It’s often the smallest of things that can make the biggest difference…
Most people think of knitting as something strictly for retirees; a nice, simple pastime for long nights sitting by the fire, but there’s a lot more to this homely activity than meets the eye.
With just a little imagination, the simple act of knitting has been used to clothe those in need, provide comfort to people living with cancer, and simply to bring a person’s smile back.
Here are 3 times that knitting has changed lives for the better.
This story follows a woman who’s kept on doing great things for communities at home and abroad well into her seventies. Eileen Johnson, of Cardigan, Ceredigion, has embarked on the mammoth task of knitting 2,020 cardigans by September 2020 for child refugees.
“I was born during the war and my mum taught me how to knit while in the air raid shelter when I was three years old,” she told the BBC in October.
“I’ve lived through a war and I know a bit of what they [child refugees] are going through. I’ve never been without needles since. Wherever I’ve been, wherever I am, whatever I’m doing, I’ve always got my knitting needles with me.”
2,020 cardigans is a big ask for a small town like Cardigan. The town will need to knit around 39 garments a week to hit their target, but Eileen’s idea has had a great response.
“I couldn’t have asked for it to be better,” she said. “The people of Cardigan are coming in with wool and needles. Somebody came in with 17 [items].”
Source: Wikimedia Commons
This bit of knitting was so inspirational that it even caught the attention of the Queen!
Joanna Dervisoglu, from Northfield, West Midlands, was awarded a British Empire Medal for services to women following mastectomy surgery in June 2019.
Joanna got involved with the US charity Knitted Knockers, which provides free prosthetic breasts to women who have had mastectomy surgery, knitted by an ever-growing network of volunteers.
The natural cotton prosthetic breasts are much lighter than the usual silicone option, not to mention easier to fit, more breathable, and generally more comfortable to wear for long periods of time.
After Joanna was approached by Kay Coombes, a Somerset woman who had underwent the surgery, they decided to start the first UK branch of Knitted Knockers in 2014.
From then on, the initiative flourished. New knitting and crocheting groups sprung up across Britain, making and distributing countless free knockers to post-mastectomy patients. Aside from the prosthetics, the charity has branched into many other great items for people living with breast cancer, including cotton washcloths, post-surgery support pillows, and hats.
When she was awarded her medal as part of the Queen’s birthday honours list in 2019, Joanna said: “Although I am the person receiving it, the award belongs to all those who have ever knitted a knocker, a wash cloth, chemo hat or made a post mastectomy cushion.”
“More importantly, I also accept it for all those women and men, past and present, who have faced the huge challenge of breast cancer, the treatments and the aftermath.”
Knitted Knockers UK has been so inundated with volunteer knitters that they’re currently closed to applications, but you can follow them on social media to check for openings in the future.
Source: Public Domain Pictures
As the stigma around talking about mental health fades, there’s more and more methods for keeping good emotional hygiene than ever.
From creative pursuits like writing and sketching to popular physical exercises like running and yoga, everyone seems to be finding their own ideal way to unplug and take some all-important ‘me’ time.
For one UK blogger, Becky Stewart, knitting has proved the perfect way to reduce stress, live more mindfully, and enjoy an all-round healthier life.
In her late teens, after being diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, Becky began to suffer severe bouts of depression and anxiety.
This marked the start of Becky’s long journey towards recovery, which saw her taking on a staunch commitment to self-care in all aspects of her life. Knitting, as it happens, turned out to be a huge part of this recovery process.
In Becky’s own words: “There are a whack-load of things that I do take control of my well-being, but one of the most simple, effective, and indispensable tools that I have in my ‘wellness toolkit’ is my knitting.”
Becky runs her own blog, Knit Om, where she discusses therapeutic knitting and conscious living, also providing resources to help people explore mindfulness and find their own sense of balance and calm through this simple craft hobby.