Student club keeps knitting to keep others warm

Knitters for Peace donate all their wares to charitable organizations.

by Andy Mannix

At the end of the “Students Today Leaders Forever” community-service spring break trip earlier this year, Katheryn Hope was faced with a difficult question: What will you do next?

Her answer was simple: knit.

Three weeks later, “Knitters for Peace,” a collective of students who meet weekly in the Lutheran Student Movement house to knit, was born.

However, these students don’t just knit for themselves – they knit for a cause. All the commodities the group produces are donated to charitable organizations, Hope, a civil engineering sophomore, said.

And why knitting?

“It’s something you can do with your friends and still give back to the community,” Tanya Schmitt, University student and Knitters for Peace member, said.

Since the group’s establishment in April, it has grown from six to about 14 members, Hope said.

Last semester, the group knitted five shawls they donated to Sheila’s Shawls – a Silent Witness National Initiative project created in memory of the late Sheila Wellstone that gives clothes to domestic violence victims.

Shortly after, a grateful recipient of the shawls came to a Knitters for Peace meeting and joined the students in an afternoon of knitting, Jerie Smith, group adviser, said.

“Creating something for someone else, it’s very different than just writing a check or going out and buying something to give to someone,” Smith said. “It takes some time and energy.”

Hope said the idea for Knitters for Peace came to her a long time before she actually started the group.

Growing up, Hope’s mother was constantly knitting. For every garment she would knit for her family, she would also knit one for charity, Hope said.

Beyond her mother, Hope was also inspired by a book she received titled “Knitting for Peace: Make the World a Better Place One Stitch at a Time” by Betty Christiansen and Kiriko Shirobayashi. The book provided the foundation for some of her ideas, Hope said.

The spring break trip finally gave her the motivation to get things started, she said.

“The best way to show people you care is to do something really personal,” Hope said

So far this semester, the group has been collaborating on a quilt they plan to donate to the Warm Up America! Foundation, a volunteer-based organization that allocates blankets and clothing to those in need.

For the next project, there has been discussion of knitting mittens and hats for those who need them for the rapidly approaching winter, Hannah Mosca, an individualized studies sophomore who helped create the group, said.

Hope said she has also been contemplating a “knit-in” event, where the group will knit in a public place such as Coffman Union.

Beyond the fun social opportunity Knitters for Peace allows, Smith said students enjoy getting involved in helping others.

“Just wanting to make a difference, you know,” Smith said. “Wanting to share the craft and the skill, but wanting it to mean more than just that I’m making something new for myself.”