Wool Yarn: Is It up to the Charity Knitting Challenge?

If you love wool yarn, there’s no need to set it aside for charity knitting!

For the knitter who prefers using wool yarn, a certain transcendentalism often ties them to their fiber of choice. They love the plushness, the gentle springyness, of wool yarn. The faint scent and even the slight oiliness of lanolin. Even the way knitting genuine wool connects them to the animal who offered its fleece.

It’s little wonder that the knitter who prefers wool wants to use it for as much as s/he possibly can!

Wool yarn is often overlooked as a yarn option for charity knitting. Acrylic yarn, after all, is usually cheaper. It’s machine washable. And allergies to acrylic yarn are rare, if not nonexistent.

Even so, wool yarn does have many benefits over acrylic yarn that actually make it a terrific choice for charity knitting.

Why Charity Knitting Often Benefits from Wool Yarn

1. Wool breathes. How does wool breathe without lungs or gills? I have no idea. But it doesn’t trap moisture like acrylic can. It allows air to pass through, so when it is worn next to the skin, the skin remains dry.

2. Wool retains heat even when wet. While wool is renowned for its warmth, not everyone knows that even when wool gets wet, it remains warm. That means that if, for instance, you get caught in rain or snow while wearing a wool hat or mittens, neither your head nor your hands will get cold!

3. Wool is elastic. Wool stretches, but it also has memory. It doesn’t stretch out of shape, and it can be blocked (with water and/or steam) to just the shape you need. This is especially helpful for items like sweaters and shawls.

4. Wool can be felted. Of course, this can be a drawback of wool if you don’t want something felted. (Although you can easily avoid felting.) But felting can create a stronger and more durable fabric, making it great for items like slippers, mittens, and hats.

5. Wool is flame-resistant, making it especially suitable for children who must spend time around open flames.

Do you enjoy knitting with wool or have a constant supply of it? (Maybe you own a sheep or alpaca or angora rabbit — in which case, I’m very jealous!) If so, you can definitely use it for charity knitting!

While most charities prefer machine-washable yarn like acrylic, several other charitable causes can certainly use wool yarn — if they don’t actually require it.

Love Wool? Four Little-Known Ways to Use Wool Yarn for Charity Knitting

The following are great ways to knit for charity using wool yarn.

1. Warm Hands Network 
Although this charity has been around for nearly 10 years, I only recently discovered it. This is a Canadian charity that serves needy children and their families in the poorer parts of the country in Northern Canada. They particularly need mittens, cowls (NOT scarves), socks, sweaters, vests and blankets. They can also use hats, but they do receive a lot of hats and so they’re not as desperately needed.

2. Wool-Aid 
They’re based in the United States, but their work benefits children all over the world. Wherever children are cold and in need, Wool-Aid provides warm clothing and blankets. Their primary needs are hats and socks; second are sweaters and vests; third are mittens and blankets.

3. Walking with Orphans 
This organization is based in Romania and works with orphanages in eastern European countries. In addition to Romania, the orphanages are located in Bulgaria, Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine. They need a great many donations, not just knitted ones. For knitted donations, they need hats, scarves, sweaters, mittens/gloves, socks, warm pants, jackets, and vests.

4. Any homeless shelter
Did you know that the most-needed articles of clothing in homeless shelters are socks? And wool is the very best fiber for socks. This is a wonderful way to use wool. And it doesn’t have to be fingering weight, either! Worsted weight yarn makes delightfully warm house socks.

So if you long to use wool yarn but feared it wouldn’t work for charity knitting, fear no more! Wool yarn is an exceptional choice for charity knitting, as long as you knit the right items and donate them to the correct charity. And if you happen to inherit a flock of sheep or alpacas… please feel free to move next door to me!

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  1. Thank you for writing this article! It’s great to find out about charities that accept wool items and read about all the benefits of wool! I run a group who crochet and knit items for charity and we had quite a bit of wool that had been donated. I am now making a crochet bobble blanket for the Warm Hands Network.

  2. Warmth for Warriors (a Ravelry group) accepts wool hats for soldiers overseas. A point to consider is that unlilke acrylic, wool will not melt should (God forbid) a soldier get injured.