Sunday, 18 September 2011
Random Acts of Knitting: A Meditation on Kindness (Kinda)
Because I use knitting as meditation practice, my collection of small, simple items-scarves, cowls, hats and socks-tends to build quickly. I don't sell these items, and have more than I can use, so the question is: what do I do with them?
People have many ways of dealing with their fibre surplus. Our extra knitting is given to friends, as gifts, to charity. There are shelters and organizations which collect for the homeless and thrift shops which sell practical items. Some people belong to prayer ministries; others knit chemo caps or layettes for premature babies. Some folk help as many organizations as they can. It's all wonderful work, but the one that attracts me the most is Random Acts of Knitting.
As far as I know, RAK was the brain child of a friend of mine who came up with the idea several years ago when she was looking for partners in yarn bombing. She-who-wishes-to-remain-anonymous wanted to do something other than the usual "attach pieces of fabric to random objects," which is a common theme in yarn bombing. I call her idea "knitting with intent." The concept is simple: distribute handmade articles around your city as gifts to anyone who may want them. The items may be practical or whimsical; all that is asked is that they be worked with best intentions and be given freely.
What does this mean? First of all, the work should be the best you can do, using the most suitable materials you have available. If you wouldn't wear it because it's too scratchy or poorly made, why would anyone else? An article doesn't have to be flawless, but it should suit its intent-a hat should fit someone, and be at least potentially attractive. It should be warm or keep the sun off or do whatever you would expect a hat to do. "With best intentions." Simple.
"Given freely" means you have no agenda. That hat is left where anyone can find it, regardless of income, or life history. There is no judgment attached. If the hat ends up in the trash, then so be it. You offer something and then let it go. The odds are that you will never know what happened to your work or whether it was appreciated or even used. Certainly, no one will know that the work was yours.
Random Acts of Knitting outings can be a lot of fun. You can use stealth and subterfuge to get your stuff out there. You can add explanatory labels so that people don't think your knitting is a lost item. You may want to work around a theme or a season or target an area of your community. You can stretch your imagination.
As inspiration, I offer you some photographs from past RAK excursions. The photos are mine; in keeping with the RAK spirit, the donors are not named: