Newsletter 5

Dear All,
The January newsletter has a guest editor “ me!
So here goes ..
Grouch, grouch: Jane has stolen a lovely picture from the Winter Youth Olympics and circulated it already so I cannot include it again as it would only bore you all! But they have agreed we can put it on the Woolsack website and Facebook and we are hoping it will be one of a new series of items on Woolsack to go on the official Inspire blog (though as with much of the Olympic stuff, it appears we have to submit it via a system rather than post direct  - Jane is doggedly pursuing this and I am sure she will get a result!).
Now, to the more serious stuff: MONEY!
This follows from the email exchanges about the costs of cushions, stuffing events, etc. While The Natural Fibre Company is wholly supportive of Woolsack, we are simply unable to fund postage as well as making the stuffing, collecting and storing cushions, promotion, staff time on enquiries, etc.
So here is a questionnaire and we would be VERY grateful if you would respond as this will determine how we go about managing the next phase of the project and also the publicity for it:
Stuffing events
1. The cost of sending out sacks of stuffing is around £10 so each stuffing event will cost the organisers this much (this will provide 10-12kg of stuffing). So we need to know:
- can you fund this yourselves?
- could you collect 50p from each of 20 people filling the cushions (or more?) to cover the cost?
- could you fund-raise for this?
- do you have a source of funds able to fund this?

œFree yarn
As you will all know, we have been given an amazing gift of some 500kg of yarn, which we estimate will make up to 2,000 cushions!!!!!  This was part of the stash left over when a lovely company specialising in British wool from North Ronaldsay, Manx, Hebridean and other British breeds closed down a few years ago. We have begun to catalogue it and so far there is 270kg in mainly 100g balls in browns and greys, plus 60kg on cones, and also 50kg on cones in white.
2. The cost of sending out cones of the free yarn will also be £10, to provide around 10kg – or it can be collected from us at Unravel in Farnham, and probably Wonderwool and/or regional co-ordinators able and willing to hold stocks. So again we need to know:
- can you fund this yourselves?
- could you collect 50p from each of 20 people filling the cushions (or more?) to cover the cost?
- could you fund-raise for this?
- do you have a source of funds able to fund this? As we hope this free yarn will be able to be used by a wide variety of community groups, it is to be hoped that they will be able to fund the costs

3. So  we suggest creating mixed batches of 10kg of yarn (enough for up to 30 cushions) and stuffing (for around 20-30 cushions) which will cost around £20, which would make the materials for a 20-30 cushions cost around £1 each:
- do you think this is reasonable?
- do you think there should be specific criteria for the people/groups permitted to get free yarn?
- if so, what sort of criteria should be applied?
4. As there is so much white yarn, we thought it would be useful to dye some of it to give people more choice of colours. This could also apply to some of the paler natural shades. We will dye at our cheapest price, by including the yarn as make-weight with larger batches, so the colours will be whatever we happen to be dyeing “ this week will produce 5kg each of turquoise, green, gold and peach. This will cost 10-12 per kilogram plus £10 for 10kg: the yarn has to be wound off cones into skeins, dyed, dried and then either wound back onto cones or left in skeins:
- can we save a bit of money by supplying dyed yarn as skeins? This would reduce the cost to ~£10
- do you think the yarn should be dyed or just left natural?
- the skeins will be 200-300 grams, so will cost around ~£2.50 each, which will therefore be roughly the price of a cushion: is this acceptable? (Obviously the dyed yarns can be combined with the natural colours to save on costs and give more variety of design.)
- we could include some dyed yarn (in the same way as we combine natural and dyed yarn in the Potluck Bargain Packs from Blacker Yarns) along with naturals in a 10kg package: this would spread the cost. Is this a good idea?
- do you have other suggestions please?
We really do need your feedback on this so please help us to formulate our plans!  We know we are already expecting organisational and promotional skills and that you are probably funding things and storing things, so please tell us how it is and what you suggest as we are sure that, for instance, there may be ways to get more supporters across the country via the WI, the Knitting & Crochet Guild, etc. and we can go for a lot more publicity (including a promise from Countryfile!) but we need your input in order to know what to request!
Personal information
This is another request!  It would be lovely to include some case studies of people, groups and regional co-ordinators on the Woolsack website – you will have seen the current pages which Jane has done so well, but getting the personal story and a picture is very helpful in making the project live for people and in getting publicity. So please send us:
- why you think Woolsack is a good project?
- what you have been doing as part of Woolsack?
- what you are planning to do as part of Woolsack?
- what is your first memory of knitting/crochet/felting/weaving/craft?
- what you like most about knitting/crochet/felting/weaving/craft?
- what you dislike most about knitting/crochet/felting/weaving/craft?
Other news
Unravel at Farnham is on 25th and 26th February and we have been allocated some free space near the stage for our stuffing event  we would be grateful for some volunteer co-ordinators to help please?  (This might be a big one  so it could be quite fun!!)
Please see for the other events and anything you can help to do to publicise/attend/drag people off the street to attend would be great: this next couple of months is very much the time when the project can be geared up “ we have all the necessary, particularly now that we are also able to offer free yarn!
This seems a bit like all requests, but there'™s loads to celebrate as well - the news of stuffing events is coming in at more than one a week (including a very special one by the House of Commons knitting group, with a rather special design they have been allowed to use -“ watch this space!) and the cushions are multiplying nicely!  With the free yarn and your input to the above, we know that the project is beginning to take off -“ so it will be reaching the parts that other Olympic ideas cannot reach and is probably the best project in the world!!!
Best wishes for a great New Year!
From Jane - Of course what Sue has forgotten is that I'm the person who sends out the newsletter  so I get to have the last word!
First, I do hope lots of you will put forward your ideas, suggestions and experiences.  Can you send those to
Secondly, a very exciting bit of news that has just come in.  Not only did the TeamGB athletes going to the Winter Youth Olympic Games love their cushions, they emailed to say they are taking them to Innsbruck with them.  Then to cap it all off, TeamGB tweeted about Woolsack!  More info and photos at and
Finally, I was able to attend one of the events involving schools and Woolsack.  It was a fantastic day and you can read about it here:
Do please let me know what is going on in your area and send me photos and details to so I can feature your group/school/event on the website.  There are large numbers of people reading the pages on the website, so take advantage of the publicity and don't be shy!
Which reminds me,“ if you're holding a stuffing event please send me details as soon as you have any so I can post them on the website.  You'll need to contact Sue to arrange the stuffing and fabric labels to be sent out to you and at least 4 weeks notice would be really helpful.
Thank you, Jane