A group of Dubai residents doing their bit to knit the world’s largest blanket Image Credit: Antonin Kélian Kallouche/XPRESS

Dubai: Women in the UAE are attempting to stitch the world’s largest blanket. Spearheaded by British expat Barbara Evans, the ‘Knit-a-thon’ aims to beat the famed ‘Mandela’s blanket’ which sprawls over 3,133 square metres and comprises 67 blankets.

“Our inspiration comes from Mandela’s blanket which was unveiled in South Africa on April 21, 2015. I am not sure how long it will take to complete it, but once done, it will be cut into various sizes and donated to needy people around the world,” says Evans, who launched the initiative on April 1 on Facebook, urging knitters in the UAE to be part of the record-breaking bid.

Participants are required to knit squares of 15x15 centimetres. Once a participant or a group completes 25 squares, they can sew them together to make a blanket of 75x75 centimetres and drop it off at homes of volunteers.

“There are over 40 drop-off points, of which 28 are within Dubai,” says Evans.

Noble cause

Within the first 12 days of the Knit-a-thon, she received three complete blankets and over 500 sign-ups. “We have also received many squares and are looking for volunteers to stitch them up. This is what I absolutely love about the UAE. Despite coming from different countries and demographics, everyone is very forthcoming for any good cause,” says Evans.

Dubai-based Russian expat Eva Yumshanova is among many residents who are taking part in the country-wide initiative.

She and her friends have knitted one whole blanket of 75x75 centimetres. “We meet up two to three times a week for our morning coffee sessions and knit up some squares. Once we’ve patched them, one of us drops it off at a nearby volunteer’s house in the Greens,” says the 44-year-old. Along with her friends, Eva hopes to knit as many blankets as possible.

Another Dubai resident, Tina Churchill, who hasn’t knitted anything since 1987, says she is excited to be a part of the Knit-a-thon. “My six-year-old son is very keen to try it out. The initiative not only brings back the craft of knitting, it also allows one to be a part of something that aims to make a difference to fellow humans,” says the 40-year-old. Churchill and her friends organised a Knit-a-thon meet up last week in Arabian Ranches.

Beyond the UAE

According to Evans, many women from outside the UAE have also expressed their interest in the initiative. “We have received a few squares and blankets from women in Australia, the UK as well as some countries in Europe,” she adds.

Even students in Dubai have embraced the initiative. Greenfield Community School’s Grade 5 students were taught knitting at their Primary Years Programme Exhibition last week in order to enable them to take part in the Knit-a-thon.

“Our students feel strongly that there are many children around the world who are less fortunate. They hope to make a difference by participating in the knit-a-thon,” says Jane Gaughan, grade level coordinator and grade 5 class teacher at the school. The students and teachers meet every day at lunchtime to knit as many squares as they can.

Indian expat Jayanthi Prasad, who is almost half way through her first blanket, says she carries her knitting needles wherever she goes. “I accompanied my husband to Abu Dhabi recently. While he was busy in his meeting I sat in the car and knitted a square in about an hour,” says Prasad, a Dubai resident for 22 years. She has managed to knit 16 squares in 14 days.


Knit-a-thon: How it works

1. Participants must begin by knitting squares of 15X15 centimeters.

2. Once a participant or a group of participants have completed 25 squares, they can sew them together to make a blanket of 75X75 centimeters

3. Find the nearest drop off location on www.facebook.com/RagsToRichesDubai/ page

4. All the blankets will be sewn together to form a blanket larger than Nelson Mandela’s blanket that covered an area of 3,133 sq. meters

5. The blanket will then be cut into appropriate sizes and distributed needy people across the world