Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tiny Blessings

I have had several people interested in the crochet/knitting service project, so I thought I would expand on that a little bit.

As I stated before, two friends, Jennifer and Jamie, began a crochet business about a year and a half ago. Their work is great and seeing as I wanted about 200 different hats from them and couldn't find a way to work that in the budget, I decided to take them up on their offer to teach me the art of crochet. Our first classes were in the middle of our waiting period to find out about Johnny and I really think learning to crochet was a blessing at that time. It meant fellowship with women who I love once a week and it meant that I had something to do as the weeks inched along. Crochet gave me control, it is meticulous and can be mind numbing when you first start out. I needed the ability to go into "the zone" and simply count stitches. My friends laughed at my tight and tiny stitches, telling me to loosen up, but it was definitely a form of therapy for me. It stilled my frantic heart to be able to work with something in my hands, almost in an obsessive way. I have since relaxed a bit (crochet wise anyways) and have enjoyed making various hats for the kids and a few for friends and family.

The project emerged when we offered to make NICU hats for Methodist Willowbrook and were also commissioned to make blessing gowns, hats, slippers, and blankets for babies who pass away in utero, don't make it through childbirth, or have conditions incompatible with life. I am so honored to be working with this group of women to fulfill a need that literally landed in front of us. It is a ministry that is so close to my heart, we were faced with not knowing what chromosomal abnormality we might be facing with Johnny and very well could have been one of those families needing clothes for a micro preemie. We feel blessed that we can hopefully relieve the burden off of these families in needing to find something for their sweet babies to wear and to be working in partnership with the nurses to make their time with their children special. As we work, we try to be conscious of praying for the families, friends, and medical providers of these little ones. I have been especially struck with the idea that as I work and pray for these families, that some of them haven't even conceived yet or haven't even thought of expanding their families yet. We never know when our items will be needed, so we simply make what we can, hoping that they will sit on the shelves for a very long time, gathering dust, but knowing that they may be in need. It has been fulfilling in so many ways for the women who have already started working because we all feel a great need to serve our community, but also feel called to be at home with our children and to be integral in raising them. This way, we can do both.

but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me 
and do not hinder them, 
for to such belongs 
the kingdom of heaven.”

                   -Matthew 19:14

As far as assisting our ministry, Tiny Blessings, we have several needs:

First- Pray with us! From time to time, think about families who are faced with news of a loss of a child that they only know as two pink lines, an ultrasound image, and sometimes a flutter of movement inside. Pray for them to enjoy their pregnancy while they can and for strength and comfort when they are burdened with their eventuality. Pray for good medical staff to be around them and for them to have the exact right words and exact right answers every step of the way. Pray for peace that only God can grant for these families.

Second- Join us! We need more people that know how to crochet, knit, or sew. It is simple to pick up if you don't know how and if you are bored with crocheting straight rows (like I was), consider looking into hats, it is much more satisfying work. If you can sew, we need very simple and small blankets. We would prefer soft colors and no embellishments as the baby's skin can be very delicate. For anything blessing related (for babies who don't make it), keep the patterns and colors simple and of course beautiful. For NICU hats, be as bold and fun as you want! Here are a few links that we frequent-

    Preemie hats (with or without ear flaps)
    Blessing gown (half the number of stitches or use smaller hook)- for boys I just half double crochet        
          the length of the gown, don't use a shell stitch for boys, it looks decidedly feminine
    General Sizing Chart for gowns

Somewhere I found a list of sizes for blankets and I don't know who to credit it to as I just copied and pasted it into my phone, so my apologies, but as it is for a good cause, I think it will be ok. If you want to help sew blankets the sizes are as follows-
    Small preemie- 18"-20" square
    Medium preemie- 20"-22" square
    Large preemie- 22"-30" square
    Full term- 32"-36" square

As far as other requirements for the hospital we are working with at this time, the gowns do not need to be lined, but they do need to open in the back and have some sort of tie or button/velcro closure. We also try to make a complete outfit of a gown and hat at minimum, with the option of adding in a diaper cover and/or slippers. I am currently working on my pattern for slippers, but feel free to add a link in the comments section if you find one you think may work.

These are the two brands of yarn I use, some of the other women like other ones as well. Both of these are available at Hobby Lobby and you can show them a coupon on your phone at any time to get 40% off!

An example of the three sizes I have been working on. The boy would be 1-3 pounds, the middle 3-5, and the last 5-6 pounds. The girl outfits will probably get little flowers attached to the hats and maybe a ribbon on the gown as well.

Third- Act for us! We could always use supplies and donations. Some of the items we could use (or even be notified about if there is a good sale) include: yarn, soft fabrics, thread, ribbon, quart size ziplock bags (to put the items in as a bundle), card stock for printing off verses for the family and the size/contents of each bag, and coffee. Ok the coffee was more of a joke, but it sure is nice to have crochet quiet time with a coffee on the table to help you count stitches a bit easier! Some other general "wants" are someone with graphic design experience to create a logo and cover photo for our Facebook page, general website information as we expand and create our own website, and for our friends and family to spread the word about our ministry. And if you know someone who is in need of one of our sets, please let us know. This ministry is an amazing example of how far a little money can go. One skeen of the super soft yarn I like to use costs about $4.00 and can make the three complete outfits pictured above!

We do have a Facebook page, Tiny Blessings, feel free to see what we are doing on a daily basis. In the meantime, we are working furiously, as our first drop off is in a matter of days! We are so excited to meet the nurses that we have been in contact with and we hope they are pleased with our hard work. Please contact me if you need any further information or if you are interested in helping!

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