Frequently asked questions

Please look through these to see if they answer any queries you may have – but please don’t hesitate to use the contact form or email us to ask any other questions.

 

Short overview of FAQs - please read below for full information.

Woolsack is an Inspire project and part of the Cultural Olympiad.  It has been adopted as a project by the Knitting and Crochet Guild of Great Britain.

AthCom (AthCom is like the Cultural Olympiad Board for anything to do with the athletes) and individual UK athletes like the cushions and the idea of Woolsack.

There are some rules about designs/motifs that cannot be used, but we want a wide selection of designs to give the athletes lots of choice.

The cushions will be distributed to athletes in a number of ways, including pre-Games training camps, but we hope to give opportunity for individuals to choose from a selection of cushions.

Any cushions that don't go home with athletes will be donated to a growing list of charities that very much want them.

 

Project and credibility

What is Woolsack?
Woolsack is the name we have chosen for the project because it is the historic seat of the Lord Speaker in the House of Lords of the UK Parliament.  For more information, please see here.  The Woolsack is basically a giant cushion, so it seemed appropriate to call our cushion-making project by this name.


Why are you doing this?
We know that athletes travelling to the  UK for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games have worked incredibly hard to get there and many will not have much in the way of funds to spend on presents or mementos.  We would like to give every athlete the opportunity of having a hand-made cushion, made from British wool and stuffed with British wool.  This is a personal gift from individual craft makers, using sustainable and historic materials and skills, reflecting the history of the UK and the importance of wool to that history, so that it can be a real and lasting gift.

How do I know it is a genuine project?
The project is an Inspire project and part of the Cultural Olympiad.  It is formally an adopted project of The Knitting and Crochet Guild of Great Britain and is supported by a number of leading organisations and is being done as a voluntary exercise.  See here for copies of the letters of support we have received.  We are also working with the Olympic delivery organisation on getting the cushions to the athletes via the regional training camps and events leading up to the start of the Games and the Olympic villages.  The project has been circulated to all WI branches and many of them are participating.  It is also supported by Young Farmers and the NFU.

Who is organising it?
The two leaders are Sue Blacker and Jane Cooper but we also are gathering volunteers across the regions for cushion stuffing events and there are also many wool businesses providing support.  Please see: here for pattern suppliers and here for stuffing events.

Is it an official Olympic project – what is Inspire?
Woolsack is officially part of the Cultural Olympiad.  For more information, please see here.

Are Campaign for Wool, NFU, BWMB, WI etc supporting it – is it linked to NFU petition to have British wool at the Olympics?
Yes, and Yes!  See here for copies of the letters of support we have received.

How is it being financed?
The stuffing has been given by a donation and you should email us  or check for cushion stuffing events near you here.  The makers of cushions are asked to contribute their own materials and work in making the cushions.    Organised groups or groups linked to charities for whom this would be a problem should contact us.  People are donating yarn and spinners are making yarn from donated fleeces to provide yarn for organised groups and charity knitters who otherwise wouldn't be able to take part.

Finding out more

How do I find out more about it?
There are several ways:

  • Join the Facebook Woolsack Group
  • Join the Ravelry (online knitting community) Woolsack group (you will need to join Ravelry to use this)
  • Email us through Contact on this website
  • Telephone 01566 777635  and ask for information about Woolsack cushions.
  • Watch the knitting and crochet magazines for updates.

How can people find out about it and contact the organisers if they don't use the internet?

  • Telephone 01566 777635 and ask for information about Woolsack cushions
  • Watch the knitting magazines for updates

Timescale

What is the timeline for all this to happen?
We plan that all cushions should be completed by 31st March, 2012, to give plenty of time to sort them and ensure that all are properly completed and accompanied by gift cards, etc. and get them to the Olympic venues.

Making cushions

(full details also here)
What requirements are there for the cushion size, design, etc?
Each cushion must be made square at 16” / 40cm per side.  The cushions should be made flat, so that they can be directly stuffed with a blend of new and recycled wool stuffing and then sewn up.
The cushions may be knitted, crocheted (BUT remember openwork will let the stuffing escape!), felted, woven, embroidered or tapestry.  They may be plain or decorated (but see rules below on what is allowed for the Olympics).
All cushions must be stuffed with the British wool stuffing donated to Woolsack.  This is to ensure quality, security and consistency and to enable all cushions to pass export requirements.

What does it cost me?
The cost of the materials and your time.  To knit a cushion (which seems to be the favourite method) can cost between £7 and £20 depending on the materials. 

How do I find yarn for knitting or weaving or fibre for felting?
Please see here for a list of yarn suppliers and here for suppliers of fibre for felting and spinning.

What sort of yarn or fibre can I use?
You should use British wool or fibre, from sheep or other fibre animals in the UK (including the Falklands).  If you are overseas and cannot get this, please let us know as we can probably help and in special circumstances can possibly agree to the use of British breeds living abroad ..

How can I tell if a yarn is British wool?
The yarn will be supplied and stated to be British wool by the supplier.  Please see here for a list of suppliers

Can I use British Alpaca etc, Falklands wool etc?
Yes – we felt it unfair to leave out mohair (angora goats) and alpaca and the Falklands are part of Britain.

How do I find patterns/designs?
Please see here  for pattern suppliers or please feel free (within the rules – see next question) to invent your own!

Are there any designs/motifs I can't use with it being an Olympic project?
Yes, the large companies who have sponsored the Games and made the whole event possible have special rights to the use of certain words and designs.  As we are an Inspire project we need to comply with these rules and it is also illegal to use the words and designs without permission.

Please read the rules below carefully and if in doubt please contact us to discuss your design.

You cannot use any of the protected Games' Marks.
List of Marks.
Images of Marks
There are restrictions over the use of Listed Expressions.
The Listed Expressions are:
any two of the words in list A below
OR
any word in list A with one or more of the words in list B below:
A  Games, Two Thousand and Twelve, 2012, Twenty-Twelve
B  London, medals, sponsors, summer, gold, silver, bronze
For practical purposes what this briefly means for the cushions is that you shouldn't use images of the Olympic logo, rings or torch.  In addition check out the Images of Marks to ensure you aren't using any of them either.  There won't be many people using words on their cushions, but if you are, then you have to follow the rule given above.  If in doubt, then contact us before you start knitting/felting/embroidering etc.
Further information can be found at the links below.
pdf document - Brand guidelines for non commercial use
London 2012 website - using the brand
London 2012 website - FAQs about the 2012 brand

How can I find someone to help me with knitting/crochet?
Please contact us and we will put you in touch with nearby knitters, crocheters and makers.

Where do I get my gift card from?
You can download a template for a gift card from the Woolsack website – please see here or contact us to request one.

What do I do with my finished cushion?
Bring it to a stuffing event, or if you are unable to do this please contact us.  The list of stuffing events is here

Where and when are stuffing events – can I stuff and sew up my cushion myself so it's done as I would want it to be done?
The list of stuffing events is here.  If you bring your cushion to an event you can stuff and sew it up yourself.  Groups who would like to hold their own stuffing event should contact us to organise this.

What are the cushions being stuffed with – will I have to pay for it?
All cushions must be stuffed with the British wool stuffing donated to Woolsack.  This is to ensure quality, security and consistency and to enable all cushions to pass export/import requirements.  The stuffing is free.

Can I get some of the stuffing to do it myself – how much will it cost?
No, sorry!  All cushions must be stuffed with the British wool stuffing donated to Woolsack.  This is to ensure quality, security and consistency and to enable all cushions to pass export/import requirements.  The stuffing is free.

Is there any quality control – what happens to cushions that are handed in but don't meet the requirements?
Quality is important as these are proper gifts.  So if a cushion is not up to the requirements we can advise the maker at a stuffing event on how to get it right and help them to do it.  This is also a good reason for the stuffing events.  If someone is unable to remedy the problem, we will try and find volunteers to deal with it.

Can I spin my own yarn?
Yes, but please let us know as home scoured fibre may be considered a risk by some countries when athletes take their cushions home so we want to ensure that such cushions only go to places where home scoured fibre is acceptable.  This is also the reason for requiring the stuffing all to come from one source.

Are there any special restrictions about using raw or home-scoured/washed fleece
Home scoured fibre may be considered a risk by some countries when athletes take their cushions home so we want to ensure that such cushions only go to places where home scoured fibre is acceptable.  This is also the reason for requiring the stuffing all to come from one source.  You cannot spin or use raw fleece.

Can I make my own stuffing?
No, sorry!  All cushions must be stuffed with the British wool stuffing donated to Woolsack.  This is to ensure quality, security and consistency and to enable all cushions to pass export/import requirements.  The stuffing is free.

I live abroad – if I can't easily get British wool can I use a British breed?
If possible you should use British wool or fibre, from sheep sheared in Britain.  If you are overseas and cannot get this, please contact us as we can probably help and in special circumstances can possibly agree to the use of British breeds living abroad ..

Storing and Distributing the Cushions

Where & how will the finished cushions be stored?

Some cushions will be stored by local volunteers but most will be kept safely at the premises of supporting businesses.

I know you can't make someone accept a gift but what can be guaranteed about my cushion?
We are working through various channels and locations to ensure that as many athletes as want a cushion will be able to have one.  We are also in direct contact with British and international Olympic hopefuls and are promoting the cushions amongst them so that they know about them and can ask for them.  We will be contacting all the embassies and individual National Olympic Committees of participating countries to ensure that they also know.  Inspire are presenting Woolsack at the Chefs de Mission Seminars when the leaders of all the National Olympic Committees and National Paralympic Committees come together in London for their pre-London 2012 preparation conferences.

Because we do not want any cushions to be thrown away we are also creating a “Plan B” - see below.

How will the cushions get from the makers to the athletes?

  • The cushions will be brought to a series of Stuffing Events at shows and festivals, wool-shops and other venues across the country for stuffing and sewing up.  Each of these locations will act as a collection point and the cushions will either be stored locally by volunteers or sent to a supporting business for storage
  • We will be making arrangements with a haulage company to transport the cushions and we are hoping that this will be sponsored.
  • We also hope to have some presentations to UK athletes around the country and to international athletes at their various practice venues

What happens to any spare cushions or cushions that aren't wanted or taken home by the athletes?
Because we do not want any cushions to be thrown away we are also creating a “Plan B” whereby spare cushions can be donated to worthy causes where they will be welcomed and used: these include hospitals, hospices, homes and recuperation units and we are inviting cushion makers to nominate these so that as many can be included as possible on as wide a geographic basis as possible.

Will you be selling the cushions that are left behind/unwanted?
No – we think gifts are gifts and will ensure that all the cushions find a home.  No cushions will be sold by Woolsack.

What if an athlete wants his/her cushion but hasn't enough room in their luggage allowance?
We are investigating a number of options for this - one suggestion from an athlete is that they are used as cushions or pillows on the plane journeys home!  We may also explore an option for providing the facility to have cushions posted home, and this is one of the few parts of the project where we may be asking for sponsorship or donations.

I want to contribute by giving money instead/as well – can I do this?
Yes – All money is being handled by the Knitting and Crochet Guild.

Cheques to be made payable to K&CG.
Posted to:
Anne Makepeace,
Regional Co-ordinator Knitting and Crochet Guild
Mailboxes Etc
58 Low Friar St
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE1 5UD


What happens if there are not enough cushions?
So far we think this is very unlikely!  If there is great demand from athletes, then we will challenge our generous makers to do extra!  

How are you ensuring that the cushions will be allowed into every country – some have strict rules about what can be imported.  Will there be a label that every customs official will recognise so cushions won't be taken from athletes and destroyed?
We are doing all we can to ensure that the cushions comply with export/import requirements.  This is why we insist on a single type of stuffing and there will be labels to identify the cushions as well as the gift cards.  However, there is no guarantee on this as we cannot predict what individual customs officials might decide.

Finance and Groups

I want to contribute by making a cushion but can't afford to buy any wool?
Please contact us to discuss this and we will try to help.

My school/youth group wants to join in but we don't have funds for wool and we need people to help teach them how to knit?
Please contact us to discuss this and we will try to help.

Is there any certificate/recognition for a school/youth group that participates?
We will be listing all groups who support the project on the Woolsack website – please send us your details and pictures of your cushions.  You can also post them on the Facebook group site.

Care of cushions


Washing instructions – multi language/cultural – some people won't be familiar with pure wool and might not understand it can't be thrown into a washing machine?
All the cushions will carry the international hand-wash and do not tumble dry symbols and the Woolsack website address where detailed care instructions will be available.  

What other labels will be on the cushions – who is paying for these?
There will be a Woolsack/care label on each cushion and these are being donated.