July  2018

Hello Everyone

First of all, welcome to 2 new distributors, Jean in Oxfordshire & Greta in South Africa.

A big ‘thank you’ to everyone who has sent news this time – it’s produced quite a long newsletter! Several people have included some different ideas & charities which I hope may help you find new outlets for your knitting.

Jean Salter (Oxfordshire) Cholsey WI & Creative Club.   The knitting that started off with just 7 bears for Teddies for Tragedies in 2009 is really thriving.  Since then production has snow balled and we have to date sent off nearly 800 bears to spread smiles to less fortunate children all over the world!   Knitters from both the Creative Club and the WI are producing bears regularly with the most prolific Bear knitter, Anita Macqueen, having produced over 300!   We are now also acting as a collector for bears knitted in Oxfordshire and given to “All About The Wool” shop in Wallingford. With the help of WI member Momena Wright, the bears are delivered to Teddies for Tragedies in St Albans (see Tricia Gibb’s news below).  Some members work on intricate patterns while other knitters also make more simple items like garter stitch squares, shown here made up into blankets. (photo – blanket made by Sue Corderoy.  See more at the end of the newsletter) Many thanks to all of our ‘square’ knitters in Cholsey, Essex and North Oxfordshire!

The number of charities knitted for is constantly expanding and now include:  Hope & Aid Direct, British Legion Annual Poppy Appeal, MacMillan Cancer Care.

We also send ‘bonding squares’ to St Thomas’ Neonatal Unit.  These are pairs of 5 inch knitted or crochet squares (any colour, design, in machine washable wool). One square is put with the poorly baby and the other with the parent and then these are swapped over daily. They are so crucial for the little premature babies, or poorly new born babies and the parents who are separated at such a stressful time.

Twiddle Muffs for dementia patients have been given to local Residential Homes, & members have been able to give them to family and friends suffering from dementia too. They have all been much appreciated. Word has now spread to Ireland and we will be sending our next supply of Twiddle Muffs to a Residential Home there.

Carole Thorn (Spain) Not a lot to report from here in Spain. We continue with our knitting and our fortnightly get together. We knitted plenty of toys etc. for the Alzheimer’s stall at the Christmas fair last year and are building a stock for this year’s. Still knitting for the prem. babies unit and really anyone else that asks.

Anne Jones (Northants) Since starting, we have now sent 14,317 teddies as well as blankets, hats and knitted tops. The latest batch went to the Ukraine via a Baptist church in Southampton. Our oldest knitter is over 90 years old!

Susan Mulligan (Yorks) I seem to have had a quiet time recently but I have sent 600 teddies, 8 crochet blankets and 400 sanitary towels with my usual contact to Africa.

Tricia Gibb (St Albans) Since I became more fully involved with Teddies for Tragedies 19 years ago, more than 23,000 of our Teddies have gone on their travels. Over 3000 of them were made by just one person! So far this year, 700 Teddies have gone to Africa.  In February 250 went to UGANDA  (photo right) to Homes of Promise, a charity based in Kampala working among the street children of the city as well as helping to rebuild/restore houses for widows and their children. They have also launched a pilot scheme to train local ophthalmologists in new glaucoma procedures and this has since resulted in larger charities continuing the work in four countries across sub-Saharan Africa.   Also in February, 250 Teddies went to MALAWI (photo left) to the Malawi Association for Christian Support, a charity which works alongside the people of Malawi, mainly in rural areas, to help them provide the bare necessities which we take for granted in the UK. The main focus of the charity is on education, improvement of health care and water projects. Another 200 Teddies will also be going to UGANDA later this year in support of another charity, Edirisa UK, who work mainly in the Kabale region in south-west Uganda. Their work is focused on improving the living conditions of the people through education, health, sanitation, provision of clean water and development of sustainable enterprise. LESOTHO will be the destination for 100 Teddies later on in the summer, transported there by a party of students from a school in Aylesbury.

Wendy Glasgow (Glos) I have been involved most of the year with knitting poppies for our WW1 anniversary poppy bombing in November. We are placing poppies from one end of the village to the other, and wrapping the trees; we also will have wreaths and brooches, with all money going to the British Legion.

Diana Griffiths (Warwicks) During the past six months all the knitting has gone to charities, Care Homes, baby units and anywhere where there has been a need.  “Carriers of Hope” have had blankets, jumpers, hats, scarves and mitts, teddies and hand puppets.   They support refugees.  Knee blankets and prayer shawls to Care Homes.  Baby clothes to premature baby units and bigger blankets to night shelters.  I have not delivered all these personally but passed the knitting to groups who are supporting various projects.  There is quite a lot of knitting being produced in this area these days which is good.

Pam Johnson (Shrops) It’s been a busy six months for us at Knit for Life.  In February we sent 94 blankets, 250 hats, 195 toys (including lots of teddies) and 182 pairs of hand-warmers to ‘Knit-a-Square’ in South Africa for distribution to orphaned and vulnerable children living in shack settlements.

Just last month we donated an enormous quantity of clothes, blankets, toiletries, toys, baby items and shoes to Operation Sabre for impoverished adults, children and babies in Romania.  Meanwhile, we have also donated blankets to Child Africa for orphaned children in Uganda and knitted jumpers to Operation Sunshine for distribution to children in Zambia.  Operation Sunshine also runs an education programme for adult women and we have contributed knitting needles, sewing items and knitting wool to help these village women move towards self-sufficiency.

Lesley Hunt (Wilts) Teddies were taken to Puerto Rico and given to a children’s hospice in February and some are due to go to disabled children in Latvia any day now!

Barbara Blundell (Fylde, Lancs) Still plenty of knitting and crocheting in progress in spite of the hot weather! We have received some beautiful garments and blankets thanks to our Fleetwood and Poulton Library Groups, Thornton Methodist Church, Janet’s Barnsley Group and all the individual ladies working at home.
Most of the woollies go to International Aid to be distributed to wherever there is a need.
We also knit tiny garments and blankets for the prem babies at the local hospital.
A lady in Blackpool is aiming to fill 100 shoe boxes for the Christmas Appeal and I received a large bag of lovely hand puppets – just ideal for this!  I contacted the lady and she will be delighted to have them.

Carol Brodie (Ayrshire) We are still sending knitted goods to Malawi; some delay in shipping this year but a new group has taken over and we’ve just got a load onto the first container. Our local hospital has started giving packs to elderly discharges for home care and we are providing knee blankets for them, and also little hats to maternity units.

Sue Hoskinson (Bucks) Squares keep arriving from all over the UK:  one email from me saying ‘I’m squareless’ and they miraculously arrive!   Linda

Driscoll continues crocheting them together and has produced some 14 single blankets since the last newsletter.  Many thanks to Vivienne Murphy, Diane Watson, Betty Walker and Pippa Cope for all their lovely squares. Neighbour Steve Rule has delivered them to Chas Storer for Hope & Aid Direct….. latest Convoy news can be seen on http://www.hopeandaiddirect.org.uk There is a request for knitted Rainbow Beanies on this website. For a free Jean Greenhowe pattern, go to – https://www.jeangreenhowe.com/Images/Rainbow_Babies.pdf  If anyone would like to make some, please send them to me and I’ll make sure they get to Chas.

Greta Collier (Johannesburg, S.Africa) Our group is called ‘KnitWits 4 The Needy’.  We meet every Saturday morning and have been knitting and crocheting for our poor and needy brothers and sisters for about 3 years now.  We meet at my church (Rosebank Union Church) who kindly provide us with a very nice room, and tea, coffee etc.  Each week two of our KnitWits (as we are known) provide the eats. We also have many outings to vary the meetings and give exposure to the group!

Apart from donating our knitted and crocheted articles to many different homes and institutions for the desperate and needy folk, we were challenged by a lady by the name of Carolyn Steyn, who was in turn challenged by our late beloved President Nelson Mandela’s PA – Zelda la Grange – to make 67 blankets for the poor. (The number 67 originates from the number of years Nelson Mandela was in Politics.)

Together with many other groups around the world, we managed to create an almost 8000sq meter (about 2 acres) blanket – made up of 1000s of 160cm x160ccm blankets and the end result was this 2 acre portrait of Nelson Mandela.  We were joined by many prisoners in South Africa who crocheted about 2000 blankets of 160cm x 160cm which were then used to create the 8000 sq metre blanket which was laid out at Zonderwater Prison.

We had a huge celebration on that day with many dignitaries and of course the prisoners who had taken part in the project.  It was the most wonderful day for us all!
We have now been challenged by Carolyn Steyn and her organisation ’67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day’ to make 27kms of crocheted scarves (which is equivalent to the number of years Mandela spent in prison) – which will be all tacked together and then dismantled and handed out to our many charities.  At the moment this organisation has received about 20kms of scarves – so the excitement is mounting rapidly.

These scarves will be laid out on the Sunday 29 July for ‘Mandela Month’ at the Capture Sight in Howick, Kwa-Zulu Nata, South Africa – with much celebrations.

Finally, from me in Kidderminster (Worcs) In all, 873 teddies have gone out: 150 to the Hlekweni school project in Zimbabwe.  This supports 4 primary schools, providing meals as well as school equipment & learning resources. Each child receives a teddy & a hand-made pencil case when they start school. “The energetic joy in the Early Childhood class on getting their own teddies was memorable.” 50 to Aquabox – a charity and community project set up and managed by the Rotary Club of Wirksworth, Derbyshire, to provide safe drinking water, through the use of filtration units, and humanitarian aid to crisis zones around the world.  As well as a water-filtration unit, each Aquabox contains a variety of humanitarian aid items, including cooking utensils, hygiene equipment, tools, shelter materials, baby and children’s clothing and educational items.

120 teddies went to a nursery school in Gambia, including ‘The Three Bears’ (see below) for story-telling. “The children enjoyed using the visual aids but wanted to take the bears home!”

100 ‘red teds’ for School in a Bag project.  This is a charity which provides a rucksack filled with stationery, learning materials & eating utensils for poor, orphan & disaster affected children around the world.  The rucksack is red, so each teddy must be wearing something red too, either scarf, jumper or trousers.  190 to a project sending aid to Yemen.

20 to The Butterfly Tree charity in Zambia.  This provides water, food, health & education projects to local communities.

This delightful photo (right) shows children carrying their teddies ‘like Mummy does’!

150 to refugee camps in or near Syria.

30 to the Falconer Trust in Zambia, which runs a children’s home & orphanage.

This photo is from Guatemala where lots of baby clothes & tiny teddies go every year. “The teddies are especially prized by the toddlers who come to our mobile clinics in extremely impoverished communities.”

100’s of teddy, clown & elephant glove puppets have gone to Yemen, Gambia, Syria & Zambia.

Sacks of baby clothes, including donated babygros, etc, have also gone to Yemen, Gambia, Aquabox & to the Sanyu Babies’ Home in Kampala, Uganda.  This home cares for abandoned babies found on the streets, often only a few days or weeks old.  They are all fostered, adopted or reunited with their families when at all possible.

Three local hospital neo natal units have each received several donations of tiny baby clothes, octopuses, & small blankets for the incubators.  “On behalf of the Staff and Babies on the Neonatal Unit thank you once again for the wonderful knitting and for your continued support, it is very much appreciated.”

We too have distributed twiddle muffs to local care homes. Twiddle lap-mats have also been given for those who don’t like putting their hands inside a muff.

Jumpers & cardigans of all shapes & sizes, for adults & children, as well as lots of hats, mitts & scarves, have been welcomed by the Syrian refugee camps, Falconer Trust in Zambia & Aquabox.  In addition, 34 hats & 43 neck-warmers have been sent to the Sailors’ Society in Southampton for merchant seamen.

Some beautiful blankets have hopefully brightened the lives of needy children & their families in Syria (30) & Zambia (9) & via Aquabox (38).

By Ann Carr of Cholsey

I’ve learnt recently with great pleasure that several local people & groups are finding outlets themselves for the things they make.  One of these is a completely new venture – 25 teddies have been given to the local police (through the charity ‘Trauma Teddies’).  Teddies are stored in patrol cars of response officers, so that they can hand them to young children they meet when responding to incidents. They could be given to children who were involved in a road traffic collision or to a young child who had gone missing, or who had witnessed domestic violence.

Thank you for all your contributions, & congratulations on all your distributions!

Regards, Chris