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Home : Community : Newsletters & Stories

Newsletters & Stories

Favorite Articles
Stories from the Prayer Shawl Ministry
Charity Stories

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One Skein Charitable Knitting
"Rufus was the only one of the four Moffats who was knitting a washcloth for the soldiers. Up in Jane's room at school they were knitting gray and khaki scarves and helmets. Even sweaters. And Jane was trying to learn how to purl. Not Rufus. You do not have to purl a washcloth. Just straight knit it." - Rufus M. by Eleanor Estes

In times of war and in times of peace, at schools, churches, synagogues, coffee shops or wherever knitters gather together, chairs have been pulled up and bodies seated for the task at hand: knitting for others. It's a great tradition.

Reading about charitable knitting projects never ceases to drive away the weariness of the world's problems from my heart. These knitters are busy people too. And yet, they have found a way to make giving a part of their lives.

Over the years I struggled to join them. Hearing about a need, I sometimes answer the call: scarves for Veterans Day, Warm Up America! squares, the Preemie Project, afghans for Afghans. And then, I settle back down with my own knitting. Maybe even something for me. Often it’s for the heads and shoulders, the feet and hands of friends, neighbors and family.

My community knitting has mostly been a private venture, done alone in my knitting chair, in spurts, and squeezed in between the cracks of other obligations. Lately I've been wondering about how to get it to be a more regular part of my knitting life. "Bird by bird," Anne Lamont wrote. Break down your life's big and overwhelming tasks into manageable pieces. It's the way I tackle my own work as an author and an illustrator. Could that approach shape an ongoing charitable knitting commitment?

Michelle's WashclothsSkein by skein. Month by month. A pledge starting with a single skein and taking it a month at time. Knitting up a skein’s worth of washcloths, preemie hats, Warm Up squares. Or working as far as a skein would go on a healing shawl or scarf or mittens. No real rules. No one checking out if a month gets skipped or a skein is not quite finished.

September's my first month. I started simple: one skein of Lion Cotton, three washcloths. The leftover yardage was deposited in my stash to use for edging future work. Or maybe adding a stripe on next month’s batch.

The One Skein Charitable Knitting Commitment.

Want to join? Without knowing how to purl you can knit washcloths too. Just like Rufus M. Bird by bird. Skein by skein. Month by Month.

Be Prepared! Make yourself a charitable knitting bag. Take a simple satchel and load it with the pattern, the skein, and the right size needles. It’s ready to go with you while you wait for the doctor, sip coffee with friends, listen to a book on tape, follow a political debate, watch a movie or sit in your favorite knitting chair to practice "the new yoga."

You can use knitting washcloth as a chance to try out new stitches. Check out the StitchFinder for ideas.

Michelle's Basic Washcloth Pattern
The easiest washcloth pattern is my favorite and the one I use most often. I just knit a square diagonally.

Lion Cotton, Lion Organic Cotton, and Cotton-Ease are all great choices

Pick your favorite needles to use with your chosen yarn

Exact gauge is not important to this project

Cast on three stitches, knit one, yarn over, knit to the end of row.
Repeat this row until there are 55 stitches.
Then knit two stitches together, yarn over, knit two stitches together again, knit to the end of the row. Do this until there are only three stitches are left. Then, bind off.

I like to blanket stitch the edges with another color.

Click here for more knit and crochet washcloth patterns.

Where to give a stack of washcloths:
Look on the Lion Brand Charity Connection or check out your local Habitat for Humanity, youth homes, halfway houses, family resource centers, shelters, and more. Washcloths are also great contribution to a charitable bazaar. Give a washcloth with a bar of great soap tied with ribbon as a gift to someone you know who is having a hard time.

My small stack is going to our local angel Mary Palmberg. She tells me that kitchen items are always in need by those transitioning out of shelters. I know she'll find the place where they should go.

Authored by

Michelle Edwards is the author/illustrator of A KNITTER'S HOME COMPANION and many award-winning children's books including CHICKEN MAN and STINKY STERN FOREVER. In her spare time, Michelle enjoys talking about books in schools throughout the US and beyond. Her newest book, Room for the Baby, will be available from Random House in Fall 2012. Visit Michelle Edwards at her website or on Facebook.
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