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

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!

Mini Thermal Vest

Pattern: Mini Thermal Vest, by Claire Russell (free Ravelry download)

Yarn: dk weight through aran weight

Needles: sizes US 7 / 4.5mm, US 8 / 5.0mm, or US 9 / 5.5mm

Winter has reached the Midwest, and while in many areas of the US there's still warmth to be found, for those in need, the cold is setting in quickly ... and it can be extremely dangerous.

The Mini Thermal Vest can help keep little ones of a variety of ages warm, thanks to the free pattern and wide size range! You get the different vest sizes by changing gauge, which means you can make this vest to fit anywhere from infants to two year olds simply by switching needles and yarns!

While I mostly knit hats, this vest is going to be on my needles on repeat this winter, hopefully using up the bulk of the wool I have left on-hand to make vests for Syrian refugees. A vest is perfect for charity knitting, and especially for donation to refugees. A vest will provide warmth to the body, keeping vital organs warm, while not adding bulk to extremities (like arms), keeping mobility as high as possible. This means people will stay warm while still being able to do work, walk for weeks at a time (as many are), and carry their children and their belongings as they go.

For little ones, like this pattern is meant for, this type of warmth is even more important. Keeping warm while not adding bulk can mean the difference between life and death for these tiny refuge children! Wool is best in this case, although the vest can also be made in acrylics and donated to local homeless shelters for little ones in your area.

Toddler T-Shirt Vest

Pattern: Toddler T-Shirt Vest, by Sam Lamb

Suggested Yarn: Dream in Color Classy

Suggested Gauge: 18.5 stitches and 26 rows = 4 inches in stockinette stitch

Suggested Needles: US 9 / 5.5mm

I'm just going to be honest. When a vest pattern says "worked in the round, raglan style", I'm in. I'm 100%, throw myself over the deep end without looking first, into the pattern. Vests are a must-make for charity knitters - they help keep people in a wide variety of climates warm while still keeping arms free for all the day will throw at them. It adds a layer around the precious torso, keeping your body warm while not adding bulk to your extremities.

Vests are where it's at, basically. If I hadn't already committed myself to being a hat maker, I'd be making vests on repeat.

The problem is, many vests have a large amount of shaping and fussy details around the yoke, and then you have to go back in and pick up stitches practically EVERYWHERE. And I just don't have brain space for that. (truth)

The Toddler T-Shirt Vest eliminates all but the armhole ribbing, and works top-down with raglan increases, taking almost ALL of the fussiness out of the equation. And that means I make vests!!

You can use any aran weight yarn with this pattern, which means if you've got some slightly scratchy wool laying about, unsure of what to do with it, this pattern is for you! Vests are always layered, so this is the ONLY TIME I would ever say scratchy yarn is okay.