Tips on Knitting for Charity

knit sweet little santa-inspired baby hats for preemies and full-term babies.
These baby Santa hats are a great charity knitting project. © Sarah E. White, licensed

Knitting for charity is wonderful. Not only does it allow you to knit more than you'd ever want to for your friends and family, you also get the good feeling that comes with helping other people.

Even if you don't know the person who is to receive your homemade treasure, knowing that it is out in the world is a great feeling. Here are some tips for making the most of your charity knitting experience.

Think Locally

The best advice I can give about charity knitting is to look for need within your community. Believe me, there is a group in your community that would love to have knitted items, whether it's the homeless shelter or the children's floor of your local hospital.

That doesn't mean you can't use a national organization as inspiration or even join a national group that provides charitable knitting. It does mean you should take the ideas of a larger knitting charity and focus them where you live.

There's something even more rewarding about helping people in your own community, and you'll always be aware of what needs need to be met.

Ask Before They Receive

I got an e-mail from a crafter who had been part of a group knitting hats for soldiers in Iraq. They sent a shipment only to learn later that soldiers really only want black hats and they can only wear them around the barracks.

They were told the military doesn't want any kind of clothing that makes one soldier stand out or makes soldiers in general stand out. Those items might mark the wearers as targets or even cause insurgents to duplicate the item to try to blend in with the soldiers.

This should teach us that it is vitally important to ask the recipient what is needed before a charity knitting project is begun. Don't rely on the information on a website, especially if it's obvious the site hasn't been updated in a while. That wasn't the case with the military caps, but whether you're knitting for the troops or the homeless, check to see what they need most before you get started.

This is another reason it is great to work locally because it's easy  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.

Size Doesn't Matter

I love knitting items for charity that aren't sized: blankets, scarves, even hats, which at least come in a couple of basic sizes. That's because I feel like my work can do the most good if the charity doesn't have to wait around to find someone who fits in a size 6 sweater.

This point, of course, is completely moot if you've followed the previous rule and the charity in question has asked for sweaters, mittens, socks or other items knit to a particular size. As long as you know there's someone ready to receive your handiwork, knit away.

Bring Your Friends

Charity knitting is a wonderful group 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 and will keep someone warm even if it isn't fancy.

I don't know if there's anything better than getting together with a group of yarn-loving people, sharing good times and working on a project that will help other people.

Other Considerations

  • Don't donate used items unless a charity specifies that it will take them.
  • Don't smoke around your knitting.
  • Use new yarn.
  • Make sure the item is clean when you send it.
  • Knit with a smile on your face to send good wishes to the recipient!