This project has been inspired by not only our friend Bee but by others who have children with autism and also by wonderful people who have either been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s or have had to support loved ones whilst often feeling helpless to know how to support them..
A few times now we have been asked to help families out on a one to one basis with lap sized sensory blankets for wonderful folk who may have dementia, alzheimer’s or autism.These blankets can be a soothing, stimulating and comforting resource and the feedback we have had from those we have made has been very positive. We’d like to help more fabulous individuals and so are looking to develop this into an ongoing project with your help.
There are plenty of ideas to be found online, they are called many things – Sensory Mats, busy blankets, fidget blankets etc, but we have come up with some guidelines.
Bee’s Blankets MUST be machine washable. Everything MUST be sewn on securely and then securely! They must be safe and sturdy.
Blankets to be lap sized only, so from 50cm up to one metre, no bigger or smaller please.
Blankets can be made in wool, fabric, fleece and need to have interesting textures. This does not need to be too complicated, a classic granny square by its nature is very tactile.
Please do add on extra fiddly bits, but these MUST be securely fastened so as not to put the recipient at risk.
Suggested extras include zips, ribbon, plastic rings, pompom trim, toggles etc. . All must be very secure!
We were delighted to be approached by the Lead Governor for the Hampshire Hospital in Basingstoke who were desperately trying to find blankets and 3D hanging hearts for their organ donation team to use with organ recipients their families and the families of those who are bravely donating loved ones organs. We’d love to help them, we hope you will be on board too. When we introduced this at the Manchester Hugathon recently, folk were certainly very supportive.It certainly will be a very special thing to be able to do.
The Hearts for organ recipients, their families and the bereaved families donating organs.
Aiming for hand held/palm size. These will go to children and adults so variation in size is good. But hand held size is what we are aiming for.
To be predominantly red. Accent colours can be used, but NOT white please. This is because in folklore, red and white together represents blood and bandages and is quite common to avoid these colours together in hospitals.
Hearts should be 3D and soft, so with some padding please.
Please add a hanging loop.
Knit, crochet, fabric all welcome.
The hearts we are after are very similar to the Hearty Hearts we already make so that we know is popular. Went through the hearts we had here and found these beauties, all perfect for this project too.
Blankets and Quilts
This is a perfect project for our fabric crafters to get behind as lightweight quilts would be perfect for this too.
Blankets to be roughly single bed sized, (80cm long and 45cm wide was their minimum guidance) any colour, but go cheery and bright, made as a whole piece or by joining squares etc. Whilst blankets will be steam cleaned in hospital, once home they will need to be machine washable and tumble dryable yarn. SSDK is perfect.
These will go to individuals who have received transplants
Lovely Maggie S sent two blankets and said we could choose the project and we would like them to go to this.
Posting will be Teddington. We’d like to send a first collection, so an initial last posting please of Saturday 4th March. Thank you!
Really this is our opportunity to say thank you, THANK YOU! Woolly Hugs can only function with the love and suppport of you wonderful people. We love this astonishing community. Truly extraordinary!
Hopefully now we are moving away from the restrictions and lockdowns associated with COVID. We feel able to look forward and plan. Keep it all crossed folks!
So as the old year draws to an end, we love to pause and to reflect upon the Woolly year just gone. We look back in awe and wonder at how amazing folk have been, full of spirit, compassion, generosity, enthusiasm, love and care, truly it feels boundless. Donors and crafters alike, what you do means so much and our coming together as Woolly Hugs is very special indeed. We never take any of this for granted. Ever.
Our Candy’s Hug project
On Christmas Eve our Candy’s Hug project turned six years old. In many ways it feels like 5 minutes since it began. We miss Candy (Zombie to many) and wish she knew how far her legacy has now reached. Our aim has always been to make comforting cosy blankets with love in every stitch for women going through treatment for breast and other cancers, at times forming part of palliative care. It is still such a busy project with almost 400 blankets delivered to wonderful women (and men and children too) undergoing treatment for cancer. Its a project of love and strength, of friendship, of creativity, of coming together to show compassion, support and give and receive comfort. How lucky we were to know Candy.
The invasion of Ukraine by Russia as we all know is incredibly devastating, some of our Chernob families have been able to leave, others have to stay, but the CCLL continue to be astonishing in their efforts to support families. Even those who managed to flee now have incredible stuggles as funding ceases and finding accommodation or meeting basic needs are a challenge.
At the beginning of December, 100 Ukrainian children were driven to Lubin in Poland by our friends at the CCLL for a respite break with Christmas treats and Father Frost! We can only imagine how much this was needed. These children already have very little, still with the threats from the legacy of Chernobyl , now with war looming all around and the impact that has on every part of daily life. Each child was given one of our blankets.
Here is a snapshot, if you follow the @Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline Charity on social media, you will see more photos of their event. This is overwhelming. What the CCLL have done here is extraordinary, so glad these children and families have a warm blanket full of love from us.
This means the world. Thank you!
We have already launched our Chernobyl project for 2023, and are calling it Chernobyl 100 because with your love and support, we aim to send the same number of blankets again. Please can you help us?! Crafting info for the Early Birds. Chernobyl 100!
We are also working on a plan to send some sensory lap-blankets for children and young people who would benefit from this type of blanket. We will be announcing soon and are excited to see what folk come up with, the more creative the better! The plan will be to send at the same time as the Chernobs. News soon!
Hand Knits for Care Leavers
Our Christmas Hand Knits for Care Leavers project has proved incredibly popular amongst our knitters, and it was EPIC to be able to send as many sets as we did. Some may be glad to hear there is a new scarf pattern has been introduced for 2023, the link is on the page, see here…..
Care Leavers Christmas Dinners were originally set up by the poet Lemn Sissay to help communities provide a Christmas Day for young care leavers (of foster and care homes) aged 18-25, who often spend the day alone. It aims to be a magical day to be cherished and remembered by those who attend, with care leavers being able to gather together for food, pressies, company and fun on the 25th. The hand knitted hats and scarves are included with the presents given to the care leavers.
Our Christmas Cwtch Project
Our Christmas Cwtch Project was hugely successful again in 2022, it is in its 4th year now, with both woolly and fabric Cwtches going to very sick children in hospital over Christmas at the Great North Children’s Hospital in Newcastle. It must be incredibly tough for the children and their entire families and we hope our festive blankets and quilts add some colour and let them know folk are thinking of them. As with every blanket we send they truly are made and sent with love. Thank you too to lovely Marie Samuels on Ward 2 for all her efforts! All hail the NHS!
Our Little Hug project (click here for full info) is as strong as ever, thanks to such amazing support from our crafters. These blankets are for very sick children at The Royal Hospital for Children,Glasgow, the Great North Children’s Hospital in Newcastle, John Radcliffe NICU in Oxford, teens at the Great Ormond Street and for teens at the Teen cancer Ward at the Royal Marsden. We were able too, to take a collection for the very sickest teens who are transferred from the Marsden Teen cancer unit to St George’s at Tooting if they need intensive care. These blankets go regularly throughout the year and we are very grateful to staff in the hospitals who get them to families. It’s an extra job and we really appreciate it. Thank you too to Lucy Jarvis for continuing to support here by acting as our link and deliverting them for us. Means the world.
From a Royal Marsden mum. Picture shows the actual blanket. But the most enormous thanks to everyone who crafts or donates to make this happen.
“My teenage daughter M has cancer. She has been in hospital recently and was not happy about being there. She has Autism and finds the entire hospital process very stressful. The nurse explained the blanket was hers to keep. M has slept with it ever since. I want you to know this kind generous gesture has meant so much, to see it calm her down has eased my aching heart beyond measure. Thank you.” More than just a blanket.
Just the tiniest sample of the hundreds of Little Hugs which have gone this year.
Our Angel Hug project
Our Angel Hug project continues too, helping support bereaved families in Glasgow maternity wards, and are able to support SANDS if needed. Our blankets are always handmade with love and compassion and so are perfect. We can help care for the whole family at this time by making the baby comfortable and snuggled up whilst sending love and a hug to the parents and wider family.Loved and looked after. Precious blankets to care for families going through devastating bereavement. Photo below shows the delivery which went in December. Read more about this project here.
Billie’s Blankets for World Child Cancer in Malawi, November 2022
In August we had a request from World Child Cancer and are delighted that post COVID they are able to get back to their hospitals and help children and their families. The delivery was due to go to their project in Malawi in November. Sadly for everyone this has been postponed until next year. But our eautiful collection is ready as soon as they are. So not cancelled, just postponed. Two beauties from our collection below..
Our Refugee project
Our Refugee project during the pandemic has been incredibly challenging as we have struggled to get items to folk in need. Currently it is still impossible for us to reach folk in Refugee camps as we historically have done, and we long for the time when this is possible again. At present we are focussing on blankets and blanket squares and are reaching folk in this country. Read more about this here.
We are supporting families being resettled from Afghanistan and Ukraine. Below are Tania and Maryna from Ukraine, currently living in the UK but busily raising funds for a field hospital and night vision goggles. Truly inspiring women.
A Snug for Christmas 2022 was supporting Looked after children in Middlesbrough and Portsmouth. So many beautiful blankets, folk are truly astonishing. Our aim is to give these children and young people something unique and permanent which they can take with them wherever they are. Each blanket was utterly fantastic. One recipient, a lad phoned support workers to say thank you for his blanket, and his sisters. They truly are so loved. A Snug for Christmas 2023 will go ahead, region to be confirmed, thank you so much. All info here…
Just a few of the wonderful Snugs from this years project .
Mumsnet Woolly Hug blankets
We’ve worked hard all year supporting bereaved Mumsnet families, it is an honour to do so, and we hope that through our love they will feel some comfort. Thank you so much to all crafters and donors alike, what you do is amazing.We say our Woolly Hugs are a tribute and a tangible sign of a life filled with love. We know the recipient families love them. All these beautiful Mumsnet Woolly Hug blankets have been made/delivered to families this year. All utterly stunning and so personal. We are so glad we can do this but how we wish there was ever any need. Thank you so much to the crew who work tirelessly and never seem to get fazed by requests.
Kinship Hugs too, have been a wonderful blessing. They are an extension of, and in addition to, our existing Little Hug project. We make bigger blankets for folk in need of comfort. So many have gone this year, truly always made and sent with so much love. Sometimes we head into our amazing group known as the Square Squad to make personalised Kinship Blankets, with specific requests for personalised squares. No request ever seems to faze folk!
Dear all, we can’t thank you enough for the most incredible gift we have received. Ava is going through a really tricky time in her life and for her to have received something so so stunning and warm and practical that she can treasure forever was beautiful and brought tears to our eyes. She sleeps with it every night and she is obsessed with all the detail and we keep finding new things. But most of all we are touched by the time and the love you have shown to Ava by the efforts you have made and that alone can help little Ava fight this journey. Quoting Ava : “ I can’t believe people who don’t know me made this special thing for me and they think I’m brave, it’s so cosy and I feel so lucky”
Our new Peony Project.
Absolutely brand new, so no wool to show just yet. We are delighted to be launching The Peony project, which aims to support wonderful older folk on the Elderly Care ward at the RVI in Newcastle. We were so pleased to receive a request arrived from them, have included part of the email…
We receive your lovely blankets for children and babies on our ward which are very much appreciated. (These are our Little Hugs/Chrsitmas Cwtches for Newcastle)
I just wanted to let you know that we had a call a while ago about a dementia patient in Adult PICU. He needed to be distracted and loved woollen things to keep him calm. We did take one of your larger blankets up to help and it was very much appreciated. It felt to me that the blankets were being made for the beginning of someones life as a baby and at the end for someone with this terrible desease…
It was just a thought, we do have a specific Elderly Care ward here which is ward 31 if you would be interested in helping them in any way.
Thank you again for all you do, they are so beautiful and I know how much work must go into each and every one of them, so thank you again.
It has been a real joy for us that we were able to restart holding our Hugathon events post Covid. It came almost to the wire with our first to Edinburgh in March, but regulations shifted just in time! PHEW! We love these events, meeting our woolly army of fabulous cheery enthusiastic folk who come and make the day very special indeed! These events are always such a whirl and are always so utterly fabulous!
Maybe try to come to one if we come your way?! Hugathons are a wonderful opportunity to meet fellow Woolly Huggers who share a love of crafting.They are very friendly and inclusive. It is a great time for chatting with your fellow Woolly crew and sharing ideas. We are slowly moving around the country, but obviously holding these events have a huge impact on our families, so we really can hold only 3 or 4 a year. But in 2022, we were absolutely delighted to visit Edinburgh, Portsmouth and Gloucester! We hope all attendees enjoyed them as much as we did! Thank you for coming! We already have Manchester (SOLD OUT), Edinburgh and Central London in the diary for 2023, and the Christmas event is in the planning stage!
We headlined at Camp Bestival!
In our hearts, but we went as Woolly Hugs and had the most wonderful, exhausting time running workshops, huge thanks to all the lovelies who cut our circles and helped us prep. For us it was a great opportunity to meet new crafters, to engage with a wider audience abour Woolly Hugs, to network with outher charities nd agencies and spread the woolly love! Also SO MANY POMPOMS!
Two more wonderful craft sales have been held this year, we are so grateful to all crafters and buyers alike. We are always stunned by the talent in our ranks, we know the woolly side but these sales get us to see another side! Amazing. Thank you to lovely Caroline B for gamely taking on the ENORMOUS task of packing and posting. Honestly we know how massive this is and are truly indebted to her!
CALM provide amazing support for those worried about someone, with loads of info, ideas, suggestions, plus helplines, web chats for supporters and those struggling. They also have support and information for those who have lost someone to suicide. Reading their website, we are so impressed with the quality, breadth of info and ease of access. Please do find them and remember them.
Here are just a few of the wonderful and varied crafts. Folk are astonishingly talented and so generous. THANK YOU!
All hail the incredible Construction Crew AGAIN! What an extraordinary bunch of folk. At times our requests (Cwtches, Candy’s, Kinship, Snugs, Refugee blankets, Chernobs) are RELENTLESS and often with short notice. 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. And the SPEED OF RESPONSE! We send you random squares, you work wonderful magic and send back astonishing blankets. Thank you!
If anyone would like more info about either the Construction Crew, or Square Squad, just shout, we have separate Facebook groups for these two which are open to all, but having them separate hopefully stops requests getting lost on our main page.
And if you are wondering…. Our Spring Craft Sale will take place between March 13th – 18th, with a last posting of March 1st! THANK YOU!!!!
And to end the year we were Stylecraft’s Charity Champions! How lovely was this?! Thank you for all nominations and votes, we were absolutely chuffed!
Thank you too to all on our wonderful Woolly Pack Facebook page for being marvellous. Come and find us if you’re not already there, it is our friendly and welcoming virtual pub! An extension to our regular Woolly Hugs page. All welcome to join, it’s a Facebook group with a positive chatty environment, sometimes wool chat, often not, offering support whilst avoiding doom & gloom. Contribute as much as you like. No selling, no spam, no abuse, only support and kindness permitted. Cheers! The link is here hopefully…
The most enormous thanks to our wonderful social media admin team. They are such a source of strength and wisdom, never get fazed, always jump to help us. They give above and beyond.We honestly could not manage without them, thank you Steph, Caroline, Alexsis, Jo, Jen, Ali and Lisa!
A special HUGE thank you to Alexsis for coming to our rescue and organising with her landlord a storage location attached to her wonderful Seeded shop in Southsea. With funds we had saved we bought a BIG SHED! It was built for us last January.We don’t have to pay rent which is extraordinary and this truly has saved us! THANK YOU!
And we must thank Tortie, always there, getting into trouble, but we adore him, more than a mascot! If we didn’t say this he would be a NIGHTMARE!
Just reading this is exhausting, can you imagine how many stitches for Woolly Hugs there have been in 2022? 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.
If you are reading this thinking you’d like to jump in, PLEASE make 2023 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.
2023 already looks exciting, we’d best be ready!
The most enormous love and thanks from us both G&G xxxx
The Great Woolly Hugs’ Hugathon in Edinburgh takes place on Saturday 4th March 2023, between 11.00am and 3.30pm, at St Columba’s by the Castle Church Hall in central Edinburgh, just off the Royal Mile, close to Edinburgh Castle. If you are coming, look out for the big blue door, it really does stand out! The full address is below.
Our Venue is fully accessible. Access to the venue is via a gentle and wheelchair-friendly ramp from the street pavement and there is a lift to the level of the hall and garden area downstairs. There are accessible bathroom facilities.
Our Hugathons are a wonderful opportunity to meet fellow Woolly Huggers who share a love of crafting.They are very friendly and inclusive. It is a great time for chatting with your fellow Woolly crew and sharing ideas. If Tortie behaves we will let him come too! We’ve included some testimonials from folk who have been to one before, which might be useful if this is your first time.
During the Hugathon we will attempt to get as many 6 inch squares made. In Edinburgh we are focussing on our Chernobyl Project 2023. We will provide all SSDK, but please remember to bring your 4mm hooks/knitting needles, you will need them! If you have any squares already made for THIS project, please bring them, it may be that we can get some kits out for construction.
We will also be running a rather fabulous Lucky Dip (£1 a go) and our legendary Gin Raffle (£1 a ticket) We will also be running a DeStash table. If you have crafting items to donate to our DeStash table please do bring, remember one person’s destash is another person’s treasure!
And finally we will play our Yarn Bingo game, you will not want to miss this!
We have use of the kitchen area, and will provide the wherewithal for making tea and coffee for a donation. Bring a packed lunch, snacks and drinks, we won’t judge if that is alcohol!
COVID – Covid is here to stay and we must all be mindful and work within the local guidance.
A few pics from 2022!
Do join us, we’d love to meet you or see you again. And if you are worried about not knowing anyone, let us know and we can get you seated and chatting as quick as a flash.
From folk who have been to a Hugathon before…
Walking into a room of people you might have never met could be daunting … but at the Hugathon you are surrounded immediately with love, purpose and wool! What better way to spend a day? Alexsis
A warm woolly welcome to all. I travelled there alone, anxiously entered, not knowing a soul. Within a few mins I felt so welcomed and part of this wonderful group. A room full of like minded people, wool galore, cakes, tea, coffee, and probably gin Julie
A wonderful experience meeting friends and like minded people. Like sinking into a warm bath of friendship I’ve always known but never met before. Jen
Attending the Woolly Hugs Hugathon was an amazing experience, putting faces to the names you had made friends with online in the pursuit of a common goal to spread yarn love around the UK and the World. Paula
A fabulous day meeting ‘strangers’ I have known online for years. Sharing yarn, craft skills, cake and laughter. Returning home full of love for the wonderful Woolly Huggers! Jo
It was lovely to meet all the folk I have made virtual friends with online . It gave me a real sense of us working together helping to make something beautiful and worthwhile . It was also lovely for the chat , laughter and to admire the amazing craftmanship going on around me , and how everyone was happy to share their expertise Steph
The hugathon is where the WH virtual community crosses over into a face to face community, meeting others who you may have got to know online. It’s so lovely to be able to sit and work and natter together, comparing notes and making friends. It epitomises the spirit of WH, crafters working together to benefit others. Alison
I’ve only been to one but it was brilliant and had gin Anna
How to get there…
Lothian Region Transport buses run along nearby George IV Bridge and Lothian Road. The venue is also close to Princes Street and George Street, further bus information can be found at the City Council website.
The venue is also reasonably close to Edinburgh’s Waverley station for rail services.