7 Ways You Can Help Others by Donating Knitted Items

Ready to try charity knitting? Here are 7 things you can knit for charity right now

  • SEVEN of the most needed and appreciated items you can knit for charity
  • NINE free pattern collections to knit those needed and appreciated items
  • EIGHT charities where you can donate these items
7 ways to help others by donating knitted items

New knitters (or experienced knitters that have only just recently discovered charity knitting) often ask what they can knit for charity.

The short answer is, almost anything! I’ve been writing about charity knitting since 2011. And I’m constantly amazed at the ingenious ways people use yarn to improve the lives of others.

The longer answer, of course, is that needy people seem to benefit most often from a handful of items.

Below is a collection of 7 ways you can donate knitted items that will likely be accepted with open arms. You’ll also find links to a free pattern collection, as well as a charity that can use what you’ve made.

If you’re looking for a jumping-off point for things to knit for charity, keep reading!

1. Afghan Squares

donating knitted items

I often suggest that new knitters start their charity knitting adventures by knitting squares. Squares are fast; they’re easy; they’re a great way to practice stitches; and they’re extremely portable, so you can knit them anywhere!

And, if you’d like, you can also sew a bunch of them together to create a blanket! (See more about donating blankets in the next item.)

Free pattern collections: How to Send Warmth Worldwide with Knitted Squares

Suggested charity: Warm up America

(Also, check out my free eBooklet that offers a square pattern! Click the button below to sign up for your copy.)

Want more free knitting patterns for charity? Click here for your copy of “4 Quick Charity Knitting Wins” and start making a difference today!

2. Afghans/Blankets

knitted blankets to donate

You can knit individual squares and sew them up, as mentioned above. Or, you can use full blanket patterns! One thing I personally love about knitting full blanket patterns, especially in the wintertime, is snuggling up under it while I knit. Such a double-win!

Free pattern collection: The Ultimate Guide: 8 Quick Blankets You’ll Love to Knit

Suggested charity: Project Linus

3. Preemie & Baby items

Preemie and baby items are among the most popular charity knitting projects. So many reasons why: they’re adorable, they knit up quickly, and they tug at the heartstrings like few other.

free knitting patterns for hats
Photo: Patti Pierce Stone

It would be nice if preemie and baby items’ popularity would mean they aren’t as desperately needed, but sadly that’s not the case. You may find that hats and blankets aren’t needed as much as other articles of clothing. However, that doesn’t mean they’re never needed.

If you want to make sure your items for charity are truly needed, try knitting items such as booties, bibs, sweaters, and so on.

(Also, be sure to check out my free eBooklet referenced above, for a super-quick-knit bonding heart pattern!)

Free pattern collections: 7 Free & Simple Baby Knitting Patterns, 21 Perfectly Precious Patterns for Preemie Clothes

Suggested Charity: Preemies of the Carolinas

4. Mittens & Socks

These projects that come in pairs are often desperately needed.

In particular, children are often in dire need of mittens in the wintertime and in cold climates. Orphanages, homeless shelters, and schools love to receive mittens to keep small fingers warm.

And did you know that socks are the number one most-requested item of clothing in homeless shelters? That makes socks of all sizes a great knitting project choice.

Free pattern collections: Six Free Baby and Child Sock Knitting Patterns for Charity, 12 Free Ways to Make Practical & Fun Mittens for Children

Suggested Charities: Mittens for Detroit, Socks for Soldiers

5. Scarves & Cowls

knit a simple scarf

The same places that need mittens and socks often also need scarves or cowls. In addition, scarves and cowls often make wonderful comfort items. Beyond the physical comfort, there’s something about a warm scarf or cowl that really communicates the depth of your love and concern.

Free pattern collection: Beyond Garter Stitch: How to Create Beautiful Scarves for Free

Suggested Charity: Handmade Especially for You

6. Pet Items

In both the United States and the United Kingdom, pet overpopulation is a real problem. This means crowded shelters run almost entirely by volunteers on next to no budgets. It’s not hard to see why knitting for pets is such a wonderful choice.

Two popular knitting projects for pets include toys and blankets! Blankets, in particular, are a great choice for a charity project. Not only do they comfort shelter animals, but they also give a homier atmosphere to the shelter in general.

Free pattern collection: Delight Dogs & Cats with These 8 Free Knitting Patterns

Suggested Charity: Snuggles Project

7. Hats

free knitting patterns for hats

Hats may be the most commonly-knitted item for charity. And for good reason! You’ll find two big reasons to knit hats: to keep needy people warm, and to cover the heads of those who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy.

One thing I love about hats is that they can be as simple or as elaborate as you’d like. A hat is a perfect canvas for showing off both beautiful yarn and beautiful stitch patterns and/or appliques.

Free pattern collection: 7 Popular Ways to Knit Warm Hats You’ll Love

Suggested Charity: Knots of Love

Ready to really dive into charity knitting? Click the button below to sign up for the Knitting Nuggets Newsletter and get my free guide: “How to Get Your Handknits to Local People in Need: What You Need to Know.”

Get “How to Get Your Handknits to Local People in Need: What You Need to Know” FREE with your subscription to the Knitting Nuggets Newsletter. When you join this community, you’ll receive resources + inspiration to knit patterns you love for people you care about!

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  1. keep baby knitted items within the restrictions of the hospital you are donating to. on the newborn and premie units we could not accept items with anything sewn or glued on, including pom poms. they may look wonderful, but can be considered a choking hazard. please check beforehand. so much work and love goes into these handmade items, it is unfortunate if they can’t be accepted.

  2. I have been knitting for charity since 2005. I knit one pair of mittens every week (sometimes 2 or 3 pairs in a week!) and give them to a local charity for children. My patterns cover 5 sizes, from infant to 12 years old, in many different colors, solids and multicolors mixed together. I developed the pattern using techniques I like from 3 or 4 different patterns. I call it The Mitten Project, and it makes me warm.

    1. You are a charity knitting dynamo, Louise! ❤️I especially love that you designed your own pattern. You can feel free to link to it here, if you like!

  3. Hi there, I’m just starting out on knitting for charity, and love your website; it’s amazing and just what I was looking for. I really like the hat in your picture above in the 7 popular things to knit. Do you have a pattern for this or suggest where I can source one, and can you help with which yarns to use to get that effect. Many thanks and best wishes. Sandra

    1. Hello Sandra! I’m so happy you’re finding this site helpful!

      I can tell you exactly which pattern I used to make that hat: it’s called Scrap-happy Celebration Hat, and you can find it here: https://cosymakes.wordpress.com/2007/10/05/scrap-happy-celebration-hat/ This pattern was literally designed to use up your yarn-y odds and ends, and that’s exactly what I did when I made this hat–grabbed a bunch of my favorite leftover yarns and knitted them up. So that’s what I suggest for you; find your favorite yarn scraps and use this pattern to knit them up and make your own beautiful hat. I’m so pleased you like mine, it’s definitely a favorite!

  4. Thank you for sharing these resources, they are most helpful. I currently knit for 2 charities locally and the only regrets I have is I wish I had more time to devote to these projects and that I could knit faster!

    1. You’re very welcome, Pam! I’m with you, I too wish I had more time or could knit faster so I could give more to charity. But remember (as I try to remind myself all the time) that every bit you can give helps!

  5. Nicole,

    I have knitted for charity a few years now.
    I can no longer afford to send these things in the mail, can you suggest a way to find a home for my knitted items

    Thanks from Philadelphia, PA

    1. Hello. I’ve been knitting for charity for years. I am currently in NY having just moved back from FL. I loved my knitting group there but the price of postage keeps me from mailing back to my group. I’m finding places here local. My son works in the ER at a local hospital and told me today that they can use hats for the homeless, etc that are brought in from the streets. Wonderful! Another place for my crochet hats! I also now have a contact with a local church that has an outreach that will give my hats, knitted scarves, ear warmers and fingerless gloves to. The local chemo clinics are a good source for hats for those situations. Hope this gives you some ideas.

  6. I have been making lapghans for the local nursing homes for years. They like the bright colors I use, and I try to make the articles no more than 48″ on a side, so they are big enough to keep the person warm, and small enough that they won’t catch in wheel chairs. Most of my lapghans are knooked in a log cabin pattern I adapted from a dish cloth pattern.

    1. Hi Linda! There are suggestions for charities to which you can submit your donations in every project suggestion. If you need more suggestions, just let me know what you’d like to knit and I’ll see what I can suggest for you. 🙂

  7. Nicole I enjoy your newsletters and nuggets!! I make prayer shawls for our local cancer center. About 20 ladies get together every week and we knit and crochet the shawls….very rewarding. Do you have the pattern for the shawl pictured at the top of this blog? If looks like a shawl knitted with a beige yarn. Thank you for all you do to remind us of other’s needs.

  8. Thank you so much for including Mittens for Detroit in this article. We receive about 1000 handmade pairs every year. It means so much to so many. Thank you!