Norfolk Knitters and Stitchers has grown rapidly since the first few knitters put together a blanket in 2008. By March 2009 we had forty people knitting for us, in November 2010, we had 400 and now there are 2163 knitters.
We started with just one group meeting once a month. There are now 136 across the county and many other groups who now both knit and sew for us. Groups are provided with patterns, needles, wool, fabric and information about the charities we support. These groups are open to anyone who is interested and are a lot of fun with people sharing patterns, admiring work and having a chat! Find your nearest group in the Local Groups section.
Many of our members knit crochet or stitch on their own at home and we have twenty collection points in addition to the groups where members can take their knitting and sewing. For the housebound with no one who can take their work for them we are usually able to arrange for it to be collected. We keep in touch with all our members with a twice yearly newsletter which has information about all the latest projects and events. See the section on collection points for the details.
We work under the auspices of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Programme (RSVP) which is part of Volunteering Matters and they have provided support in applying for grants and in managing the accounts. In recent years Norfolk Community Foundation has supported Norfolk Knitters with grants which enable us to rent the Wool Loft, print and distribute our newsletter and collect knitting from all around the county. In April 2015 we were fortunate to gain a grant from the Big Lottery to fund us for the next five years. This will enable us to grow further as well as continue our existing work.
Much of our knitting and sewing goes to the International Aid Trust which is a wonderful organisation helping the needy in Eastern Europe and many other parts of the world. They run orphanages and help families so need everything from baby clothes to adults, from toys to blankets.
We also have many other projects we knit and stitch for - we are happy to knit and/or stitch for any bona fide charity. There are baby clothes for the premature baby unit at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, hedgehogs sold in aid of the hedgehog rescue appeal, Children's Hospice, teddies for Uganda, baby clothes for a hospital in Gimbi, Ethiopia, hats, gloves, scarves and toys for the Samaritan's Purse Shoebox appeal, sensory muffs and blankets for dementia patients and Care Homes - and so on. For more details see the section on Charities we support.
We have lots of patterns we distribute to members - see the patterns section - but members can knit or stitch just about anything they want. It's worth remembering that needy children are generally much thinner than children in this country so do make the body and sleeves of the garments longer than the patterns suggest.
We have an Action Group which runs Norfolk Knitters. Members provide support where needed to the Knit and Natters, they collect knitting and sewing, they give talks to interested groups such as WI groups or ladies circles and help to organise our Wool Loft and Sewing Attic which is our central base in Norwich. We now have centres on the East Coast (Lowestoft), in North Norfolk (Sheringham), South Norfolk (Diss) and West Norfolk (King's Lynn) to help meet the needs of our groups in these areas who can't get in to the Norwich resource centre.
The Wool Loft and Sewing Attic are at the Christ Church Centre on Magdalen Road in Norwich. It is where the knitting, sewing, wool and fabric is collected and stored and where there are supplies of needles and patterns. For further details see the Wool Loft section.
Norfolk Knitters and Stitchers has expanded so much because so many people help doing different things. Members come forward and volunteer to run groups, or help with the distribution of newsletters, or bring knitting in for a friend or local contact or suggest another charity we can support. Any ideas and suggestions are welcome.