Though I’ve been knitting for many years, I still get a special little thrill when I finish a project and think, “Wow, I made this.” It doesn’t matter if it’s a scarf, a pair of socks, or a sweater, there’s magic to be found in the working of simple tools and a strand of fiber. I’m sure you know the feeling.
But when I give a project away by donating it to someone who needs it more than I do, I sometimes think, “Wow, I just made a difference in someone’s life.” That simple piece I just stitched is going to warm a child’s head, or comfort a grieving mother, or give a homeless person shelter from the cold. Now that’s a powerful feeling!
Knitters and crocheters have always been generous with their time and talent. Two well-known examples are the huge efforts in support of the soldiers during the first and second World Wars. Women and children around the world were encouraged to knit socks, sweaters, and even bandages. During World War II, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was frequently photographed with her knitting in hand. Organized and run by the American Red Cross, the US effort generated donations of countless sweaters, socks, scarves, fingerless mitts, and helmet liners. Knitting in support of troops is still popular, and sadly, still necessary.
If you knit or crochet for charity, you already know there’s a long line of organizations eager to accept your donations. Some of the better-known campaigns include:
- Binky Patrol: knitted or crocheted blankets for children in hospitals and shelters
- Warm Up America: knitted or crocheted squares, or completed afghans, for neighbors in need
- Afghans for Afghans: knitted or crocheted afghans, sweaters, hats, mittens, and more for the people of Afghanistan
- Red Scarf Project: run by Foster Care to Success, this program provides handmade scarves to foster students
Knowing that those are just the tip of the iceberg, I went to my favorite resource, Ravelry, to see what else might be out there. I found an impressive 114 groups dedicated to knitting for charity. But then I hit the motherlode: Charity Knitting, a “group for those who knit or crochet charity projects of any kind,” has more than 4100 members and a very active discussion board. Within this group’s pages and discussion threads is a wealth of information about knitting for charity: patterns, guidelines, organizations, and more—further proof of the awesome generosity of stitchers.
My own charity knitting output is modest compared to many, but I do my best to do my part. I keep the patterns simple so I can (hopefully) produce more. My go-to pattern for blankets is the “No-Gauge” knitted blanket from the book Blankets, Hats, and Booties by Kristin Spurkland. Seriously, I’ve made this great, two-sided blanket at least a dozen times. It’s fast, easy, can be stitched in any weight yarn, and is great for knitting while visiting.
“No-Gauge” knitted blanket from Blankets, Hats, and Booties
I also use Kristin’s patterns for hats. Her “Rolled-Edge Hat” and “Striped Hat” from Knits from the Heart are fast, easy, and adaptable.
“Rolled-Edge Hat” and “Striped Hat” from Knits from the Heart
When I’m making sweaters or vests for children (including my beautiful granddaughters), I turn to Grammy’s Favorite Knits for Baby. The “Comfy Cozy Cardigan” and “Quick-Knit Vest” can be finished in an evening or two. When I’m in the mood to make a scarf or a garment for an older child, I find no shortage of patterns online to inspire me.
“Comfy Cozy Cardigan” and “Quick-Knit Vest” from Grammy’s Favorite Knits for Baby
Whether it’s a preemie cap or a wheelchair blanket, a warm mat for an animal shelter, or a pair of mittens, your efforts will be received with gratitude. And in return, you get that great feeling that comes with doing something good for someone.
So how about you? What’s your favorite charity to knit or crochet for? Tell us your story in the comments.