Great Project, Great Lens, Great People
October 18th, 2011

AmFree Knitting Circle — (Near) Noh Bo, Thailand (along the Moei River)

AmFree Knitting Circle — (Near) Noh Bo, Thailand (along the Moei River)

In the post March Update, I mentioned (fifth paragraph) a project that I encountered in Thailand along the border with Burma/Myanmar. I didn’t give many details in that post, but I did say that you’d probably hear more about it in this blog. Now is that time.

The project is called AmFree and is run by young American Jaime Yeretzian. She has taught women in a village along the border to knit hats. The hats are funky and fun—just like Jaime. I spent one afternoon with them as the knitting circle sat in a bamboo hut, knitting and examining each others’ work. There was a lot of laughter. The women sit around in the evenings in their spare time (often with their children) and create these hats that Jaime has designed. She then sells them from her website and at stores back in the US to benefit the women. She’s a one-person operation, but she has the drive and determination of a much larger organization.

I was impressed with Jaime. I was impressed with the women who were knitting. And I was impressed with the hats. So I wanted to find some way of helping. Jaime mentioned that she needed a new website. I knew that I didn’t have time, but I thought that I could at least ask around. I sent out a tweet to see if anybody out in the twittersphere would be interested in helping. It turns out that the answer was a resounding “yes”. (And once again I must state how much I love this community.)

Stephen Desroches, a web designer and photographer from Prince Edward Island, volunteered to help. Over the course of the last few months they’ve worked on creating a new website with a new look and new functionality. I occasionally stuck my nose in to see how things were going but otherwise sat on the sidelines, watching as they each explored their expertise.

Cold weather (for those of us in the north) and Christmas are on their way. Perhaps think about buying some hats for gifts (and for yourself!). Jaime isn’t yet registered as a not-for-profit, but I’ve met the women who benefit from the purchase of these hats. But I don’t even have to suggest that you buy these hats to help those women. The truth is that these hats are worth every penny without even considering those women and their families. Jaime is a designer by profession, and she has brought that talent to these hats. You can find out more about her project and see the hats on the AmFree website: AmFree.

Also, if you need a web designer or photographer in the Prince Edward Island area, then consider giving Stephen a call. We’ve corresponded a bit over the course of these months, and I can tell that he’s not only excellent at what he does but also professional in how he does it. Stephen’s website and contact information can be accessed by clicking here.

In April I posted One month, one camera, one lens as a sort of challenge to myself to use just my new 24mm/f1.4 lens for the month that I was going to be in Italy and Croatia. However, in the end I decided to bring back-up lenses for those just-in-case scenarios. I never really got into the groove of this challenge for a couple of reasons. For starters, there was the death of my mother, mentioned in my Life Is (Not Always) Short post, and David duChemin’s failed attempt at flying (recounted here). Both put a serious damper on my photographic endeavors. And then I met Stephen Starkman (yes, another Stephen, who is also Canadian; they must be short on names up north of the border) in Tuscany, who was all too willing to loan me his Zeiss lenses. I simply couldn’t resist. So even though I still wasn’t in a photographic groove, I put the 24mm/f1.4 away and played with the lenses that Stephen generously loaned to me. Stephen, by the way, is an excellent landscape photographer. Check out some of his photography on his smugmug site by clicking here. So this “challenge” kind of failed, but in the meantime I have learned to love that lens. It was on my camera more than any other during the recent Laos + Angkor Within The Frame.

Speaking of Within The Frame, we’ve had a few recent cancellations for the Within The Frame photographic adventures that David duChemin and I co-lead around the world. The unfortunate fact that somebody has to work instead of going on these adventures has opened one spot for each of the next four Within The Frame adventures. You can find out more by clicking on the links below to visit each’s mini-site.

Oaxaca Within The Frame
Lalibela Within The Frame
Maasai Mara Within The Frame
Liguria Within The Frame

In less than two weeks, I’ll be in Oaxaca, Mexico, for Oaxaca Within The Frame, and I’m really looking forward to getting back there and to meeting in person the participants who will be joining us. Más cava, por favor!

6 Responses to “Great Project, Great Lens, Great People”

  1. Eli R. says:

    I love doing these special projects on the side – would love to go and photograph hats for them some day.

  2. Jeffrey Chapman says:

    Eli, I’m sure that Jaime would love that. I wish that I had had the time to photograph them!

    Thanks to all of you who sent me messages that you were buying hats! You guys are great. I know that you won’t be disappointed in them! All the cool kids will be wearing them!

  3. Eli, I would love some photographs taken, I’m in the states now working out visa issues and selling the stock I have. I have been dreaming of getting more photography of these hats. Sometimes I even wish to get it in cold weather to show how they look in real life. But if you ever want to go and photograph in Thailand. . . stay in touch and we’ll see what opens up down the road.

    Jeff, thank you so much for writing this article I have had 3 orders already and its all because of you!!!! You have my heart. Thank you!

  4. Nice to hear orders are being placed. Best wishes on much success.

  5. Toni says:

    Just placed an order. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

  6. [...] offered to answer questions or provide any advice depending on the time commitment required. While Jeffrey is so kindly giving me more credit then I feel I deserve, the project is now up and running using e-junkie as their payment/product manager on top of the [...]

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