Photo courtesy of McWalker Yarns.

Many skills are coming in handy during the COVID-19 crisis. If you’ve got a knack for sewing or knitting, think about lending a hand to support your community.

Abram’s Nation seeking volunteers to make face masks

Abram’s Nation, a Pittsburgh-based manufacturer of The Safety Sleeper and other medical-grade products for special needs families, is using its resources to create free face masks.

Photo courtesy of Abram’s Nation.
Photo courtesy of Abram’s Nation.

With help from a professional seamstress, the company created a sewing template and, while supplies last, will provide fabric to those who have access to sewing machines so they can join in the effort.

The material is a heavy-duty polyester fabric that is breathable with antimicrobial and wicking properties.

So far, Abram’s Nation has delivered 50 of the washable and dryable masks and the team hopes to have 300 completed by the end of the week.

Those interested in making masks email here.

The pre-cut fabric kits can be picked up at the company’s headquarters at 4726 High Point Dr. in Gibsonia.

Volunteers are being asked to sew the masks to a certain stage and then return them to Abram’s Nation so they can bind them and attach straps that provide a tight fit. Even a novice can sew a mask, which requires a straight stitch across the top and bottom, then flip and topstitch. Each mask takes between 10 to 20 minutes.

“We recommend going slow and being cautious, as quality counts,” says Rose Morris, founder and president of Abram’s Nation.

Radiant Hall organizing local mask makers
To combat the global mask shortage, Radiant Hall, an organization that provides studio environments for Pittsburgh artists, has joined forces with local makers including Knotzland, Protohaven, KerfCase, Firecracker Fabrics, Cut & Sew Studio, The Iron Horse Atelier and Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse.

They’re using their collective know-how to stitch homemade masks, so medical-grade protection can be reserved for the health care workers who desperately need them. If you’re handy with a needle and thread, or if you want to go on delivery runs or donate supplies, sign up to volunteer online. A staff member will contact you with details.

McWalker Yarns donating to crafters in need

For many people, crafting is more than a hobby, it’s a form of therapy.

Amy McCall, owner of McWalker Yarns in Millvale, is offering $50 mini-grants to out-of-work knitters, crocheters and weavers who want to continue creating. Every time someone from the community donates to the cause, the business will match the contribution dollar for dollar. The effort has already funded a dozen mini-grants.

If you are in need of help or want to make a monetary gift, send an email here or call 412-821-5000. The store is taking phone orders between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Thursdays and Saturdays for limited local delivery or mailing and hosting virtual stitch circle through Zoom. Join in Mondays and Wednesdays 6 to 8 pm., Thursdays 1:30 to 3:30 pm, Fridays 6 to 8:30 p.m. and Sundays 2 to 4 p.m.

Even if you aren’t artsy, there are plenty of ways to reach out to folks in need.

Kristy Locklin

Kristy Locklin is a North Hills-based writer. When she's not busy reporting, she enjoys watching horror movies and exploring Pittsburgh's craft beer scene.