I took up loom knitting a few years ago and really enjoy it. I’m not very good at it (at least, I don’t think I’m very good at it), but it is relaxing and the perfect hobby for an impatient crafter like me because I can whip out a hat or a scarf or even a shawl relatively quickly (i.e., before I get bored with a project that is taking too long).
When I first started knitting, I went way overboard buying yarn on eBay and now have a never-ending stash of acrylic, worsted weight yarn that I feel obligated to work my way through before I buy more yarn. I was looking for patterns online (before all the cool books came out with loom knitting patterns in them) and stumbled across a charity group that encourages crafters who knit or crochet to make prayer shawls.
The idea behind a prayer shawl is that it is created by a knitter (or crocheter) who prays for the recipient during the creation of the shawl and then blesses the shawl before giving it to the recipient. The shawl is intended to offer comfort to the ill, the infirm, the aged, the bereaved, or anyone who would appreciate the comfort of a warm shawl wrapped lovingly around them. The prayers, good thoughts and well wishes are, in a sense, knit directly into the weave of the shawl. The knitter doesn’t accept any money for the shawl, and is instructed to include some information about the creation of the shawl and the Prayer Shawl ministry (usually in the form of a printout supplied by the ministry). This is right up my alley because it combines my love of loom knitting with my healing work.
I’ve knit several prayer shawls for friends, family members and complete strangers who were recommended to me by mutual acquaintances. Knitting is very calming, relaxing and meditative for me anyway, so I found it very easy to hold positive, healing thoughts for the recipients in my mind while I was knitting the shawls. My only frustration was that it usually takes me several weeks to knit a prayer shawl and I’d like to be able to get them out more quickly than that.
I also found a few charities that collect knitted hats for chemotherapy patients, premature babies, and homeless shelters. I really enjoy donating to these organizations because I can turn out hats very quickly (baby hats can be knit up in about an hour!) and it is easy to use up small bits of yarn that would otherwise go to waste.
Recently, I’ve become involved in a charity that accepts donations of 8″x8″ knitted or crocheted squares that they assemble into wonderful, multicolored blankets for orphanages in Africa. The photos of children who’ve been orphaned due to the AIDS epidemic there sleeping on bare linoleum floors are just heart-rending, and an 8″x8″ square is so easy and quick for me to knit that I can almost send them an entire blanket’s worth of squares in a month.
If you knit or crochet and would like more information on any of these charities, let me know in the comments and I’ll pass the info along to you. Also, if you know of people or organizations who would benefit from donated shawls, hats or blankets, let me know that as well. I am happy to share the (loom knitted) love.