Wednesday, September 4, 2013

And today's lesson about charitable knitting is...

So there are all these nice ladies in a U.K. knitting group who were "tired of knitting scarves," as one of them said, so they came up with this brilliant idea: Let's knit an entire play village and donate it to a children's hospital for the kids to play with!

What they came up with is beautiful. What small child wouldn't love to play with this?

Skillfully done, knitted in wools with cardboard and stuffing to support the dimensional pieces.

Except... the hospital can't accept it. They're dealing with some pretty sick kids, and all of the toys need to be sterilized before kids play with them to prevent germs from spreading.

There's been some howling about this over on Ravelry: all that beautiful work, how dare the hospital turn them down! But there's also been some rational response, and this is the main message:

Before starting a charitable knitting/crochet/weaving/sewing project, check with the recipient to see what their needs are.

If you're hankering to knit preemie caps, call up the NICU at your local hospital and find out what materials to use and if they need caps. Some hospitals want only acrylic, some autoclave their preemie gear and want NO acrylic because it melts in the autoclave. Also, preemie caps are a popular charitable project, so they may not need caps at the moment. Is it chemo caps you want to make? Check also for fiber requirements, and ask people with experience about suitable yarns to use. Blanket squares? Check that the charity wants squares and has people to assemble them, or if they'd rather have finished blankets. Hats for the homeless? Maybe they want hand-knit hats, maybe they'd rather have large packs of store-bought socks. Afghans for Afghans specifically states that they want only items made with animal fibers for warmth, and only items for their specific campaigns, yet they still get shipments of acrylic garments and used clothing that are completely unsuitable for their work.

Never, never assume that because you put all the work into a handmade project that the recipient will be overjoyed to receive it just because it's handmade by you. This goes for gifts, too. Make sure you know the recipient's tastes before casting on.

Here's an article on the toy farm project: Miniature woollen village knitted by WI members for sick children branded a health hazard.

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