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August 2009

Project Linus: Crafty Goodness and Crafting for Good

This past weekend I attended "Summer Fleece Extravaganza", hosted by the local chapter of Project Linus. In case you haven't heard of this charity:

Project Linus provides love,a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children of all ages who are seriously ill, traumatized or otherwise in need through the gifts of new, handmade, washable blankets, loving created by volunteer "blanketeers."  Blankets can be knitted, crocheted, quilted, woven, fleece, or whatever, and are distributed through local hospitals, shelters, and agencies that deal with children.

Before this event, I was familiar only with the usual knotted-fringe edging to "finish" polar fleece blankets - I'd completed one like that for my daughter, and have about half of another done for her, but must admit it's most likely a "UFO" (UnFinished Object) at this point.  I'm so OVER tying all those little knots! 

So I was looking forward to this event because the coordinator had promised to demo how to make several types of edgings for fleece blankets. And she did not disappoint - I had no idea there were so many options!  Looped fringe, braided edge, "Picket Fence"/"Bunny Ears", and Faux-Rag Style, as well as using crochet for edging - around the whole blanket, or around blocks, then joining.  They looked great, and all appeared to be pretty easy.

One of the benefits to crafting in a group is getting to try out all sorts of useful tools you didn't even know you NEEDED, as well as learning lots of useful "Best Practices" kinds of tips.  The coordinator had this HUGE rotary cutting mat - easily 50" long, about the size of a typical "church basement" table.  There were piles of various sizes of acrylic quilting rulers, and several sizes and brands of rotary cutters.  The cutting mat and rulers made prepping the fleece for edging soooo neat and quick, and made the finished projects look really professional. 

The coordinator helped me cut the selvages off my fleece yardage in one quick zip of the cutter (the trick is to fold the fleece into quarters, so you only have to cut once.  Very slick!)  Then, since I was planning to crochet around my edges, she whipped the fabric out all smooth, and showed me how to use the Skip Stitch rotary cutter blade to essentially 'perforate' the edges - pre-cut little holes to attach the crochet!  No more punching my way around the edge by hand with an office supply hand punch!  I knew I had to get me one of those!

Fortunately for me, the national Project Linus group sells the Skip Stitch rotary blades in their online store!  One is winging its way to me as I type. I'm a happy crafter.

After all the prep was done, I just picked a table and set to work crocheting.  It was so nice to just sit with a bunch of other crafty types and just work.  They were a very welcoming group - this was the first event I had attended with them.  Many of them appeared to know each other, but were very friendly and helpful.  We just worked and chatted and shared ideas and tips - the morning was full of crafty goodness.

I could stay only a couple of hours, so I didn't get to finish a blanket, but I got a good start on one, and sweet-talked the coordinator into helping me prep another one to work on at home.  The blanket edging went really quickly and I was able to finish it last night - so maybe 3-4 hours from start to finish?  And I used up some of my Red Heart stash, so more the better!  I've already started on the second one, and know there will be more in my future.  What a quick easy way to craftily contribute to a charity!  Using my crafting powers for good - FTW!

Do you do any crafting for charities?  What charities?  Do you craft solo, or meet for events like this Extravaganza?

And for your crafting pleasure, some fleece blanket edging links:

And finally, some pictures of the first blanket I finished.  It turned out so sweet.