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  • Celia Jenkins

BaBs - Charities you can Knit for

If you know me as Knitty Bee, you'll know I'm nuts about knitting. So nuts about it I even published my own e-book of knitting patterns for beginners. I got into knitting when I was very young, and one of the first things I knitted were teddy bears (unfortunate, lopsided little things) which were sent off to orphans in China. At university, I founded the Bath Spa Knitting Society (Knitter Knatter) and together we made a hand knitted blanket, which I donated to a family of chilli pickers when I was volunteering in Uganda. Charity knitting is great fun (and a great reason to get away with buying more wool than you really need!) and so this post is dedicated to promoting charity knitting that you can get involved with. Whether you're a newbie knitter or a seasoned pro, there is a charity you can contribute to in the UK with your knitting. Here are just a few ideas.

If you've ever seen a bottle of Innocent Smoothie, you'll know all about this. Basically, the project is to knit a teeny tiny little hat which fits neatly onto a bottle of innocent smoothie. This extra intensive to buy this brand is all for a good cause – for every hatted bottle sold, Innocent Smoothie will donate 25p to the charity Age Concern. This is a great UK charity which helps to combat loneliness in older people, by organising activities for local communities to enjoy and by setting up befriending partnerships. Since The Big Knit started (nearly 15 years ago) over 6 million hats have topped these little smoothie bottles, raising more than £2 million for Age Concern. How awesome is that? To get involved, just go to The Big Knit website and download a pattern. The patterns are labelled beginner, intermediate or expert, so you'll be able to pick one that's just right for you. There are also crotchet patterns if that's your craft. Just pop your hat in the post and, who knows? Perhaps it'll be YOUR little hat you see next time you buy a smoothie at the supermarket!

This is a not-for-profit organisation which makes clothes and toys to be donated to hospitals or families for premature or angel babies. Families that have a baby born prematurely, or who have a miscarried or stillborn child, have far more important things to think about than finding clothes to fit the tiny size of their child. This is one charity which makes clothes in super small sizes to donate to people in need. Knitters (and crafters of all sorts) can meet in this Facebook group to swap patterns/ideas for projects, and find out where to donate them.

If you are a newbie knitter and knitting anything beyond a simple square is your future goal, this is the project for you. At its heart, the KAS project encourages knitters to knit a square which will then be put together with lots of other squares to make a blanket. Once you've mastered a simple square, you can follow the patterns on the KAS website to make squares using different patterns, and then there are other patterns to make things such as hats, sweaters, hand warmers and toys. All of these projects are donated to children in need in South Africa, particularly those with HIV or AIDS. You don't need to knit a whole blanket to help out – just one square can be donated and made up into a blanket with other donations.

In the UK, 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in her life, and breast cancer also affects around 400 men in the UK every year too. Since the 1970's (when records began), cases of breast cancer have increased by 99%. Many breast cancer survivors who receive silicone prosthetic breasts find them uncomfortable and painful to wear, which is why the idea for knitted knockers came about. These knitted breast prostheses are lightweight, soft and are increasingly popular, as well as the aqua knockers which can be worn while swimming. This is a great knitting project to get involved with – the knockers are donated to women in need and there are thousands of requests for knitted knockers every year. However, this isn't one for newbie knitters – the knockers have to be knitted to a good standard and as such you need to be a registered volunteer to receive the pattern and get knitting. Follow the link for details on whether they are currently recruiting new knitters.

There are so many places that accept donations of Twiddle Muffs, you can do some research and find out if there is one closer to you, but all the same I thought I'd provide this link as

it includes a pattern. A Twiddle Muff if basically a muff (for keeping your hands warm) which has all sorts of ribbons and trinkets attached to fiddle and twiddle with. These are great for people with dementia, arthritis and Alzheimer's – fiddling with a twiddle muff is therapeutic, it helps to keep your hands (and your brain) active. They're great fun to make and to customise, and not too difficult for newbie knitters.

Whichever charity you decide to knit for, I can heartily recommend you check out the Knit for Life website. Based in Shropshire, they can distribute to charities locally but if you are donating to charities further afield then it's down to you. I recommend you check out their tips and advise ('knitting for charity' tab) for details about things you should consider before you start. Also on the Knit for Life website you can find a list of charities in the UK (sorted by region) that are looking for knitting donations.

Which charities do you knit for? Do you know of any great projects which deserve a shout out? Leave a comment and let me know!

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