Tsunami survivors make giant blanket from knitters’ donated squares


A campaign in which knitters far and wide were petitioned to send a small sample of their work for tsunami survivors may have produced the world’s largest patchwork blanket.

In April 2012, Bernd Kestler, a German national living in Yokohama, launched an online campaign soliciting 20-cm squares of knitting from well-wishers worldwide. He then rallied some of the survivors of the 2011 quake and tsunami to stitch the patches together.

In all, the team received more than 11,000 pieces, which its roughly 80 members then sewed together in a gymnasium in Ishinomaki, one of the cities that was most devastated by the disaster.

“I got absorbed in stitching and it lightened my heart,” said Kaoru Abe, 69, who lives in temporary housing in Ishinomaki. “It seems to me that we were putting together the thoughts of people around the world.”

The work, completed last Saturday, will be divided into 225 regular-sized blankets that will be distributed to people affected by the triple disaster.

At 476 sq. meters, the blanket is larger than the 306-sq.-meter one that’s acknowledged by Guinness World Records as the planet’s largest. Kestler plans to seek world-record recognition for his team’s feat.