June 20, 2014 at 1:00 am

Handmade

Yarn color matters when you knit for charities

A fellow yarn enthusiast, who knits year-round for charity groups that donate hats, mittens and scarves to less fortunate and homeless individuals, shared a story with me about one of the adult male recipients who, while at a distribution site, asked if more items could be made in black.

After hearing the story, and understanding the man’s plight — needing winter accessories to brave Michigan’s bitter cold temperatures, but not wanting them as a “popof color” — I’ve started doing more knitting for charity. And while colors like bubble gum pink, candy apple red, lemon yellow, tangerine orange and concord grape are all quite yummy to look at as I’m standing in the yarn aisles, I now realize they’re not the best choices when knitting for charity, especially if there’s any chance the items will be offered to adults.

As charity knitters (and crocheters), I think we sometimes select colors we’repersonally drawn to, forgetting the finished project is actually for someone else. It’s essential to “know” the individuals we’re knitting for, and, whenever possible, use neutral tones as a way to stretch our charity knitting dollars. So, I’ve learned to resist all those fashion colors that jump out at me from the bends, and, instead, purchase darker tones, such as black, brown, gray and burgundy — colors practically anyone would be willing to wear. I call it “knitting in the dark.”

And, to keep things simple — meaning no stitch increases or decreases required — I’ve chosen scarves as my charity knitting projects, using a simple rib stitch pattern of knit one, purl one. I find they work well for social knitting because very little concentration is needed, which allows me to chime in on any interesting “knit chat” without skipping a stitch — well, most of the time, anyway!

Right now, I’m hooked on using Vanna’s Choice by Lion Brand because it’s a worsted-weight acrylic that feels and looks very soft. Priced at just $3.99 a skein at Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores, it often goes on sale for $2.79. Two are needed to make a scarf, so that’s less than $9 for something that’ll help keep someone warm this winter. I think most will agree that’s money well spent. My goal is to make at least one a month, in addition to my other needlework projects.

Made-to-Order Scarf

Level: Beginner

Estimated time: 12 hours

Tools: Size 11 knitting needles, scissors

Supplies: Two skeins of Vanna’s Choice by Lion Brand

Abbreviations: CO cast on, St(s) stitch(es), K knit, P purl, BO bind off

Finished size: Roughly 7.5 by 60 inches (42 sts) or 7 by 66 inches (40 sts)

Instructions

CO either 42 or 40 sts, depending on desired width/length.

Row 1: K1, P1 (rib st).

Repeat rows in pattern until about a 50-inch tail is left.

BO in pattern and work in loose ends.

Detroit News Staff Writer Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150 or jbrown@detroitnews.com. For more news and giveaways, visit her blog at detroitnews.com/crafts