This blog post began with a comment I've heard before:
I just don’t think that knitting is the right response for every problem. For one thing, it’s slow. Do you know how long it takes to knit even a preemie cap? If handknits were really the solution to a problem, there would be a serious imbalance between supply and demand. That’s a bit facetious, but I wonder if all that knitting time wouldn’t be better spent lobbying or protesting for change, and whether knitted donations aren’t more about gratifying the the donor than fulfilling a need.
I had these doubts in mind when I approached the Women’s Daytime Drop-in Center and asked if they needed a knitting teacher. I suspected my own motives and wondered whether I was offering something frivolous. But the volunteer coordinator assured me that to teach knitting to homeless and low-income women was to give them something of value –that the center’s clients needed more than just food, clothing, and shelter. I was reminded by this that homeless women and children are whole people; by offering a knitting class I would be honoring their creative impulses.
Yes! It might make more sense from a practical point of view to buy items or just send money, but there is an emotional gift being given as well as an item made of yarn. Little preemie hats keep those tiny baby heads warm, but they're also meant to make the parents see how lovely and special their babies are and to remind them that there are people, strangers, in the world who care about them and their babies. I've received thank you letters from parents and know that is true. And it's the same with hats and mittens made for children. I want them to know that there is someone they don't know who is thinking about them and wants them to be warm and has spent time and money making something beautiful as well as useful. It's that connection that makes the difference. It's that connection that is the point of knitting for others.