January: Vests For Refugee Children

Robyn here!

Winter has arrived in the Northern Hemisphere, and cold is settling in, even on the shores of Greece in the Mediterranean. According to my friend Alison, the temperatures feel freezing as the volunteers stand at the edge of the water pulling refugees off boats, and children are being hauled to the medical tents freezing to death thanks to a combination of wind, being soaked through their clothes from the waves, and exhaustion from their travels.

One of the easiest ways to provide some extra warmth is with vests made from 100% wool, and that's where the Mini Thermal Vest pattern comes in. I shared a bit about this at the end of last year, but vests are uniquely perfect for refugees, especially when made in wool - they keep the body's main organs warm by covering the trunk of a person, all while keeping extremities free of the bulk of sweaters and blankets and such. This means vests can be layered over or under other long sleeved clothing and provide one extra layer of warmth, and when made with wool there's the added advantage of some amount of protection from the weather.

And so, for January, Heather and I will be knitting Mini Thermal Vests with our wool stash. The pattern is written to create different sizes based on the yarn weight and needle you use, and the waffle pattern means your vest will almost certainly fit a refugee child perfectly. Made long and skinny, these vests can keep babies through toddlers and younger children warm all winter long as they hunker down in refugee camps or travel on after landing in Greece, hoping to find safety and freedom from fighting.

As you make your vests, send them on to Salaam Cultural Museum, which is a well-known and much-respected organization doing refugee work, and which has collection addresses both in the US and in London!


Salaam Cultural Museum
℅ Rita
3806 Whitman Ave N
Seattle. WA 98103

Knit for Peace (Refugee Appeal)
Radius Works
Back Lane
London
NW3 1HL

I'll be back early next week with my first vest, either in progress or ready to share, and some of the hints I may come up with as I've been knitting! Happy new year, and happy knitting!

The Year Of The Refugee

Robyn here.

For most of 2015, Heather and I have brought you charities and patterns, ways to combine them and help people close to you, and those across the world. It has been extremely amazing to watch this community grow as we've opened our hearts to those around us, and to the idea that we can use our needles and hooks for good.

Today is the first day of a new year, and with that newness comes a new focus for this space. As Heather and I have talked over the last few weeks and months, we've come again and again to the idea that, as much as it's great to have a huge database of charities and patterns at our disposal, what most knitters have been asking for is one simple direction.

Knit this, give it here.

In the face of so much need, all over the world, it can feel overwhelming to try to knit something and give it away. Where do you give the items once they've been knit? What is truly most needed? What pattern should I use on repeat, and with what yarn?

These are the questions we are asked most often, and so in 2016 we will begin to help you answer them. We will be focusing our knitting efforts on refugees, people with no homes. This may mean people in your neighborhood who are homeless, and this may also mean Syrian refugees.

Each month we'll be sharing about a specific need, and giving you a specific way to meet that need. In this way, we can focus as a community on meeting immediate needs in tangible ways, making the most difference with our knitting needles and crochet hooks. I'll be heading back here later tonight to share January's focus - it's a fun one, and for a hat knitter like me, a bit out of my comfort zone in all the best of ways!

Will you join us? We'd love for you to share your knitting projects across social media with the tag #makegiverepeat. This way we can band together as a community and put visuals to the work we are doing. We knitters are mighty, and we are kind, but so often we go unnoticed because we do not shout from the rooftops. It's time to start shouting, friends! We're here, and we're going to change the world, one knit and purl at a time!!