Weaving some aroha into our staff winter challenge

As an organisation with our HQ based in Tāmaki Makaurau, but with remote staff all around Aotearoa, we often create company-wide challenges or competitions to bring everyone together (nothing like a bit of friendly competition!) This winter we decided to really hone in on the concept of growth mindset, something we teach and talk to frequently and strongly believe in! So we ran a knitting challenge. 

However, instead of making it a competition (last summer’s sunflower growing competition rendered some outrageously tall flowers, and quite a few claims of “special” supplementing and deliberate sabotage…) we made it a collaborative challenge – another of the key principals we teach.

The idea was that we’d all learn to knit together. We’d be given the tools (a specified amount of wool and 5mm needles) and each individually knit a single square. Then we’d bring them all together and a few keen staffers would stitch and knit them into scarves, and donate them to people in need. It took the competitive edge out of it, but made the stakes even higher, especially getting into the colder months.

We partnered with Alanna Penk, a passionate knitter who runs Loopine Wool – a local knitting and wool shop. She came into our HQ and ran an hour long lunchtime knitting lesson, which was also broadcast to our remote staff. Each of us were sent off with our tools, and a bunch of videos for reference, and away we went!

The challenge gained momentum immediately, with many staff knitting during lunch, for quick breaks in their hectic days, and staying late to achieve a couple more rows before the day’s end. We ran weekly knit clubs at lunchtime on Fridays so those with a bit more experience could help everyone else, kept each other up to date and motivated with pictures posted on Slack (our internal messaging channel) and shared when we needed to redo a row, or the entire square thanks to a pesky dropped stitch. 

Then finally, after 3 weeks of loops and threads and gaining confidence, all of the squares were in! Our experts took them away and created seven beautiful scarves that we’re all so very proud of. Each scarf had the creator’s unique personality and flair woven into each row, and they truly were a labour of love.

The completed scarves are going to I Got Your Backpack, a not for profit organisation who provide care and supplies to victims of domestic violence. The scarves will be in their care packs or as gifts when people arrive at their safe house. Each scarf is individually wrapped up with a message of support and strength for the recipient, and with all of our aroha and manaaki woven into them, they’ll hopefully make someone’s day a little bit better, and a little bit warmer.

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