Knitting for a Cause – Welcome Blanket Project in Boulder

Knitting for charity causes is not a new trend, but did you know that knitting and activism have been linked since before the American Revolution? The Women’s March in January and the March for Science in March both used colorful, hand-made hats for a striking visual symbol. So many craftivists created so many hats for the Women’s March that pink yarn was in short supply.

The creator of the Pussyhat Project has launched another project that is a visual and tangible response to the anti-immigrant and anti-refugee policies enacted since January.

The proposed border wall between the United States and Mexico is almost 2000 miles long. Imagine if the massive distance of this wall was re-conceptualized and re-contextualized not to divide, but to include. Instead of wall, a concrete line, to keep people out, what if lines of yarn became 3,500,640 yards of blankets to welcome people in?

When did your immigrant ancestors come to America? My maternal grandparents came here in the early part of the 20th century. Yet we all have immigrant ancestors, as we are reminded in the Torah,

“You shall love the migrant as yourself, for you were migrants in the land of Egypt” (Leviticus 19:34).

As the grandchild of immigrants and a knitter, this project called to me.  Jewish knitting groups have a word for it: Knitzvah, a play on words (knitting and mitzvah) that is used to describe groups (knitzvah group) and projects (knitzvah project). The Welcome Blanket project is an instant-classic knitzvah project, knitting squares to assemble into blankets that will be distributed to refugee resettlement groups.  This one is so simple that instead of a launch party, we’re going to do a “stitch-up party” to assemble the squares into blankets.

The Project (do this before the stitch-up)

Knit or crochet one or more 10″ squares, in any combination of colors. The knit pattern is included at the end of this article, and there are pattern links as well. General tips:

  • I’ve been using worsted weight acrylic yarn (Impeccable, Vanna’s, Encore, etc). You can find these yarns at any of the local stores (Shuttles, Spindles and Skeins, Michaels, Joann). Get something soft – it’s for a blanket!
  • It takes about 2-3 hours to knit one square.
  • The basic pattern works up like a diamond, increasing 1 stitch per row. When the edge is 10″, switch colors and then decrease 1 stitch per row.
  • Gauge doesn’t matter (how many stitches per inch). What matters is to increase until 1 side is the right size, then decrease. You should have a square when done!
  • We like acrylic because it will be easy-care for the recipients, and worsted weight makes a nice blanket weight.
  • Each square uses around 50 yards per color, knit not too tight on size 9 needles. 2 skeins of yarn (1 per color) will make several squares. Trade colors among your friends!

The Stitch-Up Party

On August 23, from 6:30 to 9 pm, join us at Congregation Bonai Shalom to assemble the squares into blankets. We’ll make as many blankets as we can from the contributed squares. We will be following the instructions for whip-stitching the blankets together. Light refreshments will be available. Can’t knit or crochet but want to help? Please come and help us create the designs, help with adding tags, photography and packaging. This is open to the community, membership is not required.

Please RSVP either on Facebook or through the Welcome Blanket site.

Can’t come that night but want to contribute knitted squares? Check the Facebook event page for a drop-off location.

Helpful links:

Knit Pattern – Come Together Blanket (Kat Coyle)

This makes a 10×10 square. Squares will be assembled into blankets (4 squares by 4 squares for a baby blanket).

Cast on 2 stitches
Row 1: K1, inc 1 (with backward loop), k to end.
Rep Row 1, until the right edge measures 10″. Number of stitches may vary depending on your yarn and tension (how tightly you knit)
Break Yarn / join second color.
Next Row: K1, k2tog, k to end.
Rep last row until 2 sts remain.
Next Row: K2tog. Fasten off.

Thank you to Bonai Shalom for providing space for the stitch-up. See you on August 23!

About Cheryl Fellows

I am living happily ever after in Boulder with David, proud mom of Lauren and Ethan, guardian of Cookie and Finnegan, blessed with family and friends and a great community.

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