Tis’ the season! Oh, it’s not that season yet. But for us knitters, it’s pre-season. The needles really start clicking when the air gets crisp. Thoughts shift to creating knitted holiday gifts for our loved ones.
Knitting feeds my soul and keeps my fingers and mind alert. And who doesn’t love receiving a handknitted item?
Knitting for charity benefits both the knitter and the recipient. It provides comfort, warmth and hope to others in need, and a meaningful purpose for the knitter.
According to one organization, Newborns in Need, one out of every four babies in the United States is born into poverty. A large portion of the five million children living at or below poverty level are newborns and premature infants. Newborns in Need gives blankets, gowns, hats, booties and other items to hospitals and homeless shelters for these babies. They also provide burial clothes for babies who lose their struggle for life.
Here’s one heartfelt story from knitty.com:
Alanna was born two months early. She weighed 4 lbs 7.6 oz, with kidneys twelve times too large and under developed lungs. An hour and a half later, Alanna could no longer fight for her life. The nurses dressed Alanna and brought her back to her mother. She looked at her for one last time, a picture she will never forget. Alanna’s mother was deeply touched by the gesture of Newborns in Need, an organization that provides clothing and blankets for babies who are premature or born into poverty. In such tragic times, families gain hope from seeing their babies in clothing and are comforted by knowing people care.
Here is an account from a knitter whose “knitting life” was changed forever when she knit sweaters for orphans in Afghanistan:
Knitting for others, especially those who don’t care about color or fit or a perfect increase or heel turn was liberating. The dozens of ideas that I had been incubating for years burst forth and suddenly I was working on several projects at once, trying many new constructions and techniques…released from my ego and the imagined criticism of finicky recipients among my friends and family…I made a hat for the first time for Afghans for Afghans and wondered why I had never tried them before…Suddenly I had new design ideas for hats, too. I tried new stripe rotations where the pattern called for plain knitting. I added cables where there had been none and experimented with edging techniques picked up from recent reading…In a more altruistic vein, I learned something from knitting for charity. When one knits for others, known or unknown to them, the opportunity is presented to knit a bit of oneself into the piece.
Want to share your inspired knitted prowess and express your compassion for others, while adding some new techniques to your knitting repertoire? Here is a list from Knitting For Charity to get you started. This site also provides knitting techniques (for beginners and beyond) and free knitting patterns. Interweave Press gives a comprehensive list of charities in need of knitted items here.
Some tips for knitting charity:
• Read the charity’s website thoroughly to become satisfied that the charity is worthy of your knitting hours.
• Contact the organization before sending donations. Charities change and go out of business often.
• Knit with others. A knitting community makes the time fly by and helps keep momentum strong when your personal projects are tugging to be worked on.
• Use leftover yarn. All knitters have a stash of left over yarn. It’s the greenest (and cheapest) option when it comes to yarn usage.
• Soft organic washable wool works best. Most conventional yarn is treated with chlorine and resins. Machine washable, organic O-Wool comes in merino and cotton/merino wool blends.
Ronnie Citron-Fink lives in New York with her husband, two children (when they come home to the nest), two dogs and a cat. Ronnie is a teacher and a writer. She has been a contributing writer for Family Fun magazine. She currently writes articles about education and home design. Her writings are in four books including Family Fun Home and Some Delights of the Hudson Valley.