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Knitting for Peace by Betty Christiansen [Excerpt]

Knitting for Peace by Betty Christiansen [Excerpt]

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Published by OpenRoadMedia
All across America, people are knitting for peace. In yarn shops and private homes, churches and synagogues, schools and even prisons, they meet on weekday evenings or weekend afternoons to knit afghans for refugees, mittens for the homeless, socks for soldiers, or preemie caps for AIDS babies. The tradition goes back as far as Martha Washington, who spearheaded knitting efforts for the soldiers of the Revolutionary War, and has seen a recent flourishing in what is nowadays called “charity knitting,” “community knitting,” or “knitting for others.” And whether it’s for world peace, community peace, or peace of mind, today’s various causes have the common goal of knitting the world into a better place one stitch at a time.

Knitting for Peace is an exceptional book that celebrates the long heritage of knitting for others. It tells the stories of 28 contemporary knitting-for-peace endeavors, and features patterns for easy-to-knit charity projects such as hats, socks, blankets, and bears, plus a messenger bag emblazoned with the Knitting for Peace logo. Enlivened by anecdotal sidebars and quotations from both knitters and peacemakers, this inspiring book also includes everything readers need to know to start their own knitting-for-peace groups.
All across America, people are knitting for peace. In yarn shops and private homes, churches and synagogues, schools and even prisons, they meet on weekday evenings or weekend afternoons to knit afghans for refugees, mittens for the homeless, socks for soldiers, or preemie caps for AIDS babies. The tradition goes back as far as Martha Washington, who spearheaded knitting efforts for the soldiers of the Revolutionary War, and has seen a recent flourishing in what is nowadays called “charity knitting,” “community knitting,” or “knitting for others.” And whether it’s for world peace, community peace, or peace of mind, today’s various causes have the common goal of knitting the world into a better place one stitch at a time.

Knitting for Peace is an exceptional book that celebrates the long heritage of knitting for others. It tells the stories of 28 contemporary knitting-for-peace endeavors, and features patterns for easy-to-knit charity projects such as hats, socks, blankets, and bears, plus a messenger bag emblazoned with the Knitting for Peace logo. Enlivened by anecdotal sidebars and quotations from both knitters and peacemakers, this inspiring book also includes everything readers need to know to start their own knitting-for-peace groups.

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Published by: OpenRoadMedia on Mar 12, 2014
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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03/16/2014

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 IN 1998, VICTORIA GALO AND JANET BRISTOW FOUND A SIMPLE, HEARTFELT WAY TO REACH OUT TO PEOPLE THEY KNEW WHO WERE IN NEED OF PEACE: THEY KNIT THEM SHAWLS. IN SO DOING, AND WITHOUT ANY IDEA OF WHAT THEY WERE STARTING, THEY LAUNCHED AN INCREDIBLY FAR-REACHING KNITTING MOVEMENT—THE SHAWL MINISTRY. THE INTENT BEHIND THIS MINISTRY IS NOT JUST TO KNIT SHAWLS OF COMFORT FOR PEOPLE IN SORROW OR SHAWLS OF JOY FOR THOSE IN CELEBRATION, BUT TO DO SO MINDFULLY, LOVINGLY, AND PRAYERFULLY. THE ONE NEEDING COMFORT IS SOOTHED NOT ONLY BY THE WARM FOLDS OF A HAND-KNIT SHAWL, BUT ALSO BY THE LOVE,
 
THOUGHTS, AND PRAYERS OF THE KNITTER, WHETHER A CLOSE FRIEND OR PERFECT STRANGER. An irrepressible spirit underlies this movement, which has spread across the country and beyond. Everyone, it seems, is making “prayer shawls”—from neighbors in Brownsville, Minnesota (population 517), to women in a self-help program in Uganda. Shawls are being knit for close friends with cancer, for mothers with new babies, for the victims of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, and for families in Beslan, Russia, who lost children in the 2004 siege of a school there. It took a lot of energy—good, positive energy—to initiate such a widespread and popular movement. And if you meet Vicky and Janet, who together compose the heart of Shawl Ministry, you’ll see just where that energy comes from. A few minutes into a conversation on the Shawl Ministry, their eyes light up, they move to the edge of their seats, and they begin finishing each other’s sentences. Their voices and words are filled with excitement, but also with wonder at this thing they have created and the myriad ways it is affecting people, both those who knit the shawls and those who receive them. “We didn’t mean for this to happen,” says Janet. “We were just reaching out to those around us. To me, it’s proof it came from beyond.” As divine inspirations often do, this one came in humble packaging. Vicky and Janet are two ordinary women. They have jobs and families, they are members of churches (one Catholic, one Congregational), and in their spare time they knit. But in 1997, both were seeking something more—a new perspective on God and themselves, a perspective with a different focus than the traditions they’d been raised with, one that spoke to them uniquely as women. This desire led them to the Women’s Leadership Institute at the Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut, an intensive nine-month course in women’s spirituality. Here, they learned to see God in a new light—as a nurturing, comforting, mothering, and creative being—and to see those same divine qualities in themselves and each other. “It was a gradual awakening, an expanding of views,” Janet says of discovering what she calls the feminine face of God. “I wanted that course to last forever.” “Upon receiving our certificates,” Vicky adds, “we were challenged with the question, ‘How are we going to take what we’ve learned out into the world?’” Acting upon an urge to “get sacred with my hands,” Vicky started by knitting a shawl for a friend who was going through a divorce. She showed it to Janet, who was reminded of a Mexican serape a friend of hers wore to pray. They brought Vicky’s finished shawl to their women’s group, where each woman wrapped herself in it and gave it a blessing before it was given to the recipient. “The shawl seemed to be a metaphor for what we had  just been through in the course,” says Janet, “a physical symbol of a God who holds you, comforts you, and mothers you.” Using knitting as the medium for taking what they had learned out into the world, they began making more shawls for women they knew, infusing each one with their prayers, thoughts, and hopes for the recipient. “Vicky and I were so inspired by the Women’s Institute, so ready to see what was next for us, that the pieces just fell together,” Janet says. “We didn’t have a business plan. Other knitters saw this was something they could do, and a grassroots movement began.” Like ripples in a lake, the shawl movement began spreading, its goodwill, thoughts, and prayers carried back and forth from knitter to recipient on the gentle waves. “Knitting is very connected to the feminine,” Vicky observes, “and maybe this is the

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