Friendships and memories flourish when crafting with others.
Makers groups are a boon for craft and camaraderie.
Warm Blankets, Warm Hearts BY JUDITH A. ROBERTS HALLSVILLE, MISSOURI
In the summer of 2016, my granddaughter called me and asked if I would make a “busy blanket” for one of her Alzheimer’s clients at the skilled nursing care facility where she worked.
I knew the ability to make and do many things disappears with Alzheimer’s, as I had watched my mom struggle with the disease. But busy (or “fidget”) blankets give patients something to do with their hands. I was happy to help.
Soon after delivering that first blanket, I began getting requests from other families. To fill the need, I recruited my friends for a day of sewing.
The laughter, creativity and expertise of the many hands turned what might have been a chore into something special. The talents of every woman made each blanket a personal work of art that connected us all. The bonds we shared that day grew with each passing hour.
Together we made 32 blankets that day. The busy blankets warmed hearts twice—first for the friends who made them and second for the residents who received them.
Monday Morning Knitters BY KATHY CUFF BISHOP HILL, ILLINOIS
Some people groan about the start of the week, but the Monday Morning Knitters in Bishop Hill, Illinois, manage to begin it with fun and fellowship over needles and yarn.
For more than 10 years, 15 of us have gathered over pots of coffee and treats to spend the morning knitting, helping each other with projects—and visiting. We’ve shared family joys: new babies, birthdays, graduations and marriages. And we’ve shared sorrows: illnesses, breakups and deaths.
It’s a great support group for all of us.
Over the years we’ve also knit for the benefit of others, including socks for a Civil War exhibit in our state’s capital, mittens for schoolchildren, hats for newborns at area hospitals and winter accessories for a nearby church’s mitten tree.
Family Quilting Bee BY MARIE WESTPHAL VAN BUREN, ARKANSAS
“Iwant you to have something,” my aunt Sylvia Steele said as I visited her one winter day in 1980.
“Mama made this back in the ’40s and never got around to quilting it,” she said, handing me a quilt top my paternal grandmother had pieced by hand most of 40 years earlier.
I was filled with enthusiasm as I took it home. That summer the quilt top beckoned to me, but I couldn’t quite understand what it wanted.
In early fall, my maternal grandmother visited, and as we talked about sewing, quilting, kids and family, a plan began to form: I would have an oldfashioned quilting bee. I scheduled it for that November, just before Thanksgiving.
When the day arrived, I felt both excitement and a sense of peace. My mother, her mother and all of my aunts (including Aunt Sylvia)—three generations of quilters—gathered to stitch the quilt top pieced by Grandma Steele so long ago.
While the stitches flew and my young girls played under the quilt, we solved the problems of the world. We quilted through lunch cleanup, fussy babies and bathroom breaks. By evening the quilt was far enough along that Mom and I were able to finish it the next day.
Now, almost 40 years later, that quilt, worked on by so many women in my family, is still a treasured reminder of our time together.
For the Love of Fairies BY JULIE COLE JEFFERSON, OHIO
Until two years ago I had never heard of fairy gardens, but as soon as I was introduced to them, I was smitten and immediately started creating fairy gardens in my yard. Eager to share my new love, I started two Facebook groups for enthusiasts. Little did I realize there were thousands of us all over the world who were willing to share creations, ideas and even tutorials.
I thought it would be fun to host a fairy garden class at my house, so I invited a few Facebook friends to join me. The first class brought three people, the next five, then seven. Now a group meets with me every Wednesday to make fairy gardens. Each week we tackle a different project, all starting with the same items, but all ending up with completely different designs. We have a blast and have become fairy good friends because of our shared interest in the imaginary worlds we create.
Judith Roberts (bottom, far left) gathered many hands to make light work of the busy blankets they created for Alzheimer's patients.
Julie Cole's love of fairy gardens has grown into a series of themed classes, including a hanging basket workshop Tonia Varcette and her mom, Joyce Brown, joined.