Why Ravelry’s display of support & solidarity for the LGBTQ+ community is so important

Ravelry Logo with Rainbow Flag.png

Update: The rainbow flag was up for almost four weeks. Not sure what time it was removed but it was gone on Sunday 7/7/16.

[Note: Almost all the links to Ravelry in this post require a (free) login. If by chance you’re a fiber artist who hasn’t heard of the site, join us!]

This post is ostensibly in response to a complaint letter that another Raveler posted to his blog about Ravelry’s decision to fly the rainbow pride flag early this year to show love and support for LGBTQI Ravelers of which there are many. But as my friend Abby Franquemont (abbysyarns on Ravelry, @abbysyarns on Twitter) has already written a detailed response (Share, Retweet) that I can’t improve upon, I don’t feel there’s any need for me to do a point by point response. I encourage everyone to read it, but note that if you are a conservative religious person her post may be hard to read. She is angry and she does not mince words. (Update: Abby has written a great follow-up talking about why she responded: On Silence, Speaking Up, and Social Media.) I will quote from the original letter but I’ll mostly be talking about the larger issues and the meaning of the flag.

If for accessibility reasons you need to read the original letter on a website, it is here: “Open letter to Ravelry“. If you don’t want to give him the web traffic, you can read it via screencap here. Note that comments are closed on his blog so it’s not possible to respond to him publicly. However, his comments policy says that if you disagree with him he would prefer you contact him privately. Some people have been sending him feedback on Twitter. Like Abby I support his right to free speech, but free speech doesn’t mean free from consequences. However, I don’t support personal attacks or harassment. He is a person and a member of the fiber arts community. Call me unreasonable, but I feel like adults ought to be able to have conversations with people they disagree with without resorting to name-calling and harassment. I know it’s the Internet and it’s difficult to be respectful in the face of such open hostility but insults never make the situation better.


Since 2014, Ravelry has put up a tiny rainbow pride flag on their logo for a few days in June, using the ‘l’ as a flagpole. Every year Ravelry’s choice to fly the rainbow flag during the month of June has created some controversy on the site. This year was no exception but most of the controversy is happening off Ravelry on the wider Internet. (June has been LGBT Pride Month in many places for many years. Since 2009, it has been officially declared by President Barack Obama with a presidential proclamation.)

In 2014, Ravelry raised the rainbow flag to mark the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall riots at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. Stonewall is considered by many to be the beginning of the modern LGBT rights movement. I think the flag was up for several days.

In 2015, they put up the flag a day early and left it up longer than the year before to celebrate the US Supreme Court marriage equality win in Obergefell v. Hodges. People like to think the United States is really advanced but when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights, we are behind. This decision made us the 22nd country in the world to have marriage equality throughout the country. Prior to the Supreme Court decision 37 (out of 50) states and the District of Columbia had marriage equality.

Ravelry logo with rainbow flag and text.JPG

This year, on Sunday, June 12th, the day of the massacre at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, Ravelry raised the rainbow flag again. Most likely they would have put it up around the Obergefell v. Hodges and Stonewall anniversaries anyway, but they decided this was the right time to raise it. This year there’s a new addition – if you hover over the flag with your mouse pointer, the words “We love you” pop up.

Casey on why the rainbow flag is up

Every year there has been a thread on the For the Love of Ravelry forum, (one of the main six discussion boards on Ravelry) in which they have suspended the usual rules of no political or religious discussion (2014 thread, 2015 thread – both are worth reading but they are very long). Every year the threads start off as a “thank you” thread to Casey Forbes, co-owner and “code monkey”, the man directly responsible for writing the necessary code to make the rainbow flag appear. Every year some folks drop by to express their displeasure with Ravelry for doing so. I believe these objections have always been on religious grounds (mainly, if not all, from Christians).

This year they chose to moderate the flag thread very heavily in the first few days and the first person who stopped by to express their disagreement was dimmed (meaning their post is grayed out with a message on top of it explaining why it was moderated), although not before some discussion had ensued. Those of us who responded to them were also dimmed. I don’t know if the Raveler who posted the letter to his blog realized that his disagreement would not be welcome in the thread or if he posted it to his blog so that his readers and the public could see it or if he posted it outside Ravelry to avoid engaging with Ravelers who disagreed with him. Whatever the reasons, shortly after posting it to his blog, he locked comments, perhaps because they were only disagreeing with him. (Update 7/2/16: There is further discussion in a separate flag thread which is now locked.)

Someone on Ravelry found his letter and it started making the rounds on Twitter and Ravelry and probably other social media sites I’m not on. It’s clear that he’s extremely confused about what the rainbow flag represents and why on earth Ravelry would choose to raise it in support and solidarity with LGBTQ+ Ravelers or those members of the community who are relatives of LGBTQ+ people. He calls the flag “divisive and controversial”, imagines that it is a “symbol of hate”, states that it is “not a symbol of acceptance or equality”, and states his belief that it is “hurtful and offensive” to “many Jewish, Muslim and Christian people who participate in Ravelry.” He even went so far as to include a quote from Gilbert Baker, the designer and maker of the original flag, to “prove” his point. The quote was taken from “A Brief History of the Rainbow Flag“.

“The flag is an action – it’s more than just the cloth and the stripes. When a person puts the Rainbow Flag on his car or his house, they’re not just flying a flag. They’re taking action.”

Ravelry responded quickly in a comment on his blog and on Twitter.

What the Rainbow Flag Represents

I actually was pretty ignorant of the flag’s history until the 2014 flag thread. I think all I knew was that it had originated in San Francisco decades ago and that it once had more colors than it has now. Thanks to kathynancygirl ( TwitterInstagram) who posted The Gay Betsy Ross, a short documentary about the history of the flag, I and other Ravelers learned the history of the flag. The film is short and I encourage everyone to watch it.

The rainbow flag was created in 1978 by Baker at the encouragement of his friend, Harvey Milk, “the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California.” (Milk is probably most known for having his life cut short at age 48 when he was assassinated at the end of 1978 by a former colleague.) At the time, the primary symbol the gay community had was the pink triangle, which had been used by the Nazis as concentration camp badges for gay prisoners. Activists were trying to reclaim the symbol but given its association with the Holocaust, it wasn’t really an uplifting and empowering symbol for the community.

Baker knew what it had to be:

“I didn’t even think twice about what the flag would be. A rainbow fit us – it is from nature, it connects us to all the colors, all the colors of sexuality, all the diversity of our community.” (video)

The flag made its debut on June 25, 1978 at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade. The original flags were made with cotton that was hand-dyed with organic dyes by Baker and his friends. When he switched to mass production, the original eight colors were reduced to seven due to lack of availability of hot pink flag fabric. By 1979, turquoise was also cut, leaving six colors: red, orange, yellow, green, royal blue, and violet (purple).

I found some of the discussion on the 2014 and 2015 flag threads instructive. Although I have some conservative relatives, we’ve never talked about how they view the rainbow flag. I learned that some Christians mistakenly believe that the rainbow flag is THE symbol of the fight for marriage equality. Upon learning that wasn’t the case, at least one Raveler left the conversation feeling less upset about it.

What the flag is not:

  • The symbol of the fight for marriage equality. – Yes, you’ll see this flag everywhere people are protesting for marriage equality but it’s not exclusively the flag of that fight.
  • The symbol of the fight for transgender bathroom usage. – Yes, you’ll see this flag everywhere people are protesting for transgender people to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity but it’s not exclusively the flag of that fight.
  • A symbol of hate/persecution against Christians, Muslims, Jews, and other devoutly religious people. (I don’t even know where people get this idea from. Some LGBTQ+ people are also religious.)

“A true flag isn’t designed, it’s torn from the soul of the people. What makes a flag different than a logo or really any other work of art is the way that people project onto it their own values and their own ideas. They are a form of free speech. You put up a flag on your house, you put it on a bumper sticker, you know,you wear your t-shirt to school – you’re saying something. It’s a direct action that people are taking all around the world today with the rainbow flag.” (video)

The rainbow pride flag is a symbol of solidarity that unites a community that really doesn’t have that much in common other than being gender and sexual minorities. There are many other flags for groups who fall under the LGBTQ+ umbrella but the rainbow flag is the one that unites us all. It is also common for allies (including Christians, Muslims, Jews, and other religious people) to fly, wear, and display the rainbow flag to show solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community.

“Together we’re changing our world, our planet, from a place of hate and violence and war to a place of love and diversity and acceptance. And that is why we’re here. I mean that’s the big long rainbow from before me to well after me.” (video)

Why Ravelry’s Support is so Crucial

I’m a recovering evangelical Christian. I’m also bisexual and bicraftual (I knit and crochet among other fiber/textile pursuits). I’m AAPI and femme and usually pass as straight. While some members of the LGBTQ+ community (like myself) live lives of relative privilege and safety, because of our race, our immigration status, our gender presentation, where we live, how much money we have, who our friends & family are, the laws of our state (which don’t protect LGBTQ+ people equally across the US), and who we are or are not partnered with, many of us live in daily fear for our lives. We have to think about how we dress when we go out. We have to think about whether it’s safe to hold our partner’s hand. Safe to hug? Safe to kiss? We have to choose our words and pronouns carefully when talking about our friends and partners at work and with family. We don’t know when we enter a business if we will be served. We don’t know when we enter a public bathroom if we can pee in peace. We are harassed on the street, at work, at home. We fear losing our jobs if we marry our partners and our employers find out (not all states have legal protections against this).

We endure everyone from total strangers to close family telling us we’re going to hell (this happened to me on Ravelry). Mothers pull their children away from us when we display even the smallest affection for our partners (this happened to me in a sculpture park). Parents threaten to or actually follow through with throwing us out of the house and/or disowning us. We are subjected to “therapy” which tells us we can change if we pray hard enough. We are told that we are an abomination, that our love is an abomination. We are asked invasive personal questions about our bodies, our love lives, our sex lives. We (and sometimes our children) are denied healthcare by all sorts of healthcare providers (due to our sexuality, our gender presentation, our HIV/AIDS status). We are denied legal rights afforded to others.

I don’t personally live with all of these fears and problems but I’m using “we” because the fact that any of us has these problems is a problem for all of us. People often say, “But it’s 2016!” “You guys won marriage equality!” Yes, that’s true, but in 2016, 49 people were killed and 53 were injured (most of them Latinx and black – it was Latin night) for partying at a gay nightclub. In 2016, religious extremists can say what they want about us without fear. I hate to give them attention but here are some examples of what fundamentalist Christians are saying about the massacre and LGBTQ+ people just days afterwards (I am sure there are a few rabbis and imams saying similar things but I haven’t come across any of them yet.). I don’t believe they are representative of what all Christians believe but these are real religious leaders in charge of real religious organizations (churches and a university), preaching to real people. If you don’t want to watch or read, the tl;dr is that they are celebrating the deaths in Orlando but wished they could be government sanctioned executions or that we’d all just kill each other (LGBTQ+ people and Muslims).

Because we don’t always know when we enter a business if we will be served like everyone else, it is so important that Ravelry, as a privately-owned business, lets us know that we are welcome. Not just our knitting, crocheting, spinning, and weaving selves, but all of us. We are welcome to post pictures of our partners and spouses and talk about them on the forums. We are welcome to show off projects made for our LGBTQ+ parents, grandparents, siblings, children, and their partners and spouses. We know that if we encounter hate speech and harassment on the site that it will not be tolerated. These are things that straight people can take for granted anywhere they go. We cannot. That is what Casey meant when he said, “It does *not* go without saying.” So we appreciate everything that Casey and his co-owner & wife, Jess, and their staff and volunteers of Ravelry do to make us feel welcome and safe because for some of us, Ravelry is one of the few safe havens we have where we can be fully ourselves. Ravelry is our Pulse.

There are not enough words to thank Casey and Jess for making Ravelry a safe and welcoming place.

Moving Forward

I have compassion for Christians and other religious folk who are somewhere on the spectrum from deeply uncomfortable to deeply hateful towards LGBTQ+ people. If my parents had succeeded in sending me to a Christian college like my mom wanted instead of the very liberal, LGBTQ-friendly, liberal arts college I went to, instead of knowing that I’m bisexual and being comfortable with myself, I could be one of them.

Many Christians are allies, but I know there are also a lot of Christians who are having trouble reconciling the things they’ve been raised to believe, the things they may be currently being taught by their spiritual leaders, and their growing discomfort with how that fits in with the changes in American society. Last year when we won marriage equality many religious people were upset, but this year some find themselves questioning what to believe in the aftermath of what was both the worst mass shooting and the deadliest attack on LGBTQ+ people in US history. Many don’t have any LGBTQ+ people in their lives who they feel comfortable asking questions of. (Protip: If you do have someone in your life you can talk to, don’t call them “homosexual”. Many of us find it offensive.) Yes, a lot of information is available on the web but if you’re not curious enough or tech savvy enough you may not know where to look. In some cases you need to know some basic vocabulary before you could begin searching. If you’re seeking answers I encourage you to look for them. They are out there. You can find them on Wikipedia, on YouTube, with Google. There are forums for LGBTQ+ Christians and other religious folks that can help answer your questions. The Reformation Project is a great resource for Christians.

Here are some of the things I’ve been sharing with my friends and family over the past week.

Matthew Vines, founder of The Reformation Project, offers “advice to Christians on how to love their LGBT neighbors as themselves at this horrible time.” – What Christians Must Do in the Wake of Orlando

Paul Raushenbush on nightclubs as sacred spaces for the LGBTQ+ community – We Have a Love Crisis in This Country

Gay writer Nico Lang on the likelihood that the Orlando shooter was a closeted gay or bisexual man – Coming out saves lives: The deadly potential of internalized homophobia is all too real

Rabbi Gil Steinlauf on the importance of recognizing the attack in Orlando as specifically an attack on LGBT people – Gay rabbi: We can all mourn Orlando, but this was terrorism against gay people

Utah’s Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox apologizes for not always being a friend to the LGBT community – Lt. Gov. Cox speaks at vigil for Orlando: ‘My heart has changed’

Nelba Márquez-Greene, mother of a daughter who died in the Sandy Hook, Connecticut massacre in 2012 – Orlando, I Am Sorry Our Tragedy Wasn’t Enough to Save Your Loved Ones


I don’t have a comment policy because I’ve never had enough traffic to need one. This may be entirely unnecessary but just in case:

  • You may leave a comment even if you disagree with me.
  • Questions that are respectfully worded are welcome.
  • I will not approve any comments that contain hate speech, proselytizing, or that are disrespectful to religious people. I know a lot of people have strong feelings about LGBTQ+ people and our rights and religious people but words matter and there are some things which I feel don’t foster productive dialogue. If you sign your comment with your Ravelry username and I don’t post it, I will message you there.
  • If you have something to say/ask but don’t wish to leave a public comment you can PM (private message) me on Ravelry. You do not need to friend me to send a message. Or you can email me at curious (dot) threads (at) gmail.

Crocheted Remembrance

IMG_8027_medium2For the past two years I have crocheted on my own and hung hearts and a scarf on a lamppost outside what used to be The Forum in honor of Marc Fucarile, a member of my extended family who lost a leg in the second bombing. Marc is frequently quoted in the media saying how amazed he is by how much good has come out of something so bad. Until I worked on the Marathon Scarf Project organized by Old South Church (the “Church of the Finish Line” as it’s also known) I hadn’t seen that good first hand and it was amazing. These projects are my contribution to showing that love is greater than hate.

photo (1)After working on the Marathon Scarf Project I had been thinking that I wanted to make it a community project this year. Although I got a much later start than I’d intended, a group of very special Ravelers (people on the fiber arts focused social networking site, Ravelry) helped me make it happen. Last Saturday I received the last package of stars I needed (from Kansas!) to start assembling this year’s remembrance to mark the second anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings. I worked past midnight to assemble two garlands of stars and daffodils. (It takes a surprisingly long time to chain together 30 stars and 30 daffodils!) The daffodils were inspired by the Massachusetts Horticultural Society’s Marathon Daffodils project which planted daffodils along the marathon route last year. The stars represent those we lost, those who survived, and the many first responders (professional and civilian) who saved so many lives that day.

Since I had help this year I decided to make two garlands and install on both the lamppost outside what used to be The Forum and a lamppost outside Marathon Sports. On Sunday I went to Boylston Street to hang them.


I woke up this morning to the surprise news that the city of Boston had allowed both garlands to remain on the lampposts for unveiling ceremonies for the commemorative banners marking today’s anniversary. We are honored that our crocheted remembrance was part of the ceremonies.

These garlands could not have been completed without the generous and loving help of these Ravelers:

  • RockportMo, Ipswich, MA
  • Zach’sNonna, Braintree MA
  • Joanna Weston, Cambridge, MA
  • K, Kansas

and Francis Joseph Flaherty, a homeless gentleman who assisted me in putting up the garland outside Marathon Sports. Due to an emergency no parking sign at the bottom of the pole I had difficulty getting the garland arranged (I’m short) until Francis returned to his spot and offered to help. Francis said he’s out there every day so if you see him, please say thank you.

LOVE > hate.

Project notes on Ravelry. (This link is public.)

Additional photos.

DIY Coin Organizer Tin


I completely forgot to take photos before I put this all together so I can’t exactly call this a tutorial. I recently found myself filling in for the treasurer of a group I volunteer with and I noticed our petty cash loose change was just in a ziplock bag. I thought, “I can organize this!” I had recently come across a neat Altoids tin hack that turned in into a little portable change box and  this was the perfect opportunity to make something like it. I didn’t have any Altoids tins so I used a Vermints tin, which unfortunately isn’t as wide as I would have liked but it does the job.



  • Candy or gum tin
  • Chipboard packaging
  • Scissors
  • Credit card or ID card
  • Glue
  • Double-sided tape

I first tried to make the dividers with cardstock but found it wasn’t stiff enough. I ended up poking through my recycling and decided that the box from my antihistamines would do the trick. (Although if you’re going to carry your tin around a lot you might want something sturdier.) I ripped open the packaging so it would lie flat then folded it in half along one of the folds and cut it to approximately the height of the inside of the tin. I made 3 I-shaped dividers and then cut them down to fit in the tin. I used as many of the folds the packaging came with but I had to make some of my own folds. This is where the credit card or ID card comes in – I used my MBTA pass. It helps to make the fold straight.

After all the dividers were the right size, I glued them shut to make them more sturdy. I let them dry overnight with something heavy on top of them so they wouldn’t pop open.

I attached the dividers to the tin with double-sided tape and then put the coins in. Voila! Instant organization. 🙂

Ravelry commemorates Stonewall anniversary!

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I just logged in to Ravelry to look up something and I noticed a little rainbow flag that appeared to be attached to the ‘l’ as though the ‘l’ were a flagpole. Although June is LGBT History Month and pride month, I was pretty sure it hadn’t been there any of the other times I logged in this month. So I searched the forums and found a thread (login required) in which it was explained that it was for the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. The riots are considered by many to be the beginning of the modern LGBT rights movement.

Thanks, Ravelry, for recognizing this important day as we continue to fight for equal rights!

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In Memory of Kevin M. Brooks


I’ve been thinking a lot about stories this spring. I’m pretty sure it was kicked off a few months ago after hearing that a friend of a close friend who was a storyteller was sick. My friend sent me a link to his CaringBridge page, where his wife Laura who is also a professional storyteller was telling the story of his battle with pancreatic cancer.

I know Kevin through the MIT Media Lab. He had just graduated with his PhD when I started working there many years ago. To be honest, I’m not even sure if we met during my years at the Lab. I only recall meeting him once after I had left and I’m not even sure I have the time and place right. However, my friend Angela, always talks about him with such warmth and he was part of a place that has been like family. I was saddened to hear that he was ill.

Weeks passed. I hadn’t stayed on top of checking Kevin’s CaringBridge page. Late in March I was wondering how he was doing but didn’t remember to check back. A few days after he passed, another friend sent me an email to let me know.

I thought about Kevin and his family all through my work on the Marathon Scarf Project. That’s probably why I was thinking so much about the thousands of stories that the scarves wanted to tell. I was posting a lot to our Ravelry forum about the work that was going on behind-the-scenes at Old South. Three weeks after Kevin died I was surprised, touched, and honored when Diane Gaucher (co-coordinator for the project) referred to me as a storyteller in a thank you post on Ravelry. I have never thought of myself as a storyteller. When I hear the word “storyteller” I think of lute-playing bards and stand-up comedians – people who can get up in front of a crowd and captivate everyone in the room. I hate public speaking and I am terrible at telling jokes and stories. I’m liable to stumble my way through and forget the most important parts. I can write, but I had never considered my writing to be storytelling.

I pondered Diane’s words for a few days. I thought about Kevin. I thought about storytelling. I realized that since I’d started craft blogging, I now had a wider platform outside Ravelry from which to tell the stories of our scarves. I can’t do anything to change the fact that Kevin died far too young. All I can do is remember him. I thought the best way to honor his memory was to tell stories. That’s part of what motivated me to write Dear Runners. So I’d like to belatedly dedicate my Dear Runners post to Kevin. I have heard from many people that in life Kevin always encouraged people to tell their stories. Even after death, Kevin encouraged me to tell stories. I thought people should know that.

Yesterday, as spring turned to summer, Kevin’s family and friends gathered for his Boston memorial service at the historic Harvard-Epworth United Methodist Church, one week ahead of what would have been his 56th birthday. Laura said it was no accident we were gathered on the summer solstice, the longest day of the year when the sun shines brightly. We closed the service by singing “This Little Light of Mine.”

Next time you tell a story, please think of Kevin.

More about Kevin Brooks

I heard from another scarf recipient!


I’m so excited to share that I heard from another one of my scarf recipients!!! On Saturday night I got an email from Dave Flahive who hails from Southern California. He was at last year’s marathon with his running club, Run Your Potential, though fortunately they finished before the bombs went off. This year they came back with 30 people!


Dave received my Zagnut, which I selected after looking at many scarf patterns. I wanted to make a scarf with a running theme and the pattern made me think of switchback trails.

These scarves were intended as more than just mere souvenirs. They were a tangible way to thank and comfort returning runners and wrap all runners in love, hope, and peace. It was so special to hear from Dave what it meant for him to receive my scarf and to know that the care that went into it was felt and appreciated. It’s also really awesome to see the scarf worn proudly along with his finisher’s medal!

Congratulations to Dave and the rest of the club!



See also:

First three photos courtesy of David Flahive

Newton Free Library has been yarnstormed!

IMG_8452Earlier this week I went to a talk at the Newton Free Library and I was delighted to discover the library had been yarnstormed! Apparently it was done in conjunction with the Mini-Creator Faire they had last month. I guess it’s part of their STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) programming (per Village 14).

Later this month they’re hosting Black Sheep Knitting Presents: Knitting & Math, a session led by “experts” from The Black Sheep Knitting Co. I always struggle with my crafty math so I might try to go!


IMG_8448 IMG_8449



How to find your marathon scarf recipient or scarfmaker

IMG_7786_medium2 Scarf4

The Internet is both a wondrous place that can make the world very small and also a very disorganized way of communicating. My perfect solution would be to set up a website (marathonscarfstories.com!) where scarfmakers and recipients could submit photos, stories, and contact info and connect with each other, but alas, I don’t have the resources for that. So, in the absence of such a resource, here’s what you can do to connect if your scarfmaker didn’t provide contact information:

Runners, Survivors, & First Responders –

First – check all your tags. Look at both sides. I foolishly wrote my email address on the back of my tags and haven’t heard from some of my scarf recipients. Maybe you’ll get lucky.

However, assuming that you have only a first name and location to go on…

I know some recipients have had success posting a photo of their scarf with the name and location of their scarfmaker to Old South Church’s Facebook wall. Messages have even been relayed back from scarfmakers who aren’t on Facebook. Also, if you have blogged about your scarf, don’t forget to post a link to your blog on Old South’s Facebook wall.

Others have Tweeted or blogged their thank yous and been connected that way. One blogger found both a fellow recipient and his scarfmaker. You can try posting to whatever social media sites you use, although I believe there’s been the most success connecting on Facebook.

You can also try a web search for the person’s name and location. Perhaps they’ll be the only person from their town with that first name, although it’s a long shot. Also try the search by adding terms like knitting, crochet/crocheting, sewing, quilting, weaving (depending on what type of scarf you got), or Marathon Scarf Project. If they’ve been written about in their local paper or church blog you might find them! (I was able to match a runner and scarfmaker with a search that included first name, town, state, and knitting.)

You can also search for yarn or fabric stores in the town where your scarfmaker is from. Try contacting the store – your scarfmaker might be a regular customer! If you’re really determined you could contact all the yarn stores in their general geographic area. However, if your scarf was made with acrylic yarn, it was most likely purchased at one of the big box craft stores (AC Moore, Michaels, JoAnn Fabric, Hobby Lobby, Ben Franklin). If your scarfmaker is from a small town then the staff might have heard about the project and know the scarfmaker but in larger communities the staff at those stores may not be able to help.

If you have an organization name such as a knitting group, church, senior center, or school, you may be able to find them on Facebook or find contact information with a web search. I was able to find the email address of a principal at a school that participated and sent them links to thank yous for scarves their students made.

I don’t know what percentage of scarves came via UCC churches, but since Old South Church is in the UCC denomination many of the scarves came from other UCC churches. The church name was usually written on the tag but it’s possible that some scarfmakers delivered/shipped their scarves independently. Try searching for the town, state, UCC, Marathon Scarf Project and you may turn up blog posts or bulletins from churches that contributed to the project. They often have photos so you might spot your scarf!

You can also enlist the help of the media in the area where your scarfmaker lives as this runner did (within a week they found the scarfmaker!). I have also heard of a couple of letters to the editor sent to local papers in the scarfmaker’s town.

You might want to try finding the Facebook pages of organizations in their area. This runner thanked his scarfmaker on the Facebook page of her local paper.

A few scarfmakers have blogged about their scarves or been covered by the media. You can do a Google Blog Search for blogs that have mentioned the Marathon Scarf Project. Search for “Marathon Scarf Project” and look for older posts from March and early April. More recent posts are by runners. I have links to scarfmaker profiles in the media at the bottom of this post.

A few runners who are also fiber artists have found our group on Ravelry (a social network for fiber artists) and said thank you there. If you don’t have an account and would like to email me a photo of your scarf, I can try to find your scarfmaker in our Ravelry group. curious dot threads at gmail dot com

Scarfmakers –

Join our Ravelry group (login required)! Don’t forget to post your scarf (or scarves) in your projects and then share with the group (there’s a drop down menu on each project page that says “Share with a group…”). Once you’ve done that you can also post a photo in the forum. If a Raveler recognizes your scarf in their Internet or real life travels they’ll let you know. I chased down a man on Boylston Street after recognizing his scarf from Ravelry!

A lot of recipients are posting their thank yous to Old South Church’s Facebook page either as comments on this post or on their wall. Some thank yous have been posted as comments elsewhere on Old South’s Facebook page, so you may wish to look at other posts. If you have an account, look in the “Recent Posts by Others” section. You do not need to have a Facebook account to see these posts although you would need an account to reply. If you don’t have an account you can view photos here (hover around the middle of the left side of your browser and you’ll see an arrow – click on that to go forward in time) or photos and text only posts here (you’ll have to click “Show More” a lot – 2014 doesn’t show all of this years posts for some reason). If you do find your scarf recipient, send them a public message as well as a private one. Many people don’t know they have to check a different folder for messages from people they’re not already connected to.

You can check Twitter hashtags #marathonscarfproject and #marathonscarves.

You can check Instagram hashtags #marathonscarfproject and #marathonscarves.

You can do a Google Blog Search for blogs that have mentioned the Marathon Scarf Project. Search for “Marathon Scarf Project” “marathon scarves” “marathon scarfs” “marathon scarves boston” “marathon scarfs boston”.

You can also do a web search for your “[first name] from [town]” (in quotes) with and without “Marathon Scarf Project” and your state. This may lead you to Facebook or blog posts from your recipients.

Search for media reports via Google News. While this may not help you connect directly with your scarf recipient, you may spot your scarf. I know a lot of scarfmakers who have seen their scarves on the news either on a recipient or a volunteer. Really lucky scarfmakers have gotten to see their recipients receiving their scarf.

If you blog, write a post that includes photos of your scarf (or scarves) and the words Marathon Scarf Project, your first name, town, and state. That way if a recipient searches for your name and location they might find your blog. You may also want to include your email address if your blog uses a commenting system that requires a login.

If anyone has any other ideas for how to connect scarfmakers and recipients, please leave a comment!

Last updated: Monday, May 12, 2014

Tutorial: Low-sew Infinity Scarf


When I was working on the Marathon Scarf Project I realized I had no blue or yellow clothing to wear while giving out scarves to runners. I didn’t want to waste too much time making a scarf for myself since that was less time for working on scarves for runners but I figured it would be nice to be wearing blue & yellow so I went off to my favorite thrift store, Urban Renewals in Allston. They conveniently organize everything by color and type so it’s easy to look for clothing if you’re particular about color.


I had hoped to find a yellow t-shirt and a blue t-shirt that I could sew together to make an infinity scarf but all I managed to find was a yellow women’s 3X shirt and a blue cardigan. The shirt seemed brand new and the material was pretty soft (95% cotton, 5% spandex). The material didn’t drape as well as I would have liked but it worked fine for a last minute scarf.

This would be an excellent project for an old garment whose fabric is in reasonable condition but perhaps has a stain or tear in another section. Or you could do what I did and go to a thrift store to make yourself a cheap infinity scarf. No need to spend $15+. I can’t remember how much the shirt was but I don’t think I paid more than $5.


  • Very large t-shirt or wide skirt/dress at least 28″ wide from seam to seam
  • Cutting mat
  • One yard ruler
  • Rotary cutter (mine is a 60mm Martelli ErgoCutter)
  • Matching thread
  • Needle

Step 1: Lay out your garment on top of the cutting mat. Smooth out any wrinkles. If it’s very wrinkled you may want to iron it first so that your edges will be straight.


Step 2: Use your ruler and rotary cutter to cut off the hem. Hold the ruler firmly or it will slide while you’re cutting. You could also do this with scissors, but it’s difficult to cut in a straight line with scissors.

Step 3: Measure from the cut edge to your desired width. I measured 12″. Line up your ruler to cut the other edge. Try to make sure it’s parallel to your first cut or you’ll have an uneven scarf. I didn’t mark mine so I ended up with a my scarf that is 10.5″ wide on one end and 12″ on the other. Oops.


Step 4: Reinforce the four corners so that the seams will not come unstitched. (This assumes the garment you started with had 2 seams.) You could also skip this step and your scarf may be fine since the edges are going to roll when you wash it. I didn’t want to take any chances of it coming unstitched in the wash.


Step 5: Wash and dry your scarf. The edges will roll in the wash.



(Sorry about the quality of some of the photos. It was overcast the day I was making my scarf.)

Dear Runners


Dear runners who received scarves from the Marathon Scarf Project 2014:

IMG_7799I was one of the lucky few who worked on the Marathon Scarf Project both as a scarfmaker and as a behind-the-scenes volunteer receiving packages from all over. Your scarves came from 49 states and 12 other countries including Australia, the UK, France, and Thailand. I remember seeing scarves from California, Illinois, Texas, Colorado, New Jersey, New York, Florida and Arizona. I processed so many scarves from New England. I even got to process one from Nova Scotia, Canada. I am certain I touched scarves from other places I can’t remember. I wish I could have seen the scarf from Hawaii! (My family is from there. 4/26/14 – I found it!)

IMG_7984Not all scarfmakers included personal notes or contact information so you may never be able to know the stories behind your scarf. I wish the scarves could talk because each one has many stories to tell. Every scarfmaker would have a story about why they participated in the project, why they made your scarf, and the people they met along the way. They may also have shared the scarf with their friends or church who may have blessed it or oohed and ahhed over it (a knitters’ blessing!). The scarves were then handled by hundreds of USPS/UPS/FedEx workers or delivered in person by individuals and groups. One woman drove from the Albany area to hand-deliver her scarf at our April 5th Knit In event!

IMG_7971Upon arrival at Old South, packages and bags were opened, notes were read aloud, scarves were tagged, refolded, and placed in bins. Your scarf may have become a favorite among volunteers. Some scarves were repaired by tireless volunteers dubbed “the doctors”. There are some scarves and scarfmakers we are still talking about because of the personal notes they wrote to the project organizers and volunteers or because of the amount of work we know was involved. We marveled at the variety and creativity. Every scarf is a work of art.

IMG_7915Some scarves were made by young children and first time knitters & crocheters. Not only were scarves made by Christians, they were also made by Muslims, Jews, and atheists. Some scarves were made in honor of survivors. Some scarfmakers are like hares, while others are like tortoises – your scarf may have been made in one hour or perhaps 26. As the official Marathon Scarf Project tag says, each and every scarf was “interwoven with love and courage”. They were all made with love and given with love – a gift to you from someone’s heart.


Although we know that around 7,400 scarves were processed, no one is sure of the exact total of “marathon scarves” out there because many were given directly to loved ones. Many scarfmakers apologized for not making more and said they would have had they had more time. Many had only heard about the project recently and rushed out to buy materials and get some scarves to Boston. Some packages were from repeat scarfmakers who said they couldn’t stop so they had to make just one (or two or five) more. Thousands of scarves were the result of community projects. It’s true that the final number was not enough to provide scarves to all 32,408 runners of the 2014 Boston Marathon, however we scarfmakers made as many as we could in the 2 months or less that we had from the time the project was hatched or when we heard about it. IMG_8281The project spread mainly via word of mouth through church networks, social media, senior centers, yarn stores, and knitting groups. I heard that the founders had not set out with any expectation of receiving thousands of scarves, but this project resonated with so many crafters – knitters, crocheters, weavers, and sewers – that the scarves poured in.

These scarves brought people together, sometimes in unexpected ways. Scarfmakers connected with one another online. Friendships were forged. After people’s scarves were “out in the wild” we had great fun spotting our scarves on the news and social media. We cry when we see the people who received our scarves and when we’re fortunate enough to be able to connect with you. I personally chased down a man from Pennsylvania on Boylston Street after recognizing the scarf he was wearing from Ravelry, a social network for knitters, crocheters, spinners and weavers. I wanted to take his picture for his scarfmaker although in my excitement, I forgot to ask for his contact information.

IMG_8284I am not affiliated with Old South Church other than as a scarfmaker and volunteer and couldn’t ask permission of the thousands of scarfmakers and volunteers to write this, but since some of you may never meet your scarfmakers, I wanted to share some of your scarves’ stories so that you can know just how meaningful this project was to those of us who contributed. There are thousands more stories to be told. I hope that you’ll be able to connect directly with your scarfmaker and learn more about your scarf’s special history! They would love to hear from you. Thank you for coming to Boston and congratulations!

Warmest wishes,
Curious Threads

P.S.: A number of runners offered to pay for their scarves. The best response I heard when a volunteer was asked by a runner, “How much?” was, “Nothing, just pay it forward.”

See also:

This post is dedicated to storyteller Kevin M. Brooks, who was taken from this Earth far too soon. 

Here is some coverage from local news outlets that tells the stories of some of the thousands of scarfmakers out there. If you’ve seen another article that profiles a scarfmaker or group of scarfmakers, please leave a comment!