Over the past two weeks, we’ve received some wonderful advice from terrific knitting charities that help homeless people: Relief Share, Project Night Night, the Streetknit Project, and Knitting Neighbors Together. Today, I have advice to offer from Emily, the young founder of Emily’s Hats for Hope.
Then, I’d like to summarize what all our fantastic knitting charities have shared with us. From the advice given by these charities, I think we have a few basic guidelines for knitting for the homeless.
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 they are often patterns not suitable for men, so they are set 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! Many 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, some charities have to dump a lot of projects because they haven’t been knitted to the guidelines offered by the charity.
Charity knitters should not knit for homeless people simply because they believe “homeless people will take anything”; rather, knit for homeless people because they are often the forgotten people of society. They are the outcasts, and it’s sadly easy for them to believe they are no longer worth anything because they don’t have a job or can’t work.
Charity knitting isn’t simply about keeping them warm; it’s about letting them know that they do have value, they are loved, and they are worth keeping warm.
Thank you so much to the charities who contributed! And now, why don’t we start knitting for homeless charities?