We love a charitable cause here at Let’s Knit, especially when we can do our bit by picking up our needles. So ahead of this year’s The Big Knitathon, we chatted to the folks at The Big Issue to find out more about what it is and what we can all do to get involved!
What’s the idea behind The Big Knitathon, and how does it help to support homeless and vulnerably housed Big Issue vendors?
The idea of The Big Knitathon is to get people together to have fun and raise some funds to support hard working Big Issue vendors. Selling The Big Issue is a tough job, but it can be made a little easier when sellers get to know the people around them, whether they are customers, members of the community or other vendors. Through The Big Knitathon we want people to get together to remind them how important social networks are, and by knitting, raise money to enable The Big Issue Foundation to support people who are feeling isolated and experiencing difficult times on the streets.
Where did the idea for The Big Knitathon first come about?
The Big Knitathon was developed by a member of our team who had a passionate for making things and generally being creative! She knew that knitting had the potential to be a really sociable hobby, and spotted the opportunity to bring people together to knit to support vendors who were experiencing isolation by raising funds.
The Big Knitathon is now in its fourth year – how has it grown since it first started back in 2012?
The Big Knitathon was a great success from year one. Events were held by our existing supporters as well as by people who were just drawn to it as a worthwhile reason to hold a knitting event with friends! We have changed the format of The Big Knitathon a little over the years which has helped to keep it fresh, and every year we have new groups joining in by hosting their own Knitathons. This year we are hoping that people across the country will hold more Big Knitathon’s than ever before, and we would love to see over 100 groups taking part! We have always had different types of groups holding their own Knitathons - knitting shops, families, companies and community groups have all taken part. This year we are looking to encourage more schools to get involved and host Knitathons as part of their Technology classes or after school.
How can knitters get involved with this year’s Big Knitathon?
There are lots of ways that knitters can get involved in The Big Knitathon. If you would like to host your own event then go online to www.bigissue.org.uk/knitathon to read about the event and download an information pack. Events can be public or private, and can be as big or little as you like! If you would rather attend than host an event then take a look at the map on the website to see where people have registered events near you and get in touch! If you’re keen to attend an event someone else is hosting you may be able to help them raise even more funds! For example could you give knitting lessons to people on the day for a small donation? Could you organise prizes and a raffle on the day? Could you bake something tasty for a cake sale that sustains the knitters? Or could you organise a sale of the items that the group makes and donate the money raised to The Big Issue Foundation? There are lots of ways that you could volunteer your support to make the event an even greater success?
What advice do you have for newbie knitters who want to do their bit?
Newbie knitters are very welcome to be involved in The Big Knitathon, and the events could be a great way to get in touch with fellow knitters in your local community! Some of the Knitathons offer knitting lessons or tips, which could be a great way to improve your skills. And the items that you choose to knit are totally up to you, so new knitters can choose something simple, perhaps along the lines of the free phone sock pattern from Search Press.
This year The Big Knitathon is being supported by Search Press – can you tell us a little more about this?
We knew that Search Press published some great books of patterns, and we were delighted when they said they’d be happy to provide us with patterns to share with our knitters last year! We’re working with them again in 2015, so do look out for some new patterns if you are going to be taking part. Once you register you will get access to them all on our website so people won’t have to look far for great ideas to create!
What other things can knitters and crafters do throughout the year to help The Big Issue Foundation?
The Big Knitathon is a totally flexible, we ask people to specifically get involved in November as it helps us to raise extra funds to support our vendors through the difficult winter months, but you could hold a Knitathon any time of year! And if you’d like to do something other than knitting there are a whole range of other things you can do to support us on our website.