The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY)
Saratoga Peace Pod helps families in need through nonprofit organization
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. » City resident Rachel Baum is keeping herself busy with her knitting. Finished products are going to a good cause, and she hopes others will join her.
Baum is a member of Knitting4Peace, a nonprofit organization that has thousands of knitters, crocheters, and quilters across the US and Canada. Members craft items such as blankets, hats, sleeping mats, and baby booties, then ship them to the organization’s Denver, CO headquarters.
From there, items are distributed to families in need.
Local chapters of Knitting4Peace are called “Peace Pods.” Baum founded the Saratoga Peace Pod in Oct., when she needed an outlet for her handiwork.
“I started knitting a long time ago,” Baumsaid. “My aunt taught me when I was about eight, and I feel like I’m continuing her legacy. I’ve made lots of gifts for my children, now all grown, and they’ve started saying ‘enough with the afghans and sweaters.’
“So I was looking online for places where I could donate my crafts.”
Baum found Knitting4Peace and got involved. After starting the Saratoga Peace Pod, she put the word out through different media outlets and at Common Threads, the local yarn store. She got responses right away. The Saratoga Peace Pod currently has eight members
and is always looking for more.
“People are responding,” Baum commented. “They’re stuck at home knitting, and need something to do with all the things they’re making.”
Under normal circumstances, the Pod would meet regularly to socialize, spending time crafting together and organizing shipments to Knitting4Peace headquarters. But like everything else right now, things are different because of the pandemic.
So far, all the Pod’s meetings have been over Zoom.
“Normally something like this is a social, philanthropic gathering,” Baum explained. “I hope we can socialize at some point. The Zoom is wonderful, but we’re shooting for in person at some point. It’ll be so nice to meet everyone in person!”
But Baum doesn’t want to rush things. She knows better than anyone the risks that are involved right now. A self- described “long hauler,” Baum got COVID-19 in March, and still has symptoms. Fortunately, her knitting helps her manage them.
“Knitting is so therapeutic,” Baum said. “It’s very Zen for me. When I’m knitting, I’m sitting and relaxing, so I’m not having trouble breathing. I get through the worst times by having this outlet.”
So for now, the Saratoga Peace Pod is staying virtual. Baum is thinking about coordinating a safe, socially distanced pick update in Jan. when the first round of projects are done so she can collect items from Pod members. She hopes to send the Pod’s first shipment of items to Knitting4Peace headquarters in mid-Jan.
“Optimistically, I’m hoping we canmake a donation every month,” Baum said. “But realistically, we’ll see. It depends on when projects get done.”
Knitting4Peace has monthly deadlines for donated items, but the deadlines are flexible, in a manner of speaking. There’s no penalty for missing a deadline, because projects can always be rolled over to the next month. There is a year-round need for items, so they are always accepted.
“If, for example, you’re a slow quilter, it’s fine,” said Baum. “Take your time, and craft your piece with compassion. If you miss the Jan. deadline, just get it to me for the Feb. deadline.”
Baum says that some items like blankets are distributed in advance of anticipated need, some items like washcloths and sleeping mats are in need yearround, and some items can be modified to suit the season by using cotton yarn instead of wool.
There’s never an off-season for Knitting4Peace.
The Saratoga Peace Pod is open to all. All levels of experience are welcome, because there’s something for everyone to work on. Knitting4Peace has free patterns on its website for everything from simple washcloths to complex sweaters. Even if you have no experience, Baum can help you.
She’s willing to teach people how to knit, admittedly a little more tricky over Zoom but it can be done, free of charge.
“It’s such a wonderful craft that keeps with you your whole life,” Baumsaid.
The only condition if you’re making something for Knitting4Peace is that you have to follow their “rule of three.”
“The theme of Knitting4Peace is ‘ hope, healing, and peace.’ The number 3 is an important aspect of the organization,” explained Baum. “So you’re asked to incorporate 3 into your work somehow - you could use three different colors, for example, or do three different stitches, or use a pattern that has three different components to it.
“You can really be creative with it.”
Baum hopes that Knitting4Peace will be a fun way for yarn crafters everywhere to ply their skills. She believes that handmade donations carry a lot of significance.
“Crafters are usually warmhearted and giving people,” she said. “This gives them out outlet for their work, with no pressure. It’s one thing to send money, but to me there’s nothing worse than if you’re cold. The things we make will help so many people to keep warm.”
The Saratoga Peace Pod’s next meeting is on Jan. 5. If you are interested in getting involved, reach out to Rachel Baum at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Knitting4Peace, visit their website at knitting4peace.org.