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Wanted: knitting activists to demonstrate some purling power


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Knitting is all the rage at the moment. You just have to do a little searching around on the Web to find all sorts of compulsive knitters, knitting clubs, trendy knitters, knitters who are into blogging, and knitting parents. There are even some self-styled guerrilla knitters (the campaigning type, not knitting primates).


There's a whole army of knitters out there, and if you're one of them Oxfam needs you!


We're searching for knitters to turn their knitting needles into lethal poverty fighting needles.


Staff in our Leeds office have just started a new campaign to create a giant baby blanket, with each square knitted representing a mother who did not survive pregnancy or childbirth to be able to care for her baby, because she couldn't access the medical care she needed.


We're aiming to get 250,000 squares by September, which is the number of mothers who could have been saved in that time if decent healthcare had been available.


We need knitters to make 9 inch squares for the giant blanket, which will be handed into the Government as a sort of 'patchwork against poverty petition', to demand a world where everyone has access to free basic healthcare.


Stay tuned to Oxfam's website, as more details will follow as the campaign 'unravels' in the coming weeks.


Or if you really can't wait that long and want to get started now, head on over to the Stitch and Bitch website for more details, or email Sarah Blakemore ([email protected]) in our Leeds office to find out more.


And just in case you were wondering, after the giant blanket has been handed in, it will be dismantled and sold in Oxfam shops and at festivals. All money raised will go towards Oxfam's work to fight poverty, such as urgently needed midwife training in Yemen.










The nice people at Oxfam want to enlist the help of knitters around the country to knit or crochet squares for a giant baby blanket, which will highlight the lack of medical care for mothers in Africa and South East Asia.







Every minute, a woman with no medical care dies in pregnancy or childbirth



Millions of mums in poor countries get low-quality health care, or are forced to go without it altogether. High fees, a shortage of hospitals and clinics, and not enough doctors and midwives means women struggle to get the medical care they need and all that too often they don’t survive to look after their babies. In Africa and South East Asia pregnancy and childbirth represent the biggest cause of death amongst women of childbearing age.


Each square you can knit or crochet will represent a newborn baby, left needlessly without a mother because of lack of healthcare. These squares will be joined together and handed into the UK government in September



Here are the instructions on how to contribute:


Each square should be 9 inches in size and preferably made using double-knitting weight yarn. Please make sure that you use make a 9 inch square – odd sized squares can be very difficult to piece together.


You can use any type of yarn, provided that it is washable. All colours are welcome. Superwash wool or washable cotton yarns are particularly suitable.


Plain stocking stitch always curls up at the sides. You can prevent this by knitting a narrow border of garter stitch all round the square. To do this, just knit the first and last five rows (no purling!), and always knit the first five and last five stitches of every row with your stocking stitch in between.


Many people like to make patterned squares. You can find a dictionary of stitch patterns available free at each of the sites below:




Others may wish to use up different coloured odds and ends of yarn to make striped or multicoloured squares. Some ideas and examples are available here:



If you want to design your own multicoloured pattern, you can find special graph paper to do it at the sites below – just print out a sheet and have a go at creating your own unique square.




Crochet Squares are also very welcome. There is a wonderful selection of free patterns at the site below. You can enlarge the small squares by adding a few extra rounds until you reach nine inches.



To finish please weave in all yarn ends on you squares and, if necessary, block them neatly to size. This will save lots of time when it comes to assembling the blankets.



Send knitted squares with your name, address and email by 1st August 2008 to:


Sarah Blakemore


Oxfam campaigns



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