The first year I seriously took up knitting, I made scarves and hats for everyone I knew for Christmas. For many years after that, I would spend each year making holiday gifts - toys, socks, bags, you name it.
For a few years, I was equally split between gift knitting and so-called "selfish" knitting. (honestly, knitting for yourself really isn't selfish, and neither is crocheting or weaving for yourself, for the record!).
As the holiday gift knitting deadline stressed me out more and more, I moved almost entirely towards knitting for myself in favor of (gasp!) giving store-bought gifts for the holidays.
However, if you've been knitting long enough, you find there is a limit to how many handmade gifts you can reasonably give, not to mention, how many handmade garments and accessories you yourself can keep.
That's when I started taking up sample knitting as a side gig and dabbling in charity crafting. There are certain things I absolutely love to knit, but either have a surplus of them, or simply don't use - and thankfully, those are the things that I can either knit for hire or donate to a good cause, with the added bonus of using my skills to make the world a slightly better place.
Considering the dumpster fire that the world at large has become, that last reason is quite compelling for me. Whenever I feel depressed or helpless after hearing about the latest crappy thing that's happened, working on a project that's destined to be donated somewhere helps me to focus my energy towards something positive amidst all the negative. And even though it's a very small thing, it's certainly better than nothing. We have to start somewhere, right?
For those of you who are interested, here are some of the charities I enjoy making items for:
Mother Bear Project
A couple of years ago, I knit a Mother Bear for a KAL in the 2 Knit Lit Chicks Ravelry group. When I was cleaning out my craft room earlier this spring, I found the pattern and started knitting bears again. I've finished three so far, and my goal for this year was to make 6 bears total before sending them in. However, I spotted a post on Instagram that says that there is currently a shortage of Mother Bears, so I think I will send in the ones I have made right now instead of waiting til the end of the year!
The 2 Knit Lit Chicks podcast is hosting another Mother Bear KAL right now, so you can join their group to get inspired and maybe even win a prize!
Knit and crochet patterns for the bears can be ordered here; I highly recommend the knit-in-the round option! Also, if you need further convincing, check out the photo gallery of children with their bears, it's pretty much the cutest thing ever!
Hat Not Hate
I discovered this one via Louis Boria of Brooklyn Boy Knits, who has done a lot of work with Lion Brand to promote #HatNotHate, and anti-bullying campaign launched last year. If you want to participate, all you have to do is make wear, and post handmade blue hats, adding #HatNotHate when sharing on social platforms to raise awareness.
If you want to take it a step further, you can donate handmade blue hats to be distributed to select schools throughout the US to be worn by kids during National Bullying Prevention month in October. Their goal is to collect 25,000 hats and it sounds like they have a ways to go, with less than 2,000 donations so far.
Since I love to knit hats and have a TON of blue yarn in my stash, I'm going to see how many hats I can make this summer - so far I have 3 finished hats (apparently that's my magic number for charity projects).
Warm Up America
During the month of May, Knitter's Pride held a KCAL challenging their fans to knit or crochet as many 7"x9" blocks as possible for Warm Up America. The blocks are then made into blankets by volunteers in the community. WUA receives requests from a variety of social service agencies, including homeless shelters, battered women’s shelters, American Red Cross chapters, veterans homes, senior centers, hospices and religious organizations serving families and individuals in communities around the country.
I decided to practice my crochet to make some blocks during this KCAL, with the goal of making 20 total (enough to make a baby blanket). Unfortunately, I kind of petered out, because making blocks is a bit boring! I'll probably end up weaving in the ends of the blocks I was able to complete and sending them in, rather than making them up into a blanket myself.
Even though I was kinda lame and didn't meet the modest goal I'd set for myself, some of the other KCAL participants really came through - one person even knit 160 blocks during the month of May! So, I suppose that is knitting rectangles is your thing, this is the perfect charity project for you!
I'll be sharing many more opportunities for charitable crafting here on my Knit & Crochet For Charity Pinterest board, and if you have a cause you love to knit or crochet for, I'd love to hear about it in the comments!