Winter 2016


A Grateful Art

After Christmas, things go back to normal for most people. The big stresses of “Will it fit?”,
“Does he have one already?” and “Can I return it?” fade into distant memory. Most people
breathe a sigh of relief: the gift-giving is over.
But according to the Bible, things don’t return to “normal” after the birth of Jesus. Instead,
the story gets a lot more interesting. One of the most famous tales of gift-giving unfolds
with a visit by some foreigners from the East.
Matthew’s Gospel recounts that King Herod summoned wise men to find out about the
birth of Jesus. They set out, following a star they’d seen in the sky, until it led them to a
house. There they met Jesus and Mary and gave them gifts.
The type of gifts the Magi brought did not include new baby clothes, toys or a hamper
full of diapers. The story says they brought gold, frankincense and myrrh—things
hardly practical for a young child. Wouldn’t it have been better to bring something
more down-to-earth?
Some people believe that the Wise Men’s gifts have deeper meaning. They say that their
offerings stand for something out-of-the-ordinary. The gifts might represent the sort of
thing one would bring to a king in the first century, for the Wise Men sought “the child
who has been born king of the Jews.” The gifts could also indicate what the Wise Men
thought about Jesus—what kind of person they thought he was and about the kinds of
things he would do in his life.
Like the Wise Men’s, your gifts have special meaning, too. They express gratitude. Each
stitch—time out of your day when you could be doing a thousand other things—offers a
gift of thanks. Your hard work making scarves and hats shows an appreciation of mariners’
hard work.
After we’ve unwrapped all the presents, it may seem odd to think any more about gifts,
but mariners’ stories don’t stop at Christmas. They journey on; and as they do, they carry
with them symbols of our appreciation.
Your knitted and crocheted garments
keep on giving beyond Christmas. They
show that someone remembers men and
women working out on the water, and
that’s a gift valuable as the finest gold.

If I were a Wise Man,
I would do my part;
yet what I can I give …
Give my heart.
—Christina G. Rossetti (1830–1894)

The newsletter of the
Seamen’s Church Institute’s
Christmas at Sea Program

In this Issue
Paige’s Letter


Year in Review


Stuff for
Your Calendar


The Samantha Cowl 4

The Simple Things 5
Letters 6

Just as every stitch from
every knitter contributes
to mariners’ warmth
during the winter months,
every dollar you give to
SCI upholds the valuable
services we provide
and on which the entire
maritime community

Founded in 1834,
SCI is a voluntary,
ecumenical agency
affiliated with the
Episcopal Church that
provides pastoral care,
maritime education, and
legal advocacy services
for mariners.

The Seamen’s Church Institute

Dear Friends,


s winter 2015 approached, it dawned on me that this season marked
my fifth anniversary with Christmas at Sea—and what a five years it
has been! From moving our program from our building in NYC to our
new base of operations in Port Newark, to washing and drying the thousands
of handknits that felt the wrath of Hurricane Sandy, to introducing the
1898 Hat, each year seems to bring something new and different.
2015 was a happy year, starting with a partnership with North Light Fibers.
It overjoys me to have this wonderful company producing beautiful yarn for
the benefit of our CAS knitters and the mariners who wear our gifts. I enjoyed
seeing things come full circle this year when I could send North Light Fibers
Block Island Hats to seven stranded seafarers in Germany for Christmas.
(See the story on page 5 of this newsletter.)

Come visit the
Christmas at Sea
knitting room in
SCI’s Port Newark
Seafarers’ Center.
Email psato@
to find out how.

Need help? Turn
to your knitting
friends for
support. Check
out Christmas at
Sea’s Facebook
page to meet
new ones.

Looking for a PDF of this newsletter that
you can read on your iPad or email to a

As more and more stitchers join our fold, and we collect more and more hats
and scarves, I can’t stress enough the value of each and every single item. We
don’t have a shortage of heads needing hats; and I am forever grateful that
when I put the call out, the Christmas at Sea army takes up its needles and
hooks. You folks are absolutely amazing!
For the past five years, I have been lucky enough to come to work at what
is possibly the best place on earth. Living as I do in a major metropolitan
area, it is so easy to get caught up in the anxiety of modern life, the “me, me,
me” attitude and to-do list competitions. But you, my stitchers, teach the
so-important lesson of sacrifice for others. Many of you call or write to share
stories of your own life’s journeys—deaths, births, sorrows and celebrations. In
and among all that, you still take the time out of your day to do something—
anonymously—for someone else. What a gift! I wish more people would
follow in your footsteps. If I had my way (and a limitless budget), we would
have encased our new Merit Badges in solid gold. (Alas, they’re just stickers.)
The endeavors they represent would be worth the expense.
As we close out 2015 on a high note, and I am more than excited about what
2016 will bring. Stay tuned as we soar to new heights!
Yours gratefully,


to mail?

Christmas at Sea
118 Export Street
Port Newark, NJ 07114
Paige Sato, Program Manager

Winter 2016
Published by the
Seamen’s Church Institute
The Rev. David M. Rider
President & Executive Director
Editor, Oliver Brewer-Lennon
Design & Production by BlissDesign
This newsletter is printed on recycled paper.
The Knit Before Christmas 

Winter 2016  • 2

Year in
Thanks to the efforts of people like you, mariners
served by SCI received warm Christmas greetings
this past year. Christmas at Sea collected 22,281 knitted
items and sewn ditty bags from approximately 1,100 individuals and
250 organizations throughout the country.
We distributed 5,390 gift sets (a set could include a hat and scarf) to seafarers and
8,971 gift sets to mariners along our inland river system. (If you tied the yarn used to make all
these projects end to end—over 6.08 million yards—it would stretch from New York City all the way
to London, England, with a little bit left over to weave in the ends!)
The most common project
our stitchers sent in? SCI
received over 3,524 (knitted
or crocheted) Seafarer’s Watch
Caps and over 2,038 Seafarer’s
Scarves. While some of you
chose to make complete sets—
we received 2,402 sets in 2015—
others of you sent in items as
you made them. (Although
nice, sending in sets is not a
requirement, and—as you can
see by the numbers—we can
match up singleton hats and
scarves. In fact, making up sets is

part of the fun for our volunteers
here in Port Newark.)
While we collected an
impressive number of knits, we
also “collected” an impressive
number of new stitchers. In
2015, Christmas at Sea welcomed
250 new volunteers! Many
found us through word of mouth
(Thank you all!), others came
to us through social media (our
very active Facebook page), some
read about us online (on blogs
like The Fringe Association and
the online Atlantic Canadian

journal Rustik) and folks learned
about Christmas at Sea through
traditional print media (thanks
to lovely articles written in Vogue
Knitting and Crochet Today).
SCI staff enjoy tallying up the
Christmas at Sea numbers. Every
single stat means another smile
brought to a mariner’s face. And
because there’s always one more
mariner who can use a warm hat
or scarf during the winter, our
Christmas at Sea stitchers seem to
up the ante year after year.

Merit Badges
As we tally up the numbers here at Christmas at Sea, keep a lookout for your Merit Badges.
They come in 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100 knit incre-knits to celebrate the awesome efforts of our volunteer stitchers.
While we try our hardest to keep
perfectly detailed records, sometimes
things get muddled. Occasionally, we
cannot identify a box (e.g., we can’t find
a note inside or the box has a damaged

The Knit Before Christmas 

return address label), and sometimes
we get behind in our internal recordkeeping. If you think we might have
miscounted and we owe you a merit
badge, let us know with a gentle email

Winter 2016  • 3

or call. Thanks for your patience as we
roll out this new way of recognizing
your hard work, and remember that any
knit that gets to Christmas at Sea will
find its way to a vessel.

Stuff for
Your Calendar

Visit CAS at Stitches West
in Santa Clara
Come visit Christmas at Sea and our
partner North Light Fibers at Stitches West
in Santa Clara, CA from February 19–21.
At our booth we’ll have
plenty of Block Island
Hat and Samantha Cowl
kits, in addition to other
yummy yarns from North
Light Fibers and stuff from
Christmas at Sea!
Keep Your Eyes Open for This in 2016:
●● Knit

for Lent 2016:

Easter comes early this year, and
consequently so does Lent. Take
advantage of the timing, and
get CAS off to a great start for
2016! Follow our progress on our
Facebook page with daily knitting
meditations and inspiration.

●● Christmas

at Sea
Drop Boxes:

Do you knit with a group at
church, your library or LYS? Maybe
a new CAS Drop Box could help
you collect and mail your group’s
knitting. Later this year, SCI puts
into production a stand-alone box
perfect for dropping off CAS knits.
The best part? When full, just fold
the box shut, seal and mail.
●● Knitting

with Christmas at
Sea Video Series:

We often get email and phone
questions about our CAS projects.
Instructions without any visuals
just don’t cut it for most people,
though. To see some of the
techniques and tricks for the SCI
patterns, check out CAS’s YouTube
playlist, expanding in 2016. Make
sure you don’t miss them; subscribe

The Knit Before Christmas 

The Samantha Cowl
Christmas at Sea’s newest pattern, in partnership with
North Light Fibers, celebrates the life of former SCI Trustee
Samantha C. Smith, who passed away in 2014 at the age of 44.
SCI Trustee Samantha C. Smith ardently supported the work
of the Institute—and Christmas at Sea in particular. Although
not a knitter herself, she loved the beauty of the finished
garments and remarked on the impressive dedication of all our
stitchers. Samantha knew a thing or two about dedication.
Samantha enjoyed telling people about SCI and what the organization’s services
mean to mariners. In 2014, she chaired SCI’s Christmas at Sea Gala in New York;
and the year before, she helped co-host SCI’s Pilot Boat Harbor Cruise.
Because Samantha took the time to understand minute details, she
served as one of the Institute’s greatest ambassadors. “More people need
to know about this,” she would often say, and she would make sure
people did.
When Samantha passed away in December
2014, she left a void among leadership.
Samantha brought many to the cause and
helped raise awareness of the important
work of mariners. SCI wanted to pay a fitting
tribute to our dynamic cheerleader.

The Samantha Cowl

Other Kits.....
The Samantha Cowl follows on the heels
of the successful Block Island Hat. Knit in
»  Block Island Hat
the same North Light Fibers Ocean Avenue
100% merino yarn, the cowl incorporates
»  Dories Cove Cowl
three traditional gansey elements (a ladder,
diamond and tree) and—like the Block Island
Hat—knits up in the round. The Samantha
»  Graces Cove Cowl
Cowl fits close to the neck, allowing freedom of movement, and
because it has no loose ends, wearers have nothing to tuck into
their coats. Knit in merino wool, it naturally wicks away moisture, while remaining
breathable, so it doesn’t become stifling when enjoying outdoor winter activities.
Contributors can obtain kits (a project ditty bag containing 1 skein of Ocean
Avenue yarn and the pattern) through Christmas at Sea for a suggested donation
of $75. Knitters can obtain patterns (only) for a suggested donation of $25.
On the donation form (see the enclosed envelope), indicate your color preference
(blue, red, green or orange).

A Treat for You
Knowing that volunteers for Christmas at Sea work so hard making things for others,
the folks at North Light Fibers wanted to offer knitters an option to make something
for themselves. They asked Deborah Newton—the knitwear designer who created
the pattern for both the Block Island Hat and the Samantha Cowl—to make two
additional variations of the cowl.
On their web store, North Light Fibers offers two patterns for longer versions of
the Samantha Cowl. The Dories Cove Cowl (a two-skein project) and Graces
Cove Cowl (a three-skein project) build on the gansey elements of the other CAS
partnership garments. These cowls take on a more feminine elegance, yet remain
distinctively maritime in character.
To order the Dories Cove Cowl or Graces Cove Cowl, please visit the North Light Fibers’
website at
Winter 2016  • 4

away to be scrapped? Which has now
dragged on for months …

deliver öur/yöur SCI gift package tö öur
ship's Captain ön Mönday mörning.

Please forgive this e mail. I had to type
it out on a Geramn keyboard. Which
is “a bit different” than a standard US
English keyboard.

Mäny Thanks. Möre updates tö yöu as
it häppens.

God Bless SCI for all you do to help
us mariners,
Skeleton crew unofficial morale officer,
Karl Mayhew
Karl’s email demonstrates the
importance of Christmas at Sea. As
the self-appointed morale officer, Karl
knew that handknits would mean more
to his small crew than any gifts he
could purchase.

Th e
Th ings
by Paige Sato


n today’s modern world—with all its
conveniences and excesses—it’s hard
to believe how meaningful a simple
hat can be. But let me tell you, it truly is.
On December 1st of this year, I received
a surprise email direct from a US
merchant ship docked in Bremerhaven,
Germany. The email read:
Good Day to the good people at SCI
Christmas at Sea Program,
We are seven US mariners who due
to circumstances beyond our control
will be stuck tied up here on a “dead”
unsea worthy US ship The Courage. We
are located just across the street from
The German Seamens mission. The
one located next to the port. Here in
Bremerhaven, Germany. My question
is please is there anyway to receive the
appreciated Christmas at Sea gifts for our
“accidental tourist” seven US seamen
stuck here. Until the ship is finally
cleared by all the red tape to be towed
The Knit Before Christmas

Karl knew of the Christmas at Sea
program because he’s been a seafarer for
many years and has often visited our
center in Port Newark. After receiving
this plaintive request, I quickly replied,
and soon we became email pen pals.
Karl’s ship, the US Courage, had had a
fire earlier in the year and was docked in
Germany waiting for a replacement crew
from Turkey. A skeleton crew of seven
Americans were “holding down the fort”
until that crew arrived, but the timeline
was unclear.
As luck would have it, I had just
received a box with a number of our
new Block Island Hats. Although I
usually hesitate to put hats of the same
color in the boxes for the same crew
(as a mother, I understand the value of
making sure my kids’ garments are easy
to pick out in a crowd), I felt Karl and
his crew truly deserved these fine hats,
beautifully knit in this warmest of yarns.
I packaged them up, along with various
other sundries and games.
About ten days later: (Karl doesn’t
appear to cope any better with the
German keyboard.)
The Warmest Greeting to you Paige and
Your SCI Angels to Mariners,
Bless you, Päige, yöur present package
has arrived. I made arrangements to
have it transported to the German in
port See-mans Missiön. Then I will hand
deliver it tö öur Ship’s Good Bosün,
Pete. As per löng standing ÜS mariner/
märitime custom. Then Bösün Pete will
Winter 2016  • 5

Best Yöu,
Märiner Kärl
After Christmas, Karl followed up with
this note and photo (upper left-hand
corner of this page).
Our First time ever young Captain
played “Santa Claus.” He put by our
door your warm and wonderful special
orange yarn hats. I must say these hats
are toasty warm. Here in Bremerhaven
the first snow fell. I had to walk from our
ship into town today to pick up needed
Rx's for a sick shipmate. Thank you
for keeping my head warm. I did take
the wrapped present by our door photo
too, trying to find in my silly photo
photo gallery.
The Australian Shepherd in the photo
(I hope you can see the dog?) he is the
mascot of The German See-manns
Welcome Center. His name is Sparky.
From Across The Big Pond,
Many thanks,
From Karl and his German four legged
comrade Sparky
And then right before New Year’s:
Good evening Paige,
The first big and only snow storm hit
Bremerhaven. I just walked from the
dead ship Courage to the German
See-manns Center. Whoever did the
design of your warm hats should be
commended. The larger size comes in
handy to pull down way below the ears
to keep more of one’s face and head area
protected from the elements.
Many thanks,
Mariner Karl with a warm head and
ears :-)

Christmas at Sea gifts
warm heads and hearts
around the world.




The Seamen’s Church Institute
118 Export Street
Port Newark, NJ 07114
Merci Beaucoup! Gracias! ありがとう! Дякую! THANK YOU VERY MUCH!
Parents worldwide have done right by
their sons and daughters. The thank
you notes that come in after crews
have received their Christmas packages
show the signs of good upbringing.
Mariners find a way—even though
thousands of miles away sometimes—
to show their appreciation for your
beautiful handiwork.

Dear SCI,

Thanks for the Christmas Box. Please express our appreciation to all responsible.
Will’s card took its place on the Galley window sill.
From Captain Grayford Franks and Crew

Dear Volunteers,

Good day Rev. David M. Rider,

I would like to thank you and your wonderful volunteers for the
Christmas parcels received from The Seamen’s Church Institute while
berthed in Newark on 25th Nov.
A Big “THANK YOU” goes to the members of the Tuesday Knitting
Club for creation of their lovely knitted hats and warm garments. So a
special mention to Barbara, Betty Jane, Joanne, Pat, Mays and Ginger.
And also to Georgia B. Jervey for her nice letter and poem.
The mainly Filipino crew were very happy to receive these items,
many of which were put to use straight away in the cooler climates of our
US coastal ports. We just couldn’t wait until Christmas day.
My crew wish to send their thanks for your generous gifts and wish
you a very good year ahead. It is so nice to think that your organisation is
thinking of seafarers at this time of year, when we are separated from our
loved ones. We feel blessed with your support and continued help to all
seafarers calling at Newark. Please pass on our thanks to your members
who have assisted in your Christmas gifts program.
Many thanks and best regards,
Capt. Rachel D. Keown
Master – Maersk Vilnius

The Knit Before Christmas

Winter 2016  • 6

This is the Turkish-flag vessel of master of Kaan
Kalkavan. Once I would like to sending our greeting
to you and your families in middle of the Atlantic
Ocean. We distributed your kind gifts to crew last
night which are received from our New York agent
dear Peter Aljian. We opened the packages and we
were very happy in this moment. This small gifts
are very big and great happiness for who are works
away from our countries and families. Hence we are
so grateful and appreciated you.
I and my crew wishes you happy, healthy and
peaceful new year for you and your families.
Best regards,



The crew of the M/V Buttercup would like to
thank y’all for y’all gifts merry Christmas.
Timothy Picou
M/V Buttercup