Craftivists align for scarf project

Craftivists align for scarf project

Nylah Mossop (left) uses her fingers to knit a scarf during the launch of the "Scarves for Kids" project on Nov. 20. The event was organized by Jo Ann Emerson (right) and Sandra Williams (not pictured). Other participants included (left of Emerson) Amanda Gailey, associate professor of English, and Patsy Koch Johns.
Troy Fedderson | University Communication
Nylah Mossop (left) uses her fingers to knit a scarf during the launch of the "Scarves for Kids" project on Nov. 20. The event was organized by Jo Ann Emerson (right) and Sandra Williams (not pictured). Other participants included (left of Emerson) Amanda Gailey, associate professor of English, and Patsy Koch Johns.

Armed with knitting needles and yarn skeins, community craftivists have launched a movement to help Lincoln children fend off the chill of winter.

Inspired by a New Hampshire project, a group of more than 20 -- under the guidance of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Jo Ann Emerson and Sandra Williams -- has started handcrafting scarves for the students of Lincoln Public Schools’ McPhee Elementary.

“This all came about after Sandra posted on Facebook about knitters who decorated a whole park with scarves for the needy,” said Emerson, a proposal development administrator with the College of Business Administration. “A friend said we should do something similar. I said I was in if others were and it grew into this.”

With pots of soup steaming in the kitchen and a selection of beverages, cheese and bread on the counter, a group that included young children, college students and adults gathered in Emerson’s living room on Nov. 20 to start making the scarves. Sitting around the room, talking about the project and other topics, the volunteers cheerfully knitted — some with needles, others with fingers — or cut and tied no-sew fleece scarves.

“This is just a group of friends and acquaintances coming together to form a little, weird grassroots group to benefit the community,” said Williams, an associate professor of art. “It sort of falls under the umbrella of craftivism.”

Yoojeong Lee, a junior art major in the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts, was among the 20 volunteers who helped start the project. She heard about the event through Williams and, while she hasn’t knitted in five years, thought it would be a great opportunity.

“I love giving back and volunteering in the community,” Lee said. “It is something that makes me feel warm inside. When I make a scarf, I look at it and think about the person who will use it to keep warm. That makes me feel happy.”

Emerson and Williams selected McPhee Elementary because 89 percent of the students in the school are eligible for free and reduced lunch. When contacted about the project, McPhee Principal Elizabeth Gomez was quick to see its merits.

“Principal Gomez told us it could also be a good project for the entire neighborhood as they have people walk by the school who would benefit from a free scarf of something to help them keep warm,” Emerson said. “We’re getting a late start on this, but we’re going to make as many scarves as we can before a Dec. 10 deadline.

“The goal is to keep this group energized and make scarves throughout the year. Then, by next December, we’ll have enough to give to the entire population of this school, from students and parents to passers by who are cold and could use a little bit of help.”

The “Scarves for Kids” group is accepting donations -- anything that can help keep youth warm during the winter months -- and is seeking additional volunteers to make scarves. For more information on how to get involved, send email to jemerson10@unl.edu or swilliams2@unl.edu.

Yoojeong Lee, a junior from South Korea, was among three Nebraska art students who were among "Scarves for Kids" volunteers on Nov. 20.
"Scarves for Kids" volunteers work in Jo Ann Emerson's living room and kitchen. The group is making scarves for students at McPhee Elementary in Lincoln.
Amy Green, owner of Lincoln's Ivanna Cone, uses crochet hooks to craft a scarf during the Nov. 20 volunteer event. The group is working to make as many scarves as possible by Dec. 10 for McPhee Elementary School students.