Today I want to tell you about a very special project I’ve been involved in with a truly exceptional woman as its spearhead.
Just over a year ago my friend Susan Crawford told me that she had discovered a lump in her breast and had an appointment to see the doctor. We both quickly dismissed it as ‘probably nothing’ but of course it needed to be checked out. Unfortunately it wasn’t ‘nothing’, it was invasive stage three breast cancer.
For Susan this was the start of a year of chemo, surgery, radiotherapy and recuperation. A year of trying to wrestle back control of her body, life and business. Susan has written eloquently about this on her blog. For her loved ones and friends it’s been a year of trying to find as many ways as possible to be supportive and positive.
Susan has also spent the year trying to raise awareness of breast cancer in a way that makes it possible for us to positively support each other where needed, and not hide behind the obvious platitudes, embarrassment, ignorance and general fear that often accompanies the ‘C word’.
The FUBC Shawl kit is a continuation of this commitment.
As Susan explains:
After treatment, and particularly after surgery, women with breast cancer often feel physically very vulnerable around the chest area. Scarves and shawls wrapped around the neck and draped over the shoulders and chest provide a protective, cocooning barrier with the wearer feeling more confident and less ‘exposed’. A shawl therefore seemed the most appropriate design response on deciding to create a kit to both help raise awareness of Breast Cancer and also to raise funds for CancerCare, Susan’s local charity.
During her illness and treatment the global knitterly community has been a constant source of support to Susan. More locally however, CancerCare provided practical support and alternative therapies and, through it’s online Phoenix Group, brought Susan into contact with a group of women going through similar experiences.
A short time after joining, a project began photographing members of Phoenix sharing their scars, both physical and mental. These ‘Scarletts’ as they became known wanted to share their personal experiences of how cancer, and particularly, breast cancer, attempts to strip women of their physicality, their visual identity. Through the portraits they wanted to take back ownership of their bodies, and to be proud of who they had become. Susan not only took part in the photo shoot but opened up her farm to the project. These portraits have been turned into the ‘Knocker Jotter’, a journal containing 200 lined pages with the portraits of the 16 Scarletts interspersed throughout which is being sold to raise funds for CancerCare. A copy of the ‘Knocker Jotter‘ is included in every kit.
The kit also includes two skeins of Susan’s exclusive 100% Lonk wool, Ghyll, one undyed and one dyed. Susan reached out to four hand dyers, Old Maiden Aunt, Countess Ablaze, Skein Queen and Knitting Goddess who all instantly agreed to provide an exclusive colourway inspired by one of the portraits in the journal. Each dyer dyed approximately 100 skeins. No two are identical and the four colourways are very different, each reflecting the approach of the dyer.
These 2 skeins are enough to make one of two shawl patterns included in the kit both inspired by the shape and structure of Lonk horns. One of the shawls is designed by Susan herself, and the second by myself.
There are less than 400 kits available. Susan’s 2016 limited edition Lancashire Lonk yarn is available only in the fubc kits.
It’s been a hell of a year and I’m thrilled that Susan asked me to be part of this project, to reflect on the journey, to celebrate her completing treatment, to raise funds so that other women can access the type of support she received, and to stick two fingers up to Breast Cancer.
Today Susan completes her treatment with her final herceptin Injection and to celebrate pre orders for the kit will open this evening Thursday October 12th at 6pm (BST) with kits being dispatched within 14 days.
The price for the kit including yarn, printed pattern booklet containing both shawl patterns (plus free digital download) and a copy of the Knocker Jotter is £65 with a percentage of monies from each kit sale being donated to CancerCare.
You can pre-order your special limited edition kit here