Several years ago, Bobbie Dumond, a medical technician who works in the oncology department at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, had a heartwarming idea.
In her work, she noticed that patients often had difficult moments after visiting hours were over and family members had gone home. Wanting to give those patients something to hold on to, she established the Comforting Blanket program in 2007. Since then, more than 900 blankets have been given to cancer patients. Many of those blankets are handmade, some are quilts, others are purchased and embellished.
Blankets must be new or made of new materials, Dumond said. Those who make them must be mindful that recipients often have compromised immune systems so no trace of perfume or smoking odor should cling to the blankets. The size of the blankets can vary from crib or lap size to 50 inches by 60 inches.
Behind all those blankets, and the ones that will come in the future, are the loving hands of many volunteers.
Among the most recent Comforting Blankets volunteers are Brewer High School Key Club members freshmen Whitney Hogan and Matteah Hamm, and senior Courtney Brooks.
Courtney opted to purchase fleece blankets for the project. With the help of her mother, Nancy Stubbs, she machine-embroidered the words “hope,” “faith” and “love” on the three blankets they made. They used a machine at the commercial embroidery company in Brewer where Stubbs is employed.
“I like the idea of giving back,” Courtney said of participating in the project.
Whitney and her friend Matteah made two blankets. They shopped for the fleece and said they enjoyed picking out the colors. One blanket was done by knotting two blanket-size pieces of fleece together — it required no sewing. The second blanket was simply a large square of fleece with ribbon sewed on to finish the edges.
“I had done a small amount of sewing, but this was my first big project,” she said.
When Matteah heard about the project she was eager to get on board. “I thought it would be great to make blankets to comfort people,” she said. There was another benefit, too. “We got to pick out the fabric, then I got to be with my friend to do something for a good cause.”
Key Club is a service organization and frequently gets requests from nonprofit organizations such as Comforting Blankets, said Brewer High School Key Club adviser Susan Dumont. “I got the letter [proposing the project], told the club about it and by the next week, Courtney and her mother had done two blankets,” Dumont said.
Bobbie Dumond said she is working toward expanding the Comforting Blankets program to the EMMC pediatric unit, the neonatal intensive care unit and to the outpatient cancer care facility at St. Joseph Hospital. She also is interested in expanding the program to other hospitals in the Maine.
That will give volunteers ample opportunity to fashion or purchase blankets for the cause.
To learn more about how to become a Comforting Blankets volunteer, to bring the program to a hospital in your area or to plan a fundraiser for the program, visit www.comfortingblankets.org or call Bobbie Dumond at 735-7309.
The Association of Traditional Rug Hooking Artists, Region 1, Downeast Chapter Two, invites rug hookers and rug hooking enthusiasts to its third annual hook-in 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 15, at St. Andrew Lutheran Church, 175 Downeast Highway, Ellsworth. Snow date will be Saturday, Jan. 22. The cost is $5 for chapter members, $15 for others. Breakfast goodies, soup, chowder, chili and sweets will be available. The event also will include vendors and door prizes. Preregistration is recommended. For more information, call Ann at 422-3345 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
If there is a weaver on your holiday giving list, these titles might be just the thing:
“Doubleweave” by Jennifer Moore, $26.95. In the book Moore discusses the basics of doubleweave, planning and setting up the loom and other pertinent information. Projects include hot pads and placemats, table runners, tubular pillows, a blanket and mug rugs.
“The Weaver’s Idea Book: Creative Cloth on a Rigid Heddle Loom” by Jane Patrick, $29.95. Each of the book’s five chapters discusses a different aspect of creating cloth — plain weave, finger controlled weave, pick-up, weft and warp faced fabrics and working with two heddles. Each chapter includes projects ranging from a scarf to placemats, a skirt, pillow and apron. Harness drafts also are included.
For the fiber enthusiast, consider “The Complete Guide to Natural Dyeing” by Eva Lambert and Tracy Kendall, $24.95. The book discusses the basics of dyeing, collecting your own stock of dyestuffs, dyeing techniques and recipes for dyeing with madder, safflower, indigo, cochineal and other substances. The book also dis-cusses dyeing fibers and dyeing fabric.
Inquire at your local bookstore about these books.