Woolsack: In support of British wool

August 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

Woolsack is the wonderful project set up by Jane Cooper and Sue Blacker to support British wool in conjunction with the London Olympics and Paralympics this year. I won’t go into too much detail about the drama of the project, but suffice it to say that it has apparently been an adventure for all involved to distribute cushions. So many people have contributed though, making this a truly significant part of the Paralympic and Olympic 2012 experience. In fact, it is part of the Cultural Olympiad and will be recorded for future generations in the British Library.

I personally am still rather disgruntled at the whole LOCOG and USOC debacles, but despite the bureaucratic bizarreness I have, in support of the talented athletes, knit a cushion for a Paralympian (or possibly an Olympian, depending on what time my cushion arrives at the finishing station in North London — shoutout to the fabulous Finchley Finishers, who are stuffing and sewing up cushions in time for them to go home with their new owners).

My cushion is knit with stash yarn (YAY!!!) spun in the UK by Rowan. It is made from wool from Bluefaced Leicester (BFL) and Jacob wool, though I suspect that some Suffolk might be in the mix too. I knit the whole thing in the round because I hate seaming, and cast off while simultaneously joining the top seam. The aforementioned Finchley Finishers will then take over, stuffing the cushion with wool donated by The Natural Fibre Co./Blacker Yarns/Blacker Designs, and then seaming them up. I admit to being quite pleased that someone else is happy to seam my cushion for me, though slightly disappointed to realize that this is really the only time that’s ever going to happen.

JaneKAL mentioned on Ravelry that a lot of athletes are selecting cushions not just for their good looks but also based on the notes attached to the cushions. In a fit of competitiveness, I endeavored to design a fantastic tag (pardon my immodesty) so as to give my cushion an edge at cushion selection time.

The front of the tag shows the obligatory Woolsack logo, and then I also included the requested information, my name and local town. As I live in the US I named that town, and also the town my family is from in the UK, which is Penzance, Cornwall. I even included its distance from London in kilometers. To add that personal touch, I mentioned my favorite athletic activities, football (soccer), canoeing, and swimming. Of course, knitting with British wool merits a mention too, plus some good luck wishes!

The back of the tag includes a picture of each breed, taken from (and credited to) Wikipedia as per the Creative Commons license. Then for durability I hand-laminated it with packing tape, and affixed it to the front (well, I say front, but it is reversible) of the cushion with some scrap wool my aunt found in her attic, in Union Jack colors.

So, here’s my cushion as it will appear in the home of my Paralympian or Olympian. It is very nearly 16 inches (40.6 cm) square per the instructions from Woolsack HQ (though I later found out that it’s really more of a guide than a demand, so never fear, if your cushion is a bit off it will still be given to an athlete). I used a little over 3 skeins of Rowan Purelife British Sheep Breeds DK in the colorway Mid-Brown Jacob, or 406 yards (371 m), including extra yarn for sewing it up.

If you are interested in whipping up your own very last minute Woolsack cushion, please click “read the rest of this entry” below.

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