Needleworks, Quilt Club Lends Skills to Help Those in Need – Orange County Register

Laguna Woods Needleworks Club member Lee McMorris is completing a year-long Afghan crochet project using one mail-order kit per month. Her needlework is “a study in perseverance, frustration, and pleasure,” she says.(Photo by Penny E. Schwartz)

Penny E. Schwartz


Crocheting and knitting may require different skills than sewing or quilting, but members of the Laguna Woods Village Needleworks Club and the Crazy Quilters Guild work for the same cause: helping those in need.

Both clubs donate the items they create to various local charities. From afghans, shawls and hats made by seamstresses to quilters’ blankets and comforters, the handcrafted items end up in local organizations that help those who need them most.

Every Thursday afternoon from 12:30 to 3:30, the Clubhouse 1 function room is buzzing with chatter and busy hands.

One of the Needleworks Club leaders, Anita Small welcomes both advanced and novice knitters and crocheters.

“Everyone is friendly,” she said of the group of about 50 people, whose members are roughly evenly split between knitting and crocheting.

“There are no formal classes, but if it’s your first time, there’s always someone to help you,” Small said, adding that many people come for the socialization as much as the needlework. was established in 1979.

Members also do cross-stitch, needlepoint, embroidery, and weave using a loom. All will be returned to the club for donation, Small said.

This includes “comfort bears” for young patients in emergency rooms, hats and sweaters for newborns, hats and hats for military personnel, throws and shawls for nursing home residents. Thousands of chemotherapy caps have been donated to Not of Love and distributed to cancer patients across the country, Small said.

The group also makes cash donations with an annual membership fee of $15 and proceeds from sales at the Village Bonanza and bazaar. At these events, members sell their own creations, as well as yarn and handicrafts donated by individuals. Cash donations from the group went to South County Outreach, Chef Jose Andrés’ Central Kitchen, Laguna Woods Village Foundation, and Age Well.

“I’ll take the military hats to a wool store in Huntington Beach that ships them overseas,” Small said, adding that the club is donating cash to cover the shipping costs.

Knots of Love supplies the club with special yarn for chemo caps, and regular yarn is used for baby products and dining throws donated to Saddleback Memorial Hospital.

“If someone knows a good reason and let us know, we’d be happy to donate,” Small said.

Crochet artist Deb Piggetty, who won the first prize at last year’s OC Fair, was enthusiastic about using knitting needles while piecing together a cardigan made from wool he recently purchased in New Zealand.

“I’m learning to knit because there are patterns that crochet can’t do,” she said.

It was Lee McMorris who stuck to her crochet skills, assembling an elaborate Afghan blanket from kits she bought online.

“If you get one square a month for 10 months, you can learn so many different stitches,” she says of the blanket she’s been working on all year.

“Learning is the study of perseverance, frustration, and joy,” McMorris said beamingly as he unfurled his near-finished masterpiece.

A variety of yarns, hooks, needles, looms, yarns and pattern books are available to members. “Everyone has different specialties,” says Small.

Those interested in membership should contact Small at 212-696-5270 or Elaine Battin at 248-420-2436.

Across the village of Clubhouse 4, members of the Crazy Quilters Guild are working hard to create one quilt for each firefighter at Laguna Woods’ local Fire Station 22.

“These are a little larger than normal, measuring 70 by 90 inches and are meant to fit in a twin bed at a train station,” said Donna Carbach, the group’s philanthropy chair.

The 39 firefighter quilts display a kaleidoscope of patterns, colors, and designs thanks to the artistic vision of each individual maker. However, they all incorporate official station patches into their designs.

The quilt was presented to firefighters in Clubhouse 1 on International Firefighters Day on May 4th.

The nearly 20-year-old guild completed a similar project a few years ago and wanted to repeat it, Karbach said.

Like the Needleworks Club, Crazy Quilters uses funds raised from sales at Bonanzas, Renaissance Fairs, and other village venues to purchase backing material and quilt filler batting, as well as accepting fabric donations for projects. increase. The club has approximately 75 members and an annual fee of $35.

Members can work on their own projects, but anything made from club materials goes to charitable partners such as Orange County Rescue Mission, OC Family Center, CASA for Foster Children, and City of Hope will be In 2022, the club donated 376 of her quilts, as well as pillowcases, placemats, table runners and other handcrafted items.

Members also donated quilts for the village library’s fundraiser. It is on display alongside a display of quilting crafts.

Members of the club recently teamed up with a seamstress in the next room to create a placemat for Meals on Wheels and a comforter for a cancer patient in City of Hope.

The Crazy Quilters meet on Mondays from 9am to 4pm and Wednesdays and Thursdays from noon to 4pm. Shares Clubhouse 4 space with the Saddleback Honors class.

Karbach recommends that those interested in participating in quilting check the group’s website,, for additional times or to see if a supervisor is available. Karbach can be contacted at

Quilter also hosts a general meeting of refreshments, speakers and a show and tell at Clubhouse 7 on the second Wednesday of each month at 1pm.

“We don’t currently offer ongoing classes, but the quilters at Clubhouse 4 are generous with their time and expertise,” says Karbach. Upcoming classes and workshops will be posted on the website.

The newcomer to this craft is Linda Dunigan, who has just moved to the village and enrolled in a quilting class when the pandemic shut everything down. “So I learned from YouTube videos,” she said.

Also new to quilting is Barbara Mescon, who makes cotton strips for other quilters to use in group projects.

“I wanted to do something for the firefighters who saved my husband’s life,” she said. “They are great.”

She admitted that she “does more ripping than moving forward,” but has professed to serve as a supervisor in the sewing room, so she’s not entirely new to sewing.

“Quilting is a special talent and you have to know math,” she added.

Karbach said he doesn’t like math, but he likes charity work and working with fabrics. She enjoys using her organizational skills as a charitable committee chair. She is looking forward to soon being able to make large quilts for her club members using her Long Arm sewing machine, which the club purchased and donated to the Golden Rain Foundation.

Ruth Naomi Buck, a member of the club for two years, says she’s always loved sewing, having learned it from her mother at a young age. She started quilting easily, she said.

“I love combining colors and patterns and it keeps my hands busy,” she said. “And I love helping children.”

Longtime quilter Gigi Sarter lived in Fallbrook and said she fell in love with the hobby when she saw a quilting show in her barn. I started taking classes.

She laughed and said, “It makes me sick!”

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