Quilts for veterans

People often ask me which of the causes in the book I feel most strongly about. It’s an impossible question to answer. Is global warming more urgent than homelessness? Theoretically, yes. Every day when I encounter actual homeless people, no. But the issues I feel most personally worked up about at the moment are the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the problems so many veterans and their families face when they come home. The number of veterans of the current wars who are unemployed equals the number of troops currently deployed. (The unemployment rate for vets is higher than the general population, and for returning servicewomen it’s even worse: 16%) A third of those returning face serious mental health problems like PTSD and depression. A third of homeless men are veterans, and the number of homeless vets from the current wars has increased dramatically recently. I’ve spent quite a bit of time with veterans and people working on veterans issues in the last year or so, both because of the book and because of a project I did for work. I’m also part of a group of advisors to a new social networking website for vets. I’ve heard numerous stories of young soldiers and marines reenlisting after multiple tours of duty because opportunities for work are so scarce and they feel like the only place they’ll be understood is in the military.

In the face of injury, PTSD, homelessness, joblessness, and despair, a quilt may seem like a small thing. But I’ve heard over and over again from quilters who make quilts for veterans and from veterans themselves, it’s a small thing that makes a real difference. So start a quilt top for Quilts of Valor tonight!

Make bags with me in NYC

I’ll be in New York next weekend for three crafty events I’m very excited about. Please come! I’d love to meet you. I’ll be showing how to make the 30-minute shopping bags from the book (pattern by the brilliant environmental activist Claire Morsman, founder of morsbags). Here are the details:

Saturday, Nov. 14, Noon to 6pm: DIY Design Day
PerkStreet Lounge @ 303 Grand St. , Brooklyn, NY 11211, L train to Lorimer // J train to Marcy
Lots of other fun projects besides mine. I’m excited to learn fabric printing with Heather Ross, author of Weekend Sewing. Also, free beer. RSVP here.

Sunday, Nov. 15, 9:15am to Noon: 30-Minute Shopping Bag Workshop
Purl Patchwork, my favorite fabric store @ 147 Sullivan St, New York, NY 10012, (212) 420-8798
The store is tiny, so you’ll need to call to reserve your spot.

Monday, Nov. 16, 4pm to 8pm: Etsy Labs Craft Night
Etsy Labs @ 55 Washington St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
I have never been to Etsy Labs. Totally excited.

Join the Quilting for Peace campaign

Moda fabrics, my publisher STC Craft, and quilting guilds and fabric stores across the country are joining together in a national Quilting for Peace campaign to support charity quilting efforts and raise awareness about the long American tradition of quilting for social causes. To join in, just make one quilt – or one quilt block or a recycled shopping bag or a softie for a kid or a mini-quilt for a shelter dog – donate it, and convince your crafty friends to do the same. (If you’ve never quilted before this is a really great way to learn.) If you’re more ambitious, we’ve put together a Quilting for Peace kit to help you organize your own Quilting for Peace group, including info on how to get started, a customizable flyer, and a press release you can use to publicize your efforts and attract volunteers. And last but not least, enter to win one of 15 fabric packs from Moda by uploading a photo of your quilt here. I can’t wait to see all the pictures!