Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Workshops in India

When I was in India at the beginning of the year I got an email from Dame Hilary Blume, founder of the charity Knit For Peace, asking me if I would like to tutor a workshop in Mysore in 2016. The timing of her email couldn't have been more perfect as I had by then fallen head over heals in love with India and I knew that I would definitely want to return as soon as I could. Of course I agreed to tutor the workshop without hesitation and am already getting really excited about the forthcoming trip.

Knit For Peace is a fantastic charity and I am so pleased to have the chance to get involved with them. Knit For Peace is an initiative of the Charities Advisory Trust and it grew out of projects initially developed in Rwanda and India where women from traditionally hostile communities came together to knit clothes for street children and orphans. Knit groups have since been set up in other locations all over the world and the charity supports them by providing yarn and needles and by guiding the distribution networks in order to make sure that the knitted items reach the places they are most needed.

Knit For Peace have also made the connection between charitable giving and the desire people have to prolifically knit & crochet. The charity not only supports those in need, by making sure knitted items reach them and helping them set up knit groups, but it also focuses on those who wish to create items to donate. Once Knit For Peace made it clear that they were happy to accept knitted items for distribution they were inundated with knitted and crocheted items, such as sweaters, cardigans, hats and blankets.

The process of knitting or crocheting, rather than the physical outcome of our work, is often sited as the reason us knitters or crocheters spend so much time sat on our bottoms working away on our projects! Knitting and crocheting can send us into a trance like state and it has been medically proven to have a calming effect on mind and body. Whilst many of us have a recipient in mind when planning a project, there are a lot of knitters and crocheters who simply have a desire to make things and who perhaps no longer have anyone to give to. This is where Knit For Peace fits in beautifully as it sources the best suited destinations for the knitted and crocheted items to travel to, such as premature baby units here in the UK, homeless charities and many other organisations who help those living in extreme poverty all over the world. Knit For Peace estimates it supports over 11,000 knitters and crocheters - how cool is that!

Knit For Peace supports the two particular groups of knitters and crocheters (those who make in order to donate and those who make for themselves, friends or loved ones) by giving both an outlet for their work. The charity has an extensive range of download patterns for items you can donate once completed and provides the infrastructure to make sure your knitted item arrives where it should in the world, but it also organises workshops and events aimed at those who wish to improve their skills and have a jolly nice time in the company of like minded people.

The charity launched their workshops in India in 2014 when Erika Knight tutored a workshop in Mysore, followed by Debbie Bliss who tutored this year. Erika will be tutoring another workshop this Autumn and the itinerary looks amazing as the trip includes a few days in Delhi, a visit to the Taj Mahal in Agra and a stay in (my most favourite place ever) the 'pink city' of Jaipur. You can find the itinerary and more info on the web site by following this link.

I adored Jaipur when I visited in February - it is where we got to ride painted elephants and visit the incredible Amber Fort which hides a mirrored palace within it's walls and looks over the Maota Lake with it's palaces and beautiful gardens.

The shopping in Jaipur is amazing too, with shops and markets galore. The people are so friendly and helpful and we had great fun looking through beautiful saris and amazing jewellery. 

I will be tutoring the Mysore workshop in January 2016 and places are already beginning to fill up. I have been told that there are just 5 places left on my workshop, with 11 places already allocated to knitters/crocheters, at least 5 of whom are also bringing their partners. The trip includes 11 nights full board at the beautiful Green Hotel in Mysore and all meals, bottled water, transport to and from Bangalore Airport, local taxes and of course visits to projects and places of interest as well as the workshops. There is an abundance of things for non knitters and crocheters to do, so partners are more than welcome and will be very well looked after.

I am starting to think about the project for the trip and have decided to include both knit and crochet within the workshop structure, although participants can choose whether or not they want to knit, crochet or both. I have started a Pinterest board with some lovely colourful inspiration images and I will be inviting participants to give me an idea of what kind of project they would like to do. A link to the Pinterest Board is here and there are some images from it pasted below.

I think it would be nice to do a project made from knitted or crochet strips and patches which can be decorated to make a completed item. I love appliqué designs and would love to encourage participants to have a go at adding some fun India inspired pieces to their work. The images below are from projects I have already designed using this idea in my book Homespun Vintage.

There is more information about the 2015 holiday in Mysore here with some really positive feed back from the group of knitters who attended this year. 

As I have said already, I am so excited about my involvement with Knit For Peace and am so grateful to Dame Hilary in particular for all her support. We are hoping to have a really exciting new project to tell you about within the next few months, but in the mean time, I hope you will visit the Knit For Peace web site for more information on their work and how you can get involved with this great charity. 

It would be particularly nice to meet you on the Mysore trip if you fancy it, but if your budget doesn't stretch that far then maybe you would like to knit and donate one of the projects that currently feature on the Knit For Peace web site, such as a 'Twiddlemuff' (which have been designed to help those suffering with extreme agitation, such as those with Alzheimer's) an example of which is pictured above. You can find a link to the download patterns on the Knit For Peace page here

Happy Knitting & Crocheting!
Janie x