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How You Can Knit for the Ones Domestic Violence Leaves Behind

You can offer comfort and healing to survivors of domestic violence through Sheila’s Shawls & Paul’s Scarves

Knitting for domestic abuse survivors - Sheila's Shawls & Paul's Scarves

Sheila Wellstone had just become a U.S. Senator’s wife in 1990 when she discovered the horrifying reality of domestic violence. Rather than shrugging her shoulders, Sheila decided to educate herself, and she spent the following year reading and listening to the stories of survivors throughout her state of Minnesota.

Together, she and her husband Paul helped with the drafting and passage of the Violence Against Women Act, a key piece of legislature offering extensive protections to women and children who suffer domestic violence.

Sadly, the Wellstones and their daughter Marcia died in a plane crash in 2002.

Not long after their passing, a group of fiber artists decided to continue the legacy of the Wellstones through a knitting and crochet charitable project: Sheila’s Shawls and Paul’s Scarves.

Honoring Domestic Violence Justice Advocates: Sheila’s Shawls & Paul’s Scarves

The mission of Sheila’s Shawls and Paul’s Scarves is to provide healing thoughts and prayers to the victims left behind by domestic violence. These thoughts and prayers are made tangible through knitted or crocheted shawls and scarves.

The organization has long accepted the donated knitted or crocheted shawls and scarves. They distribute these items to domestic violence shelters. The shelters, in turn, pass these treasured gifts along to those in need.

Many recipients have written glowing letters of thanks and appreciation for these gifts.

Sadly, abused women, children, and even men are not the only victims of domestic violence. When domestic violence ends in death, those left behind — children, siblings, and parents — often must contend with grief, guilt, and/or anger. And they often do so alone, wondering if anyone will remember their loved ones.

Shawls and scarves are a way to reach out to the ones left behind. They’re a tangible reminder that their loved ones are not forgotten… and neither are the survivors.

Creating Shawls and Scarves for Survivors of Domestic Violence

If you would like to knit shawls and/or scarves for this project, you can find guidelines and patterns in many locations.

First, the Silent Witness National Initiative has web pages devoted to both Sheila’s Shawls and Paul’s Scarves.

And at Ravelry you’ll find a group devoted to Sheila’s Shawls and Paul’s Scarves. This group offers gift tags to send with your projects, patterns, knitalongs, and FAQs and answers. On the front page of the Ravelry group, you’ll find the mailing address for Renee, the group moderator who acts as a collection point person for shawls.

Today, the group passes scarves along to Handmade Especially for You, a fantastic organization that Knitting for Charity loves to promote. (Click the link above if you’d like to learn more about their mission!)

If you love knitting shawls and/or scarves, I hope you’ll consider contributing to this powerful effort. Imagine how your knitting can help bring comfort and healing to victims of domestic violence.

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    1. Hello Jenny! This is a US charity, and I’m afraid I’m not aware of any UK equivalents. You might want to keep an eye on Knit for Peace UK–they’re currently compiling a list of charities that accept knitted donations for their website, and they hope to have it on the site soon.

    2. Get some friends together and start one. Domestic violence is a global problem, with victims and survivors everywhere, not just in the US. God bless you for even asking.