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Knitting Sweaters to Help Children

There are all sorts of different ways to volunteer your time and energy as a teenager (for a great list of 20 different volunteering ideas for teens, click here). The following article - written by Brigitte Weeks, Editor-in-Chief at Guideposts Books - describes one of the more interesting ways that we have seen recently:

Brigitte Weeks Talks About the Guideposts Sweater Project

It's no surprise that as editor-in-chief of Guideposts Book Division my office is stacked with manuscripts. But why a mountain of colorful hand-knit sweaters? Three years ago I picked up a newspaper. Looking at me was a photograph of a Rwandan child, crouched over, wearing only a sweater with a shape and stripes that were unmistakable to me.

When I was growing up in England all the women around me knit. So I knit too, starting with plain squares and graduating to a scarf that kept getting wider as it got longer. On the local bus one day a passenger put down her own knitting to show me the right way to hold the yarn. To this day I hold it exactly that way.

About ten years ago an aunt shared a simple pattern for a child's sweater, designed by a large British charity, the Oxford Committee in Famine Relief . One red-and-purple striped creation later, I was hooked. I loved the simple little garments and the feeling of connecting with needy children around the world.

Why do children in tropical countries like Rwanda or Botswana have such urgent need of warm garments? When the sun goes down the temperature drops precipitously. Children already suffering from malnutrition can die from hypothermia during the night.

That newspaper photo of a child wearing one of these sweaters inspired me to write a devotional in our annual Daily Guideposts, about the rewards of this kind of knitting, how every stitch represented a kind of prayer. Soon knitters wrote letters wanting to join in, readers sent spare yarn and, most recently, Leisure Arts, a magazine devoted to handicrafts, ran a story on the project, including the pattern, my name and Guideposts' address.

Only days after the magazine came out sweaters began to arrive in my office. As I write, we have shipped close to 3,000 sweaters via World Vision overseas (a shipment went to Mongolia) and to a variety of US agencies that care for needy children in Harlem, Appalachia and many other locations. A crochet pattern was swiftly created because, as I discovered from my mail, the United States has more crocheters than knitters.

Tucked into the garments have come moving notes. Marie in Pennsylvania, who is confined to a wheelchair, wrote, "I am 78 years old and love to knit. I want to be useful." Joyce, widowed after 49 years of marriage needed a project and found "the sweater instructions were so simple that I decided to dig out my box of wool." She sent a sweater, promising to improve with her next effort. I would find a million prayers if I could count the stitches.

And that is why this busy book editor's office is full of sweaters, and how I find myself at the head of a growing army of knitters, needles flying coast to coast.

--Brigitte Weeks
Editor-in-Chief,
Guideposts Books

Reprinted by permission from Guideposts magazine. © 1997 by Guideposts, Carmel, New York 10512


3/31/99 update: "Here is the latest update on the sweater project that you mention on your site. It is going strong!!":

Sweater Shipment List For the Guidepost Sweater Project    
ORGANIZATION DESTINATION SWEATERS SENT
Oxfam Africa 350
World Vision Mongolia, Honduras, NY, various 4750
Kids in Distressed Situations VT 450
Westhab Yonkers 250
Northside Harlem 515
Christian Relief Services Appalachia 350
Bronx Episcopal AIDS Ministry Bronx 350
World Opportunities Ecuador) 750
Episcopal Church Services NY, AK, VT, Nicaragua 4000
Heart to Heart China 2050
Food For The Poor Haiti, Nicaragua, Peru, Guatemala 3800
Salvation Army Seminole, FL 540
Asian Vision India, Laos, Romania 2300
Forrest Dale Foster Care New York 550
St. Maryís Childrenís Hospital   100
Hogar de Cristo, Filial de Arica Chile 500
Feed The Children   500
Bread of Life Ministry, Inc Indiana 1000
Jewish Child Care Association   1600
People Serving People Minnesota 500
Brother to Brother International Louisiana, Honduras 1500
Donation Exchange Program Rhode Island- 500
FOCAL Alabama 500
NY Foundling Hospital New York 1000
Goodwill of S.E. WI 500
Senator Kylís Office Arizona 1100
Hale House New York 70
Leprahilfe Senegal, Africa 100
Youth with a MissionSlavic Ministries Oregon 300
Tutwiler Clinic Mississippi 300
Canchola Foods INC Arizona 600
Habitat Restore Arizona 600
Eastern European Aid Association Romania 600
     
  TOTALS 32875

Guideposts Sweater Project
c/o Brigitte Weeks
16 East 34 Street
New York, NY 10016


GUIDEPOSTS Children's Knitted Sweater Pattern

[If you don't know how to knit, try this excellent page or this excellent article. Other articles can be found at The Mining Company.]

ABBREVIATIONS

K - knit
mm - millimeters
st(s) - stitch(es)
( ) or [ ] - contains explanatory remarks.

KNITTED T-TOPS

Size: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10
Chest Measurement: 22 1/2, 24, 26, 27 1/2, 29
Finished Chest Measurement: 25 1/2, 27, 29, 30 1/2, 32

Size Note: Instructions are written for sizes 2 and 4 in the first set of braces { }, and sizes 6, 8, and 10 in the second set of braces. Instructions will be easier to read if you circle all the numbers pertaining to your size.

MATERIALS

Worsted Weight Yarn: Solid T-Top: {9-10}{12-14-16}ounces, [{260-280}{340-400-450} grams, {525-580}{700-815-935} yards]
Striped T-Top: White--{6-7}{8-10-11} ounces, [{170-200}{230-280-310} grams, {350-410}{465-580-640} yards]
Red--{3-4}{4-5-5} ounces, [{90-110}{110-140-140} grams, {175-235}{235-290-290} yards]
Straight knitting needles, sizes 5 (3.75 mm) and 7 (4.50 mm) or sizes needed for gauge Yarn needle

GAUGE

With large size needles (size 7), in Stockinette Stitch, 20 sts and 26 rows = 4"
DO NOT HESITATE TO CHANGE NEEDLE SIZE TO OBTAIN CORRECT GAUGE.

SOLID T-TOP FRONT BORDER

With small size needles, cast on {66-70}{74-78-82} sts. Rows 1-10: Knit across

BODY

Change to large size needles. Beginning with a purl row, work in Stockinette Stitch until piece measures {8 1/2-9 1/2}{10 1/2-11 1/2-12 1/2}- from cast on edge, ending by working a purl row.

SLEEVES

Rows 1 and 2: Add on {28-30}{32-34-36} sts loosely for Sleeve, knit across: {122-130}{138- 146-154} sts. Row 3: Slip 1 as if to knit, knit across. Repeat Row 3, until Sleeve measures {5 1/2-6}{6 1/2-7-7 1/2}-, ending by working a wrong side row. Bind off all sts loosely in knit.

BACK

Work same as Front.

FINISHING

Sew shoulder seams leaving a {7-7}{7 1/2-7 1/2-8}- neck opening. With right sides together, sew Sleeve and side in one continuous seam.

STRIPED T-TOP FRONT BORDER

With small size needles and Red, cast on {66-70}{74-78-82} sts. Rows 1-9: Knit across.

BODY

Change to large size needles.
Row 1 (Right side): With White, knit across.
Row 2: Purl across.
Rows 3-6: Repeat Rows 1 and 2, twice.
Rows 7 and 8: With Red, knit across.
Repeat Rows 1-8 until piece measures {8 1/2-9 1/2}{10 1/2-11 1/2-12 1/2}- from cast on edge, ending by working Row 2.

SLEEVES

Row 1: Add on {28-30}{32-34-36} sts loosely for Sleeve, knit across: {94-100}{106-112-118} sts.
Row 2: Add on {28-30}{32-34-36} sts loosely for Sleeve, K3, purl across to last 3 sts, K3: {122-130}{138-146-154} sts.
Row 3: Knit across.
Row 4: K3, purl across to last 3 sts, K3
Rows 5 and 6: With Red, knit across.
Rows 7-12: With White, repeat Rows 3 and 4, 3 times.
Repeat Rows 5-12 until Sleeve measures {5 1/2-6}{6 1/2-7-7 1/2}-, ending by working Row 6. With Red, bind off all sts loosely in knit.

BACK

Work same as Front.

FINISHING

Sew shoulder seams leaving a {7-7}{7 1/2-7 1/2-8}- neck opening. With right sides together, sew Sleeve and side in one continuous seam.
When complete, please send your sweaters to:
Guideposts Sweater Project
c/o Brigitte Weeks
16 East 34 Street
New York, NY 10016

BYG Publishing

BYG Publishing, Inc.
http://www.bygpub.com - info@bygpub.com
(888)294-7820 - P.O. Box 40492 - Raleigh, NC 27629

Questions or comments, email:
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© 1997 BYG Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.

Keywords: teenagers, teenager, teenage, teen age, teens, teen, adolescents, adolescent, parents, parent