Crafting for a Cause


My normally mostly-under-control anxiety went through the roof last week. I bit my nails, picked my cuticles until they bled, and caught myself pulling my hair when I was sleeping. I lot of people I know seemed similarly overwhelmed and distressed at what has been going on at the southern borders of the United States, at what’s going on pretty much everywhere. My anxiety peaks when I am experiencing something emotionally distressing and I feel powerless to fix it.

It was helpful to me to remember that while I can’t fix the whole problem, I am not actually powerless. Aside from contacting my representatives, I was also able to donate to Kids in Need of Defense. This article from Slate has many ways you can donate or volunteer to assist families that have been separated at the border.

One other way I’ve been able to contribute is through craftivism. Many of the crafters I know occasionally work on charity projects. I find it incredibly therapeutic both to knit (which is a very meditative activity for me) and to know that my knitting is going to someone in need.

As of this moment, I have been unable to find any charities providing handmade blankets or clothes to children in detention centers, but I am certain that once crafters find a way to get access, this will change. If you know of any organizations able to give hand crafted items to these children, please let us know in the comments.

There are a lot of other organizations that do amazing things with hand crafted items, though. Here’s a list so you crafty folks can donate if you like.

Crafting for Kids

One of the largest knitting, crocheting and sewing charities that I know of is Project Linus. Project Linus collects handmade blankets and distributes them to children in distress. The project is run by local chapters, and the recipients of the blankets vary by location/chapter but include children in hospitals, emergency shelters and foster care. There’s a page of free patterns for knitting, crocheting, quilting and sewing as well.

A family member of mine is a quilter and very involved in their local chapter of Project Linus. Their quilter’s guild was contacted by a man who lots and lots of fabric to donate. His wife had to be admitted to a care home for dementia, but she had been a quilter her entire life and had acquired quite the stash. The folks at their Project Linus chapter took the fabric and made over one hundred blankets that were then given to children in emergency shelters to honor this woman’s life and her crafting.

That story always makes me a little weepy because it demonstrates how much good there is in people and how on person’s passion can be honored even when they can no longer participate in it.

One charity that I’ve donated to in the past is Knit a Square. KAS collects knitting and crocheted squares that are 8″ x 8″. The squares are then assembled into blankets in South Africa and those blankets are distributed to vulnerable children especially around the Soweto area. They also accept hats and soft toys.

Three small children are wrapped up in hand knit blankets and hats

I’ve enjoyed working with KAS because an 8″ square is a great way to use up leftover yarn (for me 8″ is 36 stitches in worsted weight on size 7 needles). It’s also fun to look at the distribution photos on their website and find your squares in a blanket. There are also shipping instructions for how to get the squares to South Africa in the most cost effective way possible.

Crafting for Women in Need

Knitted Knockers is an organization that pairs mastectomy patients with soft, hand knitted or crocheted breast prostheses. Breast prostheses can be heavy and uncomfortable, while this knitted version is light and soft, and can be modified easily for breast shape and size. Removing some of the fiber fill also allows women to reduce the size of the knocker as they undergo reconstruction. The Knitted Knockers website allows women to request a knitted knocker for free in the size and shape they need. Patterns for knit and crocheted knockers are located here.

Again, this a really great way to use up some spare yarn that’s not big enough for another project. Also, I delight in knitting boobies in public. “Whatcha doing Elyse?” “Knittin’ tits. How ’bout you?”

a pink knitted breast prosthesis

Knots of Love is an organization that donates knitted or crocheted hats to chemotherapy patients. They also accept small blankets for newborns in neonatal incubators. Their website has lots of knit and crochet patterns for hats and also for NICU blankets. To date they’ve donated just shy of 400,000 caps and blankets to those in need.

Crafting for Animals

Many animal rescues will accept donations of small handmade blankets. I recommend using a machine washable yarn for any animal blankets though. Ravelry offers this free knitted pet blanket pattern, and that pup sure looks cozy.

A dog sits on a couch wrapped in a cozy blanket.

Petfinder is a good way to locate local animal rescues so you can ask them if they accept blankets (they almost always do). You can also donate blankets to The Snuggles Project for distribution among shelters.

Wildlife Victoria is looking for handmade pouches for orphaned kangaroos, and they have this awesome PDF on how to make Joey Pouches.

Can’t knit or sew? That’s okay. You can always make one of these no-sew fleece blankets!

So I’m going to make myself some tea and break out my knitting now.

Do you craft for charity? Which organizations do you donate to?

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