Friday, December 26, 2008

Making Head Coverings for Others

"Montclair woman makes hats for the ill"
Jonathan Hunley, News & Messenger []
Published: December 24, 2008
Michele Hirata's life changed five years ago.

Her husband was in the Air Force in Monterey, Calif., and the couple was at a Christmas party. Another partygoer asked what she did for a living.

"I'm an artist," Hirata responded.

Only she wasn't an artist. She was a bank underwriter.

Her husband, Jeff, laughed.

But when 2004 rolled around, Michele Hirata had left that bank.

The blonde-haired woman with the easy smile has been an artist ever since. Her work hangs not on museum walls but on the heads of grateful souls worldwide. And her payment comes not in cold cash but in warm hearts.

Before that Christmas party, in August 2003, Hirata lost her mother to breast cancer, and she wanted to do something to express herself. So the next month, her mother-in-law taught her to crochet. She later taught herself to knit.

Six months later, "at 2 a.m. on a chilly winter night," according to her Web site, she used her new skills to find the answer to her mother's biggest struggle during her 17-year bout with cancer: losing her hair.

That's when Hirata made her first chemo hat, a toque made of T-shirt material that hugs the noggin and eases the frustration of living with a head injury or an illness that causes hair loss.

She's donated more than a thousand of the head coverings to folks as far away as China, Japan and England.

"This is the way I give back," said Hirata, who's lived in Montclair since March.

More of this story at the title link above. Also see the homepage:


"Fashioning warmth for soldiers"

by BRANDON SMITH, Wilmington News Journal
There was a time when, from the comfort of their own homes, America’s housewives would knit and sew clothing and blankets for the country’s soldiers.

It happened during Colonial times and during the Civil War. But it’s happening again, and one Wilmington woman is participating.

“I want to do anything I can for those young men,” said Helen Kleinman, a Wilmington resident whose son is serving in Iraq. “We owe them.”

Iraq and Afghanistan may be hot in the summer and the daytime, but temperatures there can drop below zero in the winter and/or at night, said Sue Pflederer, who leads a project called “Operation Helmetliner.” The project directs knitters across the country to fashion wool head coverings with a certain pattern and send them her way, to be sent to soldiers in the field.

Some soldiers are based in remote outposts where temperatures can be even more frigid, said Pflederer. In these places, access to items like hats and scarves is limited or nonexistent.

From her Wilmington home, Kleinman has fashioned and sent more than a dozen embroidered quilt patches. Her patches feature a stately eagle and a message that the quilt was made for soldiers by appreciative volunteers. Kleinman’s patches are stitched onto quilts, made by others, that are intended to cover wounded soldiers transported by cargo planes without heat. This is apparently a common occurrence, said Pflederer.

“Thousands” of ordinary people are helping American soldiers stay warm and know they are appreciated, according to the group’s Web site. This time the effort includes more than just housewives.

The group is called Citizen S.A.M., Citizen Support for America’s Military, and is based in Peoria, Ill. Volunteers from across the country have used Citizen S.A.M.’s patterns and guidelines to make things for soldiers and send them to Peoria, where they are then sent to a unit of soldiers in the field.

For more story, please click the title link above. Also see Operation Helmetliner at the website.
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