Auntie Ann Knits

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Thoughts on Charity Knits

Franklin mentioned recently that he's usually not much for charity knitting, and that the poor can usually use money more than knitting. This echoes some of my own sentiments on the subject. Most of the items that we lovingly hand-knit can be purchased at less cost than what we put into them in time and money.

People hand-knit blankets, representing an enormous expenditure of time and money, and give them to local charities or even send them overseas, and I can't help but feel that the time and money could be better spent purchasing more of the needed objects rather than making and shipping hand-knits. Possibly even the money could be used to provide employment to people in the target area making hand-knits, to better effect than making and shipping them ourselves.

Rabbitch mentions in this post that a knitted blanket for the charity she supports takes 100+ hours to knit. If I worked an extra hundred hours at my, you know, regular job, and took the net proceeds and bought blankets -- that would be more than one blanket, by a good bit.

I don't mean to denigrate these efforts, I do admire these efforts and have to hand it to the participants; these projects just, well, puzzle me a little bit. Certainly if the hobby we do for enjoyment can also support a good cause, that's a good thing. I guess that the feeling of connection is there for the giver, more so than if they just wrote a check for the same cause, and that's a good thing -- at least for the giver. I'm not quite so sure about the recipient. Maybe they'd rather have 2 store-bought blankets than 1 hand-knit one, or 2 people could have 1 store-bought blanket each, instead of 1 of them having a hand-knit one.

Anyone else feel the same way? If you think I'm missing something about this, I'd like to hear why, because as I said, this is just a little bit puzzling to me.

Having said all that, I do really support several causes where I think that the hand-knit nature of the gift really might make a difference to the recipient -- my SnB, Eweforia has several times made caps (largely because I begged everyone to) for local chemo patients, and for WIC. I have blogged here and here about the Red Scarf Project, which I whole-heartedly support.

Having been mulling this over here, I think maybe now I can articulate this a bit better. Anyone remember Maslow's hierarchy of needs? I view the Red Scarf Project recipients, for example, as likely having needs #1 (biological, such as food) and #2 (safety) met, but they could probably use some help with #3 (love/belonging) and #4 (status/esteem), and that's where the hand-made scarf comes in.

But freezing, starving people are deficient in needs #1 and #2, and until those needs are met, the special, need #3/#4 nature of the hand-knit object given to try to meet needs #1 and #2 may not come into focus for the recipient. So the store-bought blanket (and the more, the better) might do just as well.

Certainly all of the charity knit projects do good work, and are deserving of support. I'm only trying to articulate some thoughts about these charity projects that, now that I have mulled it over a bit, may help me to decide which ones I personally will support, and which ones I will support with money and which ones I will support with hand-knits. You, of course, may do the same for yourself.


  • I think you've summed it up pretty well. One of the main things I will say for projects like Dulaan and Afghans for Afghans is that they require 100% wool items, which are pretty hard to find where I shop (granted, I live in Texas...). But yeah, having handknitters fill that gap doesn't seem like the most efficient way to go about doing things.

    On the sock, dude I can totally relate. I'd say do a few inches of the cuff and then start something a little more fun, but add to the other sock every once in a while. The sock pattern looks lovely but yeah, I can see it getting dull. Especially knitting it for big man feet.

    By Blogger Liz, at Sunday, September 24, 2006 5:54:00 PM  

  • Ann,

    You have a nice mix of sensibility and compassion. That's a good thing.


    By Blogger Angela, at Monday, September 25, 2006 4:01:00 AM  

  • Thanks for the link to your blog, Ann. I think that some people enjoy knitting so much, and (this is kind of hard for me to imagine) have more time to knit than they have people to give things to. So giving items to others who need them is a useful way for them to partake of the pleasure of knitting, and then find good uses for the goods. In other words, I think the analysis has to take into account that apart from the cost of the yarn vs. the cost of a comparable storebought item, the process of the knitting is important. These folks aren't so much deciding between (a) buying a sweater to donate or (b) buying yarn to make a sweater. They've already decided they're going to buy the yarn.

    I do hope you don't get bashed for writing about this topic. I find a lot of hostility toward any discussion of charity knitting that isn't all hearts and sunshine. Even a pragmatic and compassionate one like yours.

    By Blogger Carol, at Wednesday, January 31, 2007 12:27:00 PM  

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