Category Archives: charity

National De-clutter Week

Apparently it is National Clear Your Clutter Day on Saturday 11th March and this week is therefore National De-clutter Week.

For more info see here

By happy coincidence we cleared a few boxes of old stuff from the loft yesterday. I got rid of a few old cuddlies and dolls, a couple of rucksacks and a big cushion or two. I actually find getting rid of stuff really easy now, for the longest time (and especially when I was studying German at uni) I loved to be surrounded by my stuff, in particular my books. Books have always been my friends. But now, in the past few years, I realise that letting go of physical things and clutter is the way to go. A recent loss in the family has certainly brought that into perspective – after all, the old saying is true, you can’t take it with you.

The hardest thing for me is convincing others to get rid of stuff. I was born in Germany as my dad was posted over there in the British Army and we moved back and forth from England to Germany until I was 6 or 7 and then we’ve lived in England ever since. A lot of the stuff we looked at yesterday was things like ornaments from that time, which have special and sentimental meaning to us and only us (who wants to buy a set of ornaments with Paderborn on them?!).

We found a nice little pink glass vase which is now in my room. Mum doesn’t remember it so we think it was my gran’s yet it still has the sticker on and is in a box, so I don’t think it was ever used.

We also found a few things I had made and I have to say, it was funny hilarious seeing some of the things I drew. And quite sweet knowing I sent pictures to my gran and uncle (who are now no longer with us).


OK, so far so normal, obviously a great artist from a young age.


Erm, what the hell is this?! Also a disturbed child it would seem!!

I think it’s time for a spring clean with stuff anyway at this time of year, which is partly why I am trying to clear old stash.

In other news I am now 8.8% finished with my crochet granny square blanket that I have previously posted about (yes the NERDY ONE!!). That equates to 55 out of 625 squares completed – even the ends have been woven in for each one. I don’t think that is bad going at all. I am dreading doing the black squares though as they are quite hard to see and strain your eyes a bit.

I am also looking for the right knitted cowl pattern, think I may have found it on Ravelry, a bandana type of one, but I think I need chunky wool and was hoping to use DK. Oh well, still on the lookout.

Now I really am procrastinating. Back to work Ellen!


March WIPS

Progress updates:

WIP 1 Knitted Spring Bunting

This is almost done, just one triangle to go. Will post more pics when ready, not much change since last update.

WIP 2 Lizzie’s Housewarming Blankie

I am nearly finished first ball of wool and onto second, it should take about 3 200g balls. Good but slow progress, no pics yet because it’s not finished!

WIP 3 Knitted Wristwarmers

Back in November or December I started a pair of knitted wristwarmers and I had to adapt the pattern big time and make it up as I went along. I haven’t done any more to them, but want to get them off my needles and finished so I can use the needles for other projects!


As you can see from picture before – no progress. But the yarn is pretty and now I realise this type of yarn you have to wind into a ball before you start…not really used hanks before, well lesson learned!!

WIP 4 Crochet Stormtrooper Blanket

I am exactly 6.4% of the way through as I calculated this morning. Had a sausage butty in café this morning and managed to get 3 squares done there! In case you are wondering, 6.4% of 625 squares is 40, so not bad at all I think. No pics as it’s all just what you’ve already seen….white, grey and black squares. So this one is a positive.

WIP 5 Use up all old stash

I am making even more granny squares when I have a spare minute to use up old wool and the freebie wool you get with magazines but never end up doing the projects (I hate just throwing it away!). I have donated a huge bag of this type of wool to a charity shop before as they want crafty stuff, but this time I’m going to use it all up productively, maybe into a blanket, maybe donate the squares to charities that make and donate blankets, I don’t know yet but this is ongoing with no end date.

I know Woolly Hugs accept squares in UK and possibly Post Pals too, I can’t remember.

Actually Post Pals is a really sweet (but often sad) charity. Basically they have a list of very sick children (and their siblings who can often feel left out) and sometimes terminally ill children too. People write letters to them and send little packages, maybe little toys, homemade things, if it says on their profile page that the child likes lego then there are lots of small figures/ kits to send. You get the idea, Fearne Cotton is patron of this charity. Here is the link:

I can’t get onto the woolly hugs site, I think they are experiencing problems with their server, but they have a variety of projects, they make blankets for children in UK hospitals, blankets for children of Chernobyl who visit each year and other things like baby memorial gowns -I think. I may have posted about it somewhere else on the blog, can’t remember, but anyway two good charities to send things to.

Ideas for future projects:

Use spare wool to knit myself a cowl

Make another cushion

Knit that double knitting star wars scarf on ravelry

Knit a hat and socks which I am dying to do and I found some sock yarn today as well, so I know where my local shop keeps it now!

Knit/ crochet a shawl


Ellen xx

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust – Wool For Wildlife

Just a quick post today. Was looking for some local groups on Ravelry to join and I came across this one and thought I had to share.

The group is called Yorkshire Wildlife Trust – Wool For Wildlife.

There is a link to their etsy shop which I will give you here

They sell 50g balls of DK wool with a mixture of wool and alpaca, they are all in natural colours – no artificial dyes used. I love the colours – greys, creams, dark greys, blacks. All very autumn-ish and warm looking!

The Wildlife Trust uses a mixture of Hebridean and Charollais sheep to graze their land (or some of it) in an environmentally friendly way, and the wool from the sheep makes a little extra profit which can be put back into their conservation efforts.

So if you want to buy some very warm and snuggly looking yarn and help the environment at the same time, then definitely join the group on Ravelry (there is a code for an extra discount there too!) and have a look at their shop on etsy. And if you’re in the UK also check out the Wildlife Trust’s website and see if there is any event or something you can take part in – they do a lot of good for the environment!! 🙂

Wool + Charity + Environment = A Good Mix!!!

Ellen x

Charity Knitting UK

Knitters and crocheters are often generous people, both with their willingness to spend time on making gifts for friends and family, with their willingness to spend time teaching others how to knit or crochet, and with their willingness to make things for strangers.

From what I have seen, people in the US seem to have lots of different channels and organisations geared up to receiving and distributing homemade items to those who need them, such as church organisations, local shelters etc. But I have always felt that places like that are harder to find in the UK. It’s not that they don’t exist, it’s more that they’re not often open in advertising what they want and need.

I have found a site with lots of links for charity knitting in the UK, so have a look and see if anything takes your fancy.

There are a variety of different charities you could knit or crochet for. Blankets and afghans for your local care home, knitted mice and toys or blankets for your local animal shelter, baby items such as blankets, cardigans, hats, mittens for local maternity ward/ neo-natal ward although not all hospitals accept items like that, maybe knit a really cool blanket for children undergoing cancer treatment – its something to hug and keep when they leave hospital. Maybe you have/ had a loved one in the armed forces and could knit a nice pair of socks/ hat or something?

I like the look of this charity below so will have a nosy around the site later. They make blankets for children in hospitals, among other projects.

I have a pinterest board called inspired by others which is full of random stuff I like but which doesn’t fit in a category of it’s own. Right at the bottom there are a few pins regarding minion blankets and superman blankets, ninja turtles scarves etc. which can really set off your creativity for kids- not just a granny blanket for them, no, they need a star shaped spiderman blanket thank you very much!

There are also lots of groups on Ravelry regarding charity knitting. The people behind these groups manage to churn out an astounding amount of happy warm items for a variety of different causes.

If you fancy having a go at knitting for charity and spreading the homemade happy around a bit, then the above are just a few links to get you started.

Ellen xx


Sacred Shawl Society

Hello everybody!

I hope that this Thursday finds you well. I am wonderful as I have just been out for a scone with my dad…the first time we have for quite a few months so it was nice to have a catch up with him!

And now for something a little different…


Today I am going to tell you about a new shelter that is opening up on Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota. And hopefully you will be able to help them by spreading the word and donating if you can.

As a British citizen living in England I must admit I had never heard of Pine Ridge until January this year. I first found about it when I googled the word Lakota and a website called Friends of Pine Ridge Reservation popped up. I only googled it because it felt like every book I was reading at the time had this word in it somewhere…even a spaceship called The Lakota in one of them!

As I read through this website I was shocked at the living conditions of the Oglala Lakota tribe that lived there and looking at what was needed, they are the most basic, bare essentials you could think of. Like food, clothes, toiletries, school supplies…

Sadly, this isn’t just on Pine Ridge Reservation. Many Native American Indian reservations are under similar strains.

I don’t know a lot about Native American history, so I can’t really give you a history lesson here. Bury my heart at Wounded Knee is a good book to read if you want more information. And, just as an aside, what really struck me from reading this book, is not just the fact that the treaties were broken, that there were countless atrocities committed and how much the Indians lost, but how many times Indians of all different tribes would keep bringing the offer of peace back to the table. Peaceful resolution of conflicts. Peaceful enacting of treaties. Peaceful requests to be heard at the White House and in other political places. Very inspirational. But I digress.

But Pine Ridge Reservation is an Indian reservation with about 40, 000 people living it. It is mostly plains, I believe, with extreme weather, especially in winter. Not much of it is suitable for agriculture. There are few industries in the region which provide employment prospects for the residents. Some of the poorest counties in the country are in South Dakota.

The more I read, the more fascinated I become.


I have seen lots of different statistics regarding this place, but here are just a few of them…


  • Unemployment is high. I have seen some sources say it is as high as 80%.
  • And the average YEARLY wage for some of those is just $4000.
  • The high school drop-out rate is approx. 60 – 70%.
  • The diabetes rate is higher than average at, as is the infant mortality rate and the foetal alcohol syndrome rate.
  • The child/ teen suicide rate is 4 X higher than the US national average. And the adult suicide rate is higher too.
  • There is an acute housing shortage and what houses there are, often have many problems like Black Mould (which is toxic), outhouses, no running water or sewer systems, and no electricity. Many people live in trailers (like static caravans in England) but with temperatures dropping as low as -12degrees Celsius in winter, and no money to spend patching up the holes in the walls or the roof, or to buy proper insulation, families often struggle. I have read reports of people freezing to death in their own homes because they cannot afford to heat it.
  • Many households will have lots of people living under the same roof. The Oglala Lakota are a very generous and family-orientated people and will often welcome extended members of their family into their home (sometimes as many as 22 people in a 3 room house). But with so many people to look after, many families often run out of food before the end of the month or will have the difficult decision of whether to feed their family or heat their home in winter.
  • Alcohol has been forbidden on the reservation for a long time, yet alcoholism is still a massive problem. There is a town in Nebraska called White Clay, which has only 12 registered residents. The 4 shops which sell alcohol there, mainly to the people on the reservation, sell over 4.9 million cans of beer a year. That is over 13,000 cans a day.
  • Pine Ridge Reservation is also a ‘food desert’, which means families have to travel many miles to get to a shopping mall or even a grocery store. Which naturally costs a ton in petrol (gas). Fresh produce is scarce.
  • I think, for me, the most shocking statistic is the life expectancy. Numbers vary, but roughly they are 47 for a man and 52 for a woman. I have never seen a figure over 55. And this is in America. The USA. In the western hemisphere only Haiti has a lower rate.


Since you have so many people living under one roof, some of whom may have a drinking problem, most likely out of work, then that is when you start to get problems like sexual assault and child abuse.

I am building up such a dire account here! It’s not all doom and gloom, there are a whole range of wonderful charitable organisations working on the rez.

Have a long look through

If you sew, knit or crochet have a look at and if you have a WordPress blog, like me, follow them.




You can find out more information about them on their Facebook page here:

Or here:!sacred-shawl-society/c1hui


They are opening up a women’ shelter, hopefully in October this year, for women and children who need help because they have been victims of domestic abuse or sexual assault. This means that they can stay on the reservation, which is beneficial as it prevents them being isolated from their culture and lessens the risk of any further trauma through being sent away into the unknown.

The Sacred Shawl Society has done a wonderful job so far finding a suitable building, refurbishing it, resourcing desperately needed essentials such as bedding, non-perishable food, books and toys for the children etc. Many of the women and children will come in with only the clothes on their backs.

They just need a little help with funding the staff to work there. Unsurprisingly there isn’t much funding available and so they have created a crowdfunding page on Go Fund Me which you can find here:

If you do ONE THING today, please share this link. On Twitter, on Facebook, Instagram…whatever social media platform you are on. And donate to this worthy cause if you can. It doesn’t matter how little or how much (and for us people in the UK, the exchange rate from £ to $ is pretty good right now…£10 = $15 approx).

If you can send any other donations (I mean things, not money) then please have a look at this post from sew for kids which has an extensive list of what they need.




Ellen xx


P.S. I’m loving the idea of knitting/ crocheting pretty shawls for the mums so that they can have something nice that’s handmade especially for them and will keep them warm…ideas, ideas…

P.P.S. I tagged this post with knitting and crochet because I thought if there were any crafty people who wanted to make something to send…just a thought

P.P.P.S. There are many differing sources of information on the internet. If I have made any mistakes in anything written here, then they’re all mine and I apologise!