Friday, January 8, 2010

Thoughts on charity knitting

The other day I was visiting with a friend who knits a little, and she said something about how great it was that I and other people knitted for charity. She said that she should do something like that, but she never thought about it.

This offhand remark got me to thinking about why do I knit for charity. Those who know me very well sometimes say things to me like I think too much, but this has been weighing on my mind for a few days.

I can't speak for all those who knit for charity. I speak only for myself, and here's what I think:

Ever since humans started thinking, we started wondering just why we were put here on this planet. Since I was a biology major in college, and that's what my degree is in, it does color my thinking. We're animals, and our purpose here to live and replace ourselves. A nice, quick scientific answer, and an answer we're not happy with because we have big, juicy, pulpy brains. Brains that make us think there's got to be more than that to our existence.

Most people want to feel important and to be immortalized someway. We, thank goodness, can't all be Donald Trump, full of self-importance, naming buildings after ourselves. What I, and many other knitters have found, is that we can more effectively make a difference in other people's lives doing something that we love, and we don't need to have our names tossed about while doing so.

When I knit a stoma cover for Grady Hospital, I can make a small, positive difference in the life of one person. I don't knit my name into it. I don't even get a thank you letter from the hospital, and that kind of recognition isn't important to me. For me, stoma cover knitting is knitting in its most meditative form. I make simple garter stitch squares with I-cord ties. They don't require much thought, and they let me enjoy my craft in its simplest, easiest form. It's a bonus that something I can enjoy so much can be a gift to someone in need.

It's also charity that stays in the larger community of the Atlanta Metro area. I've noticed over the past few years that my charitable donations have been changing focus from the large national and international charities to those can make a difference where I live. Let's take Lifeline Animal Project. I have used their services, the low cost spay and neuter for ferals several times over the past few years. They have been working with local animal control to provide spay and neuter for animals that have been or can be adopted. I can make a donation to them and have an affect in the county where I live. They can use that donation to provide free spay/neuter for a low income person who wants to keep their pet and needs that basic veterinary care.

I'm not saying any of this to be preachy or offensive to anyone. I just, like I said, got started thinking on why I knit for charity, and I thought I'd share my thoughts. Besides, as any of you hardcore knitters know, you soon run out of family to give all those hats and such to, but that doesn't stop you from knitting. Knitting is a part of you, who you are. A lifestyle habit that can actually change the world for one other person. Wow, when you stop to think about it, that's pretty amazing that this craft can do that.

As for me, when I started knitting stoma covers earlier this year, it was actually because the knitting group I'm in decided not to exchange holiday gifts, but to knit for a charity instead. I have a stash of cotton yarn that I'm not using, and this gave me a way to use a little of it. I personally didn't expect to enjoy doing them so much. They are very fast, a great break from keeping track of increases, decreases, lace knitting, charts, etc. I'm honestly not sure how many I've knitted since that first one. I'm around #10, but I'm finding the more I knit them, the less I care about the quantity. The important part is that they are a very much needed item, and I can provide them. What will happen when I run out of my stash of cotton yarn. Well, I have a lot of wool, and I really should be knitting for that other charity I decided to donate my time and yarn to. I have sent them a few items this fall, but I know it's not nearly enough. However, another great thing about knitting is if several knitters send just a few items each, it has a cumulative effect that can truly make a difference. Just look at Yarn Harlot and Doctors without Borders if you need a example.

Have a great day and weekend. It did snow here last night. Just enough to look quite unattractive with a dusting of snow showing grass and twigs poking up blackly all over the place. Yuck.

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