Monday, February 8, 2016

Good Bye

They say most non-profits don't last any longer than 3-5 years and while Layers of Hope - Quilting 911 is not a non-profit per se, we have never made a profit running this organization and we have been going strong for almost 11 years.

Today, I sent out the last 3 boxes of quilts that were left from 2015 and they cost me a total of just over $81.00. 

I have been blessed running this organization and I have met (on-line) some amazingly talented, gifted and generous people and I will carry you all in my heart.

The quilts that I have left in my possession will be donated to my local fire department to help those in need as well as an organization that helps new moms in need.

If someone would be interested in taking up this organization and continuing on, you can let me know, but it takes lots of time and money.

I have always allowed God to guide me in my efforts and right now, with my health and family dynamics, I cannot continue on.

I hope you all understand. 

This blog will be left open for a few more weeks.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

A Very Long Quilted Read

This is a very entertaining speech about quilters and there's a lot of truth in it. It's very long and don't hesitate to bail out if it doesn't resonate with you.  

A speech on quilting

As you know, I'm a lawyer when I'm not sewing (or knitting). As such, I subscribe at work to e-mails that tell me of the latest decisions of the important courts here in Canada. There is one such e-mail prepared weekly by a local law firm. I always scroll to the end where, after the serious stuff, there is a section titled "Last Word". Today, it was about a speech given at a conference on quilting (Quilt Canada 2010) by Allan Fradsham, a criminal court judge in Calgary, Alberta, where the conference was held.

Here's the text. It's long but amusing, and so worth a read:

“When, some years ago, Gloria told me that she was going to build upon her years of sewing experience, and take up "quilting", I thought she was telling me that she was going to take up a new hobby or a new craft. I was completely oblivious to the fact that what she was really announcing was that she was taking up membership in a tightly knit (if you'll pardon the expression) group of individuals whose loyalty to one another makes motorcycle gang members seem uncommitted, and whose passion for quilting activities makes members of cults look positively disinterested. As is the case with many spouses, I was completely unaware that there existed this parallel universe called quilting.

However, to be completely unaware of a world-wide sub-culture operating right under our noses and in our homes is a bit obtuse even for husbands. But there it is, and here you are. And, most oddly, here I am. You might wonder how all this came to pass; I know I certainly do.

I cannot now identify what was the first clue I detected indicating that Gloria had entered the fabric world equivalent of Harry Potter's Hogwarts. It might have been the appearance of the fabric. Bundles of fabric, mounds of fabric, piles of fabric, towering stacks of fabric. Fabric on bolts, and stacks of small squares of fabric tied up in pretty ribbons (I later learned these were "fat quarters" which to this day sounds to me like a term out of Robin Hood). The stuff just kept coming into the house as thought it were endless waves crashing onto a beach. And then, just like the waves, the most amazing thing happened: it would simply disappear. It was as though the walls of the house simply absorbed it. Metres and metres (or as men of my generation would say, yards and yards) of fabric would come into the house. It would arrive in Gloria's arms when she returned from a shopping excursion. It would arrive in the post stuffed in postal packs so full that they were only kept together by packing tape (these overstuffed Priority Packs are the equivalent of me trying to fit into pants I wore in law school). These packages would arrive having been shipped from unheard of towns and villages in far away provinces or states or overseas countries (I am convinced the internet's primary activity is not to be found in pornography; that is just a ruse, the internet's real function is to facilitate the trafficking and distribution of fabric). Wherever we went, be it in Canada, the U.S., Europe, wherever there was a collection of more than three houses, Gloria would find a quilt shop from which she would pluck some prize from some bin with the enthusiasm and unerring eye of an archaeologist finding a new species of dinosaur.

And of course, the reason that there are quilt shops everywhere is because there are quilters everywhere, and I mean EVERYWHERE. A few years ago, Gloria had been visiting her sister-in-law in Kelowna. While there, she found and purchased a Featherweight sewing machine. I understand that making such a find is a matter of such joy that it may eventually attract government taxation. When it came time to fly back to Calgary, Gloria worried about what the people at airport security would have to say when she tried to take the machine onto the plane. She need not have been concerned. Now, airport security takes pride in preventing me from carrying onto a plane a small squirt of toothpaste left in a rolled up toothpaste tube if the tube in which it is lodged did at some point in the distant past, contain a prohibited amount of toothpaste. My spot of toothpaste is a national security threat. However, when it came time for Gloria to go through security with the Featherweight, which is made of metal and has needles in secret compartments, airport security came to a standstill. Why? Were they about to confiscate the machine, and detain the person who dared to try to board with it? Of course not. They gathered around it in awe and admiration, asking Gloria questions about where she had found it, and expressing admiration for her good fortune in finding it. And why did Gloria get such warm treatment when I am shunned for trying to maintain some degree of oral hygiene? Well, the answer is obvious; the assembled airport security staff were all quilters, complete with the secret handshake.

Maybe I should have twigged to what was happening when the washing of all this fabric led to having to replace our washing machine, which was clearly not designed for such industrial use. Now, let me pause here. I understand that there is an intense debate within your world about whether or not fabrics should be washed upon purchase. I do not wish to be caught in any cross-fire between the two camps, for all I know, as an outsider, I may not be authorized to even know of the controversy. I do suspect that if men were making the decision, quilting would involve lot less fabric washing and a lot more beer drinking.

I did eventually discover where all the fabric went. It went into drawers, cupboards, shelves, and, eventually it completely filled up a closet, which took up one full wall in Gloria's newly built "sewing room". What we now call Gloria's "sewing room", we used to call "the basement".

I have discovered that one of the art forms mastered by quilters is the ability to purchase container loads of fabric, conceal it in the house, and camouflage the purchase so that it slips right under the nose of the unsuspecting spouse. As a loving and obedient spouse, I have on many occasions found myself in quilt stores where I serve two useful functions: I can reach bolts of fabric stored on top shelves; and I can carry numerous bolts of fabric to a cutting table. However, I have also started to listen to what is said in quilting stores, and one day, in a little quilting shop in the heart of Alberta farming country, I heard something that made it clear to me that quilters are so clever and, dare I say, devious, that there is really no sport for them in fooling we naive husbands. Gloria had decided to buy some fabric (which is similar to saying that Gloria had decided to breathe), and had gone to the till to pay for it. Upon running through Gloria's charge card, the clerk quietly said, "Now, when you get your credit card statement, don't be alarmed when you see an entry for our local feed store. We run our charges under that name so that if a husband looks at the credit card statements, he will think that the entry is just something he bought at the feed store for the farm". That sort of financial shell game would make Goldman Sachs proud. I knew at that moment that there had been a major and probably irrevocable shift in the world's power structure. I concede it is basically over for the non-quilting husband.

As you have been told, I sit as a criminal law judge, and as such I often find myself sitting on drug trials, or issuing search warrants in relation to drug investigations. I must say that the more I learned about the quilting world, the more I started to see similarities between that world and the drug world. It has caused me some concern.

We all interpret events from our own perspectives using the lessons we have learned through life. When I saw the extent to which Gloria's collection of fabric was growing, I began to worry. In the law relating to drugs, the amount of a drug one has in one's possession is an important factor in determining the purpose for which the person has the drug. For example, if a person is in possession of crack cocaine (to use a drug with an addictive power equivalent to fabric), one look at the amount of crack the person possessed. If the amount exceeds the amount one would realistically possess for personal use, then one may reasonably draw the inference that the purpose of the possession is not personal use, but, rather, it is for the purpose of trafficking the drug. So, you can imagine what I thought when I saw Gloria's collection of fabric grow to a point where she readily admitted that she could never use all that fabric in several lifetimes. I reluctantly concluded that I was married to a very high-level fabric trafficker. Mind you, in order to qualify as a trafficker, one does have to part with fabric, and I see very little evidence of that happening.

In fact, the more I thought about the parallels between the quilting culture and the drug culture, the clearer the similarities became. Consider the jargon. I have learned that this vast collection of fabric, which is stored in our house, is a "stash". Well, drug dealers speak of their "stash" of drugs. Gloria speaks of doing "piece" work. In the drug world there are often people who bring together the crack cocaine dealer and the buyer; think of a real estate agent, but not as well dressed, through perhaps somewhat less annoying. Those people speak of breaking off a "piece" of crack as payment for bringing the parties together. Sounds to me like a type of "piece work". Those who transport drugs are often called "mules"; I have frequently heard Gloria refer to me as her mule when I am in a quilt store carrying stacks of fabric bolts (or did she says I was stubborn as a mule?). Well, it was something about mules. And I should think that this whole conference is a testimony to the addictive qualities of quilting.

In my role as a Sherpa, I have accompanied Gloria on various quilting expeditions, and I have been impressed by many things. One is, as I have mentioned, that no matter where one goes, there will be a quilt store. The proliferation of quilt shops makes Starbucks outlets seem scarce. One day Gloria led me into a hardware store, which seemed odd to me, that is until I discovered that, as I walked towards the back of the store, the store had become a quilt shop. The metamorphosis was extraordinary, and very crafty (if you will pardon the pun). At that moment, I knew how Alice felt as she followed that rabbit down the rabbit hole. Suddenly, one was in a different universe.

Another thing I have learned is that the operators of quilt shops have great business acumen. In one of Gloria's favourite shops, upon entry I am greeted by name and offered a cup of coffee. If the grandson is with us, he is allowed to choose a book to take home. It is all so friendly that I don't even notice that I cannot see over the growing pile of fabric bolts which fill my arms. I wish that my doctor did such a good job of distracting me when it is time to do a prostate exam.

I have learned that quilting is both international in scope and generous in spirit. I have learned that quilters are quick to assist those in need, and that they have always been prepared to stand up for what is right. For example, I think of Civil War quilts, which often conveyed messages about the Underground railway for slaves escaping to Canada. I think of the One Million Pillowcase Challenge, and the Quilts of Valour project. At one point, I thought of suggesting the creation of an organization akin to "Doctors Without Borders", but decided that an organization called "Quilts Without Borders" would indeed be illogical.

And of course, there are the resultant quilts. We have quilts throughout the house. They adorn beds, chesterfields, the backs of chairs. They are stacked on shelves, they are stored in drawers, they are shoved under beds, they are hung on walls. There is even one on the ceiling of the sunroom. They compete for any space not taken up with the fabric, which will eventually result in more quilts. I live in a cornucopia, which disgorges quilts instead of produce. I have decided that quilts are the zucchini of crafts. But who can complain? Quilt seriously, each one is a work of art, and an instant family treasure. While family members and friends are delighted to receive them, I churlishly begrudge seeing them go out the door.

Though I tease Gloria about the all-consuming nature of her obsession, I am constantly amazed at the skill necessary to create those works of art. I stand in awe as I watch her do the mathematics necessary to give effect to (or correct) a pattern. When she quilts, she combines the skill of an engineer, a draughtsman, a seamstress, and an artist. Her sewing machines require her to have, as she does, advanced computer and mechanical skills. She knows her sewing machines as well as any Hell's Angel knows his Harley. She uses measuring and cutting tools and grids, which would challenge the talents of the best land surveyors.

In short, I am very proud of what Gloria does, as each of you should be proud of your own skills and creations. They are impressive and very evident at this Conference. On behalf of those of us who wouldn't know a binding from a batting, I simply ask that when you finally and formally announce that have already taken over the world that you find some simple tasks for us to do to justify our existence. You might call those tasks... the QUILT PRO QUO.

Gloria and I very much appreciate your warm hospitality this evening.

In closing, the hotel management has asked me to remind you that those found cutting up the table cloths for quilting fabric will have their rotary cutters confiscated and forfeited to the Crown.”

Friday, January 22, 2016

My Amazing Husband

My husband and I have been married over 34 but not quite 35 years and we have had very low lows and amazing and awesome highs and we have clung to each other and God to get through. I am blessed!

My husband was the one who encouraged me to make quilts for 911 dispatchers in need after Hurricane Katrina, though I believe if he knew it would lead to where it has, if he could go back he would never have suggested it. LOL!

Over the years he has told me how tiring it gets to NOT have a living room and find scraps all over the house. So, he converted a closet in our old house to a sewing space for me.

How I need to think more about the house being cleaned or cooking or appointments and get my priorities straight. Yet, he is the one on a day off to tell me, 'don't worry about dinner, finish your quilt.'

While he says things that many people would take as a negative, when I open a gift and find a Rotary Cutter, new cutting mat, quilting scissors, sewing box. I know how very proud he is of what I do.

Right before Christmas I was trying to finish my sons Seahawks/Cowboy quilt when nothing I was using would work. I had to finish it using scissors. Hubby asked if he could help, but I said: 'No, probably time for a new rotary cutter.' He looked at my cutting mat which is about 5 years old and said,'looks like this thing has seen better days as well.'

Little did I know, he had not gone Christmas shopping for me at that time because he told me later, he just had no idea what to get me. At our ages if we want or need something we just go out and get it.  

However, he said later that he knew right then and there what he was going to get me. He went to Joann's and not knowing anything about rotary cutters or cutting mats, he was talking to a clerk when a quilting customer overheard him and told him about the app he could put on his phone.

The result was he purchased me a three piece cutting mat set that makes into one long mat and a new rotary cutter. Last night, he helped me put it on my table.

 It is a bit to long, so he took the old mat and cut it to fit at the end and I still have another mat we are putting up. 

As you can see, my space is a mess. I have an area set up in my living room and right now, I am in the process of organizing, but cutting the binding for a quilt someone sent me awhile back was priority for me last night.

My husband is amazing. I am blessed. He comes home many evenings and tells me he had a customer who is a quilter and how he told her about Layers of Hope and his wife.

He went with me to Warm Company prior to Thanksgiving and took a tour of the plant and watching batting being made and was impressed.

He drove with me to Chelan and Okanogan Counties where we delivered quilts to the fire victims and he was able to see first hand how much the quilts I make and those I receive are received with smiles, tears and thankfulness.

I keep telling him one of these days, when he retires, I will make a quilter out of him yet. He laughs and tells me that will never happen.  

Then again, I am very blessed having such an amazing man that loves me and supports this mission of love to help others!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Crocheted Blessings

My grandmother was an amazing seamstress and I am pretty sure she could create amazing things with her eyes closed when given yarn and a crochet needle.

However, I did not receive those blessings, but I know she would be proud of me for teaching myself to make scarves and hats and she would love my quilts.

I was so excited at Christmas when my son's girlfriend picked out an amazing gift for me and that was a yarn/needle/scissor holder that fits neatly next to the couch and keeps all my little projects in one place.

The yarn she purchased for me was this wonderful soft and very expensive varigated yarn that I made a scarf with.

I have made 3 Dallas Cowboy beanies for my son and 2 of his children and they love them and a beanie for my youngest granddaughter and she wears it to school everyday.

I do not think I will ever be able to make afghans like grammy did, but yesterday at church I learned we are working with a group at the end of this month that will be handing things like this out to the homeless in our area.

I know since my son is homeless these people will appreciate anything they can get to keep them warmer when they are having to brave the elements.
Christmas Yarn Scarf

Purple Scarf

Shoulder Shawl
 I am still quilting and accepting quilts for our 911 'unseen heroes,' but this allows me to keep my hands busy at night while watching television with the grands and give back to those that don't have as much!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

A Humbling Thank You

I just opened my blog and my Email to find this sweet and amazing note from a young lady named Tiff who lost her mom and her family home in the landslide of Oso.

I cried, it  always makes me cry when someone reaches out to me in their own pain and tells me how much a quilt meant.

I made 4 trips to Oso and the surrounding area after the slide. I volunteered with an auction to raise money for the community and my granddaughter and I met so many people, I cannot honestly say if I met Tiff.

But I can say the people of Oso are Oso strong and never fail to amaze me!

God Bless you Tiff!!! I cannot respond back to you since you posted anonymously.

'Hello, I received a quilt from you in 2014, when donations were sent to to Oso, Washington following the mudslide. I wanted to thank you and everyone involved in your organization for such a lovely gift. My Mom , Brandy, was killed in that mudslide. My father was rescued, but the home and all belongings were lost. My Mom was a beginning quilter and had a real appreciation for the craft. We even took a class together. My Mom would have loved the Mary Engelbreit -themed quilt we received :)'

Thursday, January 7, 2016

2015 Financials

It is well known that most non-profits shut down after only three years because they lack funding and sponsors. I wish at times, I was that smart, because each year for the past 2 years I have been keeping close tabs on the financial aspect, we wind up in the red.

This year, we have more adult quilts on the shelves at the close out of the year and still after generous donations to those in need, have lots of baby quilts.

I have been doing this since 2005. I have looked into becoming a non-profit, but sadly, even my own accountant says she won't touch the books on that one, it is to complicated.

The other issue is once I start a non-profit, I am pretty much under the rule and control of the IRS on what we can do, how we do it and that isn't what I want to do.

I just want to make, receive and deliver quilts to those in need and the past two years with the disasters in my state, I have been blessed to be able to do so.

I am also blessed to have some very amazing people support this ministry in Lynn R. who blessed us with quilts, postage and stamps, Marilyn L. who blessed us with things to sell in our Etsy shop and quilts, fabric, etc.. Sue B. who has stepped up out of her own illness and made and sent quilts directly to those in need, Kathie P. for always supporting us after the tragic loss of her own son.

I cannot forget the amazing quilts shops that have been our collection points and if you ever get a chance to visit them in person or even on line to stop by and thank them, please do so:
1-The Needle and I in Everett and Seattle 
2-Town Square Fabric and Yarn in Burien 
3-Bayside Quilting in Olympia

Each time I tell my husband I cannot do this any longer, a blessing arrives in the mail as if God is telling me, 'you can do this, just a little longer.'

Sadly, 2015 did not bring much relief to the family budget. We spent $504.21 out of our own budget to continue to support this ministry and in two years, that total is $1541.74. That is a lot of shoes for my grands who are in sports, specialists for my medical issues, but since it goes in bites, we don't really miss it, we adjust.

Sadly, I still have 2 boxes from last year waiting to be mailed and am in the process of boxing up 6 for a 911 operator in MS who lost their home recently to a tornado.

Without further ado from me, here is 2015's annual report!

Layers of Hope Financial Report 2015

Monetary Donations 2015                                           167.00

Gift Card Donation 2015                                                 40.00

Quilt Sales 2015 -                                                            104.00

Total Receivables                                                            $270.40


Postage                                                                                  344.97

Office Supplies                                                                    103.97

Gas For Distribution Trips                                                          121.61

Meals For Distribution Trips                                            42.69

Fabric & Batting                                                                  115.35

Thread                                                                                      22.60

Ebay/Etsy/Paypal Fee’s                                                     23.42

Total Expenses 2015                                                       $774.61

Total Monetary Donations/Sales 2015                     -270.40
Total Unpaid Expenses                                                  $504.21*                            

End of Year Balance  Forward   2014                     -$1037.53*

Two year total budget                                                  -$1541.74*                                                                          
**Negative Balance Came Out of Personal Budget to Continue This Mission of Love**

Non-Monetary Donations 2015

Bolt of Batting                                                       2
Total Bolts Received                                            2

Quilts  Received                
Handmade Blankets                                                330
Quilts Carried Over                                                    70*

Total Quilts 2015                                                       400

Quilts/Blankets Distributed

Quilts To Chelan/Okanogan                                    155
(Included 76 quilts/2 boxes of hats to Chelan Valley of Hope, 3 Rivers Hospital 20 baby quilts/hats, Room One Twisp, 3 Quilts & 1 box hats, 60 Room One in Pateros)

Quilts 911 Dispatchers/First Responders               174

Lewis County Gospel Mission                                         15

Destroyed*                                                                              5                

Total Distributed 2015                                                349

Quilts & Blankets                                                                51                   
On Hand, 1/7/2015                                                       
*30 of these are baby/infant quilts

Miscellaneous Received 
Knitted Baby Hats                             20
Knitted Hats (Med Box full)              3                                      

Direct Quilt Mailings 2015 *

*Quilts from Quilter to Recipient                    13

Vehicle Mileage 2015 for Layers of Hope                                                     Chelan/Okanogan Miles

Delivery and Pick up Miles                           805.80

Postal Miles                                                    100.20

Total Vehicle Miles LOH-Q911                     906


*Quilts that get destroyed are quilts that have blood stains in them, are NOT new or close to new, have rips, tears, stains and cannot be repaired or donated to another organization.



Sunday, January 3, 2016

End of Year Stats Coming Soon

Usually by this time, I have my end of year accounting completed.

However, I have been hit with a double whammy, the flu and a major tooth problem all during a time when everything is closed.

Please be patient, I will be posting soon as well as updating our goals for 2016.