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Knit a welcome blanket against a wall

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Donald Trump, Mexico, Wall, yarn, Welcome Blanket project, Make a blanket as a gift to a new immigrant to the United States.

In a candidacy speech in June 2015 Donald Trump said: “I will build a great wall – and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me – and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”

In 1883 Emma Lazarus wrote a sonnet called The New Colossus, the last few stanzas of which are written on a plaque put in the pedestal of The Statue of Liberty in 1906:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

And here’s a question:

The proposed border wall between the United States and Mexico will be almost 2000 miles long.

Imagine if the massive distance of this wall was re-conceptualised and re-contextualised not to divide, but to include.

Instead of wall, a concrete line, to keep people out, what if lines of yarn became 3,500,640 yards of blankets to welcome people in?

A welcome blanket is traditionally created to lovingly mark the arrival of a new person into the world.

What if we all made one…

With the Welcome Blanket, a project from artist, designer and Pussyhat Project co-founder Jayna Zweiman, each handmade blanket would be a physical manifestation of a celebration for new refugees and other immigrants: “Welcome to the United States and your new life here! We are so glad you have arrived.”

If a 40 inch x 40 inch throw blanket averages 1,200 yards, the Welcome Blanket project requires about 3200 blankets to reach 2000 miles of length.

How to participate:

Make a blanket: visit the Welcome Blanket project page for patterns for knitting, crocheting, and quilting, welcome note templates, and information on hosting events and other resources.

Share your progress: share your story and blanket using #welcomeblanket

Send it or them to the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago, by 5 September, 2017, where the blankets, along with the welcome notes, will be displayed together in a show running until 17 December.

After the show’s close, the blanket packages will be distributed to refugees and other immigrants via resettlement organisations.

The project opened on 18 July in an empty gallery in the Museum which was activated as a receiving station to sort and store the blankets.

Blankets are to accumulate in the space during the course of the project, transforming it from a visually sparse site of potential action into a vibrant installation of handmade blankets.

Visitors are invited to spend time knitting in the gallery or join a series of public events that will take place throughout the autumn, creating spaces for conversations around issues of human rights, immigration, and the legacy of artistic activism.

Joining in? Click here for more info.

If you want a pattern, Kat Coyle‘s “Come Together” blanket is a pattern that can be done in pieces – you can knit on the go or you can knit as part of a group. The simple square pieces comes together in a 40 x 40 square. Choose your colours, number of colours, choose your shape and get to it!  There is also a “My Welcome Blanket Template” to plan out your piece.

You are welcome to use the ‘Come Together’ pattern or any pattern of your choosing.

For the “Come Together” blanket pattern to knit, crochet or quilt, click here.

When you have completed your blanket, please send it, with your welcome note, to: Smart Museum of Art, Welcome Blanket, 5550 S. Greenwood Ave., Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.

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