The Compassioknitters Around the World Interview Series highlights the efforts of individuals and groups who engage in knitting for charity.
Today's Compassioknitter is
Welcome Chemknits! Tell us about yourself!
When I'm not calling myself ChemKnits, I am Rebecca, a 27 year old knitter with a biochemistry PhD. Since the end of 2008, I have been blogging about knitting at ChemKnits and constructing knitting tutorials. Recently, I started other writing and blogging projects: creating knitting tutorials on YouTube, for Squidoo, a cooking blog ChemEats, and a new knitting blog Knitting Project of the Day - launched April 1, 2011. When I'm not knitting or blogging, you could find me cooking, walking around Boston, or planning for the puppy I do not yet own.
How long have you been knitting? How did you get started?
I learned to knit from my 5th grade teacher during an indoor recess. Knitting became insanely popular in class, and you would find many of us making "headbands" (casting onto round needles, knitting a few rows and then binding off.) The first real project I finished was a headband (the ear warmer kind) for my mother.
What inspired you to link knitting and science?
The thing that cemented the link between knitting and science for me was starting the blog ChemKnits. I needed to have a name for the blog, so I coined ChemKnits because I am a chemist who knits. Once my tag line was "a biochemist's knitting perspective" I felt it was necessary for me to find (and later design) science related knitting patterns. (My science themed designs and other free science pattens are summarized at http://www.squidoo.com/science-related-knitting-patterns)
What's your favorite thingto knit? Your favorite knitting place, or time of day?
I knit in the corner of our couch in the living room (I affectionately call this my throne. Since I suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I spend a lot of time laying down during the day, and I try to avoid the bed as much as possible.) I love to knit folk mittens and little toys.
What makes you a Compassioknitter?
I did my first knitting for charity when I was 13. In preparation for my Bat Mitzvah, I created 3 knit headbands for the battered women's shelter as part of my community service. As an adult, I was interested in finding ways that my knitting could help the community. For the last two years I have knit afghan squares as part of the Pine Street Inn (a homeless shelter in Boston) Knit-a-Thon.
Tell us more about the Pine Street Inn and it's knit-a-thon.
I discovered the Pine Street Inn Knit-a-thon in the summer of 2009. That fall, I found that they were going to hold the event again, so I signed up and started knitting 9" afghan squares out of all of the remnant yarn I had around the house. To date, I have completed 3 afghans (each composed of 35 squares) + 8 plain squares for the 2009 and 2010 Knit-a-thons.
|An afghan for the Pine Street Inn Knit-a-thon.|
While I was knitting, I promoted the event on my blog and set up a fundraising page to help raise money and awareness of Pine Street Inn and their Supportive Housing Program, a program which provides permanent housing for Boston homeless.
|One of Chemknit's afghans for the Pine Street Inn Knit-a-thon.|
How can others get involved with the knit-a-thon?
There are three main ways you can contribute to a knit-a-thon: 1) Knitting, 2) donating supplies to the knitters (yarn has been a limiting factor for my contributions) and 3) Sponsoring a knitter by donating directly to the charity.
The Pine Street Inn Knit-a-Thon takes place in mid November. They collect 9 inch squares, so this is something that you can start creating even before you sign up for the event itself.
Any recommendations for people who want to create a knit-a-thon in their own community?
This is a great question. Before I discovered the Pine Street Inn knit-a-thon, I thought about trying to organize a knit-a-thon. There are three things I think you should thinking about while planning such an event:
-Decide on a charity to support. Contact them about organizing the event and how you can best fit their needs.
-Decide what you want to produce for the charity (afghan squares, baby hats, scarves, toys, etc.)
-Recruit people to help. I would try knitting forums (to find knitters in your local area, Ravelry is a good place to start), local colleges and maybe even high schools. I taught three of my friends (even my fiance!) how to knit because they were interested in helping me with my contribution.
Of course there is a lot of other planning required, but once you have a charity to support, objects to create and people who want to contribute you're on your way!
Any other tips for people who want to knit for charity?
There are so many organizations that will take hand knit objects, so you should make sure that what you create fits the requirements of the organization. I love knitting for charity because of the love I put into all of my knit items.
I would also recommend that you hold on to any remnant yarn you have. It will come in handy when you want to start working on afghans! I would not have been able to create three afghans without contributions of yarn from friends and family.
You've just finished your doctorate, and you're getting married soon. How do you fit in time for knitting?
I've always had time for knitting! Knitting has kept me sane over these last few years. I cannot knit in silence, I often have to have a TV show or movie on in the background. My friends are all used to me knitting in random places.
You've made so many patterns! What inspires you? And which are your favorites?
My knitting designs are inspired from many places. I've been inspired by yarn, a stitch pattern, or even just shapes I've seen while knitting. I design certain patterns because I have not been able to find a pattern that fits exactly what I want to create. Many of my early designs are amigurumi (small knit toys) because I've been exploring 3D shapes. I love to learn new techniques, so I use my designs as an opportunity to experiment.
As for my favorite projects and designs, I just wrote an article on Squidoo on my top knitting projects of all time.
Some of Rebecca's patterns:
|The Compassioknitter's favorite Chemknits design?|
A knit squid! How cool is he?