clothes, craft, knitting, On My Mind

Make it Better: Keeping Warm After Sandy

I admit, for the past two weeks, I’ve been spending most of my free time reading Hurricane Sandy coverage. Absolutely everything the Times and the Atlantic have to say, and lots of pieces about the pervasive inequality laid bare by the hurricane, what people are doing to help one another, plus a good bit of let’s-process-how-we’re-feeling (which, well, maybe a little indulgent of me).

There’ve been plenty of opportunities to donate money (hey, thanks, Wells Fargo, for making it so easy! You asked me right at the ATM, point-blank, and how could I say no?), but I was so glad to read, this past weekend, that there’s a way to contribute knitted goods, too.

Brett Bara and Natalie Soud have come together to create:

I’m going to just lift some text real quick:


MAKE IT. Simply knit, crochet or sew a warm garment or blanket–items most needed are hats, socks, gloves/mittens, scarves, sweaters, and blankets. Use one of the quick and easy free patterns we found below, or any pattern you like. If you’d like to include other small items to help the relief effort, feel free to donate another warm garment (new or gently used, please). We are hearing reports that general clothing is no longer needed, so please restrict your donations to warm winter items only.
SEND IT. Send your finished item to Natalie Soud, 310 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013 as soon as possible. We want to start distributing warm goods within a week or less, so stitch something quick and send it off! Our volunteers will deliver the items to various points in and around New York City. (Although we’ll start delivering immediately, we’ll be accepting donations for the near future, so free free to send projects whenever they’re complete.)
CRAFTALONG. Share what you’ve made and help spread the word! Please, please, please blog, Tweet, Facebook, Instagram, and Pin that you’re participating in the Sandy Craftalong as soon as you can (like today!) so that we can get as many hands stitching as possible. Then, when you finish your project, share what you’ve made by posting it on your own blog and on our Facebook page at Also remember to use the tags  #makeitbetter and #sandycraftalong

Here is the thing: I have not and do not ever enter the tricky world of knitting-for-charity, because, well, Pamela Wynne really has said it best in this encapsulation: Charity is always political, and it’s always about power. And, as a rule, I’m going to steer way way clear of that particular ball of wax. However, she goes on to say that charitable knitting & crafting do get some things right:

For one thing, charitable knitting has the potential to make the personal political, to create spaces not only for sharing, compassion, and cross-class solidarity, but also for critical consciousness and social support in a world where women’s lives are too often marked by violence, victimization, and isolation…We knit when we encounter the violence, poverty, and loss that are endemic to modern, white supremacist, heteropatriarchal, capitalist societies.

And, as Laurie Penny points out in the New Statesman and Sarah Jaffe notes in Jacobin, it’s entirely appropriate to link the “violence, poverty, and loss” out in the Rockaways to that which we’re accustomed to seeing only in the third world (and, since the “juddering crisis of capitalism” in 2008, we’re increasingly used to seeing at home):

Crisis is what people in the United States have been living with for at least four years. Active emergency, turning people out of their homes and into the cold, destroying lives. It’s not crass to compare a climate disaster to a juddering crisis of capitalism, because the two are connected, not least because those most responsible are also those most likely to be cosily tucked away in gated compounds shrugging their shoulders when the storm hits. Like the crash, Hurricane Sandy hit the poorest hardest, smashing through Staten Island and the Rockaways while the lights stayed on on the Upper East Side.

I’m really, really worried about how poor people in New York are doing in the cold (shoot, for that matter, I’m also worried about how Syrian refugees will do this winter), so, for Sandy, I’m going to cross that line–risk the intimate tangle of charitable knitting, gendered morality, and class privilege–in order to work some utterly practical and apotropaic magic. As Brett says in her post announcing the Craftalong:

If there’s anything knitters, crocheters and sewers are good at, it’s making warm things.

Amen to that!

I have an enormous pine chest full of knitwear, a good lot of it intended as Christmas gifts, and therefore never worn. I’m sending it all: gloves, scarves, hats, a sweater (or two), and socks. It’s a considerable-sized box, and I am so grateful for the chance to be able to send it–to know that they’ll be able to make the life of a faraway stranger a little bit warmer, a little bit more comfortable. You should consider doing the same.


3 thoughts on “Make it Better: Keeping Warm After Sandy

  1. Pingback: No Knitting in 2013. « Caroline Fryar

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