Knitting might seem a strange thing to bring into the modern officer – it is often associated with housewives and spinsters sitting by the fireside – however it is becoming increasing popular, hip, even, and particularly among the tech-savvy.
The basic components of knitting, the knit stitch, the purl stitch, can be seen as binary code – and used as effectively to create complex objects from very simple building blocks. It appeals to people who like problem solving and logic and can be seen as a kind of 3-D printer in wool. The difference is your brain is the programme and a pair of knitting needles and a skein of wool is the printer – the perfect mesh of analogue and digital.
Unlike sitting at a computer screen for hours, knitting also has well evidenced health and wellbeing benefits and is the perfect way to reset your brain at the end of a busy day. Unlike some other kinds of meditation or mindfulness techniques the active aspect of knitting helps those who find it hard to switch off to instead gently switch over to a different kind of thinking. The fact that you actually get something tangible out of it at the end is a bonus.
Knit for Peace is a charity that promotes knitting for its benefits but also for its usefulness in society. They set up projects overseas bringing traditionally hostile communities together – Hutu and Tutsi women in Rwanda, Muslims and Hindus in Delhi, with projects planned for the Middle East and South Africa. In the UK, over 11,000 volunteer knitters donate items that are then distributed by the charity (through other NGOs, community groups and charitable organisations) to those in need both in the UK and overseas.
They offer team-building training sessions where groups of workers can learn to knit and work together to create something useful. They also run knitting holidays in India where you can improve techniques, just sit and knit or even learn to knit as a complete beginner – each holiday is led by one of the country’s leading designers. Knitting is combined with the opportunity to see the local sites and Knit for Peace has excellent local connections and guests also get to explore the India that tourists rarely find. Guests can do as much or as little as they like. The next holiday is scheduled to be in Jaipur 16-27th October, when the weather is perfect. Jaipur itself is a fascinating city situated in Rajasthan, one of the cultural centres of India, and there are also opportunities to make trips to the Amber Fort and Taj Mahal.
Fees for team building and part of the price of the holidays go to support Knit for Peace’s work.