Knitathon 1
UAE expats undertake to break world record Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Over 150 women living in the UAE are coming together for a cause - to make the largest ‘hand-knitted’ and heaviest blanket. The plan is to do one large blanket of 2,100 square meters by summer next year.

When completed, the blanket will be separated into 2,100 pieces, each one square meter, and these will be distributed to under-privileged children in India and around the world.

A campaign launched for this massive effort called Knitathon aims to break a world record and set two new ones in the process.

“We are knitting for a noble cause. Anybody can donate money to orphans but these children will never see the love that comes with it. With our blankets we hope they see that someone cares, and appreciate the effort that has gone into keeping them warm. The blankets are being knitted with love and dedication. We sure hope the children see this,” said Kanika Kapoor, 52, who is spearheading the campaign which kick-started in April.

As for the current Guinness world record, the largest hand-knitted blanket (non-crochet) stands at 1,994.81 square meters. It was achieved by Valery Larkin (Ireland) and Knitters of the World in Ennis, Ireland. Over 1,000 knitters contributed to the blanket. The record was verified this year on August 26. But with a 2,100 square meter blanket, these UAE women hope to beat the world record.

According to Kapoor, no record has been set for The Heaviest Hand-knitted Blanket and for The Blanket with the Maximum Hearts. “We will be setting two new records,” she said.

So far the women have knitted 525 blankets of one square meter each. “The way it is being put together is that when the blankets are completed, volunteers will sow them into one large piece,” explained Kapoor.

“Once the Guinness world record verification process is completed, we will separate the blankets. Basically there will be 2,100 blankets ready to be distributed,” she added.

Gulf News met with some of the volunteers during one of their weekly meetings at the Courtyard by Marriot in Dubai Investment Park (DIPA) where the women had come together to discuss the progress of the project and new designs.

The women are a mix of expats living in different emirates.

Kapoor said the project has gained momentum in the last two months with corporates, three schools and a Dubai-based non-profit organisation getting involved.

“Modern High School, Greenfield Community School and GEMS World Academy are lending their support. Our volunteers are reaching out to their students to teach them the age-old skill of knitting. The students have responded positively to the initiative and have made three blankets for us” said Kapoor.

“Senior citizens from the Young Hearts Foundation too have joined our campaign and they too have been contributing blankets.”

In the past two months, Knitathon has gone global with women living in the UK, Japan, Egypt, India and Canada knitting. “It is interesting to note that the project has given women all over the world an opportunity to learn a new skill or better what little they have known of it. As for the senior citizens involved in the campaign, knitting has given them a sense of purpose and has helped keep their minds active,” said Kapoor.

181216 Dr. Nishi Singh,
Dr. Nishi Singh Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Dr. Nishi Singh, 56, a volunteer said: “Knitting is very therapeutic. From a medical perspective, when someone learns a new skill, be it any age, they are engaging a part of the brain that has gone to sleep. It is very well documented in medical history that a new skill learnt helps put away dementia and Alzheimer’s. On top of all this, is the fact that there is a noble cause attached to this project which is extremely motivating.”

181217 Elaine Lacey
Elaine Lacey Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

British expat, Elaine Lacy, 59, another volunteer in the campaign said: “My mother taught me to knit when I was young. For years I had lost touch with the skill until I heard about the Knitathon campaign. It feels great to revive a skill I had learnt when I was young. When I started knitting a blanket, I was flooded with a lot of childhood memories.”

Jaida Zinedi, 42, Egyptian said: “I heard about this noble initiative in April via a Facebook community page. For years I had not picked up a knitting needle. So initially I found it a little difficult. The volunteers have been very supportive and teaching me to knit all over again.”