For just over a year, I have been the unofficial leader of a crochet group at my work. We do not have a lot of members but we have an open and welcoming policy. Right now we are not very structured, we don't even have a name, but we have plans to help the group grow.
Last year, I was approached by a Manager for ideas on how to generate a spirit of volunteerism. I am very involved in a Yahoo group, Stitchmap which is a mentor-apprentice group. The group's website, Keeping Needlearts Alive by Sharing Stitches is named based on the philosophy of the group. We think that needlearts are important and that we must make efforts to introduce the arts to new people. By doing so, we invigorate the art and prevent the skills from dying out in our modern society. Well you can see that the two ideas merged for me and I suggested that we have some craft opportunity for charity.
Last winter we had a huge success crocheting hats for both the homeless and for chemo patients at our local children's hospital. You can read more about it in my post Hats! Hats! and more Hats!.
For the first part of this year, we wanted to do something especially for women. There are so many charities, but I am especially pleased that we agreed to do a project for the Women In Jeopardy program that is hosted by YWCA. Simply put, this program reaches out to women and their children who are fleeing a violent enviroment. Much of the time, they are fleeing with nothing more than the clothes they are wearing. The program offers safety, shelter, and assistance with basic needs to these women. There are a number of contributors who concentrate on the needs of the children but sometimes the women are overlooked. It is the women that we focused on for the project.
The more experienced crocheters in our group put together 77 crocheted baskets. Some of us used the Bavarian Crochet pattern. There is a U-tube video with instructions here. Others had a favorite pattern that they used. It was a great way to use of the scrap yarn saved from various other projects. We ended up with a very colorful selection.
Others crocheted washcloths. We were able to put two washcloths in each basket. It was very gratifying to see new crocheters complete their washcloths. They would then move to a new or different pattern and with each completed washcloth their skills and confidence increased. There are more free washcloth patterns than I have time to count. Crochet Pattern Central has a directory of patterns here. All Crafts.net has a list of over 200 dishcloth patterns on their web site. A search of your favorite search engine like Google or Bing will locate many more.
Our crochet group contributed a lot of the items that filled the baskets. We were also able to involve others as contributors. The following list is what we were able to fill the baskets with:
The collection of baskets.
Hair brush and Comb
Inspirational Key Ring
The key rings were the idea of a 7-year old granddaughter of one of our members. She asked her grandmother what abuse was. Her grandmother simply explained that the women and children were leaving a place where they were hurt. The granddaughter insisted on helping. She told her grandmother that she didn't know how to crochet but she could make key rings. She then enlisted her mother's help. Her mother would lay out the alphabet beads into words of inspiration that her daughter had chose and the daughter then beaded and attached to a key ring.
The words were:
BRAVE, COURAGE, FAITH, HOPE, STRENGTH
Another look at the baskets
For all those who worked on or contributed to the project - Thank you!