Our volunteers who worked with the Afghan refugee women at the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington (CCDA) witnessed first-hand the power and potential of Project Knitwell’s mission. Each Friday morning, the women were greeted by the staff at CCDA and joined one another in the knitting area. The women arrive strangers to one another, but we knew our tables full of fiber could help make them friends. These individuals shared a common background and could bond over a new shared experience.

Our volunteer instructors were there to share information, encouragement, and ongoing support. Everyone cooperated to build community within the group. CCDA directors indicated that they noticed considerable changes in the participants during the knitting circle.

They claimed that participants not only learned to knit, but also developed social skills from sitting and chatting with one another, CCDA staff, and PK instructors. Their sense of personal efficacy was enhanced by completing and sharing their knit items. The program helped instill a sense of community and confidence amongst the new knitters. The CCDA director believes that participating with Project Knitwell helped one participant find employment.

Many participants have continued to knit while at home, which indicates they sincerely enjoy it and regard knitting as a comforting wellness tool. All the participants indicated that they would like the group to continue as before with a consistent schedule. All participants indicated that they felt calm when knitting, enjoyed interacting with PK instructors and felt less isolated during the sessions. Comments included how they were “very happy to be around other women and learning a new skill.” They felt that their knitting was an “achievement” and they look forward to sharing their knitting as gifts.

The PK instructors bring the group together by sharing the benefits of knitting, and naturally the group begins developing a mutual sense of satisfaction in their work. Their natural resilience allowed them to build wellness, comfort, and community during their Friday morning sessions. Our simple stitches together were just one part of the new fabric they were knitting together for themselves and their families.