Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day 08: Knitters of the world, unite!

In my experience, knitters are, for the most part, a generous bunch. As a quick (and on my part, lazy) example, look no further than the Yarn Harlot (aka Stephanie Pearl-McPhee). Her Tricoteuses Sans Frontieres/Knitters Without Borders has raised almost $450,000 -- and counting -- for Medecins Sans Frontierers/Doctors Without Borders.

Today, on Blog Action Day 08, I am asking my fellow knitters (and crocheters, spinners, weavers, fibre artists of all stripes, and anyone else who has stumbled across this blog -- yes, even the fibre-phobic) to be generous with their time, talent and funds -- whatever can be spared -- to help in the fight against poverty, both at home and around the world.

The task may seem daunting. And it is. Just a few disturbing statistics:
  • more than 1.4 billion people in the developing world live on less than $1.25 per day; at least 80% of the world's population live on less than $10 per day (source: World Bank, August 2008)
  • in 2006, 9.7 million children died of poverty before their fifth birthday -- 26,500-30,000 children each day (source: UNICEF);
  • at least 3.4 million people -- about 10% of Canadians, lived in poverty in Canada in 2006 (source: National Anti-Poverty Organization);
  • the 2008 Metro Vancouver Homeless Count enumerated 2,592 homeless
    persons during a 24-hour period on March 11, 2008 -- that's 19% more than in 2005.
So, what can we do? I've got two simple -- and rewarding -- suggestions for fibre-fiends everywhere:

1. Knit.
It's what we love to do best, after all. Hats, mittens, scarves, blankets, sweaters -- they can all help people without adequate shelter warm. Several charitable organizations accept knitted items -- Blankets for Canada, Warm Up America, Feed the Children (U.K.) are good country-wide examples. In B.C., check out Caring Hearts for Underprivileged Children; in Toronto, see StreetKnit.

But don't stop there: many local shelters are thrilled to accept individual donations. Look up your local shelters and charities, and give them a call! Even better, recruit the help of your yarny buddies. Devote one or more of your stitch-and-bitch sessions to charity knitting.

2. Support knitters (and others) in developing countries:
Last week I signed up at, "the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website". This U.S.-based non-profit brings the principles of micro-credit to individuals. The process is simple: you lend an amount of your choosing -- as little as US$25 -- to an entrepreneur in a developing country, who uses your loan (and those of several other Kiva lenders) to invest in her or his business. When your loan is repaid, you can stop there, or, better yet, lend to another entrepreneur.

My first two loans, which are helping a seamstress in Togo and a knitter in Peru, are part of the Ravelry Lending Team, which as I type consists of 77 Ravelry members. Together, we have loaned a total of US$2,525 through 79 loans. I strongly encourage you to join our group, and am proud to say I've already recruited one fellow raveller -- thanks, beentsy!

It may seem trite, but I really believe in Margaret Meade's famous quote:
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.
And every small group starts with just one person.

Check out what other Blog Action Day 08 bloggers have to say about poverty for more ideas on how you can do your bit.


  1. I'm so glad that you let us know about Kiva. Thanks to you, I've just made my first loan!

  2. Yippeee! That's wonderful to hear. Thanks for joining!