Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Saturday, January 27, 2007
We started the day with about 15 quilt tops in various stages of completion. Some had center blocks stitched together, but needed borders. Others just needed to be layered with batting and backing, then pinned and quilted.
We'd all brought some stash fabric along and tossed it into one jumbled pile from which we plucked borders and backing to complete the quilts. It was amazing how quickly they all came together with so many willing hands doing what needed to be done.
I was kicking myself that I forgot to take my camera along, because the finished gallery of nearly-completed quilts was truly spectacular. Many of the members chose to piece together some of the five-inch charm squares that we swapped each month for a couple of years -- so almost everyone could recognize some of their own fabric in our collaborative work.
We ended the afternoon with everyone taking home at least one of our mutual creations to complete with binding. We'll have them ready to deliver to the nursing home by next month's meeting. Here's one I brought home to bind - and I think I have just the right purple print in my stash to finish it off.
Here are two more that another member already finished -- isn't it great how random squares can turn out looking so cozy and warm?
Imagine 15 quilts like these, in a wide variety of color combinations, and you'll have a pretty good picture of what the guild churned out so efficiently today. We had a great time, and I hope some of those good feelings will transfer on to the ladies and gentlemen who will receive them a few weeks from now.
Monday, January 22, 2007
A pink floral yo-yo with a pearl button in the middle really jazzes up this little baby hat knit out of white Caron Simply Soft. I'd like to try a toddler-sized hat, too, with a cluster of three smaller yo-yos. (Here's a good tutorial for making yo-yos, by the way.)
And for my next trick...some leftover flannel from making receiving blankets was just right for a wide binding around this thick stockinette-stitch blanket. Plus, stitching and trimming the knitted fabric helped make me think I really could try steeking without breaking out in a nervous rash.
Experimentation - where would we be without it?
Sunday, January 21, 2007
"As a kid, I was often on the receiving end of "charity" which is why I hate that damn word...There is nothing uglier than the sentiment of "they're poor, they shouldn't be picky" which I sure had enough of to last me a lifetime by the time I was 6."
If this isn't a reminder to us about putting quality at the top of the list with the things we donate, I don't know what is. I also really favor the term "service projects" as opposed to "charity." No wordplay will change the sentiment if it's not sincere, but I really don't consider things like bereavement items for infants or chemotherapy hats for cancer patients to be "charity" at all. Same goes for sending slippers or cool ties to soldiers. They're opportunities to serve fellow citizens who are going through a trying time and need things that aren't readily available except through volunteers. The more important issue is not what word we use to define it, but our approach to quality - and not donating anything that we wouldn't be proud to use ourselves.
"For a lot of people it's a cheap way to feel virtuous and charitable without having to really be so--hence the crocheted afgans for a family that can't possibly need them."
"My personal feel is that if your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. And so you get folks sending frilly pink hats to soldiers, just because they 'can.' "
Good reminders to look very closely at what the recipients really need, and the specs that will make those items most useful. It requires some research and communication with the potential recipient, be it an individual, agency or other ogranization. It also requires the willingness to recognize that, as much as we like to think that a handmade blanket can solve everything, sometimes it's better to write a check or volunteer in other ways - like supporting political candidates who can have much broader influence than most of us.
"I am stoutly against the idea of charity knitting (or crocheting). Partly because of the way the donors feel compelled to talk about how very charitable they are because it's charity outof CRAP. Partly because I cannot imagine most of the CRAP is wanted by the given-to."
"I fall into the camp of folks that thinks charity ought to be personal and not broadcast."
Yep, there are some self-righteous crafters out there who are into public piety to a nauseating degree. But I'm sorry if anyone thinks they represent the majority, because I'm convinced they don't. I also think it's unfair to assume that if people share ideas and examples of their service projects on blogs or other websites, they're doing it simply to say "look at me." I know I love to scour other blogs for ideas and inspiration, and if people didn't "broadcast" their accomplishments, I'd be missing a lot of good information that will, I hope, end up really making a positive difference to someone.
"I don't do charity knitting myself, but I have respect for people who do if they do it *right*. Make items that the charity can actually use, to the charity's specs, and you're golden. Make acrylic afghan squares for someone who has no possible use for them, and you're a posturing schmuck."
Unflattering, stinging remarks about what so many of us love to do? Yeah. But why not take a moment to pause, check our approach, and redouble our efforts to make sure we're doing things right?!
Friday, January 12, 2007
It had been awhile (since July, I guess) that I had completed any bereavement items for the families of babies who have lost their NICU struggle. I was reminded of the need for these items both through Neonatal Doc’s posts, and the blogs of many folks who comment regularly on his missives. Candy, who writes so openly about the loss of her daughter Emma in 2005, has been a great inspiration as well.
Every family’s story is different, but the one consistent theme I’ve noticed – both from health care providers and the parents themselves – is that if a heartbroken family must say goodbye to their baby, they want to know that their little one is beautiful. This may truly be the only thing they will ever really know about this child. Or if they have spent weeks or months dealing with the ventilators, tubes and tests of the NICU, they want to focus on the beauty of their baby away from all those un-beautiful things.
So the little blankets and outfits they use for that last goodbye or memorial service need to be absolutely beautiful as well. No shoddy work, no scratchy fabric, no dropped stitches. Nothing to detract from the beauty of this lovely, innocent child at peace.
With that in mind, I’m choosing soft, clear colors and purest whites for my latest batch of bereavement quilts and blankets. A little embroidery around the edges. Yarn with a bit of sheen. Satiny ribbon to hold the precious bundle. Nothing to call attention to itself…just something simple and lovely that, as the parents' last keepsake, will echo the pure beauty of their child.
I'm really moved by the stories I read in other blogs about parents' experiences, and I thank each one of them for the inspiration for this special service work.
Sunday, January 07, 2007
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
My photo is marginal at best, but I really like how the scarves turned out. The one on the left is knit in ordinary Caron Simply Soft, using the enjoyable rib stitch that's my new scarfy favorite. The other is knit in seed stitch out of a double strand of thin red chenille and something really fluffy - it's been a couple of months since I knit it, but I think it was Red Heart Light N' Lofty or something like that.
I just love the whole concept of this project. The Washington D.C.-based OFA mobilizes volunteers to send care packages for Valentine's Day to kids who have transitioned out of foster care and are now attending college. Most have little or no family support. The OFA helps with scholarships and plenty of other resources, too -- but volunteers can salute these determined kids by sending a little extra encouragement in the form of a handknit scarf.
I clearly remember how great it was getting packages from my folks when I was in college lo these many years ago. And as a mother, I loved sending them to Maureen, too. It's great to know that this organization will connect volunteers with kids who probably wouldn't be getting that little surprise otherwise.
For a much better look at some of the fabulous creations that knitters everywhere are sending to this great project, check out the photo gallery on Norma's Red Scarf blog.