MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot, the whole country started talking about it, including Ellen Silva and the knit blogging community.

“It got us talking about the hate language that’s out there and what could we do about it,” she said.

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Along with another blogger, she came up with the idea for Warm Hats, Not Hot Heads. The plan — to send every member of Congress a hand-knit hat along with a note, asking them to lay off the hateful speech.

“‘Warm Hats, Not Hot Heads is a knitter’s response to the current heated rhetoric,” Silva said. “We feel it’s getting in the way of actually getting the job done.”

Knitters from all across the country have signed up to make hats for lawmakers. There’s even an ex-patriot in Germany taking part.

“We know, it’s a small thing, but small things add up,” Silva said.

For her efforts, Silva was the recipient of the Making A Difference Award, which includes a $500 prize. But the big check wasn’t her only surprise. The Wisconsin knitter who told us about Silva’s work was also in attendance to bring her the good news.

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They met for the first time, and like knitters do, they complimented each other’s sweaters.

“To think that it had enough of an impact on you that you would do this,” Silva said to her nominator, Kathryn Keinholz.

“Well, I was trying to get you publicity,” Keinholz said with a laugh.

Even though the hats aren’t on lawmakers’ heads yet, Silva is convinced the project’s already made a difference.

“We’re hearing people say, you know, I really disagree with this person’s politics, I really don’t like them, but I’m knitting a hat for them,” she said. “How can I not think of them as a human being?”

For more information about Warm Hats, Not Hot Heads, click here.

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Paula Engelking, Producer
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