When I was growing up, every Christmas I would get a bumpy package with a card that said, For: Britt, From: Barbara Gould in criss-crossy handwriting. Barbara worked for my Dad at the Mystic Seaport Museum, and every year she would knit gifts for my parents and I. One year she made each of us a sweater with a story. My Dad's was a white sweater with a traditional Norwegian pattern to honor his Norwegian roots. Mine was an orangey-pink sweater based on the pattern of a vest worn by some king--who was beheaded--not sure why she picked that one for me. Even now, as I write this in our freezing cold house (t's not supposed to be this cold in California!) I have a soft, rosy blanket on my lap that she made for me when I went away to college. Almost 20 years later it is still keeping me warm.
Betty Christiansen's book, Knitting for Peace: Make the World a Better Place One Stitch at a Time, captures 28 stories of people and organizations who are using knitting to comfort, empower and heal. She profiles organizations like Afghans for Afghans that collects knitted goods for orphanages, clinics and children's hospitals in Afghanistan; Rwanda Knits that provides knitting machines and training to help Rwandan women increase their incomes; Peace Fleece that sells knitting yarn made from blends of Israeli and Palestinian wools; ChemoCaps that distributes handmade hats to chemotherapy patients; the Mother Bear Project that sends hand-knit and crocheted bears to children with HIV/AIDS; and Warm Up America that asks knitters to contribute 7"x9" squares which will be stitched into afghans for battered women's shelters, homeless shelters, natural disaster survivors and others in need.
In addition to stories about how each project was created, Christiansen includes knitting patterns related to the organizations' work like the ChemoCaps Eyelet Hat, Peace for Fleece Classic Wool Socks and Afghan for Afghans Child's Vest. Last week I wrote about my Favorite Do-Good Books of 2006. This one definitely tops my list, and I don't even knit. I was so inspired by how you can warm up someone's life with knitting, in more way than one, that I've signed up to be notified the next time my local knitting store offers a beginner's knitting workshop.
Book Cover from Harry N. Abrams site.