Latest News about Woolsack
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28 September 2012 - Newsletter 10 can be read here for news of the results of the project and the Woolsack Legacy.
25 September 2012 - Newsletter 10 is going out to everyone on the mailing list tonight.
September 2012 - All the British wool cushions are now with Paralympic and Olympic athletes. Any athletes who didn't get the opportunity to have a cushion but would like one, please post on the Woolsack facebook group so that people who would be happy to make one for you can see your request.
26 July 2012 As just revealed on Radio 4 PM programme by Eddie Mair, Jon Manel & Sue Blacker, the Radio 4 PM London Olympic Desk of Sport is being enhanced by a very special cushion knitted by Liz Alcock. Andy Swiss will be sitting on the cushion from tomorrow.
Sue giving the cushion to Jon Manel
Earlier today Sue Blacker & Irene Watson went into the Olympic Village as guests of the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to the United Kingdom, Her Excellency Barbara Tuge-Erecińska and the Chef de Mission for Poland, Marzenna Koszewska.
Here you can see Sue presenting a cushion beneath the Olympic Rings.
25 July 2012 I spotted a lovely cushion on Ravelry today, with a wonderful story. A teacher, Ravelry name talesfromtheplain, knitted a cushion with help from some of her Year 6 pupils on a residential trip. As you can see it was even knitted while watching the Olympic Torch pass in York! On the front of the cushion are the white rose of York and the Crossed Keys from the York Coat of Arms.
24 July 2012 As athletes from around the world have started arriving in London, and summer has finally started in the UK, Woolsack has been getting busier every day. The makers are knitting and making cushions faster than ever to try and ensure that every athlete who wants a cushion can have one. Today I heard that Norway has been added to the list of countries requesting cushions and all cushions are now being sent to London for stuffing, finishing and distribution. All the latest news is in Newsletter 9. If you didn't receive it then please get in touch.
The photo for today shows one of the Australian swimmers with her cushion - a very special design that was only allowed to be knitted by the Parliamentary Knitting Group. We've tried to ensure that many of these Crown Portcullis cushions could be chosen by athletes from Commonwealth countries.
16 July 2012 Amazing and very busy weekend at Fibre-East - look out for the Maldives page on the website! Also for a web-page about Fibre-East. What I did today included delivering cushions for some Team GB athletes that they'll have the opportunity to get in a few days. I know this group of athletes includes at least one very patriotic Welshmen, so I included this cushion in the red bags.
13 July 2012 We're at Fibre-East now with the stand all set up ready for a very busy and exciting weekend making, stuffing and finishing cushions. Things are getting very busy but this comment from a GB Olympic athlete shows why we're making such an effort to try and ensure there is a cushion for every athlete who would like one.
12 July 2012 The last few days have been incredibly busy! Fantastic news though, and to get you in the mood here is a photo that for me sums up everything:
See here for the story behind the photo.
As for the news - what has kept us so busy is that we've now got cushions with, or on their way to, Team GB Olympic and Paralympic athletes competing in more than 17 different sports. Excluding Olympic and Paralympic sailors from around the world cushions have now been sent, or have been arranged to be sent, to athletes from over 30 different countries.
Requests for cushions are still coming in and we still welcome them. Our fantastic cushion makers are still knitting and making cushions with great enthusiasm now we know how popular they are and how much they are appreciated by the athletes who already have one! Contact us here to arrange cushions for you or your team.
4 July 2012 This is the year that I think the Paralympic Games are going to achieve a global awareness that shouts out the message that it's time to celebrate and recognise what athletes with a physical disability can do rather than what they can't do. Where the focus is on their abilities and where perceptions of what people with a disability can achieve will be changed forever.
So the cushion for today is from one of our disabled makers, Christine Moyes from Worcester, (another of her cushions can be seen on 15 June post) and this is her comment:
"I am disabled and would be unable to attend the Olympics but making the cushions has been an absolute pleasure and has made me to feel part of the Olympic efforts."
The people who have been involved with Woolsack and made cushions are aged from around 4 years to over 100, from all backgrounds, of all abilities and disabilities, and from throughout the UK. We're all very proud to have this opportunity to feel part of the 2012 Games in such a personal way.
3 July 2012 A lot more cushions were posted out to athletes today, including some TeamGB athletes, Rwandan Olympic and Paralympic athletes, and athletes from Greece and Australia. The boxes filled the counter! The cushion for today is now on its way to a Greek athlete - it seemed fitting to choose a cushion inspired by the Olympic flame. This one was felted by Val from Lancaster.
2 July 2012 There is a new advert out, Great Britain take the stage, that somehow captures in an incredibly moving and inspiring way what I feel about the 2012 Games and have come to appreciate about the reality of it all for the competing athletes through reading blogs and following some on twitter & other social media. All I can say is click the link and watch it!
1 July 2012 We've now entered Olympic Month - so exciting! Steady trickle of enquiries coming in from athletes who have heard about woolsack - more than one email starts, "Would it be possible to have a cushion....?"
Yes, of course, we'd love as many athletes as possible to have cushions! Some are being posted out to groups or individuals, others we're arranging for makers to deliver them to a team or squad. Just contact us and we'll get cushions to you and your team mates. Please spread the word to other athletes, teams and countries. We don't want any disappointed athletes just because they didn't hear about Woolsack in time.
30 June 2012 Today a number of cushions are travelling south to be given to members of one of the GB teams. Included with them is this cushion made by one of the schools in the North East NFU School Project where the children learnt about sheep and farming, how to make felt and then together created gorgeous cushions like this one.
Back from Loughborough - yes, I was told I could mention the name!
The GB swimmers are getting kitted out with their official kit today so lots going on but one of the BOA (British Olympic Association) staff arranged to meet me in the area and we transferred the cushions from my car to hers and she took them to where the swimmers could choose their cushions. A busy and exciting day for them all!
44 cushions in all and you can see them in the top set of cushions here
28 June 2012 Today I received photographs of the lovely cushions made by the pupils at Malton School, Yorkshire.
27 June 2012 Setbacks are familiar to all athletes - and Woolsack has shared that as well! We've been inspired by how athletes face and overcome their difficulties, so the news below is not going to stop us exploring every avenue to get cushions to as many as possible of those athletes who would like one (within restrictions placed on us).
We will redouble our efforts to get word to as many international athletes as possible that we have gifts of cushions for them that we are allowed to give them if they ask. It is sad that some athletes who would have loved a cushion will possibly miss out now.
26 June 2012 After learning recently that Rwandan Paralympic and Olympic athletes will be getting cushions at their UK training camp it was especially exciting and inspiring to watch this video of the 2012 Agitos Foundation Youth Workshop in Rwanda
25 June 2012 Lots of celebrating on twitter this morning as some athletes learnt they had been selected for Team GB. You can follow all the latest news on the BOA website. Woolsack makers may be headed to Loughborough soon to deliver some cushions - we'll post more information when arrangements have been finalised, but for anyone seeking design inspiration - think volleyball!
24 June 2012 This has been an important weekend for some members of Team GB at the Aviva 2012 Trials. So it seems fitting that today's cushion should feature emblems linked to members of Team GB.
23 June 2012 For those up early, Woolsack is on BBC Breakfast this morning, around 20 past every hour plus trailers. Reporters are talented people - knitting and interviewing - awesome multitasking!
Another day at Woolfest - one of the highlights of the year for people who love British wool and sheep. So here is a cushion to spread a little woolly love - felted and needle felted by Nicky who is on BBC Breakfast this morning.
For more news about the athletes, The boxes of Woolsack cushions for Team GB Paralympic swimmers arrived safely yesterday and more emails have come from athletes and those involved with Olympic and Paralympic teams to enquire about Woolsack cushions. As always the answer is "Yes, we'd love you to have cushions" and "Yes, they've been made by volunteers of all ages and backgrounds throughout the UK and of course these personal gifts are free!"
Some very special news from yesterday - I was wrong about our oldest cushion maker being 97. While at Woolfest someone came up to me and told me that the residents of a care home who have been enjoying making cushions include a number who are over 100 years old. That means Woolsack cushions are being made by those of ages covering over a century!
22 June 2012 What an exciting day at Woolfest! It may have been very wet outside, but such a lot to see and do at the event. Athletes will be pleased to hear there are lots more cushions finished and ready for you to choose - just contact us if you'd like one.
21 June 2012 Preparation and travelling to Cockermouth for the fantastic Woolfest! Not only can you bring your cushions for stuffing and finishing, but we'll have lots of cushions there for you to see.
While we're at Woolfest the BBC will be sharing the latest news with you. Friday, Radio 4 PM programme will be revealing some very exciting news for athletes from around the world. Saturday, BBC Breakfast will be showing their filming of some Woolsack activities from this week.
More photos are up on the Gifts of Cushions page.
20 June 2012 A great day today! Team GB Olympic and Paralympic rowers were able to choose their cushions and they have already been tweeting their thanks to the makers and some lovely photos. The Team GB Rowing webpage will be linked from here. One of the photos was of a lovely cushion I've not seen so I thought I'd share it here. It was made by Marjorie from Amersham and Beth Rodford is the rower who chose it.
Also today cushion makers at Bill Quay Community Farm, Gateshead were filmed for BBC 1 Breakfast. This will be shown on Saturday between 7 and 9am. Some lovely surprises that I won't spoil!
19 June 2012 Another fabulous cushion to see today. This one made by Judy Williamson.
Some of the Team GB Paralympic Swimmers have been in touch and we're posting cushions to reach them as soon as possible. If Claire Cashmore hasn't told you about this, then please contact her or get in touch with us directly. For all Olympic and Paralympic athletes, UK and international, if you'd like your own Woolsack cushion then you just need to contact us.
18 June 2012 The London 2012 Games Makers have discovered Woolsack cushions. Sadly we've had to explain that these cushions have been made by volunteers throughout the UK as gifts for Olympic and Paralympic athletes.
However, the volunteering team of Games Makers are obviously creative and determined - just what we need for a fantastic 2012 Games! Together we're working on a couple of special Gamesmakers cushion patterns, one of which could be knitted by beginner knitters and looking at helping interested Gamesmakers to learn to knit so all of them can make their own Gamesmaker cushion out of British wool.
For anyone else wanting to make their own 2012 cushion for themselves you can find all the information you need here including where you can buy British wool knitting yarn and some free knitting patterns.
The cushion for today has been created by an obviously experienced knitter!
17 June 2012 Today's cushion was made by Ann King
The page for Team GB Wheelchair Fencers has been started and can be found here
16 June 2012 - A very special presentation of cushions at South Shields Torch Relay
Today the Wheelchair Fencers received their cushions and photos will be put up on their page in the Gifts of Cushions section of the website.
15 June 2012 - 4.50pm The torch just passed very close to Woolsack website HQ - quick 10 minute walk away. The flame lit in Greece is now progressing through Newcastle - a surprisingly moving experience.
Cushion of the day - needlepoint using British Wool by Christine
14 June 2012 Archery GB website has a lovely article and photograph as the archers start to receive their cushions
BBC NorthEast and Cumbria interview with a Woolsack cushion maker now on the BBC website
14 June 2012 Next stuffing event is on Saturday 16 June, organised by Cliburn Knit and Natter Group near Penrith. Full details on the Stuffing Events page
13 June 2012 Paralympics Ireland have been in touch and their entire team will be given Woolsack cushions.
13 June 2012 News from Bedford Bedford Borough Council - Come on Bedfordshire, let's get stuffed!
13 June 2012 Statement from Woolsack
12 June 2012 BBC1 North East and Cumbria television featuring Woolsack in their 6.30 regional news programme, including an interview with the North Cumbria Woolsack Local Contact, Dawn.
12 June 2012 Sheep will be at the Olympic Opening Ceremony! Read the full story here This is turning out to be a wonderfully Woolly 2012 Games
Statement from a LOCOG spokesman dated 9 June: "We think the Woolsack cushions are great and are happy that they are available to athletes from around the world on request".
11 June 2012 This evening the TeamGB women's wheelchair basketball team will be receiving their cushions and meeting some of the makers. Look out for the photos linked from here
Great article about the stuffing event held last weekend at the Customs House, South Shields, Tyneside. Lots of lovely cushions which is good news because word is spreading fast in the sporting world and we need all the cushions we can make!
10 June 2012 It appears that 2 recent newspaper articles about Woolsack and LOCOG may have given the misleading impression to some people that Woolsack cushions won't be able to reach athletes. The full story about LOCOG can be read here. We would like to emphasise that it is only distribution through LOCOG that isn't happening.
We can give cushions to any athletes or teams who contact us, and we can contact athletes as long as we don't contact any National Olympic Committees or National Paralympic Committees as instructed by LOCOG. The athletes are incredibly supportive of Woolsack and love the cushions - they are going out of their way to spread the word to fellow athletes at home and abroad. We also have other methods of distribution that are working very well within LOCOG restrictions.
We are now confident that every cushion already made WILL be going to an Olympic or Paralympic athlete.
Please refer to Gifts of Cushions for photographs and news about athletes who have received their cushions.
9 June 2012 Woolsack featured on BBC Breakfast television on Saturday 9 June at 6.20am and 9.50am
There was a fantastic response to the items with many people contacting us and the BBC to express their support and enthusiasm for the project. There were also requests from athletes for cushions which are being followed up and people enquiring about getting involved with the project. It is not too late to do so and please contact us.
We were not expecting to have a number of requests to purchase Woolsack cushions. As listed in our FAQs Woolsack cushions will not be sold by Woolsack under any circumstances. We will reply to these requests with this fact and a link to information about how to make your own wool cushion or learn the necessary skills to do so.
8 June 2012
Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta at Weymouth & Portland has been challenged by atrocious weather. We're delighted to hear that, despite this, Olympic and Paralympic sailors from around the world have been able to receive their Woolsack cushions. They have started a Facebook photo album
Newsletter 7 has now gone out to everyone on the mailing list. Contact us if you haven't received yours. Please note references to Radio 4 PM programme - 'yesterday' and 'today' refer to 6 & 7 June respectively.
7 June 2012
Athletes have started receiving their cushions. More information and photographs on the new Gifts of Cushions page
Radio 4 PM programme did a follow up interview which can be heard here, 23 minutes into the programme, for the next 7 days
Newsletter 7 is being sent out over the next 24 hours and can also be viewed now on the usual website link
6 June 2012
The piece on Woolsack transmitted on June 6 is now on the BBC website where you can listen to it and see some photographs.
5 June 2012
Woolsack on Radio 4 PM programme!
We've been advised that the piece on Woolsack is planned to be on the Wednesday June 6 Radio 4 PM programme at 5pm. Obviously that will depend on what unexpected news items may happen between now and then.
1 June 2012
There has been a great response from individual athletes, teams and squads now news is getting out about how they can receive Woolsack cushions. Even better this is, in cases, involving local makers meeting Olympic and Paralympic athletes - it can't get more personal than that!
Full details of teams/squads that have, or are about to, receive cushions will be given in the newsletter that will come out at the end of next week and we'll be posting photographs on the website. Nearly 450 cushions are being distributed to Paralympic and Olympic althetes from all over the world this coming weekend. Look out in the press and BBC Radio 4 for more information about that. Photos and the full story will also be posted here.
Are there any cushion makers or other people involved in Woolsack that live in the Aylesbury area? We have a GB squad that would like to receive their cushions and meet some makers. Please contact Jane through the general queries on the contact page.
19 May 2012
Important news for all cushion makers
We've heard that some of the articles and blogs written about the LOCOG situation may have inadvertently given the impression that the cushions will not be able to be given to those athletes who would like one.
This is not the case.
The alternative arrangements, as discussed in newsletter 6, for distributing cushions are progressing well, and we can add the news that point 2 in the newsletter list has now been confirmed. The number of different schemes we will be using, will involve a great deal more work for the organisers, but we are confident that all your cushions will reach the athletes who would like them.
If you are not on the list to receive the email newsletters for cushion makers, then please contact us, and we will add you and send you the link to newsletter 6.
16 May 2012 Woolsack is being picked up by the national press now. First an article in the Sunday Telegraph that included Woolsack, and today there is a great article in Private Eye (p29, issue 1314) covering some of the challenges of being a LOCOG Inspire project. These challenges are explained in more detail here.
29 March 2012 Newsletter 6 is now being mailed out. You should receive yours within 24 hours. If it doesn't make it to you then please contact Jane using the General Queries option here and I'll email it to you manually. One of the important items of news in this newsletter is that as distribution plans have evolved we've been able to extend the deadline for completing cushions to 31 May, with opportunties to make and stuff cushions specifically for the Paralympic athletes going on into June and July.
Another item in the newsletter is that we still have plenty of the free lovely British breeds wool yarn that has been donated to the project. Please contact us if your group would like some of this. (we do have to ask for the minimal cost of posting it to you please)
Also lots of information about distributing the cushions.
28 March 2012 See what pupils at three of Ormskirk's Primary Schools have made! Click here.
9 March 2012 Woolsack Project now in National Media Museum through the Your Life Online Project
22 February 2012
The cushion census email is going out to everyone on our email newsletter list. You should be receiving your email within the next 24 hours. If you don't get an email, or you get one that is difficult to read (some servers do funny things with formatting), then please contact us here, using the general queries option, and we'll manually send it out to you. When entering your email address on the Contact Form, please double check that your email address is correct. Thank you, Jane
3 February 2012
We have been given a large donation of British wool yarn that we can pass onto people for just the cost of posting it to you. Full details here.
27 January 2012
The Winter Youth Olympic Games were awesome - our Team GB athletes excelled themselves, and from the tweeting and comments they had an amazing time and gained valuable experience for the future. Then there were the medals - who said UK athletes couldn't excel at winter sports!!
You can share the whole wonderful experience by watching the special British Olympic Dreams programme at 1pm on Saturday 28 January on BBC1. This is one programme you won't want to miss.
If you did miss it, then you can still watch it on BBC iPlayer
12 January 2012
The winter cushions arrived safely at BOA before Christmas. Just before Team GB left for Innsbruck and the Winter Youth Olympic Games that start tomorrow we received this lovely photograph and message from the athletes.
"We couldn't believe it when we were given the Woolsack cushions. They're
really cool and we're taking them to Innsbruck with us to have on our beds
in the Village. We'd like to thank all of the volunteers very much who
spent so much time knitting them for us".
17 November 2011
Newsletter 4, short update, has been emailed out. We now have 30 cushions finished, being made or promised. There is a free pattern available that allows a group of people to make a cushion between them. Contact Jane through the website for more information.
ETA The problem of some people not getting newsletters has now been solved as far as we can establish. So everyone should have received Newsletter 4 during the night.
Unfortunately, due to a problem with the mailing list software we were using, up to 7 out-of-office replies that should have come just to me were sent to some people on the mailing list. We've been able to identify the cause of this and it won't happen again. We are no longer using this software.
I do apologise for any concerns this has caused anyone.
14 November 2011
Just over half way to the 40 cushions needed.
Newsletter 3 has been mailed out.
4 November 2011 - 10 cushions already pledged for the Youth Olympic Winter Games - the race is on!
2 November 2011
The BOA (British Olympic Association) approached us to ask if we could possibly do something very special for the Youth Olympic Winter Games; Innsbruck 2012.
The time scale is tight but we're confident that our cushion makers can make 40 special red, white and blue Woolsack cushions in time for them to be finished at the Harrogate stuffing event, 24-27 November. This is a very personal way in which we can help these young athletes feel supported as they represent the UK in Innsbruck. Full details are in Newsletter 2. Contact us using the link below if you would like a copy of this.
Woolsack Newsletter 2
The second Woolsack Newsletter has gone out to everyone on our mailing list. If you think you haven't received it, then please check your spam folder or similar depending on your email programme.
If you would like to be added to the mailing list, or have copies of this and the first newsletter, then please contact us.
On 21 July 2011 Woolsack was granted the Inspire Mark and officially became part of the Cultural Olympiad.
THIS IS THE SITUATION AS OF 22 JUNE 2011.
This project will make cushions from British Wool to give as a welcome gift from the people of Britain to each of the Olympic and Paralympic athletes at the London 2012 Olympic Games. This will require up to 20,000 cushions.
The cushion covers may be knitted, crocheted, embroidered, woven, felted, etc. wholly with British Wool supplied by each maker. They will be directly stuffed with clean new or recycled British wool which has been supplied via an anonymous donation. Patterns and designs are available on the above websites.
Each cushion will be accompanied with a personal gift card (templates will be provided, including a logo) from the individual or group who made it, saying “I/we made this for you ...” and telling the story of the particular cushion, including sourcing the materials, designing, marketing, etc. We hope this will be a comforting physical memento and recognition from us all of the enormous personal effort each athlete has made to get to the Games.
The project includes schools, colleges, community groups, individuals, designers, craft groups, smallholders, breed societies (there are over 60 different recognised British sheep breeds), British Wool yarn producers and processors, hand-spinners, dyers, the knitting, crochet and craft press and media.
Woolsack has been adopted as a project by the Knitting and Crochet Guild of Great Britain and also has support from The Campaign for Wool, the British Wool Marketing Board, the Crafts Council, RBST, NFU, and individual WI federations. British Wool yarn producers across the UK are being added to the list here.
Prototype cushions have been trialled with athletes in the UK and their response has been most positive.
After a period of consultation with Inspire and LOCOG the formal Inspire application is about to be submitted.
Making these cushions will help people to use or gain craft skills using a sustainable material and also to learn about the production of British Wool, on which the British economy and early industry were originally founded. Cushions may be collaborative or individual projects (e.g. a whole primary school class or WI group might work together to produce a cushion, while designers, craft makers or design students might make them as individuals). The project can thus involve a wider range of people, able to be inspired by Olympic aspirations but not necessarily inspired by or able to participate directly in sports and athletics.
Support has been secured from the knitting and crochet press and pattern designers to provide free cushion pattern designs, general news, promotion and some competition prizes. In addition, yarn manufacturers will be providing free patterns. For certain groups, and beginners, knitting/crochet starter kits may be provided free of charge to enable everyone to take part. Also sheep breed societies, the National Sheep Association, The Campaign for Wool, the British Wool Marketing Board, the NFU, British furnishing and knitwear producers and designers have been invited to participate, publicise, sponsor prizes and provide designs, etc. It is planned to have cushion stuffing events at wool and craft shows and other locations across the country, to enable people to bring and display their work and provide a stuffing distribution and cushion collection system. A list of the current events is available here.
Each cushion will be a standard size of 16”, 40cm square, but the designs are entirely up to the makers (subject to the rules of the London Olympic organisation as summarised here.
It is estimated that each cushion will cost from £7 to £20 to make and the makers would be expected to donate or fund-raise the cost of materials. There will also be the opportunity to use up wool stashes, or re-cycle wool, but the use of British Wool is the key criterion. Clean new or re-cycled wool stuffing has been donated and will be provided free at stuffing events and for 20,000 cushions it is estimated that 6 tonnes of wool will be needed (0.3kg per cushion).
Re-cycled knitting needles can be provided to groups requiring them, together with basic knitting patterns for cushions. Contact us for further details. British yarns can be obtained from a wide range of producers from large companies to yarns from local farms across the country. All suppliers of British wool (yarn and spinning fibre) that we have been able to identify so far are listed here.
There are 6,500 WI federations with 205,000 members; the NFU has some 20,000 members, the circulation of the combined knitting and crochet magazines is around 100,000 monthly; the 1 million strong international on-line Ravelry community has some 61,000 members in 721 groups in the UK (this is just those noted as being in groups and may include duplication, there are also groups listed for England, Scotland and Wales, not all of which are included in the UK listing). There are 17,000 primary schools, 500,000 members of the Girl Guides, around 400,000 Scouts, while UK youth has 7,000 affiliated groups representing some 700,000 members.
Sue Blacker & Jane Cooper, 22 June 2011