Quake inspires world's biggest blanket

BIG BLANKET: Bernd Kestler holds up part of the world record breaking knitted blanket.
BIG BLANKET: Bernd Kestler holds up part of the world record breaking knitted blanket.

"I can feel their stories as I imagine what must be going through their minds when knitting the motifs. They're so powerful," Bernd Kestler said.

With his crochet hook, he has been knitting together a total of 10,000 crochet motifs, each one a 20-centimetre square sent to him by knitting lovers from 15 countries.

When all the crochet squares are put together, the completed blanket will be 400 metres on each side.

Kestler, a 49-year-old German, planned to unveil the finished product in the Tohoku region of Japan, site of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, sometime this summer and apply for a Guinness World Record for the world's largest crocheted blanket. After that, he will divide it into smaller blankets for individuals and send them to about 200 disaster victims.

At the age of 12, Kestler watched his sister knit a sweater for her boyfriend and decided to take up knitting himself.

Later at university, he studied Japanese culture and came to Japan 16 years ago. Today he is a popular instructor who leads several knitting classes.

Shortly after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, Kestler found a ball of yarn among gifts sent by a friend in Germany, prompting him to wonder about people living as evacuees. He knitted some items, including gloves, and sent them to disaster-hit areas.

A year and a half ago, he came up with the idea of making the largest blanket in the world. He posted a call on the internet in Japanese, English and German, asking people across the world to participate in the project.

Though the patterns of the collected motifs may vary, Kestler says, "We all share the same wish - to cheer up people in Tohoku."

- Washington Post