Making Squares for Charity

Making Squares for Charity
© 2006 – 2017 Sandra Petit,

When you crochet for charity, each charity has its own rules. Here are some general guidelines that I have found helpful through the years with regards to making SQUARES for charity. Be sure to check with your charity coordinator to find out the specific rules for your charity effort. If nothing else, this will give you something to ask about.

I can summarize all the rules into 4 main points.

1) No knots (don’t knot and cut, please leave long tails – 4 to 6″ – and sew them in).

2) Measure vertically and horizontally, not diagonally.

3) No fancy borders around squares. They must be flat so they can be joined to others easily.

4) Use 4 ply worsted weight acrylic yarn, single strand, unless otherwise stated.

Square: Having four equal sides and four right angles.

1) SIZE: Pay attention to the requested size. If the charity asks for 12” then don’t send 10”. If they ask for 6”, don’t send 5”. You will get the most accurate size if you use a hard ruler (not a flexible tape measure) and do not stretch the squares. Even if you’ve made the same square many times, different yarns work up differently. A quarter inch too small is usually acceptable, but again, check with your charity coordinator as to their policy.

2) YARN: 4 ply Worsted weight acrylic yarn is the norm but ask. No wool, cotton, thread or fur unless they say that’s okay. Do not use double strands unless specifically requested or you inquire first.

Recommended hook for use with worsted weight is G, H, I or J. In my experience, most people like to use H or I. If you use too large a hook, the square is too stretchy and won’t blend well with the others. It’s also harder to get to a specific size if your stitches are large. With a smaller hook, you can get closer to size. It is also hard to weave the ends in well if your stitches are too large. If you use a hook that is too small, it will give many stitches across, making it more difficult to combine with other squares. It might also be stiff.

Worsted weights are not all equal. Keep in mind your personal tension and adjust as necessary. Whatever size hook or yarn you use, be sure your square is the necessary size.

3) ENDS: VERY IMPORTANT. Possibly the most important rule. DO NOT knot ends and cut off close to the knot. You must leave a suitably long strand (4-6″) at the beginning and end which is to be woven in. Some organizations specify NO knots at all (except for the beginning slip knot) so be sure you know their policies.

Why? The short answer is that if you knot and cut off close to the knot it will come apart and leave a hole. Knots also leave a hard lump that is hurtful to sensitive skin.

If you still are uncertain ask the assembler if you can leave them dangling. Sewing in ends is not something I love to do, but I’d rather take the extra time and know that it is done properly. Some organizations prefer you leave all tails for the assembler.

4) SHAPE: If you are asked to send squares, make sure it is a square and not an octagon, hexagon, flower or anything that is not a square. Flower squares are okay. Also, please make sure the squares are square. That means if the size is needed is 12, then the square should be 12″ on all sides, not 12″ on one side and 11″ on the other side, for example.

5) EDGING/BORDERS: No picot or shell edges. Edges should be straight or they won’t be able to be easily joined. An odd number of chains in corners can be helpful to assemblers. When joining, the center stitch or chain in the corner can be used to attach one square to another. You do not need to block or wash your square before sending unless it is specified.

6) PATTERNS: Any pattern that gives you the proper size is usually fine. Both granny squares and sampler squares are generally welcomed although grannies are easier on the assembler if a square needs to be resized. I suggest edging sampler squares to make them easier to join. Please also make sure samplers are no more than the requested size as they cannot be adjusted easily. (A sampler square is one worked in rows, not rounds.)

7) CHANGING COLOR: Multi-colored squares are usually welcomed. However, when making a granny square, please complete each round in one color. Do not change color in the middle of a round. In other words, do not have the entire square white and you run out of white, so you finish that round in green. If you don’t have enough of one color to finish a round, start that round with a new color.

8) SQUARE PLACEMENT: If you are making squares that MUST be placed next to one another (such as squares that spell out a word) I suggest that you attach these together with a large safety pin or long strand of yarn. This will help in the joining efforts.

9) TAGS: If your charity requires tagging, follow your charity rules as to what info is needed on the tags. One option is to get business cards to use for this purpose. You can get inexpensive ones on the Internet. I have used VistaPrint for my own cards and find the quality good.

10) POSTAGE: Postage costs vary according to weight so it depends on how many squares you are mailing. Generally, you pay postage to mail the items to your charity effort. Some charities will also accept financial donations to help with postage fees. For example, if you are sending squares to be assembled, after they are assembled they must get to the recipient. Sometimes they have to be mailed which is cost incurred by the assembler.

11) Do I have to be an expert crocheter or knitter to contribute? Does my square have to be perfect? No. We are all at a different place in our crafting experience. Every square made with love and compassion for the recipients is usually welcomed. It does not have to be perfect. But if you follow the suggestions above, I think it will be. *smile* That said, I have run into a couple of efforts that have strict guidelines and specify that they will let you know if there is a problem with something you’ve sent. I personally think this is good. I would want to know if I’ve done something incorrectly.

12) COLOR: Keep in mind if it has to be joined to others, wild and crazy might not be the best colors unless that is what is requested.

Items being made for military personnel have specific requirements. It is important to follow those rules. The below suggestions do NOT apply to military items.

Feminine Colors – pink, pastels, lighter reds, lavender, teal, rose, light and medium blues

Masculine Colors – Darker colors like claret, burgundy, maroon or other dark shades of red, navy, royal blue, wedgewood, grey, camouflage in any shade, hunter green, sage, anything in the brown family such as coffee, warm brown, tan, taupe. Neutrals could be included if you are making an afghan and don’t want it too dark, like a light tan or buff.

Most men frown on anything pink or flowery, while women will generally use any color, even those considered more manly. And they love flowers. 🙂

Pastels – very light shades of other colors such as baby pink, lily pink, pale yellow, pale green, light coral, light peach, frosty green, pale blue, aqua, mist green, anything with light, pastel or pale in the name. Pastel yarns are good for babies and women. Pastels are not for men.

Brights – bright yellow, vibrant orange, cherry red, cardinal, really red, paddy green. If you can’t stand the glare, it’s bright. Orange is usually a brighter color as is yellow. Brights are great for kids.

Primary colors – blue, yellow, and red.

Secondary colors are those you can make using two primary colors. Those would be green, orange, and violet (purple).

Neutral Colors – ecru, aran, buff, off-white, white, soft white, antique white, eggshell, oatmeal, oyster. Neutral colors are often used to join afghans though brighter colors may be used as well.

Of course, many colors can be for either men or women, child, teen or adult.