August 3, 2011

Blankets for Ethiopia

Months ago I emailed Karen about the trip in November. I thought that if I started planning early, I might not scramble in the last few hours with trying to cram everything into my suitcases (or pay huge fees at the gate because all of the clothes were stuffed into my backpack and it was too heavy). I wanted to help with the trip even if I wasn't going. The Hopechest team in Ethiopia gave Karen a list of items that would be most helpful to the children. Included in the list were clothes, school supplies, medical supplies, and blankets. I immediately thought of how wonderful it would be to bring a handmade blanket to each one of the children at the care points. Most people don't realize that temperatures at night drop to mid-40s during the winter months in Addis Ababa. Many of the children sleep on a hard packed dirt floor; blankets will be treasured by the entire family.

My grandiose plans of beautiful twin size rag quilts were tempered by cost and luggage restrictions. I also wanted to involve those of you who can't sew (or who unknowingly allowed your sewing machine to rust in a damp basement). A few years ago, I made our children little fleece lap blankets for Christmas. They were delighted to have the bright beautiful blankets for the car trip the next morning. And (here's the kicker) they were so easy to make. Making blankets for three children is far easier than making blankets for approximately 300 children. This is where you all come in. I have been thinking and praying about this venture for a few months, not knowing whether I'd be going to Ethiopia, but always certain I wanted to be a part of the trip in some way. After months of working things out in my mind and bouncing ideas off of people this is what I've cooked up:

1-We would like the blankets' size to be 4 x 5. Fleece comes in 60 inch width (or thereabout), if you buy 2 lengths of 1.25-1.5 yards, then it will be approximately 4 x 5 when you finish. Once you have the fleece pieces, you just lay them on top of each other and snip three inches down, one to one and a half inches, all around the perimeter. You should end up with something that looks like a 1983 fringey fleece--think Darryl Hannahesque. Then tie knots with those two snipped edges. You will end up with a blanket that has about 3 inches of fringed knots around it. We have figured out that one suitcase will fit about 15 blankets (in space saver bags). Usually, we make these blankets double thickness. If you can find fleece that is cheap and thin, then getting a solid and pattern fabric would be wonderful. Otherwise, getting a very thick piece of fleece and tying the edges will also be fine. If they will be doubled up, getting thinner fleece will allow us to fit the anticipated 15 blankets into our luggage. Please, don't stress about this! The kids will be so happy to receive these blankets. If I get some blankets that are 6 inches smaller and some that are 6 inches larger--I won't write bad things about you on my blog! I just want them to be approximately the same size. Imagine if one child gets a 5 x 7 and the next gets a 3 x 4! That's my main concern--bringing enough for everyone and making sure they are getting close to the same thing.

If none of this makes sense, email me or leave me a comment!

2-I have a big family and moving has afforded me so many fantastic, supportive friends all over the country. BUT, I don't have 300 people to ask for help. This is the second part of my crazy scheme (as my dad would say). I need you all to talk to your friends and families and ask for their help. Then get back to me with a blanket "pledge". I'm planning on having a blanket tying party and I'm more than happy to help you coordinate the same thing. This is a wonderful service project that even very young children can be involved in! My local group of friends will each bring their selected fleece to the 'party' and we'll have a blast eating, tying, and praying over these special blankets.

I have been so encouraged to see the reaction so far from family and friends. I hope many of you will get involved! This is another opportunity for you to offer help in a big, tangible way. It's also a wonderful way to make people aware of needs across the world, perhaps they feel uncomfortable with giving money to an organization, but would be willing to donate something. I want to thank you now, for caring enough to read this long post!

Lastly, a video that goes step by step-it's a little long, but if I really didn't make sense and you've never made one of these...this is the detailed video you want!


Jessica said...

Hi Apryl. You can put our family down for 6 blankets. I'm going to have our kids make them during school. Where should we ship them and when do you want them?


bette madewell said...

April, Are we using 1 1/5 yds of two pieces of fleece and tying them together? Or just one piece of material? I'm confused.


Apryl said...

My mom had the same confusion :) I'm not ever as clear as I'd like to be--I repeat the statement, "Please, don't stress!" I'm delighted to get a blanket into the hands of these kids, whether it's double or single thickness. That said, tie two pieces if you have them, but if you have a decent thick single piece that would be great too (just knotting around the edges). Am I too vague :) Let me know if that didn't help!

Jessica said...

I am a friend of Danica's and started following your blog at her suggestion- love it! I would love to help out with the blankets! I posted a link to your post on Facebook and a friend of mine from Ohio would like to get the ladies in her church to help but she wants some general info on the ministry you are going with, etc to pass on to the ladies at her church and of course your address and contact information in order to mail them to you :) Would you email me at jessica.bellinger(AT)
Thank you so much!

Danica and I are also getting a group together from Mars HIll but I have no idea how many we'll get yet ;)

Apryl said...

@ Jessica--Danica called yesterday, just thrilled that you were up for helping! I'm so excited--thank you, thank you, for helping with this project in a huge way (and for reading my sometimes absurd blog). I'll email Jessica right now! Thanks!

Dorie said...

Apryl, When do you need them by?

Apryl said...

Good to see you here~we are leaving Nov 11, I'd like to have them early October so I can get them sent to the right people. Thanks!

Kate said...

I'd love to help! When do you need them by? I'm going to get a group of friends together to make them so I will commit to providing 20. Thanks!


Greta said...

Apryl, So you are going???!!! Wow! I am so excited for you to do this project and to get to go again! I am so sad about not going, but know you will continue to be a blessing on this trip and really work hard to make every one of those kids at the care points feel special. Thank you for going!