Barbara Mcnure of Holden is woman with a mission. “I love to crochet,” she said, “and I love to give to those in need.”
Mcnure has combined those two interests to make life a bit more cozy for those who need some warmth in their lives. In the last six months she has crocheted a dozen afghans for Ronald McDonald House in Bangor, which places the afghans with recipients who need or want a special “blankie” all their own.
Such donations, said Dina Casey, assistant house manager at Ronald McDonald House, “are unexpected gifts and very nice to have.” Clubs and other individuals also donate new, handmade quilts and afghans.
Ronald McDonald House has 14 rooms and many beds, Casey said. Some of the donated quilts and afghans are spread on the beds to make them cheerful and inviting to families staying at the facility in order to be near an ill child who has required hospitalization.
Mcnure is a disabled veteran who served from 1966 to 1968 during the Vietnam era. She served on the East and West coasts of the United States, hand-printing officers’ records and typing discharge papers. She recalled her years of service as a good time in her life.
She said she began to crochet when she was expecting her first child. During that time her husband was deployed to Vietnam.
“I had a lot of time on my hands,” she said.
“Crocheting keeps my fingers limber,” said Mcnure, who has arthritis and fibromyalgia. “It keeps my mind occupied, my hands busy, and I like knowing I’m making something someone will use.”
Mcnure, who lives on a fixed income, said she finds yarn for her afghans at yard sales. She buys abandoned knitting and crochet projects, pulls them apart and recycles the yarn in her afghans.
At one yard sale she found 25 crochet pattern books filled with plenty of afghan patterns to keep her busy. Some of the afghan patterns she has crocheted include granny squares, tiny fans, seashells and the ripple pattern. But she sticks to one or two patterns she has memorized.
She prefers to use washable acrylic yarns made by Red Heart or Lion Brand. She doesn’t like working with mohair or other fuzzy yarns.
Mcnure said she often makes an afghan a week, crocheting six to eight hours a day, her disabilities making it difficult to do much of anything else.
A counselor at the Veterans Center in Bangor saw Mcnure crocheting and, learning of her mission to help those in need, placed an ad in the Bangor Daily News requesting donations of yarn to help Mcnure’s work. Mcnure said she had received several responses and now has enough yarn in her stash to make four more afghans.
She also crochets baby hats and scarves, which she also donates to charitable agencies.
Those who want to donate yarn — new, left over from a project, or an unfinished project that can be raveled — for Mcnure’s afghans may reach her at 843-7174 or 478-4577.
Volunteers also donate bags of hand-knit hats, scarves, mittens and slippers in all sizes, for the use of families staying at Ronald McDonald House.
Volunteers who donate handmade quilts, afghans and other items, Casey said, “are very creative and helpful.”
• Maine Fiberarts Tour Map: Studios and Farms is your guide to discover a trail of 130 fiber studios, farms, spinneries, shops and galleries throughout Maine that will be open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday through Sunday, Aug. 7-9. Free tour maps are available by contacting: Maine Fiberarts, 13 Main St., Topsham 04086, call 721-0678 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
More than 100 sites will offer craft demonstrations for a Fiberarts Tour Weekend. Details about tour map sites and weekend activities are available at www.mainefiberarts.org.
• The Emancipation Network, MadebySurvivors, is a charitable organization that works to combat human trafficking and modern-day slavery in 12 Southeast Asian countries, including India and Nepal. The organization helps women rescued from slavery work with their hands to create clothing, jewelry, handbags and other handcrafted items, which they sell to earn money and lead independent lives. These items are being marketed in the United States through MadebySurvivors home parties. To learn about holding a party, call Becky Mallory of Winterport at 745-9789 or visit www.madebysurvivors.com/beckym. For more information about the MadebySurvivors organization, visit www.madebysurvivors.com.