Answers to some frequently asked questions

Thanks so much for looking into how you can send some love or a hug through a shrug to a mom entering a Ronald McDonald House.  Hopefully, this post will answer questions and help you get involved in our community.

How can knitters and crocheters help?

We would love to get everyone making shrugs.  Our tagline is “Sending Hugs through Shrugs” and we love how shrugs offer the comfort of a shawl but effortlessly stay on – something we’ve been told has been greatly appreciated by the busy moms receiving them.  A shrug can be made in any yarn weight, any pattern, knit or crochet.  As long as your finished fabric measures approximately 42-48″ side to side (wrist to wrist) by approximately 26-34″ long (top to bottom) you can seam it into a shrug.

Do we have a required pattern?

No.  We want you to be creative and love what you’re making.  Any pattern can work.  Let’s say you have a favorite pattern for a scarf.  That same scarf pattern can be adjusted to the size needed to be seamed into a shrug.  If your scarf was done in a fine yarn and you want to use something a little heavier, do a sample swatch, at least 8-10 inches wide.  Count the stitches and measure your swatch.  Typically its not great to measure your swatch from edge to edge but a shrug isn’t a fitted garment so all you need is a rough idea.   Then figure out how many stitches you need to get a width of 42-48″ and work until your piece is 26-34″ long.  A finished fabric that’s somewhere between a square and a rectangle allows for a longer seam giving you longer “sleeves”.

Keep accurate notes.  Experiment with yarns, textures and patterns.  Some stitch patterns stretch more than others.  A shrug knitted in all knit stitches (garter stitch) will stretch a lot in length.  My stockinette stitch with large needles has a lot of give from side to side.  And my tunisian crochet doesn’t have any stretch at all so I’ve learned to start with a pretty long chain.  Remember that these shrugs are typically worn inside so super heavy fabrics aren’t necessary.  In summer months maybe try lighter yarns and colors.  There is no right or wrong and the possibilities are endless.

Can a rectangular shawl be seamed into a shrug?

If you have a great pattern for a rectangular shawl, or you’re running short on yarn and your finished fabric winds up being a rectangle it can be converted into a shrug as well but you’d have to seam your top edge to your bottom edge instead of seaming the side edges together like in the diagram above.

Here’s a photo of a rectangular shawl that was converted into a shrug by seaming top edge to bottom edge.  The only suggestion for this type of seaming is to be careful when sewing your “sleeves” to allow enough room across the back for the shrug to fit as many sizes as possible.  Too long of a seam makes longer sleeves but takes away from the back measurement.

Do we only accept shrugs?

No we do still accept traditional shawls, rectangular or triangular.  The most important thing is that you love what you’re making and that your good intentions are passed on to the mom receiving your gift.

Do we have a suggested pattern for a shrug?

Our blog has a PDF of a very basic pattern using only the knit stitch to make a shrug using circular US19 needles and one strand of Lion Brand Homespun held together with one strand of Red Heart Unforgettable.  Two skeins of Homespun and one skein of Unforgettable gave us a finished shrug width when worn of approximately 48″ and length (top to bottom) of 28″ due to the stretchy fabric.   You can go down to a US17 to tighten up your garter stitches if you’re a loose knitter or are new to using large needles.  Once you see how simple it is to make a shrug, you can be creative with patterns and yarn choices.  The PDF has the pattern and seaming instructions laid out on four doublesided postcards.  Keep one and share the other three with friends – we need all the help we can get.

We also talked more in depth about shrugs and their construction in our post “Send a Hug with a Shrug!” on April 5.  After making one, additional ideas can be found there.

Want to support your local Ronald McDonald House?

At our last count, there were 157 Ronald McDonald Houses nationwide.  (Due to the high cost of shipping we are only tackling RMD Houses in the USA).  We would love to be in every one of them.  If you’d like to bring Stay Strong Totes to your local House, contact the House manager and introduce our program.  For every shrug you or your group donates, we will match with a Stay Strong Tote including gift items.  A tote includes a journal, pen, lip balm, hand cream, hand sanitizer, nail file, tissues, colored pencils, a sharpener and a stack of postcards to color.  Coloring the postcards not only helps pass the time but moms can use them as thank you cards to mail to people pitching in at home.  When your shrug is completed, print out our PDF notecard to add a message, including your name and hometown and attach the card to your shrug.  This personalizes your gift.   If you prefer, you can email us and we will mail you notecards. Let us know when you plan on visiting your RMD House and how many shrugs you will be delivering and we will ship a matching number of Stay Strong Totes, plus gift items, for you to place your shrugs in.

Can you still participate if you’re not interested in contacting your local RMD House?

Of course!  You can ship your shrugs to us and we will add them to totes being delivered or shipped to a House we already have contact with.  Print out our PDF, add a note, your name and hometown or we can do it for you before including your shrug in a tote.  Mail your shrugs to:  Mary Langdon, Stay Strong Tote Foundation, 1 Redwood Road, Martinsville, NJ 08836.

What Ronald McDonald Houses are we currently in?

We currently deliver totes to RMD Houses in New Jersey:  New Brunswick and Long Branch;  Rhode Island:  Providence;  Colorado:  Denver;  Michigan:  Grand Rapids;  Washington, Seattle and New York, Syracuse.

How can you help if you don’t knit or crochet?

If you don’t knit or crochet, please consider funding a tote.  The cost of a Stay Strong Tote, excluding shrugs, is about $25.  Donations can be made through a paypal link on our website:  For every $25 you donate, a card recognizing your support will be included in a Stay Strong tote being shipped to a mom.

Who is the Weaving Wellness community?  

The Stay Strong Tote foundation began as a project funded by Weaving Wellness, a small weaving business whose purpose was raising funds through sales of handwoven shawls for donations made to Ronald McDonald House/New Brunswick, NJ.  Donations typically consisted of basic RMD House wishlist items as well as party supplies and ice cream cakes to celebrate the end of a child’s treatment.  When we decided to provide care packages for the New Brunswick/RMD House incoming moms, the Stay Strong Tote project was born.  When we decided to include handmade shawls in each Stay Strong Tote and offer our donations to RMD Houses in addition to our local house, the Weaving Wellness community was born.

Our community is made up of knitters and crocheters, individuals funding our mission and our totes and anyone who helps spread the word whether on social media, passing on the info to local knit and crochet groups, yarn shops or even through Ronald McDonald Houses themselves.  Thanks to you, we were able to donate 150 Stay Strong Totes including shawls and shrugs in our first 10 months, file for 501(c)3 non-profit charity status, develop a logo and tagline:  Sending Hugs through Shrugs.

Our goal is to someday be in Ronald McDonald Houses nationwide and to be able to offer a little comfort to their incoming moms as they continue to fight alongside their seriously ill children.  As our community grows, goals are being reached.  So you never know.  Together we are making a difference, sending hugs through shrugs one mom at a time.



2 thoughts on “Answers to some frequently asked questions”

  1. With the shawls I’m sending out next week, our Love n Stitches group has sent 36 since January.
    In June we delivered shawls and had a wonderful tour of the RMD house in Grand Rapids. If you haven’t had a chance to take a tour you need to put it on your to do list. You never know, you might find something you would love to help out with.

    1. Thank you for the support you’ve shown us and the RMD House in Grand Rapids Linda. Ronald McDonald Houses do an amazing job creating homey environments for families dealing with their children’s illnesses. There are so many ways volunteers can pitch in!

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