By CAROLYN MILAZZO MURPHY
I’m the world’s worst knitter, and don’t even get me started on crocheting.
I admire women who knit at their kids’ basketball games or boring municipal meetings, expertly looping yarn over their knitting needles, but it’s Greek to me. My crafty mom tried to teach me to knit when I was about 13 and I just couldn’t get it. This was hard to accept for someone who prides herself on having excellent hand-eye coordination.
Knitting and crocheting are skills to be treasured and shared. Besides being able to make afghans, sweaters, scarves and mittens to provide warmth, handmade creations reflect a personal touch and creative spirit missing in today’s world of mass produced everything.
An article in Handmade Business summed it up this way:
“When you make something, you leave a part of yourself in it. When you are finished creating, you take pride in the work partly because you see yourself in it. When you buy something someone else made, you yourself are reflected in that purchase. Whether it’s the color, the texture, the shape, or just the mood you happen to be in, an item that has been crafted as an expression of the creative spirit person who made it is treasured and valued far beyond an item that was made for worldly mass consumption.”
The Connecticut chapter of NOW is calling on all knitters and crocheters, hoping their creations can infuse comfort, support and hope into the growing number of women and kids who are victims of domestic violence. The chapter has launched the “With-You Wrap,” a project to provide shawls to domestic violence victims so they never feel alone.
Just four days after the official Jan. 1st launch, the first wrap arrived on chapter president Cindy Boynton’s doorstep. Organizers hope to provide wraps to about 1,200 domestic violence victims in shelters across the state.
I love this project for a few reasons. It shows domestic violence victims, who often feel alone, afraid and abandoned, that someone is thinking about them. It also underscores the importance of the personal touch – one woman reaching out to another to provide comfort and hope for better days.
The number of women and children affected by domestic abuse in Connecticut is staggering. An estimated 38,000 victims of domestic violence turned to the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV) and its 18 member organizations for counseling, shelter, court-based advocacy, and other essential services in 2018.
Boynton, who is an avid knitter, came up with the idea for the project. Inspired in part by prayer shawls worn by the sick, Cindy thought wraps would be a way of showing victims that someone cares. The project launched on Jan. 1, and already is gaining momentum from some knitting groups around the state.
Knitters and crocheters can be as creative as they wish, but are being asked to follow a few basic guidelines. The first is to create a rectangular shawl with some kind of purple yarn. The second is to include “3” into your design, whether it be that you use 3 different colors of yarn, cast on stitches that are a multiple of 3, or something different. (For a complete set of guidelines, click here http://now-ct.org/get-involved/knit-or-crochet-a-with-you-wrap/?fbclid=IwAR2Z7gM2aUXIs9gKOLf7qutlaVL9G-KTOfnGbnggIE1cOdHucUASgVG0UyM.
This project reminds me of a homemade cookie program I participated in during a vacation to Hilton Head Island, S.C., last spring. After listening to a representative of the Kairos Prison Project explain he needed about 30,000 homemade cookies for an upcoming weekend in South Carolina’s prisons, my family decided to do our part.
I liked the idea because in addition to making the cookies, you were asked to pray that your efforts would make a difference in the lives of inmates and everyone who came in contact with them, including their families and prison officials. Our three-dozen cookies didn’t look like much, but you never know the impact that one tiny gesture will have on another person.
I rode my bike with our cookies in my wire basket and dropped them off in the church vestibule. I admit I was a bit disheartened when I noticed some people had tossed Oreos and Chips Ahoy into the donation bin. That wasn’t exactly what the organizers had in mind.
I have no idea if the cookies helped a prisoner, but they helped us. We made them as a family with good intentions. Sometimes, the only thing that we can possibly do for other people is show them that we care, and that they’re not alone in this world.
Carolyn Milazzo Murphy is a freelance writer and a blog contributor to the Connecticut chapter of NOW.