The Linus Connection is a Central Texas non-profit organization whose mission is to make and deliver handmade security blankets that are for children in crisis situations in the Austin and Central Texas area. The blankets go to children in hospital emergency rooms, in crisis centers, foster care, battered women’s shelters, and to any child who is in need of a little extra security in their lives.
I often make references to Linus or The Linus Connection in my posts. In recently writing an article about Linus for The Quilting Gallery, I realized I’d never spent a whole post just talking about Linus and what it means to me.
The Linus Connection was the first local craft-oriented non-profit group that I ever volunteered for. My very first meeting was in November of 2002. I’d been invited by another mom from my daughter’s Girl Scout troop after being pointed in her direction because I’d made a couple of small crochet blankets and I didn’t have anyone to give them to. After offering to give her the blankets for Linus, she said, “oh, no, you should come to meeting!”
I was much shier back then, but I went anyway. I was incredibly nervous when I walked into a building full of much older ladies all working industriously. Stephanie Sabatini, the founder and Executive Director of Linus met me at the door, and said, “I was told to expect you!” She put me to work immediately, sewing labels to donated blankets.
When I got home, I was so excited to have a venue for my excess crafty energy, I started working on a new blanket immediately. I checked the Linus website for more information only to realize that it hadn’t been updated in over a year.
For my first couple of months at Linus, I sat with the crochet ladies or the label stitchers. After a couple of months, I plucked up the courage to mention that I had my own website and would willingly volunteer to update the existing site. By spring of 2003, I was the Webmistress of The Linus Connection, and I have been ever since.
I continued to make crochet blankets to donate each month. In the autumn of 2003, the same friend that had introduced me to Linus suggested I come to a Honey Bee Work Day. I’d been talking about making Halloween costumes and she told me that if I could make costumes, I could definitely make a quilt. Bring your sewing machine, she said. I did, again, nervous, because I’d never quilted before. She got me all set up with a pre-cut quilt kit and I started sewing. Before long I had a quilt top and I was searching online for information about borders and backing and binding.
My first quilt, donated to The Linus Connection November 2003
In late 2004, after experimenting with quilting all year, including joining my first (and only!) bee, I discovered paper piecing. That was my light bulb moment in quilting and I’ve never looked back. I was immediately designing my own patterns, one of the first ones being The Linus Heart.
In 2004, I was also invited to be on The Linus Connection’s Executive Board of Directors. I served for two years as Newsletter Editor in addition to my ongoing position as Webmistress. During that time I helped organized the first Linus Blanket Challenge, which has just seen it’s fifth year, as well organizing a group-wide project to create a banner for The Linus Connection to put on display at meetings and at other events when Linus needed a physical presence. The banner (shown at the top of this post) included my own heart pattern, as well as letters from a Carol Doak pattern book. The layout was designed by me, while individual letters were paper pieced by volunteers from the group. The banner itself was pieced, quilted and bound by myself and my bee friends.
Sometime during this time, I starting taking more responsibility in the blanket sorting area at meetings, something I still do and enjoy enormously because the sorters get to see and touch all the blankets that are donated. I’m constantly saying we have the best job, because we do!
When one of the other Board members suggested we start a monthly Show & Tell at the monthly meetings in 2005, I started bringing my camera and adding those photos to the Linus Website. One thing led to another, and I eventually started posting yearly photo videos to showcase Show & Tell blankets donated over the year.
Since I stepped down from the Board in 2006, I have continued as Webmistress and in blanket sorting. The Linus Website is one of my pet projects and it’s evolved a lot over the years. I updated it at least once a month, after meetings, updating photos, adding new information, pattern links etc. I’ve designed all the banners and graphics, as well as the layout and I take a lot of personal pride in it.
Talking about all this makes it sound like I’ve forgotten all about the blankets, which I certainly haven’t. This year, I donated my 200th blanket, while I don’t always reach my personal goal of two blankets a month, I do always have at least one to donate. Just knowing that there have been 200 children touched by the work that came from my hands keeps me going. That’s what Linus is all about and that’s why I keep volunteering my time online, crocheting and quilting.
Last but not least, I’ve found my best quilting friends through Linus. Every member of my bee is a volunteer and we often spend our own time sorting fabric and talking about possible projects that would work for Linus. They’re one of the best things that has come out of Linus for me and I’m thankful for them every day. Remember that mom from the Girl Scout troop that first invited me? She and I are still friends. 🙂
You will find me at the Linus meeting every month in the back sorting blankets and taking photos during Show & Tell. If you live in Central Texas, come by and see what we’re all about! We’re always in need of volunteers to make, sort, label and deliver blankets!
Some of my favorite blankets that I’ve donated over the years (dates are actual donation dates):
July 2005, Coconut Candy
October 2007, made from an old crochet pamphlet for the 2007 Challenge
June 2008, Lion Brand pattern
January 2009, The Sewhooked Sampler
March 2009, Strawberry Ice Cream
September 2009, from Sharyn Craig’s Layer ‘Em Up