Knitwits and KEF
At the start of my journey, I was never comfortable talking about my knitting and I was incredibly self-conscious. This was due to my own perception of knitting and my own internal insecurities that I had just never dealt with. The more I knit, the more I connected with other knitters and the more comfortable I became as a knitter. The more I started to see knitting as a craft for absolutely everyone. Regardless of your style, your gender, your orientation or other difference, there is a place for you as a knitter.
The Kai Eardley Foundation (KEF) is a young men’s mental health foundation that works with Tomorrow Man to help break down the macho stereotypes and toxic masculinity within our society (they are now also working with Tomorrow Woman to provide support for young women). They go to schools and provide young men with key coping skills and help them to build resilience when navigating stresses in their lives. Male gender stereotypes have been something I’ve struggled with throughout my life. I have never been a muscly or masculine guy. I’ve played team sports but never felt accepted in those environments. For me, I found safety and solitude in knitting. But knitting is often seen as being feminine or unmasculine (not true).
The more I knit, the more comfortable I became, the more I reflected on myself as a younger guy. The more I wanted to try and help younger males find safety in knitting and use knitting as their own coping tool. I began looking for a mental health charity last year because I wanted to start using my platform for a good purpose and someone sent me KEF. I immediately had this sense of joy pulse through my body as it was EXACTLY the kind of foundation that resonated with me. Everything I read made me so happy, but it also made me wish that I had access to something similar when I was in high school.
The stats on male suicide are absolutely alarming. It’s something I’ve never personally contemplated but it is unfortunately something that other’s do. The feedback I have read from students who experience one of these workshops is truly inspiring and makes you really happy that people out there can be doing such meaningful work. On the KEF website they have a little acronym S.N.A.G. It stands for Sensitive New Age Guy. I’ve always been sensitive, and I feel like it’s always been my biggest strength but also my biggest weakness. Something I’ve hated but loved at the same time. The idea behind KEF is for young men to feel comfortable in who they are and not be pressured to me a macho man or a man that they were never meant to be. It’s these stereotypes that really weigh men down and it’s these stereotypes that we need to start to break down. It’s ok for men to be vulnerable or seek help and it’s ok if you are different from what the (toxic) stereotype is.
I am so inspired by The Kai Eardley Foundation and its founder, Claire Eardley. She is such an amazing and bubbly person despite the trauma she has gone through. When I first heard of KEF I instantly had to email Claire but I had no idea what I was doing or whether she would reply, all I knew is that I wanted to reach out. I received a reply the next day and we arranged to catch up for a coffee and hash out some ways in which I could help. Claire started talking about her story and I was so moved by it and so inspired by what she had gone through and the foundation she had built from the heartache she had endured. I immediately felt a need to help and now nearly a year later, I’ve finally gotten there!
I am currently raising funds for KEF through a raffle fundraiser and every donation made goes directly to the foundation. This is a completely not for profit, run by volunteers and all the funding goes to setting up Tomorrow Man and Tomorrow Girl workshops in local schools. I’ve decided to use one of my Kai Fella Sweater’s as the major prize for this raffle! I know you all know how important my garments are to me so I am absolutely honoured to use my jumper and platform for this fundraiser. I appreciate any support you can give for this cause and if it’s simply sharing this blog or content to raise awareness then that is absolutely more than enough! Thank you again for the support. It means the world to me.
The Kai Eardley Foundation: