Posted in Crafts, knitting, Life, Love and Laughter

Knit for Peace of Mind

I recently helped to organise a Staff Wellbeing knitting demonstration at work, and whilst researching a few bits and pieces, I came across a great little website for the charity Knit for Peace.  When I contacted them, they kindly agreed that we could use their website for our stall, they sent us a whole stack of bookmarks to hand out and I also bought their publication ‘The Health Benefits of Knitting’ (which is also available to download).  It is well worth a read.

mdeThe idea behind the organisation is to hook up knitters with people that need knitted (or crochetted) items. Pretty much any hand made garments are welcome for people of all ages and sizes, as well as soft toys, blankets and even twiddlemuffs for dementia patients. If you can’t knit they welcome donations of wool and needles, and they are also on the look out for cash donations to help run the charity.  So far so good.

But it was the story behind how the organisation started that cought my eye.  It grew from projects that started in Rwanda with Hutu and Tutsi war widows, and Muslim and Hindu women in Delhi, knitting for orphaned and homeless children.  It was a way of bringing naturally opposing communities together to work for a common cause. This idea then grew when knitters and crochetters in the UK asked for causes to knit for.  Now they collect knitted items in the UK and send them where they are needed, both in this country and all over the world.


I am both a knitter and a crochetter, but I am not good at big projects as I get bored and lose interest, and I have no one to knit little things for.  I made all of the family fingerless gloves for Christmas a couple of years ago but I’ve no idea if any of them have ever been worn.  So I decided to give this a go instead.  I have a mountain of wool waiting to be made into something and I have made a few items in the past that have been sitting around waiting for a home.  They include a cowl, a couple of pairs of baby mittens and a little soft toy.  So last night I decided to get my favourite vintage baby pattern book out and make some booties.


I love this little book.  I’m not sure sure where I found it – probably a charity shop – and I knitted a few things from it for my boys when they were babies.  My youngest is now 20, so that was a while ago.  But after I bought it, my Mum told me that she had the exact same booklet when I was a baby, so I also wore clothes made from these patterns. How cool is that?

I picked up a couple of odd balls of wool from a charity shop a week or so ago and didn’t know what to do with them, so, even though they are not the usual baby-blue, pink, lemon, mint or white, I decided to knit the booties with it.  mde

The boy’s Great-Gran would have a fit.  She told me off once for putting one of them in navy blue socks before we’d even left the hospital – “He has his whole life to wear dark socks” I was told, “he should be in white.”  Yeah, I am such a rebel! But I figured that if my booties could be heading out to a refugee family then a) they probably don’t mind what colour they are, just as long as they are warm, and b) it is a much more practical colour than white.

I’ve also knitted a teddy-bear for a refugee child and plan to make a series of these.  This wool I bought from the pound shop, and they were having a special offer of “Buy 2 Get 1 Free”.  The colours are so amazing I couldn’t walk past them without buying 3 balls.  ( I have a massive wool addiction thing going on, you might have guessed).

So I knitted this teddy with pink hands, feet and head, and a striped body.  I’d like to check through my yarn stash and make others with the turquoise, yellow and purple that is in the stripey wool next.


I know it doesn’t look much like a teddy-bear yet. I thought I had some toy stuffing somewhere, but I can’t find it. But aren’t the colours gorgeous and cheerful?  The pattern for this I found on the Knit for Peace website and it’s really quick and easy to make up.

I have since noted on their website that they have been innundated with small and premature baby clothes and ask that other items are knitted instead for now.  So I will get on with the teddy-bears. I also started a tank-top for myself a while back, but I think I’ll finish that off and send it to them as well.  And I would love to have a go at a twiddlemuff.  I have so many odd and random balls of amazing wool, that are not big enough for a project of their own. Patterns for these are on their website too, but you can use any pattern you like.

To keep up to date with them and their projects, check out their website and also follow them on Twitter @knitforpeace.  Today’s Tweet – they are organising knitting holidays to India next year.

For other knitting projects Kint a Square is also a great charity making blankets for orphans in South Africa.  They ask for knitted and crochetted squares (not blankets), which they sew together on site, and also children’s hats, hand warmers and soft toys. You can find them here.  Check out the photo’s and their wish list page.

Happy knitting peeps.

Cute little cardigan pattern
Posted in Life, Love and Laughter, Swimming

Diary of a Swimming Snob – People Watching

I love a public swimming pool. It’s a great place to people watch. (just don’t be creepy about it or you’ll get yourself in trouble)

People from all walks of life go swimming and these are a couple of my favourite observations from my latest swims. The first three come with the subtitle “What were you thinking?” The last two “Ah, isn’t that nice?”.

  1. Swimwear. You see all kinds of swimwear, and most of it is unremarkable. Guys, thankfully, rarely wear Speedos these days, and the ladies almost always wear a full swimsuit. But there was a young lady recently in the pool who was wearing a bikini. Nothing unusual in that, you might think, except this particular garment consisted of a couple of triangles of camouflage printed fabric held together with shoelaces that criss-crossed over her hips. Nice for the beach in Benidorm perhaps, but for swimming? Really? Then again, I remember that going to the pool as a teenager was a great excuse to show off to the lads. In my case it was less about the body, (I am built more like a seal than your average Sharron Davies look-a-like) and more about how I could beat them all in a race.

    sea animal dog zoo

    Photo by Skitterphoto on

  2. Hygiene. There are signs around the sauna and steam room with instructions on not what to do. There’s the usual – don’t run, don’t go in the steam room if you have health issues, etc., then there are some I have never seen anywhere outside of Liverpool. ‘No shaving, no pumice stones, no food, no glass bottles containing oils’. Why do they need to put these signs up? Have I missed something? I’d have thought it’s pretty obvious that you don’t shave in a sauna, it’s not a Turkish bath, it’s a public swimming pool. Then this week as I sat in the sauna, a guy in the corner started shaving. He tapped the razor out on his leg, got up and left. Behind him another guy walked out carrying his glass bottle of Olbas Oil. When I saw them later they had carrier bags of ‘stuff’. There was another family having a picnic at the table, right underneath the ‘No Food‘ sign. Why are they allowed to bring in anything more than a swim cap, goggles, towel and a bottle of water? Shouldn’t the lifeguards be putting a stop to this at the door? So I am just waiting for someone to get the old pumice stone out and start scrubbing their feet. Urgh, my skin crawls just thinking about where those dead skin cells will end up. I think the signs must be giving people ideas.

    person swimming on pool with feet in the air
    Photo by Chee Zu on
  3. Then, there’s the lady with a couple of kids heading into the pool on a Sunday morning. She was shoving bags and clothes and general stuff into a locker and trying to corral the kids at the same time. She had her hands full, I’ve been there. Sometimes it seems like it’s more trouble than it’s worth. Anyway, as they were finally leaving to go and get wet, she shouts “Hey Carol-Ann, take your IPad with you.” Carol-Ann asks why. “‘Cause yours is waterproof. The others aren’t.” The kid looks at the sign that says ‘Absolutely no phones, cameras, tablets or electronic equipment past this point’ and looks at her mum. “It’ll be fine” says mum. And they say kids spend too much time online.
  4. But to end on a couple of good notes. There was an elderly couple in the pool one day who must have been in their 80’s. He was helping her to swim. I don’t know if she was learning, or if she was exercising after a health issue, a stroke maybe. She wasn’t a good swimmer, she was slow and she kept veering off at an angle, she didn’t get her face wet, she was not confident, and she was unsteady on her legs when she stood up, but he was so patient and gentle with her, it was a joy to watch. That’s how I want to grow old. Of course I could have it all wrong and they can’t stand each other most days, but I am choosing my version.

    three boy s jumping into the water
    Photo by Marc Richards on
  5. At the other end of the age range, a mum was teaching her little girl to jump into the pool without arm bands. I was in the lane next to them and as I was about to push off, the girl said “Look mummy, that lady is going to go underwater.” As I pushed off I heard mum say, “Yes, look, there she goes.” I smile to myself as I glide underwater. Someone had noticed me, and she might have taken it as a sign of encouragement to jump in herself. I like that. It gives me a lovely warm feeling inside.

So despite all my moaning at the annoying stuff going on in the pool, there are bright spots of sunlight to brighten up my day too. I just need to train myself to pay attention to them.  But if I see a pumice stone I’m cancelling my membership and only swimming in the docks with the eels.