More than three years on from the Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami, there are still roughly 260,000 people living in temporary housing facilities. Since Tohoku gets mighty cold in the winter, sending these evacuees some lovely hand-made afghans is a woolly hug that lets them know they are not forgotten.

But that didn’t go far enough for Yokohama-based knitting teacher Bernd Kestler, who wanted to send them the biggest blanket the world has ever seen!

Kestler runs an organization called Knit for Japan, which he started in 2011. He noticed that the people in shelters were often just sitting there, with nothing to do to alleviate boredom and stress, so he began collecting knitting supplies and instruction materials for them, along with hand-made gifts. Knitting allowed evacuees to make much-needed winter gear for themselves, but also gave them something to do and a handy way to communicate with one another. Last year, Kestler decided to add another project to the fold, the Granny Squares Project. A granny square is a simple crocheting technique that creates squares of fabric by working from the center out.

▼ Granny squares

By collecting granny squares from knitters all over the world, Kestler would be able to connect them here in Japan and create one giant blanket. The current Guinness World Record for a crocheted blanket is 286m2 (3,078 square feet), so the project would need 7,150 squares of 20 x 20 cm to match it. He put out a call to his network and, boy, did they deliver. A total of 9,613 granny squares were sent in, enough to make a 384m2 blanket.

▼ A work in progress

Now confident in shattering the record, Kestler has contacted the folks at Guinness to officially register the attempt and they have accepted his application. All that remains now is to get all those little squares connected. Kestler and his team of volunteers is putting together groups of 50 granny squares into regular-size afghans that will then be connected to form the giant blanket at a special event on September 20 in Ishinomaki. And the best part is, after the blanket breaks the record, they’ll dismantle it and donate the afghans to people still in shelters!

▼ A piece of history that will keep you warm at night!

If you happen to be in Japan and want to help, they could use some helping hands to assemble both ahead of the big event and on the day of.


Best of luck with the record attempt, Knit for Japan! We’ll be looking forward to seeing your ginormous creation.

Source: Knit for Japan
Images: Courtesy of Bernd Kestler