5 Creative Knitting Projects to Make a Difference

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Photo: Studioknitsf.com

Photo: Studioknitsf.com

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

Photo: Tikkiknits.com

Photo: Tikkiknits.com

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

Photo: Ottawacitizen.com

Photo: Ottawacitizen.com

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

Photo: Sfgate.com

Photo: Sfgate.com

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

Photo: Pinterest.com

Photo: Pinterest.com

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

Photo: Alexandrayahoomakers.com

Photo: Alexandrayahoomakers.com

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!

 
  • Lauren Hannel

    That’s wonderful that you’re making a difference in so many different ways! I would recommend searching Pinterest for “unique scarf knitting patterns” if you haven’t, that’s the place where you’ll usually see a ton of different options which are easy to visualize. You’ve definitely motivated me to try and learn new patterns beyond my normal abilities (aka just standard scarves).

  • Catherine Eidel

    Hi,Lauren. To bad you couldn’t find a name or website associated with that picture; it looked like a promising one to try. I just moved here fairly recently and haven’t actually started the charity knitting yet. Someone from First Lutheran Church of West Allis told the Activities Director of the retirement community/assisted living facility where I reside that they distribute hats, scarves and mittens to needy individuals at Christmas time, and they wondered if anyone here would be interested in doing some knitting for them. I put my name on the volunteer list but haven’t heard anything back yet, Probably will soon if they expect to have a bit of a stockpile by Christmas, They supply the yarn and I can choose my own patterns, hence my desire to build up a library of fairly straight-forward patterns I can rotate through so I’m not knitting the same things over and over again. I hope it pans out; otherwise I’ll see what other opportunities are available in this area. When I lived in Alaska I did some hats for chemo and radiation therapy recipients, but that was just a few by word of mouth when I was one of the radiation therapy recipients and got talking to people in the waiting room.

  • Lauren Hannel

    Hi Catherine – unfortunately that photo was from Pinterest and never linked out to an actual pattern, sorry for the confusion! But that’s awesome that you knit for local charities, which one’s do you volunteer for? I’d love to check them out!

  • Catherine Eidel

    I like the sweater and scarf set used to illustrate the “For Your Community: Cold Weather Essentials” portion of the above post. Do you have the pattern, know the name of it or have any other information about it? Living in the states, I knit for charities here but get tired of the run of the mill patterns. Using a pattern now and then which is a bit different fuels my enthusiasm when it sometimes starts to flag.

  • jan brown

    Thank you Lauren. X

  • Lauren Hannel

    Hi Jan, I loved reading about your efforts (and am super intimidated by your knitting skills). And any project that helps out animals is awesome in my book, thanks for sharing!

  • Lauren Hannel

    You could definitely do an infinity scarf on a loom! I’ve never tried one, but it seems like a good place to start if you’re not crazy about the needles. (And for needles, start with plastic: they’re lighter and easier to handle than the wood or metal)

  • Vanessa Londono

    I really like these ideas! My knitting skills are lacking, can I do any of these with the help of a knitting loom?

  • jan brown

    Hi. I’m Jan Brown of knittedwithlove.co.uk.
    wow! Some brilliant ideas here. Love the knitted squares and I’ve done the birds nests in the past too. Chicken jumpers for ex battery hens are brilliant too. X