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Morton Grove Craft Swap Delights Crafters

Saturday's Craft Supply Swap, held at Morton Grove's Civic Center, attracted about 150 crafters who came to get rid of unused arts-and-crafts items and find new ones.

It was a busy morning at Morton Grove’s second Craft Supply Swap, held Saturday at the . Thirty minutes into the event, about 60 crafters were eagerly checking out tables piled high with boxes of yarn, fabrics, embroidery kits, wreathes, holiday ornaments, scrapbooking paper, patterns and more. In all, nearly 150 attendees took part in the Swap.

The Craft Swap, co-sponsored by the  and the Morton Grove Department of Family and Senior Services, encourages the free exchange of crafting supplies between people in need of new materials and people in need of storage space. The Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County—SWANCC—also supported the event. And since attendees were asked to donate non-perishable food as an entry “fee,” the Niles and Maine Township Food Pantry also benefitted.

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“It’s a unique event for this area,” says MGPL Coordinator of Programming and Public Relations Nancy Brothers. “To our knowledge, no other craft supply swap exists like this.”

The 2011 Craft Swap, in fact, earned a prize for MGPL and the Department of Family and Senior Services from the Illinois Library Association in its Go Green/Win Green competition.

“The Swap is the ultimate in recycling—a way for people to get rid of things they no longer use, and for others to find things they can use,” Brothers adds.

This year’s Craft Swap team included Civic Center Manager and Director of Family and Senior Services Jackie Walker O’Keefe, plus nearly 25 volunteers from in and around Morton Grove. The array of donated craft supplies filled about 25 large tables to overflowing.

Attendees came to Saturday’s Craft Swap to collect or trade supplies for both volunteer and personal reasons.

“One attendee works as an art therapist for a mental health agency in Evanston,” Brothers says. “Her art supply budget had been  cut and she was thrilled to be able to pick up free supplies for her clients. We also had teachers and church group members attending to pick up yarn and fabric to make garments and blankets to keep people warm.”

Some of the more committed crafters drove more than an hour to take part in the event. Diane Pronites and her daughter Veja, of Gilman, Ill.-- some 35 miles south of Kankakee—left home at 7:30 a.m. to arrive on time.

Pronites, who learned about the Craft Swap from one of the volunteers, had donated items from her late mother’s craft supply closet to the event.

“In return, we’ve found fabrics and paints,” Pronites says, holding up a brown paper grocery bag filled with treasures. “I’m getting back into crafts now that I have more time.”

Meanwhile, Dorothy Keppen of Skokie was busy piling colorful fabrics onto a push-cart. At age 81, Keppen keeps busy turning scraps of material into craft fair objects such as pin cushions and aprons for detergent bottles.

Looking ahead, Brothers expects to be hosting another Craft Swap. And it may be sooner than next year. “According to exit survey comments, people want us to do it again in fall,” Brothers says, laughing. “We’ll see...!”

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