Handcrafted businesses are dedicated to lending a hand to those in need. From June of 2010 to June of 2011, a new monthly charity initiative will be featured in this section. See how you can lend a hand during these months!

Care for Kids!  A Benefit for Children’s National Medical Center

Thursday, October 13, 2011


It's that time of year again when more than 300 shops and restaurants across the metro-DC area, including Mindful Hands, proudly support the Children's National Medical Center by sponsoring the "Care for Kids" Card campaign.

The program is simple:

  • Buy a "Care for Kids" card for $50 here
  • Get 20% off ALL purchases at more than 300 local shops and restaurants during the campaign period, from Oct. 21 through Oct. 30.

That's it!  It's a great way to start your holiday gifts shopping while supporting a worthy non-profit.  All proceeds from sales of the cards go directly to Children's National Medical Center, while the savings go directly to you! 

In past years, the Care for Kids Campaign has contributed more than $1.5 million towards:

  • a clinical simulation training laboratory
  • a portable ultrasound machine
  • summer camp for sickle cell patients
  • a bright and cheerful playroom for patients in the respiratory care unit

Your purchase of the Care for Kids Card includes a catalog detailing the more than 300 shops and restaurants throughout the DC-area that are participating in the program. Purchase yours today!

Building Peace by Showing Rug Artisans Respect

Friday, September 16, 2011


Riffat is proud that she can help support her family in the village of Rata, Pakistan.As the ever-changing relationship between the United States and Pakistan continues to headline the news daily, Ten Thousand Villages in Alexandria realizes that these tensions are between governments, not between the people of these countries who do not choose them but whose lives are affected forever by them. To help build a positive peace in Pakistan, Ten Thousand Villages is holding its First Fair Trade Oriental Rug Event from September 29-October 2 in Old Town, 915 King Street in Alexandria.

Approximately 300 rugs, each handmade in Pakistani homes by fairly paid adult artisans, will be available for sale in a variety of unique designs and sizes ranging from 2' x 3' to 10' x 14' and runners. An Introduction to Oriental Rugs Seminar will be held at the store on Thursday, September 29 at 7 p.m.

The rugs all come from an artisan group in Pakistan known as Bunyaad. The name meaning "foundation" in Urdu, Bunyaad works to create strong foundations that create peace in the villages of Pakistan by paying a fair wage to its artisan families. Bunyaad has grown to include over 850 families in roughly 100 villages throughout Pakistan and is gradually building a positive peace.

A positive peace, not just the absence of violence, happens only when people earn a living wage, have access to education, have their human needs met, have social and political equality, are respected and involved with their community and can see opportunities for a brighter future. These conditions help build trust between people who begin cooperating with each other and working toward common goals that will improve their lives.

Bunyaad builds peace by breaking the cycle of poverty for the artisans. Bunyaad artisans, male and female, receive the same living wage for their work, allowing them to build better homes and living conditions and create educational opportunities for their children. If not paid a living wage, artisans need to borrow money from high-interest local lenders to afford family necessities and begin a downward spiral of debt. Bunyaad offers a no-interest loan to the artisans to pay off other creditors, a loan that is repaid at a rate that their family finances best allow. Money from loan repayment is invested in improving the infrastructure of the village.

"Bunyaad builds peace by showing rug artisans respect," explains Yousaf Chaman, director of Bunyaad. "Bunyaad artisans choose the color and design of each rug they produce. They allow nature, tradition and inspiration to guide their creativity. By respecting each artisan's creative ingenuity, our rug events and year-round rug galleries showcase a collection of handknotted rugs in which each rug is a unique piece of functional art crafted to last for generations."

"When asked what they like about working for fair trade, artisans will always say that it is the respect that they receive from Bunyaad," said Chaman.

Bunyaad's attitude of respect was shown most recently when they paid the artisans lost wages from the devastating floods of August 2010.

Bunyaad builds peace by giving women an equal opportunity as men. With looms located inside artisans' village homes, this project gives equal opportunity for women to work, earning the same wage for their work as their male counterparts. In the villages, there is very little opportunity for employment, especially for women. Work on the looms gives women year-round, stable employment over which they have control. With this income, women are finding increased financial independence and can financially contribute to the success of their family. They are able to send their children to school and plan for the future. Having a wage-earning skill gives these women a sense of pride as well as an avenue to true social change for themselves and their family.

"By working with women in their village homes, we are not only empowering women and their families but their entire communities," said Kate McMahon, Ten Thousand Villages store manager. "There is a great transformative power that women with a living-wage income possess."

Bunyaad builds peace by welcoming Christians and Muslims into their program. Working side by side toward a goal of a good living for their families, commonalities are realized rather than differences.

Bunyaad builds peace by supporting 10 schools throughout Pakistan, helping many children, especially young girls, have easier access to education. Sometimes the distance to the school is so great that parents do not feel comfortable letting their young girls walk to school. Bunyaad both builds and supports schools to reach such students. One example is the Darianwala Girls High School, located in the village of Darianwala in northeast Pakistan. This school educates over 650 girls from grades K through 12. These girls dream of becoming teachers, doctors and other professionals, dreams that are now possible to achieve. Both Muslim and Christian students attend these schools, learning their commonalities in spite of religious differences.

"It may sound simplistic but it works. Every Bunyaad rug that we sell means that an artisan in Pakistan has a fair paying job that supports their family - Kids go to school - People can plan for their future - Artisans feel good about those who are purchasing their product because they have been treated fairly. A peace is created. It's that simple," said McMahon . "The ripple effects of fair trade are truly transformative. Being intentional about how you shop can truly change the world!"

An Artisan's View of Attaining Peace

Village supervisor Liaqat in Lengha, Pakistan.Liaqat, a village supervisor, lives in the village of Lengha, Pakistan and began working for Bunyaad eighteen years ago. The economy of Liaqat's village is struggling because of its proximity to the Indian border. The possibility of unrest deters businesses from locating there. Working for Bunyaad has enabled Liaqat to give his four daughters an education through high school. Liaqat expresses how education holds the key to peace in Pakistan.

"All the children should be educated. Once they are educated, I don't care if they become farmers or employees or start their own businesses, but they need to have an education. An educated person won't get into disputes, won't start arguing about anything. (With) a lack of education you don't know how to communicate and a lot of misunderstanding goes on," said Liaqat. "With education, a person knows right from wrong. Education is like jewelry, you wear it and it transforms you as a person."

March Madness at The Torpedo Factory

Monday, March 21, 2011


The Target Gallery and the March of Dimes are teaming up to raise money for both organizations with the appropriate title, "March Madness." This exhibit is open to ALL DC-area & regional artists with the requirement that the work be created on 10x10-inch wood panels provided by the Target Gallery.  The exhibit runs through March 27 and five awards will be announced at the March Madness Art Party on March 25.   The party starts at 7PM and  will be held in the main hall of the Torpedo Factory Art Center, right outside the Target Gallery.   As you may have guessed it by now, the theme of the evening is NCAA March Madness Tournament.  The main hall will be transformed into a pub-like atmosphere, featuring games, pub fare, live music, prizes and more!  Beat the buzzer: buy your ticket now and pay only $15.  Purchase them at the door, and pay $20.  Your ticket gains you access to the party and one drink ticket PLUS the many party festivities.

About March of Dimes
March of Dimes, a charity that is working to insure every baby is born healthy. In 2009, despite a volatile and challenging economy, the March of Dimes awarded more than $20.3 million for research grants focused on understanding and eventually preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality $2.7 million of the total research budget was invested in Prematurity Research Initiative grants to scientists researching prevention methods. In 2009, millions of people took part in special events to benefit the March of Dimes with family, friends and co-workers. 20,000 companies in 900 communities raised $75 million. Visit them on the web at http://www.marchofdimes.com

Buy your ticket now:  http://www.torpedofactory.org/galleries/target2011/MarchMadness.htm

fibre space’s Volunteer Event A Success!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


On Sunday, March 13, fibre space instructors and volunteers welcomed three of young people from the Wright to Read program to boost their knitting skills or learn to knit for the first time. Several volunteers from our community donated their time to teach them, and so many of you donated knits! We had enough kits to send back to the larger knitting group that has been formed at the Wright to Read program.

Leigh Hoyer, Director of the Wright to Read program, is always thinking of ways to get children involved with the broader community in which they live. Over the years she’s introduced them to the Alexandria Aces baseball team and Christylez Bacon, progressive hip-hop artist and Human Beat Box. But lately she’s taken a more hands-on approach, teaching the quiet rhythms of knitting.

Many of the children have become interested in knitting, sticking with the process long enough to make their own scarves and discover that they have relatives who also knit! Picking up this new hobby has given them a way to connect with their family who also enjoy the craft.

Wright to Read is an educational program associated with the Family Resource Learning Center in Alexandria, which promotes literacy through the tutoring and mentoring of elementary school students and outreach to the Alexandria community.

You can learn more and get involved with the Wright to Read program!

Meet the Kandahar Combat Knitters

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I’ll bet you’ve never knitted while riding in a Humvee or an F16, while wearing a gas mask or cleaning a gun.

Lieutenant Commander Jenn Almy, Combat Knitter and Family Physician on the NATO Role 3 Multinational Medical Unit, has done all of these and more in her course of training and between caring for patients in Kandahar, in the south of Afghanistan.

This is the story of Jenn Almy and the Kandahar Combat Knitters.

Jenn has been knitting for about 3 1/2 years. She took up knitting as occupational therapy for her wrist, and to create a baby blanket for her sister’s new baby. Jenn grew into a “second family” during knitting classes at Yarning for You in San Marcos, CA. The knitters there made items for deployed soldiers, and gave her a warrior hat when they learned she would be deployed. Before leaving, Jenn lined up 6 months’ worth of knitting projects for her mom to send to her overseas.

During her course of field training prior to deployment at Fort Dix in New Jersey, Jenn’s CO, Captain Michael McCarten, noticed her knitting during down time. As McCarten’s wife, Kathleen, is also an avid knitter, he knew to ask Jenn if she was a Ravelry member. She was – and so he got them in touch with each other. Between them, they began to organize what became the Combat Knitters. Kathleen is also a member of the Knitting in Alexandria group on Ravelry – more on that in a moment.

En route to Kandahar, Jenn’s knitting began to attract more attention. Her colleagues were asking if she’d teach them to knit once they were all settled in. Even though she’d never taught before and considered herself a newbie, she agreed.

Jenn began to dream up a collaborative project to help teach new knitters and represent the military serving in Afghanistan. Her search led her to the  idea of an American flag made of blocks – each one representing a state, military service, or star. The state blocks were designed by Rhonda White, the wife of a marine serving in Okinawa.

Jenn says: “Each square used an average size needle and its finished dimension of 8.5inch by 8.5 inch was a reasonable size. I thought this would be an excellent learning block for the future combat knitters. I would teach them to cast on, knit, purl, bind off and how to read a pattern. They would then finish a square and contribute to the overall project. They could complete this fairly quickly (well some faster than others) and then I could get them started on project for themselves (scarf, hat, etc).”

Jenn was still in touch with Kathleen here in Alexandria. Kathleen began to organize the yarn, needles, and patterns necessary to create Jenn’s American Flag afghan. She called on our help here at fibre space™ to contribute yarn to create the project.

Jenn ended up teaching about 20 people to knit in private lessons, setting up individual times between shifts. She says she tried to get men to learn, but “no takers.” She also created a Combat Knitter’s patch, which you can see her wearing below.


Staff members in Jenn’s hospital serve on the front lines of casualty care in Kandahar, the Taliban capital. They treat many types of patients, from American soldiers to Afghans burned in oil stove accidents, pregnant women, and children with devastating war-related injuries. Jenn helps these post-operative patients recover prior to evacuation. We all know that knitting is valuable for stress relief, and for the combat knitters this is even more true. Knitting has helped give the Combat Knitters a hobby during their infrequent down time, and something other than trauma to think and talk about after a day’s work at the hospital.

While Jenn’s deployment is ending, the Combat Knitters are still knitting, passing on what Jenn has taught them and planning new projects.

Here’s a look at the American Flag afghan – almost finished!

 Jenn says: “The [afghan] is almost finished but it was more the journey of the project that was the most worthwhile aspect. Is the project perfect? No. There are mistakes. Does every block have the same gauge? No. The project though in my eyes is perfect because despite dealing with never ending traumas and patients, the combat knitters wanted to leave something behind. The project ended up larger in size than initially thought of. We have decided instead of one Afghan we are going to divide the Afghan into 4 parts and hopefully have someone mount it on a frame/board and then be able to hang in the NATO Role 3.”

We’d like to give a big thank-you to Jenn and the Combat Knitters for contributing these photos and telling their story. Also a big thank-you to the Knitting in Alexandria group (and others) who have generously supported the Combat Knitters and other service members. Jenn and other members of the Combat Knitters will be returning home and are looking forward to getting to their LYS. We are hoping to see some of them wearing their patches in our hood as well!

(Courtesy of fibrespace.com; written by Veronica and originally posted on March 7, 2011 )

Read the March 10, 2011 Washington Post article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/03/09/AR2011030905233.html

Charity Knit & Crochet: Wright to Read Program

Wednesday, March 09, 2011


This Sunday, March 13, from 11am to 1pm, fibre space™ will host a charity knit or crochet project for Wright to Read. In the past we have made caps for preemies, helmet liners for soldiers and scarves for Operation Gratitude. Keep an eye on our site for an update on each month’s project. Stop back frequently to check on our next charity knitting project.

Share your passion for knitting with youth from the Wright to Read program at the Family Resource Learning Center (part of Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority).  Join us to help continue the “knit education” of students at the center who have been learning to make their own scarves. We are in need of volunteer tutors / teachers during this event as well as kits for the students to knit with. The kit has one set of bamboo US#8 needles and one hank of Ella Rae Superwash. Purchase kits at fibre space™ now through Sunday March 13th. The materials are 20% off for the kits! (kit cost is $13.20)

About the Wright to Read program

Wright to Read is an educational program which promotes literacy through the tutoring and mentoring of elementary school students and outreach to the Alexandria community.

Ten Thousand Villages Celebrates Women in March

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Lend-a-Hand | 192 Comments

In honor of International Women’s Day (March 8), Ten Thousand Villages, located at 915 King Street in Old Town Alexandria, will donate 15% of the sales on Sunday, March 6 to the Alexandria Domestic Violence Program. Ten Thousand Villages Alexandria has been raising money for the Office on Women since 2007.

Explains store manager Kate McMahon, “Commemorating Women’s Day in this way reminds us that we all have much more in common than we do differences, and because most of our artisans are women, all purchases on March 6 will actually do ‘double-duty’ – they will help women in Alexandria and provide essential income to women in the developing world.”

In addition, the store will donate an additional 10% for items made in Egypt and Afghanistan.  “Our artisans in Egypt need to get back to work after the recent strikes and unrest,” said McMahon, “and  I wish we carried more items from Afghanistan, but what we do carry is made by women, who continue to suffer such oppression.”

Shoppers at the store on Sunday will also receive a $1 discount on any flavor large sized chocolate bar from Divine Chocolate. Divine is conducting the promotion to honor the women who work in the Kuapa Kokoo cocoa cooperative in Ghana.

September 2010: Auction to Benefit the Alexandria Breast Cancer Surgical Fund

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Lend-a-Hand | 1144 Comments

Handcrafted Alexandria’s September Lend-A-Hand initiative benefits the Women Mean Business of Alexandria 6th Annual Silent Auction Event to be held on Thursday, September 16th from 6-9pm and hosted by The Holiday Inn of Old Town at 625 First Street.

Proceeds raised by Women Mean Business of Alexandria’s Silent Auction Event will benefit the Alexandria Breast Cancer Surgical Fund, a program of the City of Alexandria Office on Women. This fund pays for surgical and anesthesiology expenses for Alexandria women who are uninsured and have no means by which to pay for their surgery.

For only $30 per ticket you get to treat yourself to an evening of cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, entertainment, the good feeling of knowing you’ve helped those who are less fortunate, and don’t forget the chance to bid on fabulous items from your favorite local businesses! The Silent Auction will have special items from several Handcrafted partners including La Muse, Ten Thousand Villages, Gossypia, and two popular Torpedo Factory artists- Tory Cowles and Sheep Jones of Studio 7. Auction items are in a wide range of prices so that everyone can bid and win.

Buy your tickets before September 10th for only $30 by going to the Silent Auction’s webpage and clicking the “Buy Now” button. Tickets are $35 at the door, so do yourself a favor and buy them early!

August: Collecting Donations for Our Troops in Afghanistan

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Lend-a-Hand | 1150 Comments


Handcrafted Alexandria is collecting donations of supplies for an Air Force Combat Sustainment Support Battalion whose mission is to provide life support for Shindand Airbase as well as several smaller bases in Western Afghanistan. This unit does NOT have access to a PX (post exchange) and they rely on the kindness of family, friends and strangers to send care packages. The battalion consists of 50 males and 20 females, most of whom are Virginia residents and most of whom are on their second or third deployment. They are the first unit from Virginia to have a female Battalion Commander.

Donations will be collected throughout August at select Handcrafted locations* and at the Old Town Farmers’ Market on Saturdays, August 21st & 28th.

Donation boxes can be found at the Torpedo Factory Art Center, The Art League, Imagine Artwear, Ten Thousand Villages, and La Muse.
Special Offer: Receive a 10% discount for bringing donations to La Muse. 



• Fruit, canned with the pop tab
• Granola bars
• Sandwich crackers
• 100 cal snack packs of any kind
• Individual size or wrapped snacks


• Hand sanitizer
• Baby wipes (travel size packs are best)
• Lotion and sun screen
• Body and face wash
• Topical spot acne treatment
• Wash cloths and loofahs
• Blond, black, and brown hair ties + accessories
• Deodorant: male + female + extra strength
• Finger nail polish for the females
• Foot cream (they get really bad calluses)


• Air fresheners (hanging + aerosol)
• Febreeze (again, travel size is great)
• Cleaning agents (eg Lysol + Lysol wipes)


• Music and movies
• Magazines (health are best but they have a lot of different interests)
• Boxes for storage
• Inspirational stuff such as signs, sayings, etc. 

Handcrafted Alexandria is also happy to accept cash donations to help with shipping expenses and to purchase additional supplies.

July 2010: Benefit Raffle to Help End Senior Hunger

Friday, July 02, 2010

Lend-a-Hand | 246 Comments

Benefitting Senior Services of Alexandria's Meals on Wheels Program

July 17 and July 31, 7:30-9:30am

Senior Services of Alexandria Booth at the Old Town Farmers’ Market
301 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

Join Senior Services of Alexandria and Meals on Wheels of America in the fight to end senior hunger by 2020! Through their Meals on Wheels program, Senior Services is currently working to provide Alexandria seniors with meals on weekends, ultimately needing raise about $100,000, but focusing for now on 13 Saturdays and a goal of $13,000.

Five Handcrafted businesses have donated special items or gift baskets valued at $100 or more for this cause. The items will be on display at the Senior Services of Alexandria booth at the Old Town Farmers’ Market July 17 and July 31. Raffle tickets for each item may be purchased for $5 each or 3 for $10, and all proceeds will benefit Senior Services of Alexandria’s Meals on Wheels program. The drawing will take place and winners will be notified after the July 31 Farmers’ Market date.

Check out each of the donated items below!

Arts Afire Glass Gallery
Glass Bead Necklace comprised of five flameworked glass beads by Chris and Jacqueline Rice and coral and green glass filler beads and sterling silver toggle. Size 16”. Retail Value: $120.00.
Learn more about Arts Afire.

fibre space™
Learn to Knit Kit:This kit includes an instructional book for beginners, full of wonderful basic baby projects, needles and a blanket quantity of a cotton and angora blend yarn.
Learn more about fibre space™

La Muse
An Old Town Dog Lover’s Gift Basket: This gift basket is filled with whimsical dog themed home décor items including wall signs, stationary and greeting cards. Each item represents the work of a different American artist. Also included is a $20.00 gift certificate for La Muse. Retail Value: $140.00.
Learn more about La Muse.

Ten Thousand Villages
Global Renewals Gift Basket: Renew your summer with these wonderful handcrafted items made from recycled materials! Start by throwing all your farmer’s market goodies in a ready-to-go tote made from recycled snack wrappers. Artisans in rural Bangladesh use traditional basket-weaving techniques to create this earth-friendly tote. Keep all your summer notes and lists organized in an eco-friendly portfolio. This innovative design features recycled VHS videotape, hand-woven into an attractive portfolio. Finally, this guitar-playing gecko, made of strips cut from recycled soda cans, is created by a group of artisans in Cape Town, South Africa.  What a great way to reduce, re-use and renew!
Learn more about Ten Thousand Villages.

Potomac Bead Company
Designer's Basket: This gift basket includes two strands of gemstones along with a $25 dollar gift certificate and a certificate for either a free class or free custom jewelry service.
Learn more about the Potomac Bead Company.