Saturday, June 29, 2013

Well, the end of June is almost here.

Hopefully by the end of next week I'll be a grandfather once again as Ann's youngest daughter, Rebecca, is expecting her first child on July 4th.  A boy!  We need more girls around here but will gladly accept Gentry Wyatt Wicker once he's here.  Please keep all of us in your prayers.

Now, to the AQP.

I am so happy to see the Canadian and UK groups growing and getting more involved with the project.  With the coming of Canadian and UK AQP Web-Sites I am hoping for more growth and more members as well as more NICUs and SCBUs joining our group.

Julie has done a wonderful job getting all this organized and started and she has my many, many thanks for all the hard work she's done here.  It definitely helps and it is showing.

We have a couple of Special Projects going right now, with a Charlie's Ark blanket, a boy's Charlie's Ark blanket with a girl's Charlie's Ark blanket also in the works.  A Hello Kitty blanket is already underway with one of our finishers in Texas and I hope to have pics of how it's coming along within a couple of weeks.  The finisher will be gone from home all of next week for the 4th holiday and I hope her and her family have a wonderful time.  I've sent off the Charlie's Ark boy's blanket pieces to a new finisher in Montana and she should have them around the first of the week and hopefully pics of how she's laying it out will be available soon.

I hope everyone has a wonderful 4th of July and want everyone to be safe, both at home and in whatever travels you take.

Thank you all for your wonderful work here, as always.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What I really love about doing this blog is that I can 'be myself'!  LOL!!!!

I don't have to 'pretend' about anything, but then again I don't 'pretend' about things anyway.  That's not the way I 'operate'.  I tend to speak my mind, sometimes later I might wish that I hadn't, but hey, that's life!

When I started the AQP 13+ years ago I never imagined it would grow to become what it's become today.  I remember telling Ann (my wife of 17+ years now) that I thought I'd be lucky to have about 300 people signed up for the project by the end of 2000.

Boy was I wrong!

In December of 200 there were almost 1,500 people intersted in working with us and doing something for our blankets.  At the 'Height' of the AQP, back in around 2005 or 2006, we actually had over 5,000 people representing something like 35 countries around the world.  To say I was amazed would be an understatement.

When I started this thing it was me and Dale here in the US and Ali, Belle, Julia, and Pat in the UK.  Yes, we started with only 5 people at that time but look at what we've grown into..................

We had only 1 NICU ( Arnold Palmer's Children's Hospital, in Florida ) and were actively looking to add more to our list ( today we have over 1,500 NICUs in the US, including Washington, DC ) and in the UK that grew to something like 50 SCBUs, so we were underway.

Then Lorrie and Dodie joined in Canada and the Canadian Division was 'born' and those did a masterful job while leading that group.  Kim took over for a while and the 'leadership' of the Canadian Division has shifted now and again, but it is still going strong and soon we well have separate web-sites for both the UK and Canadian Groups, and they've definitely earned them.  Good luck ladies.  I'm always behind you and will continue to support your efforts.

At one time we even had an Australian Division, but it was on a much smaller scale and had several leaders down there for a while.  The last leader of that Division passed away a number of years ago and interest began to dwindle so much that I finally had to close it down.  It was a shame, but the interest down there never seemed to be on the scale of the three remaining Divisions.

Anyway, we're still going strong here and I have truly been blessed to have a bunch of ladies ( And Dave in the UK!  The only other male in this group!!! ) who have remained 'faithful' to our cause and continue to do their best to see that the AQP survives the times.

No one could have been as blessed with such a group and could have turned it into what it's become today without such love and interest.  I owe ALL THE SUCCESS of the AQP to those members who have remainded true to the cause and I can never thank them all enough.

On a personal note:  Two years ago we lost what I consider to have been the 'heart and soul' of the AQP, UK Division.  Belle passed away in April of 2011 and she was a staunch supporter of the AQP in the UK and she did all she could to assure the success of that Division.  She remains to be missed here and I can never forget all that she did for the AQP.  We still love you Belle, and miss you dearly.

Till next time,

James Farmer, Founder
The Angel Quilt Project

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

What makes the Angel Quilt Project (AQP) unique?

A good question.

First: All those who participate in the AQP can rest assured that none of their personal information is ever given to ANYONE unless I get their permission first!  That is the NUMBER 1 RULE for the AQP.  I get personal information from everyone who participates but that is as far as it goes.  I only pass on information once someone has given me the okay to do it.  In such cases it happens only AFTER I get a letter from a family who has gotten one of our blankets and wants to get in touch with the stitcher.  I find out which hospital they got their blanket from and then ask for the name stitched on that piece.  I inform the family that I will have to contact that particular person to get permission to pass on the requested data.  I contact the stitcher and they tell me whether I can or cannot pass it on.  If I can I do so.  If I can't I let the family know that as well and ask them to send their thank you directly to me and then I will forward it, unopened, to the stitcher.  It's that simple and in the 13+ years I have never broken that rule and NEVER WILL!

Second: If you're a stitcher of some time ( it's 47 years for me ) then when you stitch you want to feel comfortable with what you're doing and what you're working on.  Right?  I thought so.  Therefore there is NEVER A DEADLINE to get a piece stitched.  NEVER!  I want everyone to do what they do best and never have to worry about being late with something. 

There is one exception to this rule though.


A couple of times a year, usually at the beginning of the year, I will post a 'Special Project' for the members who want to help express their intersts in working on.  These Fundraisers are usually larger blankets, usually twin sized, with up to 12 pieces of cross stitched or machine embroidered pieces on them.  Those finished blankets are then sold by me at local craft shows or listed on e-bay as auctions with all the proceeds going into the AQP coffers.  This year we are doing Hello Kitty Blankets.  There is a deadline on these Special Projects but they're usually not due till sometime after the end of June of that year, so that there is plenty of time to get the pieces to the finisher who will actually put the blanket together.

Third:  We are an ALL-VOLUNTEER group!  No one gets paid for what they do here, and never will.  I don't even get any monitary compensation and I don't want to.  The AQP is for the sole benefit of families with premature babies or with children in Regional Burn Centers or Children's Cancer Clinics.  All the finished blankets are freely given to the NICUs or SCBUs for the nursing staff to give to the families under their care.  Everyone associated with the AQP gives their time and talents to make this happen and I hace never had to pleasure to be associated with such a giving and caring group of people.  It is those people who deserve all the kudos and thanks, because without them there would be no AQP to make blankets for.

Fourth:  It's quite easy to join.  All someone has to do is get in touch with me at to get information and to get started.  It's that simple.  If you provide a phone number and a good time of the day to call you, I will do so and personally answer all your questions regarding the AQP.

If you are interested then please get in touch.

I look forward to hearing from you.

James Farmer, Founder
The Angel Quilt Project

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Welcome to my Blog......

I have to admit that this is the first time I've ever done anything like this, but I am looking forward to doing it.

The Angel Quilt Project (AQP) was an off-shoot of a group originally called The Cross-Wits, an on-line cross stitch group that I once belonged to.  I don't think the Cross-Wits even exists anymore, as most of the members joined the AQP right after I got it started, but I want to thank the ladies who were a part of that group, and I do apologize that I can't remember their names!  Isn't that bad?  But, in my own defense here, it has been 13 years and there has been a lot of 'water to go under that bridge'.  LOL.

I've had two major surgeries in the past 6 and 7 years that have left my memory spotty at best at times, but I'm surviving.  LOL.

Anyway, to get back to the subject at hand;  I started the AQP (Then called the Angel Afghan Project) when one of the Cross-Wits suggested we use our cross stitch to help others.  At first I had no idea what to do, but then -- like a bolt of lightning -- the idea was put into my head.  I say 'put into my head' because I honestly believe it was a revelation from God.  I knew immediately what we would go on to do, what it would be called, and where we would send our finished pieces.

I got on-line and started telling the other members what had happened and at first their reception was somewhat sceptical, to say the least.  Anyway 3 of the ladies in the group accepted the 'challenge' and The Angel Afghan Project was 'born'.

One of those first members was Dale High, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and she's been with the project ever since. The AQP is dearly blessed with her presence, as she's constantly reminding me of things I've forgotten and helps to keep me on the 'straight and narrow'!  That's a hard job, too.  Just ask my wife!  NOT!  LOL!!!!

The original idea, and it's still going strong today, was to make small blankets with cross stitched center-pieces, and to donate them to hospitals around the country for families with premature babies.  The first hospital on our list was the Arnold Palmer Children's Hospital in Florida, and we still send blankets to them to this day.

The blankets then were quite small, as we all imagined that something for preemies would have to be that size.  Now days our blankets measure roughly 36" x 36" and are large enough to cover the isolettes in the NICUs or SCBUs and keep out the light but also keep in the heat, which is essential for the preemies.

In the beginning we only used cross stitched pieces for our blankets, as I'd never heard of machine embroidery.  Kathy Walker, who owned Treetrunk Designs, got in touch with me and machine embroidery became a well-used medium for the project and we've had a lot of ladies join the project using their machines and they all do lovely work.  Thank you Kathy for your suggestions and donations to the AQP.

Back in January of 2000 we had only one (1) hospital, the before-mentioned Arnold Palmer Children's Hospital.  Today, in 2013, we have over 1,500 NICUs and SCBUs in Canada, the UK, and the United States of America.  In the US we have NICUs in every state, as well as Washington, DC and that list continues to grow.

While starting out small, we have grown to be world-wide.  At the height of the project, back in 2005, we had over 3,000 'members', representing something like 35 countries around the world!

In the 13+ years of the AQP we, as a world-wide group, have given away -- YES!  GIVEN AWAY  --  over 55,000 of our all hand-made blankets!  I never in my wildest dreams thought we'd get so much done in such a 'short' time, but we have.

I never would have thought that a man in Greenville, Mississippi could have imagined something like this, with God's help of course, and accomplish so much.  But, we have.  We have touched so many lives in 13+ years and I've gotten so many touching letters from parents, grandparents, nursing staffs and hospital administrators that it's just unbelievable.  All are very touching and I have had tears in my eyes as I've read them.

I personally delivered our blankets to hospitals here in Mississippi.  The largest NICU in the whole Southeast part of the country is at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi, with a maximum bed count of something like 275 isolettes for preemies and other children in distress.  I've met many parents and their children and I wouldn't be human if I wasn't touched by what I saw and continue to see to this day.  The nursing staff does so much work to ensure that these precious packages make it through their trials and eventually go home.

Many do not make it, and that's the sad part.

However, once a blanket is given to a family it becomes the property of that family and they take it home once they leave, hopefully with their child(ren) with them.

For multiple preemies such as twins or triplets, then we have asked the NICUs to please make sure that each child gets their own blanket, and thankfully many have agreed.  We have even give out blankets for 5 sets of sextuplets!

The AQP continues to operate today.  We are an all-volunteer group of people and we spend our own funds to make all this happen.  We once were a nonprofit group, but the IRS deemed we were no longer allowed to have that title and took it away from us in 2011.  We still operate though.  We still spend our own funds to keep this going.  We still send our blankets to the NICUs and SCBUs (That's Special Care Baby Units in the UK, for those wondering what it means).  We still communicate with each other and we still do what we love to do the most........................Cross Stitch!

I do hope others will want to help us here.  We never turn anyone down who wants to donate their time by stitching, making blankets, or making monetary donations.  We will do this for as long as we can, because premature babies are precious and they are loved not only by their families but by the nursing staffs who look after them.

We pray for preemies around the world, as well as for their families.  I ask you to say a prayer for them as well.  No one goes into a pregnancy with expectations of a premature birth and the stays at NICUs and SCBUs is sometimes quite long and very draining for the families and if we can brighten their days by just giving a simple blanket, then we have accomplished our jobs.

Thank you for reading and I will be posting something here at least once a week.


James Farmer, Founder

The Angel Quilt Project