Sometimes sad things happen, and when that happens we need a hug.
Sometimes sad things happen to people we know, and we offer them a hug.
Sometimes sad things happen to people we don’t really know and we feel helpless. We want to offer comfort but don’t know how. We want to hug them, but they are too far away, or not really good enough friends so that we feel we can offer a hug.
You might have heard of the website Mumsnet. It is, as the name suggests for mums (and dads too if they like, but it is mainly women who use it).
Last year the child of one of the posters on Mumsnet died and many of the users of the site were upset. They wanted to do something for the mother and her family, and so they decided to make a blanket. It should be crocheted or knitted, they thought, and they invited women all over UK to contribute.
Some people knitted or crocheted squares for the blanket, some could not knit or crochet so donated wool so that others could do the crafty work.
The squares were sent to one Mumsnetter (as they call themselves) and sewn carefully together. A blanket was formed.
The organiser of the blankets had worked out that she would need 60 squares to make a blanket, but by the first deadline she had already received 143 squares! Everyone was knitting up a storm.
The blanket was sent by post to the family of the mumsnetter, but it got lost in the post.
“Cue a weekend of frantic phone calls around various Parcel Force depots trying to locate a priceless and unique blanket weighing around 3.5kilos. After that, we decided that all blankets would travel by relay from Mumsnetter to Mumsnetter”.
It is really hard when someone you love dies. If we are very lucky then this does not happen until we are old, but sometimes bad things happen to younger people, even to children. Since that first blanket was made, other posters of Mumsnet have lost people very close to them. And Mumsnetters have continues to knit and sew blankets for their online friends.
They are working on their 13th and 14th blankets at the moment. Two blankets have been made and given as prizes in a raffle to raise money for charities. The others have gone to Mumsnetters who have lost a child or a husband.
Some women learnt to knit for this project. Lisa had never knitted before, to the frustration of her mother, who had knitted her children matching arran jerseys many years before. Lisa said,
“She tried and failed to teach me and was amazed when I showed her the squares I’d made for the last blankets. She thought I was unteachable, I just needed to find my own way! She says she had never seen anyone knit like I do, but I get there in the end!”
Some of the women have been knitting for years and make incredibly intricate squares, with butterflies or flowers stitched onto them. Others knit plain, simple squares. Each square is valued, because it is knitted with love.
Some of the women are teaching their daughters to knit. They are learning much more than simply the method of looping wool to form a square. They are learning to care, to hug, to reach out to someone who is in pain.
As one MNetter put it:
“When I have finished my not very well knitted squares, I sort of sigh and think, well they aren’t very good, but you look at the picture of the finished blanket and you really ‘get’ it. The whole thing, so various and beautiful, the feelings behind it, so many people contributing, wanting to send comfort and love”.
The blankets are called “Woolly Hugs” because that is what they feel like to the people who receive them. As if they are being enveloped in a warm and comforting hug, cuddled by the wishes and thoughts of hundreds of unknown friends.