Don’t knock it, knit it!

March 25th, 2015 by Jennie Sandford in Research | no comments

Knitted Knockers was launched in the UK in January 2014 by Joanna Dervisoglu. Starting with a Facebook page, the now Charitable Incorporated Organisation has grown to include a website and an online community of 650 women. Over 90 volunteers provide the materials and skills to knit or crochet breast prostheses for women who’ve undergone mastectomies or lumpectomies. The lightweight, cotton prostheses offer an alternative to silicone which many women find uncomfortable, heavy or painful.

Here we talk to Lynne Hawksworth, Secretary of KKUK and knitter of knockers, about her involvement with the organisation.

Why are you involved with Knitted Knockers UK? What is your motivation? 

I retired from a very stressful and demanding job and was able to do things I didn’t have time for when I was teaching. I joined a choir, I started singing lessons and I joined our local Little Theatre as a Prompt and I was spending much more time with my grandchildren. However, I felt there was something missing from my life. Being a volunteer, then Admin and now Secretary for KKUK has filled it. I feel more useful, that I make a difference, just like I did when I was teaching. It is a great feeling!

My original motivation was to be involved in something more challenging that knitting squares for charity blankets, and being in at the start of a new charity was also exciting. I knew very little about Breast Cancer, and certainly didn’t realise that the mastectomy operation was just the beginning of a very long journey for the lady concerned, not the end of it. Now my motivation is two-fold: one part comes from all the other ladies involved in our group. We have many days filled with laughter and some tinged with tears. It sounds trite but ‘we are family’. The other part comes from the responses we get from the ladies who receive our ‘made with love, filled with hope’ knockers. If you knew that what you are a part of can make such a difference to how a lady feels about herself, and therefore to her whole life, wouldn’t you be motivated?

How much time do you spend on Knitted Knockers in an average week? How much of this involves online/digital communications and how important is this to your project?

Oh my goodness, how on earth can I answer that? Most days I will be online for a large part of the day, either checking on our main knitting page and the Support page or answering the emails that come in asking how to join us and so forth. Some days and evenings I will be knitting knockers or items for fundraisers. At the same time, all the Admin and Trustees have other interests, family and friends and some also work, so some days we just say we aren’t around. It is important to us that we work well as a team, and support each other as well as our volunteers.

We run our charity through the website and the 5 Facebook pages, the main ones being Knitted Knockers UK for mastectomy patients which is much more than just a knitting page, more like a community, and our Information page. Through the website, we receive emails, and publicise what we are doing. We also have links on other Breast Cancer sites which have helped spread the word for us. MacMillan charity recently added us to its Directory under About Us, and Organisations (Key words: Mastectomy, lumpectomy, breast prostheses, breast cancer)

What are the personal rewards of being involved in this initiative?

The knowledge that what our charity does makes such a difference is so uplifting; the friendship of the other ladies involved in the group, whether they are Volunteers who knit or crochet the knockers, or are recipients who have joined us as Supporters, and help to inform more people about our group. I have learned a new skill, using DPNs (double ended pins) to knit in the round, and I am looking forward to learning how to crochet next. Being a Trustee means that I am able to bring my skills from work life into the charity to help our group develop and therefore touch more ladies’ lives.

What are the long-term plans for Knitted Knockers and how do you intend to sustain the project?

We have three main aims to achieve:

1. To inform all post mastectomy and lumpectomy ladies within the UK that there are alternatives to the prostheses offered by hospitals

2. To supply, free of charge, as many 100% cotton knitted or crochet breast prostheses as requested by individuals or by groups such as clinics and other health centres.

3. To raise money to provide the materials and pay for the postage.

We will sustain and develop the project through fundraising and by raising our profile as much as we can by doing interviews like this. We have already started using such things as so when we purchase yarn and stuffing, as well as our ordinary shopping, we get some money donated for the group. We have applied to the Charity Commission to become a registered Charitable Incorporated Organisation and if we achieve that, we will have more doors opened to us for both raising funds and raising the profile.

Lynne for KKUK 26-03-2015

Can you describe a Creative Citizen?  

In this world which has become much smaller due to the Internet, and other media networks, what might have been done in tiny pockets of a country at one time, like cottage industries were, now has the ability to go country wide, and even worldwide. But a creative citizen is still the same kind of person. I think a Creative Citizen is someone who is blessed with talents and skills which they use to help others in need.

A “meet up” is taking place on April 11th 2015 at Rochdale Baptist Church, Milnrow Road, Rochdale OL16 between 11-00AM – 4.00PM. More information can be found on the Knitted Knockers UK website.


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