Here is an article about a number of knitting charities from the Thursday, November 22, 2007, Toronto Star, Living section, page L6:
KNITTERS SPREAD THE WARMTH
With needles and yarn, philanthropic hobbyists are warming hands around the world
Toronto’s knitters are changing the world, one stitch at a time.
“Knitters are unusually generous,” says author Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. “I think it all comes down to understanding that one small thing repeated over and over can lead to something enormous.”
From whipping up scarves and hats for the needy to donating their yarn money to charity, Toronto’s knitters are putting their needles together for others. And with hundreds of knitting charities to choose from, the city’s philanthropic knitting efforts are flourishing.
McPhee is Toronto’s unofficial knitter laureate. Her blog, The Yarn Harlot, (yarnharlot.ca) is one of the best-read knit-blogs in cyberspace and her books have sold more than 250,000 copies.
McPhee is co-ordinator of the fundraising effort Knitters Without Borders Through her blog, she collects donations for Medecins Sans Frontiers, the international aid organization that provides emergency medical assistance to more than 70 countries. over the past three years, knitters Without Borders has donated more than $380,000.
The connection between knitting and philanthropy is rooted in the process of the craft itself, says McPhee.
“One small, insignificant thing – a stitch – can make a sweater. We know that our $25 can’t change AIDS in Africa, unless you understand that it’s not just your $25.”
Knitters Without Borders is one of the only knitting charities that solicits cash instead of hand-knit items.
“It’s easy to get knitters to knit for charity,” McPhee says. “But getting their money is a coup. It’s their yard money!”
Organized knitting charities date back to the U.S. Revolutionary War, when Martha Washington co-ordinated knitting efforts for soldiers.
In World War I and World War II, one of the most prominent home-front campaigns focused on collecting hand-knit items for soldiers overseas. The Red Cross campaign’s slogan “knit your bit” and the song, “I wonder who’s knitting for me” became part of Canadian wartime pop culture.
One of the newest knitting charities to continue this storied tradition is Streetknit. Organized by full-time mom Sadie Lewis two years ago, the Toronto charity collects hats, mitts, gloves, scarves and sweaters that are deposited at Toronto yarn stores by local knitters.
Last year Streetknit donated more than 500 cozy items to more than 80 homeless shelters and missions around the city.
“It’s a way for people who knit to do something useful,” Lewis said. “I started Streetknit to make it easy. You know it’s going to people who need it.”
For Lewis, donating hand-knit items removes the guesswork from donating money to charity.
“It’s not like you donate $100 to charity and $75 goes to administration costs,” Lewis says. “You knit a scarf; it keeps someone warm. There’s a personal connection there.”
This year, Streetknit is attempting to construct a house made form knitted garments. The event is part of City of Craft, a weekend fair Dec. 1 at the Theatre Centre on Queen St. W.
During the weekend, Streetknit’s volunteers will attach donated hats, scarves, mitts, and sweaters to the steel frame of a house. Their tagline for the event is “We can’t knit shelter, but we can do the next best thing.”
Philanthropy is a productive way to satisfy the constant urge to knit, Lewis says.
“Most of the knitters I know knit for other people anyway – you can only knit so many sweaters for yourself,” Lewis says. As well as Toronto’s own charities, there are endless charitable knitting projects based farther afield, Ann Rubin is the co-ordinator of California-based Afghans for Afghans. Since its inception in 2001, the group has sent more than 60,000 items crafted by North American knitters to children in Afghanistan, including thousands of items from Canada.
“We received a letter from a woman who was knitting one item for every Canadian soldier who had died,” said Rubin. “People come to this for very personal reasons. It’s a chance to do something tangible with our own hands.”
Emma Reilly firstname.lastname@example.org, is from a long line of knitters.
KNITTING CHARITIES ON THE WEB
- Knitters without Borders
- Afghans for Afghans
- Cuddle Bear Program
A Woodstock, Ontario-based charity that collects hand-knit toys for Alzheimer’s patients.
- Tiny Shroud Ministry
Offers to knit shrouds to parents of stillborn babies
- Threads of Compassion
Sexual violence patients receive scarves knit by sexual abuse survivors.
- Angel Hugs
Collects knit items for babies, children, and adults who have suffered serious trauma of life-threatening injuries.
- Shawl Ministry
Collects shawls created while the knitter prays for the recipient.
- Head Huggers
Hand-knit hats for chemo patients suffering form hair loss.
- The Snuggles Project
Collects blankets for animals in shelters.
- Knitting and Activism
The Revolutionary Knitting Circle isn’t your grandma’s knitting group.
According to the manifesto posted on their website, the Calgary-based group believes that communities should be able to meet the needs of their inhabitants without resorting to globally traded goods.
“This is a daily struggle,” the manifesto reads. “We shall put this struggle in the faces of the elites by engaging in knit-ins at their places of power throughout the world.”
Members meet regularly to knit, snack, and talk politics. Their most high-profile knit-in was staged during the G8 summit, when they staged a knit-in in downtown Calgary.
For more information, visit knitting.activist.ca.
- Craft Fair
City of Craft is a one-day event set for Dec. 1 featuring about 60 local craft vendors and exhibitors. It’s to be held at the Theatre Centre, 1087 Queen St. W., from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
For more information, visit cityofcraft.com.