Over the past few years, within the network of shelters and hotlines in the US, projects have sprung up for knitting and crocheting comfort scarves for victims of domestic violence.
In 2008, Handmade Especially for You was established as a non-profit organization in California. Their mission statement:
Handmade Especially For You wants every woman who comes into a shelter to receive a comfort scarf simply because she was brave enough to leave her abusive situation. We do not see comfort scarves as rewards or incentives for good behavior in the shelter or for following rules or anything other than “congratulations” for leaving abuse. Leaving an abusive environment is a huge step for the woman who takes it.
Handmade wants to make an impact on the women who receive the scarves, most of whom have never received a personal gift, much less a handmade personal gift. We want receiving these scarves to help lift their self-esteem and help them to begin changing their lives. We hope the scarves are a symbol of every woman’s transformation.
The scarves are not for sale. They are gifts, which we give from our hearts. Yarn companies donate the yarn we use and women of all ages, ethnicities and social economic statuses donate their time to knit or crochet these scarves. This is why we believe that they have such a powerful impact.
Their website provides patterns for both knitting and crocheting a scarf to donate. All the scarves follow the same specifications:
- soft yarn (comfort)
- happy colors
- no more than 5 inches wide
- no less than 60 inches long
- open stitch (if you are going to donate the scarf for distribution in a warm climate)
- individualize each scarf by adding fun fur, ribbon yarn, or something so each recipient feels she is receiving a personal gift.
In 2011, they distributed 15,000 comfort scarves to 43 shelters in Southern and Central California. They want to expand that in 2012.
As well as providing patterns, they also have gift tags to download and other information. Their Ravelry group is here.
There are sister groups in other states, based entirely or loosely on the organization.
Scarves for Survivors provides comfort scarves in the Burlington Vermont area.
An additional group, founded in 2010, Comfort Scarves / Southwestern Pennsylvania serves nine shelters in six counties.
We currently need about 100 scarves a month to serve the nine shelters for new women entering a shelter plus provide scarves for all shelter and transitional housing residents for special events such as Mother’s Day, October Purple, Holiday Project, etc.
This is a year round ongoing project. Every fifteen seconds a woman is a victim of domestic violence. The shelters we serve each have 8 – 15 new residents each month thus donations are always needed and gratefully accepted.
This group does not specify any pattern, just size – 4-5 inches wide, 60 inches long. Spring/summer scarves should be light bright airy/lacy type scarves. They do ask that you include a tag with a simple personal message signed by you (first names only).
One of their special projects: October is Domestic Violence Awareness month and the color is Purple. They are collecting Purple Comfort Scarves to give to each resident in the shelters. Each shelter observes this “Awareness Month” with various community and personal activities. The deadline to receive purple scarves for this project is September 15th.
Check their website for details, more special events and projects.
Their Ravelry group is here.
(Can I resist any project involving purple? Of course not. The only question is before or after the Ravellenic Games.)
There are no knitting projects for the shelters here in Israel that I know of. The last time I dropped off donated items at the nearest shelter – not knitted items, but other clothing and kitchen utensils – one of the workers and I started chatting about knitting, and kicked around the idea of me (maybe with some of the SnB group) teaching an ongoing knitting workshop at the shelter. Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked out since I’m basically tied up with kidlet and hospital and no time. But I do want it to happen at some point.
Make a comfort scarf your next project. Or two. Or three. Or more, they’re quick. At least add it to your queue. 🙂