An ancient Russian fold tale called "Stone Soup" tells of two battered and starving soldiers
trudging wearily through their war-ravaged countryside, begging for food, lodging, boots and clothing
to sustain them on their journey. The impoverished peasants, jaded by many years of such requests,
coldly denied any assistance, saying they had nothing to share. Undaunted, these charming fellows persuaded
first one, then another household to contribute just a small amount of whatever they did have toward a mysterious soup.
It was to made from worthless stones, and, they promised, would nourish the whole village.
Word got around, everyone shared something, and at the end of the day there was a hearty meal for all to enjoy
plus music, dancing and great celebration. The soldiers' needs were generously met;
no one had given more than he could afford to give; a spirit of community had been revived; and most
importantly, people had acted on their natural sense of compassion.
In our village called Seattle, we have a unique opportunity to put what we call the
"stone soup principle" to work to help out some people who are far from home and in crisis:
the patients of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, UWMC, Children's Hospital and their families. As quilters,
we know the silent but powerful statement of concern that a quilt can give. It is a most
effective way to reach out to someone who is in a stressful situation. So we simply make quilts
and give them anonymously to new patients as they enter the hospital for treatment.
They warm and brighten the hospital rooms and hallways. They quite literally
comfort and cheer the patients who receive them. Hospital personnel tell us that our cheerful
quilts make a big difference.
Let's be honest. The making of a quilt requires large amounts of time and talent; two of
our most scarce and valued resources. The Stone Soup Ministry gets the job done by
dividing the work of making quilts into smaller segments and asking for only a small commitment from each quilter.
It's working marvelously! Volunteers working in the studio of North Seattle Friends Church
begin the process by sorting through our mountain of donated fabrics and coming up with
14 that look good together. We cut them into the size pieces required and then bundle them up
into a kit, complete with simple instructions. Then a volunteer quilter sews together
the blocks and joins them into one gorgeous 56" by 70" nap-size quilt top.
More volunteers layer and bin-baste, machine-quilt, and finally bind, label and wash the quilt.
The approximately 12 hours required to make each of these beautiful Log Cagin quilts
are divided among 4 to 6 people so no one has to give too much time.
The Christian directive to "comfort the afflicted" is shared by people of all spiritual traditions.
We know that our quilts, given freely to cancer patients
are indeed a source of both physical and spiritual comfort. The surprise has been in the blessed
and enriched lives of the quilt-makers!
You can help too.
Do you have a small piece of time occasionally
that you would like to donate to this effort?
Call Patty Federighi at 206-522-6513, or Church: 206-525-8800, or email:
Find out how you can help in these areas:
- sorting and organizing the fabric collection
- choosing fabrics for quilts and assembling kits
- PR task: distributing quilts to guilds, satellite groups: writing notes: teaching; phones: soliciting fabric donations
- sewing Log Cabin blocks from the kits and making quilt tops from them
- layering and pinbasing, in a work party (7pm on 3rd Wednesday of the month at FMC)
- minimal machine quilting and applying binding by machine (very simple)
- hand-stitching binding to the back side of the quilt, fun for groups!
- washing and labeling quilts
- delivering quilts to the hospital volunteer services
- donations of 100% cotton fabrics are gratefully accepted
Thank you to Stone Soup Quilters for carrying on this important work!
Quilt Show with Quaker Quilters, March 2003