[And the winner is Stephny. Yay, Stephny! You have 2 days to contact me with your details and I will get your sweater sent to you.]
Chums: I've got a real goodie for you today, from a Toto Knits, an ethically made hand-knitted kiddo sweater enterprise from Kenya, via the lovely Erin Brennan Allen who fled the magazine world of NYC for a more adventurous life in Kenya. In other words she's one of those lassies who says "I want to help disadvantaged children" and actually does something about it, rather than merely bleats about the state of world at large and then orders another mojito.
Check out the gorgeosity for yourselves in these pics. These sweaters are seriously delicious. They are 100% cotton and handmade, and light enough for summer but thick enough to take you through the year. They come in a variety of colors and patterns, from plain to stripes, and there's also a completely adorable safari collection, as well as hats and booties and other sundry delightfulness. So the story behind this one is quite compelling: Erin, a gorgeous blonde American lassie, quits the first world and races off to Nairobi to fund-raise for a school for special-needs tots. There she meets Mary Wambui in 2002. Mary was teaching Arts and Crafts at the school and persuaded Erin to pick up a pair of knitting needles and they become buds.
Then Erin has her tots and gets focused on the importance of helping women find work while nurturing their families. Not so easy in Kenya, where women are often unskilled and marginalized.
After teaming up with Mary, who had raised her three sons single-handedly, Toto Knits was born. With Mary's knitting know-how, Erin's love for all things baby and their years of friendship it was a perfect partnership. Mary now trains and manages a group of twenty knitters (with help from her son Cyrus) while Erin works on the designs and marketing. Check them out: are they all not the sweetest people alive? And do you not want to JUST EAT UP Erin's baby son Tor who models the sweaters (and is therefore the tot pictured above in that darling yellow number)?
Bring him to me. On a roll. With mustard.
These sweaters are very posh and all the chicsters are gobbling them up. But you, our winning entrant, get yours for free, made from Kenya unto you and yours. Custom color and design, fergodssake. A $75 value right there and then free shipping, you lucky lady.
And may I suggest, even if you don't win, that you pop over to the Toto Knits site (mtoto means "tot" in Swahili, by the way, for those of you who don't speak Swahili as fluently as I do)...Please pop over to the site and if the sweaters aren't in your budge right now, grab a hat for fifteen bucks and give that to a preg-o friend instead of whatever lame-o thing she has on her registry. She will receive a photo of her knitter and know that she has something one-of-a-kind and that the money paid made a real difference to the life of someone else's tot.
As you can see from this and my blankie giveaway, Africa is a theme close to my otherwise crustaceous heart, 'cuz I am a native of South Africa. I completely dig these sweaters and what Erin and Mary are up to. If any of you out there have an African-made product to offer in a giveaway let me know. I am very similar to Brangelina, promoting Africa selflessly. Okay, promoting a sweater or two, and maybe not so selflessly but ANYHOO.
Put your name in the hat. This one's a goodie.