Winter 2018 VOL UME 1 2 / NUMBER 1

The newsletter of the
Seamen’s Church Institute’s

Christmas at Sea turns 120!
Christmas at Sea Program

Day after day, boxes upon boxes of knitted garments pile into the In this Issue
Christmas at Sea headquarters at SCI’s International Seafarers’
Center in Port Newark, NJ. Year after year, we are witness to 2017 By Numbers  2
the kindness and generosity of people who take time to knit and Mariner Thank Yous  2
History of Knitting  3
crochet hats and scarves for others whom they don’t even know.
Stories of Stitching  4
All these days and years add up! In humans need warmth. Christmas at Sea
Double-Knit Mariner’s Cap  5
2018, Christmas at Sea marks its 120th demonstrates those two ageless tenets.
Tiny Hats Released
anniversary. We are privileged to celebrate Your effort, even if it is simply one
into the Wild  5
such a wonderful milestone because of handknit pair of socks accompanied
Get in Touch!  6
you, our valued volunteer knitter. You by a little note,
and your fellow stitchers have kept this is as meaningful
program relevant, vital and growing for and important to We are proud to announce the launch of the 1898
over a century. Whether it’s your first Christmas at Sea and Society, commemorating this 120th anniversary
season or your twentieth, you are one of the seafarers we serve year for Christmas at Sea. This special society
generations of knitters who have made as is that container honors knitters who include SCI in their estate
their mark. When you think of how quickly full of products to plans. If you choose to give a legacy gift to SCI,
things come and go in this day and age, our economy. upon notification of inclusion in your estate
there is a real beauty in such longevity. plans, we will enroll you in the 1898 Society. Your
Christmas at Sea
It was a caring and generous spirit that is special for so name will feature in the SCI Annual Report, taking
sparked Christmas at Sea back in 1898, many reasons… your place alongside all those who support SCI.
and keeps it going today. It is this same its continuity, its And as an extra expression of our gratitude you
spirit that transcends borders, religious value to mariners, will receive a commemorative Christmas at Sea
philosophies, and politics, bringing out the its simplicity. But ornament to treasure for years to come! For more
best in humankind and creating a sense first and foremost, information, or to enroll as a member of the 1898
of community even among strangers. it’s special because
Society, please contact
of you—knitters and
So often folks wonder how a knitting
crocheters working
program can actually have an impact on
tirelessly with talent and creativity.
something as large-scale as the shipping
Founded in 1834,
industry. Waterborne transportation We thank you for a great 120 years
continues to be the primary, most efficient of tradition and warmth. If you are SCI is a voluntary,
way of moving goods around the globe, interested in not only supporting
ecumenical agency
and it has seen huge technological mariners through knitting but also
changes over the years, from the with a long-lasting legacy gift to SCI, affiliated with the
introduction of containerization to please read more in the sidebar.
Episcopal Church that
advances in GPS and communications. It
In this, our 120th year, we ask you for even
is an industry with long history, outsized provides pastoral care,
more connection—we’d love to get to know
machinery, and lots of hard edges.
you. Fill out our survey, or join our Facebook maritime education, and
However, even in such an environment, or Ravelry group. Call, email, or come to our
legal advocacy services
two things will never change: humans retreat. It may be Christmas at Sea’s birthday,
need contact with one another and but you are most definitely our guests of honor! for mariners.

The Seamen’s Church Institute
2017 By Numbers
Christmas at Sea had another great year in 2017—collecting 20,270 knits from
1,263 stitchers (and groups of stitchers)! Our top two groups were St. Ann’s
of Old Lyme, CT and Christ Church Episcopal of Ridgewood, NJ, donating
422 and 303 knits respectively. This year we received knits from all 50 states.
A majority of knitters hail from New England and the North East, but South
Dakota and Wyoming both boast two knitters each! We also received items from
a few Canadian provinces, and even some all the way from Italy. Magnifico!

Paige Sato
Program Manager, Christmas at Sea
Thank Yous from Mariners
Dear Seamen’s Church Institute
I want to wish you all a Happy New Year.
Need help? Turn Also thank you so much for the Christmas gifts the crew
to your knitting of our good vessel received during our stay in Port Newark
If you’re active on friends for from December 13th–15th, 2017.
Ravelry, join the support. Check

Come Meet
Christmas at Sea out Christmas at The ship Columbine Maersk is a
group (search for Sea’s Facebook Danish-flagged container vessel with
christmas-at-sea) page to meet
new ones.
crew from Denmark, India, Thailand,
the Philippines, Ukraine, England, Christmas at Sea!
and China. At the moment we are in
When we’re not in the throes of
the Mediterranean Sea heading to the
counting, collecting, packing, and Far East!
playing Santa, Christmas at Sea is out
Thank you again and best regards and about! This year, we invite you to
Looking for a PDF of this newsletter that Ingolf Zeuch join in and meet up with us at any of
you can read on your iPad or email to a Chief Engineer our scheduled events:
friend? Columbine Maersk
Stitches West
Download a copy online. From the crew of the tug Weddell Sea, (Santa Clara, CA) thanks to all at SCI. The knitted caps February 22–25
and other items were a welcome treat!
Best wishes for this holiday season.
(The National
Dear Chaplain Kempton Baldridge, Needlearts Association,
Cleveland, OH)
Thank you for the winter care June 15–17
package that you sent to our boat. I
went downstairs into the deck locker General Convention 2018
Need… Christmas at Sea and the whole crew was putting on (Austin, TX)
Patterns? 118 Export Street the scarves you sent, just in time for July 5–9
Port Newark, NJ 07114 the coldest day of the year thus far.
Tags? Paige Sato, Program Manager Christmas in July Retreat
We all appreciate the time and care (Port Newark, NJ)
Ready 973-589-5828 put into those scarves. Also, please Dates TBD
to mail?

pass on a “Thank you” to Troop
54284 out of Western Pennsylvania Here’s your chance to visit
Winter 2018 Port Newark for a one-day
Volume 12 / Number 1
for the Christmas cards. We’ll be
thinking of them when we purchase retreat. Enjoy two technique classes,
Published by the
Seamen’s Church Institute our Girl Scout cookies in the the chance to meet the folks at North upcoming year. Merry Christmas and Light Fibers, a tour of the port and
Happy New Year from the crew of the SCI facility, and fellowship (with
The Rev. David M. Rider
President & Executive Director David L. Fields! good food) with other Christmas at
Sea stitchers! To register your interest,
Sincerely, email
Editor, Naomi Walker
Captain Jeff Stoneking and Crew of or complete the form on p. 6 of
Design & Production by BlissDesign
the David L. Fields this newsletter!
This newsletter is printed on recycled paper.

The Knit Before Christmas Winter 2018  • 2 

A social history of knitting in the US
While knitting for Christmas at Sea began in 1898, knitting for the common good has
a history as long as that of our country. This timeline shows the intersections between
knitting trends in the US, and the evolution of SCI’s Christmas at Sea program!

Civil War era
Soldiers in both the Confederate CHRISTMAS
and Union armies were issued machine- AT SEA
knit socks (this was a new technology),
Pre- however, the socks were so poorly-knit that
many soldiers wrote home asking their 1898
Revolutionary mothers, sisters, and aunts for handknit
War (pre-1775) socks. Soon enough, individual Rev. Walter A. A.
towns were also advertising for Gardner, Chaplain of SCI’s
The Daughters of Liberty were North [Hudson] River Station, at
known to hold spinning and sewing women to knit socks for
the servicemen. the suggestion of his wife Mrs. E. A.
bees where local women would gather Gardner begins an effort to send
to dye and spin their own yarn. “comfort bags” containing medical
By making their own fiber and supplies, prayer books and sewing
fabrics, they were less reliant on materials to seafarers during the
imported British goods that Spanish-American War.
were heavily taxed. Christmas at Sea
World War I 1900 is born!
(1914–1918) The Seamen’s
President Woodrow Wilson kept Benefit is formed at the
sheep on the White House lawn suggestion of Mrs. Gardner,
in support of US troops! The sheep led by Augusta Morris de Peyster.
saved manpower by munching on Composed entirely of women, the
the lawn (in place of mowing), Society dedicates itself to assisting
and an auction of the wool seafarers in any way it can, from
netted over $52,000 for organizing musical and dramatic
1914–1918 the Red Cross. entertainment to sending Mid
As war spreads quickly flowers to seafarers in
abroad, the Seamen’s Benefit the hospital. After the
Society organizes a volunteer of hand kni
system to collect and distribute decline, how
knit items for seafarers of argyle pa
caught up in the conflict. 1951 socks kept m
World War II busy. Moreo
SCI’s Knitter’s Guild
(1939–1945) is formalized, consisting
gave man
Maybe you already knew that at of knitting groups from
1921 one time Franklin Delano Roosevelt around the country working
time to
SCI forms the Women’s was Vice President of SCI’s Board in coordination with SCI’s
Council, led by Mrs. Samuel of Trustees? Less well known is that central branch to knit
Thorne, Jr. to focus on fundraising Eleanor Roosevelt founded a Knit and distribute items
and cultural events for seafarers. for Defense organization that to seafarers.
The Council centralizes a network encouraged knitters of all ages 1939–1945 f
of women’s volunteer groups to knit warm items for SCI’s Women’s Council in
from churches around the US servicemen. heads a massive national
New York metro area. volunteer effort to distribute
knit items and comfort bags to
me the
seafarers at war. In 1943, 15,987
ship an
woolen garments are donated and
distributed overseas. In 1945, SCI
is 0 d
distributes 8,108 Christmas
boxes to seafarers.
The Knit Before Christmas Winter 2018  • 3  H
Stories of Stitching
Marti Johnson lives in Sacramento, CA. She has been knitting since she was 5 years
old, and started making items for Christmas at Sea 5 years ago. She spoke to us
recently to tell us more about her story.

How did you first hear of SCI?
About six years ago, I read an article in a knitting magazine about SCI’s
Christmas at Sea program. It was the first time I’d even heard of the Seamen’s
Church Institute. Then in 2013 I broke my hip, and was diagnosed with
ovarian cancer that same year. I had to spend lots of time sitting down,
sometimes between 5–7 hours at a time for chemo and blood transfusion
sessions. Most of the other patients would scroll their smart phones or sleep,
but I decided to knit! I started knitting chemo caps, socks, and Christmas
gifts, and then I moved to the seafarer scarves plus hats to match.
Having survived the cancer, I wanted to say “thank you” in the only way I could think of—I was grateful to be alive and this
was my way of saying “thank you God, thank you doctors, thank you everyone who helped me”.

Why is knitting for Christmas at Sea so special?
Mariners are doing what the rest of us could never do, and I’m more than willing to do what I can to make them
comfortable. After surviving cancer, I felt that best way I could show my gratitude was to knit gifts for others who need some
joy (and warmth!) in their lives.

Do you have any connections to the maritime?
Not at all! Knitting for Christmas at Sea is the only thread connecting me to the maritime. Mariners are doing something so
good for the rest of the world—and yes, it’s a job for them and they get paid—but it’s a hard way to earn a living and they’re
doing it so we don’t have to. I love helping the mariners to reassure them that they’re not forgotten at Christmas or the rest
of the year, and let them know that we truly appreciate all their hard work.

d-Century 2012
e war, the number Late 20th
The Christmas at Sea
itters was bound to program perseveres through Century/Early 21st
wever, the popularity the damage caused by Century
atterned vests and Superstorm Sandy to collect
many diehard crafters Knitting enjoyed a resurgence toward
and distribute over
over, the increasing the end of the 20th and in the early 21st
20,000 knit items.
of home appliances Century. The rise of social networking brings
ny women more far-flung practitioners together, allowing
indulge in their knitters and stitchers from across the globe
1997 to connect and share patterns. Christmas
SCI opens a new maritime at Sea takes advantage of these new
1971 training facility in Paduach, technologies to stay in touch with our
SCI’s Christmas at Sea program KY, focused on providing stitchers through its Facebook
continues to grow. A message educational coursework for inland and Ravelry groups.
from a recipient on the USNS Rigel river mariners. CaS expands
n 1971 typifies the letters SCI receives its program accordingly,
every year from grateful seafarers. distributing 7,552 knit items
to river mariners.
you very much for your kindness in sending
Christmas Box. I am cargo yeoman on this
nd sometimes have to work 10 to 16 hours
t below decks in the cold storage lockers. It
degrees down there so you can be sure I’ll
t plenty of usage for your hat and scarf.
Hope to stop at your A+ Before
The Knit establishment
Christmas Winter 2018  • 4
the next time
 I’m in New York.”
To find the tutorial for our new hat
pattern plus more instructional videos, just

Double-Knit Mariner’s Cap type into your
browser or search for “seamenschurch
christmas at sea youtube playlist” and
ABOUT THIS to the front, purl with the main color you’ll find our treasure-trove of tutorials:
PATTERN: A fully- (you are reversing the colors). Repeat to each new video will be flagged on our
reversible hat that’s the end of the round. Facebook page as it is posted! Also
doubly warm! Round 2–3: Continue in this fashion for featured: our “Anchors Aweigh” cap, the
two more rounds. Seafarer Stripey Crew Sock, the 1898
Next round: With both yarns in hat, and a “Tiny Hat How-To”.
back, knit with the main color.
Bring both yarns to the front, purl With the 3 main color stitches, slip the
with the contrast color (reversing first stitch on the left needle knitwise.
the color pattern again). Repeat to K2tog the next two stitches. Pass the
the end of the round. Slip marker. slipped stitch over—2 main color
Work 5 more rounds. stitches decreased.
Repeat stripe sequence (3 rounds
MATERIALS: 2 With the remaining 3 contrast color
of contrast color and 6 rounds of
skeins worsted stitches, slip the first stitch purlwise.
main color) two more times (see
weight yarn in 2 Slip the next two stitches knitwise from
tutorial video for clarification.)
complementary the left to the right needle. Place those
colors. 100g  ork as established after 3rd stripe
W two stitches back on the left needle, and
each. 16" US 7 circular needle until the hat measures 5" from the P2tog tbl (purl two together through the
cast on. back loop). Pass slipped stitch over.
GAUGE: 4.25st=1"
Decrease for the crown: (see Slip marker.
Using the invisible cast on (see tutorial tutorial video)
video—link above), cast on 75 pairs Next round: knit the main color stitches,
(150 stitches total) with a 16" US 7 Set up round: knit 15 pair of stitches, purl the contrast color stitches.
circular needle. place marker* repeat from * four times.
Repeat these two rounds until five pair
With both yarns in back, knit the Double decrease Round 1: knit 12 pair (10 stitches) remain on the needle. You
main color (the color that shows on of stitches. Three pair remain before the will need to switch to double-pointed
the outside), bring both yarns to the marker. Slip next five stitches from left needles when the circumference of
front, purl the contrast color (the color needle to right. Re-order the stitches so the hat becomes too small for the
showing on the inside). Place marker at all 3 contrast color stitches (inside color) circular needle.
the end of the round. are on the left needle, and the 3 main
With a tapestry needle, cinch the
color (outside color) stitches are on
Continue in this fashion for 9 rounds. contrast color stitches closed. Do the
the right needle. Slip the 3 main color
same for the main color stitches. Weave
First stripe: stitches back to the left needle. Your left
in the tail between the two layers of
Round 1: With both yarns in back, knit needle now has 3 main color stitches
the hat.
with the contrast color. Bring both yarns followed by 3 contrast color stitches.
You now have a reversible hat!

Tiny Hats To Be
Released Into The Wild!
Throughout our anniversary year, we want to continue
raising awareness of Christmas at Sea. So we’re asking for
volunteers to release one of our tiny watchcaps “into the
wild”. All you need to do is contact us to ask for a hat, wait for
it to be sent out to you, and then place it somewhere public
where it can be found, photographed and marveled over!

Post photos and follow tiny hat adventures on Twitter Get in touch if you
@seamenschurch and Instagram @christmasatsea – look for want to be involved—
hashtags #WatchThisCap #TinyHatsOnTour #SCINYNJ we’re hoping for
10 volunteers per month!

The Knit Before Christmas Winter 2018  • 5

The Seamen’s Church Institute U.S. POSTAGE
118 Export Street
Port Newark, NJ 07114 PAID

Get in Touch!
Whether it’s restocking on tags, sending in knits, or just letting us
know more about YOU, please use the form below to contact us!
For this year only, we have a new tag commemorating 120 years of Christmas at Sea! You
can still use any of our standard tags, but if you would like the special anniversary edition
fill in your details below. It can be used with ANY Christmas at Sea project.
Here at Christmas at Sea we try to acknowledge every single package that comes to us,
but sometimes packages get really beat up in the mail, and the return name/address are
rendered illegible. Here’s a simple way to make sure we know exactly who you are:

What project are you most proud of?

What’s your favorite Christmas at Sea project?


What has been your biggest knitting flop?!

I am sending on behalf of a group.  Yes  No

Do you have a maritime connection?  Yes  No

This package includes (please enter amounts):
Please send me 120th Anniversary tags.
Hats Scarves Vests
In our anniversary year, we’d love to find out Cowl Dittybags Slippers
more about our knitters!
Feel free to enclose more notepaper, or email your story to Socks Toiletries (no need to count) We’d love you to send a photo too!
How long have you been knitting for Christmas at Sea? Are you interested in attending the Christmas in July Knitting

Who taught you to knit? Retreat at Port Newark, July 2018?  Yes  No

The Knit Before Christmas Winter 2018  • 6