Many of the blogs I read are written by fellow knitters. There seems to be an emerging grassroots desire to knit for others on a world level. I'm collecting links here (as much for myself as a place marker as for others who are interested in finding a way to put our sticks and string to use).
One that touches my heart is this: Soldiers Angels.
Soldiers Angels provides hand and foot coverings needed for wounded soldiers on Medevac flights back to the US. The simple fleece or knitted coverings are used to help keep critical patients' extremities warm. Everything needs to be oversized to fit on big hands, or over casts, bandages, and arterial lines.
"We can also use knit caps," the web site says.
Seen over at Crazy Aunt Purl's place is Operation Gratitude, a group formed three years ago to send care packages to the troops, especially those who may have no family to support them during their service. Operation Gratitude just shipped out its 150,000th box on Father's Day. For more information, check out Operation Gratitude's site or How individuals can contribute.
A tremendous source for community or charity knitting is Bev's Country Cottage. Here are many links for knitting for babies, families who have suffered miscarriage, the military, cancer patients, seniors, the homeless, and domestic abuse survivors.
There are so many links within links at Bev's Country Cottage -- I can't recommend her site too much.
A big one is Afghans for Afghans which is a humanitarian and educational people-to-people project that sends hand-knit and crocheted blankets and sweaters, vests, hats, mittens and socks to the beleaguered people of Afghanistan.
This grassroots effort is inspired by Red Cross volunteers who made afghans, socks, slippers, and other items for soldiers and refugees during World Wars I and II and other times of crisis and need.
In many communities, local knitters have formed knitting collectives for specific purposes. One of those is Warming Grace. This is a sweet, sweet heartwarming project. Warming Grace is an ongoing project designed to create blankets from knitted and crocheted squares for children dealing with cancer. So far 221 knitters worldwide have sent in enough squares to make 20 blankets!
Each knitting project and group has its own requirements, so please check with the project directors or their web sites before starting your work. Fabric content is particularly important in these projects -- most of us have stashes of acrylic fiber yarn, but natural fibers are imperative when knitting for the sick, infirm or bedridden for safety reasons. (Acrylic is a dangerous fiber choice as it will melt rather than burn. Safety counts!)
Well, my friends, there's a beginner's list of how a set of knitting needles and some yarn can make a difference in the world.
Of course I will continue with my local project of making prayer shawls.
Here's a simple pattern for these: Using size 11 straight needles, cast on 57 stitches. K3, P3 each row. It should not look like ribbing. Most take three skeins of yarn. When you are ready to add on the third skein, first make the fringe (this can range from three to nine inches long -- later I'll add more detailed instruction on fringes.) Finished dimensions are roughly 28 inches by 60 inches. Wider and/or longer is fine -- try to keep them in scale with the size of the recipient.
Of course I've ventured into using the prayer shawls as a means of artistic expression also, and I've deviated from the standard pattern lately for particular people. It is much faster to knit the basic well-accepted prayer shawl pattern, and there is a sense of community in the simple uniformity that comes from knitting the same thing thousands of other knitters have done.
Here's a link to the original Prayer Shawl Ministry.
Whether you are a knitter or not, there are many ways to support these types of ministry. You can help establish a group in your community, whether in a church or some other gathering group. Or you can help by supplying materials so others can afford to continue their work. Or you can help identify projects or potential recipients. Or you can help provide postage so these things can get to the people who need them.
Thanks to all of you, knitter or not. If you find yourself wanting to help in some way, please pay attention to that small inner voice and do something. You'll help make the world better, I promise. One little change can make a world of difference.