Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Do Amish Women Knit?

Since my book series, Amish Knitting Circle, came out with Trestle Press, I’ve been asked if Amish women really knit. Most people think they only quilt. I’m so glad to say, yes, they knit too!
            The Amish came to America in the early eighteenth century. At that time it was typical for women to know how to spin their wool and knit. Amish women knit shawls for warmth, usually in dark colors to match their dark clothing. Between1860-1920 Lancaster County women had more colors accessible to them and knit fancy colorful socks to wear under their long dresses and boots. These were called wedding socks and worn only by married women as part of their wedding attire.
As the Industrial Revolution produced more yarn in mills at affordable prices, Amish women  set aside their spinning wheels. But, they still made socks, mittens, shawls, and other apparel. They made their own knitting looms, now called Amish Knitting Looms, that require no needles and where made of wood and nails. Most are about 32 inches long, the right size for a shawl. When items became cheap enough to buy in stores, the need to knit was replaced by a want to knit. To this day, Amish women knit  mats to put under their oil lamps, placemats for their tables, rag rugs to warm their floors, and much more.
 Today the traditional Amish Knitting Loom is replaced by plastic ones, although the Amish still make their wooden ones. Lion Brand Yarn sells them in different lengths. But if you go into any craft store you’ll find knitting looms, some as kits, for sale. The top rated knitting loom book on Amazon is Loom Knitting Primer: A Beginner's Guide to Knitting on a Loom, with over 30 Fun Projects.

If you’re reading The Amish Knitting Circle you’ll know their making shawls to send to tornado victims in Joplin, MO. Why not get a loom and knit along with Granny Weaver and her circle and give your shawl to someone in need. Happy knitting!
I think it's safe to say that some things never change. Men aren't made to knit ;)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Do the Amish give to charities? Do they help the poor?

Can you picture a group of Amish men flying cows into Romania to start a farm to feed orphans? How about Amish distributing Bibles door to door?  How about Amish women processing 400,000 cans of chicken, beef and hamburger to give to the needy? The latter seems Amish, doesn’t it? We see the Amish as folk living quaint lives on the farm. Let me help blow your mind!
Christian Aid Ministries (CAM) is a worldwide Amish and Mennonite charitable organization run by volunteers that log in over 200,000 hours of work a year.  Annual donations made by mostly “plain people” are $116,168,060, according to Charity Navigator.  BUT 98.8% of this money actually goes to ward relief efforts in the US and around the world. (Some charitable organizations give less than 70%  to their actual cause)  CAM is run by a volunteer board and has only three paid positions, the top CEO making $45,895 a year. CAM has staff, bases and distribution networks in Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Haiti, Nicaragua, Liberia and Israel. I don't know? I was blown away completely. CAM is doing a top-notch job.
So what is CAM doing right now? According to their newsletter, their international focus is the ongoing devastation in Haiti and the famine in Africa. In the US, they're helping Hurricane Irene victims.
Plans are for CAM’s Rapid Response Teams to help victims of Manville, New Jersey, clean up from flood damage caused by the hurricane. Leroy Heatwole, a Rapid Response Team director, says, "We are in Manville walking into the flood area with the homeowners who are just returning to their homes. There are a lot of homes flooded, from six inches to all the way to the roof. Plans are to do more investigating and then start mucking out homes as soon as the water level goes down. We will be needing lots of volunteers from the PA community.”
CAM has a wonderful mission statement:  Glorify God and help enlarge His kingdom.  “. . . whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (I Corinthians 10:31)
For more information on Christian Aid Ministries, visit their website, run by less conservative Mennonites who use electricity and the internet ;) 
I've chosen to really spotlight CAM in my Amish Knitting Circle Series with Trestle Press. The women in the circle will be knitting scarves and shawls for Joplin, Missouri hurricane victims. I hope it will raise awareness for this wonderful ministry.
Karen Anna Vogel
Amish helping Hurricane Irene victims...