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How to Knit Comfort Scarves for Domestic Violence Survivors

Handmade Especially for You comfort scarves

Partner with Handmade Especially for You and help bring comfort and healing to survivors of domestic violence

“Handmade especially for you”: these are words we all love to hear. If you’re a knitter, they’re probably words you’ve uttered many times, and seen the smiles that come in response.

But what if you’d never received a single gift in your life? Or what if it’s been years since you’ve received a gift, let alone one that’s handmade?

Shelters for survivors of domestic violence often house exactly that kind of person.
The women and children in these shelters have emotional needs that comfort scarves start to fill.

Just knowing that someone cares about them gives them hope and the courage to go on.

The Mission of Handmade Especially for You

Leslye Borden created Handmade Especially for You in 2008 with a specific purpose. As she says in her mission statement:

We want every woman who comes into a shelter to receive a comfort scarf simply because she was brave enough to leave her abusive situation. We do not see comfort scarves as rewards or incentives for good behavior in the shelter or for following rules or anything other than “congratulations” for leaving abuse. Leaving an abusive environment is a huge step for the woman who takes it.

Handmade Especially for You comfort scarves
Photo: Leslye Borden, Handmade Especially for You

Handmade Especially For You takes their partnerships with shelters further than just handing over the scarves.

Handing a woman a scarf marks a beginning for many.  Directors at the shelters use this precious gift to encourage the woman to take advantage of an opportunity the shelter offers:  beginning the course of therapy and education that will help the woman live the rest of her life without abuse.

Receiving a comfort scarf is an important moment because it stimulates a sense of self-worth in women who have been abused.

In 2018, Handmade Especially for You’s creators made 11,770 scarves, 2,184 hats, and 777 baby items. They distributed these creations to 70 shelters throughout  California, from San Diego all the way north to Humboldt.

Many yarn companies donate yarn to Handmade, and they happily share these donations with their knitters. Handmade uses the donated yarn to make Magic Ball kits. These, they distribute to volunteers who want to make comfort scarves but cannot supply their own yarn.

It doesn’t matter how much you knit! The point is to share your heart with another.

Getting Involved with Handmade Especially for You

Handmade Especially for You now has affiliates! So if you don’t live in the state of California, you can visit their affiliates page and find one near you. An affiliate, in Leslye’s words, “donates handmade comfort scarves to shelters for abused women in their own community in the same way as we donate them in our community.”

Handmade Especially for You comfort scarves
Photo: Leslye Borden, Handmade Especially for You

Affiliates are available in 9 other states, San Diego, and in both Canada and England! You can find your nearest affiliate here.

An obvious way to help, of course, is to knit or crochet a scarf! Handmade has a wonderful collection of free knitting and crochet patterns that you can choose from. Their knitting patterns are here, and you can find their crochet patterns here.

You can also find a special scarf pattern, perfect to use with leftover yarn, at Knitting for Charity! (Scroll down towards the bottom of the article for the scarf pattern.)

There are a few guidelines you need to follow. When knitting, use big needles. Try a 15 or even a 17. Use an open stitch women in a warm climate will enjoy, since the charity focuses on Californian shelters. (Unless, of course, you knit for an affiliate.)

Use yarn you’d want against your own skin in a bright, cheerful color. Make sure your scarf is at least 60 inches long and between 4 and 4 1/2 inches wide.

Handmade Especially for You comfort scarves
Photo: Leslye Borden, Handmade Especially for You

Above all, make it personal! Add your own loving touches, and transform it into something you’d love to give to your own daughter, sister, or best friend.

You can make children’s hats, too, if that’s your preference! Handmade has their own special hat pattern you’ll love. You can find it right here at Knitting for Charity!

If you’re not able to buy your own yarn, Handmade Especially For You can supply it! All they need is a small Paypal donation to cover shipping.

Leslye is always happy to answer any questions you might have about knitting or crocheting for Handmade. You can email her at any time at leslyeborden@cox.net.

Handmade Especially for You baby hats
Photo: Leslye Borden, Handmade Especially for You

Handmade Especially for You has made and distributed over 120,000 scarves, over 8,000 hats, and over 1,500 baby items since Leslye created the organization. Sadly, the need never ends.

Until domestic violence is no longer a problem, its survivors will always need comfort and healing. I hope you’ll visit Handmade Especially For You today to get started. It’s a beautiful way to offer needed comfort and healing through knitting.

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  1. This is a wonderful group! I’ve been sending them yarns from my stash for years; even knitted or woven items items I don’t use. Thank you, Leslye, for being our guiding light in this endeavor! And thank you Nicole Haschke for featuring this worthy cause on your website.

    1. You’re very welcome, Sophie. I agree that Handmade Especially for You is a wonderful group. Thank you so much for commenting!