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Japan Earthquake: How Knitters Can Help (or not)

Mar 16, 2011

My friend Jodi came across this article from Mary Mooney of OregonLive.com, and I thought it was really interesting.

Here it is (and leave a comment to let me know what you think):

Helping Japan: How your knitting can (and can't) help

For knitters, helping folks in need is as automatic as stashing yarn. We don't think about it, we just do it. And we take pride in doing it well.

And that's why in light of recent events in Japan, I'm making this public service announcement to our fiberly tribe, the same announcement I made last year when folks started knitting to help Haiti: Don't do it. Do NOT knit anything to send to Japan. Not socks, not mittens, not blankets. Not those washcloths that absolutely anyone can use. Not a thing.

Here's why:

The country's infrastructure is shot. Shipping anything to Japan is a nightmare right now. Even if you can get stuff over there, distribution's a mess. The aid agencies say the single most important thing we can do is donate cash, so that they can get exactly what they need with as few complications (like shipping stuff across the Pacific) as possible. Believe them, folks. Please.

Earlier this year The Oregonian ran a story about people in the Pacific Northwest looking back on Haiti a year after the quake. It included a segment about a young woman who turned plastic shopping bags into tarps for Haitians. Great idea by a lovely, enthusiastic young person desperate to help. She planned to get 50 made, and others pitched in to make it happen. Know how many of her lovingly constructed tarps made it to Haiti? Three. It would've cost $3,000 to ship the rest.

So here's my challenge to you loving, gifted and generous people: Let's learn from our mistakes. Let's help Japan, and let's do it right. Send a donation to an aid agency that's targeting Japan. Create a pattern to sell on Etsy and donate the proceeds. Go through your stash and sell some of it to benefit Japan. Sell your beautiful handiwork and donate the cash. Tell everyone you know what you're doing, and why you've chosen not to send handcrafted items to Japan.

We've got talent and skill that can help ease the suffering across the Pacific. Let's make sure our help gets there.

Mary Mooney


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Comments

GariS@2 wrote
on Mar 24, 2011 1:24 PM

I  created a knitting pattern "One Thousand Cranes", a young crocheter developed "Charity the Crane" crocheting pattern. Our patterns are  inspired by the tradition of folding 1.000 origami cranes.  Proceeds will be donated to the Red Cross.

See my blog for details survivalknitting.blogspot.com

AKAPedge wrote
on Mar 21, 2011 9:16 AM

Good advice; thanks for sharing.

harry11 wrote
on Mar 20, 2011 2:01 PM

In this times of needs all of us want to help Japan and there are many ways to help Japan above all of these is through prayer, because only God can heal those wounds of disaster.

harry11 wrote
on Mar 20, 2011 2:00 PM

In this times of needs all of us want to help Japan and there are many ways to help Japan above all of these is through prayer, because only God can heal those wounds of disaster.

ndpeace wrote
on Mar 20, 2011 12:29 PM

If you donate to UMCOR the united methodist committee on relief not one penney goes to administrative costs, and they've been active in the latest disaster from day one in Japan, having contacts in all the countries in the world.

samsstuff wrote
on Mar 20, 2011 11:40 AM

Excellent thoughts! I hadn't really thought about this. The first thought is that is winter & they need warmth, but it is better to donate to those that can most get the help to people in need. There are many sellers on Etsy who are currently donating proceeds to the Red Cross for Japan (& NZ) & I'm sure there are others on other sites doing the same. Thank you for this excellent advice.

calama wrote
on Mar 19, 2011 10:17 AM

I agree, they know better what they need right now, and we can help also with our prayers.

tahmyb wrote
on Mar 19, 2011 9:06 AM

That makes so much sense, thank you!  My knitting group wanted to do something but didn't know what. And now we do, great information.

bjhayes wrote
on Mar 19, 2011 8:41 AM

Thanks for the reality check.  And, let's hold a space of love and healing for them.

Carolburk wrote
on Mar 19, 2011 7:49 AM

Our group thought of "washcloths for Haiti" --at least they are small and wouldn't take long or be hard to ship.. but instead began knitting for our own homeless here in the same place we are.  Financial help abroad, blankies and hats and mittens for the folks in need here.  That is our understanding and new rule of thumb.  

juba244 wrote
on Mar 19, 2011 7:47 AM

This is inspirational!

We are hosting an Empty Bowls soup supper in April, where we sell pottery bowls and soup to benefit hunger relief. I'm going to knit and felt some bowls to sell and earn some $ especially for Japan.

Thanks for the ideas that empower us.

OmaW wrote
on Mar 19, 2011 7:39 AM

Thanks for sharing your wise thoughts; I'll pass them on to the Heavenly Stitchers of our church knitting ministry.

knitviv1 wrote
on Mar 19, 2011 7:36 AM

Mary's article is a voice of reason in the midst of the emotions we all feel in our desire to help out the suffering people of Japan. Right now, money is best to supply those on the front line who have the most accurate knowledge of what is needed and exactly where it should go to be the most effective. In the months ahead the situation will slowly stabilize and opportunities should arise to send over handknit works of love. Let's hang on to the emotions of today to create the gifts of tomorrow to send to Japan.

lunachan wrote
on Mar 19, 2011 4:21 AM

I agree.  And please be calm about the effected nukes as well.   So many people are working to calm them down.  Tell your friends in Tokyo not to leave there in panic and not to buy more than they need.  I'm so glad and thankful that  you are thinking about us and trying to help.  Your government and military are helping.  We appreciate that.

Thank you again.

beach-wolf wrote
on Mar 19, 2011 3:49 AM

This has always made more sense to me. Why not sell your and made item and donate the money? Even without the shipping, distribution issues. Except where the comfort issue is the main thing- like prayer shawls or afghans, or even caps for chemo patients and troops, think of how many commercial socks say you could buy for the price of some nice hand made ones . . . It just makes more sense this day in age.

Lee wrote
on Mar 18, 2011 12:39 PM

If you want to help Japan, Knitting Fever International, Noro's US distributor, is collecting checks to send to the American Red Cross for Japanese relief, and KFI will match the first $50,000 donated.  Below is the info taken from their Facebook page:

Knitting Fever & EuroYarns

March 15, 2011

Dear Friends and Valued Customers,

It is impossible to witness the horror and devastation brought upon our friends in Japan by the earthquake & tsunami and not be moved to despair, to tears, and then to help.

I will keep it short and to the point:

1) KFI and affiliates will match dollar for dollar contributions made by you to the The American Red Cross. [Please note KFI’s commitment is limited to matching the first $50,000 received.]

2) Your check must be made out to The American Red Cross and earmarked for the Japan earthquake relief fund.

3) Checks must be sent to: KFI - 315 Bayview Ave, Amityville, NY 11701.

4) All contributions will be made in the name of our industry and in all your good names.

Please help in the measure of your heart and your pocketbook.

Please act now!

Thank you.

Sion Elalouf

This is a good way to do something that will actually help, all in the name of knitters.  Please tell all knitters you know about this opportunity to help.  Many lYS's, including mine, are collecting checks to send in.

Lee wrote
on Mar 18, 2011 12:33 PM

Knitting Fever International. Noro's US distributor, is collecting donations for Japan and will match the first $50,000 they receive. They are asking knitters to mail checks to them, but make them out to the American Red Cross and earmark them for the japan relief effort. Lots of local LYSs are collecting these checks from their customers to send in to KFI.  This is from KFI's facebook page:

Knitting Fever & EuroYarns

March 15, 2011

Dear Friends and Valued Customers,

It is impossible to witness the horror and devastation brought upon our friends in Japan by the earthquake & tsunami and not be moved to despair, to tears, and then to help.

I will keep it short and to the point:

1) KFI and affiliates will match dollar for dollar contributions made by you to the The American Red Cross. [Please note KFI’s commitment is limited to matching the first $50,000 received.]

2) Your check must be made out to The American Red Cross and earmarked for the Japan earthquake relief fund.

3) Checks must be sent to: KFI - 315 Bayview Ave, Amityville, NY 11701.

4) All contributions will be made in the name of our industry and in all your good names.

Please help in the measure of your heart and your pocketbook.

Please act now!

Thank you.

Sion Elalouf

If you want to do something for Japan please spread the word.

on Mar 17, 2011 6:35 AM

Does anybody know how the folks who make Noro yarns are doing? I've been thinking about them a lot these days.

KOkerberg wrote
on Mar 16, 2011 6:49 PM

It's hard to sit back and not do something.  Thank you for laying out the facts for us.  I,  for one, hadn't thought of the situation in this way, only that I needed to do something.  I did donate and will do whatever necessary to assist.  We are all in this together, ONE WORLD.   A thank you to the entire fiber community for always being there in the times of need!

~Kathy

OChica wrote
on Mar 16, 2011 5:23 PM

Thank you for sharing this article.  Sending money.  That's what we do, IN Japan, too, right now.

jean02 wrote
on Mar 16, 2011 3:41 PM

When shopping yesterday at Hudson Bay, I was given the option of donating the points I earned for that purchase to aid Japan.  This is a pretty easy and painless way to help out.  I don't know how many other points cards provide this option but I'm sure that there are some.

Zoe wrote
on Mar 16, 2011 3:02 PM

I agree totally.  An added thought, for all those who knit afghans, why dont you hold a raffle and donate the proceeds to an agency like the Red Cross who are active in helping out.  Donate $$$ not items to be sent over to help the Japanese people.  It may be noble of knitters to want to send knitted items over to Japan, but it is simply not practical.  What they need is food and water.  It is just as impractical to buy a jug of water at the store and donate that to be sent over.  We can pray for them and send $$$ to agencies that are there to help.