Sunday, March 31, 2013

Hands2Help - a Book Review and the Giveaway!

Hi, all!

I am very happy to report that so far, we have 61 people signed up for the 2013 Hands2Help Charity Quilt Challenge!!  Woohoo!!!!  And amazingly enough, only one of those is a no-reply blogger - so Sally in St. Paul, please email me directly at so I can respond back to you and get your contact info!  Many of those who signed up are new this year - also very exciting!!

And please don't think that it's too late to sign up for the Challenge - we're only at the beginning, and there's still plenty of time to join in and make one (or more) quilts for our wonderful charities before June 2nd!  If you're just now finding out about the Challenge, you can read more about it here.


Now, in the spirit of the giving hearts that personify the Hands2Help Charity Quilt Challenge, I'd like to share a book review of Jennifer Chiaverini's book,  THE GIVING QUILT.  Here's what her publisher has to say about the book and the author...

Thanksgiving inspires generosity once a year, but what happens to the spirit of giving on the other 364 days? In THE GIVING QUILT, now available in paperback from Plume, New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Chiaverini takes a page from her own life to deliver an emotional and poignant story very close to her heart. As a long-time member and advocate of Project Linus, an organization dedicated to providing handmade quilts and blankets to children in need, Jennifer decided to donate a very unique and special gift—a prime spot in one of her bestselling novels.

At Elm Creek Manor, the circle of quilters is hard at work preparing for “Quiltsgiving.” Held annually the week after Thanksgiving, expert and novice quilters from near and far gather for a special winter session of quilt camp to make pieces for Project Linus. As the week unfolds, the quilters respond to the question, “Why do you give?” in ways as varied as the life experiences that drew them to Elm Creek Manor. Each of the quilters, including a librarian, a teacher, a college student, and a quilt shop clerk, uses her unique talents to teach, inspire, and give back to her fellow campers.

With numerous New York Times bestsellers, Chiaverini is undoubtedly one of the masters of both modern and historical women’s fiction. Year after year, Chiaverini’s stories remain beloved by fans and praised by critics.

Now, to tell you the truth, this is the first of Jennifer Chiaverini's novels that I have ever read.  I'm kind of picky about what I read, and had just never thought these would appeal to me.  But when the publisher contacted me and asked me to do a book review, I decided it was time to give her a try.  And boy was I surprised!  

I literally couldn't put this book down.  One-quarter of the way into the book, I wanted to build my own quilt retreat center.  Halfway through it, I wanted to sponsor a Quiltsgiving retreat at my own church!  And I think the idea of a Giving Journal is excellent and plan to start one of my own.  

This book will find a place in your heart and spur you on to greater charity efforts.  It is well written and the characters are well-drawn.  And although I haven't tried it yet, I think the quilt on the cover is well enough described in the book to be able to recreate it!  


And now (drumroll please!) for the sign-up giveaway.  Plume Publishing has given me:

 two copies of the book and... sweet little Elm Hill Quilts pins to share! 

I've tallied up all the entries from the people who signed up to participate in the challenge so far, and here are the winners:

Kathy Decker and Carol Steely win copies of the book!

Carol Egan, Jennie Tray, Carolyn Jones, Kathy Schwabeland, JeanAnn Younghanz, Miki Willa and Julie Kennedy 
each win one of the pins!!

I'll be contacting each of you by email soon!


Many thanks to all of you who have signed up to participate, and those who have helped promote the challenge!  

Remember, there's still time to join in the fun - the finished quilts are due by June 2nd!  

And we've got lots of interesting stuff coming up in this "time-slot" as in future weeks we have guest bloggers sharing lots of interesting things with us.  So be sure to check in each Sunday evening to see what's up with H2H!

Next week, though, everyone is invited to share - come back prepared to link up your favorite tutorial, tip, or "while quilting" snack!  The tutorial doesn't have to be your own - you can link up to someone else's great tutorial on-line, but if you have a blog, do it through your blog so we can get to know you better!  Those of you without blogs can link up directly to the tutorial or recipe site, just put your name in the description line so we know where it came from!

The week after that (April 14th) I'll be giving you the skinny on our fabulous sponsors!!  We've got some great giveaway items lined up for those who contribute a quilt, and I'm still looking for sponsors!




Friday, March 29, 2013

Can I Get A Whoop Whoop? What's Your Big Whoop This Week?

Hi, all!

It's Friday again - are you ready to get your whoop whoop on?  I hope so - I need to see what you've all been working on because I haven't had any opportunity to do much at all this week.  We had a death in the family and had to hit the road on Tuesday and are still dealing with visitation, the funeral and all the family things that go along with that.  So keeping up with the Hands2Help administrative stuff is about the limit of my activity this week.

But that's definitely worth a whoop whoop - because we already have 48 people signed up to participate!!!  That's so awesome!! And people have volunteered to do guest blogposts so we'll have lots of interesting things to learn over the next few weeks, too.  And we've got lots of great sponsors - I can't wait to show you all the wonderful things that we've got for giveaways!  (PS There's still plenty of time to sign up to participate - read more here!)

On the sewing front, I did get a couple of dresses started (and almost finished) for my beautiful little girls this week...

Lilli's dress...

...and Emmy's!
And just because it's been really fun to see the family all together in one place, I thought I'd share this picture with you of two generations of girl cousins...


So that's my whoop whoop for the week!

Now - what are you whooping about?

What's made you dance the happy dance?

Share with us - we want to join in the party!

The linky party will stay open until Sunday night - 

Be there or be square!



PS - Sally in St. Paul, please email me directly at - you are a no-reply blogger and I haven't been able to answer you back about the H2H challenge!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What's Cookin' At The Sweatshop?

Hi, all!

Well, as predicted, things have started getting a bit busier around the quilt ministry - but fortunately we have a new member who is also a long-armer, so an extra quilter is on hand to help with the finishing up!  Woohoo!!  Hopefully we can get a bit ahead of the needs - always a good thing!

So let's see what we worked on this week...

This beautiful quilt was made from donated blocks (I'm sorry I don't remember who donated them - the info is on my worktable at home, and I'm in Virginia - too far away to locate them!  If you sent them, please 'fess up - I'd love to give credit where credit is due!)  Joanna pieced them together and put a beautiful green border on it.  This quilt has found a new home with a young woman who will be undergoing her third open heart surgery later this month.

And this pretty strip quilt, made with some lovely funky prints, is going to a woman who was just re-diagnosed with breast cancer after thirteen cancer-free years.  Her sister described her as artsy and the kind of person who will be wearing red and purple when she's eighty - so I think this quilt will be perfect for her!  She's a quilter, but doesn't hang out with other quilters - so we're hoping she'll come join in our group and share her knowledge some day.  

Rita and Pam put this lovely warm flannel quilt together from donated blocks and a great Alexander Henry flannel tree print.  It's also got a plaid flannel backing, so it's another soft, warm quilt.  This quilt is going to Sevierville, TN to a gentleman who is battling Stage 4 lung cancer.  Pam was in Sevierville for the quilt show a few weeks ago, and while in the Cracker Barrel, overheard her server talking to some regulars at a nearby table.  The regulars were asking about her husband, and that's how Pam found out that he was battling cancer.  She decided to see that he got a quilt, and this is the result!  A good example of never missing an opportunity to help others....

We've had a couple of other quilts this week, but I don't have pictures of them yet - so we'll save them for next week!

And in the spirit of never missing an opportunity to help others, let me remind you....

It's time to sign up for the Hands2Help Charity Quilt Challenge!  This year we'll be quilting for Happy Chemo and for Quilts Beyond Borders - two great charities to choose from!  Or you can make one (or more!) for each and spread the love....  You can read more about the Challenge here (the 3/24/13 post) and sign up at the same time.  There will be a giveaway for folks who sign up by this Saturday night (3/30/13) and lots of giveaways at the end of the Challenge for those who participate!!  So come join us!!

And please remember my friend Pam's quilt raffle to benefit Blood:Water Mission!  There's only a few more days to make a donation and enter the raffle - she will be drawing a winner this Sunday, March 31st.  You can read more about the raffle here or just click the "Donate Now" button on the right side bar. She's so close to her goal of $7,000 - less than $2,000 to go!  Let's help put her over the top and build a well in an African village!



Monday, March 25, 2013

Make A List Monday - Swamped But Loving It!

Hi, all!

Well, the title of this post says it all - with the start of the Hands2Help Charity Quilt Challenge, I'm drowning in emails that need to be responded to and still searching for sponsors for the challenge, but it's so wonderful to see the response so far! There's still plenty of time to sign up to qualify for the sign-up giveaway (you can join in any time, but if you do before Saturday midnight, there's a nice giveaway you might win!)  You can read more about the challenge here.

I've almost been afraid to look at my list from last week, so let's check it out together (maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised!)....

1. Get the Hands2Help Challenge up and running!
Done!  There's still a good bit of administrative work to do, 
but it's running!

2.  Mail giveaway loot and shop sales items.
Done!  I hope everyone's received their goodies...

3.  Quilt and bind man's quilt for ministry.

4.  Finishing piecing ministry quilt for baby boy.
5.  Quilt the baby boy ministry quilt.
I didn't get to this particular quilt but I did quilt this baby boy quilt for the ministry...

... and these two women's quilts for the ministry!

6.  Finish up the quilter's apron pattern.
Didn't get to this one...

7.  Make a lanyard (or two!) for the shop.
...or this one!

8.  Make Easter dresses for the granddaughters!
Almost finished!  Take a look...

...Lilli's dress...

...and Emmy's! 
Just a little bit of handwork to do to finish these!

9.  List new items in the shop.
Done!  I made these pincushions in the car while riding to Lancaster...

...and I also finished these key chains!

And I don't feel so bad about my work last week, because I also took time to make this cutie for Emmy's birthday...

Isn't she adorable?  Emmy liked her, too!

So all in all, not too bad even though I didn't get to everything I wanted to.  Let's see what's on the agenda for this week...

1.  Finish the girls' Easter dresses.

2.  Finish the administrative work on the Hands2Help Challenge.

3.  Finish the quilter's apron pattern.

4.  Make those lanyards!

5.  Piece the baby boy quilt and quilt it.

6.  Handle any needs that arise for the quilt ministry.

7.  Draw detailed plans for my new worktable in the studio. (Hubby just can't see my vision from my description!)

I'm sure there's more I need to do, but I sure can't think of anything else right now!  So this will have to do.


And now, I want to put in a plug for a friend of mine.  Pam made this absolutely gorgeous king-size quilt for her father, finishing it after many years of work.  But while she was finishing it, her father moved into a nursing home and now can no longer use such a large quilt.  Not wanting her labor of love to go to waste, Pam decided to raffle it off to benefit the charity Blood:Water Mission. The proceeds from her raffle will go to build a well in a small village in Africa.  She's hoping to raise $7,000 and she's over halfway there!  You can read more about it here.

And she hand quilted this gorgeous thing in the Baptist fan pattern.  I've seen it in person and it's an amazing quilt (and I want it BAD!), so I can't believe I'm encouraging all of you to click on the "Donate Now" button on the right side bar.  You get one entry for every $10 you donate.    Pam will be drawing a winner on Easter Sunday (March 31st) so move quick!!  And I'll promise to keep my fingers crossed for you if you'll cross yours for me!


So now the question is - - - what are you working on this week?



Sunday, March 24, 2013

Hands2Help - It's Time to Sign Up!!

"What does love look like?
It has the hands to help others.
It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy.
It has eyes to see misery and want.
It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men.
That is what love looks like."

Hi, all!

Things are all falling into place for this year's Hands2Help Charity Quilt Challenge!  I'm so excited to get this started!

This year we have two great charities to choose from.  You will be signing up to make a quilt or quilts for one or both of two charitable causes.

Our first charity this year is an ongoing project of Emily of Em's Scrapbag.  You can choose to make quilts for Happy Chemo, an organization that provides quilts and comfort for chemo patients.  They also collect up and provide information about freebies and discounts that may be of use to chemo patients.  Emily has been championing this cause for a while, and has set a goal of providing 1500 quilts to Happy Chemo.  She’s already donated nearly 600 quilts, and I’d like to see her numbers grow!  She has generously agreed to be part of this challenge, and is excited to see what comes of it.  Here's what Emily has to say about Happy Chemo...

"The first time I met Ginger Johnston, founder of Happy Chemo, it was my first visit to a chemo lab.  I was scared and unsure of what the future held for me.  In walked Ginger, bald and boobless but determined to bring a little sunshine into the chemo lab.  So before she started her treatment she took everyone’s name and drew prizes.  It so changed my experience that I knew I needed to help her in her quest.  I started making quilts for her to give.  Because I can’t sew as fast as cancer strikes I started asking for help.  I just want to bring a little comfort and joy to those who are facing the fear and uncertainty that trips to the chemo lab bring."  

Emily accepts quilts that are 45" square to 60" x 72". Any style of quilt is accepted as cancer affects men and women, children and adults.  Quilts made for this project will be sent to Emily to help her meet her goal of 1500 quilts donated to Happy Chemo!


A charity providing quilts to children in underserved areas of the world

Our second charity is a new one this year, at least to me!  I read about Quilts Beyond Borders recently and was captivated by their mission.  Here’s some information from their website...

Quilts Beyond Borders reaches out to under-served children, mainly orphans, across the world to provide a handmade quilt and spread love and hope... We have focused on Ethiopia where in 5 years we have delivered over 1,000 quilts to orphans...  Since 2009 we have also provided quilts to people in need in Japan, Haiti, Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, Cameroon, Burundi, Uganda, Russia, Thailand and Mexico, and we plan additional distributions of quilts to those in need living in other places where the warmth of a quilt is needed at night.

They are currently in need of 500-600 quilts to distribute this fall to orphanages in Ethiopia and Romania.  I'm hoping we can make a significant dent in their need, and spread the word to others who many not know of this worthy cause as well!

For this charity, the finished quilts should be 40-45" wide by 48-60" long.  This size best fits the children's beds.  Quilts need to be quilted sufficiently to handle rugged conditions - used by children, and washed under rugged laundry conditions (unfortunately, tied quilts won't hold up to these conditions).  Fabric can be cotton or cotton/polyester. Batting can be cotton or polyester.  Please bind the quilts entirely by machine, so the binding will hold up longer.

Please include a label for each quilt you send for Quilts Beyond Borders.  The label should read:

Quilts Beyond Borders
Made for You with Love
By:  (quilter's name)
Belongs to (space for recipient's name)


With two charities to pick from this year, you can choose a wide variety of sizes and styles of quilts - something for everyone!! And if you're torn between the two charities, feel free to make more than one quilt!  Just think how many wonderful designs you can try.... ;-)

Another change this year, to allow more international participants - if you live outside the United States and want to participate, you can send your quilt top and back to me and I will quilt it for you, to save you from having to pay huge international postage to ship a finished quilt.  Or in the alternative, you can choose a local charitable cause to give your quilt to.  So come on and join in, all you Aussies, Brits, Kiwis, and Canadians!  And anyone else who wants to join in!  

Here's the calendar for this year's Hands2Help Challenge:

Initial signups will be Sunday, March 24th through Saturday, March 30th.  You will receive one entry for signing up, and can get additional entries for putting the button on your blog sidebar, and/or posting about the challenge to encourage others to join in!  (You can sign up after this time, but this is the period to sign up to be part of the signup giveaway.)

Next Sunday, March 31st, we'll announce the winners of the signup giveaway.   I've got something very special planned for this giveaway - completely in keeping with the spirit of the Hands2Help Charity Quilt Challenge! 

Sunday, April 7th, there will be a linky party where you can post links to your favorite on-line tutorials.  It could be a tutorial for a quilt pattern, or a technique like machine binding, or even a recipe for your favorite "while-I'm-quilting" snack!  You don't have to write the tutorial, you can link up to another blogger's tutorial.  If you love it, someone else might too!

In the following weeks, we'll have some special posts and possibly some guest bloggers!  (If you'd like to be a guest blogger, please email me at!)  More information on this as details become available....

There will also be check-in dates like last year, when you can link up and show your progress....  April 21st and May 19th.

Quilts should be completed by Sunday, June 2nd.  There will be a linky party (June 2nd through June 8th) to link your finished quilt and show it off, and giveaways for people who link up their quilts.  I'll have more information about the giveaways next week, but let me tell you, we've got some great sponsors this year!  Winners will be announced on June 9th.

Quilts should be mailed to the appropriate place by Friday, June 14th.


Whew!  That's a lot of information to digest - but the calendar will always be available to you on the Page at the top of my blog!  

So here's the short-and-sweet on how to sign up for the Challenge and be eligible for the giveaway next week:  

1)  Leave a comment telling me that you plan to participate in the Challenge.  If you have decided, tell who you want to make a quilt(s) for! 

2)  For an additional entry, grab the H2H button from the right sidebar and post it on your own blog, then come back and leave a comment telling me you did it!

3)  For more additional entries, post about the Challenge on your own blog, on Facebook, on Twitter, or pin the button image (from this blogpost) to Pinterest.  Leave a comment for each way you helped spread the word!

Woohoo!!  Let's get started!!



Just a reminder - you don't have to have a blog to participate!  If you want info on how to join in without a blog, just let me know in your comment - and be sure I have a way to answer you!

If you sign up to participate in H2H and you don't hear back from me within a couple of days, you are probably a "no-reply" blogger!  Check here for instructions on how to correct this problem, or leave your e-mail address in your comment so that I can reach you!  If you don't feel comfortable leaving your e-mail address out in public, you can e-mail me directly at salliesue(at)clearwire(dot)net.