Project Peace 2017 Knit-Along
“Who wants world peace?” asked the keynote speaker of the leadership conference I found myself attending. We all raised our hands. “How many of you are choosing peace each day in your own lives?” The hands went down as everyone looked around the room. “So, how can we achieve world peace if we aren’t choosing to find peace in our own lives?” It was a life-changing realization that it was my choice. My life was not exactly the breeding ground for peace, with three children under the age of six, a husband that worked nights, and my own stressful pre-tenure job. But there it was—my choice.
Fast-forward to more than 10 years later: I began seeking alternative ways to promote health beyond the walls of academia. I created The Healthy Knitter blog to promote physical activity and healthy living to the group of people I most strongly identified with: knitters. Focusing on peace felt like a natural progression, and now I am fully devoted to spreading peace and providing creative suggestions on how to infuse peace into our days. I’ve learned that peace is a journey, not a destination, nor is it something that will ever be bestowed upon us. It’s our choice, but as most of us know, it’s not easy.
In December 2015, during my first year of designing patterns, I published a cowl pattern called Knit Your Peace. I decided to give back to the people who had purchased that pattern, and every day from December 1 to 21 I sent a Ravelry update with a little tip—a breathing exercise, a doodling activity, or a link to some calming music, among other things. During that period of time, I had coffee with a friend and we daydreamed about creating world peace by getting 1000 people to knit the same pattern the following December. We laughed, but it was an idea that quickly became more than a chuckle. It began to grow.
The following November I released Project Peace, a new cowl pattern I designed as a follow-up to Knit Your Peace, with a rhythmic, meditative slipped-stitch pattern. By the end of December 2016 there were over 25,000 downloads and the pattern had spent weeks in the top 10 of Ravelry’s “What’s Hot Now” list. But it wasn’t about the numbers; it was about what happened in the Ravelry Healthy Knitter group and the comments on the blog. A shift began to occur and a glimmer of hope appeared in what many considered to be a very dark time. People began choosing peace, encouraging one another, and using kind words during challenging times. It was surreal. I started to see that we can do this—we can spread peace and build a culture that is focused on caring and compassion despite our differences. As Elizabeth Zimmerman said, we are a “kindness of knitters.” And that became evident in that dark month of December.
At the end of the 21 days, on the darkest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, the group created, named, and celebrated Worldwide Knit-in for Peace Day. On this day, thousands of knitters knit for peace, whether in solitude and silence, as a group, in public, in local yarn shops, or in someone’s home. Candles were lit, stitches were knit, and conversations turned to peace and how the 21 days had influenced all our lives. My own life had shifted, and I knew that there was a need to continue to promote peace around the world through knitting.
Project Peace 2017—which is also the name of this year’s pattern—is themed off the “ripple effect.” Similar to when one throws a pebble in the water and the ripples extend out, so do the effects of peaceful actions. When we choose peace, the impacts on others and the effects are far-reaching. Project Peace 2017 is a knitted version of that idea, also known as “peace it forward.” The pattern is an asymmetrical shawl that begins with a point and extends outward with ridges of garter stitch that get incrementally farther apart, ending with a modified old shale border to complete the ripples.
Project Peace 2017 pattern details are available now on Ravelry and the full pattern will be released on December 1, the day the knit-along begins. For 21 days, we’ll post daily tips on The Healthy Knitter blog about how to infuse more peace into one’s life, along with guest posts and giveaways. A large portion of the pattern sales will be used to support three non-profit organizations with goals to create long-term approaches to building a future focused on leading healthy, sustainable lives. Finally, December 21 will once again be Worldwide Knit-In for Peace Day.
Let’s choose peace. Let’s knit together and create a strong, global community focused on peace built with two sticks and some string. Purchase the pattern through Ravelry, or support the cause by adding it to your favorites, knitting for peace on December 21, and pinning your location on the map for Worldwide Knit-In for Peace Day. Stitch by stitch, we can knit for peace.
Christina Campbell is a faculty member in nutrition at a large, research-intensive university in the Midwest. Her passions are her family, walking, knitting, and spreading peace around the world. You can read more about her thoughts on walking, knitting and peace on her blog, The Healthy Knitter.