SaddleBrooke Knit Wits and Friday Quilters raise awareness of infant mortality

SaddleBrooke baby booties to be installed in The Mourning Project; Photo by Tina Marie Willis

Varda Main and Carol Chiarello

SaddleBrooke Friday Quilters and Knit Wits came together to raise awareness of the high infant mortality rate in the U.S. You’re likely asking how this came to be. As fiber artists we make donations to charities as a way of helping others. Another way is using our art to raise awareness about important issues.

Infant mortality in the U.S. is the highest in the developed world after Cuba. A local fiber artist, Mary Vaneecke, decided to use her art to raise awareness of this and called on her fellow fiber artists to help.

Mary believes in the power of art to change hearts, minds, behavior and the world. She points to the famous AIDS Quilt, a community art project commemorating the loss of more than 80,000 lives. By creating a picture of a problem, Mary says we can see and feel the enormity of it. Our country, leaders and lawmakers need to see exactly what infant mortality looks like in America. For more information on this problem and the Mourning Project, please go to

Mary created The Mourning Project in which each infant lost in a given year will be remembered with a unique, handmade, heartfelt little elegy. She put out a call for 23,000+ pairs of baby booties. This is the number of American infants who die every year. These little elegies will become part of a travelling art installation to draw attention to this problem and to advocate for policy change that can save lives.

Many SaddleBrooke quilters, knitters and crocheters answered Mary’s call and created 84 pairs of baby booties and donated money for expenses. These have been sent to Mary for inclusion in the Mourning Project. After the art installation concludes wearable baby booties will be donated to various charities. Excess funds will be donated to the March of Dimes.

As fiber artists we are honored and proud that our art will hopefully help decrease the U.S. infant mortality rate.