Saturday, July 20, 2013

A warm community welcome

A couple of weeks back I posted an invitation to create welcome blankets for asylum seekers in community detention. Community detention as described by the Red Cross "provides a more humane detention model for families with children, unaccompanied minors and individual adults... Community detention is a better option for the physical and mental well being of asylum seekers awaiting resolution of their visa status. It gives people the chance to be part of a community, providing people with emotional and practical support."

On receiving information on 'the Welcome Symbol' blanket project I promptly shared it with my Neighbourhood House creative community. My incredibly supportive textile friend Chiara rang as soon as she read the email and said 'let's do it!' Another phone call to Suzanne the manager of Sussex Neighbourhood House and next thing I knew we had a room to use at the House and a date for a blanket-making community event.

The blankets are small lap blankets with the intention of extending a welcome.

There are no right or wrong ways of forming the blankets.
We had some size guidelines, but otherwise we were open and appreciative to all offerings.

Leigh kindly offered squares that she had been working on for some time.  

Joyce stitched them together. 

My Mum sent me a lovely idea for stitching on a welcome message.

Jess and my Mum had similar ideas with 'the heart' as a welcome symbol.

Mary crocheted at such impressive speed to those of us just starting out. 
It was great receiving words of wisdom 
 - which meant my squares were squares rather than increasing angles on each new line!

She also donated a beautiful blanket she knitted many years ago. 

We were joined by another Chiara who shared more than just names with similar migration stories, many years ago. 

The other Chiara had a great idea for the squares I had worked on at home. 

With the inclusion of freshly laundered jersey's from the OP shop she sorted my 'greens' and 'reds', 
into two blankets, to be stitched up and added to. 

The jersey's were cut into similar squares to my crocheted ones, then 'whip-stitched' around the edge.

Additional knitted and crochet pieces will fill out the rest. 

Another friend, Liz, chairperson of the Sussex NH dropped off some wonderfully vibrant coloured squares. 

Over the 3 hours we made a great start at forming welcoming blankets. We took pieces home to complete or left some at the House for the knitting group to help out on in the coming weeks. Mary has already finished the one she was working on during our group day - amazing! My green one is being added to slowly, day-by-day. I want to thank all who have contributed from moving hands with stitches and knots, to donations of wool and to Alex for the delicious orange cake! Also thank you in advance to Jan (Sussex NH sewing tutor) who is going to trim to size polar fleece blankets and back with fabric (for blankets that will hold welcome motifs). 

We do not have an 'end date' for the blanket project so please do contact me if you would like to contribute. I can also provide details if you have a group that wants to develop its own project. 

The Knitters Circle at Sussex NH: Meeting are held 2nd, 4th and 5th Mondays of the month from 11 Feb to 9 Dec, 1pm to 3.30pm. $3 per session, can provide the perfect place to knit a couple of squares (you also get to meet Mary :)  I had such a lovely time sitting, stitching and chatting during our day, that I can certainly vouch for the nature of coming together to create together. If you have ever thought of joining the Knitters Circle, contact Sussex NH to express your interest.

With gratitude
x Amanda 

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