Warming Bodies and Hearts

Warming Bodies and Hearts

Mar 09, 2016

Samantha, Carol Jebavy, Joan Bender, and Cathy Groelle with blankets for Project Linus. 

Carol Jebavy, Brenda Osterman, Cathy Groelle, and Barb Schneider with blankets for Project Linus.

Comfort and joy can be found in a warm and beautifully-made blanket. Several Western Fraternal Life lodges across the United States have been inspired to make blankets for others.

For the past four years, members of No. 360, Manitowoc, WI, have been involved in Project Linus. The organization is a nationwide program that provides homemade security blankets to seriously ill, traumatized, or needy children.

No. 360 members came together and crocheted, knitted, or made cut-and-tie blankets. Some members worked on their blankets at home as they watched television, and other times, they got together in the evening to knit or crochet as they visited.

Member Barb Schneider commented, "It makes me feel good to be helping children." Many members became involved because they want to help local charity groups and children. Not only is it helpful, but it's something that is easy to do while relaxing in the evening. The members enjoy seeing everyone's finished blankets.

"This project is very gratifying and if you are a knitter or if you crochet other items, you can use your leftover yarn to do these blankets so it doesn't cost much. I only buy the fleece on sale and that keeps the expenses down also. There are many patterns for these blankets online so you don't have to be overly skilled to do this. Many are very simple patterns. The end products are beautiful and they help so many children of all ages," said Secretary of No. 360, Cathy Groelle.

While they may not hear about all the recepients of their blankets, they do know it is making a difference. Recently, they heard of a boy who survived a house fire, and was comforted by the gift of a blanket that let him know someone cared.

Next year, No. 360 and No. 142 will be hosting the State Convention in October. They plan to supply materials so that participants can make cut-and-tie blankets as a community project at the Convention. More information about this will be included in the State Convention packets.

Information about Project Linus, including your local contacts and instructions for blankets, can be found online at www.projectlinus.org


Cedar Rapids members cutting fleece to make blankets for Waypoint Domestic Violence Center at Mount Mercy University on Martin Luther King Day.

Jim Wolfe with grandkids Reece and Rilynn Dolezal, and their friend Drew, showing the fleece blanket they tied for Waypoint.

In Cedar Rapids, IA, there has also been a long tradition of making blankets for people who need them. Linda Grove, Heritage No. 13, commented that they and other Cedar Rapids lodges have made blankets for nursing homes, Waypoint, and youth programs, such as Tanager Place.

It's an opportunity to not only help others, but get them involved. In the case of Tanager Place, the children were able to help make the blankets in exchange for good behavior during the week. Afterward, the kids were able to keep the blanket they made.

As the lodges prepared to make blankets, several members kept an eye out for sales at fabric stores. They recommend talking to managers about discounts as the purpose of the project is explained. Another tip shared was to look for anti-pill fleece, which will retain its appearance after washing.

The cut-and-tie blanket activity is one that can be enjoyed by most ages, and requires no sewing. Below are step-by-step instructions for making these blankets.

  1. Select your fleece blankets. Use two different fleece patterns that complement each other.
  2. Purchase anywhere from 1.5 to 3 yards (1.3-2.7 meters) of each fleece. 1.5 yards makes a decent size throw, 2.5-3 yards (2.3-2.7 meters) makes a nice twin size blanket.
  3. Spread out the material. Spread it out so that the softer or more brightly colored sides face out, matching both up at one end and the sides as far as they lay flat. Trim if needed.Consider the area you have available to spread out your material. If you don't have room to spread out the whole material or you can't physically crawl around on the floor, you can adapt by using a kitchen table or available floor room to cut and tie your fleece.
  4. Consider how you will measure the cuts to make the ties. They don't have to be exact. When cutting against the nap (usually the narrower end) the strips need to be a little longer (about 4-5 inches/11-14 cm) than along the long sides, (about 2.5-3 inches/7-9 cm) because they don't stretch as much while tying.
  5. Cut out a rectangle from both corners with a pair of scissors. Make sure you are cutting through both pieces of fleece. Use something rectangular in shape to measure. 
  6. Start cutting strips. Cut strips of approximately 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) from each corner down the end and the sides for as long as the material lies flat.
  7. Tie the corner strips together. Using a simple knot, attach the bottom layer to the top layer.
  8. Tighten the knot. If you have trouble getting the knot tight due to arthritic or weak fingers, hold the end of one tail of the knotted pair with one hand and slide the fingers of the other hand up to push the knot tighter.
  9. Tie the strips at the end between the two corners next in the same way. Don't worry if the fleece puckers.
  10. Flatten the fleece out. Use flat hands to stretch and smooth the material so it lies flat again.
  11. Tie the strips down each side for the length of the blanket. Flatten as needed.
  12. Fold the tied portion up. Move the fleece down so that more of the material lies flat (trimming if needed) and repeat steps #6 through #8 until about 2/3 of the blanket is tied.
  13. Turn the blanket around. Spread the blanket out so that the remaining end is flat.
  14. Trim end and sides as needed. Repeat from step #5 until blanket is finished.
  15. Enjoy your finished blanket.

Visit these instructions online at: http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Fleece-Tie-Blanket.

Category: Fraternal

Cindy Motsinger

Communications Coordinator

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