Tuesday, November 19, 2013

She's Crafty | Knit Your Bit!

I've had an idea floating around in my head for a while, now. And, as usually is the case, Malia brought home a book from one of the libraries about that very topic (I could swear that kid is psychic! But, she says she just knows me really well.:) Anyway, it's called Knit Your Bit: A World War I Story, by Deborah Hopkinson. The story is a bit of historically accurate fiction chronicling the 3-day "Knitting Bee" held in New York's Central Park in July of 1918. The sponsor of the event, the Navy League Comforts Committee, raised $4,000 and collected 50 sweaters, 48 mufflers, and 224 pairs of socks over the 3 days of the Bee.

According to the historical facts in the back of the book, the American Red Cross had determined that there wouldn't be enough warm clothing for U.S. soldiers fighting in Europe to make it through the winter months of 1917-1918. By the time the Central Park event was held, people all over the country had been forming knitting clubs and holding knitting bees. Men, women, boys and girls were knitting; the young and old were knitting. People were knitting in classrooms, on the subway, in firehouses and governor's residences. President Woodrow Wilson even kept sheep on the White House lawn for their wool during World War I.

Knitting one's bit is something that has continued to the present. Now, people knit for all kinds of causes. They continue to knit warm winter woolens for soldiers, warm blankets for kids needing warmth all over the world, tiny hats for preemies born in hospitals near and far, and bigger hats for chemo patients getting treatment at these same hospitals. They knit warm slippers, scarves and hats for seafarers of various sorts, and for homeless shelters all over the country.

A quick search for "knitting for charity" on Google turned up a long list of websites, just some of which are these:

www.knittingforcharity.org, a website devoted to many different causes. They also have free knitting patterns appropriate for charity knitting and a newsletter called Knitting Nuggets if you are interested in information about knitting and/or charity knitting.

www.knitasquare.com, a website devoted to a single important cause: keeping AIDS orphaned children warm in South Africa.This cause will tug at your heartstrings for sure--it brought tears to my eyes to see what these children are up against. But, we can help by knitting or crocheting 8" X 8" squares and sending them in to the Knit-a-Square (KAS) folks, who will sew them into blankets. You can also find free patterns for making squares and other items on this website.

www.warmupamerica.org, is another website devoted to many causes, including special projects, such as the ones for the Ronald McDonald Houses, if you are so inclined. If you check out this site, you can even download lesson plans you can use to teach yourself or others how to knit.

I also went to www.ravelry.com, one of my favorite all around yarn-crafting websites to see what they have for those who'd like to knit their bit. This search for charity knitting gave me 509 patterns, 421 of which are free. And, not to leave out our crocheting friends, a search for this kind of charity patterns resulted in 157 patterns, 148 of which are available for free. Many, many charities and programs are represented among these patterns offered through Ravelry--go over and have a look, it's free to join!

Finally, I tried the American Red Cross official website, but found it was easier to access their knitting patterns through Ravelry. Just type "American Red Cross" into Ravelry's pattern search bar and several basic patterns, all free, will come up. Some of these patterns are the same ones used during World War I. Just imagine!

Oh, right. The rudimentary idea that started me going on this blog adventure? To knit my bit, of course. But, more than that, I'd like to encourage everyone to knit or crochet their bits as well. I'm still thinking about that, how we might get more people involved. I know, for instance, there are knitting groups at some of our own library branches, and I'm looking into starting one here at my branch too (with my supervisor's blessing, of course.) What if our knitting groups got interested in knitting or crocheting for charity?  What if we ALL could knit or crochet our bits? Bit by bit, we could keep the whole world warm...

As always, leave us a comment and let us know what you think, and stay crafty!

Kaye and Malia


  1. Great post, as usual. Don't forget, Troke Library will be putting up their "Mitten Tree" right after Thanksgiving. Gloves, scarves and hats (many hand-knitted) collected will be donated to the Stockton Shelter for the Homeless.

  2. A Mitten Tree?! What a great idea!