Monday, 2 September 2013

The great Malawian Knit Off

You've heard of the Great British Bake Off but here in Malawi the great Malawian Knit Off has taken two communities by storm.  Spearheaded by the fantastic UK volunteer Jean Pollard, two groups at Pensulo and Baluti have both shown themselves to be excellent knitters, and sold out of their fabulous creations at their first stall.

The idea for establishing two knitting groups came out when Jean spoke to Hester about how she was raising money for Joshua in the UK by selling her knitted pieces for us. Hester enthusiastically asked Jean if when she came to visit if she could establish two knitting groups and help local women generate their own source of income through this needle clicking scheme. Honoured to be asked Jean quickly gathered donations of needles, wool and buttons from her local community - packing an extra case last minute due to the incredible local support.

Jean's success and enthusiasm continued once in Malawi, she was amazed by how quickly both groups learnt from her and before she knew it they were making tops, hats and dresses in all shapes and sizes without patterns.

"At Joshua fund raising walk they had their first stall and everyone was very impressed by what they had made and the women were exhilarated as one by one all their knitting was praised and sold.
"There was no stopping them now as they were keen to learn more. More baby tops with hats to match were made and decorated with animal buttons bought in Blantyre. Shoulder bags, phone and spectacle cases were knitted and crochet.  The need to visit the wool shop in Limby became a regular occurrence as the wool I and Sylvia's friend Ruthy brought from England was used up. The knitting groups became a place where the women could come together as a group and chatting, laughing, dancing, and singing was the norm. The singing brought the young children to our groups and they became a real social gathering.

For me I forged truly lasting friendships and the joy these women and their beautiful children brought me are beyond words.

Saying goodbye was hard and I miss them all daily, so posters are up in my village and wool and needles are arriving weekly as I prepare to return with new patters and ideas. A recent email from informed me that the women had an order for leg warmers, and so that's what they made with decorative buttons attached again no pattern! There is obviously no stopping them now and their obvious talents continuing to grow."

We would like to take this opportunity to Thank Jean, and all those who have supported. And we look forward to her returning to Malawi again soon.