Like thousands of other people, I’ve been despairing about the refugee crisis and feeling utterly impotent in the face of so much suffering. Yesterday that ramped up to a whole new level and there’s no need for me to explain why.
Then Patrick Ness started something wonderful. Authors have been getting together to help raise money for Save the Children and it’s rocketed off to a great start. You can donate here.
I did just that, but still felt like it wasn’t enough. I don’t have a lot of money so can’t make big donations and whilst I understand that little donations on a massive scale all add up to something effective, I still felt that it wasn’t personal enough.
Then I saw a tweet saying that some geeky knitters and crocheters are getting together to make blankets, hats and gloves etc. The cold killed thousands of refugees fleeing last year and, at the risk of inappropriate quoting, winter is coming. The Squares by Geeks Facebook Group is here if you’d like to join: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1005242656207028/
Now this summer, my little boy and I have been learning to crochet (I mentioned that people crochet TARDISs and sonic screwdrivers and he wanted to learn, bless him) and a couple of days ago we started to learn how to do a Granny Square. We plan to make a blanket together. When he comes home from school tonight, I’m going to ask him if he’s happy for us to donate it. We’ll take a while – we only know how to do the two inner rounds at the moment but next week we have a lesson on how to finish the square.
This feels better, I thought. I can donate time and love to make something that will keep someone warm, someone who has lost everything. It is only a small thing, but it feels more personal to spend hours thinking of and caring for someone distant who is in pain and who is in need and making something to alleviate that directly. Perhaps I have some notion that it will be felt in that blanket when it leaves my hands and is wrapped around someone’s shoulders. Only a little thing, one candle flame in so much darkness, but better than none.
Then I had a thought. Over the next two months, I will be going to Bristolcon, Octocon and Fantasycon. At the recent Nine Worlds convention I saw so many people yarning like a boss. How about we do something together?
So, I propose this: For each of these three conventions, once I have my schedules, I’ll post up times that I’ll be in one of the public spaces, making my granny squares for blankets to donate. Anyone who knits/crochets can join me and we can talk geeky stuff or I could help you with fears about writing, whatever. We can all crochet/knit whilst watching panels etc, then on the last day of the con, everyone gives me the squares they’ve made over the con. Then I will sew them up and take a picture of a beautiful thing we have made together that will keep someone warm when they need it most. I will then make sure they are sent off to the collection points that are springing up as I type this.
EDIT: Since posting this, lovely people who can’t make it to those cons have been asking whether they can make squares and post them. The very lovely Books on the Hill bookshop in Clevedon, near Bristol, have agreed to accept posted squares on my behalf. Any that arrive before the 28th of September will be brought to Bristolcon and added to that blanket/s. Any that arrive after that, I will go and collect at the end of October to stitch up into blankets, and the month after etc for as long as is needed.
PLEASE MARK YOUR PACKAGES WITH: “Blanket Squares enclosed” so Alistair and Chloe know they just need to keep it to pass on to me.
Their address is: Books on the Hill, 75 hill Road, Clevedon, BS21 7PL
From the Squares by Geeks FB page: “Whether you’re crocheting or knitting, using DK/Aran/Chunky/whatever, please make your squares either 4″ or 8″. If you have outliers, don’t worry! We’ll use them for borders or smaller blankets
If you’d rather make gloves or hats, that’s brilliant! Word is that most charities have received lots of stuff for women and children, but far less for men, of whom there are more in need. So it would be great if you could make stuff in larger sizes.”
Also, you should totally buy books from them because they are an independent bookshop and there aren’t enough of them in the world. Also, Alistair and Chloe are lovely, geeky people. They are @booksonthehill on Twitter.