Building Community through a Scarf

On March 10 and 11, we had the privilege of collaborating with Shannon Johnston, an artist working in Australia, for the memorial events in Japan. She brought with her an 80-foot scarf as shown in pictures below. It was great to see people group around and get involved in the project. Here is the artist's statement about the origins and purpose of the work:

"In response to the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan of March 11, 2011 I started knitting a scarf.  A hand made scarf is an intimate gesture of affection.  Intimate due to the personal time invested in the making. Affectionate through the way it is worn, wrapped around the neck as if a hug.  Scarves by their nature and function insinuate warmth as well.  All of these were things I was feeling and hoping for the people of Japan.

Other artists, men, women, and high school students of all different social, religious, and economic backgrounds have contributed portions to the scarf.  As they knit, all of the contributors have been asked to knit their hopes, prayers, good thoughts, and love for the people of Japan into the scarf.  Some people have chosen to knit actual items into the scarf that symbolize these prayers, others have made metaphors through knitted wool, and others still have simply used the time knitting to reflect and pray.

This is an ongoing project, just as healing is an ongoing process and new knitters can join at anytime.  Although this project was conceived for Japan in response to events that happened, it is not intended to stay there.  It is my hope that each person or group the receives the scarf will then add to it and pass it on to someone else who needs prayer, comfort, hope, and encouragement." (Shannon Johnston)

One lady quietly knitting her prayers into the scarf on March 11.

The scarf is currently about 80 ft in length. How long will it one day be?

My first experience knitting!

A group of ladies getting into the project on March 10.

Shannon Johnston interacting with a Japanese lady as she adds on to the scarf on March 11.