Monday, August 25, 2008

Help Give Our Soldiers a Better Holiday

When peri-menopause moved into it's final stages last November and I started going nuts...unable to concentrate, experiencing major writer's block, sleeplessness and was losing interest in life, which was causing bouts of depression, my wise 20-something daughter told me " NEED a hobby to keep you sane." Computers had been my life and I hadn't had much time for a hobby. But now I was feeling really stupid and was lucky that I was even able to operate my email software! She was right, I needed something less brain-draining to occupy my time so I felt more useful than sitting there staring at the idiot box.

I broke out crochet needles and finally taught myself to crochet. It was something I'd always wanted to learn to do, but never had the time. Now this type of automatic work was just what I needed. Understand, I'm not saying crocheting is brainless, because some people have incredible skills to concentrate and create amazing items. Not me...but I could whip out a scarf or afghan, so everyone was sure to be warm and cozy for the winter as I worked away on one after another. But soon this started to get boring and anything more intricate was beyond my current change of life brain power. It was time to move to the sewing machine.

I taught myself to make quilts. Greg got one with planes on it, the kids got some, even my brother's dog got one and then I moved on to quilted tote bags, which Stacy received to carry her dance costumes.

But my crowning achievement to date was a quilt I made for mom, which I call Legacy. I used Microsoft Word and my color laserjet, along with freezer paper to assemble photos on fabric of all mom's children, grand children and great grand children and sewed them onto a beautiful quilt that mom just loves. It also helps her remember the names of each person because she talks to everyone shown on the quilt each morning when she makes her bed. Since her stroke, she has memory loss (aphasia) and often forgets people. This helps her remember who everyone is in her family and how they are all related to each other.

Note! If you'd like to learn more about using your computer to help you apply photos to your sewing projects, see this article I wrote for Computor Companion: Add Photos to Sewing Projects with Microsoft Word

Quilts for the family were fun and helped me feel productive while my brain was on vacation. But then I learned about Soldiers' Angels sewing team and their venture to give a blanket to all US service members who are deployed for the holidays this year. Greg and I are members of the Patriot Guard Riders...bikers who honor soldiers at their funerals, deployment ceremonies and welcome home events. Through the Patriot Guard, I joined Soldier Angels on Steel Wings and eventually discovered the sewing team for Soldiers' Angels.

Soldiers' Angels are hoping to give all deployed soldiers a holiday basket from home, which will include a home-made Blanket of Belief, letting all our service men and woman know that we support them. They estimate that they will need about 180,000 blankets! So we sure can use your help!

To date, I've managed to make eight blankets and shipped them off to the holding location. I'm hoping to create at least 25 by the deadline of November 1, 2008. Yes...I have my work cut out for me. But, thankfully, I've come up with a pretty and simple process to create nice looking blankets that I can make fast. And with practice, I can now whip one out in about 2 to 2.5 hours. Great for those sleepless nights! Rather than tossing in bed fighting hot flashes and sweats and trying to get some sleep, I can crank out a blanket for the soldiers.

There are lots of ways you can help and you actually don't need to know how to sew to add to the pile of blankets being collected to send to our soldiers this holiday. You can purchase a kit that allows you to draw and create a blanket...great for kids to do! There's also a crocheting team if you are good at crocheting blankets. I have one of those in red, white and blue going, but I'm much faster at sewing.

To see all my Soldier Angel blankets and get more details about this project, you can check out my pictures here:

Or just head over to the Soldiers' Angels web site where you can get all the details. You'll find it here:

Go right to the Blankets of Belief project page, here:

We need a lot more blankets! Please help! Sew a blanket, crochet a blanket, purchase a blanket kit to design with your kids, or make a donation to help with the ultimate shipping charges to get all these blankets to those who will be away from home during the holidays!

I remember reading what someone wrote about one wounded soldier who received a Soldiers' Angel blanket. She said when he returned home the first thing he did was show his family his purple heart...the next thing he did was show them his Soldiers' Angel blanket! And if that isn't enough inspiration...check out this BEAUTIFUL cartoon from dedicated to Soldiers' Angels and their blanket campaign!

"A Soldiers' Angel, keeping him warm."