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2018. Our Review of a Woolly Whirlwind!

We hope everyone is enjoying the rest from the woolly whirlwind that was 2018! Looking back it truly has been the most extraordinary year full of the most extraordinary days! We are filled with awe at the response and enthusiasm to all our projects, yet again folk never fail to amaze, the Woolly Hug crew are full of spirit, compassion, generosity, LOVE and care, truly it feels boundless. Crafters and donors what you do is incredibly special and precious, giving woolly warmth comfort to others. Incredible. We never take any of this for granted. Ever.

Thank you again for every thought given to our projects, every piece of ours you have read, the likes, shares, every SINGLE stitch, ball of yarn, search for pattern or idea, every single penny spent, every choice from our Amazon wishlist, every penny donated or raised, every single moment, every BLOOMIN pesky end, every ounce of support, every resource, every Post office queue, everything!

Thank you xxx

What a woolly journey we are all on together! 2018 saw the continuation of our Ongoing projects with new ones adding in. From here in the UK to as far away as Syria, Kurdistan, Belarus, Malawi and Ghana children and families feeling love, warmth, support and comfort through our Refugee Project, Billie’s Blankets, Little Hugs inc Hugs for Manchester, Kinship Hugs Thinking too of all the families in Glasgow and the surrounds who have received our Angel Hugs and Teds incredibly bleak and devastating times. Love in every stitch we say and it really is true.

OurCandy’s Hugs are reaching out to even more wonderful women going through different stages of cancer treatment. Requests are coming in all the time and we will need to work hard to ensure we can keep up with demand. This year we went through mixed emotions as over 100 blankets have now been sent to their new owners. Truly love in every stitch for these women and their families. We hope our wonderful friend Candy would be proud of her legacy, we certainly are for her. We get the most wonderful messages from recipients, so glad we can do this for them. Thank you everyone. xx

Our Christmas Hugs for children living in the Chernobyl contaminate zone was wonderfully supported again this year, we know how much the children adore their new cuddly friends, children living in extreme poverty, it is a fantastic project as we were so glad to send so many again off to their new homes this year. We were delighted to be able to add to this with a new project this year,  the Christmas Stocking Project to help Father Frost in Belarus. Our wonderful friends at the Mid Suffolk Chernobyl Children’s Life line run a fantastic Christmas project where inthe run up to Christmas, they personally take filled stockings to Belarus, to very sick children in hospitals and also to the homes of very disadvantaged children. Their aim is to give the children a real Christmas present and those they give to have most likely never received a Christmas present before.  It is very important to note this is absolutely not one of those shoe box appeals, so these stockings do not include functional toothpaste/brush type items, and there are no strings attached. It is just a wonderful thing to be able to do for some of the most disadvantaged and sick children. Our first collection went in the middle of the hottest summer in many years, was a very odd and yet wonderful thing to be sorting Christmas stockings in such intense heat!

The Class of 2018! Christmas Hugs for Belarus.
Beautiful! Children with Christmas Hugs from our 2017 collection.

2018 saw the advent of Snugs for Looked after children and we were totally blown away and humbled by the incredible response. Or aim was to make blankets for children and young people (0-16years) who are being looked after within the Children’s Family Trust. The Children’s Family Trust work with these children aiming to give them stability and security through to adulthood, helping them achieve their full potential, with the ideal being fostered within a family for life. We wanted to make these children something permanent, that they can take with them wherever they are.  We set a palette and together we were off making squares, hundred of them! Some wonderful crafters even made their own whole Snugs, just awesome, we can’ thank everyone enogh, including the ever awesome Construction Crew who keep on giving their time and energies to magic squares into blankets, dealing with different textures, <ahem> variations on size and sometimes dreaded left on peskies. THANKYOU!! So Phase One was a collection of blankets for their ‘South Central’  group, so those based around Hampshire and the collection of blankets went in July, the staff were utterly thrilled, knowing how much they would love them, and were busily sorting them in their minds, looking at colours and styles, was wonderful!

Our first collection of Snugs for the ‘South Central” region, July 2018

A Snug for Christmas (Phase 2) achieved 72 blankets (we had aimed for 60!) for looked after children in the Midlands region. Extraordinary. And all 72 became a rather glorious and short lived yarn bomb, just look at that!

Because of your love and support we keep moving forward with the ambition to help as many folk as possible

Chernobyl 2018 was yet again quite extraordinary, not least because it was running alongside our first Snug phase! For the last five years now we have been making warm, comforting Little Hugs for Belarusian teenagers and children visiting the UK for recuperative holidays during the summer with fabulous charities inc the Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline. Our aim was to achieve 100+ and we blew this out of the water achieving 120. Not all groups host every year, but this year we were able to send to all children visiting these groups…

Fife, Isle of Wight, St Ives, Bristol, Northampton, Chet and Waveney in Norfolk, Mid Suffolk, Aberdeen and Ayrshire

Just one of the BIG sorts for the Chernobyl project 2018!

We had a wonderful day meeting the children visiting the Bristol group this year, a total privilege such amazing dedication from their organisers and host families. What they all do for these children is incredible!

Again all hail the incredible Construction Crew who have really exceeded themselves in 2018, at times our requests are relentless and they never fail to support even when they must be on their knees! For this and several other projects, we could not function without you, the sheer joyful enthusiasm our calls for help is met with makes us so teary and thankful, what wonders you are. Thank you!

All hail the Construction Crew! All these Chernobyl kits ready to go to those WOOLLY WONDERS!

We all love seeing photos of the children wrapped in love and cosy comfort which continues as they go home to Belarus. And to all those wonderful folk who sent extras and ice cream funds too, it all makes a real difference to the lives of these children, what amazing empathy and generosity, thank you. This was also our first year of Hugs for Heads, and it really was fantastic to be able to send the children home with a hat, sometimes two to wear this winter. Thank you so much to all out hat makers!

OOOOOO and we now have a YouTube channel!! Ok so there is one film on there but it is one for the Chernobs, enjoy watching it again!

When your phone camera roll looks like this – Chernobs ahoy!!
Ice cream funds for our wonderful Chernobs!
The Chernob collection for the children visiting the Isle of Wight!

The Chernobs for our group visiting Northampton, Summer 2018

Chernob blankets in action in Belarus 2018

We had changes to our Refugee project this year and we are so pleased with how it is working. We’ve introduced a posting window which now runs between November 1st round to Easter, to try to make things more manageable for us. We have also introduced more guidelines on items we accept – all to be darker unisex colours and clothing wise from baby age one up wards. These changes have been driven by the agencies who distribute, thank you so much to everyone for their support over this transition.  Hundreds of items have already gone this year, truly love in every stitch for those who receive them. It was wonderful too to help Debbie Bliss take warm hats, blankets and scarves over to France just a week or so ago in December. The amount of woolly treasure we receive here is truly humbling. So much love and woolly warmth going to folk who really need support, our thoughts are with all the families.

Most recently we have started a new project which we are calling Bee’s Blankets, the aim here is to make sensory lap sized blankets for folk who would benefit from this type of blanket, maybe for those with dementia, Alzheimers or autism. The response even in mid December has been mind blowing. Folk are keen to plan and come up with ideas, and we love that this project lends itself very well indeed to those who like to sew too, we are excited to see what folk come up with, the more creative the better!

And the Hugathon! Wooooohoooooo!!!!! We’ve been talking about holding one of these for YEARS and finally at the end of September it came into being at the stunning Square Tower in Old Portsmouth. We were having mild panics that no one would come, then we opened the doors and there was a veritable woolly army of fabulous cheery enthusiastic folk who came and made the day so very special indeed! The day was such a whirl and it was so utterly fabulous to meet so many, wonderful to see so many crafters chatting, crafting, meeting up with friends old and new, oh and there was a BAR!! Hopefully next time we will be calmer and be able to take more of it in, and we have taken on board suggestions to improve it. We have had requests to move all over the country and we will certainly do this in time, but are running Woolly Hugs around families which makes it tricky at the moment, so Hugathon 2 will take place back at the Square Tower in Portsmouth on September 22nd 2019, pencil us in to your new diaries and calendars, tickets will be on sale in the Spring!

And if this wasn’t enough folk together we very recently raised £1150 for CRY ( Cardiac Risk in the Young) through our Christmas Craft Sale, with over £2000 going to support our ongoing projects, and earlier in the year held a wonderful Spring Sale, funds from which directly went into supporting our Chernobyl Project. We are eternally grateful to all who wave pompoms, craft, donate and buy THANK YOU!!!!!

We were also incredibly pleased to be able to auction a wonderful blanket, with contributions from so many for Candlelighters in memory of the wonderful Joseph who devastatingly died from neuroblastoma. Candlelighters is an amazing charity supporting families facing children’s cancer in Yorkshire, including Joseph and his family. They get involved in all sorts of different projects to help ordinary families who are facing extraordinary circumstances. It raised £276, thank you so much to everyone who supported this in any way.

The Auction Blanket for Candlelighter’s in memory of beautiful Joseph xxx

Holding a Summer of Woolly Love and right now a Winter of Woolly Love gives the option to be busy over the breaks, we know some like to keep going or may find they have more time during holidays. Currently our Winter of Woolly Love has us making Candy’s Hug squares and Hearty Hearts the latter is another new project for which all will become clear! <mysterious>

2018 saw the introduction of the Square Squad, a Facebook group made up of fabulous folk (all welcome to join) who are able to make squares for specific Little Hugs or family blankets. It enables us to reach more people and families with personalised Hugs. We are so grateful to them. the Square Squad is in its early days, but we are delighted with how it’s going. Many many thanks to them all. xxx

And we now have a SHOP!! Its called Bodkins after a dear friend of ours, and has bags, gin glasses and stuff you may want, have a look…. But do bear with if buying over the Christmas break!

Our very special blankets for bereaved families have continued this year, photos of some are below, each family’s loss is beyond measure, we hope our Woolly Hugs can give a little comfort, they are full of personalisations, memories, a true tribute to a life lived with love. They mean so much to the recipient families, thank you so much for all your help.

Just reading this is exhausting, can you imagine how many stitches for Woolly Hugs there have been in 2018? We are absolutely thankful and grateful for every single one.We truly salute all the Woolly Hugs crew, proud to be in amongst the most awesome bunch of folk. We all do what we can do, we all fit in this in around families, busy lives, work commitments, a hundred and one other things, which truly makes it all so amazing. No one can do this alone. We just do our best, tis all we have. And if you are reading this thinking you’d like to jump in, PLEASE make 2019 the year you do, we’d love to have you with us, message us if you you’d like a chat about how. Our aim is always to be inclusive, no one should be excluded because they can’t afford to join in and we welcome all levels of ability, from someone keen to begin to learn to someone with a lot of experience.

 

2019 already looks exciting, we’d best be ready!

The most enormous love and thanks from us both xxxx

Just a few more pics… Impossible to share them all unfortunately!

 

 

We have been collecting old pound coins – keeping going until the end of January!
So this thing happened! 😲 6000 likes here in FB!! Thank you everyone for making this woolly world what it is ❤️ x
We are all FAMOUS! 😃 This is the latest edition of the mag Simply Knitting, issue 181 and look who’s in it!
So many pics like this one!
Post office run in the snow in 2018!
May the Fourth be with you…
Always this….