30 October 2010

knitting for charity

I've been knitting. Most of my readers likely know that already. I learned to knit as a child; needlework is a skill shared by all of the women in my mother's family. But it was something I hadn't touched in years (probably not since I was a child). Shortly after I was released from the hospital, though, I thought of it as a useful activity I could do while in bed. Also, my good friend Sharon Turner is a master knitter, and she gave me inspiration (and books and yarn to get started).

I soon realized that it's the action of knitting that gives me the most pleasure. Don't get me wrong, I'm a sweater lover. (Really more of a sweater addict.) I love the textures and colors of yarns and the soft warmth of knitted fabric. But I quickly realized that it's the act, the craft of knitting, that I enjoy the most. 

Last year, soon after I started knitting again, I looked for charities that take knitted items and distribute them to needy children. I found several:

Knit a Square:  South Africa. Collects 8 in x 8 in knit squares and stitches them into blankets which are distributed to children's charities.

Haiti Earthquake Relief Project: Global Knit, based in Ohio, is collecting wash kits composed of a knitted washcloth, hand towel and bar of soap and is working with Food for the Poor to distribute them to earthquake victims in Haiti.

Bulgarian Orphans: Another Global Knit project, collects clothing for disabled orphans of all ages and distributes it through Cedar Foundation in Bulgaria.

Knitting and Giving: based in Connecticut, this group collects knitted items and hand-delivers them to needy people all around the world. Their "Call For Items" lists all the projects they are currently collecting for.

Lately I’ve been knitting hats. It keeps my hands busy and I get to experiment with new stitch patterns without making the long-term commitment required of a sweater or blanket. It also provides a use for all those extra bits of yarn that are leftover after a bigger project or that have been given to me by friends. It takes only one skein to make a hat or scarf. Usually I have to calculate too (keeps the quant side of my brain nimble), though it has taken me awhile to get the finished size right for different stitches (cables and so on come out smaller, for example). Consequently, many of the hats are small and two of them came out much bigger than I expected. I decided that I’d just keep going, keep making more hats – I have about eight so far – and donate them to people who need hats.

Although all the charities above look very worthy, I’ve decided to send my hats to Mali. I'll ship a box to the Peace Corps Volunteers in the area where I worked  and ask them to distribute them. Yes, the locals wear hats and coats during the “cold season.” (For those of us accustomed to northern winters, 70F is not “cold.” But if the temp is over 90F for most of the year, 70F feels pretty darn cold.)

If you're a member of Ravelry.com, you can follow my knitting progress. Even pictures of all the hats.

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