Crocheting for Charity, Part 2

Charitable Crochet, Keep it Local

christmas-pick-fundraiser-1

Christmas Pickle Gift Sets donated to the local High School Marching Band Holiday Craft and Bake Sale to raise funds for new uniforms.

Crocheting for charity can be extremely rewarding.  We all want to do good and it is rewarding to know you can make something that can make another person happy.   Being able to support your local community with charitable crochet is an added bonus.

My last post addressed the awesome part of crocheting for organized organizations.  The organizations I listed have not only found recipients for the items but actually have people asking for them.  They can say with certainty that the donated items (if they are made within the established guidelines) will end up in the hands of the intended recipient. But, what if your funds are limited and you just don’t have the money to pay for shipping? or what if you just want to keep it local?

I often hear of local church groups or civic organizations where they crochet hats for chemo patients or something similar.  But when asked where or how they are getting the items to the patients, the response is along the lines of “We bring them to the hospital”.  While it is wonderful to crochet for charitable efforts, I learned the hard way that you have to be selective in where you donate your charitable crochet.  Delivering items to the hospital does not mean they make it to the patients (read the story here).  So, please keep in mind, no matter where you donate your handmade items, my number one suggestion is to contact the business or organization FIRST to see if they WANT and will ACCEPT the items.  If you get a yes, push them a little further and ask, do they have more than they currently need and will the items be distributed to the patients/kids/residents/etc.   And be sure to ask if they have any guidelines and/or restrictions you need to follow.

Below are a few suggestions on how you can crochet for charity, keep it local AND be sure the donated items are getting to the intended recipients. Again, check FIRST to make sure they want/need and will distribute your handmade items.

  1. Contact national organizations and ask if they can direct you on how to donate locally.  While it may not be possible to donate directly to the recipients as they likely require all donated items to be inspected for quality control, they may be able to direct you to a local drop off location-maybe a guild chapter or yarn shop.
  2. Check with your local hospitals and oncology centers to see if you can donate hats directly to them.  If so, what guidelines to they have?  If not hats, can they suggest anything else that their patients may like.
  3. Is there a local shelter, woman’s or homeless, that might like blankets?
  4. Check to see if your community has a organization that helps homeless families find homes.  Could you provide housewarming gifts to be including when helping to set up the home.  Think blankets, potholders, throw rugs or anything to help make the new place warm and comfortable.  Check with the women’s shelter as well as they often help set up new homes for women escaping abusive situations.
  5. Check with the animal shelter to see if they would like blankets for the cages.  Or maybe you can make cat toys or fancy dog collars that they can give away with new adoptions or possibly sell to raise money for the shelter.
  6. Check with the local police to see if they would like comfort buddies to have on hand for when a child has to be removed from a home or is involved in an accident.
  7.  Maybe there is a local foster care home that would like crocheted blankets for the kids.  Remember, displaced teens need comfort blankets as well as small children and babies.
  8. Check with food banks and see if they also collect blankets or maybe they have suggestions of items you could provide that they will offer to their patrons.
  9. Is there a senior assisted living center/nursing home in your area?  Maybe the workers know of a resident who doesn’t have many visitors and could use a lap blanket or slippers.
  10. Is there a community toy-drive for families in need at the holidays?  I’ve made character hats for ours.
  11. And my favorite, because organizations always need money, donate handmade items for a craft fair fundraiser or a raffle.  Check with schools to see if any sports teams or the arts (band, chorus, etc) have upcoming fundraising opportunities you can donate items for a charity sale.  I made Christmas Pickles, see photo above, for the marching band and donated hand made items for the elementary school’s silent auction.  Many shelters and other non-profit organizations hold silent auctions as fundraisers.  They are always looking for items to include in these fundraisers.

When donating local, be sure to follow guidelines established by national organizations.  They are there for a reason.  It may be for the patient’s comfort, ease of washing or maybe the safety of the recipient.  Be sure to use appropriate yarns, wash and/or sterilize if necessary and be sure to keep pets away.  And if you don’t have the appropriate yarn but still want to make items for donation, get creative.  Baby blankets and lap blankets don’t need the same yarns required for chemo hats.  Animals don’t care if your yarn is an odd color.  Market bags can be made in inexpensive, scratchy yarns and may sell well at a craft fair fundraiser or silent auction.  And if you smoke or have pets in your home be honest and disclose this.  Some groups may not want to risk the possible allergens.  If having pets is an issue with local organizations maybe concentrate your charitable efforts on supporting an animal shelter.

Shells of Love baby blanket crochet pattern by Darleen Hopkins

Crocheting for Charity, Part 1

Charity Crochet, Established Organizations

Octopus for a Preemie-US

Donated Octos for the Octopus for a Preemie-US organization

Apparently, I have a reputation as one who crochets.  🙂  I often have friends and relatives send me links, post on my timeline or tag me with whatever the latest viral crochet pattern or project may be.  And I love this.  When my non-crocheting buddies come across something, I know it is something big and hot right now.

A few months ago, my sister-in-law sent me a link to a story about octopuses being crocheted for babies in the NICUs of hospitals.  I had heard of this before but hadn’t really looked too much into it.  This link got me interested in learning more (Thanks Chris!) and ultimately, to writing this blog post about crocheting for charity.  I love to crochet for charity but let me retell my story as to why I didn’t for a number of years.

Shortly after I began crocheting, I found an individual who was putting together a group of crocheters to make hats for children in hospitals who were going through chemo treatments.  Being a mom of two little boys, who were thankfully healthy, I jumped at this opportunity to do some good for kids and hoped to make some new crochet friends along the way.  I made 5 or 6 hats and they were submitted to the hospital along with all the others that were collected.  A month or so later, I received a thank you in the mail from the hospital’s public relations officer.  I was so excited and wanted to make more so I called the hospital representative to find out what would be the best type of hats to make.  I wanted to make what he kids liked.  This was over 10 years ago and I still remember her response verbatim-“We have so many hats, we don’t need anymore hats.  We have boxes and boxes in a closet.  Please don’t send us anymore hats.”  Now I don’t know if I caught this woman on a bad day or what, but I was shocked.  I remember saying “OK, thank you” and hanging up.  I let the woman who was heading the group know what I found out.  She believed her hats were going directly to the kids and wanted to continue.  I decided I didn’t want to make hats thinking they may just end up in a closet somewhere so I quit the group.  While I was disappointed and frustrated, I am thankful the woman at the hospital was honest with me.  If not, I may have continued my efforts making items that may have never been used as intended.  And this experience taught me how important it is to research charities prior to donating to them.  After this happened, I shared my story above with more than one organization.  I explained to them that I wanted to confirm the crocheted items I made and donated would 100% end up with the intended recipients.  Thankfully, the contacts of the organizations were honest as well and stated they were unable to confirm this.  They were groups collecting items but not checking with the recipients whether or not they were even wanted.  How many of those donated hats/blankets/whatever were ending up in boxes in closets?  Hopefully none but in all likelihood, at least some of them were.  This was such a shame to me.

Fast forward a few years and I stumbled upon Halos of Hope.  When I retold the story above to Pam, the founder, and expressed concern as to where the hats were donated,  she assured me they were being sent directly to chemo centers around the country who wanted them.  And so I became a Halos of Hope volunteer and made hats, lots and lots of hats.  Unfortunately, this wonderful organization has recently closed its doors.  Pam has decided to focus on her family and made the difficult decision to cease operations. www.halosofhope.com/

Over that last few years I have found a number of organized groups who collect crocheted items and distribute them.  There are a number of wonderful reasons to work with an established organization when crocheting for charity.  Listed below are some of the benefits as well as some potential issues-

  1. Many of these organizations are registered as 501c non-profit organizations.  This means any money donated to them are potentially tax-deductible.  Some of the organizations are not as big and therefore not registered as non-profits, however they are just as awesome in the charity work they do. Donating money is never required, just an option to help the organization in their efforts.
  2. The organization has already researched or has individuals who find recipients who want the crocheted goods.  They work with shelters/hospitals/or other groups who say, “YES! send us your crocheted items.  We will get them in the hands of people who want them”.  They will not take a box of hats to a hospital who will only place them in a closet.
  3. They often have specific requirements in what they will accept and what materials you can use.  Many times they will require you to use specific yarn or a specific pattern or they will not accept your items.  If there is such a requirement follow it for it is there for a reason!  It may be to keep the recipients safe, or for comfort, or for wash-ability or for some other reason.  If you cannot meet the established requirements, please find another organization to work with.
  4. If you do not have a local chapter you will have to mail your projects and will incur postage cost. Seek out the local chapter or collection site if available.  Most organizations will have chapters or drop off locations listed by state on their website. Maybe you will be lucky and have a location near you.  This would save postage costs and maybe you can make some new friends!

Below is a list of organizations I have come across where the donated items are sent to recipients who have asked for and want the items.

  1. Octopus for a Premie, The Octo Project.
    Collects crocheted octopuses.
    Original Danish site, https://www.spruttegruppen.dk/danish-octo-project-english/
    A list by country for Facebook groups or website, http://mynomadhome.com/the-octopus-for-a-preemie-project-a-list-of-countries-and-their-websites/
    The US group, on Facebook, is very strict on the materials used and other requirements.  This is important as the item is going to a very precious new little life and we want him or her to be safe!  The photo above is a collection of octos sent to one of the group ambassadors, Lisa.  She will inspect each one for safety, sterilize and then deliver to a hospital.  Lots and lots of love!
  2. Hats for Sailors, website,  http://hatsforsailors.com/
    Ravelry group, http://www.ravelry.com/groups/hats-for-sailors
    All hats must be hand-made of 100% washable wool (superwash).
  3. Knitted Knockers, https://www.knittedknockers.org/
    Knitted and crocheted breast prosthetics.
    Yarn requirements and specific pattern required, see website.
  4. Project Linus, http://www.projectlinus.org/
    Collects handmade blankets.
    Check your local chapter for any restrictions.

There are number of other dedicated groups out there. Whatever your passion may be there is likely a related charitable opportunity for you to share your crochet talents.  But do your homework and ask questions. And for those who prefer to keep their charity work local, please check back as my next post will provide ideas on how you can support your local community with your crochet talents.

crochet patterns for men

Eco-Craft, an up-cycled tea cozy.

I love herbal teas and I love to drink tea while at work.  It helps to keep me warm as my office building is really cold.  Add to that I’m usually cold when others are not and that my job is sedentary and you get a very cold me.  I have a space heater, an extra sweater and a throw blanket in my office.   I just recently purchased an electric tea kettle and I love it.   However, I found that I had to keep reheating the water for my second and third cups of tea.  So the crafty in me kicked in and I decided it was time to make a tea cozy.

I got up early Saturday morning and while having a cup of coffee with my husband, we heard a bang and the power went out.  Great.  No power = no water = no shower. Thankfully he was already ready for work so he left.  Without power I had nothing to do.  There was enough daylight coming in so I decided I’d start working on the tea cozy. Rummaging through a box of pre-felted wool sweaters saved for a throw rug I hope to eventually make, I found this really cute striped sweater.  cozy-sweater-1

I pinned the sweater together and cut around the arms and neck.  I forgot to take a photo of this step so I drew on the cut lines, below.   If you are making one, you would want to make sure you have everything pinned together first and make sure your cuts are as even as possible.

cozy-sweater-3.jpg

The cozy was looking like it was going to be too tall so I trimmed off the bottom ribbing.  The sweater was originally a cardigan so I opened it and traced the shape onto eco-fi felt to use as a liner.  This felt is very cool as it is made out of 100% recycled bottles!cozy-sweater-2

At this point the electric company showed up and determined the cause of our problem was a poor squirrel.  The little guy got on the transformer thingy and was electrocuted.  😦 They trimmed back the tree limbs that were too close to the pole and replaced the damaged part and our electric was back on in a jiffy.  Thanks guys!!!  FYI-save the squirrels and keep your tree limbs well trimmed near power poles.  I know I will from now on.

With the power back I was able to steam the sweater and the felt so they were nice and smooth.  I trimmed the edges of the both the sweater and the eco-fi felt so they were even then trimmed the liner so it was just a little bit smaller than the sweater.  The next step was to sew the two end pieces together and across the top.

Next I turned the sweater inside out and sewed the opening closed and across the top.  Then turned it right side out.  This step probably would have been a lot quicker if I used a sewing machine.  My sewing machine and I don’t always get along so I decided to hand sew it.

cozy-sweater-4Next, the liner was inserted into the sweater and sewn together along the bottom seam.  I decided to sew the ribbing over bottom edge of the cozy to add some stability.  Last, some random buttons where sewn where the cardigan button holes were and a little tab was added to the top.  Success! An adorable tea cozy made of recycled and re-purposed materials!  If I had thought ahead, I would have added the trim, tab and buttons before sewing together and before adding the liner.  This may have saved some time.  But I was making it up as I went along and it worked out fine.  The end result would have been the same.  It was a fun project for a lazy Saturday.  I tested it out with my stove top kettle and it works great! I can’t wait to use it at work.

cozy-sweater-5Happy crafting!!

#familyfun tic-tac-toe game board crochet pattern by Darleen Hopkins #CbyDH

Octopus for a preemie donating to a local hospital

New Year, Less Stash

Octopus for a preemie donating to a local hospital

Two octopuses for preemies donating to a local hospital.

Hello and Happy 2018!

Time is marching on and the new year is here.  Time to reflect on the past year, soak in the good times, let go of the bad, and resolve to make changes for improvements in your life.  One of my goals/resolutions is to reduce current yarn stash.  I’ve been called “the anti-hoarder” before and feel weighed down by stuff.  I have been working on reducing stash for a long time.  A couple years ago I “trained” myself to only buy yarn for current projects if something appropriate wasn’t already in my stash.  It was hard at first but now I can easily walk past a yarn sale and not linger.  However, I still have a lot of yarn.  Too much yarn.  Approximately 12 paper boxes full of yarn.    For some, that may not seem like a lot but for me, it is still too much.  My goal is to work it down to 6 boxes at the most by the end of the year.  Once I get there, I will work on reducing it more.  I want to have an amount of yarn that can be easily access and store in one place.  So, how do I get there?

1. Crochet more!

A lot happened in 2017 which prevented me from crocheting near as much as I would have liked.  A number of new designs were halted or not started as planned.  I also did not get to do nearly as much charitable crochet as I would have liked.  So, the number one way to reduce stash is to use it both in new designs and charitable crocheting.  2017 brought the shutting down of a wonderful group, Halos of Hope.  I’m sad to see them close but happy for the founder as she has decided to focus on her family.  2017 also brought to my attention the Octopus for a Preemie movement.  This is a great international organization.  Check out the Official Octopus for a Preemie-United States group.  I am fortunate enough to know a woman who works in a local NICU.  She collects these octos for the babies in the unit.  A good bit of stash will be used making the octos for her.  The two in the photo above were finished last night!  I also enjoy making lapghans for the local senior center.  I made two in 2016 but was unable to make any in 2017. Some stash yarn has already been earmarked for this 2018 project.

In addition, I have some personal projects I have been wanting to make forever.  One in particular is a rug out of felted sweaters.  I have one box full of felted sweaters.  If I could FINALLY make that project, it will clear out one of the boxes!

I also joined a monthly potholder swap group on Ravelry.  I’m excited for the monthly exchanges, making the potholders and seeing what arrives in the mail.  I’ll be sure to update the blog with both what is sent and received.

And of course, design more.  I’m hoping 2018 won’t be as crazy busy and I’ll have more time to design with the yarn on hand.  When I wrote the Yarn Stash and the Anti-Hoarder post 3½ years ago, I had LESS STASH than I do now!  UGH!  I know this is due to my ordering yarn in early 2017 for planned designs that just didn’t happen.  I am determined to reduce the stash this year, not gain.

2. Donate yarn.

A good bit of the yarn that is not appropriate for planned personal projects, designs or charitable projects will be donated.  I did a pretty thorough clean out a couple years ago but it is time to revisit the stash with this goal again.  Expensive and specialty yarn may be listed for sale or given away.  Most of my yarn isn’t fancy or expensive and therefore, most that isn’t planned to be crocheted with in the very near future will be donated to the local thrift store.

I love hearing about other crocheters’ new year goals.  While writing this post, I learned about the 365 Days of Granny Squares.  Very cool.  I also love the idea of a temperature blanket.  This is on my future to-do list.  Do you have any crochet related goals for the new year?

Happy New Year and Happy Crocheting!

Darleen

Winter Sky Cowl, crochet pattern by Darleen Hopkins

The 2017 Gift-A-Long is here!

The 2017 Gift-A-Long is here!

GAL 2017This is the fifth year for the Indie Designer Gift-A-Long and I’m super excited for it to begin. What is Gift-A-Long? It’s a multi-designer promotion to help you kick your holiday gift-making into high gear!

Basically, 311 indie designers of knit and crochet patterns, have banded together to support each other and help everyone get their holiday to-do list done while having a lot of fun and possibly winning patterns and yarn and kits and lots of other fiber finds.

In a nutshell there are:
311 designers from 31 countries with lots and lots of donated free patterns to win as well as physical prizes.

There are over 18,000 patterns to knit or crochet that will make you eligible to win one (or more) of the fabulous prizes.  Of the over 18,000 patterns, 5,300+ of them will be on SALE for 25% off!  Yup! Big Savings so stock up on your favorites.  The sale runs from Tuesday, November 21, 2017 at 8:00 pm US EST to Wednesday, November 29, 2017 at 11:59 pm US EST.

There will be Pinterest boards and Ravelry Bundles available to peruse for all the sale patterns.  Each designer has at least 5 and up to 20 patterns on sale. Once you get your sale pattern, check out the other patterns the designer offers.  All patterns are eligible for the KAL/CAL threads and all paid for patterns (self, or third party published) are eligible for prizes.  Did I mention the prizes??? Tons and tons of prizes but you gotta’ be in it to win!

Check the Ravelry group for more information.
You can find all my GAL eligible patterns here: Crochet by Darleen Hopkins on Ravelry

Confused?  Check out the FAQs!

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New Patterns Alert! Winter Sky Cowl and Pretty in Pink Change Purse or Eyeglass Case

Hello!  The last couple of weeks have been busy finalizing patterns, running tests and taking photographs.  I’m excited to share with you my two newest patterns available for download, The Winter Sky Cowl and Pretty in Pink, Change Purse or Eyeglass Case!

Both are easy patterns-you can do it!, are quick to crochet, and make great gifts.  Click on the photos to be directed to the pattern pages for more information.

Winter-Sky-Cowl-crochet-pattern-by-Darleen-Hopkins-webChange purse eyeglass case crochet pattern by Darleen Hopkins

And as always, both are included in my Buy 2, Get a 3rd for FREE sale on Ravelry. No coupon needed.  Just add 3 patterns to your Ravelry cart.  Happy Crocheting!!!

Christmas stocking crochet pattern by Darleen Hopkins

FO-Baby Shower Gift, Twin Octopuses

Twin OctiWOW-the last couple of months have been crazy. We have had a number of unplanned distractions during August and September.  Some good, some not so good.  But we are making them work and I finally feel like I will soon be able to get back to normal.  Normal for my family is busy but not crazy busy.  We enjoy our down town and it is during the down time that I am able to crochet.  When I found out a co-worker of mine was pregnant with twin girls, I started on a baby project for her.  That was a few months ago-she wasn’t even showing at the time :).  But I’m glad I started early because I have not been able to do much crocheting for far too many weeks.  Her baby shower was scheduled for this past Friday so I had to kick it into high gear and get her gift done.  And I finished just in the nick of time, the night before the shower.  They came out pretty cute!!!

The pattern is from the Facebook group, Octopus for a Premie-US.  Earlier this year I made a few of these for the local NICU unit.  I know one of the head nurses of the unit. She told me about the octopuses and how they help the premies.  She crochets too and makes them for her unit.  I made three for her and hope to make some more. They are too cute.  While making the three for donation, I realized they would make great baby gifts as all babies would love to grab onto to the tentacles.  And did I mention how cute they are!

With this pattern, I learned a new technique of yarn under rather than yarn over.  This technique makes a tighter sc so there is less of a gap in between stitches.  Check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpYj6ECBAck It is a little odd to get used to the method but it really does work.

Happy Crocheting!

Darleen

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