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Release Ai Weiwei

Knitting
DK / 8 ply (11 wpi) ?
US 4 - 3.5 mm
This pattern is available as a free Ravelry download

For more information and the pattern you may click here: http://www.lauraisaac.com/LauraIsaac/aiww.html

There is a Knit-Along group for this pattern that will be active until Ai is safely released. Please join us here. Release Ai Weiwei - Knitting Vigil

Notes About This Pattern: Although this was originally written as a horizontal 24 row pattern, it makes a better image if knitted vertically with the point of the sunflower seed down matching the v’s of the stockinette pattern. Any contrasting colors may be used. I chose a gray on a background of white for mine to remind me of the color the porcelain seeds made on the floor of Turbine Hall.

I am using a DK (8 ply) weight cotton yarn on size 6 needles. (The yarn calls for size 4 but I tend to knit very tightly.) I am knitting this in the round and will stitch the tube shut to hide the strand work. It also makes a very lovely pattern for double knitting on flat needles. Please email me if you have any questions.

I am offering this pattern free of charge for several reasons. I have only been knitting since February of this year and this is my first color chart. Also, I want as many people to join me in this peaceful knitting vigil as possible. If you enjoy the pattern and have the means to please contribute to Amnesty International.

The Story: Ai Weiwei is an internationally renowned artist & political activist from China. He worked on the Beijing National Stadium (“the bird’s nest”) for the 2008 Olympics. His most well known recent large scale work was Sunflower Seeds, 2010. One hundred million individually hand-painted porcelain sunflower seeds covered the floor of Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, a comment on mass consumption, Chinese industry, famine, and collective work. On April 3, 2011, Ai Weiwei and a number of his associates were arrested by Chinese authorities just before boarding a flight to Hong Kong. He is being held as a political prisoner. He has not been seen or heard from since that morning.

When Ai went missing, many of his supporters started a project of their own; every morning they place another 24 sunflower seeds in a jar (one representing each hour), photograph it, and post it online with the number of hours since Ai’s disappearance. I decided that I would like to knit my contribution.

When I first created this pattern I wanted to make each row of the pattern stand for an hour making a 24 row pattern repeat. However, I realized that I would not be able to possibly complete a pattern repeat each day. Nonetheless, knitting itself is a measurement of time and each row of stitches that climbs from my needles reminds me of how precious our time is. Although I have never met Ai in person, I have met others who were also “detained” by the Chinese government. They were lucky to live. Please join me as I knit and hope for Ai’s safe release.