One Pennsylvania crafter’s idea has resulted in a movement that has spread across the United States and Canada.
Chase the Chill combines art, charity, and yarnbombing. The goal is to distribute handmade scarves in “public places so that those in need – regardless of income and without any qualifiers – can help themselves.”
Creator Susan Huxley, of Easton, PA, hosted the first event in 2010. It was a way for her to celebrate the beauty of yarn, knitting, and crocheting while meeting needs in her community.
She says she also hoped crafters in her weekly stitching group might use the opportunity as a “non-intimidating way that they could explore new stitches and techniques.”
Huxley, an artist, gained her appreciation for craft from her mother, Dorothy Smith, whom Huxley says encouraged her creativity from a very young age.
Her grandmother also played a pivotal role as Huxley’s family lived with her grandparents when her father, a sailor in the Canadian Navy, was out at sea.
Crocheting, knitting, and sewing are what Huxley describes as her “go-to activities,” but she’s explored many other crafts as well.
“I love to use traditional crafts in unusual ways, as well as explore unusual materials, upcycle, and challenge perceptions about ‘women’s work,’” she says.
She’s crocheted a five-foot tree out of VHS tape, steampunk knit and crocheted wire necklaces with metal beads found inside VHS tapes, sewn together unfashionable or damaged clothes to make new garments, and received yarn from Lion Brand to create a 50+ foot knitted and crocheted vine installation at a local college.
She’s not the only artist in the family – her husband, Bob Gerheart, sketched the Chase the Chill logo, a snowman sporting a scarf and a top hat.
©Ellen Paulley
Since the first Chase the Chill event in 2010, the idea has spread to many other locations across the United States and Canada, with interest expressed in England and Australia.
Valerie Paulley, of Winnipeg, MB, read about the event online in 2011 and contacted Huxley to see if she might duplicate it in Winnipeg, becoming the second Chase the Chill chapter.
“I found the idea intriguing because of the way it combines knitting and crocheting with meeting needs in the community,” she says. “It’s a lovely way to explore interests in creative stitching and share a small gift with those who need or like handmade scarves.”
With over 37 chapters organized at the time of writing, Huxley’s idea has captivated crafters who seek to celebrate their art and make a difference in the lives of people in need. Huxley is thrilled by the way Chase the Chill has spread and says she never expected it to receive so much attention.
“Chase the Chill was just an idea. It would have remained thus without all the incredible people who have organized, participated, and taken scarves,” she says. “It has been incredibly satisfying to see it grow. I am so, so grateful to everyone who has taken the idea and run with it.”
This article originally appeared on Community News Commons, which was a Winnipeg-based grassroots public media project that ran from 2012-2017.

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