Good For Goodness’ Sake

Funny Alisha mentioned hats and charity in her last post – those two things are near and dear to me! In fact, at the end of January, I shipped off 25 little baby hats to a local medical charity.

All of these hats are made out of Swish Worsted (except for three – one in Stroll and two in Comfy). They are super simple, quick and cute, and use only a little yarn. All of the yarn for these was scraps from other projects that would have been destined for the garbage or a long, lonely wait in some random scrap bin. But, I saw other potential in the yarn. Even a few grams would be enough for a stripe in a hat this small!

Over the last few years, I’ve slowly amassed a pretty good collection of these scraps, and have found that charity knitting is the perfect use for them. What I love about charity knitting, baby hats especially, is that they are super fast to knit, don’t require too much thought, and there is a new recipient born somewhere every day. They are a great carry-along project (I even knit one during a baroque orchestra concert!) and take up almost no space when done – meaning you can easily stockpile a bunch until the right charity comes along.

In this case, I was knitting with a specific charity in mind – one that sets up temporary medical clinics in impoverished countries. Many NICU charities in the US stipulate that you shouldn’t use wool (though many allow it). So, the fact that this particular charity welcomed any and all fibers meant that I didn’t have to wonder if I was making a good yarn choice. Generally for charity baby items, soft, non-animal fibers are preferred – with the emphasis on soft. Comfy, Shine, and Simply Cotton are absolutely wonderful for this! But I’ve also found that in the case where softness is the deciding factor, Felici and Stroll are wonderful.

So, you ask, how on earth do I find a charity to donate to? Well, that’s actually pretty simple. You don’t need to be involved in an organization, or even send your donations to one. If you make an item, there will be someone out there more than happy to recieve it. In the case of baby hats, blankets and booties, most hospitals will accept some donations. Chances are, you know someone (or that person knows someone) whose baby was given a little hand-made hat when they were born. If you know what hospital or clinic they went to, it’s really likely they’re still taking donations! Ask your friends, family members, co-workers – in time, you’ll hear a moving story that will inspire you to give. There are also great resources in the Charity Knitting group on Ravelry.

It can also be as simple as a Holiday toy drive. Many times, in addition to toys, holiday donation drives are looking for basic living essentials and warm kids’ clothes. Next holiday season, check the little sign on the donation bins at the fire station, library, grocery store or wherever they happen to be – it’s likey that they’ll gladly accept handmade hats, scarves or mittens. Until then, there’s a lot of time to knit!

So, just to get you started, here’s a really simple pattern – it’s my ‘default’ baby hat.

You’ll need about 25-35 grams of worsted weight yarn and size 7 or 8 needles. Gauge doesn’t matter that much – whatever size it is, there will be a baby that it fits. Have fun with the color – stripes, solid, whatever strikes your fancy.

CO 64 sts. Join into the round, being careful not to twist sts. Work 10 rounds in K2, P2 rib. Work in St st for 24 rounds.

Crown decreases:
Round 1: *K6, K2tog; rep from * around. 56 sts.
Rounds 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12: Knit.
Round 3: *K5, K2tog; rep from * around. 48 sts.
Round 5: *K4, K2tog; rep from * around. 40 sts.
Round 7: *K3, K2tog; rep from * around. 32 sts.
Round 9: *K2, K2tog; rep from * around. 24 sts.
Round 11: *K1, K2tog; rep from * around. 16 sts.
Round 13: K2tog around. 8 sts.
Round 14: K2tog 4 times. 4 sts.

Break yarn. With a yarn needle, pass the yarn tail through the remaining 4 sts and pull tight to close. Weave in ends, wash and donate!

What sort of charities do you like to donate to? Got any good tips for those who would like to knit for charity? I’d love to hear your stories!