I met Susan McKee, the founder of Knitting4Peace.org, the summer of 2015 while on vacation at the Chautauqua Institution. I attended one of her weekly lectures, and learned all about the group, how they started, and what they do. Simply, she solicits donated knitted, crocheted, and quilted items that then get distributed to targeted recipients (people in need of goods and comfort) around the world. I was inspired to join individually as a contributor and supporter of the effort.
One thing I really like about this group is that they are very specific about the items requested; they have recipients in mind and know exactly what’s needed to provide the most benefit for these folks. Different groups have different needs, and I sure don’t mind being told what to make, down to being provided with an exact pattern. That way I know what I spend time making will definitely be used. This makes me happy, and I know my work is not disappearing into a donation black hole somewhere, looking for a place to go. Susan knows exactly where everything goes, and many thanks to her for keeping it all organized!
Since I both knit and crochet well, and the things they talked about seemed fairly simple, I knew I would be able to contribute to this group. Some of the things they mentioned included scarves, shawls, gloves, mittens, hats, dolls, and bibs. But the thing that got me really excited was the quilted sleeping mats. I had just recently started quilting again. And the mats needed sounded straight forward. I thought it would be a really good fit for my skills. Some background on this specific project:
“Quilted Sleeping Mats (Pattern created by members of the Highlands Ranch, CO Peace Pod. Special thanks to Darlene Danyo for transcribing the pattern!) These mats were designed for AIDS orphans in Swaziland who sleep on dirt floors. We were originally asked in 2012 to provide our knit or crocheted rectangular shawls to serve this purpose. As the requests continued to grow in subsequent years, some of our
knitters who also quilt suggested a warmer, more effective floor covering: a quilted one! The quilters created a prototype that we sent to Swaziland for evaluation. The process took 6 months! It is a policy of Knitting4Peace that we never introduce a new item unless it is requested by those we serve. When the Swazi elders approved this pattern, they requested 600 sleeping mats in their initial order, telling us there are thousands more who also need them. The creative problem-solvers in the Highlands Ranch, CO Peace Pod created a pattern that satisfies the Swazi’s and also incorporates an element of 3, honoring our founding mission and commitments (for an explanation of why this is important, please visit our Website Homepage and read our Mission Statement: www.knitting4peace.org)” http://www.knitting4peace.org/what-we-do/patterns
It took me a while, but part of my first contribution included three quilted sleeping mats. I looked up the flag for Swaziland and used those colors for inspiration. I backed the quilts with a heavier cotton weave than I would normally use in a quilt, hoping for durability. There is just minimal piecing and quilting, but I am very proud of this early effort. I put them in a box that I had to send them to Colorado, and filled up the extra space with knitted and crocheted baby bibs and scarves.