Friday, September 21, 2007

Knit for Kids

Just in case anyone reading this happens to be a knitter (or would like to be), I want to tell you a little about Knit for Kids. This program, which supplies hand knit sweaters to children all over the U.S. and the world, is in its tenth year. Volunteer knitters send sweaters to the home office in Carmel, New York, where the sweaters are sorted and packed up to be sent wherever they are most needed. Sometimes they might be sent to an orphanage in Europe, or to American children who have a parent who is in prison. Sweaters have recently gone to southern Iraq, Liberia, and Madagascar. The website has a distribution map showing where sweaters have been sent. Over the past ten years, Knit for Kids has sent out over 400,000 sweaters. According to their website: "2006 smashed all previous records – 74,983 sweaters were received, an amazing 11,729 in December alone."

You don't have to be a fancy knitter. Knitting beginners can use the basic and very simple knitting patterns that are supplied on the website, and very clear instructions are given for finishing the sweaters. You don't need to use expensive yarns--these sweaters are to keep kids warm and need to be washable and pretty sturdy.
Just in case you think you don't have time to work on a project like this, consider this. There are times every day when you might have a minute or two--riding on a train, sitting in a meeting, even working out on your exercise bike! I found out about the program a year and a half ago while chatting with a friend during a Town Meeting break, and since that time I have knit 23 sweaters--some of them are shown here. I knit while watching the Red Sox, while listening to books on tape, while riding in the car. I've found all sorts moments when my hands would otherwise be idle.

Please check out the Knit for Kids website at You can read stories about volunteer knitters, download a pattern, and see some great pictures of kids wearing their new sweaters. Thank you.


Towanda said...

Clair ~

I am so grateful for this post and for the link.

I love to knit and I always like to have a project going. These kids sweaters are just a perfect thing for me to do. Don't know how much time I will have to get much done before my move...and I have actually packed all my knitting stuff so I will have to buy some yarn and needles.....but your post has inspired me! THANKS!

clairz said...

Thank you, Towanda, for the comment. Please tell everyone you know about Knit for Kids. It's such a great project and the pictures of the kids on the web site are so inspiring. Some of the sweaters even end up in New Mexico.

I figured out a way to do the sweater on a round needle because I really, really don't like to purl for some reason. I can give directions if you need them, but if you're a knitter you'll probably work it out.

By the way, I just discovered that I can knit and read at the same time! AND I can knit and do sudoku simultaneously. How about that?

Towanda said...

Yes send me directions....but only if you have them written down.

I can knit and watch TV or listen to music and that is about all.

clairz said...

Basically, you just cast on the total number of stitches given for both the front and the back of the sweater, putting in markers to keep track of where each one begins and ends. For Size 2, for instance, cast on 61, slip on a marker, cast on another 61, slip on a marker, and join, being careful to have no stitches twisted. Then do the ribbing as in the pattern, only in the round. Change needle size (see pattern) at the end of the ribbing and knit round until you get to the yoke/sleeve increase. At this point, slip half the stitches onto a stitch holder and remove your markers because you no longer need them. Follow the directions as given in the original pattern from this point to increase, knit up, and cast off the sleeve/yoke front; then pick up the stitches from the stitch holder and do the same thing to make the sleeve/yoke back. Lucky for me, when you do the yoke/sleeve section, you knit both sides.

It sounds complicated when written down, but it goes together quite easily and nicely.

Once you've cast off, to finish the sweater you only have to stitch up the top and undersides of the sleeves, using their nice directions, because the body is already one piece.