16 squares = 16 ways to get involved

In my previous blog post, I talked about 16 ways to spread the word. Welcome Blanket is successful because of our collective energy. Today, I honor our 16-squared “Come Together Blanket” sample pattern with 16 ways to take part in the project:

DETERMINE YOUR SUPERPOWER

1. "Do I have special skills that could benefit Welcome Blanket?"
You probably have a superpower. We all do.  Maybe you are fantastic with logistics, a writer, a photographer, a social media guru, a teacher, an incredible cook, a translator, someone who finds things super inexpensively and can bargain like crazy, a psychotherapist, a videographer,  a documentarian, a story teller, a web designer, a graphic designer or illustrator, an attorney,  a connector, an incredible thinker, etc. Whatever skills you have, we can find a place for you on this project. Welcome Blanket is about inclusion, and that includes you.

MAKE A WELCOME BLANKET 

2. "Am I an okay to expert knitter, crocheter, weaver, quilter, sewer?" 
Offer up your talents. You can give advice in person or over social media. Let people know you are ready to share your knowledge if they are involved with Welcome Blanket. Being a beginner knitter myself, I love asking for advice in person and appreciate all the help I can get!

3. "Am I interested in learning a new skill?"
Welcome Blanket is the perfect opportunity to begin knitting, crocheting, weaving, sewing or quilting. Try it out! It’s okay to make mistakes.

So many different blankets! All are welcome!

So many different blankets! All are welcome!

This blanket from @lovelyarns is a wonderful group effort. Can you imagine how wonderful it will be to receive this gem and its accompanying stories and words of welcome?

This blanket from @lovelyarns is a wonderful group effort. Can you imagine how wonderful it will be to receive this gem and its accompanying stories and words of welcome?

HELP WITH THE WELCOME BLANKET SHOW (no crafty skills necessary)

4. "Am I, or will I be in Chicago?"
We would love your help with unpacking parties. Currently, we have over 700 blanket packages in the Smart Museum storage area that are ready for freezing, cataloging and install, and more arrive every day! We love the enthusiasm of our Welcome Blanket makers and we have committed to showing all the blankets sent by November 4 (We will happily take them after, too). There is something particularly special about opening up the deliveries, touching this beautiful work, reading welcome notes, and being a part of the installation team. We have a standing unpacking party 1-4 on Saturdays, and we are creating more. No prior experience is necessary. Groups and individuals are welcome. Get in touch with jharness@uchicago.edu for more details.

Here's a peak at the incredible piles of packages ready for unpacking!

Here's a peak at the incredible piles of packages ready for unpacking!

Welcome Blanket Unpacking Party in Progress!

Welcome Blanket Unpacking Party in Progress!

MAKE SPACE

5. "Do I have an organization, business, or home with space for people to gather?"
You can host a knitting circle in other places aside from your home. You don’t even have to be a knitter! Dance studios, coffee shops, bookstores, boutiques, art galleries, ski lodges)– all could be potential “knit in public” places. You can also invite people to gather in your home to make Welcome Blankets and talk about immigration. As with any other situation, always be sure to be safe.

6. “Do I know how to host a party?”
If you can host a party, you can host a Welcome Blanket gathering. Host a knitting party and invite friends to knit, talk about immigration, and learn more about the project. Take photos and post them on social media using #welcomeblanket.  You can host a meetup in your own home or perhaps at a local coffee shop. Remember to post about it on our Gatherings page if you want more people to be able to know.

Screen Shot 2017-09-11 at 6.10.32 PM.png

USE WELCOME BLANKET AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO BETTER KNOW YOUR NEIGHBORS

7. "Do I know of a retirement home, assisted living facility, rehab facility, dialysis clinic, hospital or another place where there may be knitters who are not on social media?"
Contact the social coordinator of the facility. Let them know that this type of project is therapeutic and can give purpose to people who may feel powerless. Really! Maybe you could even visit and knit together!

 8. “Do I know people in Chicago?”
Let them know about the Welcome Blanket installation at the Smart Museum Encourage them to go and share their experience (#welcomeblanket). Because the show is constantly evolving, they can go multiple times and the experience will be different. You can also encourage them to participate in unpacking parties!

Here's what the Welcome Blanket show looked like on September 27. We are so grateful for all of the incredible creativity, work and kindness of those involved in the project.

Here's what the Welcome Blanket show looked like on September 27. We are so grateful for all of the incredible creativity, work and kindness of those involved in the project.

CONNECT AND BE WITH OTHERS

9. "Is there a knitter/crafter in my life?" 
Talk with her, or him! Share information about the project. If she/he is physically nearby, go and be with her as she works on her #welcomeblanket.

10. “Do I know someone who is stressed out (about politics, immigration, personal experiences, mental health, life in general) and would benefit from participating in this project?”
This goes for all of us;  we are living in stressful times. Self-care is essential. One way to manage stress is through knitting, or crafting. "Might crafts such as knitting offer long-term health benefits?" from the Washington Post and "Should you knit?" from Psychology today bring up multiple studies and possible explanations for why crafting in general and the repetitive approach of knitting in particular are good for one's mind and mental state.

Here's an image from the Olneyville Library. Welcome Blanket is a great opportunity to get together with neighbors.

Here's an image from the Olneyville Library. Welcome Blanket is a great opportunity to get together with neighbors.

LISTEN AND SHARE STORIES AND IDEAS

11. “How well do I know my family’s immigration story?”
Start thinking about your accompanying note to the immigrant who will receive your blanket. Talk with your family or do some research around your family's arrival to the United States. Share your story using #welcomeblanket. We are working on creating a way for people to share their stories widely (even if they are not creating a welcome blanket). 

 12. "What concerns me about current immigration policy? How do I start the conversation?"
This is a big topic, and one that evokes big emotions. Here’s a list  of possible questions to start off the conversation while you knit your blanket. Feel free to use our guide whether or not you are crafting. A large part of Welcome Blanket is creating a space for dialogue. 

We have binders and binders of welcome notes and stories. All are being recorded and numbered to match with their blankets. Come on in and read some.

We have binders and binders of welcome notes and stories. All are being recorded and numbered to match with their blankets. Come on in and read some.

SHARE MATERIALS AND RESOURCES 

13. “Do I have a yarn stash?”
You do? What a wonderful reason to put together different yarns! You can make a blanket from the yarn you have, or share!

14. “Do I have extra funds that I want to contribute to this project?”
There are a few ways you can contribute financially. Check out our locations page and see which local yarn stores have “Donations Welcome.” Call them and talk with them about donating funds (or supplies) for making Welcome Blankets. The Smart Museum of Art is also fundraising  (contributions are tax-deductable) to help cover costs of shipping, programming, etc. 

HELP DEVELOP PARTNERSHIPS AND COLLABORATIONS 

15. "Am I part of, or do I know a group that should partner with Welcome Blanket?" 
We love to collaborate and partner. This project’s power lies in part in how we all connect and help one another. Perhaps you are part of a group that is in crafts, refugee resettlement, immigration rights, etc. From encouraging your local crafts store to sign up to be a visible partner to connecting us with refugee resettlement groups to introducing us to artist and civil rights organizations, you can be that incredible connector that helps us build a network of inclusion and support. 

Welcome Blanket is all about collaboration and inclusion. Here's a pic from Politicon.

Welcome Blanket is all about collaboration and inclusion. Here's a pic from Politicon.

SPREAD THE WORD

16. “Do I want to let everyone know about Welcome Blanket?”
Of course you do! Check out my previous blog post for ways to spread the word. You may have some additional ideas.  

Chicken the Dog recommends taking some printouts about Welcome Blanket to take to the dog park. She's great with PR.

Chicken the Dog recommends taking some printouts about Welcome Blanket to take to the dog park. She's great with PR.

As always, thank you for being a part of Welcome Blanket. It's our collective action that makes this project resonate. Let's keep it up! 

In Solidarity,

Jayna

16 Ways to Spread the Welcome Blanket Word

Have you ever thought to yourself, “Someone should…”? With Welcome Blanket, you can be the one to go for it.

Welcome Blanket reimagines a length of exclusion to one of inclusion. Whether you are super-crafty, craft-curious, or craft-averse, you can be a part of Welcome Blanket. Young or old, on your own or in a group, you can be part of our team. We would love your help.

Here’s why: the more people who know about Welcome Blanket, the more people will participate. The more participation, the larger our voice. Let’s come together and make this happen! Anyone who is motivated and/or inspired to welcome a new refugee to the United States can contribute. Even if you consider yourself a non-crafter, you can make Welcome Blanket a reality. Seriously.

Our “Come Together Blanket” sample pattern comprises 16 squares stitched together. In honor of those 16 individual squares, here are 16 different questions to ask yourself when figuring out how to spread the word:

1. “Am I a knitter, crocheter, weaver, quilter, sewer or other sort of crafter?”
Excellent! Join the project! Make a welcome blanket and share your beautiful work and story. Offer up your skills and share your knowledge. We have a tutorial on our website, but nothing beats sitting with someone and troubleshooting together. Knit in public and show how craftivists are making our mark.

@betsyrubin

2. “Do I know a knitter, crocheter, quilter, weaver, sewer, or other blanket making fiend/friend?”
Contact all the crafty people you know to join you in this project. Share why Welcome Blanket is important to you.

3. “Do I have any sort of social media account?”
If you have a social media account, please post about Welcome Blanket using #welcomeblanket. Follow us on Instagram: @welcomeblanket ,  Facebook: @welcomeblanket, Twitter: @welcomeblanket. Share the project. Share your #welcomeblanket as a work in progress and a finished piece. Post a story meaningful to you about immigration, migration, and relocation.

4. “Do I have email?”
Email everyone you think may be interested in Welcome Blanket. Here’s a simple email you can copy, paste, edit to your voice (if you wish), and send.  If you receive newsletters from a source you think would dig Welcome Blanket, share your tip.

Dear friend,

I am excited to be taking part in the Welcome Blanket project and wanted to share it with you. For more information, check out the website: www.WelcomeBlanket.org and follow on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as @welcomeblanket and #welcomeblanket.

Yours,

5. “Am I part of an organization or know someone who works with refugees and other new immigrants in my area?”
We are looking to partner with resettlement groups across the country. There are many hyper-local groups doing wonderful work, and we would love to connect with them. Help us find each other! Ask a representative from the group (maybe it’s you!) to contact us (hello@welcomeblanket.org).

6. “Am I part of a group that may be interested in learning about Welcome Blanket?”
Are you part of a knitting, crochet, weaving, quilting, or sewing circle? Are you part of a book club, camp group, traveling sports team, skydiving club, Mommy and Me group, Welcome America group, Red Hat Society, craft beer club, religious group, political group, community service group, cooking group, dinner club, women’s group, LGBTQIA group, bowling league, Facebook group, summer camp, alumni group, cultural group, etc.? Please share the project with them. Welcome Blanket is an ideal group project. The optional sample pattern has 16 individual squares, so people can get together to make their own blankets or collaborate on one.

7. “Do I know other groups that may be interested in Welcome Blanket?”
You don’t have to be officially in a group to share an idea. If you know someone who is part of a group that may be interested in making a Welcome Blanket, please share why this project is important to you. Maybe you’ll end up joining them.

8. Do I know individuals who may knit/crochet or quilt who aren’t on social media?
My mom isn’t on social media, so the only way she knows what I am doing is if I get in touch with her. Do you have a friend or relative or someone else you know like my mom? Keep her in the know! She would probably love to hear from you. (By the way, my mom does not yet knit, but she is excellent at spreading the word.)

9. “Do I know groups of people who may knit/crochet or quilt who aren’t on social media?
Contact the activities coordinators at nursing homes, assisted living facilities, community mental health centers, houses of worship, hospitals, etc., and share the project. Just because someone doesn’t have social media doesn’t mean she isn’t engaged and needle/hook ready! Knitting has been shown to be scientifically therapeutic as meditation. Creating a blanket can be a part of someone’s recovery or self-care regimen.

10. “Do I have a local news outlet?”
If you know your local radio or TV station, local newspaper or website, write a letter to the editor, or contact the station to share news about Welcome Blanket. If you are hosting or joining a Welcome Blanket gathering, invite someone from the media to come. Wouldn’t it be great to have some positive local news with a national impact?

11. Do I know a local yarn store that isn’t on the Locations page? 
Get in touch with them and let them know about your interest in the Welcome Blanket Project. Chances are, there are other people in your area who are, too. Give the local yarn store this link so they can let people know how they are participating. You will be helping other knitters in your area find a base and be helping a small business.

12. “Do I have a printer, and do I know how to make copies?”
If you know how to make copies, print out a version of our flyer (one or two sided). If you are feeling extra creative, feel free to make your own!

13. “Have I seen a bulletin board?”
Yes, those good old fashioned bulletin boards at coffee shops, hospitals, restaurants, community centers, swimming pools, locker rooms, town halls, office buildings, city corners, etc., can be great places to post about Welcome Blanket. Make sure it is ok with the bulletin board owner to post. Check back in from time to time to make sure your post is still visible.

14. “Do I know an influencer who may be interested in this project?”
Reach out to this person and let her know why Welcome Blanket is important to you and include a link to our website so she can find out more. Can you imagine if 10 or 100 or 1000 of us reached out as fans with this project? (Some people have mentioned Lin-Manuel Miranda, America Ferrara, Gina Rodriguez, and others…). You may also be an “influencer” yourself.

15. Am I a photographer?
Offer to take portraits of people making Welcome Blankets in your local area! Share them with #welcomeblanket on social media or email us at hello@welcomeblanket.org

16. Do I know a second language?
If you are able to translate our flyers or patterns into another language, we would love your help. Please contact us at hello@welcomeblanket.org.

Please consider what you may be able to do to help spread the word about Welcome Blanket. It's our collective voices and actions that make this project powerful.  All are welcome.

In solidarity,

Jayna

Welcome Blanket: An Act of Inclusion and Welcome

In the United States of America in 2017, a woman should not be killed by a white supremacist domestic terrorist because she protests Nazis. With our outrage, let’s work together to craft the kind of society in which we wish to live.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has published a thorough guide about 10 ways to fight hate. For the guide, click here.

Participating in Welcome Blanket is one way to take our country by warmth, kindness, and inclusion. It celebrates our diversity, provides a way to talk about complex issues surrounding immigration, and supports our newest neighbors. The skills we use in this project to demonstrate our ideas and ideals. And at this crucial time of localized demonstrations, Welcome Blanket allows us to connect locally and build positive community— and share this connection nationally and globally.

(IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Welcome Blanket no. 00008  is a 5X5 gray and red repeated half square triangle pattern comes from Atlanta, GA with a note of welcome: "My family, and your family, is 100% American. If you feel like the USA is home, it is home. Never let anyone tell you that you do not belong here. It won't be easy, but it will be worth it. I am excited you are here, and I am excited to learn more about your culture.”)

(IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Welcome Blanket no. 00008  is a 5X5 gray and red repeated half square triangle pattern comes from Atlanta, GA with a note of welcome: "My family, and your family, is 100% American. If you feel like the USA is home, it is home. Never let anyone tell you that you do not belong here. It won't be easy, but it will be worth it. I am excited you are here, and I am excited to learn more about your culture.”)

The United States is a large and complicated place. We may not solve our immigration issues or stamp out white nationalism by sharing stories and making blankets. However, I hope that our collective action will remind ourselves and demonstrate the humanity of the idea that “all men are created equal.”

The Smart Museum provides a public platform or an extended, deep discussion around immigration issues. But it’s not the only forum. Your craft circle may also be a great space to process where we have been, where we are, and where we are going as country in terms of immigration.

Sitting with multiple Welcome Blanket groups, I have gotten to know people on an entirely different level because we shared our families’ histories and talked about the refugee crisis. I feel I have become a part of more communities from this project. I am so thankful.

Notions of white supremacy and white nationalism have driven the border wall, the travel ban, the proposed language requirement.

Your participation in Welcome Blanket is one way to take opposite action and prove the necessity of pluralism.

Keep crafting, learning, talking, and spreading the word.

-Jayna

Deadline is extended to November 4!!!

You wanted more time, you've got it! Start a blanket, finish a blanket, start another blanket, spread the word! Create in quiet contemplation, or as part of a community group.

The enthusiasm and dedication for Welcome Blanket have been amazing so far. We want the momentum to keep going. So, we are making time and space to include more work and more voices in this project. That includes YOUR work and YOUR voice.

Please send your blanket/note as soon as you can to help build the installation that is already underway. The Smart Museum of Art will make every effort to include blankets sent by the November 4 deadline in the exhibition. Blankets received between November 4 and December 17 will not be exhibited but will still be distributed to resettlement programs.

Thank you to our wonderful partners at the Smart Museum of Art who are making this extension possible.

(IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A gigantic pile of blankets of various kinds: knit, crochet, quilted, and maybe woven. Different patterns represented. Different colors present.)

(IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A gigantic pile of blankets of various kinds: knit, crochet, quilted, and maybe woven. Different patterns represented. Different colors present.)

 

 

Thoughts on the Fourth of July

The 4th of July is often celebrated with good food, parades, fireworks, and family and friends. It is also a time to reflect on the history of the United States and how to craft what our future can be. This year, in honor of Independence Day, I am adding a new tradition. I will also be working on a Welcome Blanket.

THE AMERICAN FLAG IS A CRAFT PROJECT

"Stars and Stripes" flag adopted by the Continental Congress in 1777 

"Stars and Stripes" flag adopted by the Continental Congress in 1777 


Whenever anyone asks whether a craft project can have power, I am a little taken aback. The American flag was a craft project.  Let that digest: the most powerful symbol in our country is a craft project!

As a kid, I grew up with the story of Betsy Ross who stitched the flag together for some battle. She was the only woman in the story, and though she did not go to the front lines, she created the symbol that united us. The Betsy Ross story has been debunked, and it is now thought that a team of people created the flag together. For me, this part of the story is even more powerful.

Upon just a little more searching (thank you Wikipedia), I learned the first US flag was flown at the Siege of Fort Stanwix. “Soldiers cut up their shirts to make the white stripes; scarlet material to form the red was secured from red flannel petticoats of officers' wives, while material for the blue union was secured from Capt. Abraham Swartwout's blue cloth coat.” In the creation of a physical symbol people gave pieces of their own clothing to create something together. 

The symbol of the American flag is both incredibly powerful and personal. What each of us sees is different based on our experience and outlook. As we have learned from today’s political climate, many people have different visions of what the United States is and should be.

When I see images of the flag, I think of the preamble to the Declaration of Independence:  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. “ For me, “All men” includes everyone of all faiths (and non-faiths), and especially includes immigrants.  

All of my grandparents immigrated to the United States and I am a product of their American Dream. My grandparents sought opportunity, safety, and religious freedom here in the United States. They laid the foundation for my family in this country through hard work, integrity, and kindness. I see my grandparents in the people who, at this very moment, are trying to come to the United States. I want to welcome them with the same opportunity, safety, and freedom my grandparents hoped for.

WELCOME BLANKET AS A NEW AMERICAN SYMBOL

A work in process, my first welcome blanket uses the "Come Together" pattern

A work in process, my first welcome blanket uses the "Come Together" pattern

Welcome Blanket is bigger than any one of us. It is a platform for participation and connection. It is about crafting a United States that we envision, a United States with many voices.

I hope these welcome blankets become powerful symbols for the people who will be receiving them. I hope that the ideas and ideals of “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” are transmitted.

I hope that the people who will receive these blankets will feel that they are welcomed and a part of our country’s fabric, and that maybe one day they will pass these welcome blankets down to their children and grandchildren and share that when they arrived in the United States, they were welcomed.

I hope making a welcome blanket will become a new tradition every year, sharing our love of this country, and all that the freedoms of our country have meant to us (and our families) with newcomers to the country.

In solidarity,

Jayna