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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Wishing things were different

A Little Something is changing, evolving. Members have come and gone, founders have moved on, new faces appear at each monthly meeting.

The meetings are too chaotic to allow us the opportunity to sit and talk with the new members, so we’ve reached a point where we know the names of most of the women, but we don’t much about them other than country of origin. This is much different from the early days when we knew important and often intimate details about each member’s situation. Perhaps it’s just a reality of growth and open-call meetings.

Some of our original members came to yesterday’s meeting. Sharifo, Fadumo, and Sahara showed up after missing many months of contact with us. Fatuma came, too, but chose to sit among newcomers rather than settle in with familiar faces.

I watched Fatuma with some sadness. I’ve written about her before on this blog. She has a large family but a mostly absentee husband who has all but abandoned his family in favor of a more carefree life. This has left Fatuma to struggle as essentially a single mother of eight, with another baby due in February. She doesn’t want to discuss the baby. It is doubtful the circumstances of her pregnancy were ever happy at any point.

Halfway through our gathering, I noticed that Fatuma was wearing athletic shoes that were obviously men’s shoes and easily three sizes too big. “Fatuma,” I said, “where are your shoes? These shoes are too big and you might fall.”

Fatuma laughed nervously and said these were her son’s shoes and the only ones she had right now. I hoped that the money she had just received for her recent jewelry sales would be put toward a decent pair of shoes for herself, but I know better. Fatuma never takes care of herself first. She spends her jewelry pay on her kids, on food, on necessities.

The family is struggling worse than ever, but Fatuma is not one to complain. I could see that she was clearly not her usual cheery self on Saturday, though. Her affect was somewhat flat, and she seemed preoccupied as she went through the motions of making beaded key chains. She didn’t want to chat. She seemed lost in her own thoughts.

At the end of the day, Fatuma helped us clean up, and when it was time to load up Jaime’s and my cars, Fatuma reached down and picked up two heavy, overly-stuffed canvas bags of supplies. I reminded her she shouldn’t be picking up anything so heavy. I thought about her pregnancy and the effort it must take to not only haul heavy bags up the stairs, but to do so in ill-fitting shoes. She insisted she was fine.

I had agreed to give Fatuma a ride home. I helped get her situated in the passenger seat and as I clicked her seat belt closed, I asked her what size shoes she wears. She said she couldn’t remember. Her feet looked cartoonish—oversized red and white basketball shoes poking out from beneath a traditional floral Somali wrap dress.

As we drove diagonally across Denver toward Fatuma’s house, she blurted out, “Sharon, I need help.” I know that Fatuma needs a world of help, and that for the most part, I’m not in a position to provide it. I asked Fatuma what was wrong.

“I need a washer. My washer broken. Finished. Sharon, I have eight kids, and in two months…” Her voice trailed off. She told me her children were washing their clothes by hand in the tub so they would be OK for school. Fatuma had faced a lot of challenges, but this one was beyond her ability to solve.

I know that her husband’s chronic absence and neglect mean the family never has enough money for food, no money for shoes, and definitely no money for a washer. Fatuma had struggled stoically through personal hurt, lack of support from her own community, the stress of trying to help her kids—especially when they got in trouble or faced insurmountable challenges at school—yet if you were to ask her how she was, how life was, she would always smile and say, “OK. Everybody’s good. We’re OK. Fatuma is not one to ever admit that things are not OK, nor is she ever likely to ask anyone to step in on her behalf. It’s the kind of thing you have to stumble upon in the course of a visit.

I was surprised that Fatuma had freely offered up the information that things weren’t going well at home. It was the lack of a washer and dryer that finally made her feel a sense of frustration and defeat that would have made anyone else crumple long ago that got her to come out and ask for help.

Fatuma went on to say that she can’t do anything. She wants to go to school, but she can’t because she has no access to daycare. I reminded her that despite this, she never misses the Saturday class she has attended four the past four years. She speaks English quite well for someone who hasn’t had the benefit of formal education. She always tries to speak English whenever possible instead of relying on her kids to translate everything. She looks for ways to learn and to help herself and her kids. She works multiple urban farming plots to provide healthy produce for her family from spring through fall. I reminded her that she’s a very good mom who is raising nice kids. She pays her bills, somehow. She is not on welfare. I told her that many people have trouble because they don’t try to help themselves, but she should feel good about trying to do everything she could to make her life better.

Fatuma was quiet for a minute. She looked at me and said, “Thank you. Today I’m tired.” Then, with great sincerity, she told me that she likes the way I drive—carefully and not too fast. I laughed at the turn of conversation topic and told her other drivers don’t like me very much for the exact reasons she thought I was a good driver.

As we pulled up in front of her house, Fatuma thanked me again. I promised to take her shoe shopping next week. I told her I’d think about how we could get her a good, sturdy, and reliable washer and dryer that will last a long time, but no promises that I had any answers.

I spent the night fretting over Fatuma’s situation. She has always tried so hard, she has a steady, can-do attitude, yet the universe seems determined to keep throwing obstacles in her path. There are issues of culture involved here, certainly, but there is also a large dose of life being unfair to someone who deserves a break. I can’t even imagine, given all that goes in Fatuma’s world, what a simple relief it must be to sit quietly among other women now and then, stringing beads into cheery combinations and not worrying (for an hour or so) about how she’s going to manage hospital bills or life without a desperately-needed washer and dryer.


(We are trying to help Fatuma get new appliances--something with a warranty, something that will last and stand up to the task at hand. If you are interested in contributing to this effort, click here.)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Sale season has begun!

Denver-area folks:
Join us for our first of the 2010 holiday sales!

Friday, October 29, 4pm - 7pm
Saturday, October 30, 10am – 3pm
University Park United Methodist Church
2180 S. University Blvd., Denver

Shop for beautifully crafted, one-of-a-kind gifts that are made and sold by organizations that directly benefit people in need. You will find an incredible array of products that are as unique as the individuals and organizations that make them. Each purchase you make supports and empowers people in need, whether they are in downtown Denver or across the globe.

Friday, October 22, 2010


After our meeting on Saturday, Jaime made sure that Guadence had a ride home so she wouldn't have to repeat her five-mile walk--and with no lunch. Like many refugees, Guadence doesn't have the $70 needed for a monthly bus pass. It's common for the refugees to lose a ot of the English they've learned as more and more days pass without access to their English classes.

When Jaime got home on Saturday, she wrote:
Even though Gaudence isn't going to English anymore, she is determined to learn. When I was at her house, she showed me her notebook. She is in the process of copying her entire English/Swahili dictionary by hand into her spiral bound notebook. Pages and pages of handwritten words and definitions, many of which she would have no use for, all in alphabetical order. It broke my heart a little bit, but also I was amazed by her determination.
We always tell people outside of the resettlement world that refugees aren't victims; they are survivors and they survived to see today because they are determined and resourceful. Sometimes, a little help feeds a little hope, and that goes a long way when you're building a new life--from scratch.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Humming along

On the third Saturday of each month, the members of A Little Something are invited to meet for a few hours of crafting instruction, to learn, drink some tea, and enjoy the company of other women. Sometimes we have a dozen members in attendance, and sometimes just a few. We never know for sure who's coming or who even understood that it was this Saturday.

Sometimes, when the turnout is small, we wonder if we're losing momentum, or maybe the women just aren't that interested after all. This year has been a year of big changes for A Little Something, as well as a year of growing pains and trying to envision a realistic, sustainable future. All of that forward thinking has sometimes meant that spending time with the refugee women has been secondary to getting the business on track for a healthy future. It's not a stretch to think the women might drift away.

Eventually, we find out things like the fact that many women have no access to a buss pass and no cash for bus fare, so they don't attend the meetings. There are weddings and funerals, and this weekend, a major holiday for the ethnic Nepalese. It's not so much about enthusiasm as the realities of modern and traditional life all at once.

This week was no different. Women we had expected didn't come. Others came unexpectedly. Just when we thought the group might be small, our two translators from Burma arrived and eagerly jumped in and joined a lesson on making beaded key fobs. Fatuma and Hajia showed up after their Saturday English class where our project originated three years ago. Then, eight Burmese Karenni/Kayah women arrived, tentatively entering the room. They were there to learn about the weaving co-op.

Almost an hour-and-a-half into the meeting Guadence, a slight, middle-aged woman from Burundi, came in, carrying her tools and a bag of finished jewelry. Jaime looked up and said, "You're late!" Gaudence shook her head and said, "No bus pass. I come by leg."

It took a minute for that to sink in. Gaudence had just walked five miles from her apartment across town to our meeting location, determined not to miss it just because she lacked a bus pass.

This was a sobering moment for us as we realized that Gaudence had done what other women probably wanted to do but could not manage--she got to the meeting the only way she knew how. Once there, she was quickly absorbed in the keychain lesson, and was happily selecting beads for her projects. She never complained. She was happy just to have made it.

Refugees are amazing people. Challenges that many of us wouldn't even consider are not seen as unreasonable by many of these people. They have negotiated their way through situations we cannot even imagine.

Gaudence and her friend Rahima are almost desperate for the chance to spend time with other women, quietly creating beautiful crafts. The weavers were reserved at first, but eventually chatted excitedly about the idea that they were going to get the tools they needed to do something that is as culturally comforting as traditional food or speaking their first language.

Everyone comes to the gatherings for a reason, but we can't really know how important a respite or opportunity these gathering are for the members. The most we can do is keep showing up on the third Saturday of the month and being open to the experience that unfolds.

Monday, September 27, 2010

We have a Website

Take a moment to visit our new Website. Click here to view. It's nothing fancy, but it's helpful if you're trying to find specific information about our group.

For the most part, we've taken all of the information that's crammed into the right sidebar on this site and spread it out so it's easier to find and read.

Eventually, the "" address that we use now will take you to the Website, not here. This blog isn't going away, though--in fact, the two sites now link to each other. Please let us know if there's something you think would be useful or helpful on our site that we may have overlooked or hadn't considered. We appreciate your feedback!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Are you up for a challenge?

Denver-area friends:

A Little Something is currently recruiting members for our Board of Directors, as well as someone to take over as our chief officer (president) in a few months.

Our Board is a working Board, and there is a lot to be done!

Solid business skills and an ability to work with diverse communities are musts. No compensation is provided, but the top Board and officer positions should expect to put in 10-20 hours per week for the time being. It's a labor of love, but a very rewarding and worthwhile use of one's time.

If you're interested in talking more, please contact us at

Friday, August 13, 2010


Rahima is a fiber artist from Burundi. She is accustomed to making designs on fabric using batik and tie-dye. When she first heard about A Little Something at school, she was eager to join. We don't currently have a facility where we can work on textiles, so Rahima decided to learn jewelry making.

Her first attempts turned out to be very good. She has a wonderful eye for design and color. Her technical skills are coming along quickly.

After she finished her first batch of jewelry, she couldn't wait until the next monthly meeting to get feedback on her work and help with the things that were giving her trouble. She was very excited about her efforts, so a couple of weeks ago, we set up an appointment to meet during the hour between morning and afternoon classes.

Rahima's enthusiasm is contagious, and she's already working through her second bead-box refill. We sold several of her pieces at our August 1 sale--the first where her items were available.

Rahima hopes to get more involved with sales this fall so she can learn the business and practice her English. In the meantime, she's busy trying out new jewelry making techniques.

Monday, July 26, 2010


We need knitters!

Our next lesson meeting with the members of A Little Something is scheduled for Saturday, August 21 (9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.). We are very much in need of some knitting instructors for this meeting! We would like to present a lesson on making mittens. We are also considering a lesson on socks.

If you are a knitter who makes mittens, you are patient, and you can help others learn how to make mittens (and maybe socks), please let us know as soon as possible:


Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Little Thank You

In the past couple of weeks, we've been blessed by the generosity of others.

* We would like to thank JoAnn Ries at Rockin Beads in Aurora, Colorado for the beads she recently donated to our program. We've already distributed some of those to our jewelry makers.

* Slavica Park, whose generous contribution made it possible for us to buy the storage cabinet we needed so we could move into our office. This was a huge help!

* Leo Livecchi for giving up a precious Saturday to help build the cabinet.

* The kind, anonymous donor in Ohio who mailed us a bunch of goodies after she did some "stash thinning" of supplies. Great stuff and very helpful.

We are truly grateful for the help of friends and supporters, near and far. Thank you for keeping us in your thoughts. Your donations are important and mean the world to us.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A small addition to our wish list

We need a few items for our new office, but we could use some help from the super-shoppers out there. Please let us know if you can help.

We bought shelves, but that only addresses half of the storage situation. At the moment, our most pressing need is for a large cabinet, and Home Depot has exactly what we're looking for. It's a wardrobe manufactured by the ClosetMaid company. It's 48" wide and about 6-feet high. The price is $108. You can read about it here.

If you know where we can get this same item for less money, please let us know. We found one on Craigslist, but we don't have a truck to transport it or the muscles to move it into the building.

Since the office is small, we need to make the most of the space; good storage is going to be critical for us. Isn't that the truth for all crafters?


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy day!

We enjoyed our day at the outdoor market at City Park Esplanade in Denver this July 4th. The day got off to a slow start, but traffic picked up once the sun came out.

Our friend, Carol Amato, came early to help us set up. Amina Salat, one of our teen crafters and daughter of Fatuma, one of our very first members, spent the entire day helping out.

We didn't make much money, but we met a lot of really nice people, incuding the other artisan/crafter vendors who had some wonderful items for sale. We want to thank everyone who stopped by our booth to chat and those who pooled the last of their farmer's market shopping cash to buy a necklace or a pair of earrings.

We'll be back on Sunday, August 1, and Sunday, September 5 (Labor Day weekend). Hope to see you there!

Friday, July 2, 2010

A sale coming up!

On Sunday July 4, we'll be selling our wares in Denver.

Colorado Fresh Markets

City Park Esplanade and E. Colfax Ave.

9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Stop and say hello and maybe buy a pretty necklace!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

It's small but it's home-sweet-home

Three years ago, Anna and I could be found sitting on the dining room floor at my house, night after night. We were sorting through donations, organizing beads, trying to figure out what some things were, and often commenting on how much easier it would be if we had an office.

Our dreams were grand. We talked about 1,000 square feet of open space, somewhere along the Colfax corridor. We wanted natural light, plenty of outlets, a kitchen, a utility sink we could use for dyeing fabric, and plenty of outlets to run sewing machines. Susan suggested a small sofa and an easy chair, as well as a cozy corner where we could sit and have tea and just visit with the women of A Little Something.

In the last three years, our organization has grown in fits and starts. We work very hard. We've brought in many more members, lost one to an unthinkable tragedy, learned good business practices, put together a Board of Directors, got better about keeping track of our mail and writing thank-you notes, and became more aware of the reality that not only weren't there enough hours in the day, we really were getting desperate about needing a dedicated space.

We house our worldly possession in the basement of my house. About 15 months into our project, my husband requested that we relocate from the dining room (which we had taken over in its entirety by then) and to the basement so he could be left to enjoy his nightly TV viewing in peace.

The basement was mostly empty. We brought in steel shelving units, a carpet, a table or two, and hung things on the walls. My husband tore out most of the ceiling and installed crafting-friendly lighting for us.

Of course, nature abhors a vacuum, and the space slowly began to fill with beads, yarn, display items, and all of the other accouterments of crafting. My Pilates machine became a hulking shape in the corner, covered with fabric yardage and baskets.

It was the basket-making supplies that sent Leo over the edge. For nearly a year, Leo kept commenting that the A Little Something section of the basement was getting quite full, and this wasn't what he had in mind. To alleviate the tension about this, I found it was best to have donations delivered to my workplace, but leave them in the car until Leo went out to walk the dog. Once he was out of the house, I would bring the supplies in and work them into the existing inventory in the basement. He's not a crafter--once the supplies were in the basement, he couldn't really discern that more had been brought in.

Until the basket-making supplies.

After doing some shopping, my husband took it upon his wonderful, gallant self to unload my car while I was resting. He found a large quantity of craft supplies in the back of the car and moved them into the basement. Somewhere during that process, it registered with him that we never had basket-making supplies before. And that was the beginning of the end of our free ride in the basement of a modest little ranch house in Denver.

I looked at many offices. I spoke with a few dozen property managers and landlords. We were considered too small, too new, too noncorporate, too...not what they had in mind.

Our disappointments were frequent and profound, having found the perfect office at least six times and been rejected.

Eventually, I found a listing for a quaint little building square in the middle of our desired area. It was in our price range. It was almost too much to hope for. I scheduled a showing.

In a very weird twist of fate, the building turned out to be familiar. It was the former home of the Rocky Mountain Survivor's Center, a wonderful organization that did amazing good work with survivors of torture and trauma. When they lost their main funding source in the fall of 2009, they had to close up shop for good. So many refugees and asylees had been helped by RMSC, it was hard to believe the building would now house businesses instead of a place of healing.

We sweated the decision about our worthiness to rent. When we got the news that we had been accepted, it seemed impossible. Finally, someone was willing to take a chance on us.

Today, Katrina and I inked the deal. We signed a lease. We wrote a check from the business account A Little Something opened after we became an officially registered business in the state of Colorado. The moment was profound.

We had hoped to rent a 200-square-foot space with large windows and a door to the back deck/fire escape. After much discussion, though, we decided that we needed to rent what we knew we could afford. It is humble, to be sure. Our office is a mere 100 square-foot, 10'x10' space. And we love it.

We haven't moved in yet, but we will in the next week. Perhaps if we have a good sale season, finalize our nonprofit status, get some grants...we can move into a larger space within the building. The building is lovely, cozy, and welcoming. IT feels right, and in the end, that may be its most important quality.

We owe thanks to Jeremy Anderson at Shift Realty and the building's owner, Alexandra Katsiaficas Wagner for their help and flexibility in making our quest come to fruition. We hope to have a long and very positive relationship, starting today, when A Little Something took a very big step.

We don't have office hours yet and we need to round up some cabinets and shelving, but eventually, you can find us at 1547 Gaylord St., Suite 204, Denver, Colorado 80205. We'll let you know when we schedule the office-warming party.


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sunday, July 4--Call for help!

We have a sale scheduled this Sunday, July 4th, but we lack staffing. The sale will be from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. (allow an additional hour to pack up).

Sharon will be there, but this is in no way a one-person endeavor!!

The location is in Denver, at the City Park Esplanade on East Colfax, next to East High School (Columbine St. at E. Colfax Ave.).
Click here for a map.

If you can help, please let us know ASAP via an email to

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Art as a bridge to memories

One of our members and jewelry makers, Omhagain Dayeen, was recently asked to show her sketch and painting work for one month at the headquarters of The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). Many thanks to Lonnie Wiens, CDOT IT guru by day, art show curator on the side for making Omhagain’s show possible.

A special thanks is also in order to Leo Livecchi, married to an ALS founder and a somewhat reluctant supporter of A Little Something. He also works at CDOT. It was Leo’s idea to have Omhagain participate in CDOT’s rotating art gallery show.

After a lot of logistical wrangling, the show started to come together today. Lonnie said, “I am honored to have Omhagain’s work here. She’s an amazing artist.”

Lonnie, Omhagain, her husband, Kamal, and a friend, Susan Taylor, were on hand today, hanging pictures, arranging images and hanging the show. In addition, a film crew was getting footage of the action.

As it turns out, the film crew is from the State Department and filming a documentary about Darfuris living in the U.S. Omhagain has worked tirelessly to bring attention to the issues of Darfur, and she donates part of the profits from her art sales to buy clothes and food for refugees currently in Chad.

Omhagain came to the US as a refugee, an artist displaced from the country and culture she treasured. Her early US works reflected her melancholy. They were mostly subdued, technical, and factual images of her memories of home.

Her current work shows a woman who has found hope and joy in those same memories. Figures dance and move in bold colors. Human shapes are round and robust, enjoying a prosperous Sudanese life. The pictures show beauty, color, and vibrant images. They tell a story about Sudan and Omhagain’s love for what she left behind.

Before becoming a refugee, Omhagain had earned her Master’s degree in art education in Sudan. She was both an artist and a teacher. She wove tapestries and designed textiles. She had a passion for both creating and teaching, and it was obvious that she felt the power of art and the creative force.

Omhagain admits that she had to find herself again, both as a woman and an artist, after coming to the United States. She is quick to acknowledge that she got to where she is today with the help of friends and people who took the time to care, to sit, to listen, and to encourage. Ultimately, though, what comes out in Omhagain’s art is her love of faces, color, motion, and the people in her world, past and present.

More than art, Omhagain’s work shows the beauty of a culture now under siege. Perhaps a show in as unlikely a space as CDOT headquarters will help further the conversation about how we are connected to people around the world. Perhaps Omhagain’s art will shed some light on a part of the world that needs as much love and light as can possibly be generated before it can heal.

Omhagain's art is for sale. The exhibit is open to the public during regular business hours, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Check in at the front desk. The art is displayed on both the first and second floors, in the halls. CDOT is located at 4201 E Arkansas Ave. in Denver. For more information, call 303-757-9011.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Getting the left and right together

We've been busy behind the scenes at A Little Something. We're trying to set up a system where our members take more leadership and responsibility in the organization. We're working on an instructional video. We 're still trying just to get our nonprofit paperwork submitted to the IRS. We're trying to rent an office. We're trying to do this around our day jobs!

Growth is a challenging process, and it takes a lot of attention to detail to get the big tasks taken care of.

Sometimes, that means the small tasks can get overlooked.

Back in April, we finally got an address of our own--although it was just a post office box. It seemed like a good way to make sure people could send us mail and know we would receive it. There was only one glitch--I thought Katrina was checking the mail. Katrina thought I was checking the mail.

Nobody was checking the mail.

I remembered to stop by the post office this past weekend, and I made my first trip to our PO box. I opened the little door and found the following:
  • A small package
  • A misdirected piece of mail
  • A notice of a parcel that had been sent but that required a signature
  • A second notice about that same parcel indicating it would be sent back if not claimed in a couple of days. That, unfortunately, was in April.
To the kind person (B. Riley?) who sent us a package that required our signature, we offer a sincere and humble apology. By now, you have probably received that parcel back. Please don't think we didn't want it or that it went to the wrong place. Quite simply, we just weren't at the post office to receive it. We feel bad knowing you were so thoughtful to send us something and so careful as to send it certified mail, but we missed it. We are sorry.

I promise we'll be more diligent about picking up our mail going forward. We'll be stopping by the post office once a week, probably on Saturdays. Please, send us fan mail, beads, donations, or anything you think we'd like to receive--just don't send us any bills!


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Keep us in mind

A Little Something really needs to find a very affordable home. For now, we're looking for a storage unit, but what we really need is a headquarters. What do we have in mind?
  • Very, very, very inexpensive
  • Open floor plan
  • 1,000 square feet, at least
  • Has a sink
  • Has updated electrical service that won't crash if we're using sewing machines
  • Good lighting
  • Utilities included
  • Accessible 24/7
  • In Denver or Aurora, on or within a couple of blocks of Colfax (15 bus), between Broadway and Havana.
If you hear of anything, please keep us in mind and let us know about it. Our efforts at achieving growth and cohesion as an organization have really been hindered by our lack of a space to call our own.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Let us know!

A Little Something is in need of a little storage space.

We are being evicted from our original location--the basement of Sharon's house, currently where we keep all of our organization's worldly possessions.

Sharon's husband would like his basement back, and he fears that unless intervention measures are enacted now, A Little Something will soon take over the entire house. Actually, that's a plausible scenario.

If you are in the Denver Metro area and you know of a good storage place, please let us know. Here are our requirements:
  • 100 sf of space

  • Access in the evening and on the weekends

  • safe (for our stuff and for us when we're there)

  • affordable--well under $100/month

  • easily accessible from downtown, but definitely east of Broadway and north of Mississippi.
If you know of anything, please let us know. We're supposed to be out of the basement by mid-June. email:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

We're here and there

It's a busy week at A Little Something. We have a sale at St. Elizabeth's Spring Garden Festival on Saturday, May 22 from 10:00-2:00. Stop by if you're in the neighborhood. We have dozens of new beaded necklaces!

St Elizabeth’s School
3605 Martin Luther King Blvd
Denver, CO
(4 blocks west of Colorado Blvd. Click here for a map.)

The World Threads II show continues at TACtile Textile Arts until the end of the month. There are some truly wonderful items for sale from around the world.

We will be giving a presentation at TACtile this Saturday at 11:30. Three of our Burmese Karen weavers will provide some insight into the history and cultural specifics of Karen weaving and the weavers' use of back strap looms. We hope you can join us!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Part of a bigger picture

Saturday marked the opening of the World Threads II Exhibit at the TACtile Textile Arts Center in Denver. We've been friends of TACtile since shortly after we started A Little Something. It's a very intriguing place if you're interested in the many aspects of fiber arts (and that includes beading and basketry). In addition to being dedicated to promoting awareness of fiber arts traditions, TACtile is also supportive of local nonprofit organizations that work with artisans here and abroad to improve their chances of achieving self-sufficiency, an improved standard of living, and healthier communities.

The World Threads show specifically celebrates the beauty of textiles from around the world. Step into the gallery and let yourself be transported across continents and cultures. Silk balloon pants from China, a wedding sari from India, a Japanese kimono, a piano shawl, embroidery, intricate quilting from rural China, and more fill the gallery area.

Enter the big room and you've just stepped into the world of art with a purpose. The creations in this room are brought to you by a group of globally-focused nonprofit organizations. Bright Ralli quilts from India will catch your eye immediately. The Ralli quilters of northern India and Pakistan create playful, intricate works of art. The quilts are here by way of Patricia Stoddard, who also wrote the book, Ralli Quilts: Traditional Textiles from Pakistan and India. (See if you can find a copy of the book in this picture.)

Silks of Laos assists Lao weavers who create sumptuous magic with their looms. This organization's work supports educational opportunities and a sustainable income for the weavers in this area near the Vietnam border.

Across the room, gossamer silk scarves flutter against the wall, and a collection of snowy white cotton nightgowns boast intricate pintucking and embroidery details. This is the work of Memsahib Mar, an organization that sells textile arts to benefit several nongovernmental organizations in India, as well as women's cooperatives and two orphanages.

Indigo threads is another organization working with Lao artisans. Their weaving is done on back strap looms creating textiles that are colored using natural dyes. Several traditional weaving techniques are represented in this work, including ikat. The money earned from textiles produced in this area of southern Laos goes to fund schools and provide educational opportunities for children in poor, rural areas.

The cutest hats ever are made by Eternal Threads. This organization rescues girls from the sex industry in Nepal and Madagascar. The girls learn skills such as knitting, weaving, and sewing. The animal hats are precious, and they are displayed alongside colorful raffia giraffes.

Maya Cielo carries traditional cotton woven items from Central America. Colorful throws, lengths of undyed white cotton fabric, and cloth dolls are created by skilled weavers. The work of Maya Cielo supports this cooperative in Guatemala.

Anoothi is a partnership between women in Jaipur, India and women in the U.S. The Indian women not only make beautiful crafts, they gather to learn about healthcare, gender equality, and financial literacy. The gemstone jewelry and textile items made from recycled saris generate income for the women; sales also fund the work these organizations do overseas.

There's certainly quite a bit more to see at the show, and there is plenty to buy. Know that every dollar you spend helps to make the world a better place, both across continents and right here at home.

Check TACtile's website for the schedule of Saturday talks and demonstrations presented by the participating nonprofit artisan groups. World Threads II continues through May 28.

TACtile Textile Arts Center
Tamarac Square
E. Hampden Ave. at S. Quebec St., Suite 114
(Lower Level, near Rodney's Restaurant)
Denver, Colorado

Hours: 11:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.

Natural dyes lend additional beauty to African baskets and organic cotton shawls, scarves, and other textiles from Ethiopia. By Woven Promises

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Reflecting at six months

It has been exactly six months since we lost our friend, Haiffaa Ali. We continue to be asked about her by people who were unaware of the tragedy of her death.

We want people to remember Haiffaa and the things that made her feel such passion: Human rights, peace, reasonable dialogue, women's empowerment, women helping women, Ghandi, The Dalai Lama, Michael Moore, Barack Obama, the Five Pillars of the Islam faith, and the plight of the world's refugees.

As our blog goes on, Haiffaa's story falls lower on the post order, as is the nature of a blog. So that Haiffaa's story remains prominent and doesn't get lost amid A Little Something's story, the related posts have been moved to a new space, a separate site:

If you would like to contribute your memories of Haiffaa, please send your essay via email to


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Here and there

The A Little Something crew has had a particularly busy spring. Starting on Saturday, we'll be participating in the World Threads II exhibit at TACtile Arts in Denver. Join us this Saturday, April 24, at 2:00 p.m., or stop by and see our display and sale items through May 28.

TACtile Textile Arts Center
Tamarac Square
7777 East Hampden Avenue Suite #114
Denver, Colorado 80231
Located inside the mall atrium, lower level

World Threads, Preserving Fiber Traditions is an exhibit of traditional textiles, basketry and beadwork from developing countries in Africa, South and Central America, and Southeast Asia shared by local collectors. In addition to the exhibit, this show will include a sale of traditional crafts and textiles from around the world to benefit local humanitarian assistance organizations that support the creation and preservation of the fiber arts in developing countries.
Special Saturday presentations
May 1, 8, 15 & 22

The 12 participating organizations will present information about their projects in developing countries. Six locally based, humanitarian groups will have handcrafted fiber art from around the world for sale to support their work.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Chaos alert!

We have a meeting coming up on
Saturday, February 27

Quite a few people have asked us if there is ever an opportunity to volunteer with A Little Something. The answer...Maybe.

When we have our "big" gatherings, we never know what to expect except that we wish we had more help getting through it. We can certainly use help distributing supplies, teaching jewelry making techniques and tool usage, demonstrating corrections (for items that need to be reworked or fixed), and any number of similar things!

We can't say if any of the knitters will show up, but we'd love it if someone could present a lesson on:

  • how to use circular needles
  • how to make socks
  • making mittens
  • crochet interesting hats

There might be 10 women in attendance or dozens--it's always a surprise. If you've contacted us before about volunteering, please let us know if you'd like to join the group on February 27. (We'll reveal the address of our meeting space via email).

It helps if you are a crafter, knitter, jewelry maker, etc., but it may be enough just to excel at organizing things (and people).

Drop us a line at

Saturday, February 27, 2010
Downtown Denver
From 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Wishes for our weavers

I've been thinking about our weavers lately. We have weavers from Burma--Karen, Chin, and Karenni--and also ethnic Nepalese from Bhutan. the weavers want to weave, but we seem to keep running into roadblocks when it comes to getting them set up.

Finding the right fiber is proving to be tricky. Should we just import it ourselves from Thailand? The weavers don't have the English words to tell us what we should be asking for, and it seems that even having some of their fiber in hand isn't enough for someone to tell us what it is. Oh, how I wish I had tried harder and learned more when I took that weaving course in college. Truth be told, weaving is incredibly difficult and it requires math (the death knell for my weaving aspirations).

We keep hoping to get the weavers together for a field trip to the fiber store, but for a variety of reasons, it just never happens. We have a woodworker lined up and ready to get to work on the backstrap loom components for the women, but we need the weavers to tell us and the woodworker where to start. Are we losing credibility with our fiber artists? They are amazingly patient, but then, that's probably an inherent part of being a weaver.

The weavers of A Little Something truly are artists. They work in cotton and wool, they embroider over their weaving, and they create intricate patterns in their finished work--all with backstrap looms. Our Sudanese weaver makes tapestries, and two of the Bhutanese women have tried to describe a type of tabletop loom that they use, although so far we're unfamiliar with it. The woven items they have, however, are simply beautiful.

The weavers in this group have a gift, a joyous gift, that should be shared with the world. The quiet contemplation that comes with crafting--be it weaving, jewelry making, knitting, crochet, or sewing--can bring a creative soul to a place of calm and strength. The beauty of the finished results is a source of joy for the creator and those who are fortunate enough to own these treasures.

Perhaps 2010 will be our year, the year when we really connect with the local weaving guilds, when we figure out how and where to buy the right fiber, and every weaver who needs a loom gets one.

And then, we'll try to figure out how you tie on a backstrap loom in a modern American apartment that does not, unfortunately, have exposed bamboo beams in the walls. Hmmmm.

We have some figuring out to do!