Review of Knitting for Peace

Review of Knitting for Peace
In these frantic times, we look for comfort. Knitters are lucky to have a meditative pastime/obsession, and many of us find that our projects help us reduce anxiety and provide a calming balance to our days. Some of us, however, need to move beyond our own needs and use our craft to make the world a better place. Writer Betty Christiansen shares this value, and her tome Knitting for Peace is one of the best books on the subject. Written almost fifteen years ago, it is still available on-line and can be ordered through your Local Yarn Shop or bookstore as well. (Supporting local businesses is an important piece of activism in itself – try to find an independent brick-and-mortar to order the book for you!)

There are many fine pattern collections themed to highlight issues (Laura Zander’s Knit Red springs immediately to mind), but Knit for Peace goes beyond the patterns. The bulk of the book is essay rather than directions; Christiansen profiles various individuals and organizations using their craft to bring comfort to others. She divides her thoughts into five sections: Peace and War, Peace on Earth, Peace at Home, Peace for Kids, and Knit for Peace. The first focuses on exactly what the title suggests, describing people who knit during times of war; the second is similar but looks at individuals living in safety reaching out to those affected by violent conflict. The third and fourth sections offer insight into how to use knitting to help the homeless and those who are seriously ill, with the final section giving suggestions for starting your own group or practice.

The emphasis is very much on the people and places that are making a difference, with stories designed to inspire and encourage activism. A few basic patterns are given as well. Some of these, such as the Care Wear Preemie Jester Hat or Warm Up America! Afghan square, can be completed with leftover yarn or the odd stash skein. Beginner knitters will find themselves easily able to use these patterns; for example, the Adopt Me Blanket, knitted for homeless and shelter dogs and cats, is entirely in garter stitch. The patterns, like the essays, serve as both inspiration and challenge to use our skills for a better world.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Laura Zander or with Betty Christiansen. I purchased my copy with my own funds.

Christiansen, Betty. Knitting for Peace: Make the World a Better Place, One Stitch At a Time. Harry N. Abrams, 2006. ISBN: 978-1584795339

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