Sep 13, 2010

Donating Acrylic Knits

{This is part two of my Bad Idea Yarn Skeins series}

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of picking up some yarn donated to me by some lovely nuns in my area. They had read the feature on me in the newspaper and wanted to offer up their support by way of yarn donation. Not one to turn down yarn – EVER – I swung by and picked it up.

They had a bag almost as tall as I am, packed full with a variety of yarns for me to use. All of the yarn is from other people’s stashes, and as such is a bit more “vintage” than most people are used to. Older yarn doesn’t scare me in the least, and I began to sort through it as soon as I got home.
Amidst the few balls of wool that could be found, there was a large amount of acrylic. After having knit almost exclusively with wool for the last year for the One Hundred Hats project, I had to stop and think for a minute before I could come up with some great uses for this acrylic.

Blanket Squares. Much of the acrylic is a bit too scratchy for baby hats {which tend to be my go-to acrylic knit}, so I’m going to knit it up into squares to be added to charity blankets. Because each organization requires a slightly different size square, I’m going to knit diagonal squares so that I can be sure they all match requirements well.

I’m going to divide the yarn up between a few great organizations that accept squares to be sewn into blankets in the easiest way possible – box by box. Because I can print Priority Mail shipping labels at home for flat rate boxes, I’m going to send one out at a time to each of the organizations. As I start a box, I’ll simply grab a skein of yarn and start knitting.

I’ll make each diagonal square the right size and then toss it into the box. Lather, rinse, repeat. Once the box is full, I’ll print up a label and start on the next box, this time to the next organization. I figure these will be great projects to bring along with me to football games this fall.

Where will the squares be going?

I’ve got three great charities picked out for sending all my finished squares:

The Ghana Project. I’m excited to be sending some squares their way once again. The Ghana Project builds blankets that are then sent over to Africa to help comfort children going through surgery.

Warm Up America. This project has served thousands of people across the United States who have been part of natural disasters, house fires, displacement due to flooding, etc. They are amazing, and continue to help people in all 50 states.

Knit-A-Square. While I’ve never sent squares to Knit-A-Square, I’m super excited to start. This amazing organization donates finished blankets to African children, dispelling the myth that there is no need for hand-knit warmth in some African nations. They have an audacious goal that rivals my own, and I’m excited to be part of helping them reach their goal!

What this means for my yarn stash.

By the beginning of August I’d whittled my yarn stash down to under 40 skeins of yarn. I started to get excited at the prospect of knitting through the majority of that yarn for a variety of gift and charity projects, and seeing my yarn stash hit my ideal goal of around 20 skeins at a time.

Now that I’ve added all this amazing donated yarn, my stash is back up closer to 80 or 100 skeins of yarn. I’m not frustrated though – I’m actually more excited! I’m setting myself a goal of having it back down to my one knitting bag by the end of the year – by knitting mainly charity squares between now and December, I think I can do it with ease!

The fall months involve lots of driving to and tailgating at football games, lots of hanging out with friends and family watching football games, and lots of conversations in bars and restaurants about football games. Our family becomes football-based for four months out of the year, giving me lots of time to keep my hands busy on projects that don’t take up a lot of room or use up a lot of brain power! I plan to keep up with other projects while at home, but am going to bring square knitting with me on the road everywhere!

My ultimate goal is to knit 50 squares between now and December 31, 2010 that I can donate to the charities listed above. There are around 100 days between today and the end of the year, so I'll have to knit the equivalent of one square every other day to make my goal.

Want to join in?

Take a look around your knitting stash, and look for stray balls of acrylic. Even the most wool-centric knitter will find a ball or two of acrylic they’ve picked up along the way, and those who knit with acrylic on a regular basis are sure to have a few balls they’ve tired of looking at. Once you’ve figured out what acrylic you’d like to use, let’s all get knitting!

Pick one of the organizations above and just start working through squares – it’s a fast way to pare down your stash, as diagonal squares don’t take much planning or thought to execute properly, and you’ll be doing a world of good with your donations!

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