S STOP PRESS!!
SPRING CHALLENGES 2014
19/1/2014 - 13/4/2014
Click HERE for details and to see our NEW challenges
Here we are again then;0)
Cant believe how quickly the last three months have flown by. It seems like just yesterday that the schools
were going back and here we are in the run up to Christmas
On the health front things are looking up I am having a mask made
just now up at Ninewells hospital thanks to the wonderful skill of Yvonne
Moore I should soon have TWO eyes and TWO cheeks ;0) That will be very odd for me and my family
after five years with only one of each!!!!
Will make sure to get Pam to put on an updated photo once it is all
done. I have also lost three stones
since Easter which is brilliant and I am hoping to keep motivated and do it
again by the Spring;0)
With winter promising to be extremely harsh this year I hope that you
will all spare a though for those in need.
I have included warm clothing and blankets for people and animals in the
new challenges we are all so lucky and have cosy homes and people who care for
us there are so many living rough on the streets or out on boats in all
weathers a warm hat or cosy mittens could make all the difference and would
also let them know that there are people who think of them and want to
Of course a bad winter is not a bad thing for Loving Hands members while the winds howl, the rain batters down or the snow falls we can be cosy by the fire with our knitting, crocheting or sewing to our hearts content best place to be when it is stormy and freezing out of doors ;0)
Hopefully there will be more new groups in the coming months it
would be lovely to see some of the gaps filled up and down the country lots
more places for people to go to find companionship and share their love of
crafting while helping others at the same
So on we go let it snow, let it snow, let it snow it will just
mean lots more donations for our charities at the end of the challenge
Loving Hands Autumn Update 2013
Hello All ;0)
Life has been oh so hectic here at HQ luckily the direct donations scheme is now meaning I no longer have an avalanche of parcels coming in every day it is down to a steady trickle now which is easy to cope with and means we dont have as many boxes to post out etc. No my own life is kind of taking over now and keeping me flat out and exhausted I have still to take my two sons back and forward to work as they both work different shifts in the same place with no bus service (7am to 3, 3 to 11, or 11pm to 6am so that means either two or three return journeys each day for them) and now that Miss Jenna is up at high school I am doing the school run twice a day back and forward with her and a couple of other kids who have parents who work so cant car share. I am also working on a huge order for our wee fundraising HUGS (the wee furry knitted critters I created for our postage funds and sell for £3 each) I have 180 to make and have been working on the order for months in between all the other things that I am doing. My reconstruction is ongoing as well, Yvonne the lovely technician up at Ninewells has made me a blank patch to wear over my eye for now that is stuck on with glue every day and I have camoflague make up that I get on prescription from the chemist and am getting two lovely new wigs at the moment Yvonne is creating an eye for me complete with eyelashes and eyebrow it should be ready by Christmas so that will be some Christmas present;0) After that she will make a test of what the cheek and eye mask would be like before I decide if I want that as it involves implanting magnetic clips into the bones to hold it in place so it is a really major process. The press has just published the story about the ongoing transformation and caused a few giggle and grrrrrs around here they had a photo of me with my 20 year old son and said underneath it that it was of my 58 year old hubby you can imagine the amount of teasing my dear son is taking right now;0) They also said that I was afraid to go out and children ran screaming in terror when they saw me ???? LOL I have never once been afraid to go out and was right out there as soon as I could walk to the car again, how on earth could I run Loving Hands and go out and do all the public speaking engagements and craft fayres that I do if I was afraid of being seen;0) Kids LOVE the eye patches I wear and think I am a pirate (I always tell them I left my parrot in the house;0).
The bit that was really bad though is they said I sell my knitting for charity I have put messages underneath both online reports from the Daily Mail and the Daily Record to emphasise that is not so I have told them I am the founder of Loving Hands Craft for Charity and we have over 8000 lovely members who knit, crochet and sew for charities all over the world. I have also said that our ethos is that we only donate to charities who take the items we give them to the places they are needed and have their own staff on the ground there to distribute them to those in need. We also NEVER give our items to be sold for peanuts in charity shops or anywhere else! The only things sold are made specifically for that purpose (like the wee HUGS I make and the Owls and Hedgehogs made by some of our groups to sell for postage). Hopefully the message will get out there and people will see what we are all about and join us;0)
I have also had to ask Pam to change the donations bit as the bank has now decided I can no longer pay cheques into the account I use for LH if they have Loving Hands on them so in future the cheques for that account will just have to be made out to L. Jaap (the only way we could continue in the old way would be if I made it a proper charity account which would mean going down the route we have always avoided of having committees, treasurers, agms etc or making it a business account which would cost a lot of money to run and also not a good thing for us) the Paypal account is still perfect that is the one we use to pay the couriers for the postage of parcels and to buy inks from the web cheaper than the shops firstname.lastname@example.org is the address for the paypal account if you do make donations into it if you say it is for a friend or family then neither of us will be charged for the payment;0)
I have also just launched my own business as they are closing down my shift at work so most of us are being made redundant;0( New business is called Leave it to Lou www.leavittolou.co.uk it is a bespoke gift basket, hamper and nappy cake service with deliveries free across Fife and Kinross I am looking into packaging and delivery options so I can also have ones that are postable for customers out with the area. I am really hoping it takes off so that I will be able to remain self sufficient;0)
OK so we have our new challenges up here and I have caught you all up with what the Gaffer is up to;0) Our groups are going well and there is so much amazing work being done by every one of them, I would love to make special mention of some of them but I do not want to leave any one out that deserves it so for now I wont but watch this space as I am thinking I might introduce some awards that members can vote on and they would be every year or some of them might be quarterly or monthly as soon as I have worked it out I will let you all know ;0)
Happy Owl creating this seems to be one of the most popular challenges I have ever launched !!!!!!
Back soon (luckily I have my lovely holiday at Mull of Galloway on the 14th September to look forward to in between now and end of challenge a whole week in a beautiful cottage with my wonderful hubby will be just the recharge my batteries need before I tackle setting out the winter challenges;0).
Love you all!
The Gaffer xxx (Lou)
LOVING HANDS UPDATE APRIL 2013
Here we are again - can't believe it is time to update again - where have the last three months gone to!
HANDS SPRING UPDATE 2013
HANDS WINTER UPDATE 2012
WOW - the last few months have just flown by - I can hardly believe we are here again - already ;0)
The summer months have been very productive as always and I already have a HUGE box filled to the brim with bras to pass on to be recycled and made ready for reuse in third world countries - seems almost all of us had quite a few lurking in the back of drawers and no doubt clearing out the old has made room for us all to treat ourselves to some nice new ones;0)
We have had quite a few nests in already and these have been passed on to the SSPCA and RSPB so far with more to go to the SeaBird centre and a few zoos around the country - they seem to be a great success and another unusual item to add to our list of very odd things we have made over the years ;0)
Barbara has been getting a steady trickle of balaclavas and fingerless gloves arriving for the soldiers ready for Linda at the local library to fill the Christmas boxes for our troops. I am filling a box here of the ones that have arrived at HQ and will forward them to Barbara once the last of the challenge boxes have arrived.
If you have filled Bags of Love for the womens shelters and want to make sure they are used close to your own areas then why not hand them in to local police stations or social services to be given to the womens aid shelters near to you. There are shelters all over the UK and every one is in need of a little help - mums and kiddies uprooted at short notice from their homes and often with nothing but the clothes they stand up in. All of the completed bags or items for bags that come in here will be made up with ages etc marked on them and distributed to various parts of the country. I am very aware that as members come from all over the UK I like to be fair and distribute UK aid all over (when we did trauma toys for instance I sent boxes of them to emergency services in Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales to be fair to all who made them ;0)
The road show display items have been taking shape in various corners of the land with some members taking charge of coordinating a particular scene - I am really looking forward to seeing what they are all like. We have had a few amazing success stories regarding fundraising over the last couple of months. Sheila on Barra was involved in a couple of amazingly successful sales days and raised over £300 for us and Julia and Kathy on Shetland are still selling like hotcakes and adding cash into the pot every other day! Sheila was making hedgehogs and putting them up for 'adoption' on Barra - Julia and Kathy have been doing the same with Owls and Octopii and here at HQ I have been creating HUGS - giving rise to the'Give a HUG a Home' campaign. We have also now got Moira embroidering t shirts, polo shirts, hooded zip sweatshirts and canvas bags for us as well - she is also offering a bespoke embroidery service if anyone would like personalised gifts made for Christmas or items for a club or group they are involved in ;0) I also have copies of both the 2009 and 2011 Loving Hands Members Recipe Books available (thanks to Moira for printing and collating the copies for me xxx).
I have a few dates lined up myself for getting out there selling items for the funds and publicising what we are about - 27th October at Kinross for a Make A Difference Family Fun Day - 12th December in Kelty after the nursery torchlight parade and switching on of the Christmas lights they are having sales and information tables in the Community Centre and we will be there and 11th May at Scotland's Knitting Only Show (which is moving from Scone to Glenrothes this time) we are having two stands - one free one to give info on LH and do demos of knitting and crochet all day long and the other I will pay for where I will set up some of the road show items and have some of my little HUGS available for adoption.
My surgery on the 30th July went very well and I am due to see the surgeon again in a couple of weeks so we shall see what he says then. Maybe 2013 will be the year I get my new face ;0)
The last year has seen an avalanche of Fish and Chip jumpers being knitted in all corners of the UK - Thanks to dear Margaret talking to Barrie Atkinson the church warden from Yorkshire that day as she waited in the airport we have seen a huge upsurge in people picking up their pins and going in search of long ignored yarn stashes - after Barrie posted the pattern and story in his online parish magazine it was read by every Diocese in the UK - readers passed copies up and down the land to friends and aquaintances - it was picked up by The Women's Guild, Women's Rural, Mother's Union and even Sainsbury's - every day brings a fresh batch of emails, phone calls and knocks on the door with more and more of these wee garments flooding in. I am now frantically trying to guide these lovely people to our wish lists so they can continue to produce items needed by all of our charities and organizations. I am in the process of making up an info pack with a selection of our favourite patterns that I can pass on to them - especially those who do not have internet access. In the meantime I am getting these jumpers and hats out the door as fast as they come in - lots have gone to Priatelli (Bulgaria), Scotia Aid and Operation Orphan (Serbia and Romania), Blytheswood Care (Eastern Europe), Greenfields Africa and other places besides so they are spreading out across the world helping babies in need everywhere. I want to capitalize on all this enthusiasm and harness the talents and love shown by every person who has made even just one of these wee tee top jumpers - keep up the good work every single one of you and join us here - we are the biggest group of our kind in the UK today with heading for 6000 members already;0)
LOVING HANDS UPDATE JULY 2012
Well here we are again - cant believe I am saying the Summer challenges are over - what Summer??? We don't seem to have had one yet - with all this rain though we have had to content ourselves indoors so more time to craft (every cloud has a silver lining ;0).
Once again the Summer challenges were very well supported - with one exception - the dog coats - seems we have not had a lot of support for the doggies this time round with only half a dozen larger sized dog coats arriving so far - never mind - there was so much support for our kiddies that we cannot complain in the slightest. We have sent mountains of warm winter clothing off to Operation Orphan and Sue has directed lots of local aid to Priatelli so there will be loads of cosy kids thanks to the wonderful work of our members when the next winter comes around in Serbia and Bulgaria.
I was extremely lucky to have Cyrilyn Moore from Operation Orphan join in when I held a Loving Hands meeting at my holiday lodge in Staffordshire in early July. I had taken my family to an amazing seven bedroom lodge at the Ramshorn Estate just a couple of miles from the entrance to Alton Towers and it was decided that while I was down there I would meet up with local members and have a nice lunch and a blether. When Cyrilyn discovered we were doing this she expressed a wish to meet with us so along she came. What a lovely girl she is - I think everyone at the meeting that day would echo these feelings. She had photos on her laptop of the children we would be helping and I am sure that listening to her inspired every one of us there. Who knows if I am holidaying near any more groups we will no doubt do it again - any excuse to get to meet up with members!
Baby blankets have come in thick and fast during this last challenge and we now have a lot more very happy hospitals on our lists - blankets seem to be the most popular request we get so I have had no problems getting them out the door again as soon as they arrive!
I will be back in hospital on Monday (30th July) for another reconstruction operation - dont know how long I will be stuck indoors after this one but I will not go AWOL from here as if I am stuck indoors I will have this laptop on and be able to work away to my hearts content so you wont get rid of your dear old Gaffer that easily.
I have also taken on board the facts that a lot of newcomers to this site need to know how to get started and how to join so have asked Pam to remove the tab that says Blog at the top of this site and replace it with a new section - How to get involved - so I can give new members lots of information and advice to get them involved quickly and easily. Hope this helps ;0)
We have also seen a huge increase in the number of baby jumpers and hats coming in thanks to dear Barrie Atkinson spreading the news through his parish magazine - never a day goes by without at least one or two phone calls and emails asking me what to do with these 'fish and chip' jumpers and hats. The simple answer is - yes we do take them and yes we do make sure they get to babies who need them desperately;0) It is not always South Africa they go to - it could be Haiti, India, Kenya, Peru, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Sierra Leone, Serbia, Croatia, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania or other destinations but the one thing they all have in common is that there is a lorry or container heading in that direction manned by volunteers ready to distribute them directly to the wee ones in most need at the other end. We do not take items to be sold in charity shops or stored in the UK for years on end.
So on that note I am off to finish the changes so I can get them off to Pam.
Until October - huge hugs to all - The Gaffer xxxx
Summer update 2012
Can't believe the spring challenges are over already. It seems like just yesterday that I was sitting here choosing them and typing up the information for you all.
The last three months have brought so much sadness and loss to all of us - Gillian and Alice lost their husband's, we lost our lovely Gladys (who had been with me here in Kelty from the very start) and I lost my lovely wee mum. Other members have also lost parents as well and we have pulled together as always to find our own paths through the sadness and onward. Life is, after all, for the living, and even though we feel hurt and pain when we lose someone those we work to help are still out there and still in need - somehow concentrating on helping them is a great way to remove the painful thoughts and feelings of loss.
Our dear friend Stella has also left the ranks of the Kelty group and we all wish her well as she starts her new life in Canada. It has taken such a long time for her to get her residents visa to stay there close to her daughter and son in law - we always knew she would get there eventually but it is still such a wrench to lose her company. We will look forward to her visits and Moira is going to keep picking up the lovely crocheted blankets from Stella's mum Isa and her auntie Ingie as they both like to keep busy on our behalf.
This last quarter has also brought us lots of new members - mostly due to extra publicity - Kathy Ellsmore and her band of helpers (including her dear hubby Mike) did a wonderful job representing us at the craft show in Five, Farnborough and their efforts brought us dozens of newbies and the possibility of two more groups in the Hampshire area. Well done folks!!! Barbara has been flying the flag for us down in Wales and has been out there at eco days and the Wonderwool show letting anyone who cared to listen know about the work of Loving Hands.
I have this last week been contacted by reporters who are going to publicise us in magazines again so that will doubtless bring another influx of members our way. We are now over 4000 strong and growing all the time!
I am keeping busy just now as my daughter Zandra is getting married on the 9th June and then we are off on holiday on the 29th June to a lovely big lodge near Alton Towers - on the Thursday (5th July) at 1pm we are having a lovely Loving Hands get together and lunch at the holiday lodge with our Shires group members and any other members from the area who can make it along!
I am due to go in for further facial reconstruction surgery after we get back from holiday. This time Mr Quaba is going to take a section out of my cheek to release the constricture of the scarring and allow my mouth to relax at the corner, he will replace this with a full thickness piece from the right side of my neck and then cover the gap in my neck tissue with a skin graft from my leg. This will stop me from looking as if I am snarling at people ;0) The eye surgeon is having talks with colleagues from other parts of the country with a view to performing surgery to give me a prosthetic eye and surrounding area that will be fixed in place with clips - this is apparently not going to be an easy procedure and he wants to take time to weigh up all options before going ahead. So I do have a long journey still ahead of me - one of these days I will look in the mirror and smile again ;0)
So there we are - your new challenges are here as well if you follow the link to them and another group has been added to the groups section this time around - welcome Scone - we are getting lots of lovely local groups - my dream to have groups in reach of everyone who wants to attend them will get there eventually!
members always welcome - every stitch is appreciated here;0)
Lou (The Gaffer) xx
WINTER UPDATE 2011-12
Here we are again . Another challenge over and a new one just beginning. Over the last three months we have had highs and lows. So many that I am beginning to feel a bit seasick here ;0)
Our lows have been heart breaking. We have lost two very dear members. In December our lovely Mayflower (Angie) passed away after a long battle with cancer. Her legacy to us will live on in her patterns which she created and gifted to us to use in our work. I have dedicated the main part of this challenge to her memory and asked that we all make some of her items to pass on to hospitals this Spring. We also lost dear Gladys. One of the very first members of Loving Hands and a very dear friend Gladys was a member of the Kelty Group and one of my back room buddies. Together with her daughter Isobel she was the epitomy of what Loving Hands is all about. She also had cancer and lost her battle last weekend. We are all so sad after losing two wonderful ladies but all the richer for having known them both in the first place. To Angie's husband Andrew and son Tom and family and to Gladys' husband George and family Isobel and Doug we extend our love and prayers. We shall miss both of them terribly.
Just today we also heard of another member losing her beloved husband. The members will now work on a pair of blankets. One made with 6 inch and one with 12 inch squares the smaller one will be given to Gillian to wrap our love and friendship around her and the larger one donated to one of our charities in memory of her dear husband. This is our small way of lending support from a distance to members who lose a partner or child.
On a high note we have had lots of new members thanks to lots of publicity in knitting magazines and other publications. We are well over 3000 members now and growing all the time. We have new groups forming and I am hoping soon to be able to cover the whole of the UK with Loving Hands groups within reach of anyone who wants to come along.
Our last challenges were to make warm clothing for the homeless here at home which will be distributed to the Salvation Army and other homeless charities in the UK. We also made school uniforms for the Springs of Life School in Kenya again and helped out by buying underwear and making washable sanitary protection for ladies suffering the horrors of fistulas. This project was undertaken to help the Gloag foundation with their wonderful work in Sierra Leone.
As well as these wonderful projects we undertook to make blankets for orphaned baby elephants and also made blankets which we are sending to
Nepal through BFPO to help people there who are freezing in the hills and outbound regions. Many of them Ghurkhas who returned there after serving in our own armed forces and now have no homes or families left. It has been a privilege to help all of these very worthwhile causes.
I have just posted up our new spring challenges for 2012. Here's hoping we have another successful few months and lots more members to swell our ranks.
Many thanks also to our wonderful sponsors Endura UK. This amazing company, based in Livingston, is the major manufacturer of cycling wear in the country. They have been so kind to us donating fabric, threads etc and the proceeds of a samples sale to help us in our work. It is thanks to wonderful gestures like this that we can keep going and growing the way we do.
There are also more people signed up to help us through Easyfundraising, a simple way to help our cause. If you register with easyfundraising and choose loving hands as your cause then make sure you go through easyfundraising to shop with thousands of online retailers (there is a downloadable toolbar to remind you when you are on a site that will give us donations) then every time you shop we get a contribution to help our postal funds. It doesn't cost you anything and it actually works ;0)
Thank you to all of our members and supporters for everything you do. With your help our items are reaching more and more countries and many more people and animals are being reached every month.
Until next time
WINTER UPDATE 2011
Wow - can't believe it is this time already. The last challenge has flown by so quickly with hundreds of donations as always. I have sent out 3 big boxes of boobs to Tommee Tippee with 168 boobs in them - I have also sent out several smaller boxes to breast feeding clinics to be handed out to teachers to use to teach new mums how to breastfeed. Amazing!
We have also had shoebox donations by the boxful, hundreds of teddies for tragedy and angel bears, a nice box full of catnip mice for the animal shelters and thousands of prem baby and burial items - you have all been AMAZING as always.
As we drift into the long cold winter months I have just launched our new winter challenges - hopefully I have covered some worth wile causes again - we shall soon see your reactions to what I have chosen.
Next Saturday (29th October) will be our very first Loving Hands Halloween Fayre - to be held here in Kelty in the Moray Institute on Main Street from 10 to 1 - lots of fun for the kids and a chance for the adults to buy Christmas gifts and have a nice pampering session with massages and manicures on hand ;0) Our wonderful members have come up trumps once again by sending in lots of wonderful craft items for sale and also donating decorations for the stalls etc. Lots of you are coming along from all over the country to attend and help out at the Fayre, then we are having High Tea at the Halfway House Hotel in Kingseat on the Saturday night and an open day here at HQ on the Sunday so members can visit the new Gaffers Den and HQ office and stock up on lots of materials etc to keep them going over the winter. Here's hoping that the weekend goes really well and raises lots for our funds ;0)
We will very soon be 3000 member strong and this last quarter has seen so many new groups forming - we are now all over the place and more groups forming all the time as well! More power to our needles!!!!
On a personal front I am in limbo at the moment - my healing is getting there slowly and I have an appointment to see another plastic surgeon next month - fingers crossed that this time I am lucky and this will be the surgeon who can successfully reconstruct my face and give me an artificial eye/cheek/etc - it has now been over 3 years and I would love to be able to look in the mirror without having to cover half my face ;0(
So onwards and upwards - lots to do and so many charities needing everything we make. Every stitch is sooooo important to someone out there.
Keep up the good work - you are all stars xxxxx
Summer Update 2011
Well here we are again. I can't believe how time is
running so fast. We have just come to the end of our summer challenges
and the end of challenge parcels and boxes are pouring in thick and fast. Last
challenge we were making - balaclavas and cool ties for our troops, dog coats
for Romania, and chemo dolls for kiddies who are either undergoing chemo themselves
or have a parent or grandparent who is. So far it looks like we are going to
have a wonderful total of items for all of these challenges ;0)
The new Autumn Challenges are now here and posted under the relevant heading - it has gone down well on our forum so I am hoping everyone will be happy with my choices again.
Recently things have been very hectic around here - we finally got the LH office cleared and decorated and the new furniture installed- it is lovely to have a proper 'grown up' office to work in at last and it makes me smile every time I go in there ;0)
We have also finally got our new storage shed out in the garden - officially called 'Gaffer's Den' (name chosen from suggestions by members and thanks to Granny Do who came up with the name ;0). It is lovely and cosy out there - Mr Lou has made it solid and added an extra floor and topped it with a fitted carpet so it is great to be able to get out there - sat on the floor - to sort out bags of donations and put them into boxes and black bags to head off to our charities.
Recently we were delighted to be able to help out a lovely couple from Forfar who were heading off to Mongolia with a minibus. They wanted to fill the minibus with donations to take to the people over there - apparently children and single mothers live in the sewers there - the temperature is below minus 40 degrees for 6 months of the year so the authorities heat the pipes in the sewers to stop- them freezing. We have watched clips on the internet that show these poor kiddies going down the manholes in the street to where they live. It was wonderful to be able to give them a huge donation of warm clothing, blankets, toys etc to take over with them on their journey. They are en route now and it will take a whole month to drive all the way over there - they will then leave the minibus there for the charity to use and fly back.
We also had a lovely 4th birthday here - Loving Hands was 4 on the 22nd June ;0) Dawn very kindly organised a birthday gift swap for the members and lots of us took part in it - it was lovely being able to celebrate the birthday of our wonderful organisation with presents specially chosen by other members ;0) Many thanks Dawn for all your hard work - Dawn also organised our Secret Santa Swap for us as well ;0)
On a personal note - after the failure of the last reconstruction attempt in November I am still waiting for the wounds to heal before the surgeons will consider trying again. I am hoping that before the year is out we will see some progress - it would be lovely to finally get my face rebuilt and a prosthetic made to replace my eye and surrounding area. One of my daughters is getting married in June next year and I would love to be looking more 'normal' for that ;0) Never mind - good things come to she who waits and I am sure it will all come right in the end ;0)
We have been really lucky with publicity this last few months and have had two articles featuring us in YOURS magazine - one about my accident and how Loving Hands grew stronger after it and the other about the knitted boobs project and how it helps save the NHS thousands of pounds each year. After these we got loads of enquiries from new members and our ranks have now swelled to over 2,400 - with more joining every week ;0) I can't believe how we have grown in just 4 years ;0)
So onward and upwards - let us hope for the rest of the summer to be really nice so we can all sit out in the sunshine and get on with some knitting ;0)
SPRING UPDATE 2011
Wow! Our Winter challenges have gone with a real bang - we have had so much assistance for the kiddies at Springs of Life school in Kenya - it is taking three trips to Arbroath to get it all away! Well done everyone - Alison and Jenny were totally overwhelmed by the amount and quality of the donations for these kids - Ireen is going to be over the moon when she sees it all ;0) She did try to persuade me to go over to Kenya to hand the things out to the kids with her but I have told her that would be impossible - I do not even have a passport and with open wounds the danger of infection would just be far too great ;0) Maybe sometime in the future I will do an overseas trip to check out where our work goes to but for now I will leave that kind of intrepid escapades to wonderful ladies like Alison ;0)
Looks like we will have a good lot of sailors hats and balaclavas too - Kelly is poised to help count them all once all the donations are in and before Richard comes to whisk them away to Apostleship of the Sea ;0)
We also got loads of prem baby and burial items to add to the boxes going out to our hospitals, mortuaries and related charities who have made requests for these - and have managed to fill another box of SANDS blankets and a box of boobs for Tommee Tippee so everyone has been working ever so hard!
In November we had an urgent request for aid for Serbia following the terrible earthquake there and I was delighted to be able to pass on three jeep loads of blankets, warm clothing and the late shoebox items that had come in. It was ever so strange to be sitting in my wee council house in Kelty and get a phone call like that!
My surgery went fine back in October but sadly after a few weeks it all went wrong again and I was back in St Johns having the balloons taken out once more. They had put in 4 of them - two on top of my scalp, one in my forehead and one coming up over my left shoulder to the back of my neck. They were slowly filling them with saline to stretch the skin for my reconstruction but my stupid body wouldn't play ball - the balloons decided to try and make a bid for freedom and I contracted another Staph infection. So back to square one - again. I am at present slowly healing from the wounds left from that surgery, my eye socket still hasn't completely healed from the original surgery (two years past July) and my shoulder wound breaks down periodically from the first attempt at reconstruction. My poor family are ever so frustrated with me but as long as the surgical team are willing to keep trying I will continue to allow them to do so. Hopefully whatever they decide to do next time will work and I will get my new face and eye ;0)
On a bright note I am the subject of an article in YOURS magazine this week - it has been great publicity for Loving Hands and has had the phone ringing off the hook and triggered lots of emails and new members joining our Forum!
We are now over 1600 members and have 8 groups all around the UK - and the prospect of more starting this year! My hope is to have a network of Loving Hands local groups all over the UK as soon as we can so everyone will be in reach of a group.
Until that day comes we are happy to have postal members from anywhere - if you are not in reach of a local group donations can be sent in here to Loving Hands, 18 Clentry Crescent, Kelty, Fife, KY4 0LG.
I can be reached by email at email@example.com or by telephone on 01383 830277.
We are always happy to have new members to knit, crochet or sew for us. For donations of yarn, fabric, blankets, sheets, towels, toiletries, wedding or bridesmaids dresses etc. Donations to our postage and materials fund can be made by Paypal to charity firstname.lastname@example.org or by cheque or postal order made out to L. Jaap (Loving Hands)
Oh dear - I really am a bad Gaffer folks - I had forgotten to do the update
for the website until one of my lovely members pointed it out to me. Please
forgive me for being so late in updating - we are still beavering away here and
lots of amazing work is being done for our charities ;0)
I have added the Autumn Challenges to the site as well (thanks Pam x), hopefully everyone is happy with my choices again. It does get harder and harder to come up with new and original ideas for you all but so far, so good, I don't think I have sent out any bad ones yet ;0)
I am going to be counting up chicken coats and Sands blankets later today as I am getting the last of the summer challenge items off to their destinations later this morning. I have also now boxed up most of the yarn that came from the shop in Berwick on Tweed and all of the yarn from West Calder so am now slowly getting the office back - yippee !!!!
We are now ready to go ahead and build the new Loving Hands HQ (or as it really is - an 18ft by 12 ft shed at the bottom of my garden with double doors leading out into the cul de sac for easy loading and wheelchair access ;0). The stumbling block at the minute is that the powers that be in the planning office keep asking for more detailed plans - soooooo annoying as it is 32 metres away from the house and backs on to the motorway fence - it is also behind a 6 ft 6 inch high fence so only 6 inches of it will be visible from the street but never mind. We will get there soon and in the meantime Mr Lou is keeping busy clearing the ground and getting everything ready for the build. He is going to build it himself with help from his brother who owns Re-Design the company Mr Lou works for - they will build it in sections up at Raymond's workshop and then bring it down and assemble it on site. That way we can afford to have a really sturdy construction which will be all insulated and have double glazed window units and be all shelved inside - it will make such a difference to the running of things and I will then be able to have my house back - and the office can once again be an office ;0)
The great thing also at the moment is that we are now being approached directly with requests for items. This means we can then make up boxes of aid which are exactly what is required and get them off to the charities who need them most at that time. We have had requests for tiny burial items for miscarried and stillborn babies, for prem sized blankets and sets of two tiny teddies (or similar toys but they need to be under 4 inches high and two the same of each as one goes with the wee angel and the other stays with the parents), for pretty little hand made cribs or moses baskets which are used to lay out the tiny souls so parents can say goodbye - and for school uniform for Street Kids in Africa.
All this is very positive as we know that our name is trusted and organisations and individuals are happy to come to us for help - well done girlies (and guys) for all your wonderful work - Loving Hands is now a very important part of the charitable network here in the UK and even known overseas as well ;0)
It never ceases to amaze me how this group has grown and flourished in such a short time - in just three short years it has gone from me sitting all alone in the local community centre to over 1000 wonderful individuals from all over the UK and abroad who pull together to achieve amazing things. I know from letters, emails and phone calls that I get in here how much being part of this group means to so many of our members. It gives them purpose in life, a reason to get up in the morning, something to look forward to - etc, etc. It does sometimes overwhelm me to think that I am lucky enough to be the figurehead for such a fabulous organisation. God Bless you all. Xx
We have also been very lucky and have new groups starting up as well. We now have groups here in Kelty, Carrickfergus, Portsmouth, Stonehaven, Glasgow West, Cardiff and a new one starting up in Peebles in November. Hopefully we will continue to get new groups dotted about all over the country so that, eventually, no matter where you live in the UK you will be in reach of a Loving Hands group. Until then if you have computer access then please get onto our forum and let the ladies know who you are - it is a wonderful source of inspiration, assistance and comfort to everyone and also a place where a lot of hilarity and other such nonsense takes place - honestly they just get soooo out of hand and I do my best to make them toe the line but nothing works - I have now given up and just let them be - if I can't beat them I might as well just join them - you don't have to be crazy to be part of Loving Hands but it certainly helps ! Xx
As for me I am still waiting to go in for the reconstruction surgery. They have told me it will be October at the earliest so I will be OK for the rest of the Autumn Challenge and then we will just take each day as it comes. I am sure it will be fine - the tissue expanding balloons (4 of them) are to be put into my head, forehead and neck and then slowly filled to give them enough skin to reconstruct my scalp and face. They will then do the actual reconstruction and after that arrange to put some clips in my eye socket to hold a new, prosthetic eye with eyelid, eyebrow etc. It will take a long time to achieve but I am hoping that the end result will justify all the time and hard work it will take - thank you Stuart and Patrick for accepting me as a patient - you are lovely guys and I am sure you will do a great job of rebuilding me xxx
Right - better get back to work - these boxes wont get labelled and ready to go out of the door by themselves and it does take me about four times as long as anybody else to do anything these days! Luckily my wonderful 'helpers' will be around to do all the lifting and moving for me very soon (thank you Kelly, Roxanne and Johnny - your old mum really appreciates all of the assistance and so do the members ;0).
If you would like to know more about Loving Hands or the work we do, or would like to ask for items for your organisation or join us and help to make things better for people and animals all over the world ;0)
Feel free to contact me any time - I am around most of the time - don't get far from home these days xx
18 Clentry Crescent
SPRING UPDATE 2010
I can't believe how quickly this year is flying past - the end of the Spring challenges already and time to launch the Summer ones;0) I still have a pile of parcels to open before we will know the final results of this challenge but I can tell you that - as always - you have done me proud. I have sent mountains of baby and children's clothes, blankets and toys off in the last couple of weeks and also sent over 300 knitted boobs to Tommee Tippee ;0) There are also piles of bags and items to be put into them for our Bags of Love initiative as well - everyone of you has been so generous - Thank You All ;0)
In recent months you have all been trying hard to help me get a new HQ building for Loving Hands. We had a look and decided we had room for a workshop 7ft high x 10ft wide and 20ft long in the back garden. Our target is £2000 to allow us to buy the workshop itself, put in a sound base for it, line it with insulation and board and put up lots of nice sturdy shelving for storage and organising of our supplies and donations and exchange the windows for double glazed units. My Dear Hubby is on standby to make a start on the foundation when the summer finally arrives. We are already three quarters of the way to our final target so I am hopeful that by the end of the summer I should be able to get back into my office and use it for the purpose it is intended. At the moment nobody can get in there and it has been affectionately nicknamed 'Armageddon' as it is floor to ceiling stacked with the stocks from a couple of ex yarn stores (Huge thanks to the family of the lovely lady in Berwick on Tweed who donated all of the stocks from her shop to us when she passed away and also to Norma and Mary from West Calder - Norma is moving abroad and has donated huge amounts of yarn, patterns etc to us which formed part of the stock of the shop she used to own.). It will take time but I am slowly getting in there and boxing up 'pot luck' boxes of yarn and fabric to send out to our members to keep them all out of mischief!
It is my intention that when HQ is completed and the stock has been safely moved into it we shall have an Open Day and a dedication ceremony to celebrate our new premises. The building is going to be dedicated in the memory of Bob and Gavin Skillicorn - the husband and son of our own dear Granny Do who both passed away within a couple of weeks of one another earlier this year. The whole Skillicorn family have been so good to Loving Hands since Do joined us and Gavin had wanted to build me an HQ all by himself as he was a wonderful carpenter and joiner. Do's daughter Anna will bring her over from the Isle of Man so she can officially open the HQ and unveil a plaque in honour of her lovely boys. I am sure it will be a wonderful day and hope that lots of our members can make it to the celebrations!
A lot of us are also going to be making our way to Perth Racecourse on Saturday 15th May for the Scotland's Knitting Only Show. Local members (myself included) have been going since it began (this is the 3rd year) and it is certainly well worth a visit. Loads of wonderful bargains to be had as well as the chance to buy the luxury yarns we might not always be able to afford or find in our local yarn stores ;0) We are especially excited this year as our own Bonnie Jean (Roamin in the Gloamin) is coming over from France to do a tour in the UK and will be coming to the show while she is here! We have decided that all LH members attending the show will wear a knitted 'boob' to show other members who we are. You can make mini ones to wear as brooches, attach them to your hat, bag, jacket or whatever - we will all be spotted by our woolly mammaries on display that day!!!
As for myself I am still plodding on - still waiting for my eye socket to fully heal so that the surgeons can decide on future reconstruction. Hopefully later this year they will be able to make a start so I do need to make sure HQ is running efficiently by then as I may have to spend some time in hospital again when the operations take place. It will be worth it in the end I am sure ;0)
Here I am at last - it seems that time has been flying away from me recently and I just realized that although the Spring Challenges had been posted on the Forum for the members to see I had omitted to give Pam my updates for the web site. Apologies for being so late! You should now find the new Spring Challenges on the relevant page here - hope everyone likes them! The Winter challenges have been a roaring success as always and I am now busy boxing up the last of it to get it all uplifted and off to our charities. I have now been able to send 4 Huge boxes of aid off to Hope and Aid Direct and the same to Hope4Children - they are ever so grateful for all of your help and overwhelmed by the sheer volume of donations. I have now added both of these charities to the list of those we are supporting so they will get regular boxes from now on.
I have also been sending box after box down to Em and Ally for our Heroes challenge and a lot of you have also been sending your donations for this directly to her - I am sure we are all hoping and praying that this wonderful initiative is a great success and we manage to provide them with thousands of items to sell as they go!
Here we are again - another few months have passed and we have had a wonderfully succesful Summer challenge - the results of this along with the new Autumn Challenges have been posted and can be found by clicking the button above :0)
We are all very busy here at Loving Hands making things for the new challenges as well as organising some fundraising events to help with the postage and materials funds. The Aberdeen & Shire groups are hoping to have a stall at the big Horticultural Show up there in a few weeks and Elaine has everyone busily making toys and items to put on her tombola and sell on her stand. She is also co-ordinating our very first Loving Hands Cook book (dedicated by the members in loving member of Elaine's dear husband Jim who sadly passed away a few weeks back after heart surgery) Elaine is collecting recipes of all sorts to include in the book and it is hoped we will have it ready to sell by Christmas - great wee stocking fillers!
The Mother Group here in Kelty are also thinking of organising an Autumn Fayre to be held sometime in October - more info on this will be posted on the Forum once we have sorted out a venue etc to allow the Aberdeen Groups venture to be completed beforehand.
As for me - it has now been confirmed that I do have Ehlers Danlos (Hypermobile type) and this is the reason my healing is so slow - I have very poor skin which is murder to heal and tears very easily. Because of this my scalp and eye socket are still not healed even though it has now been over a year since it all happened. The surgeons have also delayed the flap surgery to make a new cheek for me out of part of my shoulder until they have completely healed the original wound sites so we are very much playing a waiting game. Not that I have any time to worry about all that as you lot of Knitty nutters certainly keep me ever so busy:0)
So thats it - we are now over 700 strong and growing in leaps and bounds - we have lots of wee sub groups dotted around the country now with lovely names - The Marsden Cuckoos and the Happy Hookers are just two of the very appropriately named groups on the lunatic fringe of Loving Hands ;0)
New members always welcome here as are donations of yarn, fabric, toy stuffing, patterns, finished items etc.
If anyone needs more information then please either email me on email@example.com (don't worry this email address is my own and read only by myself) or give me a call on 01383 830277. We are always delighted to chat to members and we often get members dropping in on their way past Kelty to hand in items to save posting - our house backs on to the M90 sliproad so a lot of people pass when visiting Scotland - if I know you are coming I will bake you a nice cake and put the kettle on!
Keep smiling and keep those needles clicking!
Loopy Lou xx
AUTUMN NEWLSETTER 2009
Well, here we are again folks. Another Challenge drawing to a close and what a challenge it has been. You were asked to give me 400 children's summer items - you have given us 1443 - what an astounding achievement - I have given 20 black bags full of aid to Scotia Aid and sent about 10 large boxes of items down to Emma at Algerian Action already - not to mention the bags and bags of donations that Cherryl and our Carrickfergus group have passed directly to Linda MacDonald. This is so wonderful to think of hundreds of kids who will have smiles on their faces because of you. Amazing :0)
I then asked you to help out our furry friends by making 200 pet blankets, beds and dog coats. You have given us 462 - more than double what I asked you for! Brilliant! On the way we were asked to help out Nia and the animals at Friends of the Animals RTC by making dog coats for a doggy fashion show - I have been able to send Nia several boxes of blankets, coats and beds already and you will have seen from her responses on our forum that she is absolutely delighted. They now have a link to Loving Hands from their web site and will be letting us know how the doggy fashion show goes as well. As well as helping out Nia we have also donated to Perthshire Abandoned Dogs Society, Fife Cat Shelter, Cats Protection League and Second Chance Kennels so lots of happy furry friends as well.
The next one was for SANDS memorial blankets - these are put into the memory boxes given to bereaved parents when they have lost a wee angel. I asked for 200 and so far we have 116 - I am sure there will be more coming in over the next week or so and have already sent 115of them down to Sue in the post. If you have been enjoying making these then please do make some more and we will try to complete the totals that way. Also we had a lovely email from Sands asking if we could continue making them as we still lose 17 babies every day in the UK:0)
Our final challenge was for project washables for Algerian Action. Emma has told us that girls over there had been using plastic bags as they couldn't afford to buy proper sanitary protection. So far we have made at least - 693 pads, 487 covers, 186 bags and 73 waterproof liners - although I know these totals are actually far more as Suzanne has been busy making them herself as well. When she is finished bagging them all I will let you know how many complete sets we have been able to send. Again this will be an ongoing project so any of you stitchers who would like us to send out some more towels or sheets to continue with these just pm me or Suzanne and we will get some out to you. It would be lovely to make sure that every girl Emma comes in contact with over there has her own set and maybe even send some to Linda McDonald and Scotia Aid too for the ladies in their regions.(Update on this - we have already sent Emma 150 complete sets and Suzanne has another 30 ready with more being added daily!).
All in all I have been totally overwhelmed with the responses to my last challenges - you have done me proud once again and I love you all for it. Loving Hands members are the most wonderful people you could hope to meet and I am just so lucky to have you all with me - thank you! Xxx
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Latest Update on Lou - 30th October
Hi everyone - I am writing this update myself for Pam today so you will all know I am very much back in the land of the living. It has been a very rollercoaster three months but I am here and in good spirits (as the local members will tell you - my jokes haven't got any better and I certainly haven't lost my sense of humour)! Progress is very slow as I am not a fast healer, at the moment I am going to the hospital twice a week to get the dressings changed and waiting to be taken in for the next stage of reconstruction (which will hopefully be soon as I am to go to St Johns in Livingston next week to see the specialists there). Once they have compared notes with the surgeons at Queen Margarets I will probably be taken to Livingston to have the next operation done (probably to make a new cheek from the muscles in my shoulder - I am becoming an expert in flap surgery as I have been researching it so I will not get any nasty surprises when the time comes).
I have bought some wigs from a great store in China on ebay - just £10 each and they look fantastic - it looks so much better if I put a wig on over the bandages before I drive the car as I was having a lot of men 'rubber knecking' as they went past me! I have also lost over 3 stones now and am under 17 stones for the first time in 28 years! Not the sort of diet I would recommend to anyone else but at least I have had one good thing come out of this!
Loving Hands is going from strength to strength even in my abscence - my heartfelt thanks goes out to my lovely daughters Kelly and Roxanne who were determined to keep it afloat and working normally till I got back to it. Kelly is even coming to meetings with me now and knitting has helped her give up smoking as well! Also to my band of wonderful local helpers Suzanne who was like a rock to my family breezing in with her no nonsense attitude and making them all feel better at the same time. Kate who helped with parcels and came to visit me in the hospital, Gladys and her daughter Isobel who became my treasurers and made sure both meetings were running fine and my dear Stella who got roped in to help count and wrap all the things at the end of the challenges and who faithfulloy came to see me even though she was also having to visit her own mum in hospital after a heart attack. Finally to our wonderful Pam who kept the site updated with news of my progress - she always finds time for us even though her own talents are keeping her ever so busy with tv appearances, cd on sale and commisions for her paintings! Without you all things could have been in an awful muddle by the time I got back - thank you all so much. Thanks too to every one of my fabulous members - you kept on working and sent your cards and prayers to keep me going - the nursing staff had never seen one patient with so many cards and lots of them were hand made too which was great!
Looking forward - I will be absent for spells when I am in hospital for many months to come yet but in the end I will be like new - even better than I was before - every morning when I wake up I smile as each day is a gift and I am a very lucky lady indeed.
God Bless you all
Welcome to Loving Hands charity knitting, sewing and crochet group.
Loving Hands Charity Knitting Group was formed by Lou Jaap after a very succesful 24 hour Charity Knitathon which took place in the Volunteer Centre in Kirkcaldy, Fife to celebrate National Volunteers Week.
The event went so well it was decided to start up a group to continue the great work started during the Knitathon. We now have a blog site and forum.
We have members from all over the UK who knit and crochet for our various charities.
We have a group who meet up every Monday afternoon. We meet in the Community Centre, Main Street, Kelty from 1pm to 3pm - all welcome!
As well as the main charities, we make blankets for the local animal shelters and prem baby clothes for the local hospitals. New members are always welcome as are donations of yarn, needles, patterns, toy stuffing etc.