endeavor as the founder and CEO of Acumen Fund, a non-profit organization that funds innovations around the world focusing on reducing poverty. I highly recommend this book- it will leave you with many new thoughts about the way our world functions, how philanthropy can be improved, and how we can make a difference.
I am in the process of writing a research proposal to submit to the IRB (institutional review board) of Uganda so that I can gather health outcomes data this summer and hopefully analyze this with respect to areas that have improved water sources and sanitation as compared to the illnesses of people who do not have access to safe water. But after reading this book, I am going to keep Jacqueline’s advice in mind and include in my methods an oral survey of health professionals and community members in rural Masinidi to find out what their perceptions are of the most pressing health issues in their villages and how they think my pharmacy students and I can help. I am going to listen to their needs and tailor future activities to those.