Lazy summer days are fantastic, but after a few days, I get super bored of doing nothing. So what do I do? I get crafty and whip up some charity crafting!
Summer is here! It’s a time for days by the pool, trips with family and friends, and for some, there’s still work to be done. But, between all that, there’s always some extra time laying around. If you’re like me, after a few weeks, vegging out on the couch binge watching Netflix with nothing else to do gets, well, boring. Don’t get me wrong. I love not going to class and taking a nice long break from major responsibilities (like my graduate work, don’t tell my advisor!), but I still need something else to occupy my time with.
Well friends, as you all know by now, I am super crafty, and love to share my passion for crafting with others. Crafting is my addiction, outside of plants, of course. But I’m also very involved in charity work. I know I mentioned it in a post before, but that was in November, and we’ve all slept since then. I spend my free time (and a lot of in-class lectures) crocheting or knitting for charity. It’s a great way to be productive with your free time, make something for others, and crafting has actually been found to release tension and stress! Today, I’ll introduce you to the first part of my charity crafting series, where you’ll find projects, how-to tutorials and videos, and other info on how to crochet for charity! Are you ready? Let’s talk crocheting!
First off, I gotta show you the basics of the wonderful craft that is crocheting. Crocheting isn’t knitting, even though they are similar. One interesting thing about these two crafts is that if you can’t do one, you most likely can do the other. They use different aspects of the brain. For example, although I’m one of the rare people who can do both, I crochet right-handed and knit left-handed. My mother, on the other hand, cannot crochet to save her life. I tried. All she does is make knots (sorry Mom, I know you read my blogs!). But, she recently learned how to knit, and she does it beautifully. So, the point of this little segue is not to get bummed if you can’t do one of these crafts. Try the other, and see if it works better for you.
Okay, segue over. Back to talking about crocheting. Crocheting is done with one hook, and has many different types of stitches. For an easy how to, check out these tutorials on chain stitching, single crochet, double crochet, finishing your project, and weaving in ends. If you’re like me, and still need to see someone doing something to get the hang of it, YouTube will be your friend. That’s where I learned how to knit and crochet!
Choosing yarn for these types of projects is actually pretty simple. For charity work, most places want softer, acrylic yarn, as it's machine washable and dryable, and most don't care about colors or patterns for the projects you donate to charity, so you can have fun there! You can pick brands like Red Heart, Crafter's Secret, Caron, Bernat, Yarn Bee, and I Love This Yarn, which are all available at most craft stores across the country, and even online. There are, of course, other brands out there. Just find one that’s not scratchy, is 100% acrylic, and pick a color or colors you like, and you’re good to start crocheting for charity!
On the yarn label, there will be a diagram like this that talks about the fiber content, the washing instructions, and a suggested hook size. The top left box shows the weight of the yarn, and the next two show suggested hook/needle sizes and what the gauge would be. For me, I go off of what the label says. Test swatch if you want to check to see if your gauge matches the suggested size on the label, but for the most part, unless you want a super specific size to your project, you don’t need to.
If you want to make a gauge swatch, you take the suggested hook size and make a square. This label says a 4 by 4 inch square should be 18 rows long and 16 single crochet stitches wide. So, what you do is make a square 16 stitches wide by 18 rows. If it’s larger than 4 x 4 inches, try a hook size down and repeat. If your square is smaller, try a hook size up. This is only really important if you’re trying to make something exactly the size of the pattern, so don’t fret if this sounds intimidating!
Via Aesthetic Nest
Now that you all have completely mastered how to crochet in the short time it takes to read this blog up to this point (but not really), let’s talk about some of the items you can make and donate!
I love crocheting hats. It’s one of my favorite things to crochet to donate to charities, because hats of all sizes are needed. I used to whip these up super quick during classes, and would donate them to local charities, like ones for pediatric cancer. You can usually donate crochet baby hats to hospitals, especially ones for preemie babies, as well. Check your local hospitals and cancer charities to see what they need, and what sizes they want! Try looking up crochet chemo caps charity if you're having trouble finding one to donate to, and some good ones will pop up! You can find great free patterns here and here. This pattern here is one I use a lot now as it’s just so cute. There’s a new stitch involved, but the instructions and photos make it super easy! Plus, it has some fantastic video and photo tutorials linked.
The one thing about hats that can be a little tricky is crocheting in the round. Here’s a great video on how to do that!
Shawls are another project that is used in places like hospitals, nursing homes, and women’s shelters. Some great patterns can be found here. These patterns are beginner level; however, you can also find some very ornate and complicated shawls. I enjoy making this granny stitch shawl for charity crochet because it makes up very quickly, and it looks pretty whether it is made in solid colors, stripes, or variegated yarns! The granny stitch is also easy to master, and it whips up fast, so you’re able to make more crochet donations even faster!
The last project I want to talk about are afghans or blankets for charity crocheting. These are used at many different places, like nursing homes, women’s shelters, homeless shelters, and even hospitals. Lap size throws are perfect for these types of donations, but you can also crochet baby blankets for charity. Before making them, I would check with local places that accept them and see what size they need to be, so you don’t make any too big or too small.
The cool thing about making blankets? You use the same stitches over and over for a long time, and it really helps you learn and get better at crocheting! The downside is that it can take a long time, but that’s totally fine! There are some great crochet blanket patterns here, here, and here as well!
If you get really into it, check out free pattern sites like Ravelry, Craftgawker, Red Heart, Lion Brand Yarn, Caron, and all the other yarn brands. You can practically make anything you wish, at any skill level, for free with patterns on these sites! A quick search of ‘crochet for charity’ patterns found me a lot of results over the years on many of these sites. All you have to do is look!
There you have it, folks! A quick rundown on one of my favorite crafts to do for charity! I hope you enjoyed this post, and will try to pick up a hook and learn yourself! Don’t forget to share this post with your family and friends, and let me know in the comments section if you or your friends and family are going to try it out! I hope you enjoy learning to crochet! And, as always, stay creative, my friends!