I'm so excited that the Youth Campaign is on!
I'll be focusing on mittens and socks for this youth campaign -- in worsted weight, they're fast and easy, and you can make more individual items, ensuring that more children will have at least one warm thing. And worsted is thicker than, for example, sock yarn, so those socks will be that much warmer. Use any pattern you like. I've compiled this list of very basic patterns for those of you who might need a starting point, but that's all they're meant to be. The Internet is full of free patterns -- be aware that not all are very well written. Those on this list should be reliable. I checked all the links and they are "live" as of this writing.
Remember, 14-year-old boys and girls often have adult-sized hands and feet. An adult medium would certainly be appropriate for many of the older kids in this campaign. Also, remember to use wool (or other animal fiber). Some of these patterns call for Woolease or Encore; those yarns have only a very small percentage of wool, so they're not suitable for this project. It's not a "wool snob" issue! Wool is just plain warmer. For the same reason, don't use lacy patterns.
Do not feel that your contribution won't count if you can only make one pair. That's a very important kid who wouldn't have had those mittens or socks without you.
Mittens should be the kind that cover the hand fully, closed at the top, and cover the entire thumb. Handwarmers and wristers are not acceptable -- it's COLD there, and this is likely the only pair of mittens your kid will have. Mittens can be either knitted or crocheted.
Basic children's mittens. This is my own basic pattern, so I know it works. Use the larger size for this campaign. Worked in the round. Use the same instructions with bulky yarn and appropriate needles to make a larger size. Because you count rows, not inches, the mittens will stay proportional.
Kris Percival's worsted weight mittens Plain, warm mittens.
mittens for women and girls, from a book my mom used when I was growing up (scroll down on page)
Classic mittens, to knit on 4 or 2 needles, in many sizes. Scroll down for 2-needle directions if you prefer to work flat and then sew up. Be sure to sew up firmly and neatly if you do that.
Never made mittens before? Here's a step-by-step class from Claudia Krisniski. The small or medium size would be best for this campaign.
crocheted mittens I do not crochet much, and have never made mittens, but here's a pattern from a reliable source. Use the larger size. If you crocheters out there have road-tested, free patterns to recommend, please do so!
Socks should come well up the leg -- 5 to 8 inches, depending on size, and should have a heel. Remember, this may be your kid's only pair of winter socks. Leave long ends and weave them in securely. Knitters only for socks, please! A foot length anywhere from, oh, about 6 inches (15 cm) to 9 inches (23 cm) would be suitable for this age range. And there are probably some boys whose feet are bigger than that, so if you find your sock came to 10 inches, do not despair. Bigger than that? You should probably rip back a bit and make it a little shorter.
All of these patterns are knit from the top down. If you prefer to knit toe-up, I'm guessing you're already an experienced sock knitter, with favorite patterns of your own.
Easy worsted socks, with stripes Folk-art stripes
Socks for "regular" worsted (e.g., Paton's Classic, Cascade 220, Galway) from Canadian Living. They know about cold!
Very basic pattern, with contrast heel and toe. Please fasten your ends very firmly, avoiding lumpy knots
Basic socks, again from Canadian Living, in Peace Fleece. This pattern also works for Bartlett, Briggs & Little, and other more "rustic" worsteds
I hope these are helpful! If you find a wonderful free on-line pattern, feel free to post the link. Knit fast!! Knit often! Use bright colors! But, on the other hand, if you love natural sheep's gray, knit naturals! We want warm hands and feet.
Finally, when you've finished your items, post a picture. And, unless you're very shy, we encourage you to get in the picture with them. I know, I know -- I hate to have my picture taken. But I am meeting a friend later this week, camera in hand, to see what she can do. . .