Goodness gracious.

Just when we thought that one hurricane was enough…now we have Irma bearing down and looking to take no prisoners.  I’ve read many articles of late about whether one should or should not donate to the Red Cross.  I’ve also read a few articles on whether or not to donate/what to donate/how to donate/when to donate.

To that end, I have come up with my own conclusions.  I share them here because as quilters and crafters it seems to be in our nature to want to do something to help.  A quilt, an afghan, bottled water, something that brings comfort to someone in need.  I feel like we are all in the same boat.  Perhaps we are close in proximity, perhaps we are further afield from a disaster site.  Regardless, there is a pull to do something that can help and a feeling of helplessness that there doesn’t seem to be anything that can be done.

I am fortunate to have not been through anything similar to the devastation from fires, hurricanes, or earthquakes.  I have not seen first hand the responders that come on scene or the people driving from far away with items from well-meaning communities.  I can’t speak to any of that.  I am fortunate.

I also feel that pull to donate things that would bring comfort.  However, some of the articles I have seen seem to make sense and so I wait. I’m sure you may have seen similar pleas for not sending items now, that places become easily inundated with items that may not need and nowhere to stow them.   My local quilt guild was preparing to send items until they were contacted to not send items now, that there is too much to deal with and to wait.

So, what do we do in the mean time while we wait?  I’m sure some won’t. There always those who pack up and go and do because they feel that overwhelming need while others provide items to send to those in need.  I find myself reminded that charity begins at home.  There are ways to offer support in my local community to fulfill my desire to offer support.  My local food pantry is always in need of items as is the battered women’s shelter.  I could easily crochet more hats for Click for Babies for our local hospitals as well.  There’s no judgement here on what you decide to do.  After all we all have our own paths to walk and what is right for someone is not right for another.

For now I wait, and prepare my items for our local food pantry while Irma rages on.

I know that this doesn’t have much to do with crafting or quilting, but there seems to be so much more going on in the world today that sometimes we just need a moment to process.  Well, I need a moment to process anyway.

I promise we will get back to the crafting stuff soon.

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A different kind of day.

I find my mind drifting toward Texas today.  I’ve never been there and not sure if I will ever make it there, but my mind is drifting there as folks are struggling to survive and pick up the pieces of their lives.  I’m sure many of you are trying to stay in touch with family and friends who may be affected.  Hopefully you are hearing mostly good news.

We always wonder what we can do to help.  The Red Cross is taking donations and the minimum online donation is $10.  There are lots of other ways to help as well.  Donating blood is a good way.  Supplies will be surely needed – clothing, hygiene, medical, food, and school items.

I would love to include links, but the only one I feel comfortable sharing is for the Red Cross.  It would be safest to check with your local churches, schools, and communities to see what kind of assistance effort is underway.  Unfortunately, there are those out there that would take advantage of the situation and funnel any relief efforts into their own pockets.

As you consider what kind of donation to make, think of things that others may not such as underwear and socks, toothbrushes and toothpaste, razors and maxi pads, formula and diapers, deodorant, aspirin, bandages, bars of soap, bottles of detergent and dish soap, even Lysol wipes and kleenex.  I’m sure that you will have your own ideas as well.

It’s just somber today, but there is a chance to do something good.  There is always a chance to do something good.  Go out and be kind to one another and maybe by asking at your church or school you will find yourself in the middle of helping in the relief effort.

Also, if you do find yourself getting involved, please share your story.  You never know who you might inspire to do similar things.

Just in case you were wondering

what I was up to these days….

I’ve been working very hard to finish up some projects that I can do with the two small ones around. So for now that means crochet.  That’s okay though because I have also squeezed in some cutting time while the smallest one naps.  Which means that I have one of the wedding quilts completely cut out and ready to go. Who knows, maybe I’ll be able to even get a block or two done before retreat.  After all, anything could happen right?  Really the best news on that front is that I believe I have found what pattern I am going to do for the final wedding quilt.  Next step is to raid my stash for fabrics to make said quilt.  Wish me luck!

I’ve been holding tight to my revolutions this time around and have worked myself up to 20 minutes on the elliptical at least 5 times a week.  In another week I should be able to work up to 25 minutes and once I reach 30 minutes I’ll work on doing a 12 minute mile.  It’s always good to have goals.  I hope that you are managing to stick with yours.  I’m just hoping that the scale will soon be my friend.

Now, on to project finishing news.  You may remember that I was working on crocheting some newborn baby hats for the Click For Babies project.  I saw an article about it in a crochet magazine and then I went a little off the deep end buying skeins of purple yarn for that project and I started crocheting them like mad. However, I bit off more than I could chew and burnt out on them and had them in a bag waiting to be finished off and the rest of the yarn turned into little hats. <sigh>  I came across them again and decided that this was a great project to finish so I could send them off.  I’m almost done.  Do you know how may hats you can make out of a skein of yarn?  The answer is quiet a few.  Like 8 to 10.  Right now I’m up to 75 hats and I have one more skein of yarn left to use up.  Next step is to finish that skein and get my final count before contacting the contact person in my area to ship them off to the hospital.

If you are not sure what the Click for Babies project is, it revolves around the purple cry and shaken baby syndrome.  If you have had a baby in the last 6 or 7 years, you may have had to watch a video about the purple cry before you left the hospital with your baby.  There really is no short answer as to explain the purple cry.  Previously this would have been known as colic – when your baby cries with no relief and for no apparent reason and with no stopping.  It is now seen as a normal stage of development for babies (although not all babies may go through this phase) and not as the babies having something wrong with them causing them to cry.  It is also during this inconsolable crying where parents may become overwhelmed with frustration and shake their baby.  We would all love to think that this only happens during cases of abuse and while it is abuse, it may also be a case where overwhelmed parents running on little to no sleep make a huge mistake.

Thus the purple caps – a way to bring awareness and education to help parents understand and not feel as though they are alone as they go through this period of the purple cry. If you are interested, you can find more information here.  If you are a worker of yarn, there are free patterns on the site for crocheters and knitters that you can download or print for your use.  Most importantly to me, on the site you can find hospitals and contact people close to where you live.  Then you know that your hats are going to help those in your community.

Just in case you were thinking that you don’t really do anything fancy with regards to yarn work, no worries.  There are simple patterns on the site as well.  I’ll also include a picture of my work so you can see that I was really going for quantity rather than fancy and I spent time picking out soft yarn in different weights to keep those little heads warm.

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So, that’s what I’ve been working on – or trying to finish up I should say so that I could feel some satisfaction for finishing a project and doing a little something for someone else.

I hope your Revolutions are going well and that you are winning your war.  Be forewarned, retreat is coming.  And the Monkeys are preparing…….

 

Yea for Crochet!

That’s right, I said it. Yea for crochet. With the two littles in the house I don’t really get a chance to quilt. So, I spend some of my time doing crochet. Just because I can. Now, the Small Blonde has decided that he would like to learn how to crochet as well. To that end, today we went shopping and bought him his very own hook. He also decided that he wanted to get yarn in the colors of his favorite football team.

So far, we are still working on how to hold the hook and yarn and make that foundation chain. I think we may be there for a few more days. That’s okay, he’s learning something new and that takes time if you want to learn how to do it right.

I also picked up some crochet literature. Namely a book and a magazine and I think I found my new charity project. I wasn’t looking for one, but it will satisfy my need for crafting without ending up with a crocheted cozy on every item in our home.  What I found in my magazine was an article about crocheting purple caps for newborns to spread awareness of shaken baby syndrome.  The purple is symbolic for PURPLE crying.  PURPLE crying has to do with the period between 2 weeks and 4 months of age when your newborn is crying for no apparent reason and nothing seems to soothe them.  If you have a baby who has gone through this, you know how fraying it can be to the nerves.  Especially when you are running low on sleep.  The good news is that there is an end in sight, the bad news is that when nerves are frayed and the baby is crying they are more susceptible to being shaken.  I am oversimplifying PURPLE crying because they do a much better job on their website, clickforbabies.org (where they tell you what the acronym PURPLE stands for).  What is also important is that hospitals are raising awareness of this unexplained period of time for newborns with the parents before taking their new bundle of joy home.  I know that for both of our littles we had to watch a movie regarding the PURPLE cry.  Admittedly the updated version of the movie was a little better than the first version we viewed.  Some hospitals are going further and that is where the purple caps come in.

If you are a crocheter or a knitter and would be interested in making any caps, patterns can be found on their website for both crocheting and knitting aas well as a place to mail them that is close to you so any caps you might make would be used closer to home.  I was disappointed that there were not more states participating, but it seems like they are still trying to develop the program so I’m optimistic that there will be a place closer to me at some point.

Of course now I need to head back to the store to get some soft purple yarn (doesn’t matter what shade of purple, just that it is appropriate softness for newborns) because of course I don’t have any purple baby yarn which really surprised me.  I thought for sure that I had one skein that would satisfy my craving to craft for the evening.  Ah well, tomorrow is another day.

The Monkeys decide to give back.

I know, I have a lot of catching up to do. I totally missed blogging about the last retreat (not to mention the times in between) and now we are just getting back from our fall retreat. First thing I want to share though is something that happened at the retreat that we just returned from.

We decided to do a charity project. I know! I’m actually kind of excited about that. We all sat around talking (I know, big surprise there) and we got around to food pantries and the like (don’t ask me how we got there, I couldn’t explain it if I tried). Ultimately we decided to do a pillowcase project. We even volunteered our very own Sandra Dee to solicit businesses for pillows to go into the pillowcases.  She is really good at that kind of thing.  The big pull is that we are keeping everything local by giving back to the food pantries at our churches. The pattern we are using is a simple one – the hot dog pillowcase. They have good pictorial instructions here.  If you find their instructions confusing google “hot dog pillowcase” and you will get a whole bunch of results to peruse.  We do modify ours a tad…instead of 1/3 yard for band we use 1/4 yard.  This way when you purchase 1 yard of fabric you have enough for the body and a band.  Also, we tend to sew the band on before squaring up – we do that after completing the hot dog part.  Or at least I do.  They really are very simple to do.

However, it gets even better.  We are talking about doing this at our next retreat and including everyone.  I know, you are wondering aren’t we the only ones at the retreat?  Not by a long shot.  We aren’t looking to take up a whole day, just a few hours between lunch and  dinner on one of the days for anyone who wants to participate.  There are 3 of us that have sergers where we can serge the edges rather than doing the french seam.  Exciting isn’t it?  So now I need to go through my fabric and see what I have that can be used for the project.  Thus far I only have enough to do bands, but that’s okay.  Every little bit helps.  As we talked about this, our retreat coordinator came to talk to us some more and that is how the discussion opened up to include everyone in the building as well as having a designated time where we could all come together to get them done.  A goal of 100 pillowcases was talked about, as to whether or not that would be reasonable but I have a feeling that some may even want to do some ahead of time and bring some finished ones with them to the next retreat.  After all, we have a bit of time between then and now.

As we talked about the details of the project we decided that it would be prudent to purchase more than just children’s fabric.  After all, there may be some adults that are in need as well and they may not be so excited to have a My Little Pony pillowcase.  We are figuring that we will have a mixture of cottons and flannels to work with.

I would love to put in a pitch here that if you want to donate any fabric or pillows to leave me a comment and I will let you know where you can send them.  However, I am not going to do that.  Instead I am going to suggest that if you really like what we’re doing perhaps your local church or food pantry could use some pillow cases themselves.  Rather than sending money or fabric to our community, why not do the same thing in yours?  Sometimes one person can make a world of difference.  Ask around, you may have a friend who does some volunteering at the food pantry.  They may be able to give you some insight about your local food pantry.  Remember, even though they are a food pantry things like personal care items such as soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes are appreciated too.  If you are not a sewer, maybe on your next trip to the grocery store you could grab an extra can of beans or bar of soap for donation.

 

Thoughts and Prayers or another Public Service Announcement.

I’m sure that most of you already know this if you are a member of the quilting world, but I need to blog about it anyway.

Remember when I talked about how we went to the Ricky Tims Super Seminar?  And how I was totally taken with Libby Lehman?  Get ready, because this is the sad part – she had a brain aneurysm about a week ago.  The short of it is that they did surgery to clamp it off and things were looking very positive but then they discovered she had a massive stroke on her left side and Libby is left-handed.  This makes things not so optimistic. The last update was that they are lifting the sedated sleep she was in and that there is some movement in her left arm and leg where they had previously thought her to be paralyzed.  Lots of things going on there.  If you want the full updates, check out Ricky Tims Facebook page. He has been giving updates daily and talking with members of Libby’s family to bring us current and accurate information.

I could wax poetic on how short life is and take advantage of the opportunities you have and give a hug to your loved ones tonight, but you already know all that so I’m going to go in a different direction.  One that Ricky went in on his last couple of posts and a perspective that we don’t think about.

Yes, it is horrible that she and her family are suffering through so much and I would feel that way about any family.  Especially the not knowing how things are going to come out part.  However, Libby also has a huge fan base and quilters tend to be fairly generous.  After all we always seem to be doing something for charity or giving away our finished creations as gifts to others.  Ricky pointed out (as tactfully as possible so as not to offend her adoring fans) that Libby has a long way to go and that while it is a great thought to jump in and start organizing and making blocks for a quilt for Libby by her fans, that may really not be the way to go.  Libby won’t be able to appreciate it right now and things are in a critical state with no one knowing which way this will go.  This would then leave the family to deal with what could be a multitude of quilts.  Which is perfectly reasonable and understandable.  This was a hard thing to say, because lots of folks have a knee-jerk reaction to do something. But it got me to thinking.  After all, while I adore Libby she has a huge fan base and lots of people wanting to do things to boost her and her family’s spirits and not all of us are fortunate in that way.  It made me think a little closer to home.

Do we overwhelm those that are close to us when they are going through something similar such as a major medical emergency or the loss of a loved one?  Sometimes I think we do.  We rush in for the immediate action.  I think that while we are truly offering our best to help others, we may not actually consider what that person might really need.  They might just need space, or a card to let them know someone is thinking of them.  One thing that is popular to do is prepare meals.  Don’t get me wrong – I think it is a great idea however the flip side of that is that the family may be inundated with food to the point that they don’t know what to do with it all.  Or it may be bad timing if they are running back and forth to the hospital or to see family that is at a distance.

I know this may make me sound like a Scrooge, and that is certainly not my intent.  I would only like to suggest a different way of thinking about being supportive and I would also like to say that this is only my opinion.  Everyone always makes the rush to do something right away when something happens.  Sometimes that is the easy part to deal with, only because you are caught in the flow of things and have no choice but to go along until the tempest is over.  I believe that the hard part begins when that tempest is over.  Sure, there were friends and family who were there at the time things were happening, but when it’s over and help may still be needed everyone has already gone home.  Sometimes the simple things like a gift card for gas or a thoughtful card can help someone get through another day. Especially after the Call for Action has been completed.

I think that is what Ricky is trying to tell everyone, on Libby’s behalf, and because he knows her well is able to give good practical insight.  He knows that this will be a long recovery and she will need the support long after today or next week.  She will more than likely need it over the next year depending on how things go.  It just made me think a little differently and wonder about applying it to my own life and of course I am sharing that with you.

Everything else aside.  Libby is still in critical condition and Ricky is encouraging folks to send cards or quilted cards.  You can find the address on his Facebook page.  If you need it, drop a comment and I’ll see about getting that to you.  I don’t always feel right about posting that kind of personal information online, especially without permission.

I’ll put my soapbox away for now, because I have a quilted card to make.

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Oh, I would like to leave you with one more thing.  Here is where you may think me a bit nutty (if you don’t think that already).  There is a poem that certain lines come to mind when I am dealing with adverse situations and I would like to share it with you.  I came across this poem (believe it or not) while reading Bridget Jones’ Diary : The Edge of Reason.  It is by Rudyard Kipling.  Enjoy, perhaps it will strike a chord with you as well.  Fight the fight Libby – I believe you can come through this.

If

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Rudyard Kipling

Time for a Holiday Public Service Annoucenment

I apologize again for being so long in getting back out here. I’ve been caught up in the craziness that is when you make your own Christmas presents.  That being said, I would like to take a few moments of your time for an important Holiday Public Service Announcement.

No, it has nothing to do with where to find the best deals.  After all, Christmas is now 5 days away and you are probably close to being done by now.  That and while I like shopping I’m not a super shopper and this isn’t that kind of blog.  I’ll leave that to the professionals.

This message is more along the lines of finding your Holiday Cheer and passing it along to those who may have trouble finding their own.  In short, this can be a season of depression.  We aren’t getting much sunshine and inclement weather tends to keep us inside and out of our usual social circles.  Some of us may have difficult family to face or inner demons that we battle on a regular basis.  For some reason this season tends to bring all of that to the surface and we may find ourselves needing someone to hold our hand for a moment or two just for that human contact or just to not feel so alone.  Some of us may find ourselves pulling away from our family and friends and becoming more lonely.  If you are feeling this way, I implore you to please ask for help.  Please.  If you are a private person, please take advantage of the national suicide prevention hotline.  You aren’t alone and you don’t have to deal with the weight of the world by yourself.  Some of us do have it easy, we can let things roll or call a friend and vent about whatever it is we need to purge from our overtired minds.  It’s just that some of us are not so lucky.  It may even be someone you know.  Depression can affect anyone at anytime and is pretty non-discriminatory.  It is also something very serious.  So, while you are out and about, share your Holiday Cheer.  It may make a difference to someone.

I know it’s not something that we like to think about and with the recent tragedy in Newtown, I am reminded about how short life can sometimes be.  Hold your loved ones close.  Drive safely, and please, if you need help know that you are deserving of that help and there is no shame in asking for it.  I mean that with all sincerity.

Happy Holidays,

Opal

In case you wonder where my inspiration comes from sometimes, be sure to check out The Blogess.  Of course, maybe you do already.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, right now I am just collecting the clues from Easy Street….I’m not sure I have enough of my planned color scheme to pull it off so I am re-thinking what I would like for colors…  That may just have to wait until after Christmas though…you know with Christmas right around the corner.