Inspiring Stories: Knitting Hats and Scarves for Homeless People
Knitting is a great way to give back to the community. Not only is it a skill that can be learned relatively easily, but it's also a very therapeutic activity. Knitting hats and scarves for homeless people is a great way to help those in need, and it's something that anyone can do. Though knitting is typically thought of as a solitary activity, knitting for the homeless community can be an exception to that rule. If you're knitting in public and shouting out what you're making would disturb people around you, don't do it; instead, engage your fellow knitting friends in conversation instead.
You can use any type of yarn you want (such as acrylic or cotton), and there are many different patterns to choose from. People who feel bad about knitting mistakes can always keep those pieces for themselves; they make great warm scarves.
Some people say that knitting hats and scarves for homeless people is somewhat of a political statement because it suggests that homelessness is something that can be fixed with knitting (which it can't, unfortunately). However, knitting for the homeless community is still one of the most charitable things you can do. Not only is it a great way to bless people in need, but it's something that is fun and easy for anyone to learn.
As a single mother, Lesley has always managed to keep busy. When the COVID-19 pandemic began and she wasn't able to visit with family as much, Lesley turned to something that she has been doing since her childhood: knitting.
She has knitted more than 200 hats for charity since April and her project was geared toward helping homeless people at the Downtown Mission of Windsor, an agency serving youth who are homeless, trafficked or at risk.
She says it's a cause that's close to her heart because she has her best friend who was homeless at one point in their life. After her family's experience, Lesley says she felt she could do something to help young people who find themselves in a similar situation.
"Winters are cold in Canada and I thought with teenagers being out on the street that it might be a good thing for them to have warm ears"
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Guidelines for Knitting for Homeless People
Lesley wanted to offer a comprehensive guide to knitting for homeless people. She has never been homeless, and hopefully you never have, either! So we went to the experts: founders and directors of charities that take knitted items especially for homeless folks.
From their outstanding advice, you’ll find the following guidelines helpful!
Remember who you’re knitting for, especially when choosing yarn colors
Homeless agencies work often with men, and they want (and perhaps need) the plainest, most muted colors possible.
Lesley told us this:
“We have personally handed out hats to the homeless on the streets of Windsor and Detroit 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.”
She also added this:
“We have found that the agencies that address those on the street per se are more often men and would need dark colours (don’t want to stand out…dangerous when someone might be on a bad trip and could take it out on someone who draws attention with bright colours). Also, the dark colours don’t show dirt.
“For youth shelters, nothing too bright, but slouchy toques, wrist warmers, cowls, that sort of thing. Funky brights, again, make them stand out. Apparently black is still sought after particularly with a pattern like skulls, etc.”
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.
There are a few places where you can buy yarns for knitting machines. You can buy knitting yarn like our cotton yarn which comes in 38 different colours on our online store with great discount when buying on larger quantity.
Knitting for the homeless is possible for anyone, from beginners to experts
One of the most exciting aspects of knitting for charity in general is that it allows beginners and experts alike to participate. Beginners may create scarves, hats, and blanket squares which are very easy and fast using knitting machines such as the one we have available on our online store
If you're a more experienced knitter, consider making gloves or mittens for charity. Socks are also welcome with equal enthusiasm as any other contribution using a smaller knitting machine size
Here are some comments from Lesley and other volunteers:
“Hats, scarves, socks, gloves (or fingerless gloves), mittens, and blankets are among the winter items that we have discovered the homeless men and women need.”
"Blankets, all sizes; hats for babies to adults; gloves, mittens, and fingerless gloves; slippers, socks, booties; soft toys are some of the most needed items."
“We have people who knit squares until the cows come home, and then someone kind enough gives them to refugee family shelters.
“Socks are more difficult to knit, so it is commonly assumed that buying them satisfies the immediate need for foot warmth. However, some individuals enjoy knitting them. Linen thread in the heels increases their longevity.
“Everything is fine for women's and children's shelters. Colorful items, such as mitts that resemble animals, are popular with small children. Women like things to be more feminine, especially shawls and bed jackets, shrugs."
"Slippers" is a great name for any species of small birds. "Drop-ins" may utilize any type of fabric we produce, such as scarves, hats, sweaters, and so on.
You can also knit for animals if you're an animal lover
Of course, see whether your charity has a spot for your creations before you purchase yarn or needles.
“Additionally, there are some drop-in programs that allow pets. In certain locations, dog coats are also useful. Just throwing it out there.”
check the guidelines for the charity you’re knitting for
Unfortunately, many charities must abandon numerous initiatives because they fail to meet their criteria. It's
never a bad idea to call your local shelter first and inquire about what they require before you start knitting.
The standards stated above will always be beneficial, but it's always better to figure out exactly what your local shelter wants before hand — if at all possible.
Unfortunately, the homeless are frequently looked down upon. It's simple for them to believe they are no longer worth anything because they don't have a job or can't work.
When you make clothing for the homeless, you're not only keeping them warm. You're letting them know that they have value and that you appreciate them.
I think that's a fantastic motivation to keep knitting for the homeless! What do you think? Share your experience with us!
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