Knitting: Charity Guidelines

Knitting is my favorite hobby, a great way to keep my hands busy and pass the time, plus it gives me an incredible sense of accomplishment when I finish a project. I knit everything from washcloths to sweaters to queen-sized blankets. I also own and love using a circular knitting machine, which I use almost solely to make hats and scarves for charity.

Knitting for charity can come with some questions. Why knit for charity? Who do I give my knitted items to? What do I make? As someone who has donated thousands of knitted items over the years, I’m here to walk you through the process.

Why should I knit for charity?
I think this is a personal question for everyone who donates their makes. For some, it’s because they find a cause they’re passionate about, whether that’s helping those experiencing homelessness, sending warmth to people in developing countries, or giving extra love to babies in the NICU.

For others who love to knit, but don’t have people in their own lives to give the items to, donating may be a great way to fulfill a hobby without becoming overwhelmed with items. In my experience, I love knitting shawls but I don’t know anyone who might love to wear one, so I make them and donate them to nursing homes. The elderly people there always seem so excited to receive a hand-knit shawl, and when I return to donate again, I see that they are still being used by the residents.

Who should I donate to?
You can donate wherever you’d like, depending on who you’d like to help. Want to help babies? Call your local hospital and ask if they are willing to accept hats, blankets, mittens, and other items. Interested in getting warm items to people experiencing homelessness? Either ask shelters in your area if they can use donations or simply hang items around town in places where you know they will be taken by those who need them.

Here are some great places to donate to that I’ve personally worked with:
Knitted Knockers: Knitted prosthetic breasts to those who need them
Wool for Warmth: Wool items to people experiencing homelessness in the Nederlands
Project Linus: Blankets to children who have experienced trauma

What should I make?

Again, this depends on who you’re planning on donating to. I always try to make a variety of items in a variety of sizes, colors, and styles. My favorite colors are gray, brown, and green, but I make a conscious effort to knit items in reds, blues, and other colors I don’t necessarily grab for first. For those experiencing homelessness particularly, I try to vary my sizing and styles of hats and scarves. Just because I don’t love something doesn’t mean someone else will feel the same way. This is not to say that you should force yourself to knit things you don’t want to. It just means if you finish an item and you’re thinking, wow, this isn’t great, remember that it just might be someone else’s favorite thing ever!

When it comes to yarn material, there are no fast and hard rules. Some people might say only to knit items for those experiencing homelessness in wool because it’s the warmest. Others might say to only knit them in acrylic for ease of washing in a shelter setting. The only real guideline I follow is to knit baby items in a soft, washable yarn such as acrylic or cotton. What new parent really wants to hand wash a baby hat?

Whatever you decide to make, and whoever you decide to give it to, just know that I am proud of you. You’re helping to make someone smile by donating something made with love, and that is amazing.