Yarn for the Giving: Critters in Need

When people meet me, one of the first things they discover is my passionate love for animals. I don’t know what tips them off. Maybe it’s the cat hair on my clothing, or the crocheted/knitted/needlefelted animals sitting around my office, or the baby sloth wallpaper on my computer. Maybe I’m too up front about my status as a crazy cat lady. (It’s better to just embrace it, people. Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.)

Many people around the world possess a similar enthusiasm for critters, and if they’re also yarn people, they often want to knit or crochet for animal charities. Dramatic events such as hurricanes or oil spills can get us stitching—sometimes too enthusiastically, as the makers of penguin sweaters learned to their sorrow. Or an everyday event might light a spark: in September and October of this year, I paid several visits to the local animal shelter looking for my lost cat. Staff there generously offered sympathy as well as great ideas for recovering said cat. During my visits, I wanted to adopt every animal I saw; after George Weasleycat came home safely, I wanted to find ways to support the shelter. But my unfortunate tendency to collect cats made it too dangerous and/or heartbreaking to volunteer as a kitty cuddler or dog walker. Knitting blankets or toys for shelter residents will be a much safer way to support their work.

If my story sounds familiar—you want to help animals but fear you’ll end up with your own zoo—consider yarn-based charity work. As always, you can count on www.knittingforcharity.org for free patterns and real charities (no more penguin sweaters, please). There’s a whole page of terrific organizations that help wildlife groups, rescue organizations, and animal shelters. After I’ve made some blankets for my local shelter, I can knit pouches and sew pouch liners for orphaned baby kangaroos and wombats. The site’s collection of links will send you in all sorts of helpful and adorable directions!

—Deb Gerish

When my giant knitted cats lived in my house, my real kitties found them mildly unsettling. Now the knitted cats live in my office, signalling crazy-cat-lady status to everyone who walks by.

When my giant knitted cats lived in my house, my real kitties found them mildly unsettling. Now the knitted cats live in my office, signalling crazy-cat-lady status to everyone who walks by.