TheMourningProject Introduction

Booties by Mary Vaneecke. Free Felt Baby Slippers pattern by Purl Soho.

Send Ten Guild Challenge


Calling All Fiber Art Guilds: is a huge community fiber art project to gather 23,000 pairs of handmade black, white, and gray baby booties. Together, these ‘little elegies’ will become part of a traveling art installation to draw attention to the problem of infant mortality in the United States. The US has the worst infant mortality rate in the developed world and loses 23,000 baby each year. After the exhibitions, wearable booties will be donated to charities.

We need your help! We are asking each guild member to make TEN pairs of black, white and gray baby booties. We only need two thousand people to do this.  With your participation, our 23,000 bootie goal will be within reach. You can make your submissions from any pattern with any embellishment. They are a fun, scrappy project and take little time to make. Booties can be knit, sewn, crocheted, or felted. There is no charge or jury process to participate. Click here for links to free patterns are on website.

Click here for tips on hosting a baby bootie making party. Have a question? Click here for Frequently Asked Questions or email me at Makers should send their booties with a completed submission form (click for a link).

Booties can be knit, sewn, felted, or crocheted. Make them in black, white and gray (embellishments/trim can be any color. Email your guild’s SEND TEN pledge total to, and your guild participation will be posted on the website. Booties accepted until we have reached 23,000.  Thank you for rising to meet the challenge.

Mary Vaneecke, Founder


Click here for a PDF of the SEND TEN CHALLENGE to take to your groups and guilds.

Click here to learn all the ways you can get involved.

Click here for answers to Frequently Asked Questions about

Click here to help spread the word online and in person.

Click here for links to free baby bootie patterns.

Click here to learn more about the problem and solutions.

Click here for the Baby Bootie Permissions Form and Instructions.

Click here if you want to host a baby bootie making party!

Click here for a Brief Talking Points handout about infant mortality.

Are you a yarn or fabric store ownerClick here.

Click here if you need support in grieving the loss of a child.

How many baby booties have we raised to date?  Click here.  

Get your swag!

Click here for a link to the GoFundMe page.

Want to get updates about the Project and exhibtions?  Please subscribe, and share on Facebook!



For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.  This short story, attributed to Ernest Hemingway, was the first thing that came to mind when I read the headline American babies are 76 percent more likely to die in their first year than babies in other rich countries.  The United States’ infant mortality rate is the highest in the developed world.  That statistic shocked me.  It’s a form of American exceptionalism we Americans don’t like to think about.  As the Washington Post put it, Our Infant Mortality is a National Embarrassment.

I thought about the parents of those little ones, whose crushing loss–losing a child before their first birthday–is immeasurable.  The cost of 23,000 infant deaths on our country is unimaginable.

The loss cuts deeper because infant mortality is a problem we understand pretty clearly.  The causes of infant mortality and solutions to it are well known.  It is a problem other countries have solved.  And it is something we have ignored.

As a visual artist, I believe in the power of art to change hearts, minds, behavior, and the world.  Think about the famous AIDS Quilt, a community art project commemorating the loss of more than 80,000 lives.  By ‘drawing’ a picture of a problem, we can see and feel the enormity of it.  Our country, our leaders, and lawmakers need to see exactly what infant mortality looks like in America.

My vision for is that each of the infants lost in a given year will be remembered with a unique, handmade, heartfelt little elegy.   I am asking the fiber art community to come together to make 23,000+ pairs of baby booties.  This is the number of American infants who die every year.

Whether sewn, knitted, felted, woven, or crocheted, I am asking for donations of handmade baby shoes in the colors of mourning:  black, white, and gray.  Gathered together, these small elegies will paint a picture too big to ignore.  Time is of the essence–my plan is to collect 23,000 baby booties from Labor Day, 2018, until we reach 23,000 pairs.  If just 2,000 fellow fiberistas make just 10 pairs each, we can make the goal easily. Once these booties are collected, I will create a travelling art installation designed to advocate for policy changes that can save lives.  Our work will be both a visual reminder of a national tragedy, and what we can do about it. is a massive community art project.  I can’t do this alone.  Are you with me?

Mary Vaneecke


These booties are by Merle Eintracht in memory of Courtney Marie Campary.

Comments (18)

18 Responses to “TheMourningProject Introduction”

  1. Lani Campbell says:

    have you reached your goal…or are you still collecting hand made baby booties?

  2. Cathie says:

    Are you still looking for booties?
    I have knitting groups interested in making some

  3. Michelle m. Elliott says:

    15 pairs in the mail tomorrow Please let me know if they meet your needs If so I can make more

  4. Tammy Batson says:

    123 booties headed your way.

  5. Maddie says:

    I have just learned of this project! I’ll do my best to send some booties out by the March date. Please put me on your email list.

  6. Karen Bachman says:

    I pledge to make 100 pairs of booties. I have also shared widely on my FB page 🙂

  7. Theresa Heurtebise says:

    I’m a little late in this project but I will do everything I can to make 10 booties. This is a FANTASTIC idea! I will be honored to participate.

  8. Patricia Hansen says:

    Mary, I am in for making some booties! Question: Do they have to be black, white AND gray, or could they be solid colors of each?

  9. Donna says:

    Please put me on the email list

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