Today is International Day of Charity. This annual event was first established by the United Nations in 2012. The date was selected in honor of the passing of Noble Peace Prize winner, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who devoted her life to helping others.
The UN invites everyone to commemorate the day by encouraging charity and raising awareness of charity. As a longtime charity crocheter, I thought the best way I could share this day with the Underground Crafter community was to share how you can use your knitting and crochet skills to support charities, and to do a roundup of 10+ free crochet charity patterns.
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3 Tips for Making the Biggest Impact with Your Charity Crochet or Knitting
Most crocheters and knitters can create something more valuable with their hands than any financial contribution they can donate, so crocheting and knitting for charity is really appealing. On the other hand, the purpose of a donation is to support the final recipient and the charity, so here are my suggestions for making the most out of charity crochet or knitting.
1) Donate locally when possible.
Save on postage, minimize the environmental impact of shipping, and improve your community by donating locally when possible.
- Work with the local chapter/office of a national organization that accepts handmade donations, like Project Linus or Project Night Night.
- Find a local charity through Lion Brand’s Charity Connection, or from lists of charities that accept handmade items on the Crochet Guild of America. The Knitting Guild Assocation’s list of knitting organizations includes many charities. And, the Snuggles Project has a worldwide directory of animal care organizations that accept handmade donations.
- Participate in a charity drive organized by your local crochet or knitting guild – even if you aren’t a member! You can find a local knitting guild here on The Knitting Guild Assocation’s website or a local crochet chapter here on the Crochet Guild of America website.
If you decide to contribute to a charity outside of your local area, consider organizing or participating in a drive in your community.
As crocheters and knitters, we love to be creative. However, when a charity or a charity drive organizer shares guidelines or deadlines, they should be followed to the letter.
- Check the charity’s website, or contact the organizer, before starting a project. Many charities maintain a list of current needs on their website. If a list isn’t posted, contact an organizer to make sure your donation is still needed and will be accepted.
- Use the recommended fiber content. Charities may recommend different types of fibers for reasons as diverse as making washing easier or avoiding allergies.
- Use the recommended colors. Charities may request specific colors for a variety of reasons including making a statement or avoiding culturally offensive colors.
- Use recommended measurements. Many organizations have specific size recommendations for practical reasons of fit, or due to storage restrictions or ease of joining pieces from multiple donors.
- Follow the finishing instructions. Organizers may ask you to leave long yarn tails for joining blankets, or to weave ends in securely with a yarn needle to avoid choking hazards for pets.
- Meet the deadline. When a charity only accepts donations seasonally, or when an organizer is planning a drive, be sure to meet any deadlines.
If you follow these guidelines, your project will be put to use by the organization and won’t end up being thrown out or kept in storage at the charity’s expense.
Not only will you have fun meeting like-minded people, but you’ll also be able to contribute so much more with a group!
In your community, local crochet and knitting guilds often have charity drives. You may also find that a local house of worship has a charity crafting group.
There are many options for teaming up with other crafters online, too.
- Crochet Mitten Drive is a crochet-a-long featuring 15 designers and 15 new patterns for crochet mittens. This even starts on September 11 and runs through December 18, 2015. You can find more information in the Facebook group.
- Bev’s Country Cottage has been an online hub for charity crafting for years. You can find a regularly updated list of charities here, or connect with other charity crafters in the Ravelry group or on the Facebook page.
- Jessie At Home recently shared information about volunteering with Awesome Breastforms, an organization that donates crocheted and knit breast forms to women who have had masectomies.
- There are many Ravelry groups dedicated to crafting for charity. Some of the more active groups include:
- Charity Knitting (which also supports crocheting). This group maintains a thread of organizations that are currently accepting donations.
- Wool-Aid provides a place for crocheters and knitters to chat about handmade wool yarn project donations to benefit under-resourced children living in cold climates. You can learn more about Wool-Aid on their website.
- Fans of Afghans for Afghans is the online meeting place for donors to Afghans for Afghans, an organization that ships handmade items to Afghanistan.
- The Knit-a-Square group supports Knit-A-Square, a charity that supports African children orphaned by AIDS.
- Afghan Squares for Pine Ridge is a group that crochets and knits squares for blankets that go to people on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
You may also want to consider starting your own Facebook or Ravelry group if you are organizing a charity drive.
- Sara Sach from Posh Pooch Design’s Chihauhua Doll Super Hero (photo 6) was made to raise awareness of the National Mill Dog Rescue, which saves dogs from puppy mills.
- Sara also designed Ann’s Pink Ribbon Chemo Beanie (photo 4), which can be donated to Crochet for Cancer, a Christian volunteer organization that coordinates chemo cap donations to cancer centers.
- StitchesNScraps has a roundup of free knitting and crochet patterns for children’s sweaters that are great for charity projects.
- b.hooked crochet recently hosted a crochet challenge for Warm Up America. You can find the patterns for blocks and instructions for assembling the blanket, along with video tutorials, here.
I designed 6 free crochet patterns for charity projects.
- The Marciana Lace Prayer Shawl (photo 5) is ideal for donating to a local hospital, cancer center, or hospice.
- The Long Double Crochet Warm Up America Block (photo 2) is sized for donation to Warm Up America.
- The It’s a School Night Night Blanket (photo 8) and the Rectangular Sampler Blanket (photo 1) were designed for Project Night Night. You can read more about Project Night Night in this interview with Jessica Silverman Bryan.
- The Drawstring Beanie with Yarrow Flower (photo 7) is a chemo cap in eco-friendly Lion Brand Nature’s Choice Organic Cotton in support of Halos of Hope.
- The Mitered Square Pet Blanket (photo 3) is a pet blanket designed to meet the Snuggles Project donation requirements. You can read my interview with Deborah Green of Bideawee, a participating animal shelter, here.
Many of these patterns were originally designed as part of a monthly charity spotlight I write on Oombawka Design Crochet. You can read all of my Oombawka contributor posts here.