Knitting for CharityKnitting is hugely important in our lives, obviously, and so it only seems natural to want to extend and share our knitting with others.

I’ve been trying to compile a list of national charities either in the US or in the UK where you can make a difference in someone’s life. I’ve broken down the charities by topic, and I’ve also tried to include a variety – because while it’s great to knit a million blankets for those in need, sometimes you want to switch it up, you know?

Additionally, I did not include local charities, but please do a search for knitting charities in your area as there are SO MANY. Plus, you can probably just drive by your local hospital or shelter and drop items off.

Be sure to check each site’s requirements for yarn – some prefer acrylic or cotton!

  1. Neo-Natal Units/Grief Closets
    • Care Wear – Care Wear is a group of knitters / crocheters that provide handmade baby items to hospitals. They have a list on their site of hospitals and want the hospital is requesting.
    • Lisa’s Stars (UK Based) – This is a large community who help create a difference for parents who lose a child pre-term. They supply hospitals throughout the UK with blankets, hats, and clothing.
  2. Animal Shelters
    • Comfort for Critters – Knit blankets for animals in shelters and foster homes. This includes cats and dogs, but also rabbits, guinea pigs, whoever makes it in!
    • Leggings for Life – You’ll have to volunteer before you begin knitting, but this charity provides leggings for disabled animals to help prevent ulcerations and discomfort.
  3. Nursing Homes
    • Sunshine International Blankets of Love (UK Based / Donations accepted March 1 – November 30) – This charity accepts knitted blankets and shawls. She also showcases each donation on her blog, if you want to look through it for inspiration.
    • I did not find a national charity for the US, but check out Bev’s Country Cottage for pattern suggestions and ideas for local nursing homes.
  4. Children
    • Red Scarf Project – (Accepted September 1 – December 15) Knit a red scarf for a foster child that’s made it into university. Foster Care to Success sends out care packages to each student from foster care as a way of support and encouragement, and the red scarves make it into the Valentine’s Day package.
    • Knit for Kids – Knit a blanket, hat, or sweater for children in need – from New Orleans to Swaziland.
  5. Victims of Sexual/Domestic Violence

  6. Cancer Patients
    • Knots of Love – Knots of Love accepts hats for those experiencing hair loss, usually chemo patients, veterans, burn victims, etc.
    • Knitted Knockers (UK Based) – Knit or crochet cotton breast prosetheses for women that have undergone mastectomies or lumpectomies.
  7. Abroad
    • Knit for Peace (UK based) – This organization distributes to over 80 outlets, including hospitals, women’s refugees, prisons, hospices, and they also pass on donations of yarn and needles to knitters of a low income.
    • Knitting 4 Peace – Based through the US and Canada, the organization personally delivers items to women and children in global areas of conflict in North America and around the world.
  8. Blankets
    • Warm Up America – This wonderful charity accepts finished afghans, accessories, and 7″x9″ knit or crochet sections all year. This is a really great way to use up smaller bits of yarn scraps, but still contribute to something larger.
    • Project Linus – This organization donates handmade blankets to children, aged 0-18 years, who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need of a blanket that can provide security, warmth, comfort, and love. They also accept fabric, yarn, and any materials you’d like to donate.
  9. Homeless
    • Emily’s Hats for Hope –  Emily was a teenager when she started this charity, and it has grown wildly in the last 4 years. She collects hats and distributes them to the homeless around the world, though it’s mostly in the NJ area. There are also many chapters where you can find a place closer to home.
    • I’m a huge fan of yarn bombing for a purpose. Check out this BBC article on leaving scarves out, or this story out of Albany where knitters are dressing statues – and leaving tags explaining that the items are for whoever needs them.

This is far from an inclusive list – please feel free to link to a charity that accepts knitted items that’s close to your heart in the comments below.

It’s time for a technique video!
Double pointed needles are super versatile and can be used on so many projects, but if you’re new to using them, getting started can be a bit of a pain.
I’ve put together a little video to show you how to spread out your stitches, begin knitting, and make sure you don’t get those pesky ladders up the sides of your project.
Check it out here:

The Catalina Beach Sweater Knit Along starts next week! (Do you need the details and sign up info??)

And, of course, the question inevitably comes up of the best yarn substitutes, and, with that, gauge swatching. I did a quick poll on social media and in my facebook group, and I found that pretty much everyone hated it.

And I do get it. I hate swatching for a lot of projects.

But sometimes it’s necessary. And sometimes it can even be fun!

Okay, I’m not going to try to sell you on the fun part, but check out my video below. I cover:

Why You Should Swatch (03:20)
When You Can Skip Swatching (Maybe) (06:25)
The Official Way to Swatch (09:26)
Things to Consider When Substituting Yarn (12:10)
How to Measure Officially and Unofficially (16:11)
Multiplying Out (aka a shortcut) (21:31)
How to Adjust When Your Gauge Doesn’t Match (22:30)
Future Swatching! (23:49)

Want to check out the handy dandy stitch gauge tool? It’s here on amazon.

All right, gang, let’s talk winter Knit Along!

Voting happened, and the winner is the Catalina Beach Sweater!!

Here’s a video that has all the below information (and lots more) in it so check it out if you’re so inclined (and then scroll down to the last section – Things to Do Now):

The Catalina has eyelets, chevrons, and portions of stockinette so I don’t think it’s too advanced for most, and you can even get into a nice groove while you’re knitting it. If you’re nervous because it’s your first time making a sweater, you’re in the right place. The whole point of making your first sweater within a KAL is so you can have support and help when you need it.

If you’re very much a beginner knitter and you don’t have experience with lace or increasing or decreasing, you can still join and make a sweater. The steps aren’t really that hard, once you learn them. The hardest part will be going slowly and paying attention so that you don’t have to backtrack. I’ll give little tips and hints along the way to help make it easier as well.

Here are things you should be aware of when it comes to the Catalina KAL:

Sizing (5:54 in video)
32 (36, 40, 44) in / 81 (91, 102, 112) cm, after blocking
**Intended Ease = 4 in / 10 cm

Supplies (09:00)
Pattern – Catalina Beach Sweater (50% off until February 8th – add it to your cart for the discount to apply)
Wool and the Gang Shiny Happy Cotton, 100% prima Cotton, bulky / 12ply, 110g / 155yd, 4 (5, 6, 7) skeins (15% off with this link!)
US 10 / 6.0mm circular needles, 32in / 80cm
Optional: US 10 / 6.0mm straight needles
(or size needed to obtain gauge)
tapestry needle, scissors, measuring tape, stitch markers, blocking pins

Gauge (12:24)
With US 10 (6mm) needles, 11 sts x 20 rows = 4 x 4 in / 10 x 10 cm in stockinette st

Timeline (17:04)
The actual schedule is still TBD, but it will likely take place over one month – starting February 8, 2016.

Things to Do Now
1. Buy the pattern, the yarn, and your needles. (And any other notions you don’t have – see above).
2. Join the KAL support group. You can share pictures, ask questions, and get pretty easy access to me if you need it.
3. If you want to share your knitting progress on social media (and you want me to see it!), you can tag me on twitter or instagram with @kristincreates, #weallknithere, or #wakhkal.
4. Join the email list for the KAL!!! If you don’t join, you won’t get information about it. This is the last notice you’ll see because I’m not going to bother people that don’t want to join. So it will be business as usual in my regular facebook group and on the blog. You HAVE to join the email list. (If you voted in this round for the KAL, you’re already signed up so no worries!)

Any other questions?

It’s December!!

If you’re special, you’ve done all your holiday shopping and you’re finally able to relax with some hot chocolate while you admire your Christmas tree – or whatever decorations you put up.

That surely exists somewhere in the world, right?

My December usually resembles something out of the amazing Christmas movie, Jingle All the Way.

jingle all the way 2

This movie is somehow even more amazing now that I’m an adult.

 

Anyway, the point is, I’m here to help! If you’ve already got your gifts all ready to go, then this post probably isn’t for you (unless you’re planning for next year – go you!).

But if you’re looking for some quick and easy pattern suggestions for handmade knits, I’ve got you covered! I tried to stick to small projects and bulky yarn since it knits up faster. Some are free, some are not. Some are my patterns, some are not.

AND if you do go with my patterns, use the coupon code GETONIT for 50% off this week, ending December 10, 2015.

  1. Bow Tie. These work for everyone since who doesn’t like wearing bow ties? If I wear one, it’s in my hair.

2. Cozies. No one wants to put their fingers at risk when holding a cup of hot tea or coffee. I love stuffing a mug with treats and then wrapping a hand-knit cozy around it for gifts. Plus, some of these have pockets so you can throw in a tea bag or gift card. Perfect!

3. Slippers. There’s nothing worse than having cold toes – your loved ones will thank you profusely on chilly nights!

4. Hats. Similarly, the best way to trap your body heat when you’re out in the cold is with a hat. These are bulky knits so you can finish them in no time.

5. Headband. If you’re knitting for people like to exercise or, I don’t know, don’t want to take out their ponytail, go for a headband instead.

6. Giant Cowl. If you use super bulky yarn and giant needles, this cowl will knit up in no time – and don’t they look so luxurious?

7. Fingerless Mitts. Don’t trouble yourself with knitting each finger with delicate yarn. Go bold and fingerless.

8. Boot Cuffs. I’m not sure how these are better than socks. Maybe they keep the cold air out in the space between your boots and your calves? I don’t know, but people love them. They make great stocking stuffers!

9. Ornaments. Maybe you don’t have time to knit your loved ones a proper sweater, but these little ornaments are so darling, they won’t even mind.


Any other last minute hand-knit gifts you’re working on?

 

 

img_5919When I made my little hat collection earlier this year, I just knew the Arosa Slouchy Lace Hat would be the fan favorite. Mostly because it was my favorite, even though I love them all equally, of course.

What I didn’t expect was to be commissioned to make a matching scarf and pair of gloves.

You may have suspected that I’m not a fan of scarves, but it was also a family member asking so I didn’t want to turn her down.

After making the matching scarf and gloves, I was going to leave it at that, but then I decided that since I took the time to come up with the patterns, I might as well post them in case others wanted them as well.

Arosa Scarf

The scarf can be found on ravelry here. It’s knit with a garter stitch for the border, highlighting the lace pattern, and I even added some fringe!

 

Arosa Fingerless Gloves

The fingerless gloves are knit similarly, with garter stitch borders. It’s a much simpler design, but the lace eyelets are highlighted across the back of your hands.

Arosa Collection

If you want to make all 3 as a set, you’ll need:
3 skeins of Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick and Quick
a set of size US 15/10mm double pointed needles
a set of size US 13/9.00mm double pointed needles (for ribbing on the hat!)
a tapestry needle
scissors
blocking pins
a crochet hook (for scarf fringe – optional).

If you love the whole set, grab the bundle!

I think everyone can agree that handmade gifts are amazing, and most knitters try to get in as much knitting as they can for as many people as they can.

I know some knitters go big and try to make matching hats and scarves or socks – or even stockings!

I love my friends and family, but I don’t have time for that. I’m all about the small stocking stuffer knit gifts. And I’ve always lamented the fact that cozies seem so, well, small.

In theory, they’re perfect. Everyone drinks either coffee or tea and no one likes burned fingers so, in theory, everyone should carry cozies on them at all times, right? But for some reason, we don’t. So I always feel weird giving them out to people unless they come with other things.

So this year, I decided to fix that situation. I designed some super fun cozies (coming up in a minute), but with one change: they all have pockets. Yes, POCKETS!

They hold gift cards, business cards, tea bags, whatever small item you want to stuff in there. I’m so excited about them, and even if you don’t want to add on the pocket, I think the designs are just really fun in general.

So I came up with 5 different ideas:

  1. Lattice Lacy Coffee Cozy Lattice Lacy Gift Coffee Cozy

 

2. Crazy Octopus Coffee CozyCrazy Octopus Gift Coffee Cozy

3. Honeycomb Coffee CozyHoneycomb Gift Coffee Cozy

 

4. Silent Night Coffee Cozy Silent Night Gift Coffee Cozy

 

5. Slipped Chevron Coffee CozySlipped Chevron Gift Coffee Cozy

 

If you’ve read or listened to me chat about my own story and how I to knit, you’ll also have heard me mention that I taught myself to knit as a mindful activity.

Mindfulness and mindful meditation are pretty big buzzwords right now, but that doesn’t mean they’re not important.

I have wanted to do a small class on mindfulness and knitting for awhile, but I continually put it off because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to cover as much as I wanted to, and I will probably realize as soon as this is posted that I forgot something – but that just means I’ll have to do another, better video at a later point in time.

For now, though, check out my video below. I’m discussing what meditation is and should be, what mindfulness is and how to achieve that, and I’m tying that into knitting and how you can make your knitting into more of a mindful activity than it already is. Plus, I’m sharing two of my favorite books on meditation and mindfulness – links are below.

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
Mindfulness: An 8 Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams and Danny Penman

Bonus: Grab my guided meditation here.
Bonus 2: If you want to learn to knit AND knit as a mindful activity, grab my checklist for the supplies you’ll need at the store here. (And check out my knitting videos and courses above!)

3 (2)

 

For the 6th episode of Any Stitch Will Get You There, I am so excited to introduce you to Sarah from Knit York City. I met Sarah a few years ago when I was just learning how to knit. I didn’t know who she was, and I can’t remember what we talked about, but I remember that I was incredibly frustrated with knitting, and I left the conversation feeling very empowered. Since then, I’ve watched each of her pattern releases with great excitement because I just love the designs she comes up with. Click through to see her designs here:

Sarah was kind enough to take some time and chat with me about knitting and designing. Watch the interview here:

 

headshotSarah Hurwitz lives in Brooklyn where she knits, sews, and takes pictures of the Williamsburg Bridge. She makes videos for Lion Brand Yarn’s YouTube channel. Her patterns have been featured in KnitScene and Pom Pom Quarterly.

Go say hi:

@knityorkcity on instagram, ravelry, and twitter

Usually people who love fall and winter, or at least love cuddling up in oversized sweaters and blankets and maybe even watching sports, also love to knit.

Me? I’m not a fan of cold weather, and I’d much prefer to spend my time on a beach or in a park – when it’s over 75 degrees out.

Part of the reason I resisted knitting for so long was because I hate scarves. I’m also not a fan of shawls or socks, and while I absolutely drool over a lot of the traditionally knit sweaters out there, I’m never going to wear them because it’s just not my style.

That’s not to say that there aren’t some gorgeous scarves, shawls, socks and traditional sweaters out there, just that they’re not for me.

If you want to start knitting, but don’t like a lot of the more popular items to knit, I’ve got you covered. Here are my 24 favorite patterns that don’t involve a sweaty neck, something you constantly need to hold onto and adjust (I’m looking at you, shawls!), or crazy colorwork.

  1. Who doesn’t need an apron? A lot of people skip aprons when they cook, myself included, because so many are large and stiff and just inconvenient. I love this pattern because it’s small, it has pockets, and you can use it as a dish cloth – something you can never have enough of in the kitchen. And it’s cute, too!

 

2. If you’re not the home making type, you can pretend to be with this knitted cactus garden.

 

3. If I had one of the tablet/pad contraptions, I’d definitely make this! It’s perfect for when you need to read and do something else, like knit.

 

4. Speaking of knitting items to enable your knitting, check out this adorable basket! I think I need at least 5 of these in each room for all of my spare knick-knacks with no place to go.

 

5-7. Have any children or want to knit for people who do? Knit up some baby blankets with style! You can try infusing some culture early in life with a Piet Mondrian inspired blanket, go a little crazier with an optical illusion, or go classic, complete with an adorable bunny!

 

8-12. All right, and since we’re on kids, let’s check out some cute stuff that’s maybe not just for kids! We’ve got a hot air balloon mobile, a Totoro doorstop, a mounted triceratops head, a koala curtain holder, and an adorable owl. I won’t tell if you knit some of these up for you!

 

13-16. Okay, enough knitting for other people. Let’s talk about building your wardrobe, and let’s start with sweaters. You have so many options, from the Wonder Woman inspired, to octopus wrapped, to the cozy, to the beach sweater!

 

17-19. If dresses are more your thing than sweaters, and at least that’s the case for me, then check out some of these lacy numbers.

 

20-21. And if you’re wearing your lacy dresses out in the sun, you know you need to wear sunscreen, right? And then get even more protected with a parasol or hat!

 

22. If none of that rocks your boat, you can always knit up some fancy lingerie!

 

23. If you got cold just looking at that, knit yourself some tights, girl! You’re going to need them when those Arctic winds start howling in another month or two.

 

24. Okay, I suppose this wouldn’t be a proper knitting list if it didn’t include something to go around your neck. This fox stole is so cute though!

Faux Fox Stole by Louise Walker