Knitting for pleasure, people, and peace

Vogue Knitting Live! is a three day event that occurs annually in several US cities.  It is the Burning Man for fiber enthusiasts, a high energy festival featuring classes and lectures and fashion shows. Anchored by the Marketplace, an enormous and spirited souk selling buttons, patterns, organic handcreams, every knitting and crochet accessory on the planet, and of course – yarn. I went to Manhattan event last weekend. A theme arose from the crafty chaos: use creativity for a higher purpose.

Artists create for themselves, to satisfy personal needs of expression.  They also create for others, for financial survival and recognition. There is another dimension, more selfless, not based on commercialism. This is not new.  Green Prophet has written about street art for public enjoyment, revisit the Turkish stair painter (link here) and our story on TikkunTree project (link here), a community knittivist art project dedicated to advocacy of peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Charity is common among knitters and crocheters, who often rally to create garments for the needy. Read our story on the amazing handmade Irish hat collection for Syrian refugees (link here), a project that is still going strong. The power of the crowd – the crafty crowd – is increasingly being applied to larger projects, attracting volunteer support with a blend of humor and challenging “assignments”.

Warm Up America! is a charity made up of volunteers who knit and crochet blankets and clothing for people in need. Participant crafters, working alone or in a group, create blankets, hats, and “comfort” shawls which are distributed in areas affected by natural disaster across the USA, in Bangladesh and Malawi, and other developing countries.

Tricoteunsourire wants people to smile. In early 2015, they hatched “Knit a smile”, an ambitious project that aims to encourage the creation of links between people of different ages and backgrounds. It’s simple. Knit a tiny square. Knit more. Send them in. Many others are doing the same, because it’s easy, quick, and basically free (using up oddballs of iber we all have, well, everywhere.) The ultimate goal is to combine all these squares into enormous artistic installations such as recreations of Monet paintings and landscaped parks, causing smiles. The group quotes Abbé Pierre, who said, “A smile costs less than electricity but gives as much light”. 

Stitchlinks is a nonprofit that conducts pioneering research into the therapeutic benefits of craft, particularly knitting, and social activity groups. It is a resource for clinicians, teachers, the craft trade and other professionals who wish to use knitting therapeutically to improve health and wellbeing regardless of whether someone is well or living with a longterm medical condition. 

These are just a few of the flyers I picked up at last weekend’s Vogue Knitting Live! NYC. Check them out, drop us  a comment if you find other examples of knitting-for-humanity. Perhaps be inspired to learn the craft yourself.

As if I needed another reason to buy yarn.

 

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