By Robin Warden
Twenty -five years ago, the late Carol Henry, co-founder of Mitchell-Yancey Habitat for Humanity told the board of directors that she planned to fund the building of the foundation on the next Habitat house through the sale of handcrafted potholders. At that time, it cost about $1,500 to do this. They laughed; and the group she named “Stitch & Chat” went to work. Groups have been gathering every since to continue the tradition. Today potholder sales are approaching $30,000. That amount is what it now costs to build the shell of our latest home in the Burnsville Habitat neighborhood – including the foundation, crawl space, interior & exterior walls, floor and roof systems, and install the windows and exterior doors.
Carol McCroskey, the original owner of the “Needle Me This” fabric shop in downtown Burnsville had contributed fabric over the years to “Stitch & Chat” groups. She also continues to dedicate her time working on Habitat building crews and helping to select and sponsor Habitat partner families. A year ago while teaching a quilting class, she recruited a new group of women from the First Presbyterian Church in Burnsville. The group meets every Monday afternoon and includes: Jean Autrey, Elizabeth Gibson, Carol McCroskey, Martha Smith, Sue Stern, and Wendy Ward.
Members share many feelings about their work; “We all believe in and want to support Habitat in any way possible. It is important to provide affordable housing for families. This is about doing things for people who do things for themselves. This is what Christians do, without expecting anything in return. “ These women also continue to provide household items for our newest partner families. “I am excited about giving the family a refrigerator. This will allow them to spend that money on other items they need,” shares Elizabeth Gibson.
They are proud of the designs they have created with colorful fabrics and patterns and are especially pleased with potholders using wool and batik-dyed fabrics. They sell their work in Yancey County at the Celo Inn, OOAK Gallery, and Toe River Craft Gallery & the Habitat ReStore and Fabrics in the Fray Quilt Shop in Spruce Pine. Potholders sell for $7-10 a piece. This “Stitch & Chat” group in their first year has already contributed over $3,000 in sales to our local Habitat.
Carol appeals to our community for help funding their venture, “Our sources for materials have disappeared while fabric now cost around $12 a yard and the last supply of batting we purchased for $185. Although they are grateful to Faust Textiles in King ‘s Mountain for donations of fabric samples and for providing wholesale pricing on batting, it is not enough to keep up with the production level they have created for themselves. “We welcome your fabric scrapes and we especially like recycled wool plaids.”
The group extends an invite to all who are interested, “Come and join us anytime. We love to meet and visit with new people and enjoy dynamic talk about our lives and world issues as well.” Call Carol at (828) 675-4927 to donate or participate in