Guidelines on how to make Woolsack cushions


On 12 July we reached the exciting point where, despite the challenges of getting cushions to athletes within LOCOG restrictions, every cushion made was either already with an Olympic or Paralympic athlete or going to one.  Requests were still coming in though so we did issue the call to make more cushions.  Hoever we also have to be sensible and set a practical limit and deadline:  we are 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.  Information about posting your cushion for stuffing can be obtained using the Posting Cushions option in the drop down menu on the Contact Page.  Finchley Finishers are stuffing and finishing the final cushions, but now they are being posted to a private address we don't want to list it on the website.

If you still want to make a cushion please could you contact us through the Census & Distribution option in the drop down menu on the Contact Page  It's very important at this point that we keep a running check on numbers of cushions requested and numbers being made.

There are no preferred colours or patterns - the only stipulations are:

The cushions must be pure British wool or fibre, from sheep or other fibre animals in the UK (including the Falkland Islands, a British Overseas Territory), natural or dyed colours, hand or machine spun.  So this includes fibres such as mohair, alpaca, angora and camel where they are from UK animals.  Some British wools carry the Association of British Wool Licensees trademark, but many producers and suppliers of wool yarn that comes entirely from British animals and is even wholly processed within the UK have not applied to use the trademark, so yarn for the project does not have to carry the trademark. 


What is important is that the wool/fibre comes from British animals.


If you use hand spun yarn from home scoured fleece, then please could you attach a label that states this - just something temporary that enables us to ensure these cushions are only given to athletes from countries that will allow home scoured wool to be imported.  We aren't able to accept any cushions made from yarn 'spun in the grease'.


Cushions made from hand spun yarn from commercially prepared spinning wool/fibre do not need to be specially marked.


They must be 16"/40cm square and made sufficiently densely to permit direct stuffing with wool (this is both the cheapest and the most effective in terms of making a fully British product with fire retarding properties) or have a wool interlining.  They should be made flat, ready for stuffing and weill be sewn up to complete (please see below about stuffing).


You may use any single technique or combination of techniques, including knitting, crochet, felting, weaving, embroidery, tapestry, sewn using British wool cloth etc.  There is more information here about techniques that require a canvas or non-wool component.  Please read this carefully before starting your cushion.


As Woolsack is an Inspire project and part of the Cultural Olympiad there are restrictions about using Olympic logos and brand marks as these have been allocated to the commercial sponsors without whom the Games would not happen.


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
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


In addition,  in accordance with Rule 51 of the Olympic Charter, please ensure your design does NOT include:

  • Religious symbols
  • Racial Propaganda
  • Political Images or Messages


The cushions must be stuffed with the British wool stuffing which has been donated to Woolsack.


There are a number of events and shows around the country where you can bring your cushion(s) if you wish to do the stuffing and sewing up yourself.  If your group/guild is anticipating producing at least 20 cushions between yourselves and others living in your area then you can contact us to ask to hold your own stuffing event.  More information about that here.  More stuffing events are being added to the list all the time, so keep looking out for one near you.

What to bring to a stuffing event

Please bring appropriate matching yarn/thread for sewing up your cushion after stuffing.

Please also bring, if you have been able to download it, a label to attach to your cushion telling the recipient something about yourself.

We do provide needles and scissors, but you may wish to bring your own.

If you aren't able to attend a stuffing event then please contact us. 

We can advise of where you can post your cushion, spare yarn for finishing and label, and one of our team of volunteers will stuff your cushion(s) for you.