I am simply without words. (You may all take a moment now to ponder the magnitude of that statement.)

Look at the total donations to MSF. I can scarcely breathe I am so overwhelmed with the kindness and decency of all of you. The total can only grow too…since this does not even begin to cover the donations made by those of you who are taking the Harlot MSF Challenge for the week. I’m going to have to have a lie down when you break $10 000. I applaud each and every single one of you.

The MSF (Mitaines Sans Frontiers) are apparently taking their name a little too seriously.


Last night I cast on the first braid. (Yes. Multiple braids. Look at the total. It’s the least I can do.) I worked the yarn-twisting lunacy of the first row, then began the row that slants in the opposite direction. Halfway around the second row, I glanced down and noticed that I was no longer making braid, but instead some sort of very clever multiple row latvian twisty looking thing. I looked back at the beginning…fine. Checked my second row…the trouble started about halfway around the second row.

The first row of the braid goes like this ///// ,

the second…like this \\\\\\\

when you stack them, you get this >>>>> .

Get it?

Unfortunately it turns out that I am a stark raving moron with no right to be knitting, and a shame to decent latvians everywhere. (They will hear my name and spit in the dust.) What I did, was this:

For the fist half of the first row I did this ///////////

For the middle, .I did this \\\\\\\\\\\\

Then, having suffered what I can only surmise must have been some sort of knitting seizure…I reverted to this //////////

This means that when I went on to knit the second round…the charming little Latvian Braids came out like this. >>>>>>>////////////>>>>>>

Thusly, the Borders of the MSF were screwed beyond all recognition and I ripped it out with an appropriate use of expletives. I think is time to learn to swear in Latvian.


Questions from the comments yesterday…

Question: Nanette lives in Atlanta, and she asks….”How about knitting a Latvian bikini?”

Answer: Nanette…with all due respect and the utmost of love and concern for you and all you love….NO. (I don’t know what is says about me that I actually spent some time last night thinking about how I would do the crotch. Don’t let me start.)

Question: Natasha says “If they’re to be Mitaines Sans Frontiers shouldn’t they be more than just Latvian?”

Answer: See above – and are you people trying to kill me? Is it not clear to you that my sanity is a fragile little thing to be tenderly protected from this sort of dare?

Question: Kelly asks “When is the deadline for this?”

Answer: I’ll keep the tally going in the sidebar until the Mittens are done. Clearly, you have some time.

Question: Debs asks ” Are you looking into any organizations that would take donations of knit items?? ie, socks, blankets, etc??”

Answer: Not right now…but thanks for reminding me to tell you that the current deadline for getting items to Afghans for Afghans is Jan 16th. (Thanks Sue…for the heads up)

Question: What’s up with MSF not taking Pfizers money?

Answer: It’s not just Pfizer. It’s an issue of MSF remaining independent and free of a conflict of interest. They do not accept money from any company that manufactures drugs, alcohol or tobacco. It’s a question of medical ethics, and one that I think is honourable.

Question: How come MSF is saying they don’t want any more money?

Answer: HOLY CRAP. Where did you get that? While MSF has indicated that Donations designated strictly for Tsunami relief are no longer appropriate, the thought that they don’t want your money is….well, desperately wrong. The problem with donations made for a specific cause is that they MUST be used for that cause. If the time comes when the money is not needed or cannot be absorbed by the community or relief agency it cannot be diverted to other causes.

Ben writes (thanks Ben)

The generosity of people worldwide has been amazing. As of this

morning, MSF had raised close to $67 million (Canadian) worldwide during

the past week and the number will continue to rise. As pointed out by

some of your readers, MSF is now asking people to donate to our

emergency fund so that we can direct surplus funds to forgotten

emergencies …where the humanitarian situation is horrific but CNN, CBC and ITN

are never seen with their cameras. Two weeks ago I was in Ivory Coast

and saw that some NGOs had left due to lack of funding. Back in April,

I saw the same in Sierra Leone. There is nothing like being in a

feeding centre (belonging to Action Against Hunger) with sixty kids

under five and in various states of malnutrition receiving supplementary

feeding and knowing that the project was to close down the next month

due to lack of funding – just as the post rainy season “hunger gap” was

about to start. Western governments did not want to fund the project,

believing that Sierra Leone was at peace. Never mind that it was a

recent, fragile kind of peace. Also, there were no TV cameras to create

public pressure for them to act.

So believe me when I say that surplus money coming to MSF will go to

worthy projects. In fact, I have a real problem with organizations

still voraciously fundraising when – like in Rwanda in 1994 – it may

take them years or decades to spend it. People’s generosity must not be

abused and this is why MSF is taking such a seemingly strange position

on tsunami donations.

Remember, this is a fundraiser for MSF. We don’t want to limit their ability to help people. MSF is an experienced relief organization. They won the Nobel Peace Prize, for crying out loud. I trust them to make good with the money. Would it really be so bad if they spent some of your money on the next Tsunami? Or earthquake? Or famine? Or in the Democratic Republic of Congo?

Ben writes again:

One estimate is that 31,000 people die per month in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) due to man-made, not natural reasons. That means that every 5 months, DRC has the same death toll as the tsunami.

Read more here.

I’ve assured Ben that I can’t imagine people only being interested in reducing one kind of suffering. Dig deep. I’m going to try and get some borders on these mittens.

50 thoughts on “Incredible

  1. Harlot-
    How incredible of you to be such an inspiration and for doing this – I’m officially signed up for the harlot challenge!
    In other news…. bookbookbookbookbook…. it came through – email me if you want details.

  2. Almost $10,000 already??? Amazing! I, too, read the statements on the US and Canada MSF websites about diverting funds where they were most needed, since they now have what they need (for the foreseeable future) for South Asia. I want my donation to go where it’s most needed, and if they need it elsewhere, that’s just fine with me. Looks like this Harlot charity drive will benefit more than just the tsunami victims, and that is wonderful!

  3. My jaw dropped today when I saw the total. It is wonderful and amazing, and all you had to do was ask. And about the border on those mittens? Who could think straight after such an outpouring of support that came so fast. Take a deep breath-and take your time. We are patient.
    And I for one am happy with any way they chose to spend money donated. Suffering is suffering, no matter what nation it is in. If we yarn harlot “devotees” can do a something to reduce suffering ANYWHERE, that is reason enough to give.

  4. Damn! Or should I say, Su’ds! — actually that doesn’t mean Damn, it means something more profane. But I’m cursing b/c I thought I’d be the first person to find the Latvian cursing page!
    Re the “MSF not accepting money”. There was an article I read, but I didn’t see that it mentioned they were only capping the donations for the tsunami-specific article. This makes lots of sense. Oxfam Canada is the same, in that they hope people don’t forget about the other needy causes they’re fighting for.

  5. I’m so glad that you’re using your amazing blog for such a good cause. It’s great to see someone who actually has experience with this organization (and is such a cutie too!). I’m definitely going to donate, though from your total so far I don’t think my donation will be on the same level as that of your other readers. My Grandma sent me a check for $15 for Christmas money and rather than buy some more yarn I’m going to donate it. It isn’t much, but I hope it will help. It’s amazing to hear just how much these types of organizations can do for a small amount of money.

  6. Harlot, I commend you – you’ve helped restore my faith in humanity a little bit by helping to focus the generosity of knitters all over the world. Thanks – I really needed a reality check. It just seems like I only manage to run into the bottomdwellers of this world. And to all the people who have contibuted – I commend you.

  7. Stephanie, I just got the Latvian mittens book. Judging by the text on the righthand side of the page, Latvian would be a profoundly satisfying language for swearing! Must do research. . . I spot a coming trend. . .

  8. I think, if you’re going to exclaim that due to being overcome by some Latvian-leaning braid you’re “a stark raving moron with no right to be knitting”, then at the very least, you could provide a photo of the mistake itself.
    just because.

  9. Wow!! That’s some good fundraising, Stephanie. Once I balance my checkbook for the month I will send some over. As for the mittens, I know your pain. I think there is some errata in the pair I am making right now. And I have something special for you on my blog today…. hehehehhe….

  10. I agree- I would have a hard time keeping my braid under control if I had caused that kind of donation power! Congrats for getting us all thinking and moving in a positive direction.

  11. When donating I usually ask that the fund be put in the ‘general fund’ of the agency. Then as you say the money can be used where it is the most needed an effective. When the media leaves an area it is nearly forgotten. Julia left a comment on my blog that maybe we should give a little throughout the year as the need will surely be there.

  12. When you can take me from tears-spurting-from-my-eyes laughing to a serious mood, all within the space of 30 seconds or so, and seeing the sort of funds you have raised in such a short time, I would say that you have some amazing power. That said, and knowing the speed at which you knit, we should all be ready for pics of the finished Latvian mittens at, I think, 3:00 p.m. next Monday. Or thereabouts. Depends on the braids.

  13. Your knitting successes outweigh mine ten-fold (or more), but in the realm of Latvian braid screw-ups, I am afraid that *I* hold the top right to Latvian cursing. I got my Latvian braid out of sync and it was on a cardigan…..a whopping 486 stitches per round. After frogging it, correcting it, and going on to knit another 5 inches or so…..I had to frog the whole darn piece again!
    Yes, *I* am the Queen of Latvian Braid Screw Ups. I didn’t swear in English, Latvian or any other language. I just sat in abject silence, contemplating my loss.
    Congratulations on such a successful fund raiser!

  14. I bet the end of the week will be big. I have printed my form, but I have to wait to tally what I should send. 🙂

  15. The amount of money gathered in so little time is amazing! Thank you for inspiring us.
    Also I would like you to know that you gave me the push that I finally needed, and that I finally signed up for Plan ( as sponsor for a child. So, you have helped make the world a better place a some child somewhere.

  16. The few times I’ve done braids I’ve obsessively chanted the little mnemonic from the Latvian Mittens book: Lover, Runder. For left-leaning, bring yarn over, for right-leaning, under. I so feel your pain.

  17. Miss Harlot- Yesterday, shortly after reading your post about MSF my lovely husband came home and told me that he had received a memo mentioning MSF at work earlier in the day (yes, we do frequently talk about you and the other knit bloggers I am so addicted to.) His company, a petrolem company so they need all the good karma they can get, had decided to match all employee contributions to MSF. They will match until such a time that they have contributed $50,000 US, however long that may take. So my man and I have decided to take your challenge, putting aside the money that we don’t NEED to spend, and then giving it to his company so that it can be doubled before being sent off to people who do NEED it.
    Thank you for the idea.

  18. I made my donation to MSF before your contest but I didn’t donate a lot–just a little. Also I selfishly designated the money to go only to the tsunami victims before I thought about using it for others. Thanks for organizing such a great fundraising drive!

  19. Oh wow. ok, you’ve TOTALLY just managed to make me feel bad. I *just* commented that I donated to the Red Cross in lieu of MSF because MSF wasn’t accepting donations specifically for Tsunami Relief, and THEN I read today’s entry. 🙁 It’s not that I didn’t think that MSF would put my money to good use otherwise, it’s just that I don’t believe that they could possibly have enough money to handle the crisis that has occurred and the crisis that is to follow from widespread disease and famine. The Red Cross was collecting for a fund that is being used currently for Tsunami Relief, but is also for other International Disasters. This way, my money will first go to help those I intended, but if it is not needed, will go to help other greatly needing communities.
    I think i’s fabulous that you have helped to raise so much money for MSF though. You’ve put your podium to good use. Thank you.

  20. Here’s a random factoid about me: I used to wrestle (WWF style). And when something really incredible happens in the ring, the crowd would start a chant of “Holy sh*t! Holy sh*t!”
    I think that needs to happen here.
    Over $10k in 24 hours.
    Holy sh*t! Holy sh*t!

  21. Harlot, it must be the revenge of the latvian mitten. He has a border, as they all do, yet you call him – “mitten without borders”. Can you blame the poor fellow for trying to right the wrong?
    $10,000 – wow – you are amazing, woman.

  22. Holy sh*t Holy sh*t…
    Being a wwf fan I so understand that chant and it is used very well here.
    The total as of 645p ET is $10870.
    Thats a lot of money to raise in 24 hrs.
    Thank you everyone. Especially you oh Harlot…

  23. Harlot –
    I have been a long-time reader and lurker. I have never commented because I am severely lacking in cleverness and humor.
    I do have to comment on the incredible thing that you are doing: you have inspired so many ($10,000+) to help others in far away places. Thank you so much for using your powers for such good. The people adore you and the fact that your inspirational message reached so many in so little time is evidence of that.
    Please give brother-in-law Ben a big hug. Thank you.

  24. I think what Ben had to say is great. I made sure to click the button that mentions they can use my donation anywhere they want as I was impressed that they have a “savings acct” (for lack of a better word) for future needs. Best of luck to Ben and to your MSF (uncooperative as they might be). Kirsten

  25. I just have to ask, the background of today’s post caught my eye…What book is that underneath the tangle of unravelled braid? It looks downright yummy! Mittens, mittens and more mittens!
    So excited about the massive amount of $$$ raised! We knitters rock!

  26. I put “for Asia disaster relief” on the cheque. I hope they know to use it for whatever is needed now. Well, yes, I guess they will.
    Just the thought of attempting a Latvian mitten is making my head hurt.

  27. I’m waiting for my husband to bring home a matching gift form from his company so we can double our donation.
    I am astonished by how much has been donated already! Wow. 🙂

  28. wow, 7.18pm in seattle and the current MSF total is 15,007!
    i just made my donation, and i did it through the Canadian site. i think it’s great that your government is matching donations…wish mine would.
    and good luck with the latvian mittens…err, the braids. good luck with the braids.

  29. Fox News (affectionately called Faux News by many liberals like myself) just (11pm EST) said that Doctors Without Borders has said they don’t need anymore help, but thanks. We know it’s not true, for goodness sake, anyone with a brain would know the work isn’t done. Just wanted to give a source for the falacy.

  30. Thank you for bringing MSF to me. I have never in my life contributed to any kind of fund that I wasn’t 100% sure where the funds would be directed. Verrry distrustful, you might say . . . After going to their website and doing some of my own research I can say that I am very impressed and touched. It’s very easy to pretend that what happens to someone else “over there” has nothing to do with me, but my eyes have been opened. It’s refreshing to hear Ben’s words, and know that they haven’t been altered to fit some publications needs. Thank you my dear for helping me to see the light, and I am going now to the American site to make my contribution.

  31. Wow. While I know the aid agencies haven’t forgotten other areas of the world that need assistance, I hope the generosity of the those in developed nations continues and they give to those in need regardless of where they are or how they got there.
    All this has really made me think about how lucky I am, and while I’m not rich by Western standards, I am certainly able to give more regularly to organizations like MSF.

  32. When I heard that MSF were no longer accepting donations for tsunami relief, I fired off a cheque to World Vision for $70, because it will triple to $240 with Cdn.government help. They are very involved in community-building. Just a suggestion. I am thrilled that you are getting such a great response. (BTW, I am on a Federal Disability Pension, but rich in comparison to most of the planet.) Go, girls!

  33. That total is just phenomenal. This blog, along with my recent winding-orgy (see blog) have really made me realize Just how much I have and don’t even use. So I’m going on a 20-projects or none yarn diet – Me, who doesn’t __believe__ in yarn diets. Each month during this diet, however long it lasts, I’m going to donate at least $10 to some worthy cause, somewhere. I realize just how priviledged I am, and have to do something about it.

  34. utterly fabulous. exited about mittens, thrilled about donations, would rather sit and think about mittens and donations than go to class.

  35. So. I told some other grad students in my department about your blog (this required explaining my knitting habbit) and how you were collecting money to send to MSF. They all agreed that MSF (or DWB here in the us) was the organization of choice. I decided to teach them how to knit a hat in excange for them donating. They’re going to give me whatever they can (sadly, we’re on stipends and often do that whole “need” or “want” thing on a regular basis anyways) and then i’ll come donate it here on friday.
    I’ll let you know how their hats turn out- i’m predicting it’s going to be funny to watch a bunch of scientists try knitting for the first time. 😀

  36. Dear Stephanie and all the Harloteers,
    Over 15 grand!?! This is amazing! Like somebody said above, knitters rock! I wonder if it isn’t time to set up TSF – Tricoteuses Sans Fronti�res or Knitters Without Borders? That’s what this international blog increasingly represents.
    On behalf of MSF in Canada, the US, Germany and Sweden – among the various chapters that have benefitted from your generosity – I thank you.
    And thanks also to Steph for volunteering to come in to help out on the phones yesterday and for telling the old man who gave $500: “Atta boy!” . Sorry you had no time to knit, though…

  37. Harlot, you never cease to amaze.
    I heard on National Public Radio that two US Senators (one from Iowa hence why there is a lot of notice here in Iowa 🙂 ) are trying to get legislation passed that will allow donations made to the tsunami relief through January 2005 can be claimed on the 2004 tax forms. If I happen to hear more about it I will let you (& everyone else) know.
    Not that people need more motivation (other than your mittens 😉 ) to donate but I thought this might of interest.
    Thanks for being you, you rock.

  38. Last night on the 11:00 news here locally (a CBS affiliate in Buffalo), they said that “Doctors without Borders were not accepting anymore cash contributions”…. What the hell?

  39. CNN reported that MSF doesn’t want anymore money and the Red Cross is crabby about MSF not giving the RC their extra money. CNN!! I sent them a little note. Maybe if a lot of people send them little notes they’ll feel bad and do a program on how great MSF is???
    Watching this total makes me happy. Everyone’s so great.

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