Thank you 2012

Well, not quite Thank You 2012 as thanking a year is a somewhat abstract concept, but a big thank you to everyone who has helped make p/hop a success in 2012.

Jane Lithgow took the p/hop reins in July and while she’s having a well-deserved festive holiday I thought I’d pop back to reflect on 2012.

While I’ve had less time for p/hop I still appreciate all the free time or the hard-earned cash people give up to help people less fortunate have access to healthcare.

So, what’s happened this year?


December 2011 had been pretty busy with p/hop’s birthday competition so we had a fairly quiet month organising behind the scenes for upcoming yarn shows and preparing new patterns.

We did have a beautiful new pattern, Ermintrude Mitts donated by Helena Cullum, which I like so much I made a pair for my MIL this Christmas.



We reached our £32,012 target (see what we did there?) and upped the target to a whopping £40,ooo as MSF had just turned 40, we had 40 patterns and um, other 40 related reasons.

The versatile and intriguing  Minerva Cowl pattern, knitted in a moebius loop, was donated by Anna Richardson.



We had an unusual request for knitted items, premature baby hats for our maternity clinics. Within days of asking for them tiny hats arrived at the MSF office. MSF also released a report on Mother’s Day about reducing maternal mortality. It is incredible the difference a small amount of money can make to keeping women safe in pregnancy and childbirth.

The generous people behind Sheepfold donated their Felted Crochet Bowl pattern, a great beginners project if you’ve just taken up the hook or a quick and easy way to use up leftover yarn if you’re a more experienced crocheter.

Natalie, p-hop founder, and I went to the Just Giving Awards, this time as judges, where we rubbed shoulders with the likes of Joanna Lumley and Jane appeared on the big screen!



The cable-tastic Jacqueline Mitts pattern, designed and donated by Bronagh Miskelly aka La Purple Penguin, was published.



A piece of knitting history was donated to p/hop. The Sheep Sweater, designed by Muir and Osborne, worn by Princess Diana and other 80’s icons, arrived at p/hop!

We also launched the rugby themed Try Again Sock pattern donated by Sadie Slater. Scrummy! (groan)

Pete, who helped get p/hop up and running left MSF and tried on a tiny hat.



In June we went to Wimbledon, with Ros Clarke’s Wimbledon socks, perfect for the summer tennis season.

We were inundated with  over 500 tiny hats which have gone to MSF maternity clinics overseas.

The lovely Stitch London organised a World Wide Knit in Public day picnic on the South Bank in London which included a raffle for MSF which raised a whopping £301.

Stitch London WWKIP picnic



Long term p/hop supporter, designer of Cranford Mitts, Karenina Socks and Spiral Socks, talented Jane Lithgow took on p/hop.

A huge refugee crisis was hitting South Sudan but wasn’t getting much media coverage. Knitters, however, are beyond just responding to mainstream news and on hearing water shortages were affecting people in refugee camps, knitter (and designer) Ros Clarke came up with the brilliant idea of p/H2O. Pennies per sip of water.

Family in flooded refugee camp, South Sudan © Ruby Siddique/MSF

Back in the UK we took p/hop on the road to Woolfest and Fibre East festivals, both of which were soggy (by soggy I mean landslides, floods, and mud, lots of mud) but loads of fun. As always our patterns were a hit and generous fibre fans donated over £1,200 over the two shows. We’re still finding mud in places it shouldn’t be! Nothing compared with living in a refugee camp though.

We also launched the beautifully twisted Oscillating socks pattern donated by Rachel Gibbs.



You may have noticed there was a rather large sporting event in the summer of 2012. The Ravellenic Games. From Sock Put to WIP wrestling to Shawl Sailing our team knitted their, ahem, socks off, including some knitters who were volunteering as Gamesmakers in that other event.
Even Teeny Tiny Teddy took a trip to the Olympic park.




We had a rest after the Olympics.



Jane took p/hop on the road again, this time to the thankfully dry and mud-free Glasgow School of Yarn. The event is held in the beautiful Rennie Mackintosh church where super knitters – including artisan dyers who came up with the excellent  idea of lucky dip bags for p/hop – raised a fantastic £770.



Rachel Atkinson aka Knittingtastic donated her clever, quick to knit and delightful to wear Riviera Scarf pattern to p/hop. I’ve seen several of these being sported in Nice where I am currently moored with my yacht around that London. Tres de rigeur, n’est pas?

Riviera Scarf



The fabulous people at The Yarn Cake in Glasgow held a yarn swap raising £394.63 for p/hop. Marvellous!

We rounded off the year with a festive pattern. Rudolph proved to be a hit, there are already 19 on Ravelry and I’m sure there are more out in the wild, maybe pulling a certain sleigh?



Let’s not forget the ongoing yarn ‘hopping’ that happens on Ravelry. Do you have some unwanted stash? Just offer it up in our Ravelry group and another fibre-fan is likely to claim it in return for a donation to p/hop. Simples!

There’s also a yarn-swap being set up on Ravelry to reinvigorate your stash for the New Year.

So as you can see, loads of people made p/hop happen in 2012. A big thank you to all of you.

Sadly poverty wasn’t eradicated in 2012 so there is still a great need to fundraise for MSF’s life-saving work. As always if you have enjoyed our patterns or you are inspired by MSF’s work it is easy to make a donation using the links on the right.


So what will 2013 bring?

Well, we’re only £2,500 away from reaching our £40,000 target and there are more patterns in the pipeline.

Thanks again and here’s to a happy 2013!

Please let us know what you enjoyed with p/hop in 2012, be it a pattern, meeting us at a show or something completely different, in the comments below.


Have you heard about the current crisis in South Sudan? You may well not have done, because it’s hardly been mentioned on the mainstream media. MSF have been keeping their website up to date with what’s happening here. Thousands and thousands of people are stranded without access to shelter, food, or clean water.

This is how one of the refugees described their situation:

Some days, the water truck does not come and we do not get any water. The children cry and cry as they are thirsty. Sometimes we spend two days without water. The water is so close, but we cannot have it, as there is not enough for everybody.

I cannot imagine spending two days without water. I can’t imagine what it’s like to hear your child cry from thirst and be unable to help them. Malnutrition in the camps is way above emergency levels.

Here at p/hop we normally raise money by donating our pennies for the pleasure we get from knitting or crocheting. But when I read about what was happening in South Sudan, I wanted to do a bit more. Every day, I drink as much as I want without being afraid that the water I drink might kill me. That’s something I take for granted. The people in the refugee camps don’t get that pleasure.

So I’m going to be p/’h2o’pping for a bit. I’m putting a few pennies aside every time I drink a bottle of water, a cup of tea, a can of fizzy pop, or a glass of wine, and I’ll be donating the money to MSF for as long as the South Sudan crisis continues. Why don’t you join me?

Other people have suggested p/’h2o’pping for every litre of water you drink, or for every time you use fresh water (in the washing machine, in the bathroom, in the garden…). If you have other ideas, please share them in the comments.

Family in flooded refugee camp, South Sudan © Ruby Siddique/MSF

The total and why we p/hop

If you glance to your right and take a look at our Just Giving Widget you will see that we, that’s me and you and all the fibre-fans who have contributed to p/hop, have raised over £33,000 for Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF). This is fantastic. We’re still a way off from reaching our target for this year of £40,ooo, but we’re getting closer.

At the moment MSF staff are working flat out in South Sudan, with 15,000 people who are struggling to survive without fresh water. This shocking situation has not reached our mainstream media but you can help spread the word. This video with MSF doctor Erna is on Vimeo and the news story is here.

If you are unable to watch the video here’s part of what Erna says:

We went early on Tuesday morning to provide medical assistance and rehydration points along the route,” says Doctor Erna Rijnierse, MSF’s medical team leader.

“It was a truly shocking sight as we witnessed some of the weakest dying as they walked – too dehydrated for even the most urgent medical care to save them.”

She adds: “The scale of what is happening here is shocking, even for experienced emergency team members who have seen a lot.

While you may be feeling helpless you can make a difference. Share the news of what is happening to people in South Sudan, tell your friends, tweet about it, share the video on facebook. As always, your donations through p/hop go straight to MSF’s work, where it is needed, whether or not it is on the news.

Thank you.

Why we p/hop! MSF on Newsnight

If you visit Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF)’s website you’ll see lots of reasons why we p/hop.

There’s an opportunity to gain more insight into MSF’s lifesaving work and humanitarian principles for those of you who have access to BBC2, on Newsnight, starting at 10:30pm (GMT +1) tonight.

The feature is about MSF’s work in a hospital in Jordan where doctors are performing complex surgery unavailable anywhere else in the Middle East on victims of terror and violence from across the region. You can read more about it on the BBC website.

Khitam (on the right) was playing in her garden in Falluja when she was caught in an explosion aimed at US troops. She, like Hussein, is awaiting skin grafts. (Photograph from BBC website)

And while you’re watching I hope you think to yourself, “I helped do this.”

Happy Mother’s Day

We’ve already had a great response to our request for baby and children’s knitted hats to send to MSF’s clinic in Qetta, Pakistan.

Check out our lovely Ravelry group who are busy knitting away, sharing hat patterns and tips.

p/hop supporter Nic has written a beautiful blog post about why she is taking part.

One thousand women a day die during childbirth

MSF have released a new report on the tragic numbers of women who die during pregnancy and childbirth, the majority from preventable and treatable conditions.

You can read more about this and the work MSF are doing to improve obstetric care for women over on the MSF UK website.

Life-saving p/hoppers

Our knitted hats will help babies in one MSF clinic, but the money you donate to MSF also keeps new mums and their babies alive.

p/hoppers, we thank you for you life saving donations.

This story from new mum Laura in Haiti is a great example of the difference we are making to women and their children around the world.

Charity engine

Charity engine? A locomotive for fund-raising? Something about a car?

Even better than that! Charity Engine is a very easy way to help MSF raise money.

Computers are a bit like human brains, in that most of the time not all of the processing power of your PC or Mac is being used. Charity Engine is a nifty way of donating that spare processing power to MSF.

It won’t affect the way your computer works but it will help MSF supply more vaccines, doctors, you know good, life-saving things to people who need them.

p/hop changes the world one stitch at a time, Charity Engine are changing the world “one bit at a time”.

There are more details on the MSF website.

Join now

If you want to get cracking go directly to Charity Engine’s website and remember to include “MSF” in the invite code field on the form.

Sad news

Two MSF staff members were killed in Somalia yesterday. This is shocking and very sad news.

Philippe Havet, a 53-year-old from Belgium, was an experienced emergency coordinator who had been working with MSF since 2000 in many countries, including Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Lebanon, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Somalia.

Andrias Karel Keiluhu, better known as ‘Kace’, was a 44-year-old medical doctor who had worked with MSF since 1998 in his native Indonesia as well as in Ethiopia, Thailand and Somalia.

There are further details on the MSF website.

Philippe Havet (right) and Andrias Karel Keiluhu, better known as ‘Kace’ (left). © MSF

My thoughts, sympathy and love go to their families and friends, those affected by the incident, as well as the people of Somalia.

One of the reasons I support MSF is their commitment to the people who need health care, even in the worst situations.

This tweet from @msf_field sums it up for me;

Even in times of personal grief and hurt, MSF are planning how to continue to help the people of Somalia.

This is why I p/hop.

MSF Delivers – Delivered

MSF’s new arrival is here. It’s a bouncing bundle of joy and an inspiring campaign to highlight the work British field volunteers do with MSF. MSF Delivers focuses on midwife Sam Perkins who spent 9 months working in a MSF maternity unit in Masisi, a war torn area of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

From Thursday 22nd til Tuesday 27th September you can see the incredible 3D photo-film MSF put together with film-makers duckrabbit to tell the story of Sam’s work. A 3D photo-film I hear you cry! What is that?

MSF often use photo films to show the work they achieve. Sometimes the stillness of an image can say more than an action packed film shot.  In practical terms video cameras are often cumbersome and guzzle energy which can be a problem in remote areas so photo cameras can be more accessible. 3D photography is an emerging technique and once the images are edited together it can create a compelling new medium. Pete and I went to the launch of the film last night where we donned futuristic specs to watch the film.

The film is excellent and inspiring. Seeing the determination of Sam, her team, and the women who use the clinic – often cross dangerous front lines on foot while in labour – made me very proud to play my small role in fund-raising for MSF.  I hope it will do the same for you too.

The 3D film is on in Spitafields Market in London from 10am til 6pm,  Thursday 22nd til Tuesday 27th September and only takes 6 minutes to watch so you can easily fit it into a lunch break or sightseeing at the weekend.

If you can’t make it to London there are several insightful short films about Sam’s work and the lives of women in Masisi on  the MSF Delivers website which is well worth a look.

I was in the MSF office when MSF Delivers was being put together. Imagine my delight when I was shown this:

Credit to Yasuyoshi Chiba

Part of the work the clinic in Masisi does  is identifying at risk pregnancies such as breech birth and twins. Women who are found to be at risk of a complicated delivery are invited to live at the clinic from their 8th month of pregnancy onwards so help will be immediately available when they go into labour. While they are at the clinic they are offered health education covering labour, birth control, disease prevention and other skills, and they are also taught how to knit!

copyright Yasuyoshi Chiba

Photo by Yasuyoshi Chiba

As we all know knitting has great benefits. In Masisi, the women make clothes for their new babies and it also helps pass the time in the build up to the birth date. If you’ve been pregnant, or have followed friend’s pregnancies, you’ll remember how tense the waiting can be. I’m hoping to find more about these knitters and their teacher and we will have more images to share with you very soon.

I like Sam’s quote from the MSF Delivers website about child birth:

The pain, anticipation, exhaustion, fear and excitement are the same for all women – whether in Northampton or Nairobi. What isn’t is access to trained medical staff, care, surgical interventions, drugs and materials.”

While knitting usually isn’t as life changing as childbirth there is that connection between all of us. The casting on, the marvelling at producing your first few rows of garter stitch, the magic of wielding sticks to change string into fabric.

copyright Yasuyoshi Chiba

Familiar look of concentration Photo by Yasuyoshi Chiba

We are all knitters. Sadly not all of us have access to basic necessities. This is why I support MSF.

If you feel inspired by this please do spread the work about MSF Delivers.  I don’t have midwifery skills but if I pass on the message to my friends and family that will be a few more people helping to support people like Sam.

MSF Delivers

MSF are launching an exciting new campaign next week which focuses on childbirth, called MSF Delivers. See what they did there, clever isn’t it!

To launch MSF Delivers MSF have made a superb 3D photofilm following MSF midwife Sam and her work in Congo. I’ve seen a preview without the 3D and it is excellent. You are all invited to view the film from 22nd – 27th September, 3d specs included, at Spitafields market, where it will be showing from 9am til 7pm everyday. The film lasts 6 minutes so if you are in the area it is easy to pop in and watch an incredible story unfold in  a lunchbreak or after work.

If you can’t make it to London there will be plenty of information on the MSF Delivers website which is coming soon.

We have some tie ins with p/hop coming next week to coincide with the launch of MSF Delivers. Watch this space…

Raising the Knit Signal

We don’t normaly do what I am about to do at p/hop. We are a steady fundraiser for Médecins Sans Frontières meaning there’s money in the pot as and when it is needed. Our blog is usually about knitting and how we, the knitting community,  raise money and awareness for MSF.  However the dreadful situation facing hundreds of thousands of people, ordinary people, trying to live their lives and raise their children in Somalia, is dire.

You can read more about it on the MSF website, or see it on the news (when they are reporting on more than the immoral behaviour of a newspaper) but here is a summary.

  • As prolonged drought grips Somalia, people are losing their livestock, homes and lives. Poor harvests, rising food prices, continuing violence and chronic poverty have further contributed to a sudden rise in malnutrition rates.
  • Almost one in three children is suffering from severe malnutrition
  • The security situation in Somalia is complicated, but because MSF is an impartial medical organisation and relies on charitable donations instead of government funding, it continues to be the only medical charity working in many areas.
  • There are hundreds of children and adults arriving at MSF clinics every day. Many of them need expert medical care for malnutrition, often whilst battling other severe conditions such as malaria and pneumonia.


The knit signal needs raising. The word needs spreading. We need to donate!


Donating through our usual sites takes about a week to get to MSF. If you donate through the Somalia appeal it takes two days.

I know times are tough for a lot of us at the moment, however even the smallest donation will make a difference and enable MSF to continue their excellent and life-saving work.

And if you quite rightly found the picture of Asad at the top of the blog post distressing you can see how he is after treatment by MSF on the MSF website here.

Thank you for reading this.