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Stitching for peace a popular campus pursuit

By Mara Fink '11
December 16, 2010

Students with Stitches for Peace sell their creations in Buntrock Commons.

The simple mission of the student knit-to-serve group Stitches for Peace hasn't changed a bit in the past year, but its membership sure has.

Last year the organization had roughly half a dozen members. This year the group’s email list is 93 students strong, and so many participants show up at weekly meetings that co-leaders Rachel Butler '12 and Josalan Sullivan '12 have scrambled to keep enough supplies on hand.

"We had about 25 people at our first meeting, and people keep coming back and bringing their friends," Butler says.

Stitches for Peace students meet each Monday at 7 p.m. in the Mellby Lounge to knit and crochet a variety of projects ranging from scarves to sweaters. They then sell their projects and donate the proceeds to organizations that benefit the global community, such as the Heifer Project. This year students will also donate some of their projects to nonprofit organizations within Northfield and the Twin Cities area.

Although Stitches for Peace has been on campus for six years, this is the first year the group has blossomed into a truly campuswide knitting community. Butler thinks that’s because the organization has created a warm community that welcomes people of all knitting abilities — or even no ability at all — and makes it fun to give back.

"Stitches for Peace is not your grandmother's knitting club. It's a place where strangers can gather with a common goal and leave as friends," she says. "It's a community with a purpose: to make the world a better place one stitch at a time. We are all connected by the thread of humanity, and by knitting for others we can touch lives halfway across the globe and in our own community."

Butler says she's happy to teach anyone who shows up how to knit, noting that one student who began learning at the first meeting this year is already completing a baby blanket. "Once you get the hang of it, it’s like magic how quickly the fabric is created," she says.

Anna Sewall '14 says she enjoys being part of the organization because she is able to accomplish several goals in the same evening. "I love meeting new people who share a passion for knitting. It feels good to relax after a busy day and know that you're helping someone in need at the same time," she says.

Another thing that draws people to Stitches for Peace is the fact that organizers provide knitting needles, crochet hooks, and yarn. Butler says supplying the materials is key to attracting people of all skill levels, but it also means that she’s always looking for donations of supplies from alumni, parents, faculty, and staff.

"The more supplies we have, the more items we can make and the more we can donate to humanitarian organizations," she says.

Contact Kari VanDerVeen at 507-786-3970 or