My regular readers will remember my earlier interview with my friend Sharon Fraser seamstress extraordinaire and a good friend. You liked the blog post so much that some of you actually went shopping at Sharon's etsy store. However, I'll recap for those of you who missed the first blog.
Sharon and I have known each other for quite a few years. Our families knew each other and attended many of the same church events. Sharon was even brave enough to take me on her team when she was cheerleader coach at the high school I attended. Sharon has always been a busy person. She enjoys so many activities but her absolute favorite roles in life are wife, mom, and grandmother. She and her husband are people of integrity, faith, and loyal friends. That is why, though Sharon isn't a knitter or a crocheter, I didn't hesitate for a second in doing a blog post about her business Needlebean. Which, by the way, has steadily grown until I wonder how she keeps up :) Her business is hand sewn beautiful bag organizers, essential oil bags, and she's even introduced some new product lines to keep up with her customer's requests. That's the recap.
When I checked back with Sharon's etsy page I saw her 5 star reviews. This did not surprise me because her work ethic is amazing. She works very hard every day to give stellar customer service. I know that she pours over every item. Each item is flawless when it leaves her NEW studio!
Sharon says: "I love my customers! They are so good at posting pics of their bags on social media. I love seeing the little bag that I carefully constructed in its new home. I also enjoy hearing that my customers really love their bag!" (Its so true, when customers put pictures up on their social media pages it does make the artist a little giddy)
Needlebean has NEW product lines that she made based on customer requests. Now in my business I know how many new items are coming out everyday. This business is Sharon's "baby", if you will, so her designs and products are based on requests of her customers. When I asked Sharon about new lines she wrote back with very exciting news. "I recently introduced a couple of new sizes. I now carry a micro dumpling which will hold tiny vials. I also introduced a mini dumpling which holds six, 5 ml bottles. It's perfectly sized for a purse. My newest bag is a mani-pedi bag with loops to hold nail polish with room for cotton, clippers, file and what have you." The fabrics have a WOW factor of 10 out of 10. Take a look at the slide show:
Sharon has a GREAT studio in which to work. Her very talented husband helped her create the ideal space for Needlebean Designs to flourish. Sharon told me:
"I love my studio! It is my happy place. There are a couple of favorite things in my studio. To my right is my fabric stash which is cheering just to look at. Above my window is an old "Singer" sign that I purchased years ago. I have a large work table that works perfectly for what I do. Another favorite thing is my Ott light! It gives me a nice bright light to work by. My studio is a work in progress and I have some ideas brewing for a remodel when the Christmas rush is over!"
Sharon invites you to shop at Needlebean "Check out my shop at Needlebeandesigns.etsy.com to see my new products. While you are there order one for yourself or a friend. They make thoughtful gifts!" Thanks Sharon. It was a real pleasure following up with you today. Your creations are amazing! I have fabulous friends.
Hello folks! Tamra here today to talk about a great crafting blog! Sarah of Repeat Crafter Me makes the CUTEST hats ever. Sarah is a mom to three, two boys and a girl, with a degree in visual arts, which shows in the crafts that she creates. Sarah has designed a huge array of animal hats and amigurumis to suit any taste. I can’t decide which one I’d want to make first! Sarah’s patterns are also simple, most of them are made with stitches a beginner can master, quick to make as well. Anyone with a beginners knowledge of crochet technique can make anything on Repeat Crafter Me. Additionally, because she is a mother of boys, she makes a lot of boy’s toys, another big plus because there are so few online.
For the crafter’s charity this week, I’d like to focus on local charities. Wherever you are in the world there are local hospitals, youth advocacy organizations, the Salvation Army, and homeless shelters always in need of donations, but especially now at Christmastime. One local drive here in Franklin County, Holiday Helpers, has had so many requests that they can’t keep up! That’s why we need to do what we can to help. Making a hat or two may not seem like much, but it will mean a great deal to the child or adult who will receive them. Handmade means so much to people, to know that someone cared enough to make an item that came just to them, perhaps thinking about someone like them makes a huge difference in their lives.
Fish and Chip Babies Part 2.
As I have said, I find the members of the Fish and Chip Babies Facebook Group to be extraordinary in their dedication not only to the work they do but to each other. They find a use for each and every item donated. Its a lovely concept and one which I think goes a long way to helping the charities for which they work. While the group is centered mainly in the UK the contributors and members of the Facebook group are from all over the world.
Once I heard a comment, which is randomly attributed to many people, that we are human beings not human doings. I learned by joining Fish and Chip Babies and also Needles and Hooks Angels and Preemies, that they were concerned about ME as the human being. The fact that I lived in the United States and could not contribute anything but my skills as a writer to their projects, did not seem to matter. In fact they very much welcomed me with open arms and gave me the encouragement to write about the work that they do for others. They did not want credit for the volume of work or praise for the quality of work but they did want people to know that there are children, adults, families, villages in need. Whether they lived across the street or across the world. They wanted my readers to feel the burden they felt for others. Its really all about giving. What more could I say? I was inspired! I was in awe. I sat down at my beat up chromebook and began to write.
The central focus of all this love is the charities with whom Fish and Chip Babies work. There are seven charities who receive items made by the amazing fiber artists in the Fish and Chip babies group. (If you refer to part one you will note that there is a slideshow of just a TINY sample of the handmade items) Each charity has a list of needs which the group meets.
Greenfields Africa: http://www.gfafrica.com/ A charity that started in Greenfields with the building and equipping of a local church, St. Peter’s Church. An appeal was started through St. Peter’s Church in Stoke on Tern, Great Britain. This church now serves as a place of worship and a fully equipped community center! This was merely the beginning for Greenfields as they currently have work ongoing in Kenya and Uganda. The goal of Greenfields? “Our mission is to transform poor African communities by promoting self-reliance through healthcare, welfare and education” http://www.gfafrica.com/home/4557042809 The Fish and Chip Babies contribute needed items to the Clothing Activities organized by Barbara Hatton. “The mothers of babies born into poverty have a tough time. Incomes are so low that there is often nothing more than a scrap of cloth or old towel to wrap a new baby in.
Greenfields Africa has teams of knitters throughout the UK and in neighbouring EU countries, who knit baby clothes and cot blankets which we send to Uganda and Kenya.
Some of our supporters generously donate babygrows and cardigans which they buy from car boot sales and charity shops.
These feed into the Mama bag project -a mama bag contains a cotton vest, a knitted cardigan, a beanie and bootees, a babygrow, and a blanket, plus locally bought soap, vaseline etc. To qualify for a mama bag, the mum is required to attend 3 ante-natal clinics during the pregnancy
This project not only gives the babies dignity and comfort, it also ensures that pregnant women are tested for AIDS and diabetes and have access to childcare information, which is the embodyment of our mission.” http://www.gfafrica.com/baby-clothes/4557393185 This is the Facebook page for those who might be interested in getting regular updates or becoming involved https://www.facebook.com/groups/greenfieldsafrica/?fref=ts
Crafty Aid is a charity focusing their work in Homia, Northern Uganda. The group’s coordinator is Janin Cromarty, co-administered by Maria Hills. Their stated mission: “UK based Crafty Aid co-ordinates desperately needed knitted, crocheted and sewn items for newborn babies in Hoima, Northern Uganda to help their survival.
We welcome knitters, crocheters and sewers to help us provide a variety of items such as Fish N Chip Vests, hats, cot blankets, booties, cot toys, swaddling sheets and reusuable nappies.” Janin Cromarty, like many fiber artists, believes that an infant hat can save a baby’s life! “Knit a Hat, Save a Life” is the motto you will find written on the group’s facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/groups/CraftyAid/?fref=ts Naturally the fiber artists in the Fish and Chips Babies group do their very best to contribute all of the items listed in the Craft Aid needs list.
The Ruth Mailbag Group is located in Ladysmith, Kwa, Zulu Natal, South Africa. Joy Coerzee is the founder of The Ruth Mailbag Group. She writes a blog http://theruthmailbaggroup.blogspot.com/ and there is a Facebook community dedicated to; “Patients at State hospitals and clinics in South Africa are typically destitute, malnourished, as well as being very sick or injured. Many are jobless, many are homeless, and many have no loved-ones to provide the basic needs for them in hospital.
The Ruth Mailbag Group strives to provide for the needs of destitute moms and babies in the maternity and NICU of our local state hospital and several other hospitals in our country who have asked for our help by providing them with a basic baby pack for their new and or sick babies. “ https://www.facebook.com/The-Ruth-Mailbag-Group-153666104700531/info/?tab=page_info The Ruth Mailbag Group receives support through The Fish and Chip Babies to provide all the normal clothing items so necessary for dignity and survival of babies! (My readers know by now this is an issue very close to my heart! )
Bigogwe Trust is a charity dedicated to North West Rwanda. What they hope to accomplish is to “relieve sickness, and to protect, and to preserve the good health of the people residing permanently or temporarily in the provinces of Gisenyi and Ruhengeri, Rwanda, Africa, in particular through the work of the Bigogwe Health Centre” http://www.bigogwe.org Dr. James Derrick is the contact person for the Fish and Chip Babies group which supplies the Trust with clothing items including those little Fish and Chip vests so vital to helping babies retain their body heat.
The Ethel Brolls Children of the World Appeal was founded and is organized by Ethel Brolls a lady with a true dedication to seeing that the children of the world receive warm clothing, toys, and blankets. She, herself a very busy knitter, has seen an amazing 16, 200 items donated this year! She is a very hard working woman who oversees this Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/653169174754290/?fref=nf open to anyone who would like to lend a hand… or two. The Fish and Chip Babies group contributes many items to the Ethel Brolls Children of the World Appeal.
Cherished Gowns For Angel Babies UK is a charity specializing in helping parents of babies gone too soon find appropriate clothing in which to bury their cherished baby. Its a very special task they have undertaken: “Our aim is to provide the families of these precious babies with an item of clothing that they are able to wear for their final farewell. We provide hospitals around the UK with a comfort pack to give to parents that contain a special Gown made from a wedding or other formal dress that has been donated.” http://www.cherishedgowns.org.uk/ The group asks volunteers to create their special gifts and the Fish and Chip Babies group aid them by donating blankets, booties and hats made from the very specific patterns designed by Cherished Gowns. The charity is very active in helping hospitals, and parents. “Cherished Gowns For Angel Babies UK was set up in October 2014 and since then we have provided 54 hospitals around the UK with boxes of our gown packs and have sent over 100 packs via Royal Mail Special Delivery directly to parents or funeral homes. We have had over 1100 Wedding dresses donated and to date our volunteers have made 5072 Cherished Gowns (accurate to 08/08/15), and over 9,500 knitted items.”
Samara’s Aid Appeal works mainly in the Kurdistan region of Iraq and Jordan but the needs in the Middle East are great so Samara’s Aid is reaching out to other regions. The beginnings of Samara’s Aid Appeal started like many stories I have heard while writing this blog, there was an urgent need and one person decided they could make a difference. In this case “Around Christmas 2013, I saw reports of Syrian refugee children in snow covered camps, wearing flip flops and summer clothes. These were the clothes they had been wearing when they fled from their homes in summer, and they had nothing else.
The press described how refugees were burning old shoes in the camps in a desperate attempt to try to keep warm. I was shocked, and moved to tears by the thought of having young children, living in a tent in the snow, and not being able to provide them with the most basic things like clothes, shoes and warmth to survive the winter.” http://www.samarasaidappeal.org/my-story/ That’s where the story begins but it really has no end and volunteers like those in Fish and Chip Babies are there to continue the work. Everything you can imagine is needed and all of the work donated by the group is used. Everything.
If you are interested in helping the Fish and Chip babies simply google the name and it’s likely you will find a group in your own country. In the United States there are no formal Fish and Chip Baby groups. We have many of our own similar groups to which we can donate much needed clothing items. The pattern for the Fish and Chip Vest can be found here: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/zannys-t-sweater for free. (joining Ravelry is free also)
Even though I have written here about the 7 charities the Fish and Chip Babies group on Facebook support through their handmades, there is so much more that they do for people. By helping others, you help yourself. Its that simple. Its that beautiful. Its that kind of love that we need more of in the world. Thank you to all of you who have helped in the writing of this blog and enthusiastically supported my efforts!
My introduction to Fish and Chip Babies came through Needles and Hooks, Angels and Preemies. A group on Facebook about which I have done a blog post in the past. The reason behind Fish and Chip Babies is simple, Infants in the poorest parts of Africa were leaving hospitals simply wrapped in newspaper for warmth. This sparked a world wide call for Jumpers and hats (vests) to keep these infants warm and to give mothers reason to smile. Babies, our future, are deserving of our best work, the crafters who work with Fish and Chip Babies agree.
Fish And Chip Babies is NOT a charity in and of itself. It is a group working with charities who request the assistance of warm clothing. https://www.facebook.com/groups/FishandChipBaby/ is the group I became involved with just a few short weeks ago. This group of 1053 members truly lives up to the goals and standards they set up for themselves. I cannot even begin to imagine the amount of time and money they spend but its a labor of love. They truly do LOVE what they do and it shows in every single stitch. Right now their focus is on babies in Malawi and Romania.
Here the group introduction from their Facebook page: Welcome to Fish & Chip Babies Group.
Our group is made up of very kind and talented people who want to help others by using their gifts to make essential clothing and other items.
The term ‘Fish and Chip’ Babies began a few years back when it was made known mothers were taking home their new babies wrapped in paper to die. HIV, AIDS and other diseases are fatal to all especially newborns, and as such, their life expectancy was days. This became a massive movement and thousands of knitted vests were made and sent to those in need. This work is ongoing and we welcome all member who want to help, with whatever skill or experience. Everyone can make a difference to one person.
WE ARE NOT A CHARITY. But we work very hard along side charities. We are a group that provides general information on charities that need knitted and handmade items. We share our knowledge, our skills, patterns we use and above all else we share friendship! We are friends united in helping wherever we can.
Join us is helping others. One person can’t change the world, but we can change someone’s world. Let’s do it together
Below is a visual representation of how these lovely people work together. There will be a part 2 to this blog in which I will give more of the facts and figures about how YOU can help!
Good afternoon! Today's designer is no stranger to knitters around the world. Jessie Rayot designer at http://jessieathome.com/, is prolific, amazingly talented, and writes patterns for EVERYONE. Patterns from Jewelry to beautiful coats. Color, color and more color. Amazing gift for unique and gorgeous patterns that everyone can use. In short my kind of designer.
I really found Jessie Rayot while looking for a double duty hat on Ravelry. Jessie Rayot had just the thing. A hat that ties closed at the top that if opened could be used as a cowl for a child. We live in the Adirondack region, it gets pretty cold. Kids often do not have the warm gear necessary to keep them warm. Jessie Rayot's Eli Hat was the perfect answer. You can find the pattern here: http://jessieathome.com/eli-hat-worsted-weight-free-crochet-pattern/. However, when I opened up the page to Jessie at Home WOw! I was beyond excited at what I found in the pages on her this great site.
Jessie Rayot describes herself "Once upon a time I was a professional costume designer/builder. Then I met a boy. You know how that goes. Now I am a Stay At Home Mom in NJ. We have twin girls who were born in July ‘07. The artist in me can not stay still, and we could use more income, so here I am! I love creating knit and crochet patterns, sewing (obviously!), book making, well…creating just about anything. We also have a creative hobby. In some of our free time we are Medieval Re-creationists. You can learn more about me, and see lots of fun snaps of my children and other creations on my blog, ~or~ You can keep tabs on my creations on my facebook page." I try hard not to feel intimidated by people who are so creative and talented. I realize that ALL of us have something to offer. Jessie Rayot just bowled me over with the unique patterns, colors, and textures she uses to create her patterns. One of my favorite patterns is: http://jessieathome.com/fall-leaves-wrap-cgoa-design-competition-winner/ This design won an award from the CGOA or the Crochet Guild of America and with good reason! The color combinations and style variations are nearly endless. Dress it up for an Fall evening event or make it a little more fanciful for costume do. Fantastic.
Jessie Rayot has twin daughters whom she clearly loves very much! She designs so many cute patterns for her daughters . She includes her girls and obviously they inspire her creations. This pattern for instance http://jessieathome.com/emma-skater-skirt/ a little skirt made in the design of a skirt for an ice skater. ADORABLE. I'm old enough to remember when Dorothy Hamill wore this style of skirt. So sweet and feminine. The clothes Jessie Rayot designs for her girls are tasteful and classy.
Now I come to one of my FAVORITE patterns from Jessie at Home. Jessie Rayot describes it as "fanciful". It is that and so much more! Electric with color, fused with a bit of innocence, and imbued with artistic touches that are storybook in nature. Its so intricate that one could easily build a story around the coat! Its vivid yet warm, whimsical and comforting, enveloping and graceful, everything a "fanciful" piece of art should be. Thank you Jessie Rayot! http://jessieathome.com/katherine-coat/
You can find Jessie at home all over the web.
I hope you enjoy Jessie at Home as much as I do! Thank you Jessie Rayot
Walking with Orphans is a charity working in Eastern Europe, especially Russia, Romania, Moldova, Bulgaria, and Ukraine. I find myself drawn to this group because I have friends who currently live in Romania or have lived in Romania. Additionally I have friends who have lived in Bulgaria and the Ukraine as well as Russia. So to me this is personal and wonderful. :)
Walking with Orphans was founded 2010 under the name Eastern European and Russian Orphanages Project; 2012 began doing business as Walking With Orphans. Its mission: "Walking With Orphans exists to provide holistic relief aid to orphans and vulnerable children in Eastern Europe and Russia. We are committed to meeting children where they are at and providing for their physical, mental, educational, medical, and spiritual needs. We also work to educate the public on orphan care issues and to support former orphans and their adoptive families." http://walkingwithorphans.org/our-story/sample-page/ That is a very tall order but the great people who run the "EEROP" have a vision for the future!
I first came in contact with EEROP through Ravelry. (No surprise there :) ) It seemed like an inactive group but then I realized that the group's founder, Melissa Brown, was currently LIVING in Romania! This made it difficult for her to continue to update the group pages. But she continues to work her hardest for Walking with Orphans and she asks us to help HER by providing hats, scarves and socks for the orphans she is working with in Romania with Heart to Heart Ministries International. She still has goals for EEOP naturally there is a learning curve to working with the Eastern European block nations. While she is learning, growing, focusing her time on life in Romania she asks that those of us who are fiber artists send our hand work to
3021 Hampton Ridge Way
Snellville, GA 30078
Allow me to shift focus to Heart to Heart Ministries International very briefly. H2H as it is known is a charity serving Romanian orphans and has been a not for profit group since 1995. "H2H ministers in a number of ways to abandoned and orphaned children in the state operated orphanages. H2H also cares for abandoned infants and toddlers, provides education for school-aged children, and mentors and disciples older teens who have been institutionalized throughout their childhood." https://www.h2hint.org/index.php/h2h/about/
Now I know the plight of orphans living in the Eastern Europe and Russa through the friends that I know who currently live in Romania and those who have lived in Romania in the past. Bulgaria, Latvia, Moldova, and the Ukraine are also full of orphans needing attention. Groups like H2H do their very best for the children living in the state run orphanages which is not an easy task. H2H is a large organization which focuses the lion share of the financial support on the children. Very comforting that Melissa Brown is doing her best with this organization to gather winter warm items for the children. Melissa states that the majority of the children are between the ages of 6-16 years.
Heart to Heart Ministries International celebrated 20 years of working in Romania. The organization's US address is in Ramona, California. In January the Ramona Sentinel wrote this article celebrating the 20 year mark: http://www.ramonasentinel.com/news/2015/jan/15/heart-to-heart-celebrates-20-years/ This is a big anniversary! It also shows what happens when people have a passion for their work and stick to it through thick and thin. https://www.facebook.com/h2hinternational
My goal in this article is to share Melissa Brown's passion for the children of the Eastern European countries and Russia. To that end I will share the links to the places you can find information about her needs. But first a quote from Melissa via Ravelry: "I’m still collecting items and distribute them when I go home on furlough once a year. Right now hats, scarves, gloves/mittens, and socks are what are needed most. They will actually go towards our supply for next year (we have everything set for 2015). Each year we do a big donation to Children’s Emergency Relief International for their boot distribution and they like the hats and scarves. The kids here in Romania will be totally out of scarves next year and our sock and glove/mitten collection is pretty slim as well." http://www.ravelry.com/discuss/walking-with-orphans/3296725/1-25#7 Thank you to the moderators of EEOP group on Ravelry for keeping the vision alive. I encourage everyone who is a raveler to consider joining the Walk with Orphans group. Now to the links for information.
Statistics show that child abandonment is on the rise in Romania. Melissa Brown, Walking with Orphans, H2H are working every day to make sure that these abandoned children are shown some love. While the statistics appear to be overwhelming, fiber artists can assuage the feelings of loss, one scarf, one hat, one pair of socks at a time. I think that is a very worth while goal.
**Opinions expressed on blogs about which I write are the opinion of the blog authors and DO NOT necessarily reflect my own opinion.