Knitting Hats for Charity

There are so many people in need. The homeless, premature babies, and those going through cancer treatments need hats to help keep them warm. As knitters, we have a unique opportunity to help people in need with our craft.

I'm particularly interested in knitting hats that teens will like. It's hard enough to be a teenager, but when you're homeless or sick, you really need some support. Teens tend to be very fashion-conscious, and they want to look good, no matter their circumstances.

Our eBook Easy Knitted Hats features fifteen hat designs, and I've chosen three that I think will appeal to teens.

Hear No Evil by Katie Himmelberg Pinch Hat by Cecily Clowik MacDonald Roll-Brim Hat by Grace Akhrem
Earflap hats are the in thing, and teens
will love this striped version.
It'll help them ward off the cold if they're forced to be outside in wintertime.
Teen girls will fall in love with this pretty, feminine hat. It's worked back and forth in garter stitch and then seamed. The seaming yarn is pulled tight to gather the fabric. Stripes are all the range with teenagers, and so are slouchy hats. This topper is a quick knit and you can use up scraps from your stash while you're at it.

Two of these hats are knit in the round and striped. When knitting stripes in the round, you should know how to control the jogs that occur when switching colors. Here's how to avoid the jog:

The Jogless Jog

Knitting color stripes in the round can result in jogs at the "seam line where each new round begins. This occurs because the first stitch in the row above a color change is actually the last stitch of the previous row of color, so it looks like you didn't change colors soon enough.(This happens because when you're knitting in the round you're actually knitting a spiral, not a circle.) In Meg Swansen's Knitting (Interweave, 1999) Meg offers and ingenious technique for eliminating these jogs when working solid-color stripes of two or more rounds.

Work the first stripe (let's call that color A) for the desired number of rounds, change colors (color B) and knit one round.

Work the first stitch of the second round with color B as follows: Pick up the right side of the stitch in the row below the stitch on the needle (it will be color A, put it on the left needle and knit it together with the firs stitch on the needle. You will have worked the first stitch of the round twice, but because you work into the stitch below the one on the needle the second time, you have only worked it for one round and it appears as if it were worked just once.

The jog between the two colors disappears and the beginning of the round for color changes only is shifted one stitch to the left. Note: Do not change the position of markers required for the placement of any shaping decreases of increases (such as ones used for waist shaping).

Continue working as many rounds as you want with color B. To change to another color, simply repeat the process, working the first stitch of the round a second time by picking up the stitch in the row below the stitch on the needle, thereby shifting the beginning of the round one more stitch to the left for color changes.

I knit for a teen charity here in Spokane, but I'm sure there are some wonderful charities out there for all of you hat knitters. Please leave a comment and share your favorite hat charity.

And be sure to download Easy Knitted Hats while it's on sale!


Other Things You May Like to Check Out:


Knitting Daily Blog
Kathleen Cubley

About Kathleen Cubley

Hello daily knitters! I'm the editor of Knitting Daily. I've been obsessed with knitting for about ten years now and my favorite projects are sweaters. I like the occasional smaller project, but there's nothing like yards of stockinette with a well-placed cable or a subtle stitch pattern here and there. I crochet a bit now and then—especially when I need to produce a baby blanket in time for the baby shower. I've been in publishing for 20 years and I'm finally exactly where I want to be: at the crossroads of knitting and communication. I live in Spokane, Washington and when I'm not knitting I enjoy gardening, snuggling with my dogs, swimming, reading, and playing in the snow in the winter. But, really, I'm pretty much always knitting!

44 thoughts on “Knitting Hats for Charity

  1. I have knitted hundreds of chemo caps – one of my favorite things to knit. I try to make them as pretty as possible – picot cast-ons, etc. Another wonderful charity to knit for is “Diana’s Angels.” They knit tiny blankets, hats and booties for premature babies that don’t survive. (You can also sew kimonos for them.) The layettes are donated to local hospital’s O.B. units and the tiny infants are dressed in them before being taken to the grieving families. The mothers are deeply touched.

  2. I’ve been making chemo caps for “Pat Pat’s Hats” – many are for children so I like to use bright colours, interesting patterns. I also make hats for “Mittens for Akkol,” which hand-delivers (through the “Motherless Child Foundation” founder) woolly handknits to children in two orphanages in Kazahkstan. Those kids definitely need warm things like the earlap hats! Every so often I give to a friend some hats that she includes in regular donations to local after-school programs and soup kitchens. These benefit our local community and the people here who need warm things.

  3. Well, I’m humbled that someone has already mentioned PatPat’s Hats ( , because I actually started PPH to celebrate e my nephew who has survived brain cancer. I also knit blanket squares for the Pinebstreet inn in Boston. The squares are knit together for afghans as their clients transition into homes. I love bright colors, Andy new favorite hat yarns are berrocco comfort and cascade pacific.

  4. Over the years I’ve knitted hats, demise gowns, blankets, wraps, chemo hats, hats and scarves and many other items. I like to donate to various groups locally to spread items. Over the past two years I’ve given items to St. Elizabeth Hospital birth center, the Friendship Home, a home for battered women and their children, and NW Lincoln church of Christ outreach to the underemployed. In January of this year my only daughter had her first child who lived only one hour. The nurse who cared for tem was impressed with the preemie nic-u gown and wrap I had made for Pippy and mentioned they would love to have some for other families. Since that time, I’ve been focusing on a new charity “Pippy’s Legacy” which I started to honor the memory of my granddaughter.

  5. I’m a little surprised that you would urge knitting hats for charity and then use that to SELL a hat pattern book. How about a free teen hat pattern? That could be Knitting Daily’s charitable act for the day.

  6. I started an organization eight years ago called Tiny Toppers of Maryland. We knit preemie and newborn hats for area hospitals. We’ve passed the 15,000 mark!

  7. Here in Lancaster County, PA we started a chemo hat website, We have a wonderful website where hats can be browsed, and you can order the size, color and style that you prefer. We usually have 100 to 200 hats on the site at any one time. We do not charge for the hats or postage. Most of our hats are ordered by women going through chemo, or their loved ones. We also receive requests for custom hats, usually for teens or children. We’ve made purple hats with butterflies, and even a zebra-striped hat! We are also grateful for any hat donations (knitted, crocheted-whatever!) as long as they are super-soft.

  8. I started a small regional organization in Western Pennsylvania 3 years ago called Handmade Hope. We just passed our 3000 mark!

    We currently collect and distribute hats, prayer shawls, and blankets that we distribute to 4 regional cancer centers plus the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. We are ALWAYS grateful for additional help. We are barely keep up with demand and items disappear as soon as we drop them off.

    Our Facebook page:

    Thank you!

  9. I have knitted Preemie hats for Cure International – they go to foreign countries and do life changing surgeries for free. They also care for moms and preemies in places like Afghanistan where such care is nonexistent for the poor.

  10. Our church has a knitting group that meets regularly and my contribution has been to knit hats for teen girls living at the Children’s Village here in eastern PA, so I was very interested in the article and will try this jogless jog. for the striped hats that I make which the girls love. Thanks, Mimi

  11. I knit hats for Knots of Love which donates knitted and crocheted caps for men, women, and children undergoing cancer treatment in hospitals all over the country. Although it is headquartered in Costa Mesa, California, the caps come in from all 50 states. At their web site,, you can get numerous patterns as well as find an extensive list of required yarns. Since the skin on the patients heads is very tender and sensitive, we must use soft yarns. They’re easily found at our local yarn and craft stores.
    Thanks for giving us a chance to publicize this great organization. I love to knit and to have someone benefit from my enjoyment is such a gift!
    Hugs to you for sharing this!

  12. My hat ‘jag’ is knitting for “Shop with a Cop” at Christmastime, they give out a bag with lots of little items, and I try to make enough hats to have one in each bag. This year, people are finding out what I do, and have started adding their knitting goodness to the mix!

  13. I started a Charity in London, Ontario called |Keeping Kids Warm 10 years ago. We knit hats,mitts and scarves for Homeless teens in Our Community. It is an extremely rewarding feeling to know that we have distributed over 16.000 items to the Homeless Teens. Having these 7 new designs for hats will be awesome. Even Homeless Teens like to be fashionable and warm. If anyone is interested in helping Us in Our area please feel free to check out Our website at Thank You Donna Atkinson-Wilson

    “Helping Homeless Teens One Stitch At A Time” is what we do…..

  14. I’m working with a group called Women4Women-Knitting4Peace which crafts hope, healing and peace globally and locally…one stitch at a time, one delivery at a time and one person at a time. We provide hats, scarves, shawls, dolls, socks and blankets to areas of conflict in local and international regions. My favorite project is called a “birthing kit” which consists of a baby hat, a 6″ peace pal doll and washcloth. The local Peace Pod group that I belong to creates a variety of items for local needs as well as specific items requested by delivery agents going to Uganda or other parts of the world. Over 29,000 items to date have been delivered to 50+ countries since June, 2006. Check it out at and see how you can help!

  15. I knit for Seamen’s Church Institute and their Christmas-at-Sea program. They help workers on cargo ships, riverboats, cruise ships, etc. with a variety of needs. I’ve made hats, scarves, and socks for them.

    SCI has several free patterns on their website for knitters and crocheters. Take a look and cast on!

  16. Thanks for asking…I donate to Delaware Headhuggers ( Robin provides new patterns (designed by Schnapps her schnauzer) almost daily…and most are free. Hats are sent to/ from all over the country.

    You might want to check out the website…


  17. Hi! I donate to the Mendocino Coast Children’s Fund, here in Fort Bragg, CA. I first started about 3 years ago by crocheting baby hats and then learned how to knit last year and have been doing both. It’s really nice to know that you are making someone happy, esp during the Winter holidays, with a new hat. Love your website!

  18. Really? Couldn’t you donate those three hat patterns pictured on your website that teens would like? After all they are there to knit for “charity.”

  19. My sister works as a infusion therapist (administering chemo) at Mayo Oncology Clinic in Scottsdale, AZ. She asked me to make hats for the patients who have lost their hair. She says they like the fuzzy yarns in “hair colors” best. If anyone is interested in knitting for that cause, you can email me at I have a white list but I will find you in my suspect box if you put “Chemo Hats” in the subject line. Thanks for your interest!

  20. I co-direct Kozy Kaps 4 Kids ( We make and deliver hats to children 0-18 that are undergoing Chemo. I love these patterns and cant wait to download the book. If anyone is interested in making hats for us please check us out.

  21. My favorite charity to knit hats for is Knots of Love ( They collect hats for people of all ages and distribute them for free to cancer treatment centers all over the U.S. They also send hats to VA hospitals. They have many free hat patterns on their website. It is important to check their list of required yarns for the hats.

  22. I have knit many hats for charity the past 2 years. I am glad to see you encourage this tradition.
    I find it offensive you want to sell us, knitters who knit for charity, an ebook for your personal (corporate) gain.
    shame on you!
    you should give this ebook away, or you could sell it but give the proceeded to charity, which you should specify.

  23. I expected to see in this article free patterns and the names of a couple good organizations to send finished product to. Using the idea of “charity” to sell patterns is offensive to me too. Bad taste.

  24. I have knit many hats for the Salvation Army, preemie hats for local hospitals, and my favorite charity is Mittens for Akkol. In a previous post by MargoL who wrote “I also make hats for “Mittens for Akkol,” which hand-delivers (through the “Motherless Child Foundation” founder) woolly handknits to children in two orphanages in Kazahkstan. Those kids definitely need warm things like the earlap hats! ” These kids have virtually nothing and temperatures dip to -40 below and they appreciate everything that is sent. The eBook looks like a winner to me.

  25. I knit for the Ships Project ( We knit caps for troops on land, air and sea. (We also knit Christmas and Hanukkah decorations for the troops. The caps may go to a ship, a deployed unit of Marines, Air Force rescue units, military hospitals (caps and slippers are most welcome on flights of the wounded to Germany). It is especially important now to remember these young men and women. Since the war is in wind down, many of the groups are also winding down. Not us! I have no doubt we will continue long after Afghanistan. The handmade caps are much appreciated – both for the love which goes into them and the workmanship. A donation for postage for those who are overbooked on their knitting would be “muchly appreciated”.

  26. another area of need are just regular kids who come to school without hats, sometimes coats. We’ve provided kids with hats pre-school through 5th grade to use at school during the year.

    Also, hand knit helmet liners for our soldiers are gladly taken at the armories. They are finally getting them as part of regular supplies but some home knit ones are very welcome. Must be wool and navy, brown, gray, or black. They are needed because the inside of the helmets melts in the heat.

  27. our knitting group makes chemo caps and prayer shawls. We’ve also started knitting “Pocket prayers”: small pieces of knitted lace that a bereft spouse or parent might carry in his/her pocket.

  28. Our “Earth Angel” volunteer knitters & crocheters create handmade hats & scarves for unhoused families & survivors of domestic violence in shelters on the Central Coast of California:

    Common Ground Worldwide (our sponsoring organization) has 501(c)(3) status, so donors can take a tax deduction. We are always very grateful for donations of new skeins of yarn, as we knit/crochet over 500 hats & scarves every year.

  29. I’m also with Keeping Kids Warm – Helping Homeless Teens One Stitch At A Time in London, Ontario. We are a non-profit charity and all of your yarn and supplies is donated to us so our many volunteers can knit hats, mitts and scarves to give to our homeless teens. We’ve just celebrated our 10th Anniversary this past March.
    If you would like to donate the 3 patterns you think would be appreciated by teens the most, we would be truly appreciative. We do not sell patterns that designers have given us to use. Your charitable gift would go a long way to brighten some of our teens’ days this coming winter!
    I hope you consider our organization! If others are interested, please visit us on FB at Keeping Kids Warm – Helping Homeless Teens One Stitch At A Time

    Thanks again,

  30. One of my favorite charities is Knit-A-Square, whose members knit 8″ squares to be made into blankets as well as hats, mittens, sweaters, and baby “cocoons” for AIDS orphans, abandoned babies, and homeless children from infancy to teen years in South Africa. The teens live on the streets and need all types of warm clothing as nights are in the 30’s and 40’s F. My other favorite charity is Afghansforafghans and we make wool clothing exclusively–hats, sweaters, mittens and socks–for children from 7 to 18 approximately. It is very cold in Afghanistan in winter, homes and schools are unheated, and children walk to school (often in snow) either barefoot or only in sandals. Both of these organizations started small and now have thousands of members worldwide. Was disappointed when I found there were no free hat patterns in your post. Would you consider posting some? Those who knit for charity spend a lot of money on yarn and other supplies, not to mention postage. Many of the knitters are on fixed incomes too.

  31. Hi from Australia. Our Spinners & Weavers group has been knitting caps for the oncology wards at the local hospital since the late 1990’s. We also make and distribute knitted or crocheted rugs for the hospital and aged care facilities in the district. Some members make Trauma Teddies for hospitals, ambulance, police and fire brigades.
    My sister washes and unravels cardigans and other knitted garments and prepares the yarn for recycling. Last time she counted she has wound 13,500 balls since she started. The yarn is distributed to any group or individual prepared to make items for charities and is distributed over a large area.
    Knitted squares were sent down to Tasmania to be made into rugs for the victims of the dreadful bushfires they suffered in January. You can see that we are a very busy group and certainly enjoy our weekly meetings. Jean Styles, Nambour, Qld. 4560.

  32. My 28 year old son is undergoing chemo and I have been knitting hats for him since his daignosis. He has become very involved in the fashion aspect of it and now sends me patterns that he likes. Each pattern is a bit more complex than the other. It helps me feel like I am able to comfort him every day when he puts on one of his hats.
    Sylvia in Ottawa

  33. My mom operates a charity here in London, ON Canada called Keeping Kids Warm. She started this charity 10 years ago and her mission and those of her many hard working volunteers is to knit warm winter outer wear, including many beautiful and creative hats, to supply the homeless youth of our community with. This charity has been operating on a very low and tight budget for several years and would not be here if not for my mom and her wonderful volunteers and the many donations of wool and knitting needles, and also financial contributions from various community businesses. She supplies yarn, knitting needles, etc…to volunteers that knit these hats and mitts and then distributes them in the cold Canadian winter months. I am so very proud of my mom! Keep up the good work!

  34. I’ve knitted for charity for years beginning with sweaters for kids then migrating to hats, scarves, mittens, and baby things. I work with two different groups that do charity knitting/crocheting.

    It is a satisfying experience as there is just so much you can knit/crochet for yourself and your family!

  35. Our church group has knit/crochet Sweaters for Kids for years and now are doing the same with hats, mittens, scarves, and sweaters for a local charity, Project Warm Up.

    There is an un-numbered amount of free hat patterns online and to ask a designer to give up their livelihood is unreasonable. With the same email that ask for comments about charity giving is a free e-book with 7 hat designs.

  36. Hi Knitters,

    I understand what some of you are saying about buying patterns to knit for charity, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. The hat book I’m talking about is a super deal and you can use the patterns for all kinds of knitting—charity knitting, gift knitting, or knitting for yourself.

    I do have a free pattern from the book, though, that I’d love to pass on to you. It’s the Earflap Hat, which I think would appeal to anyone. Here’s the link:

    We also have a free hat pattern eBook that includes 7 knitted hat patterns. Here’s the link to that:

    I hope you’ll join me in knitting hats for charity, and thanks for sharing your wonderful resources for where to send your hats!


  37. Tried several times to access your pattern for the earflap hat but it would not load. Any suggestions? By the way, thank you for making this pattern available.

  38. People who’ve lost hair from chemotherapy and other medical reasons also need hats to protect their heads in hot, sunny summer weather. Think wide-brimmed hats that give some shade, made of natural fibers such as cotton, bamboo, or even soft linen.

    There is a Ravelry group dedicated to identifying knitting and crochet patterns for chemo hats, both free and for-charge. The group is called Chemo Cap Pattern Library. Also look in the “Patterns” or “Free Resources” links on the Knitting Daily menu bar, or in the collection of patterns and books you may have built up at home. The patterns don’t have to be labeled “chemo.”

  39. My parents moved into senior housing 12 years ago and once there Mom started a knitting group to knit hats for low income kids and the troops. Last year her group donated nearly 900 hats! After my house was burned down last year i needed a way to ‘unwind’ so i borrowed some needles and started knitting. Well, Mom sent me a ‘care package’ with needles and accessories and so i’ve started knitting hats for her group. I hope to be able to add a hat a week to their total!

  40. We have a group of women at our church and we knit/crochet hats and mittens for needy children. This is our 2nd year and it is going well–Maine is cold and we want to keep them warm!!