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Charity Knitting as an Educational Tool: Knitted Uteri to Train Ethiopian Midwives

Charity knitting usually offers its benefits in practical and tangible ways: warming heads, hands, feet, and bodies through hats, mittens, socks, and blankets. But would you ever imagine charity knitting to offer its benefits in educational ways? Enter Midwives at Ethiopia. Run by six midwives from the United Kingdom, this charity seeks to help Ethiopian midwives by offering training and support. Trained midwives in this part of the world can play an enormous role in reducing infant mortality and maternal morbidity. So where does charity knitting come in? I’m glad you asked! Charity knitters can help by knitting a model of a uterus! Believe it or not, these models can actually help midwives learn how to manage emergencies during pregnancies, childbirth, and post-deliveries. And the more knitted uteri midwife trainers have, the more they can take to Ethiopia to share with midwives-in-training. Knit a Uterus, Save a Life Right now, you may be thinking, “Well this sounds very interesting, but how on earth do you knit a uterus model?” Fortunately, we have Heidi Macmillan, who has graciously shared a pattern for a knitted uterus with Knitting for Charity.org! The pattern is shown below. Materials needed: Double knitting wool (yarn), 3 oz. Set of 4 double-pointed needles, size 8 Small quantity of elastic thread Cast on 48 stitches 16 on each of 3 needles. Join. Knit 2, purl 2 until cuff measures two and a half inches. Continue in stockinette stitch with the following increases: Round 1: increase 1 stitch in every 6th stitch (56 stitches). Knit 7 rounds even. Round 8: increase 1 stitch every 7th stitch (64 stitches). Knit 7 more rounds even. Round 15: increase 1 stitch every 8th stitch (72 stitches). Knit 7 more rounds even. Round 22: increase 1 stitch every 9th stitch (80 stitches). Knit 7 more rounds even. Round 29: increase 1 stitch every 10th stitch (88 stitches). Knit 7 more rounds even. Round 36: increase 1 stitch every 11th stitch (96 stitches). Knit 7 more rounds even. Round 43: increase 1 stitch every 12th stitch (104 stitches). Knit even in stockinette stitch for another 25 rounds. Then, start the following decreases: Round 1: *knit 11 slip 1 knit 1, pass slip stitch over. Repeat from * to end of round. Round 2: *knit 10 slip 1 knit 1, pass slip stitch over. Repeat from * to end of round. Round 3: *knit 9 slip 1 knit 1, pass slip stitch over. Repeat from * to end of round. Round 4: *knit 8 slip 1 knit 1, pass slip stitch over. Repeat from * to end of round. Round 5: *knit 7 slip 1 knit 1, pass slip stitch over. Repeat from * to end of round. Round 6: *knit 6 slip 1 knit 1, pass slip stitch over. Repeat from * to end of round. Round 7: *knit 5 slip 1 knit 1, pass slip stitch over. Repeat from * to end of round. Round 8: *knit 4 slip 1 knit 1, pass slip stitch over. Repeat from * to end of round. Round 9: *knit 3 slip 1 knit 1, pass slip stitch over. Repeat from * to end of round. Round 10: *knit 2 slip 1 knit 1, pass slip stitch over. Repeat from * to end of round. Round 11: *knit 1 slip 1 knit 1, pass slip stitch over. Repeat from * to end of round. Round 12: *Slip 1 Knit 1. Repeat to end of round. Cut yarn. Draw the end through the remaining eight stitches and finish off. Thread a few strands of elastic thread around the top and bottom of the cuff. If you would like, you can send a round balloon and/or a 3½-inch plastic ball with your knitted uterus; these will allow midwives to demonstrate the shape and feel of a uterus following childbirth. It is not mandatory, however; they will be happy simply with the uterus model alone. Once you are ready, send an e-mail to midwifecharity@gmail.com to let them know you would like to send a knitted uterus; they can give you the information you need. What a great opportunity this is to save the lives of women and infants in Ethiopia! For more information about this amazing group, as well as a photo of a finished knitted uterus, visit their Facebook page. Just think, your charity knitting could be used to train midwives half a world away and save lives; what an exciting way to use your needles!