Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Special Olympics Scarf Project

Last August I was tooling around Ravelry and discovered the people organizing the invitational 2009 Winter SO Games wanted to have a matching scarf to give to every athlete and possibly every coach/trainer in the SO colors of blue and white. They got together with the Coats & Clark company who had some yarn with the perfect shades of each and promoted the idea to crafters. You could make any pattern you wanted, as long as it was in those two colours. They were hoping to top the 1000 scarves that were received the year before for the state winter games. The people at Coats & Clark thought they could aim high and go for 5000 so that all the family members and volunteers could have one too.

Having gone to the Canadian National SO Games in 1986 when my brother competed and always up for a good group project, I joined up. I bought the yarn and had enough to make two scarves. The first was my first foray into two-colour double knitting (there's a "right" side on both sides and the colours are reversed): The first and third designs are taken from the SO logo and I can thank a fellow Ravelry member for charting the design.

The next scarf was a simple crochet scarf that used up every last bit of my blue: The scarves were due by the end of December, and by mid-January we start hearing reports about how many scarves they're getting at the SO office. Apparently it got completely out of hand and unmanageable as they received in excess of 55,000 scarves. Holy crap! Let's just say the idea really caught on with knitters and crocheters everywhere.

As they realized that they had enough to give to everyone even remotely involved with the Games, they started giving them out at locations in the city for a donation to the Games. (Unfortunately even that close to the Games they still had a ways to go to raise the needed funds.) Walking around the city was like walking through a SO training camp, or maybe I should say cheering camp. Everyone was wearing a scarf to show their support. The scarves were even sold in the WalMart across from the venue for the opening ceremonies. (WalMart got no money--they merely collected donations for the Games.) There was quite a stink on Ravelry about it, but what can you do with 55,000 scarves?? I'm glad they were able to use them to raise money and enthusiasm for the Games.

Some pics of the opening ceremonies:

Local high school students (all wearing their scarves) with an Olympian

Marching into the arena
Watching the video and in other pictures, you can see the athletes waving their scarves to cheer. Like Terrible Towels, only better!
It was a lot of fun to participate in the project, and kind of amusing to see it get out of control. I'm glad I didn't work in the office unpacking box after box of scarves!! But how fun.

I've studied the pictures and video very closely. I didn't spot either of my scarves.


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