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Designer Leigh Radford Builds Community through her Blanket Design

or, Please join the first Blankets for Bastrop Knit-a-Long

Knitting designer Leigh Radford has graciously offered Blankets for Bastrop  the use of her Albers Stash Blanket to use for the project.  If you don’t know Radford, she is the author/designer behind One Skein, One More Skein: 30 Quick Projects to KnitAlterknits: Imaginative Projects and Creativity ExercisesAlterKnits Felt: Imaginative Projects for Knitting & Felting.

I came across the Albers stash blanket as I was searching for a blanket pattern that was both easy to knit and something that could be completed by multiple knitters and put together at the end.  The Albers blanket fit our needs perfectly.  It is an amazingly versatile rib pattern, stretchy and soft, and each knitter could knit one long pattern about the size of a short scarf.

photo by C. Herling

When I contacted Radford, she was in the process of launching a community knitting project in Portland, Oregon, using this pattern.  The project was to encourage knitters to contribute a panel to the project she is ding in Portland, or to coordinate a local effort in their own community.  Local effort in your own community?  That’s us!  That’s us!

So, it comes down to this:  if you would like to join the first KAL for Blankets for Bastrop, and contribute a panel to go into a blanket for a family who lost their home in the fire, please read on.  Go to this link for the blanket and download the pattern.  The colorway for this blanket is pink, green, and brown, and by brown we mean anything from off-white to chocolate.

All you need to do is let us know that you are knitting a panel, and if it is panel 1 or any of the other panels.  We are sticking somewhat to her design, but there are some stary yarns that end up getting knit into a longer block of color and some that we just stick with the minimum 12 rows.  With that in mind, the only difference in the panels is that Panel 1 has a slightly different stitch count to account for the inevitable rolling as well as the joining of the other panels.

Alright, so go.  Get clickin with those needles!  Pictures to come soon….

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Pet Rescues from the Texas Wildfires

Cat #3 recuperating in his kennel.

I promised we’d talk about pets, and that most of it was good.  And it is.

Awesome First Responders

First of all, major kudos to the first responders of this fire.  When it first started, Bastrop Fire Department and several volunteer fire departments were the first to go out.  As it quickly spread on that windy day, more and more response teams were sent in.  These men and women did an incredible job of trying to contain the perimeter of the fire, save houses and structures within the fire, evacuate people and pets, and save pets left at home.

Many homeowners were away from their homes when the evacuation notices were sent out and were not allowed back in to rescue their pets.  The pets were not left to fend for themselves.  First Responders went house to house, when able, checking for pets and  rescuing them.  When not able, or if duty called them elsewhere, they left food and water and opened gates and doors so they could escape.  Some homeowners have reported coming home to find a wide piece of metal pulled from a fence, a chain cut off a gate and propped open, and even doors busted out and windows broken.

This mama dog was found by rescue workers with her puppy(the little bundle next to the bowls) in the middle of a closed HWY 21. Someone had let her out of wherever she was and she managed to get her puppy to a safe place. They had no injuries, she is very happy (note tail), and puppy is doing well.

Medical Treatment and Housing

As they were rescued, injured animals were crated and taken to local veterinary clinics, mobile vet clinics, and shelters.  As this was happening, and as the main shelter began to fill up, it too had to be evacuated because the fire began to threaten that area and smoke was blowing into the kennels.  Already well into evening, shelters and rescue groups from Austin assembled and convoyed out to Bastrop County to evacuate those animals from the shelter to Austin where they would be well out of danger.  Large animals were rounded up as best they could be, loaded onto trailers and housed en masse in rodeo arenas or on volunteers’ property.

All in all, there were a lot of animals being moved around, but their safety and well-being were the top priority.  The clinics scrambled and stayed open late,taking in all kinds of animals, triaging them, accepting volunteer workers from the community to walk and clean uninjured dogs and cats, and putting out phone calls for assistance to trained animal technicians and veterinary assistants.  Several veterinarians and veterinary technicians spent the night at clinics or with coworkers because their neighborhoods had been evacuated or their houses lost.  Yet they kept on working

The most common injury seen was burned paws.  Nearly every animal had its feet wrapped for three to four days.  The severe burns required several days of bandages, and an unwrapping and debriding of dead tissue daily.  These animals stayed on a pain killer for most of the time, many not able to walk or put weight on their feet.  They are still recuperating, while waiting for their families to come find them.

This kitty had severely burned paws, other burns, and sizzled whiskers, but was otherwise in good shape. She was adopted by a rescue worker from Katy, TX.

Lost and Found

Many, many pets were able to escape the fire altogether but have not yet been reunited with their owners.  And thus, we come to the wonders of crowd-sourcing and social media.  Several citizens took it upon themselves to start websites and Facebook pages to provide a place for owners and rescuers to cross-post the animals they were looking for and working on. The most comprehensive site is Wildfire Pet Rescue.  It is clearly divided into Lost pets and Found pets, and also maintains a list of all the other Facebook and Shelter links at the top of the page.

The cat that I ended up fostering had moderate burns on his rear pads and minimal burns on his front pads.  He is sweet, gentle, and always takes his medicine well.  I try to call him Cat Three because I don’t want to confuse him with his real name.  He doesn’t seem to mind, but he pretty much just goes along with everything and stays quiet.   It hurts him to walk, so he doesn’t move around much, but he is doing better everyday.  I hope that he will be reunited with his true owner because he seems to be healing physically faster than he is emotionally.

Another publicity picture of Three.

Countless cats and dogs have been rescued and are staying at veterinary clinics, animal shelters, or foster homes all around Central Texas.  If you have lost a pet in the fires, the chances are very good that your animal is out there, being taken care of.  The only problem is that he or she could be any of several dozen places.  The best thing to do is keep looking and posting on any of the threads and go to each and every shelter and vet clinic in the area – over and over again.  Keep looking.  Bastrop is filled with many humanitarians volunteering time and supplies to keep your pet as happy and healthy as he can be until reunited with his original family.

There are still many animals from the wildfires that are still available for adoption or fostering.

Bastrop Fire Totals

Bastrop County OEM (link at right) released new numbers today for the Bastrop Complex Fire. Incredible, but not surprising devastation. They calculate the fire to have now burned 34,000 acres and destroyed 875 homes.

Tomorrow we’ll discuss pets. (More good news than bad.)