Whether sitting at home or serving on the frontlines in it, handmade clothing helps people feel safe.
Miami University students and faculty who love to crochet and knit — or want to learn how — can gift their DIY hats and scarves to active members of the military, veterans and first responders. Working with the nationwide philanthropy Operation Gratitude, Miami’s Service+ program welcomes donations at Old Manse through Oct. 25.
Tiffany Block, the program director, teaches free lessons there from 1 to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays. She introduces a basic stitch and provides the yarns, hooks and needles that attendees may leave with for post-session practice.
“We do it together and sit around like a craft corner,” Block said. “It’s really exciting for students to learn a new craft because it gives them something else to do when they’re stressed or bored.”
Senior psychology and art therapy double major Katie Krueger picked up crochet by joining a club for it in middle school. She returned to it in college, but now tries her hand at knitting.
“I’ll do deep internal contemplation during it,” Krueger said. “It’s repetitive so it kind of turns off your brain.”
Krueger creates scarves, clothes or even stuffed animals once a week and mostly follows her instincts instead of a pattern. An average project takes her anywhere from four hours to multiple days to complete.
Yet they almost always go to Krueger’s friends, especially around Christmas, rather than herself. However, Block might receive some this time too.
Block usually relaxes by watching TV while she crochets or knits. She initiated Miami’s participation in the drive this fall when she decided to clear out her stash of the top-quality yarn she bought so much extra of over the years.
“You can get more creative with handmaking gifts and specify colors and designs that you can’t find at a store,” Block said. “Also, the person receiving it sees the time and effort you put in and that means more than just grabbing a gift card.”
If someone wants to learn how to crochet or knit, Krueger suggests experimenting with granny’s squares by looking at YouTube tutorials. Best of all, the progress they gain at first with those designs could eventually be turned into a blanket or a bag.
Fabric artists at Miami are invited to bring in hats and scarves of any color, stitch, pattern or size to Old Manse. Due to military uniform policies, they must use four worsted weight or non-bulky yarn, make scarves 4-5 inches wide and 48-50 inches long, and not include pom poms.
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Operation Gratitude will compile the pieces into care packages to ship overseas after Miami mails them in on Oct. 31. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.