Monday, December 17, 2012

A Request for Hugs

12/18 Updates in green.
12/19 Updates in purple. 
1/2/13 Updates in garnet

You may know that The Taunton Press, the publisher of many wonderful books and magazines, including my own, is located in beautiful Newtown, Connecticut, just down the street from Sandy Hook Elementary School. The Taunton employees were fortunate not to be directly impacted by the events of December 14. But as I write that last sentence, I know in my heart that we have all been affected, but most especially those who live, play, work, and connect in Newtown.

Anyone who has ever made or received a hand-made quilt knows what power is created when fabric, batting, and stitches combine in a quilt. And so, I'm asking you to send a hug and a prayer to the folks in Newtown.

I have said that a quilt is a reusable hug. Specifically, I'm asking for quilts. Not because of the devastating loss caused by a natural disaster, but to help heal a broken community who may just need a reusable hug right now.

I need your help. Here's what you can do.

 - Go to your stash. Find a quilt that is almost done - it only needs a binding or some last quilting stitches, or maybe a border to finish it off. And finish it up.

 - You'll be sending a bit of yourself along, so think kind thoughts while you make those last few stitches. Those good thoughts will translate to healing and hope for the recipient.

 - Don't worry about whether the quilt is kid-friendly or themed for any one person or another. These will be distributed to folks of all ages. Quilts in all sizes will be accepted. Child and lap sized quilts are especially welcome.

 - Spread the word. I realize it's horrible timing. And the turnaround seems dreadful. But I also suspect that you might have one or two quilts that are nearly complete, a few stitches and away it goes. There's nothing like a deadline to get things done. . . . am I right?

 - I'm planning to deliver quilts personally on January 3, 2013 - so there isn't much time. If you are in the Syracuse, NY area, Calico Gals, Mission Rose Quiltery, and Patchwork Plus Quilt Shop have agreed to be collection points for Newtown quilts. I'll be leaving early on the 3rd, so quilts must arrive at the shops before January 2, 2013.

 - If you are not in the Syracuse area, please send quilts to:

                      The Taunton Press
                      Attention: Renee Neiger
                      63 South Main Street, PO Box 5506
                      Newtown, CT 06470-5506
(Please ship quilts so they arrive at The Taunton Press no later than January 7.)

 - If you want to help stuff the CRV, you can send quilts to me directly:

                      Joan Ford
                      Hummingbird Highway
                      3795 Gray Ledge Terrace
                      Syracuse, NY 13215
(Quilts must arrive at this address no later than January 2 to earn travel miles on the Hummingbird Highway!)

My friends at The Taunton Press will make sure the quilts reach their new homes.

If you can't get your quilt(s) done in time for the January 3 date, don't stress! Another address will be provided very soon where quilts shipped after the 3rd may be sent. Please check back to this blog post for an address and any additional updates.

Can you help? I hope so. Nothing will replace what has been lost. But a needle and thread can do wonders to ease the soul.

I have a question . . . How many hugs fit into the back of a Honda CRV? Let's find out, shall we?

January 2, 2013. All quilts arriving in the Syracuse area are ready for their journey. Many thanks to all for your beautiful work and heartfelt messages. The car is not quite packed yet, but it's going to be pretty darn full!

As I'm sure you have heard, many, many gifts of all kinds have been arriving in Newtown since the events of December 14. The world weeps for this New England community. Therefore storage spaces are full. As promised (above in purple), one last deadline has been identified for this project. 

Please finish up any quilts you have in progress and get them to Renee at Taunton's address above by January 7. At that time, Renee will work with a local agency to deliver quilts to Newtown families and first responders. Any quilts received after January 7 are not likely to stay in Newtown.

If you cannot make the January 7 date, consider completing your project and making a local donation in the name of the Newtown families.

A huge thank you (and a big hug) to the folks at The Taunton Press, especially Renee, for helping to coordinate these efforts for all of us. . . .

Questions? Send me an email.

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Deck the Halls with . . . Paper(?)

Every year, finding a holiday decoration for my front door is a bit of a challenge. I love a fresh evergreen wreath, but because the door is painted black and is mostly in the shade, a dark green wreath just doesn't stand out against the dark door. And sure, I could spray the wreath with paint or that white foamy stuff that looks like snow. But doesn't that defeat the purpose of having a wreath made of natural branches?

So when I saw this idea, made with plain white copy paper, I couldn't resist giving it a try.

I stopped at the local craft and hobby store to buy a straw wreath and went to work.

To make the wreath, you need a wreath base, about 50 sheets of plain copy paper, some hot glue and a glue gun, some festive ribbon to make a bow, and some wire for hanging.

First, cover the front of the wreath with paper. Wrap each sheet around the wreath to create a base, and hot-glue it in place.

First layer done! Don't worry if the back of the wreath (pictured) isn't pretty, no one will see it any way.

Next, turn the wreath to the front, and crumple one sheet of the copy paper, with just the right amount of crumple - not too much and not too little. Hot-glue the crumpled paper in place.

Keep adding crumpled paper, one sheet at a time. First around the outside of the wreath, then around the inside, then on the front.

Add a bow, and hang the wreath on the door.

What could be easier? Now imagine using pink paper and a pastel-colored bow to celebrate spring!

Happy crumpling and gluing! Have a terrific week!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Elf Mittens for the Tree

A few years back, my sisters and I started an annual tradition to get together over Thanksgiving weekend to make our Christmas greeting cards. Some years, it's on, some years, the timing just doesn't work out. This year we were in all different directions over the Thanksgiving weekend, so we didn't get together, but I'm still going to include an ornament with my greeting cards from my husband and me to family and friends.

This year, I'm making little sets of elf mittens. Wanna see how?

Start with some quilters freezer paper that you can load right into your inkjet printer. Prints lots of little mittens on each sheet. You can download a pdf of the mitten file here.

Roughly cut apart the mitten shapes and fuse the freezer paper shape (shiny side down) to a small piece of wool.

Cut the wool around the freezer paper shape. I trimmed a little off the sides of the cuff section. I also cut two shapes at once to save time, but cut carefully!

Remove the freezer paper. . .

. . . and pin two layers together.

Using pearl cotton in a color that matches the mitten, sew a blanket stitch by hand around the mitten edge, leaving the end open, then snip the thread. Make two.

Stuff a small amount of scrap batting into each mitten.

Cut two 1" x 1-1/4" rectangles from white wool. Fold the rectangle in half, and pin ends on either side of the mitten at the cuff.

With white pearl cotton, sew a running stitch around each cuff. Make a small knot to finish and bury the end.

 Make two.

Cut a 6" length of pearl cotton, and make a quilters knot by wrapping the end of the thread around the needle twice, then pulling the needle through the thread knot to the end. . .

. . . to make a knot at the very end of the pearl cotton.

From underneath, pull the needle through the cuff fold near the outer edge of the cuff, and pull the thread until the knot catches on cuff fold.

From above the cuff, put the needle through the cuff fold on the second mitten . . .

. . . give yourself a little slack in the thread, then knot the pearl cotton. . . pull through . . .

. . . and snip close to the knot.

Repeat! And repeat! And repeat! These mittens are hanging over the edge of a basket until I'm ready to stuff my greeting cards

Hang them on the tree for a Christmas elf with cold fingers!

Happy stitching and have a terrific week!