Apr 22, 2013

A Crafty Weekend And Donating Hats

This past weekend a few friends and family gathered for a crafting retreat. We all met at one person’s house and proceeded to eat terrible food, drink too much coffee and wine (not together … mostly) and craft until we could barely see straight. A mix of scrapbookers, card makers, knitters and crocheters, we all took over a table and got to work.

Craft retreats can be a blast if you go into it with the right expectations, and this weekend I think we all nailed it. We each brought too many supplies (which always happens) but because there were a few pre-planned ideas on what to make and do, we all walked away with more accomplished than we’d planned.

One such planned project was for the knitters and crocheters. A few lovely ladies brought along parts of their yarn stash, and then I printed a few free hat patterns from Ravelry that a knitter or crocheter of any skill level would enjoy. People picked the colors they liked and the hat size they wanted to make, and we all got busy!

By providing just enough structure to the weekend without requiring folks to make or finish a specific thing, something amazing happened. Four women (about ½ of the crafters in attendance) managed to make 25 hats for Nebraska Hats For Hope Initiative in just three days!

An experienced crocheter, a few with moderate skills and one relative newbie to the game picked the yarn they loved and worked from patterns they felt comfortable with. Skill sets were challenged just enough to make the process of making the hats a fun activity, and everyone ended up with piles of amazing hats in front of them!

I don’t expect any of these women will turn into full-time hat makers. They may not pick up another hat pattern for months, possibly not until our next crafty gathering. But these 25 hats will make a huge difference in the lives of some folks around Omaha. In the past I’d shied away from the idea of a knit-in or a weekend crafting party where folks made hats, but after this weekend I walked away with enough knowledge to know planning an event like this isn’t as difficult as I’d thought.

You need a few basic things to host a successful craft-in for charity –

1. A venue. People need comfy chairs, a bit of desk or table space in front of them for their patterns, a drink, and whatever else they need to feel comfy and productive. You’ll need enough outlets for folks who want to have computers open, and a place for folks to pee when necessary. If it’s an overnight event, folks will need someplace to sleep.

2. More than enough yarn. I love that people didn’t have to use their own yarn stashes for these charity hats, and I loved that people brought bins of yarn for public use. Having a variety of yarn in different weights and colors means folks won’t have to craft a hat they don’t enjoy making from start to finish, and providing at least some of that yarn means new crafters won’t feel the pressure to bring anything along.

 3. Plenty of patterns. We ended up printing out half a dozen free patterns, with copies for each person who wanted one, over the course of the weekend. This meant quick access to patterns featuring a variety of stitch patterns and skill levels. Because I’m on Ravelry all the time anyhow I just jumped on as the ladies asked for a new pattern, but when I do this again I’ll bring a bunch already printed up. That’s it!

If you want your craft event to be more formal you may want other things as well but having space, yarn and patterns is all you really need to get folks excited to make hats for a day or a weekend, and end up with a pile of hats to give away! While I may look at knitting hats and giving them away like a full time job, you don’t have to do the same in order to effectively change the world. In fact, simply committing to knitting one hat, or hats for one day or weekend, can do just as much good as my lofty (and a bit crazy) goals.

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