I recently helped to organise a Staff Wellbeing knitting demonstration at work, and whilst researching a few bits and pieces, I came across a great little website for the charity Knit for Peace. When I contacted them, they kindly agreed that we could use their website for our stall, they sent us a whole stack of bookmarks to hand out and I also bought their publication ‘The Health Benefits of Knitting’ (which is also available to download). It is well worth a read.
The idea behind the organisation is to hook up knitters with people that need knitted (or crochetted) items. Pretty much any hand made garments are welcome for people of all ages and sizes, as well as soft toys, blankets and even twiddlemuffs for dementia patients. If you can’t knit they welcome donations of wool and needles, and they are also on the look out for cash donations to help run the charity. So far so good.
But it was the story behind how the organisation started that cought my eye. It grew from projects that started in Rwanda with Hutu and Tutsi war widows, and Muslim and Hindu women in Delhi, knitting for orphaned and homeless children. It was a way of bringing naturally opposing communities together to work for a common cause. This idea then grew when knitters and crochetters in the UK asked for causes to knit for. Now they collect knitted items in the UK and send them where they are needed, both in this country and all over the world.
I am both a knitter and a crochetter, but I am not good at big projects as I get bored and lose interest, and I have no one to knit little things for. I made all of the family fingerless gloves for Christmas a couple of years ago but I’ve no idea if any of them have ever been worn. So I decided to give this a go instead. I have a mountain of wool waiting to be made into something and I have made a few items in the past that have been sitting around waiting for a home. They include a cowl, a couple of pairs of baby mittens and a little soft toy. So last night I decided to get my favourite vintage baby pattern book out and make some booties.
I love this little book. I’m not sure sure where I found it – probably a charity shop – and I knitted a few things from it for my boys when they were babies. My youngest is now 20, so that was a while ago. But after I bought it, my Mum told me that she had the exact same booklet when I was a baby, so I also wore clothes made from these patterns. How cool is that?
I picked up a couple of odd balls of wool from a charity shop a week or so ago and didn’t know what to do with them, so, even though they are not the usual baby-blue, pink, lemon, mint or white, I decided to knit the booties with it.
The boy’s Great-Gran would have a fit. She told me off once for putting one of them in navy blue socks before we’d even left the hospital – “He has his whole life to wear dark socks” I was told, “he should be in white.” Yeah, I am such a rebel! But I figured that if my booties could be heading out to a refugee family then a) they probably don’t mind what colour they are, just as long as they are warm, and b) it is a much more practical colour than white.
I’ve also knitted a teddy-bear for a refugee child and plan to make a series of these. This wool I bought from the pound shop, and they were having a special offer of “Buy 2 Get 1 Free”. The colours are so amazing I couldn’t walk past them without buying 3 balls. ( I have a massive wool addiction thing going on, you might have guessed).
So I knitted this teddy with pink hands, feet and head, and a striped body. I’d like to check through my yarn stash and make others with the turquoise, yellow and purple that is in the stripey wool next.
I know it doesn’t look much like a teddy-bear yet. I thought I had some toy stuffing somewhere, but I can’t find it. But aren’t the colours gorgeous and cheerful? The pattern for this I found on the Knit for Peace website and it’s really quick and easy to make up.
I have since noted on their website that they have been innundated with small and premature baby clothes and ask that other items are knitted instead for now. So I will get on with the teddy-bears. I also started a tank-top for myself a while back, but I think I’ll finish that off and send it to them as well. And I would love to have a go at a twiddlemuff. I have so many odd and random balls of amazing wool, that are not big enough for a project of their own. Patterns for these are on their website too, but you can use any pattern you like.
To keep up to date with them and their projects, check out their website and also follow them on Twitter @knitforpeace. Today’s Tweet – they are organising knitting holidays to India next year.
For other knitting projects Kint a Square is also a great charity making blankets for orphans in South Africa. They ask for knitted and crochetted squares (not blankets), which they sew together on site, and also children’s hats, hand warmers and soft toys. You can find them here. Check out the photo’s and their wish list page.
Happy knitting peeps.