How to Knit Squares for Charity
Why Knitted Blankets?
Charity organizations understand the power of something that is new and just yours. For example, many women arrive at shelters with nothing. They truly arrive with just the clothes on their backs. To receive something that's not second-hand, knitted with care and warm can be comforting.
Not all charities have the luxury to hinge solely on this positive effect. They understand that the need for blankets outstrips even the fastest of knitters. For that reason, they also accept donations of factory-made blankets. This article, however, guides you through finding a charity that wants blocks and how you can make those squares!
Looking for a Charity
The best way to find the right charity to support is to jump on Google's search bar. Simply enter keywords like the following: charity, blankets, knitted squares. Quite a few will pop up and some of them are global organizations that accept parcels from all over.
This is something you need to consider before you start this project. All expenses will be on you. The purchasing of wool and sending it through a secure courier service. All of it. On the positive side, this needn't be an expensive endeavor. Knit at a pace that suits your budget.
If possible, try to find signs of life. This could save you a lot of effort beforehand. Although highly unlikely, some websites could be dead and the charity no longer operating. How often do they update their posts? Their blogs? Is there an email or forum where you can ask whether they still accept squares?
Choose Comforting Colours
Which Yarn Is Best?
Once you find your charity, the next step is to look at wool. Unfortunately, not all yarns are created equal for this project. Avoid yarn that is too thin. Such squares won't keep anyone warm. On the flip side, be careful of yarn labeled as "chunky." They certainly can keep heat where it belongs but if you're serious about wanting to contribute plenty of squares, working with chunky wool can cause repetitive strain injury in your hands.
The best yarn is something that is warm, easy to work with and not too thick. In my experience, aran is the best. Nothing fancy, just the type with a DK thickness and knitted with 4 to 4.5 mm needles. In the United States, this falls in the 7 to 8 range and in the United Kingdom, between number 6 and 7.
How Many Stitches?
Regrettably, there is no quick answer. How many stitches you need depends on the charity's preferred block size, your tension and the type of yarn. Most charities look for large blocks that measure 20 by 20 centimeters. I've tried to get this exactly right and found–to my frustration–that the number of “cast on” stitches varies with each type of wool. For that reason, I decided to stick to a certain brand of aran. Before that, I made squares from chunky and DK as well, but after settling for just one kind of yarn, finding the correct amount of stitches takes less time and frustration. Usually, you'll hit your magic number between 35 and 45 stitches. My own aran yarn needs 45 stitches to hit the 20-centimeter mark. When starting out, knit to around four rows. Only then will you be able to correctly gauge whether your piece will make the required size.
Finishing a Square
The charity I support prefer to receive squares and then sew up the blankets themselves. The blocks require a long tail for this final part and it's quite easy to do. Finish your final row and then leave a tail of about 50 cm. Simply fold and tie it up in a little bow. Also, work in all other tails, like the one at the start of the square and those from color changes.
The End Destination
Mailing Your Squares
It's best to knit quite a few squares before sending them off. How many you make before you mail them is, of course, entirely up to you. Make sure that the mailing address given on the charity's web site is still being used and then pick a courier service you trust. Keep the tracking number and also forward it to the charity so that they can keep track of the parcel's progress while you knit some more squares!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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© 2019 Jana Louise Smit