Another ‘you read it here first’

Yet again, the BBC is just catching up with The Snail of Happiness:

Why the NHS could soon prescribe home improvements and knitting

I have been highlighting the benefits of creative crafts for ages now. Knitting and crochet, amongst other activities, generate alpha brainwaves, which are beneficial for learning, making connections and generating ideas. They are associated with “alert wakefulness”.

You are never alone with a knitted Knocker (or three)

You are never alone with a knitted Knocker

Crafting is also sociable, as evidenced by the profusion of ‘knit and natter’ or ‘stitch and bitch’ events springing up. My version was ‘cake and craft‘ (because being alert certainly enhances cake-enjoyment!) and mighty successful it was too for the year that I ran it. And even if you can’t physically get to a meeting, there are lots of sociable groups on-line… including a closed Facebook group for all the ladies knitting knockers. Social interaction involving creativity has real health benefits – both mental (mentioned in the BBC article) and physical (it has been shown to help relieve pain, for examples see this document).

If you want to know more about the subject, I suggest you check out the Stitcklinks website, which contains all sorts of fascinating information about therapeutic knitting, including references to academic papers, case studies and resources for setting up groups.


Bees, boobs and breakfast

One aspect of trying lead a kinder life is making the best of your lot – valuing what’s around you rather than complaining about it. “Grow where you are planted“, as The Contented Crafter would say. And so, this weekend, rather than rushing about seeking entertainment or distraction, we have been making the most of what’s around us.

Yesterday morning I needed to make a trip to the local Post Office to send off the three knitted knockers that I had made over the previous five days. Mr Snail suggested that we combine this with breakfast at a little cafe that has recently opened in Aberaeron – decked out like a 1950s American diner and serving waffles and pancakes. How could I resist the opportunity to support a new local business? Not being organised, I didn’t take my camera with me, so I can’t make you drool by showing you pictures of my pancakes, maple syrup and whipped cream or Mr Snail’s toffee apple waffle with toffee ice cream (yes, for breakfast!) so you’ll just have to take my word for it that the food was beautifully presented as well as being delicious. Yes, I know I can make pancakes and waffles myself, but it’s nice for someone else to do it for me once in a while.

Bee and kale flowers

We returned home to some chores and more knitting of knockers (currently five more on my list). Mr Snail went out into the garden to sort out a slight sagging of his gate made of a pallet, but got rather distracted by the bees that were out in abundance; so much so, that they ended up in a blog post: The Bum of the Flightle Bee. Interestingly we seem to be seeing very few honeybees but many other species. What’s particularly nice is that if it wasn’t for the building work, the yellow brassica flowers that the bees are enjoying so much would not be there. Knowing that builders would be likely to cause damage to crops, most of the vegetable¬† beds have been left unplanted this spring. However, since I didn’t want bare soil I just left the old crops in place, resulting in a profusion of kale and broccoli flowers for pollinating insects to enjoy. Once they have finished flowering, they’ll be cut down and the green leaves fed to the chickens. I could complain about the lack of beans and peas in the garden but, instead I will celebrate food for bees and hens.

It may be a simple system, but it's working for me

It may be a simple system, but it’s working for me

The orders keep appearing for knitted knockers and I’m enjoying being able to contribute. I’ve had to set up a system to keep track of the ones I’ve agreed to make (sizes, colours, cards to enclose etc) as I’d hate to send a black 34B to a lady who requested a pink 40D! There is still a nearly-finished Welsh dragon peeking at me out of my big work basket, but he’s going to have to wait until there are no more ladies in the UK and Ireland in need of a soft, gentle prosthesis to replace those uncomfortable, heavy silicone jobbies that the NHS provide at great expense. I am loving using my skills to spread hope and kindness… it feels like a real privilege to be able to help in this way.

So, those are some of the small things that we have enjoyed this weekend – what about you?

Where the snail leads…

… the BBC follows!

For the second time in a week the BBC has featured something that I wrote about some time ago.

Stuffed and ready to go

Stuffed and ready to go

First it was the knitted knockers on BBC Breakfast and now it’s microbeads on Springwatch. Last night whilst I was busily stuffing knockers and crocheting roses to accompany them, one of the BBC’s popular wildlife shows featured a piece on those tiny balls of plastic that are increasingly found in cosmetics and personal hygiene products. I didn’t see the piece myself when first broadcast, but was alerted to it when references started appearing on my Twitter feed to microplastics and #banthebead. I sincerely hope that the effect on microbeads is as significant as it has been on knockers (requests are still flooding onto our orders board).

If you are in the UK, you can watch the programme featuring microbeads here; the relevant section starts around 47 minutes 35 seconds.

Whilst I’m not a big viewer of television, I am heartened to see the positive effect of this sort of publicity. Being featured on a popular TV show can be a real boon to a charity or campaign, although the response can be a little overwhelming. So, the question is… what shall I write about next in the hope that the BBC feature it as a subject?




As many of you already know I knit breasts… yes, that’s not a spelling mistake (although I do also knit beasts)… breasts.

A gift from one woman to another

A gift from one woman to another

The wonderful charity Knitted Knockers UK offers free knitted and crochet prostheses to ladies who have had a mastectomy. The group was formed in January 2014 and recently gained the status of a charity (Registered charity number 1161125). Over recent months a steady stream of requests has appeared on the ‘orders board’ (only accessible to those of us approved to make knockers to the required standard) and they are always snapped up promptly by willing volunteers.

And then, last Friday, we were featured on the BBC:

and the floodgates were opened: hundreds of e-mails arrived.

Current knocker in progress

Current knocker in progress

There are about 100 of us able to make knockers and we all do it voluntarily. So, our needles are flying in order that all the ladies who need help from us will receive it. Normally, we only take on one order at a time, but that rule has been relaxed and we are agreeing to fulfill multiple orders (I have three to do currently). We pack them up prettily so that the recipient feels like they really are getting a gift and usually we include a little extra something – I usually crochet a rose to include in the package.

Whilst I’m getting a warm fuzzy feeling being able to make such a special gift for another lady, it is tinged with sadness. What a shame that all the ladies requesting knockers now didn’t know about us sooner, and how sad that there is such a high demand. I know that many women find the silicone prostheses supplied (free of charge) by the NHS uncomfortable and impossible to wear for extended periods. Our soft cotton versions are gentle on the skin and don’t weigh a ton. They can be worn very soon after surgery, because the backs are concave, so don’t press against scars.

So, dragons and socks are on the sidelines for a bit while I crochet nipples and knit boobs… I’m sure you’ll understand the lack of posts about any other sort of crafting!


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