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Drop Stitches Not Bombs—Knitting for Social Good


I learned to knit when I was in high school, and I haven't been able to stop since. I love the challenge of learning new stitches and techniques, and it's such a fantastic thrill to bind off and see a finished product. It's also a great way to connect with other women, whether it be in an online community like, or at the local yarn store knit night.

I thought I knew most there was to know about knitting, until I discovered that there are knitters out there combining their love of fiber arts with their passion for activism.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised — craftivism, as it's been coined, isn't a new phenomenon. During the US Women's Suffrage Movement, women banded together to embroider elaborate banners to display during marches. Women knitted items for soldiers and refugees through the Red Cross Knitting Program long before online communities inspired this new wave of crafty activists. In fact, knitting and sewing circles were often disguises for activist organizing. Even Susan B. Anthony made her first suffrage speech at a quilting bee!

Today, knitters are primarily organizing online to effect change. And while it may not be the activism of frontline leaders, these women are doing what they can to support very real and important causes.

These are some of the more exciting projects I'm aware of:

* Knit a River-- This 2007 campaign, which ended in July, was designed to raise awareness for Water Aid and their vision, "a world where everyone has access to safe water and effective santiation." To support Water Aid's efforts, knitters from across the world sent blue knit squares that were then sewn together to create a gargantuan river, a kind of knitted petition (the cleverly titled a "knitition") letting leaders know of their demand to 'let the water flow!'

* Knitting Bloggers for Heifer-- A subset of the raging online community of knitters came together to raise money for Heifer International , donating over 10 "knitting baskets," consisting of 16 sheep and 16 llamas, which will help support 16 families in need, and potentially more as the animals reproduce. Find out more, here .

* Knitters Without Borders-- Stephanie Pearl McPherson, better known as the Yarn Harlot, is probably one of the most well known knitting bloggers, and she manage Knitters Without Borders , a project that has raised a remarkable $434,439.41 since its inception for Doctors Without Borders.

* Street Knit-- This Canadian based project has inspired tons more just like it across the world. Street Knit members spend their summers knitting winter items for the homeless, successfully providing warmth to over 500 individuals (and that's just in Toronto alone!).

*G8 Summit Global Knit-in: Another oldie, but still inspiring. On July 26, 2002, the Revolutionary Global Knitting Circle called upon knitting activists to join together in a Global Knit-In to protest at the G8 summit for "the global corporatism it stands for." Hundreds of knitters across Canada, the US and Europe held knit-ins in support.

*Afghans for Afghans-- This grassroots organization has sent more than 60,000 handknit/crocheted items to the people of Afghanistan. They call for blankets, sweaters, vests, hats, mittens, and socks, which are then delivered to provide comfort and support to those affected by war.

This is not to mention those who knit items for charity, including local children's hospitals, NIC units, shelters, etc.

There are so many ways to make a difference, and I love seeing women coming together and effecting change. I would love to hear about any other organizations people know about that are working in this way, as well as thoughts about craftivism in general!




Goldie Davich's picture


I don't knit. But I love scarfs! This is a very nicely crafted post!

Goldie Davich, PulseWire Online Intern

Ankur Naik's picture

Thanks for this terrific

Thanks for this terrific information! I know how to crochet; maybe it's time for me to learn to knit...

Ankur Naik, Lead Software Developer

Corine Milano's picture

I've tried crochet, but I

I've tried crochet, but I find it much harder!

Let's exchange lessons!

Corine Milano, Assistant Editor

--"We will surely get to our destination if we join hands."
Aung San Suu Kyi --

Auma's picture

Can i have a look at your pieces?

I love to knit and crochet.I have about 4 crochet masterpieces that i would wish to swop with someone in January.Do you know someone with a few cute pieces?

Leah Auma.

Gene's picture


Hanging on my bedroom wall is a needlework piece done by an African women from Malawi. She attends our school called M.I.R.A.C.L.E. This school is run by our Marianists in East Africa.

For $130 dollars I had the piece framed. To see a picture of the needlework go to the site given below. It is an exquisite piece. When I see it, I think of this woman of Malawi who is learning a trade which can help support her family.

Priceless Needlecraft

Harla's picture

women and their art

Recently, I spent some time at the Pacific International Quilt Fair. Once again, I find myself in awe of other women's
creativity and artistic expression.Through history, women from different parts of the world share the love of working with their hands through their craft.I found myself standing in front of some of these art quilts, moved beyond words,inspired,and thrilled to have the opportunity to experience the artist's work. I love being around women who enjoy
creating any kind of art.
I look forward to learning about the crafts the women do, who live in the town where my Rafiki lives, and
it's purpose in their lives.

I think it's great that you learned knitting at such a young age and have kept it up and find enjoyment in it!



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