Knitting has been a constant in my life. Beginning at age 6, when my grandmother taught me how to cast on my first stitch, I have always had something on the needles. It has been my constant companion through jobs, vacations, hours spent in waiting rooms, and long snowy winters, as well shepherding me through heartbreaking tragedy. What I have come to find is that knitting allows you “mindless time,” an opportunity to detach, providing your heart and mind a time to rest, reflect, regenerate and heal allowing you to return with a renewed energy and refreshed perspective. Every day I take a few minutes out of my busy daily routine to sit down and enjoy a few quiet, relaxing moments engaged in my favorite hobby-knitting. I also have found that not only is knitting good for me, it is good for the recipient as well as my favorite things to knit are charity knitting projects. Knowing that I am doing a good thing by bringing joy and comfort into another person’s life is enormously rewarding and fulfilling.
When I select a charity to knit for I research the foundation or group sponsoring the drive and get to know the history, the people involved, and what drives them to feel so inspired as to encourage others to take up needles for their cause. The motivations are surprising similar to my own-they want to make a positive difference in another’s life and knitting is a perfect way to do so. Knitting for charity not only allows you to knit in greater quantities than you usually knit, you also get the good feeling that comes from knowing you are helping other people and animals in need.
Look within your community for charity knitting projects. There are many needs locally within your own community that would love to have knitted items. Contact homeless shelters, local hospitals, police and fire departments, and animals shelters. Use national organizations for inspiration or even join a national group that provides charitable knitting. Take the ideas of a larger knitting charity and focus it on where you live, tailor it to fit the needs of your own community. There’s something even more rewarding about helping the people in your own community—you become aware of needs in your community you never knew existed.
Get the Facts First
Find out the restrictions and requirements first such as fibers, colors and items needed before you proceed. Military items must be dark (black), not colors that stand out and can only be worn on the military base. It is vitally important to find out what is needed before a charity knitting project is begun. Don’t rely on the information on Web sites, information becomes dated quickly so contact the charities directly to find out the latest facts and needs. Whether you’re knitting for the troops, shelters for the homeless, animal shelters, hospitals or otherwise, check to see what they need, when they need it, fibers and colors ok to use before you get started. This is another reason it is great to work locally because it’s easy for you to contact a local shelter or hospital and see what their needs are. If you want to knit for the troops, get in contact with a local or state military base and they can give you more information on what can be knitted safely.
Items for charity that aren’t sized such as blankets, scarves, even hats, can do the most good as the charity doesn’t have to concern themselves with fit. However, if you are knitting sweaters, socks, mittens, etc., find out the sizes they need and follow their guidelines.
Get Your Friends Involved
Charity knitting is a wonderful group knitting activity. If you have a group of friends who knit (or who would like to start) a group knitting project for charity is a fun way to get everyone excited about knitting. An afghan made of simple squares is great even for beginners. Look into clubs, organizations and churches for knitting groups or inquire about starting one.
Use fibers the organization specifies-acrylic, machine washable wools or otherwise.
- Use colors the organization is requesting (military).
- Make items in the sizes the organization is requesting.
- Don’t smoke around your knitting projects.
- Use new yarn-support your local yarn shops and craft chains.
- Make sure the item is clean and labeled with size when you send it.
For a list of knitting organizations, visit: www.tkga.com/?page=KnitOrgLinks