Knitting for the Homeless

Knitting for the Homeless
Homelessness is a growing international problem, with every developed country in the world seeing an influx of refugees. In addition, there are many people who end up on the street because of bad choices, high rents, or a combination of factors. As knitters, we can use our craft to help mitigate the pain of sleeping rough by creating warm accessories for others. Several organized charities already exist for this purpose; you can always create your own by pairing with a local shelter as well.

When knitting for the homeless, it’s important to recognize how their situation impacts what they want to wear. Because laundromats cost money, it’s a good idea to use colors that hide dirt. In addition, many homeless people prefer colors that blend in with the background, as this helps to prevent them from being a target of violence. For these reasons, dark colors and black are generally preferred.

It’s important to use a fiber that insulates and doesn’t get clammy when wet. Because wool also breathes, it’s ideal for changing weather conditions. However, be sure to find superwash wool, as the homeless have bigger problems than handwashing their clothing! Mixed fibers also help to make a garment easy-care.

Don’t feel compelled to find the perfect yarn. Many yarn companies offer inexpensive yarn that’s preponderantly made of wool. The Lion Brand website, for example, offers a three-pack of Wool-Ease Thick and Quick: six hundred yards of solid-color super-bulky yarn. That give potential for a great many hats! Prefer pure wool? Paton’s Classic Wool DK Superwash retails at under six dollars per ball of one hundred and twenty yards. Dislike craft yarn? Cascade 220 Superwash is a worsted-weight workhorse that offers (you guessed it) two hundred and twenty yards for around twelve dollars. Go to your Local Yarn Store and check the sales racks for what might be useful. Or go through your own stash – you probably own a great deal of appropriate yarn that would otherwise just sit there!

Once you have the materials, consider knitting hats, mittens, and blankets. Socks are wonderful, but they take longer to knit and have more sizing issues, meaning that it’s often plain easier to buy a pair to donate. Hats and mittens, on the other hand, can be completed quickly to fit a variety of ages and sizes. And, if you have friends willing to work together, why not knit a bunch of squares to sew together as a blanket? An extra layer of warmth would certainly be appreciated on a cold night.

Over the years, organizations have been created to collect and distribute knitted gifts for the homeless, and there are many to choose from. If you prefer to work through an organization created specifically for charitable knitters, Warm Up, America! is a good choice, as it distributes to many smaller charities. Or get even more creative: contact your local shelter and ask what it needs. Why not create a MeetUp for your area to gather like-minded people?

You Should Also Read:
Warm Up, America!

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Content copyright © 2023 by Korie Beth Brown, Ph.D.. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Korie Beth Brown, Ph.D.. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Korie Beth Brown, Ph.D. for details.