Honors KnitWits Stitch Beanies for Afghan Refugees

A student knits a beanie for an Afghan refugee familyBy William Lineberry

When Alison Zieleman learned about the Afghan refugee crisis, she wanted to try and help in any way she could. And one way she and her peers knew they could help was through their collective interest and skill—knitting.

Alison and the other KnitWits, a craft and social club based out of the Honors College, got to work at stitching together dozens of beanies for the children of the Afghan families being housed at Fort Pickett in Blackstone, Va.

“I was absolutely horrified to hear about the events in Afghanistan last semester and I was glad that I could help, in some small way, with my knitting skills,” Zieleman, a senior majoring in Biology, said. “I've always used knitting as a meditative activity to reduce stress, and knowing that I was making something to help the refugees made it even more gratifying.”

Last week, the beanies were delivered to Distribute Aid at Fort Pickett.

Zieleman said the KnitWits gave her a sense of community in that she was able to find people who shared her interests, express herself creatively and teach some people how to knit along the way.

“When I joined KnitWits, I was surprised to find such a large community of VCU students that shared my interest,” Zieleman said. “Growing up I didn't know anyone besides my grandma who liked knitting, so it was amazing meeting so many other knitters and crocheters. It was really rewarding teaching newcomers, seeing everyone's progress on their projects and building off each other's creativity. It really helped to relieve the stress of the semester, especially when school was still online.”

The KnitWits meet every Sunday at 5 p.m. during the semester with alternating weeks in person (Honors College Multipurpose Room) and virtual via Zoom. For more information on the KnitWits, contact KnitWit student leader, Karla Hernandez.