Afghans For Afghans has recently announced its first drive in nearly two years. The group is collecting socks, hats and mittens, to be distributed to a maternity hospital in Kabul and to street children and displaced persons who are served by the organization Trust In Education. All the details (and they matter, so make sure to read them if you are interested in participating) can be found here.
Socks and hats are needed in sizes Newborn to 1 year and child sizes 7 and up. Mittens are only needed in sizes 7 and up. Important factoids that I have gleaned from years of giving a hand in the basement where those wonderful woolen pieces of clothing land before their big journey to Afghanistan: warmth is essential, therefore, wool or a very generous percentage of wool is crucial. I suspect that dk or worsted weight socks are enthusiastically appreciated in truly cold climates. A hat with a wide brim brings double the warmth to the ears -- same for socks with a generous cuff.
That said, regular sock yarn is fine too, and drives like this one offer a perfect opportunity to use up those few grams left over from a standard skein of sock wool. It's amazing how little yarn a pair of baby socks requires, and how little time, too. I usually manage one sock per evening, casting on 40 stitches in sock or fingering-weight yarn and making sure to keep that cast-on row as stretchy as possible.
The pair on the left was knitted with some leftover Regia sock yarn. Afghans For Afghans requests that we provide them with socks that actually match, which is going to require a bit of cutting and pasting with patterned or striped sock yarns. After knitting this pair, although I had the yardage necessary for another pair of infant socks, I wasn't able to create another matching pair since the cutting and pasting would also force me to discard whole sections of yarn; instead, I dug up from my deep stash a solid fingering-weight wool in a coordinating colorway and knitted the center pair of socks with that, using up a bit more of the sock yarn for the toes. Life on the edge, I tell you! The pair on the right was knitted with some leftover Koigu, probably half a skein or so.
These socks were knitted in adult size, which in this case means that I cast on 64 stitches and knitted for a foot roughly 1/2 inch smaller than mine (I wear a size 8.5 shoe). I figure they will fit someone, from adolescence on. Again I took pain to create matching stripes from one sock to the next.
These two items missed the last a4A drive by a hair and I am glad to see them put to good use at last; the hat was knitted with leftover yarn from a sweater I finished last year (discontinued Rowan Scottish tweed if memory serves) and the cuff is long enough to keep someone's ears warm; and the mittens were knitted with a worsted-weight wool held together with a strand of sock wool, just because I was getting bored with that plain, not very attractive shade of tan.
As I have mentioned before, part of the appeal of these drives, beyond the feel-good sense of making something useful and warm that will bring a measure of comfort to another person, big or small, is that they motivate me to make something out of small amounts of yarn, those orphan skeins that end up cluttering our knitting baskets for months or years. There is no end of satisfaction in seeing the piles of items that just a few skeins can turn into, and in figuring out as many variations as one can even with a limited amount of yarn.