Jana likes to grow stuff, exercise, snack, and explore creative projects as a means to relax and grow.
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 but the clothes on their backs. To receive something that is not secondhand—but knitted with care and warmth—can be comforting.
How to Find a Charity
Before you start knitting, it is essential to know what charities want. Some want blocks to be a certain size and they only accept certain types of yarn (real wool and acrylic being the top two favourites).
The best way to find the right charity is to Google keywords like: charity, blankets, knitted squares. You might find a local organization but there are also charities that accept parcels from all over the world.
Once you have found a charity you like, there's something you need to know. All expenses will be on you. There's no compensation for the wool you buy or when using a secure courier service to send the finished squares. On the positive side, this does not have to be an expensive endeavour. There's no rush. You can knit at a pace that suits your budget.
Another important thing to do before you buy wool and knit a box of squares is to make sure that the charity still exists. How often do they update their site? 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 perhaps the best part for most knitters - go to the store and pick out some wool! But keep in mind that not all yarns are created equally 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 warm, easy to work with and not too thick. Aran is a good choice, especially the DK type that is knitted with 4 to 4.5 mm needles. In the United States, these needles are marked as 7 to 8 and in the United Kingdom number 6 and 7.
How Many Stitches Do I Cast On?
This is where things can get tricky. To be fair, each charity will give you instructions but when I chose an organization that wanted large blocks, measuring 20 by 20 centimetres, I discovered an unfortunate fact. To create a square of that size, the number of “cast-on” stitches varied with each type of wool. For that reason, I decided to stick to a certain brand of Aran yarn and another that's DK acrylic.
Through trial and error, I found the correct number of cast-on stitches and you might also have to weather this early guessing game. In my own case, 43 stitches hit the 20-centimetre mark for both types of yarn. Keep in mind that you need to knit roughly 4 rows before you can gauge whether your piece will be 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 measuring about 50 cm. Loop this tail around your hand until it's folded up against the square. Use a needle to thread a loose piece of yarn through the square (right under this looped tail) and use the thread to tie the tail up in a little bow. Also, work in all other tails, like the one at the start of the square and those from colour changes.
The End Destination
Mailing Your Squares
Once you have knitted a few squares, it's time to send them off! How many you make before you mail them is, of course, entirely up to you. Before sending the parcel, make sure that the mailing address on the charity's web site is still being used and that you follow their mailing instructions (some have forms that can be printed, filled out and pasted on the parcel).
Only use a courier service that 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.
© 2019 Jana Louise Smit