Hi everyone – and welcome to Spring!!
I’m sure that most of you are like me, and staggered at how quickly this year is going by… and I’m sure I get that feeling every year… still I’m very much looking forward to the warmer weather that will soon be on its way, even if that does mean less crafting and more outside activities.
Charity Yarn Stash
I’m so excited that more wonderful people have joined the team of Charity Yarn Stash Coordinators and are getting out there and doing some great work in their communities. Thank you all so very much for your enthusiasm and the support you’re giving me, so together we can continue to grow these amazing networks.
This group of awesome ladies have been doing a fantastic job of running the Charity Yarn Stash Facebook Group, and members have been posting lots of photos of the fabulous items that they’ve been making – please feel free to encourage your crafty friends to join the group so they can see what the group is up to.
We do have some areas of the country where we haven’t yet found people to coordinate, and a couple of areas where we only have one person – so if you or someone you know would like to be involved, please drop me an email and I’ll happily provide some info to you, and hopefully you’ll join our amazing team.
Tauranga update from CYS coordinator Lisa
I joined Charity Yarn Stash in late March 2018 as the Tauranga Co-ordinator. I find being involved in such an amazing organisation so very rewarding, meeting a lot of lovely ladies and seeing what awesome talent is out there in our community, as well as playing a part in helping those in need. For me the key to all of this is collaboration, as by all of us working together and doing a bit, the combined results can be huge!
Our first project in Tauranga was 50 pairs of slippers for the new entrants at one of our local schools which was undertaken by 5 of us with our own yarn, and since then the Tauranga group has flourished. In July the Weekend Sun paper published an article on what we were doing and the concept behind Charity Yarn Stash, and as a result we have seen a significant growth not only in online members, but also donated items being dropped off by members of the public. For example since the article in July we have received in over 65 children/adult beanies, over 40 baby beanies, 15 singlets and 15 blankets and this is just some of them items! There have also been cardies, slippers, jerseys and other items too. We are currently working on building up a database of the local charities to determine the needs that we can assist with and in particular be prepared with what they need at the start of next winter. Donated items are going to organisations such as Happy Newborn, Little Sprouts, Canteen, Plunket, Womens Refuge and Wrap up our Schools just to name a few.
The supply of donated yarn has been growing, with some generous public donations including a recent donation from a lovely man Doug whose wife Alison was an avid knitter and when she passed away he was unsure what to do with all the items already knitted (hats and scarves) and the yarn, equipment etc. This has all been in storage for several years, and when he read about Yarn Stash he contacted me and arranged to donate it all to us. As a result many more items will be created and provided to those in need, and Doug has peace of mind that the stash of yarn etc has been put to good use. Every donation of yarn, whether a single ball or a bagful is gratefully received.
As acknowledgement of the impact that we are making – last week we received a card from Simon Bridges, Leader of the National Party and MP for Tauranga, thanking the members of Tauranga Charity Yarn Stash for the time and effort put in to creating woollen items to keep members of our community warm, and acknowledging the difference this makes. Keep up the great work everyone.
Lower Hutt update from CYS coordinator Rosie
Back in June, Rachel and myself went to deliver a small bag of knitted items to the Hutt Valley District Health Board Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU). While we were there we were told that their cupboards were nigh unto empty and they were desperate for knitted goods and blankets. It got me to thinking that perhaps our SCBUs around the country, particularly in smaller centres, get missed out when it comes to donated woolies because a lot of lovely people knit for the Neonates but not the bigger babies who are sometimes still very sick.
So, I decided to embark on a project to get as many 100% woolen items I could over a period of 2 and a bit months to get the Hutt Valley SCBU stocked for the annual September baby boom. I put out the call through the Charity Yarn Stash NZ Facebook page to see what kind of interest there was and… Well. I must say I was totally overwhelmed by the response I got. So many wonderful crafters got behind this project and we delivered a total of 305 items and sets of beautiful warm things to help these families and their sick babies.
The staff were totally overwhelmed by the shear volume of the delivery and so very grateful. However, they said that they had a lot of beanies and hats already so we took a bag that had about 75 hats in it and delivered it to the Postnatal Ward down the hallway.
This project is the first that I’ve run through Crafty Volunteers and it was huge learning curve for me. I enjoyed it immensely (mostly the little packages that got dropped off to my house that I could squeal over their cuteness) and was humbled by the generosity of people everywhere. I cannot thank those who contributed enough. Special mention goes to Maggie for her ongoing hard work and encouragement, my mum Rachel (pictured) who helped me sort, count and deliver and Barbara from Kiwi Family Trust who’s knitters provided a huge number of beautiful items.
Not fit for purpose
Over the last couple of months we been informed of, and have received quite a number of items made by crafters for charities, that aren’t fit for purpose. Where we can, we help to redistribute items to a different charity that can use them – or unfortunatly in some cases we have to unpick and create new items using the yarn, which is a real shame that the crafters efforts are being undone, and is obviously quite time consuming for the crafters that are unpicking and remaking.
Sometimes we learn of items that have been stored at the charity for many months, or even years, because they don’t like to dispose of the items, and they haven’t previously know quite what to do with them, so it’s great that our coordinators are able to help out.
The two main things that make items “not fit for purpose” are 1) incorrect sizes or 2) incorrect yarn type.
Prem baby units are probably the biggest example of unsuitable donations: –
Size issues – where items are made very small, they can’t be used, because until the wee baby gets to around the 2 – 2.5kg mark, they are in the incubators and don’t wear any clothing. I know I’ve thought I’ve been making the right thing by making tiny items, only to discover that my efforts were in vain because the item couldn’t be used in the unit. These sorts of items will often get passed to nurses to give to parents of angel babies, to give some comfort at a very distressing time.
Yarn Type – for young babies, temperature regulation is crucial, and 100% wool and other natural fibres are the best for this. Acrylics and nylons are definitely not suitable for premmie babies and newborns, and many of our baby related Charity Partners advise us that they prefer wool/natural fibre items for babies up to 3 months old, and in some cases 6 months old.
We have helped numerous charities re-distribute donated items to other organisations – for example, adult sized beanies re-distributed from children related organisations (and vice versa); jumpers and cardigans that are too big for babies have been re-distributed to charities that work with older kids; hats that were too rough and scratchy for chemo patients have found their way to other organisations that can use them.
If you’re making items for specific charities, and you’re unsure of sizes or yarn requirements, please do check with that organisation before your spend too much time on your crafting.
Charity Partner Requests for Help
In order to help address the issue of unsuitable donations, we are in the process of designing a “Request for Help” system for our Charity Partners, and have just this weekend set up a Request for Help page on our website. We have approached a few of the Charity Partners that we regularly donate to here in Wellington to help get us started, and we will gradually be contacting any and all charitable organisations around the country to find out what their current needs are.
This page will be evolving, as I’m hoping to be able to have the ability that alongside the requested item, crafters can signal the number of items that they are willing to make. If we can get this to work, it will also show the number of items still required – which will mean crafters can see what items haven’t been fully committed to, and that the Charity Partner will know if their request will be met in time.
I do ask a bit of patience of you while we roll this out. I’m not all that technologically savvy, and we are trying to do this on a free hosted site (i.e without incurring cost, because we are a cashless organisation). What this will mean is that it will be very admin intensive for a while.
If this trial looks like it’s going to work, we will investigate how much a nicer looking system that is more automated will cost, and will look to apply for funding to be able to provide it for our Charity Partners and Crafters to use.
Bears and Squares
During the next two months, we will be running a promotion that we are calling “Bears and Squares”. It’s all about getting a nice stock of toys to our Charity Partners in time for Christmas packs, and getting squares in early enough that we can have blankets completed in time for distribution for next winter.
I’ve spent a little too much time over the weekend on the new “Request for Help” page, that I ran out of time to finalise the flyer that I’m designing for this promotion – so that will come out with the next newsletter.
This is the time that toy makers (whether they be knitted, crocheted or sewn) can let their creative juices flow – we will be happily receiving any toys you want to make – I’m looking forward to seeing pics of some really cute things.
For those of you that are keen to make knitted or crocheted squares, please make them 15cm square – and when you send them in, please pop a note in with them if they are made out of wool, so we make baby blankets out of them.
If you are wanting to make complete blankets, we will give you more information in the next newsletter regarding sizes.
Until next time…
Well, I guess that’s enough for this newsletter.
I look forward to any feedback regarding the Request for Help page, and hopefully hearing from some potential new Charity Yarn Stash Coordinators – and I’m looking forward to some lovely warm Spring days.
Until next time….happy crafting everybody!
Yours – with Love, Compassion and Hope.