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As soon as the first winter chill creeps in, I’m reaching for my knitting needles. Getting cozy and crafting away is the perfect seasonal activity, especially when you’re looking for meaningful gifts. If you’re interested in venturing outside of your comfort zone to move beyond personal projects, there’s a world of cool community projects founded on some yarn and a mission. Check out some of these great knitting projects that can help you make a difference (while expanding your skills)!
For Beginners: Knit-A-Square
Let’s say you’re not the most confident knitter, and only feel comfortable working with basic squares and rectangles. You can still help! Since 2008, Knit-A-Square (along with around 12,000 international contributors) have hand-knit blankets for sub-Saharan African children in need. You simply donate individual 8″x8″ squares, which are then assembled by volunteers into much-needed snuggly blankets. The AIDs virus has left millions of orphans in the region, and a bit of fast crafting can really bring them some comfort. That’s a global community we can get behind!
For Kids in Need: Izzy Dolls
For many kids, dolls are a little companion who they can play with and find comfort in. This is especially true for children going through a difficult time, which is why Izzy Dolls were founded over 20 years ago. The organization recruits volunteers to make these adorable little stuffed dolls, which are handed out to children in areas undergoing a disaster or crisis. From Haiti to Syria, over 1.3 million of these diverse dolls have helped brighten up the day of kids in need. Try out the pattern for yourself, and send some cheer to kids who need it most!
For Feathered Friends: Baby Bird Nests
Even the tiniest of animals can benefit from your knit-knowledge! The Baby Bird Nest Campaign enlists the help of talented crafters to make cozy beds for rehabilitated birds. Knit and crochet patterns help imitate nests found in the wild, providing the little animals with a safe and comforting place to grow. The rescuers clean and wash the nests daily, so that the babies will be loving life in your handmade creation. Stay tuned (and start crafting) to hear what they’ll need for 2016!
For Your Community: Cold Weather Essentials
What better place to give back than right at home? Whether you’re a scarf, hat or glove knitting expert (or for the jack-of-all-trades, all three), your skill set can be an asset for your community in the winter. Consider getting involved with organizations like Scarves With a Purpose and Warm Up America, who find generous volunteers to keep their communities snug and safe for the winter. Or check in with your local homeless/donation center to see what they’ll be accepting this season, because anything helps.
For The Pups: Cozy Dog Sweaters
As a trend, pet clothes can be semi-ridiculous. But sometimes animal knitwear can be a lifesaver, as one dedicated British woman found out. Jan Brown of Knitted With Love has handmade over 300 dog sweaters and hats since 2008; the proceeds from her online sales enable her to donate blanket-coats to dog shelters in her area, which are much appreciated in the colder months. See if your local dog shelter accepts donations, and maybe even start your own personal pup project!
Hope you’re excited to make a difference with your craft! Have any other favorite yarn-based community projects? Let us know in the comments!