START A KNITTING GROUP

Solidaritetsnøster (“Solidarity Yarn”) collects knitting needles and yarn to arrange knitting nights at Torshov asylum center in Oslo. Here is some information about how we did it, our experiences and some tips for starting your own knitting group.

Collecting Yarn and Knitting Needles

Yarn and knitting needles are collected in several ways. People can donate yarn by putting it in assigned barrels at Husfliden or Det Grønne Hjørnet in Oslo, which are our partner shops. We also collect yarn and knitting needles from friends, family and contacts through social media.

Ask your local yarn shop if they want to help with collecting and perhaps donating yarn. It can be good for their image to show social responsibility, and at the same time it might be an opportunity for them to get more costumers into the shop. Asking other institutions to collect yarn is also a possibility. For example, we did this with Holmestrand library, and received a lot of donations.

Contacting The Reception Centre

We contacted Torshov reception center by e-mail and telephone, and had a meeting with them to organize the knitting nights. They had a limited capacity to help with organization, but they were helpful and were able to provide a room and a locker for yarn and material. They also informed the residents about the knitting nights.

Please note that all volunteers must show a police record because there are minors staying at the facility. We organized the knitting nights at the asylum center premises because the residents have little money for transportation or other expenses, and many have young children. We started off with a two-hour knitting night every week, but we later reduced it to once every other week, to make sure we had enough yarn, etc.

Beginners Knitting Groups

Often the participants do not know how knit, although some know how to do crochet. Therefore, some beginner’s guidance is necessary. At the beginning, we did not require pre-registration, but the knitting nights proved to be so popular that they became too crowded, and the yarn disappeared quickly. Because of this, we now allow a maximum of 12 participants on each knitting night. The first 12 people who arrive get a “ticket” to participate.

Organizing Volunteers

During each session there are 3-5 volunteers, which is great for training beginners. The number of participants and volunteers will depend on the size of the room you are given, etc. We use a Doodle calendar to organize the volunteers so that they can sign up for the days that suit them. This works very well.

Tips on how to run beginners knitting groups
Since there are many beginners, it would be wise to begin with simpler things, like squares that can be sewn together to make fingerless gloves, woolen neck warmers, hats and scarfs. Many would like to knit advanced things, but they should practice on simpler things first.

We have been lacking good knitting patterns, however, we have used our own experience. Many of the participants are eager to make things that require a lot of yarn. Try to organize the knitting in such a way that you avoid finishing the yarn too quickly. Beginners should get 1-2 skeins of yarn and then use more if necessary. If someone is very skilled, they can get more, so they are able to make something decent for their children or others.

Language and Communication

It is great to get together to DO something, and communicate with smiles, gesticulation and goodwill! After searching on Facebook, we were lucky to be accompanied by someone who has studied Arabic. Perhaps you know someone in your area?  There are still several other languages that none of us can speak such as a range of African languages. Despite the language barriers, there is a great atmosphere, a lot of smiles and laughter. Some speak English, and are able to help us by translating to other languages.

Coffee and cookies

We have also decided to serve coffee, tea and cookies to make it somewhat similar to a sewing-club. In this country, we have a well-known tradition, where women meet frequently and are busy with handicraft and chit-chatting, helping each other and having a good time. That is what we are trying to convey.

Formalities

We are registered as a volunteer organization in Brønnøysundregisteret.

At the moment we have enough volunteers in our group at Torshov, but if you would like to start a subgroup and use the name and logo of “Solidaritetsnøster”, please contact us by email for more information: solidaritetsnoster@gmail.com.

Please note that all volunteers must show a police record because there are minors staying at the facility.

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