Newsletter 9

21 July 2012 -  Woolsack Newsletter 9

Lots of important information in this newsletter. But I'd like to start off by saying how fantastic Team Woolsack has been.  The result of so much hard work by so many people is that just over a week ago we achieved something very special.  Every cushion that had been made was either already with an athlete or was on its way to one!

The requests were still coming in from athletes, so we decided to announce a Call To Needles and the response was amazing.  All of you who have made cushions over the past months or are still making them have so much to be proud of.

At the end of this newsletter I'm going to summarise and list the really important points, but for now I'll hand over to the founder and leader of Woolsack, Sue Blacker:

Just butting into Jane's editorial again!   I wanted to say how wonderful it
has been to see all the cushions, meet athletes and see their responses.  It
has made Woolsack come alive!
 
Despite the many hurdles we have had to overcome, and despite the project
producing considerably fewer cushions than we originally hoped, I feel there
are very important things that everyone has achieved:

  •  Raising the profile of British wool
  •  Giving the creative skills of our cushion makers some public recognition. Some of these cushions are truly works of art and the overall quality has been beyond our dreams
  • Sharing and learning new skills through exchanging patterns and ideas
  •  Giving people a network of information and contacts via Jane's wonderful Woolsack website, for which we are developing future plans
  •  Reaching out, bringing together and touching the hearts and minds and hands of children, communities and international athletes, especially through the lovely personal messages accompanying each cushion
  •  Gaining an enormous and respected profile in media: the Times mentioned the cushions in the first paragraph of their recent article on lack of availability of chips (unless with fish) for workers on the Village site and we have been on local, regional, national and international media
  • Gaining a real benefit from social media through using Ravelry, Facebook and Twitter.  While not quite at the scale of the Arab Spring, we have certainly managed to deal with the limitations of Inspire and LOCOG, all of course without breaking the rules …
  •  Doing all of it without a committee, terms of reference meetings, minutes, action points, or budgets!  Just with the support of The Knitting and Crochet Guild of Great Britain (well actually we did create a budget for the Inspire application but it consisted almost entirely of voluntary work!) and of course all of you!
  •  So everyone should be pretty pleased and we know the athletes are!

We are now in the final phase of the project:
1.  Ensuring that all cushions are completed, labelled and stuffed
2.  Getting cushions to athletes who have requested them
3.  Photographing and recording the cushions and recipients, as we are to be
     part of the National Archive

This means that, although the rush of excitement from our recent publicity
has enabled us to issue the call to make more cushions, we also have to be
sensible and set a practical limit and deadline:  we will be announcing
that, for Woolsack delivery arrangements, all cushions have to be completed,
stuffed, labelled and in London by 22nd August
.  This will give us a chance
to ensure that they get to any Paralympic athletes wanting them before the
start of the Paralympic Games.  We should assume that by now pretty much all
of the Olympic athletes will have had a chance to request cushions and so
will only be a few more required, as these can only be delivered by Woolsack
prior to the Games starting.  

Actually we have had a strong response all along from Paralympians, so many
cushions are already earmarked or even delivered.  This means that we only
expect around 100 further cushions at most will be needed now and the
Finchley Finishers, Jane and Irene have around half of these almost ready
for delivery.  So this should be achievable in the time available.

The option thereafter is to create an informal matching service, probably on
Facebook, since most of the athletes use it, so that any cushion requests
can be listed and responded to by volunteer cushion makers.  There will be
enough stuffing, labels, free natural coloured yarn and at-cost dyed yarn
for this to happen but it will have to be done on a personal basis after
22nd August, so the makers will also have to arrange postage or other
delivery themselves.  We will be formally announcing this via our many media
channels.

Back to JaneSTUFFING & FINISHING CUSHIONS
Sue mentioned the Finchley Finishers.  During the course of Fibre-East last weekend we realised that so much cushion distribution is taking place in and around London that it made sense for the stuffing and finishing to move to there.  With a speed that may be unfamiliar to other 'organisations' involved with the 2012 Games we set up the Finchley Finishers Cushion Distribution Centre under the leadership of Liz Alcock and involving members of Finchley Women's Institute Craft Group.
Most cushions will now be stuffed here so please contact liz@woolsack.org or irene@woolsack.org for the address.

Could you please include enough appropriate yarn for the open side of the cushion to be sewn up.  Also, if you would like your cushion to have a label with your personal message to the recipient, then please download, print and complete a label from the website:
 http://www.woolsack.org/posters
or put on a sheet of paper the information you would like us to add to a label and include that with your cushion.
Any queries you can send directly to liz@woolsack.org

FREE BRITISH WOOL YARN

Just to let you know we still have some cones of donated yarn dyed in various colours, which can be used for cushions: cost is £10 per kg plus postage so a cone works out at £3-5. Colours include plum, olive, gold, yellow, turquoise, brown, blue, coral, purple & green.  Irene has access to the naturally coloured yarn which is free apart from postage.   A lot of what is left now is oiled so will need hanking and washing before knitting, but is suitable for knitting by machine as well. Quite a lot is 4-ply so probably best worked doubled to speed things!

Please contact sue@woolack.org and irene@woolsack.org

The website is having photographs and stories added daily now.  One thing that has emerged as people have sent in photographs of athletes with their cushions or reported back on their meetings with Olympic & Paralympic teams from the UK and beyond is the WOOLSACK HUG

This is an international and seemingly universal response by athletes to having a cushion to hold – they are hugging to themselves the love, welcome and support you've all included with your cushions.

One of my favourites can be seen in the news entry for 12 July

There are a lot of photographs still to be added to the Gifts of Cushions section – lots of people have already spotted their cushion.  Neither has the Past Stuffing Events section been forgotten.  Getting the news about cushions out to athletes and dealing with emails and social media and actually getting cushions to athletes had to take precedence, but my personal challenge is to have the website completed by the closing date for cushions.  So my apologies to those disappointed not to have seen photographs of your stuffing events – they will be going up ready for when the National Archives and British Library archive Woolsack.

As an idea of the scale of the project so far, by last weekend cushions had gone to athletes from over 30 different countries and to Team GB members representing over 17 different sports.  That doesn't include Team GB Track & Field – I delivered all the cushions for them to UK Athletics in Loughborough on Monday and they will be getting them to our Track & Field athletes.

SUMMARY OF IMPORTANT POINTS

Closing date 22 August.   All cushions have to be completed, stuffed, labelled and in London by 22nd August

New arrangements for stuffing cushions

Free and at-cost dyed British wool yarn still available

All cushions have gone to Olympic & Paralympic athletes, teams & squads and we are meeting requests as fast as we can.

Jane Cooper