Archive for the ‘Giving Back’ Category

Making Beauty and Doing Good to Heal a Heavy Heart

December 20, 2012

With the Newtown, CT tragedy and other recent world events, topics discussed here on my blog seem so trivial and to be honest, they are trivial.  At the end of the day, however, I stand by my mantra, “make beauty, do good,” so I hope you continue to be inspired by what you read here and on other blogs to make beauty in the world and do good.  My other advice during this time is to take our busy lives and press the “pause button”:

  • Pause to think about all you are thankful for;
  • Pause to listen and really engage with those around you – your kids, other family members, friends and neighbors;
  • Pause to make something beautiful – a nourishing soup to share with neighbors, a warm scarf to give to a friend, an ornament to hang on the tree …
  • Pause to give back – volunteer at a local shelter, donate some needed art supplies to a local school, record a favorite children’s story or poem and send to a grandchild or friend faraway, shovel an elderly neighbor’s sidewalks …
  • Pause to reflect on what Mary Oliver says in her poem, “The Summer Day,” “… Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

You just might decide to keep the “pause button” pressed down.

A Quilt With a Mission

October 16, 2012

This past summer a good friend of mine, Hilary Denk, asked if I would contribute a quilt to SCARCE, School & Community Assistance for Recycling and Composting Education, to auction at the organization’s first Green Tie Gala on October 24, 2012.

Cropped Image of "Patina"

“Patina,” a Quilt Made from Re-Purposed Fabrics

As I learned more about SCARCE and its mission, I realized this could not be just any quilt – it had to be a quilt that was consistent with the organization’s mission statement which is to “Inspire people, through education, to preserve and care for the Earth’s natural resources, while working to build sustainable communities.”

This amazing organization was started in 1990 by Kay McKeen and since its early days has worked with many schools and communities to promote recycling and other environmental causes through educational outreach programs, speaking engagements, recycling events, grant writing support, etc. In fact, if you live in the Chicago area, you have likely benefited from one of its many programs. For example, SCARCE was instrumental to the process when my kids’ school was looking to fund, source, and install solar panels – Scarce’s vast knowledge made this undertaking way more manageable.

With SCARCE’s mission in mind, I designed a modern quilt that is comprised primarily of repurposed clothing and fabric scraps that typically would be deemed too small to be of any use (and thus end up in the garbage), including a blue shirt formerly worn by my husband, leftover bits of shirts from others, as well as really small pieces of Liberty of London cotton lawn and vintage William Morris reproduction fabrics.

The quilt, named “Patina,” is now boxed and ready to go on its own mission: to raise funds for future SCARCE programs.

You can learn more about SCARCE here and purchase tickets for the Green Tie Gala on October 24th at the Westin Hotel in Lombard here.

Saying Goodbye to a Favorite Quilt

March 21, 2011

Over the past couple of months, I have had the pleasure of working with my daughter’s fourth grade class on a quilt for the school’s annual fund raiser. On Saturday, I had to bid farewell to this favorite quilt which the students aptly named A Colorful Paradise.

While I am happy to report that the quilt raised a nice amount in the auction and I am moving onto some other wonderful projects, I am missing its splash of color in my studio on this overcast day.


Wear in Good Health – Beanies for Newborns and other Community Projects

November 12, 2009

“Handcrafts belong to an earlier world, the slower pace of pre-industrial life where one had the leisure to sink deeply and profoundly into the rhythms of nature within and without and to feel a connection with the earth as a living spiritual entity . . . Handcrafts throughout history have often been fashioned with the aid of prayer, one prayer for each bead or each stitch, while keeping good thoughts to enhance the spiritual purpose of the object.”   The Knitting Sutra:  Craft as a Spiritual Practice by Susan Gordon Lydon.


As I sit in the late evening knitting these little beanies for an unknown wearer, I am imagining a happy, healthy life for each baby and infusing each hat with good thoughts.  A woman in a local knitting guild will take these hats along with others knit by members and deliver them to local hospitals and other places that have expressed a need.

I used to think that if I was going to have any impact at all, I had to make many of whatever.  I now realize that whether I donate one hat or a dozen, each one will help someone and that is what is important. My friend Paula uses leftover yarn from the purses she designs and makes to crochet colorful lap-sized afghans for residents of the senior citizen center on her street – she delivers each one as it is completed.  Some months she delivers a half a dozen, other months she delivers one, but each is much appreciated.

If you are looking for places to donate handmade items to, look around your community or region.  In addition, several recent books tell the inspiring stories of organizations that collect handmade items for specific causes and provide project directions.  These books include:

  • Knitting for Good!  A Guide to Creating Personal, Social, and Political Change, Stitch by Stitch by Betsy Greer
  • Knitting for Peace:  Make the World a Better Place One Stitch at a Time by Betty Christiansen
  • Quilting for Peace:  Make the World a Better Place One Stitch at a Time by Katherine Bell

In talking with friends recently about their community knitting projects, several mentioned that the charities they contribute to are always short of items for older children and teenagers.  This is something to inquire about when you are donating items that are sized for a specific age group.

A Side Note

The classic hat pictured above is from a pattern in Erika Knight’s Simple Knits for Cherished Babies; each one takes slightly more than one hour to complete.