Gorgeous isn’t it? This is currently on my needles and I can’t wait to try it on and show it off. But I am even more excited about telling people where the pattern came from. Read on.
Meet the two Billys. You may never have heard of them, but they, along with the eponymous Harriet of the cowl above, are two of the leading lights behind a huge army of knitters who are edging closer to changing the medical face of living on the Shetland Islands. Here they are at Loch Ness Knit Fest with patterns and products for the Shetland MRI appeal.
Three million three hundred and forty six thousand MRI scans are performed in the UK each year. Of these precisely none are performed on the Shetland Islands because the nearest MRI Scanner is over 200 miles away in Aberdeen, an overnight ferry trip or a flight away. For the 675 people on Shetland who require an MRI scan this is considerably more complicated than even a three or four hour drive to your nearest MRI scanner and can be further complicated by weather that cancels flights and ferries and the time involved (two overnight ferries and possibly a stay in Aberdeen requires three days off work, complicated childcare arrangements and so on) even before the cost of the transport itself and the possible need for somebody to accompany the patient. An MRI scan is not just a hospital appointment, it can be a complex and expensive logistical operation.
In July 2018 NHS Shetland launched a £2m appeal for an MRI scanner for the Gilbert Bain Hospital in Lerwick. The savings made in patient travel will be used to staff the scanner which will be in a stand alone unit at the hospital. You can read the full details, follow the appeal and donate here. So where do the two Billys fit in?
(photo credit: MRI Maakers Shetland)
Meet Harriet Middleton, Billy the human’s (as opposed to Billy the Bear) mother. Harriet, like many Shetlanders, is an expert knitter and collected up some of her yarn scraps and designed and produced a beanie hat (or toorie as regular readers will know is the Shetland term) which she began to sell at craft fairs, Sunday teas and anywhere she could persuade people to let her put up a stall.
The hat sold like the hot cakes at the Sunday Teas. Eventually it became clear that even super-fast knitter Harriet couldn’t keep up with demand on her own and so she started a Maakin and Yaakin (doesn’t that sound so much better than Knit and Knitter?!) group where people could come along with their own yarn scraps and knit more hats.
Like the proverbial Topsy the hat grew and grew and became
Gloves, fingered or fingerless.
A headband. And finally, the cowl that is currently sitting on my needles. It rapidly became clear that the patterns themselves could become fundraisers, Jameieson & Smith and Jameisons both put wool packs together and soon knitters all over the world were proudly wearing their MRI Maakers knitwear. Patterns are available from shops across Shetland and the rest of Scotland (Wool for Ewe) and even in the USA (The Woolly Thistle, Northfield Yarns, The Spinnning Room) as well as directly from the MRI Scanner appeal website. Some of the patterns are even available in Norwegian! If you are a LYS or knitting group you can purchase patterns in bundles of 25.
Billy Two was created for the appeal by Burra Bears. Here he is with Billy Middleton on his way to Loch Ness Knit Fest. He even has his own Instagram Account where you can follow his busy life.
So how successful has Harriet’s knitting project been in helping to reach the appeal target? Are you sitting down?
…… by the end of Loch Ness Knit Fest the MRI Maakers fundraising total stands at £62,000. Pretty darn good eh?!
Finally, you may have noticed that there is a festive season approaching, can you knit a bauble?
Patterns are available for free here or the sheep pattern is on Ravelry here. Send your completed baubles to Jamiesons of Shetland where they will be displayed over Christmas and then sold to raise funds for the appeal. Personally I think we can knit enough baubles to cover all of Commercial Street, not just Jamiesons …..
Lets get knitting.
Love Gillie x