A summary of all we’ve learned about how to knit for homeless people, plus wise words from the founder of Emily’s Hats for Hope
In this series, the delightful founders of some terrific knitting charities encouraging us to knit for homeless folks have offered wonderful advice.
In post one, the directors of Relief Share and Project Night Night provided fantastic suggestions. And in post two, the valued founders of the Streetknit Project and Knitting Neighbors Together gave us great tips.
They’ve given us a lot of food for thought, and I hope they’ve encouraged you to either consider knitting for homeless people, or consider if you need to make any changes.
Before we move on to the advice of the young founder of Emily’s Hats for Hope, I want to remind us of something essential.
“Knit for Homeless People, They’ll Take Anything”
I think an unfortunate stigma, if you will, surrounds the choice to knit for homeless people. That is, since homeless people have little to nothing, they’ll take “anything.”
While I have seen and heard that homeless people are more often than not thankful for anything they receive, this does not mean that we should offer them our “dregs.” Charity knitters should put as much thought, love, and effort into knitting for homeless folks as they do knitting for, say, preemies or those fighting cancer.
I doubt that if you’re reading this, you plan to donate your dregs! But if you ever hear “oh, great idea to knit for homeless people, they’ll be happy to receive anything!”… I hope you’ll gently correct them.
I like to say that I enjoy knitting for homeless people because they’re so often the forgotten ones of our society. And they deserve kindness and respect, too. It might be worth sharing with those who have this misconception of knitting for the homeless.
Now then, let’s hear from Emily, and then sum up what we’ve learned!
Emily’s Hats for Hope
Emily, the founder of Emily’s Hats for Hope, had this to say about knitting for the homeless:
“Through the years we have noticed that the homeless people we help do tend to be men, although there are plenty of families that include women and children as well. We have personally handed out hats to the homeless on the streets of Manhattan and were asked multiple times if we had solid black hats because that is what they preferred. Even the women we encountered asked for solid black hats.
“Some of our knitters make the hats by using a round loom. When they do that, we ask that they use double strands so that the hat is not loopy and too loose. We also ask that loomed hats have a brim. This will create a warmer hat.
“Many people crochet hats for us, but often these patterns are not suitable for men, so we set them aside for women. It is important, if you crochet for homeless people, that you use hat patterns that are for men as well.
“We usually use Lion Brand, Caron or Red Heart yarn, although other brands are fine. We always tell people it is important to avoid yarn with angora or mohair because the person who receives the hat might be allergic. If the hat must be hand washed, then the yarn is just too fancy and really not suitable for someone living on the streets.
“Items for winter that we have found the homeless men and women want:
gloves (or fingerless gloves)
“COLORS (for hats/scarves): Solid black is mostly preferred. If a solid black/scarf hat can’t be provided, then they often choose another dark solid hat/scarf in colors such as navy, brown, gray, dark green, red.
“Children tend to be happy with brighter colors with stripes or designs.”
Want to Knit for Homeless People? Remember These
1. Remember who you’re knitting for. Homeless agencies work often with men, and as stated above and in earlier articles, they want (and perhaps need) the plainest, most muted colors possible.
Of course, many other shelters house women and children, who tend prefer brighter, more cheerful items. This is where you can get a little more decorative. And those shelters and agencies working with teenagers have yet another set of requirements.
If you’re working for just one charity, you’ll probably be fine, but if you decide to donate to multiple charities, be sure you remember their guidelines and who you’re knitting for.
2. Use wool or wool-blend whenever possible. Wool is simply warmer, and when you’re knitting for homeless people, the idea is to protect them from the elements as much as you can.
But remember that you still need to make a comfortable item. And some wool yarns can be on the scratchy side. This is why wool blends are often such a great yarn to use; the wool makes them warmer, while the other fibers (often acrylic) makes them softer.
3. Any skill level of knitter can knit for charity. Beginners can knit scarves, hats, and blanket squares. If you’re a more accomplished knitter, consider knitting gloves and mittens; charities desperately need them. And if you enjoy knitting socks, do so! They are just as happily accepted as other items.
4. Animal lovers, you can knit for animals as well. Pets often come with drop-ins at many agencies. Of course, check with the charity you’re knitting for to make sure they have a space for your projects.
5. Always, always, always check the guidelines for the charity you’re knitting for. Unfortunately, charities often have to dump many projects because they don’t fit their guidelines.
Sadly, homeless people tend to be outcasts. It’s far too easy for them to believe they are no longer worth anything because they don’t have a job or can’t work.
When you knit for homeless people, you don’t just keep them warm. You let them know that they do have value, you love them, and they are worth keeping warm.
Thank you so much to the charities who contributed! Who’s ready to knit for homeless charities?