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Knitting for Charity: How to Use Your Craft Hobby to Help Others

Linda Crampton is a writer who is concerned about social issues. She hopes to encourage anyone who is able to do so to help people in need.

Knitted scarves could be excellent items for helping people.

Knitted scarves could be excellent items for helping people.

The Joy and Uses of Knitting

Knitting is a fun, useful, and creative craft that can be a wonderful method of self-expression. It can also be a great way to help others. Knitted items can be donated to help people in need or sold to raise funds for charities. Many organizations accept knitted or crocheted items and send them to where they are very much appreciated.

Knitting doesn't have to be an expensive hobby. While yarn sold in a craft store is often expensive—especially the gorgeous, luxury versions that are available—some plainer yarns may be on sale when you visit the store. Cheap yarn of reasonable quality can also be found in home stores or even in dollar stores.

Knitting a large item like an adult's sweater can be expensive since it requires so much yarn, but it's not necessary to create such big items to help charities. Charitable organizations are very happy to receive small and medium-sized items as well as larger ones. In this article, I give an overview of five charities that accept knitted (or crocheted) items.

Learning the basic stitches needed to create items for charity requires a bit of practice but isn't hard. Many websites and YouTube videos teach people how to knit. Library books about the topic can also be helpful.

An Old and Valuable Fiber Art

Knitting is a practical hobby that enables a person to create a wide range of items, including clothing, accessories, toys, decorations, and household items. It can also be used as a fine art medium. Some people discover that the rhythmical action of creating stitches is relaxing and can act as a form of meditation.

Knitting is my favorite type of fiber art. It's an old craft that is thought to have been started by males but is more popular with females today. The craft is increasing in popularity in some parts of the world. Both females and males are discovering—or rediscovering—its joys.

Some of my knitting

Some of my knitting

Charities That Accept Knitted Items

Apart from Knit a Square, the charities described below are based in the United States or Canada. Equivalent organizations exist in many other countries. Other charities in the United States and around the world also accept knitted donations.

It’s important to check an organization's website before creating items and before mailing them so that you can discover all of the current requirements. The requirements may change over time. It’s also important to see whether the charity still exists before a project is begun. The five organizations that I discuss in this article have been in existence for a long time and seem to have staying power. I had to delete my review of a charity that once existed but has since disappeared, however.

If an organization doesn't have a local office and you don't want to mail your finished items, you can still use knitting to help charities. Some hospitals, care homes, and other organizations in your area may be very happy to accept your creations. Another way to support a charity with knitted items is to sell the items at a craft fair and then donate the money that you earn to the charity.

Creating items to distribute locally might enable the crafter to create the item of their choice, even if no charitable organization is seeking that item. However the crafter distributes their creations, their efforts can be both fun and helpful for others.

Screenshot of the Knit a Square website

Screenshot of the Knit a Square website

The Knit a Square Organization

Knitted squares are versatile pieces of fabric that can be sewn together to make other items, such as blankets. The Knit a Square organization in South Africa accepts 8 x 8 inch knitted or crocheted squares. Volunteers sew the donated squares together to make blankets. These are given to children who have been orphaned and are living in poverty, often due to the death of their parents from AIDS.

The squares are quick and easy to make. A simple garter stitch square is good, although you can use fancier stitches if you prefer. The knitting supports a very worthy charity. There is a cost involved in mailing the squares to the Knit a Square organization in South Africa, however, which might be a drawback. If you can afford to mail the squares, though, the cost can be thought of as part of the donation to the charity. The organization has detailed packing instructions on its website to ensure that the squares arrive safely and that the charity isn't charged money to accept them.

The Knit a Square website has knitting instructions for squares as well as patterns for other items. They are looking for knitted hats and cuddly toys in addition to squares. The charity welcomes crocheted items as well as knitted ones. The organization has a Facebook page and other social media accounts. The link to the organization's website (and a link to the other sites that I review) is given in the "References and Resources" section below.

Making a blanket with friends could be an alternative to mailing squares to an organization. If each person brings their own squares and shares in the sewing, the event could be both a fun social get-together and a useful activity. The finished blanket could be donated to a local charity, such as an agency for the homeless.

Project Linus

Project Linus is named after the character in the Peanuts cartoons. Linus loves his security blanket. The project asks people to create handmade, washable blankets. These are donated to children facing a traumatic situation such as a serious illness or injury or a frightening and upsetting event. The children are found in hospitals or shelters or through social service agencies. Blankets or afghans can be knitted, crocheted, or quilted and are accepted in all reasonable sizes. The organization asks that they be made in a smoke-free environment due to allergy concerns.

Blankets provide warmth to their recipients. They can also provide psychological comfort, especially if a child knows that an item was hand-knitted by someone who cares. Colorful and patterned blankets can bring some cheer into a child's life. If a knitter is unable to afford the purchase of a large amount of yarn to make a big blanket, a smaller one will probably be much appreciated by a young child. The organization's website contains links to patterns, but any style of blanket is accepted.

The head office of Project Linus is located in Bloomington, Illinois, but there are Project Linus chapters and blanket drop-off sites in every state. The project's website has links to helpful sites for their "blanketeers". The project also operates across Canada (see the Project Linus Canada website) and in the UK (Project Linus UK).

Screenshot of the Project Linus website

Screenshot of the Project Linus website

Binky Patrol

Binky patrol also collects handmade blankets for needy children and has chapters in many areas. You might find that you live nearer to a Binky Patrol chapter than a Project Linus chapter, or vice versa. Blankets can be mailed to Binky Patrol if necessary.

The organization accepts knitted, crocheted, and sewn blankets or blankets made from fleece. The blankets are given to children born with the HIV virus or AIDS, abused children, ones with a chronic or terminal illness, ones in foster care, and ones who have experienced a traumatic event. The smallest sized blanket that's generally needed is three feet by three feet, although the organization says that they sometimes get requests for two feet by two feet blankets.

Like the other knitting projects in this article, creating binky blankets can be a social activity. It could be fun for a group of people to socialize and work on blanket creation at the same time. Binky Patrol suggests that people hold "Bink-A-Thons" events. In these events, a large number of people gather together with the goal of creating as many blankets as possible within the specified meeting time. Bink-A-Thons could work well in schools, guide and scout groups, church groups, and service organizations. Like the previous two organizations, Binky Patrol has social media accounts.

Screenshot of the Blinky Patrol website

Screenshot of the Blinky Patrol website

Mother Bear Project

The Mother Bear Project provides knitted and crocheted teddy bears to needy children. The children are usually located in emerging nations and are generally affected in some way by the HIV virus and AIDS.

The bears must be made from the pattern provided by the organization, which costs five dollars (or seven dollars for people outside the United States). Although the bears are all made from the same pattern, they look very different from one another due to the different yarns and colors that were used to make them. Some people add accessories like scarves or skirts to make their bear even more distinctive.

The Mother Bear Project is based in Minneapolis. The bears have to be packaged and mailed to the organization, unless the knitter lives near a drop-off site. These sites are listed on the project's website. The knitter attaches a tag with their name to the teddy bear and is also asked to include three dollars to help pay for the shipping to the bear's final destination.

The organization runs knitting groups, which enables people to create bears in social groups. It gladly accepts donated items that help the project, such as needles, yarn, and postage stamps. Like the organizations above, it also appreciates monetary donations. The details are listed on the project website.

Screenshot of the Mother Bear Project website

Screenshot of the Mother Bear Project website

Charity Projects for Knitters and Crocheters

Knit for Kids

Knit for Kids is run by World Vision, which is an Evangelical Christian organization. It collects knitted or crocheted blankets, caps, scarves, and mittens for children in poverty or in difficult situations in the United States and around the world. The website provides patterns which are free to download. The organization says that their preference is for people to use the patterns supplied by the organization, but they will accept items based on other patterns. They say that they like uniformity so that all the children in the donation area are treated the same and nobody feels that they have a "better" piece of clothing than other children.

Once the items are created, they must be mailed to the Knit for Kids organization, which is located in Pennsylvania. People who live in the Eastern United States can drop their creation off at an A.C. Moore arts and crafts store instead of mailing it.

The Knit for Kids organization encourages people to sponsor a child, but this isn't necessary in order to donate knitted items. According to the organization, sponsors know which child receives their gift and can communicate with the child. These features aren't available to non-sponsors.

Screenshot of the Knit for Kids website

Screenshot of the Knit for Kids website

Before you buy yarn to create an item for charity, you should check the websites of charities that interest you to see if they have a preference or a requirement for a certain type of yarn.

Using Knitting to Help Others

Knitting has always seemed like a magical activity to me. I start with a long strand of fiber and end up with a fabric, which has a different appearance depending on the yarn and the stitches that I use. It's wonderful to be able to use some of the magic to help other people.

Another benefit of knitting is that it's a convenient activity. I can work on a project when I have time and then leave it and return to it later if I have something else to do. I'm careful to make a note of where I am in a complex pattern before I leave the knitting, though.

Knitting is a great way for people to create items for their own use, items as gifts for friends and relatives, and items to help other people. It doesn't take long to create a square for charity. The square can be worked on in odd moments such as while traveling on public transit or waiting for an appointment. Knitting can also be done while listening to music or during television advertisements.

Even if you don't know how to knit right now, the basics can be learned quickly. Once you've learned these basics, you'll probably be hooked and want to learn more advanced techniques.

Many different yarn types, textures, and colors are available today.

Many different yarn types, textures, and colors are available today.

References and Resources

The charity websites described in this article are listed and linked to below.

© 2013 Linda Crampton