Sunday, March 6, 2011


Before I start I would like to qualify this entire article by including crafters of many types - while I am discussing "knitting" or "knitters" specifically, I do not mean to exclude those who crochet, sew or quilt as I have seen similar charitable efforts from them.  Much of what I claim about knitters is equaled by crafters with those areas of expertise.  I hope one day to be able to address some of their contributions as well.

When I decided to address knitting for charitable purposes I thought it would be a simple article.  It has not been simple at all - hence the great delay between my posts, for which I apologize.  I started out thinking that I would describe a few projects or charities but I kept discovering more charities, more projects, more aspects, attitudes, and craft types than I could ever hope to address adequately in one article.  I have stopped and started this posting more times than I can say.  But I realized that if I wanted to say anything  I just needed to forge here I am, forging!

Knitting for charitable purposes:  ie. knitting an item for a recipient, known or unknown, that will bring them comfort, maybe some peace, and the knowledge that someone out there cares about them and that they are not alone.

In addition to knitting items for themselves most of the knitters I know like to knit items for other people and will have at least one project designated for a charity.  Some are drawn into knitting for a particular charity because someone they know, or a community group they belong to, is already involved with it;  some are drawn by a cause that is near and dear to them for personal reasons; some just want to knit for the love of knitting and will search out a cause to knit for.  Most of the local yarn stores support a cause - they provide patterns and collect items from their patrons throughout the year which they deliver en masse.

There are so many charities that you could contribute your skills to that it would be difficult to list them all adequately. But I don't have to! 

In my research for this blog I came across two books on the subject that I found to be good compilations of charity opportunities:  Knitting for Peace by Betty Christiansen, and Knit Along with Debbie Macomber - A Charity Guide for Knitters by Debbie Macomber.  Both address a diverse cross-section of organizations with concerns for soldiers, refugees, adults and children (from preemie to 18) who are sick or have been traumatized, even organizations whose concerns are animals in shelters. The organizations in both books cover local, national and international needs and include websites and contact information for each of the organizations listed.

KNITTING FOR PEACE - Make the World a Better Place One Stitch at a Time
 by Betty Christiansen 

Betty Christiansen has put an awful lot of research into a wide variety of charity organizations and her passion for the topic shines throughout her book which I found to be highly inspirational.  As is obvious from the title and subtitle of her book, the emphasis is on the organizations, the people that created them, and how a person can help them.  The book also includes 15 patterns that would be appropriate for some of the charities she describes.  A final section provides information and websites that enable the reader to get started by finding concerns within their own community.

by Debbie Macomber

Debbie Macomber is a beloved author who is well known in the knitting community...which has its benefits and ability to attract readers.  She is a big supporter of knitting for charity.  Ms. Macomber's book features 14 charities and 18 projects as well as a section regarding techniques and sources similar to the other books in her Knit Along series.   The patterns are well written, easy to follow, and are accompanied by good photographs of the finished piece.  It presents slightly differently than Knitting for Peace in that it reads more like a book of patterns which, by the way, would be appropriate for these charities but it is just as full of heart and inspiration.

I think that if a person were browsing the shelves, Debbie Macomber's book would initially appeal to different people than Betty Christiansen's book.  I am a fan of both books because their different approaches/appeal means they might reach a wider number of knitters thereby inspiring a greater number of people who might end up making a difference in our world.  Pretty cool.  Both authors have culled the wide world of possible opportunities cutting through the process of endless online searching to present a manageable list of causes.  This provides the knitter who might be looking for a charity with a quick and easy way to find a way to make a difference.

Unfortunately, our library doesn't currently own either title but you can call our Reference Desk at 860-673-9712 or go to our online catalogue to place a hold (click on library link on left of page). We can borrow it from another library in our consortium and have it here for you shortly.

I am no different than my fellow knitters in that I like to have a project designated for charity on my needles at any given time.  I am currently working on scarves for a friend's community group (Prince Thomas of Savoy Women's Auxiliary) who are creating scarves for the Connecticut Breast Health Initiative Race taking place this Spring.  Each year her group votes on the pattern(s) they will create.  This year they chose two patterns: a Spiral Scarf and a Scarf with Bobble Ribbon.  My friend provided me with the patterns and two skeins of their chosen yarn...but no pictures.  I started with the Spiral Scarf because it seemed interesting and was different from anything I have made in the past.  I must admit though, after a few rows I was a little concerned about whether I was producing much of anything:

Doesn't look like much does it?  After a little ways I began to recognize the "spiral" and felt better. 

Sometimes you just need a little faith.  Here is how it looks completed.

On to their second pattern, the Scarf with Bobble Ribbon. Again, without a picture I was a little confused by what I was going to produce and I must have been a little dopey as well because I wasn't understanding the "ribbon" of bobbles until I confessed to my friend my problem with interpreting the pattern.  I experienced one of those forehead hitting "duh" moments as she drew out the breast cancer ribbon that the bobbles would form once it was knit.  I have gotten this far with this second pattern so far:

Need more reasons to knit for a charity?

Did you know that knitting has been found to be a great reliever of stress?  Many knitters will tell you that knitting is like therapy - while their hands are busy in one direction, their minds are freed up to think about other things.  When I knit I think about the person or the cause that I am creating the piece for.  Sometimes I just reflect on what is going on in my own life - it is my quiet, reflective escape time.  I have heard this is true for other knitters as well.

Knitting projects for a charity can be even more therapeutic.  The action of knitting is good for the knitter and the finished piece might make a difference to a someone in need, bringing them a little comfort.

Additionally, patterns that are designated for charity projects are often more simple and easy to follow because knitters of all skill levels need to be able to follow them.  This makes them excellent starter projects for beginners - whether they knit them for charity or themselves!  Also, because they tend to be small, these projects are an excellent way to use up materials left over from other projects.  Kind of a good deal all around don't you agree? 

If you have never knit for a charity, I invite you to explore the possibilities and give it a try.  Obviously, one or both of these books would be a good start.  I have also added a Charity Links section on the left side of this page that will connect you to lists of charities compiled by other groups. To surf the web on your own is as simple as entering something such as "knitting for charity," or "charity knitting" into your preferred Internet search engine.  You could also make inquiries at your local yarn store, your religious organization if you are affiliated with one, hospitals, shelters, or nursing homes.

Very shortly (I promise!) I will publish KNITTING FOR CHARITY - PART 2 which will address the charity that got me back into knitting after a long departure: Prayer Shawls.  Check back soon!

Any comments on knitting for charity?  I would love to hear them, please feel free to click below on "Comments - Enter Yours Here"  to enter one.

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