Dear Local Yarn Store:
My name is Jayna Zweiman and I am a founder/creator of the Pussyhat Project. My local yarn store, The Little Knittery, was integral to the success of the Pussyhat Project. Before, during, and after that project, the store’s weekly knit-nights provide an invaluable community where regulars and new faces can share and support each other.
The power of knitting has stayed with me. I am now spearheading a new craftivism project, the Welcome Blanket, which will culminate with an installation at the SMART Museum at the University of Chicago in the Fall of 2017. After the show’s close, the blankets will be distributed to refugee resettlement organizations.
A welcome blanket is traditionally created to lovingly mark the arrival of a new person into the world. In the Welcome Blanket project, each handmade blanket is a physical manifestation of this celebration of refugees and other new immigrants: “Welcome to the United States and your new life here! We are so glad you have arrived.”
The Welcome Blanket Project aims to connect people living in the United States residents with our country’s new immigrants through stories and handmade blankets, providing both symbolic and literal comfort and warmth. At the same time, the project offers a positive, hands-on way to understand the scope of the proposed 2000-mile border wall between the United States and Mexico, and to subvert it from an idea of exclusion to one of inclusion, from concrete to yarn.
The goals of Welcome Blanket are as follows:
1. Welcome new immigrants to the United States with a practical gift and words of welcome and connection.
2. Provide ways for those who want to support immigrants to create and give a practical and thoughtful gift.
3. Create community around positive, hands-on ideas of inclusion.
4. Promote discussions about immigration policy and its effects on real-live people.
As a local yarn store, you are an incredible craftivism resource. I would love for your store to join our Welcome Blanket community. Would you consider becoming an ALLY?
What does that mean?
First and foremost, you would be listed on our website’s “Locations” page (address, phone number, and website). With the Pussyhat Project, one of our goals was to highlight the incredible community that a local yarn store can provide, and many of our allies experienced unprecedented interest in both new and returning customers and overall sales.
Then, you would post our flier in a prominent place in your store, as well as extra copies available for people to pick up. We would love for you to get started on a sample blanket- even just two squares to start so customers can understand what it would look like (it is worked in Chunky weight Superwash wool). We also ask that you blast info about Welcome Blanket across your website, newsletter, on social media, and, of course, by word of mouth!
Third, you would be a site for participants to work on their welcome blankets, and you could provide various ways for them to do so, such as
A) Beginners Welcome: Beginner knitters can come by during business hours for help. Some knit-curious folks will want help getting the right supplies to get started.
B) Gatherings and Knit-A-Longs: Host gatherings for participants to make welcome blankets together. This is a fantastic way to build community at your store. The “Come Together Blanket” is also great first project! (We also have a gatherings page where you can list specific gathering times and locations. If something changes, you can manage it without having to wait for us.)
C) Discounts for Welcome Blanket Project: Offer reasonable discounts for Welcome Blanket knitters. For example, you may offer 10% off yarn to people making a Welcome Blanket. The details of the promotion are up to you.
D) Donations Welcome: Some people may want to buy yarn for knitters. These generous donors can call an ALLY business listed on our website and offer to buy yarn. You may accept their payment of yarn, and then give that yarn to someone at the store who wants to knit a welcome blanket. These generous donors are also invited to write welcome notes.
E) Drop-off location. Some knitter, crocheters and sewers may want to drop off their blankets with you for shipping to the SMART Museum. We are working on securing partnerships to cover shipping costs, and we will keep you posted!
Please fill out the registration form below. We will publish the store name, address, website, phone number, and how you will be participating.
Jayna Zweiman, Founder
A quick note about the blanket pattern: The guiding principle for the Welcome Blanket is that a knitter creates something she would like to receive; people are invited to make up their own patterns. Kat Coyle, designer of the Pussyhat, has created a wonderful pattern: it is 16 10” “quilting” squares that can be configured in dozens of ways. We love that the pattern is both easy to do on the go, and wonderful for a group to create together. For those of you who worked with the Pussyhat pattern, one pussyhat has more stitches than four blanket squares!
A quick note about quilters: Quilters are welcome to participate! Creating a kind and powerful gift can take many forms. We are measuring the distance with yards of yarn, but will also take stock of quilt dimensions.