Yarn for the Giving: Knitting for Refugees

Whenever I read up on world news these days, I’m profoundly thankful for my stable, peaceful existence. It took me about 6 months to move from Kansas to Colorado in 2015. I chose to move and had the resources to transfer belongings and my beloved cats to a new house. In the course of that long move, my household dealt with a lot of anxiety (including a lost kitty), but we’re settled now. My completely voluntary move, stressful though it was, cannot possibly compare to the trauma that refugees experience.

Military conflict, famine, and persecution have forcibly displaced people from their homes in record numbers, according to the UN Refugee Agency’s statistics for 2015. These people can’t take half a year to plan, pack, and relocate to a comfortable home. They’re lucky to keep their families together as they flee from unimaginable circumstances. Relocation camps do their best to offer food, water, and shelter, but humans in these situations require comfort and love, too. This is where crafters can help: the simple act of knitting for refugees can offer hope in times of upheaval.

I went to my favorite site, Knitting for Charity, to find organizations devoted to refugee aid. Naturally, proprietor Nicole Haschke had already done the heavy lifting. In addition to releasing her e-book Knitting for Charity, One Stitch at a Time, she’s written more than half a dozen posts about knitting for Syrian refugees.

Samara’s Aid Appeal, a charity in the United Kingdom, helps persons displaced from the Middle East. They seek wool or cotton blankets and clothing for all ages. Crafters can download and print labels in Arabic expressing their love and support.

Knit Aid, another U.K. group, distributes knitted and crocheted items for refugees arriving in Europe. North American crafters can mail their donations to a collection point in the United States. Alternatively, send hats that meet Knit Aid’s criteria to the Warm Welcome Project launched by Little Skein in the Big Wool.

I’m committing here and now to updating my queue: I’d planned to knit 17 major projects for myself or friends, and now I’ll alternate those “American” projects with refugee knitting. My stash includes plenty of suitable yarn, and if I’ve got time to knit for myself, I’ve got time to knit for others. If you’d like to make a commitment too, know that even 1 hat can warm the head and heart of someone who’s lost everything. All these organizations ask for warm accessories in dark colors, since displaced people may not have access to laundry facilities. By the time I’m ready to ship everything, winter will be on its way again. I’ll even throw in a few stuffed toys, since the UN estimates that over half of the 21.3 million people who were displaced in 2015 were under 18 years old.

You can find charity patterns, among other freebies, on Interweave’s page for free knitting patterns. Tell us about your charity knitting in comments.

–Deb Gerish
Editor, Love of Knitting

2 Comments

  1. Debe D at 9:26 pm April 17, 2017

    Wool Aid collects for children around the world including Syria and Tibet.
    Emily’s Hats for Hope is a global network that knits for the homeless.

    You can also reach out to local organizations.

    And – if you live in a warm climate like I do – I looked for (and found) an organization helping the homeless near my in-laws in Buffalo, NY. Thx to the generous checked baggage policy of Southwest Airlines, I pack a case with hats to donate every holiday.

    • Deb G at 8:40 am April 19, 2017

      What great suggestions, Debe D! Thanks for sharing these ideas.

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