Looking after someone with an Eating Disorder can have an overwhelming impact on caregivers. It can lead to isolation, self-doubt about one’s ability to support recovery, anxiety, depression, and a sense of helplessness for the caregiver.
Hand Knit Hope helps caregivers cope
Research demonstrates that knitting, or related activities like crocheting and needlework, has significant mental health benefits, including an improved sense of connection with others, lower blood pressure, and reduced depression and anxiety.
The Hand Knit Hope program’s mission is to provide a sense of warmth, comfort, and love to those impacted by an Eating Disorder. To do this, caregivers or others connected to someone with an Eating Disorder craft and distribute handmade gifts of scarves, neck warmers, headbands, hats, and mittens.
“NIED’s Hand Knit Hope program warms our hearts knowing that donating these items will keep someone a little warmer during the colder days ahead,” says NIED founder Wendy Preskow. “This program began as a way for caregivers to support individuals impacted by Eating Disorders who were in treatment or attending support groups, and we’re now expanding it to include other worthy charities, shelters, and related organizations.”
Here are some links with more information on the benefits of knitting:
More about Hand Knit Hope
Hand Knit Hope was initiated in 2012 by a NIED volunteer who discovered the therapeutic benefits of knitting and crocheting while in treatment for an Eating Disorder. She pitched NIED founder, Wendy Preskow, about the idea of forming knitting circles and before you could say “knit 1 and purl 2”, people ranging in age from 6 to 90 were knitting and/or crocheting up a storm. The ultimate goal was to donate finished items to people in treatment centers, support groups and anyone on their recovery journey who needed a bit of warmth and love on their path to wellness.
By the end of 2019, NIED had distributed loads of headbands, scarves, neck warmers and knitted gloves to ED support organizations in eight provinces: Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador, British Columbia, and Quebec.
During the height of the COVID Pandemic, Eating Disorder programs and support groups were either in isolation or conducted virtually. Consequently over 300 Hand Knit Hope items were donated to women’s shelters, a shelter for homeless and street-engaged youth in Ottawa, the Out of the Cold program, and the Barbra Schlifer Clinic in Toronto. Some items were individually mailed to those who reached out through our Point of Contact program with a personal note.
Since 2021, more than 400 Hand Knit Hope items have been donated to five different Eating Disorder organizations across Canada including the Bulimia Anorexia Nervosa Association (Ontario), Credit Valley Hospital Eating Disorders Program (Ontario), Bridgepoint Center for Eating Disorders (Saskatchewan), and the Silver Linings Foundation (Calgary).
2022 and beyond… Recognizing how warmly our Hand Knit Hope donations have been received, we’re expanding the program beyond its Eating Disorder focus to include handmade item donations to other worthy charities, shelters and related organizations. We welcome your input.
How the handmade items are distributed
NIED constantly communicates with Eating Disorder programs and other worthy organizations nationwide, via our social media networks, newsletters and direct contact, to gauge their interest and need for our lovingly crafted handmade items. Each item distributed through Hand Knit Hope includes a link to the NIED website for more information.
How you can help
You can knit or crochet one or more items, make a donation of essentials like knitting needles and yarn, make a financial donation, or donate a gift card so that we can purchase supplies.
An income-tax receipt will be issued for all financial donations.
Donations can be made by credit card or cheque.
- By credit card, please click here to donate via our website and Canada Helps. Canada Helps will issue an official income tax receipt.
- For cheques, please make your cheque payable to National Initiative for Eating Disorders.
Mail cheque to: 33 Invermay Ave, North York, M3H 1Z1.
- For all other donation enquiries, please call our Treasurer, Morris Robinson, at 416-315-2229.
Or email: email@example.com.
Frequently Asked Questions
What type of knitted/crocheted items does Hand Knit Hope accept?
Scarves, headbands, neck warmers, mittens, leg warmers, lap blankets, socks, and muffs are all welcome. Please keep in mind that items are for all genders.
Should I wash my item before donating it?
Can I donate my knitted items to Eating Disorder, or other worthy organizations, directly, or should I send it to a coordinator first?
Please send you items directly with a note from NIED. NIED will provide you with the note.
How do I find an organization to donate to in my area?
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll help you find an organization.
How do I distribute my items?
Call the organization and then arrange for pickup, delivery, or mailing.
Can I organize a knitting circle, or a group of people in my area to craft items for Hand Knit Hope?
Please contact us email@example.com if you need assistance in setting up your knitting circle.
How do I obtain wool, knitting needles, and other supplies? Do I have to pay for them myself?
If you are able to pay for and chose your own supplies, that would be amazing and very much appreciated. If this is not possible, we’re happy to provide you with supplies. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Do I have to follow a particular pattern?
Not at all. Use your own creativity.
Where do I learn how to knit or crotchet?
You can find instructional videos online through channels such as YouTube.