Giving Tuesday – The Crochet (and Knitting) Way

Today is Giving Tuesday, a national day of giving. I’m sharing some of my favorite crochet and knitting related charity links today in honor of this event, which encourages us to put aside the shopping for a moment during the holiday season. I hope this roundup with inspire you to share your talent (or money!) with charities that are important to you.

If you’re looking for a crochet-a-long, Sunset Family Living is hosting the annual 12 Days of Christmas Charity Challenge (also known as the NICU charity challenge). She is challenging people to crochet 12 hats for preemies in their local neonatal intensive care unit. Last year, over 26,000 (!) hats were donated as part of the challenge, which runs through January 6, 2015. 20 crochet designers have donated hat patterns, and if you’d like to sign up to participate, you can read more about the project here.

Dozen Baby Hats (in the round), a free knitting pattern by Denise Balvanz. Image (c) Denise Balvanz.
Dozen Baby Hats (in the round), a free knitting pattern by Denise Balvanz. Image (c) Denise Balvanz.

If you’re more of a hat knitter, check out Denise Balvanz’s free patterns, Dozen Baby Hats (in the round) and Dozen Baby Hats (knit flat). Both patterns were inspired by the Afghans for Afghans June-July Baby Shower, and are great projects to donate to a local charity, too.

Some designers sell specific patterns to raise funds for a favorite charity. Some of my favorites are the Mitered Cross Blanket (knitting) by Kay Gardiner. All proceeds from the sale of this pattern are donated to Mercy Corps, an international emergency response/disaster relief organization.

Mitered Crosses Blanket by Kay Gardiner. Image (c) Kay Gardiner.
Mitered Crosses Blanket by Kay Gardiner. Image (c) Kay Gardiner.

Dawn Hansen donates a portion of the proceeds from the sales of her Autism Awareness Puzzle Hat (knitting) pattern to the Autism SocietyCharity Windham’s Ten Stitch Twist for loom knitters pattern raises funds for Frankie Brown’s (interviewed here) favorite charity, the Children’s Liver Disease Foundation.  And speaking of Frankie Brown, she has has over 240 (!) free crochet and knitting patterns. She would greatly appreciate a donation to the Children’s Liver Disease Foundation through her Just Giving page.

Wheels within Wheels, one of my favorite patterns by Frankie Brown. Image (c) Frankie Brown.

Anastacia Zittel uses the same model, and appreciates a contribution to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America in exchange for her free knitting pattern, Armwarmers, or for any of her over 65 free crochet patterns. (I also interviewed Anastacia here.)

Alexis Winslow’s Caring Cowl (knitting) is another fundraiser pattern. Alexis donates proceeds from this pattern to the American Red Cross.

Caring Cowl by Alexis Winslow. Image (c) Alexis Winslow.
Caring Cowl by Alexis Winslow. Image (c) Alexis Winslow.

I donate $1 from each sale of my 30 Purrfect Stitches for Pet Blankets ebook, which includes 20 crochet and 10 Tunisian crochet patterns that are great for pet blankets, to a local no-kill pet charity each year.

A selection of stitches included in 30 Purrfect Stitches for Pet Blankets.
A selection of stitch patterns included in 30 Purrfect Stitches for Pet Blankets.

I also donate pet blankets in the sizes suggested by the Snuggles Project. (I interviewed Deborah Green from Bideawee about blanket donations here, if you’d like to hear how local shelters use these blankets.) The website allows you to search for a local pet charity that accepts handmade blankets. The Snuggles Project is a program of Hugs for Homeless Animals.

Another organization that accepts handmade goodies is Project Linus. Their mission is to “provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need through the gifts of new, handmade blankets and afghans, lovingly created by volunteer ‘blanketeers.'”You can find out more about donating a crocheted or knit (or sewn) blanket to a local chapter, contributing funds to help defray shipping costs or volunteering on their website.

The Kitty Cap by Bella Crochet. Image (c) Bella Crochet.
The Kitty Cap by Bella Crochet. Image (c) Bella Crochet.

If donating an entire blanket is out of your crochet comfort zone, Warm Up America is another charity that distributes blankets and accessories to a variety of social services agencies. You can send a blanket square, or accessories such as hats or scarves to them for distribution. The Kitty Cap by Bella Crochet is a great free crochet pattern for making children’s hats for charity.

Twisted Cable Scarf and Headband, a free crochet pattern by Kim Guzman. Image (c) Kim Guzman.
Twisted Cable Scarf and Headband, a free crochet pattern by Kim Guzman. Image (c) Kim Guzman.

You might also be interested in the Red Scarf Project from Foster Care to Success. Each year, they coordinate the delivery of Valentine’s Day care packages, including handmade scarves, to young adults who have aged out of foster care as they experience life on their own at college. You can learn more about this charity in the current issue of Crochetvolution here. There are also two great free crochet patterns in this issue, Big Red and Vino Scarf, that would make great projects for the Red Scarf Project. You can also try some of Kim Guzman’s many great free winter patterns. (I interviewed Kim here.) Two of my favorites that would be perfect for the Red Scarf Project are the Reversible Pinstripe Scarf (double-ended crochet) or the Twisted Cable Scarf.

What are your favorite charities to share your crochet and knitting with?

The end of an era

Tubby in the window 2013-05-14.jpg

My longtime kitty friend, Yin (also known as Mr. Tubby), was quite sick for the past few weeks and departed this world for the next early Wednesday morning.  This is a recent picture MC snapped of Mr. Tubby, resting in his favorite window spot, surrounded by handmade goodies because he was feeling a little chilly.

I have so many fond memories of Yin and his brother Yang, who passed back in 2009.  The past few days without Mr. Tubby’s cheerful presence have been tough.

Yin and Yang, back in 2004.
Yin (back) and Yang (front) in 2004.

I’m grateful to the staff at Manhattan Cat Specialists, who took compassionate care of Yin in his final few weeks.

I also want to thank the wonderful staff and volunteers at the Humane Society of New York, who introduced me to these two furry gentlemen back in 2000.  I’m planning a donation in their memories soon, and if you’d like to contribute, $1 from the sale of each copy of my 30 Purrfect Stitches for Pet Blankets ebook will be included in my donation.  The ebook includes a variety of crochet and Tunisian crochet stitches that are perfect for pet charity blankets (and other projects, too).  The Humane Society operates an adoption center and free and low-cost vet care, among other services.

I’ll be slowly returning to regular blogging during the coming weeks.  In the meantime, I encourage you to hug your furry friends a little bit closer.

2012 Year in Review: Charity projects and crafting for a cause

This year, I donated more projects and patterns to charity (and causes) than I have for quite a long time.

I started off 2012 by making 6″ granny squares.  I sent off 40 to Binky Patrol in May as part of the Crochetlist charity challenge.

26 6″ granny squares.

In June, I hosted the charity challenge for Crochetlist on behalf of Bideawee‘s Manhattan Adoption Center.  I created a pattern e-book, 30 Purrfect Stitches for Pet Blankets, and I donate all of the profits from its sale to animal welfare organizations.  So far, I’ve raised over $180 for Bideawee and the Humane Society of New York!

I also collected about 70 pet blankets for Bideawee.

In August, my very first knitting pattern was published in support of the 2013 Knotty Knitters for Autism calendar.  You can read my interview with Marsha Cunningham, the organizer, here.  (And calendars are still available for sale here.)

In the fall, I made two hats and also donated a scarf to the Hats 4 the Homeless drive hosted by Lion Brand Yarn Studio.

The Studio’s November window was all about crafting for charity.

This year, I made a strong effort to destash.  In addition to using up yarn for new charity projects, this also meant rummaging through my bins for existing projects and yarn to donate.  In September, I donated a bunch of yarn to the Roosevelt Yarnies and Knitters and Crocheters Care.

And in December, I mailed off 6 hats, 5 scarves, and 2 cowls I crocheted in years gone by to the Oyate Teca Project, a charity I found through the Friends of Pine Ridge Reservation.  I also included this wool scarf I made in 2012.

I sent out a very big bear I crocheted in 2008 to a drive for the children of Newtown, CT that I read about on FreshStitches.

I’m not sure why I crocheted an enormous bear (other than because I wanted to try out the pattern at the time), but I’m hopeful that he’s found a better home than squished into a plastic bin in my apartment.

I also packed up 60 (!) granny squares to send to Afghan Squares for Pine Ridge.  These included the charity squares I made as part of the second Year of Projects and a bunch of squares I found hiding in a yarn bin during the summer.  I will mail these out by the end of the week.

I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep up this much charity crafting next year (especially since a many of my donations were actually crocheted years ago), but I’m glad I was able to help out this much in 2012.

I also started a Pinterest board of charities that accept handmade donations, in case you are looking for places to donate.

Do you have a favorite crochet or knit charity or charity project?

FO Friday: The delivery

Back in June, I was the hostess of Crochetlist‘s monthly charity challenge on behalf of Bideawee, an animal welfare organization headquartered in New York.  My main job as hostess was to be enthusiastic about the charity during the month, and to collect pet blankets.  I also organized an ebook of 30 crochet stitch patterns suitable for pet blankets (for sale on Craftsy, Etsy, and Ravelry), which so far has raised about $150 for animal welfare organizations.  (I donate all the profits at the end of each month, so if you are feeling charitable, download a copy 🙂 – this month’s purchases will be donated to the Humane Society of New York.)

Through the kindness of Crochetlist members, I collected almost 70 pet blankets!

For six weeks each summer, I work extended hours four days a week with Fridays off.  Today is the last “summer Friday.”  I knew that if I didn’t deliver the pet blankets today, they might take up semi-permanent residence in my apartment.

This is what 70 pet blankets look like, in case you were wondering.

Of course, about 5 minutes before I left home, it started to rain.

You can sort of see the grayness in the background.

I managed to hail down a cab in spite of the weather and squeeze into it with my bags.

The bags took up two seats.

When I arrived at Bideawee, the rain was still pretty steady.

The staff in the Adoption Center were very friendly, and invited me to hang out with the kittens for a few minutes.

I couldn’t turn down a chance to play with kittens.

The black cat on the right is a superior hunter.  I hope he goes to a home with a supply of bugs to track down.

This little putty let me give some tummy scruffles.
This kitty was very serious and chose to sit in a box for most of my visit.

After hanging out for a little bit, I left, but not before taking some pictures of the mature cats in the front window.

Here’s one eating on a crocheted blanket.

If I didn’t have my very own alpha male at home, I would have brought a few of these putties home with me.  (Ok, I guess I would have had to ask MC, too.  It’s not good to make impulse adoptions!)

Nope, he’s definitely not welcoming in any new putties.

As soon as I left Bideawee, the rain got really bad, with heavy gusts of wind and those painfully strong “drops.”  My umbrella ended up getting destroyed, and I was completely soaked through, wet t-shirt contest style.  I managed to make it to the bus stop without destroying my camera (thank goodness).

But it was totally worth it, since I know these blankets will be used by the animals at the shelter.  I’m very thankful to the 15 group members who donated such lovely crocheted and knit blankets.  If it hadn’t been raining, I would have taken more pictures of the actual blankets so you could see all of the great colors and stitches.

For more finished objects, visit Tami’s Amis.

Interview with Deborah Green from Bideawee

This month, I’m sponsoring Crochetlist‘s Charity Challenge on behalf of Bideawee.  I’ve self-published a special e-book of crochet stitch patterns that make great pet blankets (with profits to be donated to Bideawee), and I’m working on a few of my own pet blankets to donate.  Today, I’m interviewing Deborah Green, Bideawee’s Senior Manager of Volunteers, Education, and Outreach.  You can find Bideawee online on their website, Facebook, and Twitter.  (Thank you Deborah, for sharing pictures of cats using handmade pet blankets!)

Midori says, “This blanket is mine!”

Underground Crafter (UC): One of the reasons I wanted to support Bideawee with this project is because you operate “no kill” shelters. Can you share more about your Adoption Centers and your humane philosophy?

Deborah: Bideawee is one of the oldest no kill animal shelters in the U.S. and has dedicated itself to helping animals since 1903. It is a private, nonprofit organization that depends on donations and does not receive any money from the government.

Bideawee is committed to providing potential adopteers an unparalleled adoption experience that matches their personality and lifestyle with an animal to create a lifelong bond and an unrivaled human/pet connection. The unparalleled treatment of the animals is assured by the Bideawee Animal Bill of Rights. All of the animals undergo a thorough physical and behavioral examination, are spayed/neutered, vaccinated, and microchipped. All of the dogs are walked 3 times a day to begin learning basic commands, and are socilized with humans and other animals. The time, effort and care that the Adoption Center invest in each animal ensures that a Bideawee pet is seamlessly integrated into the family for a lifetime of happiness.

Clarice enjoying a handmade blanket.

UC: What other programs and services does Bideawee manage?
Deborah: Across our 3 sites (Manhattan, and Wantagh and Westhampton, Long Island) we have 2 Adoption Centers, 2 Animal Hospitals, 2 Pet Memorial Parks, and a dog park; a Loving Legacy program (to ensure your pet spends the rest of its life in a caring and compassionate environment with a foster family if you become unable to care for it); behavior and training classes; pet therapy services by volunteers who share their specially trained animals with people in healthcare facilities, schools, and residences for the disabled; humane education for children; and workshops like pet loss support groups, doga (yoga with your dog) and animal care and behavior.

Duke looks very handsome on a handmade pet blanket.

UC: Not all pet shelters accept handmade blankets. How does Bideawee use the donated blankets?
Deborah: We use many of them in our cat cages (20″ x 25″). We take great care to “decorate” each cage individually. We coordinate the colors of the blankets to show off our cats and their beauty. The larger blankets we give to our dogs to line their beds and snuggle in. Many of the animals reside in Bideawee administrative offices and we use the blankets to cover the furniture and make a bed where the animal can feel at home with his own scent.

Grace snuggling with a handmade pet blanket.

UC: What are some other ways that people can get involved with supporting Bideawee?
Deborah: People can donate money or in-kind materials like food and bedding. They can volunteer to work in the shelter or at events.  Go to our webpage, like us on our Facebook, attend our gala on June 11, get the word out!

Thanks so much for stopping by for the interview, Deborah!