All That Yarn - Donating Time and Yarn
Some colorful afghans
Continuing with the theme:
I have mentioned in previous blogs that I donate a lot of afghans every year, and that is why I have so much yarn on hand to work with. Well, there are a few organizations in my town that take donations of yarn or items made of yarn. One that comes to mind is called Caps4Kids.
Caps4Kids is a group of older ladies that get together on the 4th Wednesday of each month. They sit and knit or crochet and make hats. I was only able to attend one meeting because I had other conflicts in my schedule. From what I saw at that one meeting, people can drop off yarn for the group to use to make hats. They had a few kitchen-trash-bags full of hats that had been made and donated. I think they said they had over 100 hats this year. Some of the larger, softer ones were destined for donation to the local oncology department, too.
I brought my own yarn and I was working on a quick-knit hat pattern in a yellow/aqua pastel yarn. One of the group leaders asked that I not forget to make one in colors for a boy as well. I did see a lot of different colors of yarn being used: navy, brown ombre, off-white, red, etc. Everyone had something different to work on in either size or pattern.
The lady next to me had a crochet preemie hat pattern she needed help with on the FPDC stitch in the pattern. I was able to “translate” the abbreviation and help show her how the stitch is made. For those who don’t know – FPDC is Front Post Double Crochet (she also had BPDC or Back Post Double Crochet in that same pattern). The pattern had no abbreviations list so it was not very user friendly. It was also a copy of a typed up pattern and had a small black and white photo to go by for what it would end up. She was grateful for the help and I was happy to help out. I mentioned that I also teach beginning crochet and knitting for the near by RecCenter, whenever there are enough students signed up for a class.
The crocheted afghan donations begin:
As for the donated afghans that I make every year, that’s another story. I’m not sure how many years I’ve been doing that now. I know that I started back in the early 2000s as I remember having to take time off at lunch to get them delivered and my car was packed full with each afghan in a plastic bag. My sister had started crocheting afghans for people at our church in the 1990s.
Later on she must have read something about a need at the shelter, or felt they needed one afghan per child which she attempted to do that the first year. She was written up in an article in the local paper, and then got calls from two ladies who wanted to donate yarn to her projects. One sent a large box of assorted colors of acrylic yarns from another town in the state. The other lady was here in town and invited my sister and mother to come pick out what she wanted from this lady’s basement stash. Turned out the lady had planned to open a yarn shop and had the yarn, but didn’t get off the ground with her idea, so she had lots of yarn to chose from. That was very nice of them both to help out my sister and her afghan project.
A few years later the shelter continued to grow and add more spaces for more families, so my sister was not able to meet the growing demand. Our mother managed about one or two afghans each year, and less as she grew older. I volunteered to help out as best I could, since I was also employed full time. I somehow discovered Red Heart’s Bright & Lofty yarns and an easy pattern using a P size hook. These make up afghans or throws of about 40”x52” in a size worked up fairly fast by my crocheting them in the evenings in front of the TV. I was able to add several to the stack that I delivered to the shelter, sometimes with my sister’s assistance.
Other Afghans that I have crocheted.
The “tradition” has continued each year and we have averaged about 50 afghans and throws between us. The past few years my sister has also purchased Disney character fleece blankets for kids on clearance or sales so we can add to the afghan count with these warmers.
Since I am no longer working full time I have had more time to work on making afghans. I keep yarn by my computer so that when I’m waiting for something to load or start I can be crocheting squares for another afghan. Near the TV/couch I have a couple of afghans going. One for mindless crocheting (easy repetitive pattern, that I have memorized) while watching a show, and one that I need to concentrate a little on it to keep the count correct. I have squares that I take along to the doctor or dentist appointments and work on while I wait.
I even did enough squares for an afghan while my sister was in the hospital for 5 days following major surgery to remove a tumor. I was glad to have something to keep me busy. It is hard to just sit and wait and watch someone sleep, but crocheting or knitting helps to pass the time. Then it also ends up as a donated afghan, so it’s a two for one.
We also take photos of each afghan every year so we have a record of what we’ve made, the colors we used, and the patterns. My sister takes roll film and I take digital ones. She likes to photograph each one after she finishes it and then put it in a sack and in the storage closet. I wait until just before we take them, when I drape them across the couch (and try not to get one of the cats in the picture) about three or four at a time and then take pictures. Each one usually goes in its own plastic bag so it is easier to distribute. Some years we don’t have enough big bags (Target stores seem to have the best size plastic bag for holding the afghan), and have to double them up in great big bags.
When I deliver them to the shelter each late November, the office staff comes out to help carry them inside. They ooh and aah at the colors and the softness. One year the director told me that they would be handing the afghans out at a special meal instead of just including them in with the other Christmas gifts, because they thought they were special enough that they needed separate recognition. They really appreciate the afghans/throws/blankets every year and look forward to receiving them. A couple of times a helper hauling in the sacks has said she is inspired to learn crochet or pick it up again.
It’s nice to help them out, keep myself busy with crocheting and have a reason to purchase more yarn. That’s why I have all that yarn on hand in my stash…for others, not just me.
Crochet and Knitting are good for you!
There are studies coming out that extol the therapeutic value of knitting, crochet, and other handwork. It helps with lowering blood pressure, calming, and creating an almost meditative state of mind. I just know that my father didn’t like us sitting around doing nothing and watching TV, so I used to do my crocheting while I watched it.
My sister and mother did more sewing so they were in the basement cutting fabric and running the sewing machine or hand stitching hems and buttons. I was content to crochet. I didn’t learn to knit until my senior year of high school and then I did some at my first year of college. So I have mostly crocheted over the years and know it best. I have even made up some of my own patterns for little things.
Other ideas for Donations:
If you are interested in donating, check with your local services. I know that there are online charity organizations that can use crocheted or knitted items. Just a few I know of:
Mother Bear Project (making stuffed knit or crochet bears for HIV orphans in Africa)
Project Linus (making blankets for kids, USA based)
Chemo Caps for cancer patients (lots of patterns online)
Warm Up America (making blankets for any needy person, USA based) - part of the Craft Yarn Council's list of charities (see craftyarncouncil.com)
Handmade Especially For You (makes and donates "comfort" scarves - using novelty yarns for interesting textures and colors - these go to abused women's shelters) located in California
Lists of charitable organizations can be found at Red Heart Yarn’s website, or just searching online for “charities needing knit or crochet items). Some want money instead of items, so be sure to check them out before you contact them.
If you want to make something, then you can also check with your local hospital where they might take preemie caps or baby hats for newborns. Sometime they even need baby blankets.
Local law enforcement might need teddy bears or other soft toys for frightened children. Women’s shelters, homeless shelters, etc. could be in need of blankets, hats, scarves, or mittens.
There should be organizations or churches that have an idea of what some needs might be. Also, my church’s quilters always use scrap yarn for tying quilts that they send overseas or to other areas in need of warm quilts.
Find a need and use your skills to fill it.
There are many ways you can donate your time and/or yarns. Just do a little asking around or searching and you may find some need that will fit with your skills.
Good luck with all that yarn!