It's Sunday morning and it feels like I've got a day off! No more Fibre 4 Fibres fundraising raffles to organise, promote on social media, create spreadsheets of donations each week, pack prizes and take them to be posted! I thought it would be interesting to look back at how my fundraising began and how it evolved.
In the summer of 2019, I designed a blanket using a stitch pattern to represent muscle fibres, calling it 'Good Striations'; striated muscle is the muscle that is found in skeletal muscle amongst other places, and enables you to move. This muscle is inflamed in myositis and can be destroyed, making movement more difficult. So having 'good' striations seemed the perfect name for healthy muscle tissue. With the help of the team at Stylecraft Yarns, my pattern became a professionally photographed and printed pattern booklet and I decided to donate £1 from each pattern sale to Myositis UK. Next I needed a name for my fundraising page. I came up with Fibre 4 Fibres as yarn fibres were going to help fund research into myositis with the goal of getting healthy muscle fibres for patients with myositis. My Just Giving page was set up and I set myself what I thought was a fairly ambitious target of £1000. My blanket was launched at the Knitting & Stitching show at Alexandra Palace, and Stylecraft sold yarn packs to go with the pattern. A commission from the packs was donated to my fundraising page along with pattern sales and my fundraising had begun!
Next I used the same stitch pattern in a pair of socks, creating the 'Inverse Striations' socks. I released the pattern and decided to donate all proceeds from my pattern sales to my fundraising.
Cogs began whirring away in my head about how I might be able to raise more money for Myositis UK. It was clear that pattern sales wouldn't do it as I'm only a very, very small fish in a huge pond of incredibly talented and prolific designers. I thought back to my Great Yarn Giveaway when I had a massive yarn-themed raffle to raise money for the British Heart Foundation and wondered if something similar might work again. The UK's gambling laws are quite complicated, but I did my best to read my way through them and decided that it would be ok to hold a raffle which lasted less than 24 hours. So began the quest for prizes! I started off using things that were in my stash or I had bought specifically to use as prizes and also messaged people who had donated prizes in the past. The Yarn Community is amazing and most people who I asked were more than happy to donate something. I also donated a lot of my own stash as prizes, as well as a lot of my project bags, as well as making some prizes. People began messaging me to offer prizes too and before long, my spare bedroom looked like a yarn shop! The first raffle was held on December 1st 2019 and raised just £53!!! But bit by bit, my Instagram following for my Fibre4Fibres page grew, and the weekly donations soon started increasing. When lockdown was announced in March 2020, I was forced to stop the raffles as I had to shield and didn't think that I could ask anyone to post the prizes each week as it wouldn't be classed as 'essential'. So there was a break in the fundraising from April through to the beginning of August. I continued to donate all proceeds from pattern sales and any commission fees for designs during that time and am still doing so. Once the official shielding stopped, I was able to use the mobile post office van which comes to my village once a week. In total I gave away 130 prizes in my two years of raffles, including 4 separate yarn balls as giveaways on Instagram to attract more followers to my fundraising account, a pair of rainbow ripple trainer socks in the 26.2 Challenge when the London Marathon couldn't take place and my final prize of a 'Good Striations' kit; take a trip down memory lane with me now...
The prizes were won not only by people in the UK but overseas too. Parcels went as far away as Hong Kong, Hungary, the USA, Germany and the Netherlands, as well as all over the UK. It might come as a surprise to you that I paid for all the postage myself. Through conversations that I have had with people during my fundraising, quite a lot of people thought that I would use some of the money that was donated to cover the cost of the postage. But that doesn't happen. All the donations that are made go directly to Just Giving and then onto the charity. I don't have access to it at all. A few of the winners did offer to pay postage costs, but my reply was always the same - 'just buy some raffle tickets in a future raffle if you see a prize you're interested in!' I haven't kept a record of my postage costs (probably just as well!) but 130 parcels all at 2nd class in the UK would cost £416. That doesn't take into account any of the overseas postage costs, some parcels that were too heavy to go as a small parcel, sending things signed for in the run up to Christmas each year to keep track of the parcels, sending parcels 1st class if they weighed less than 500g and having to send prizes in two parcels when I didn't buy the correct size of box (as happened for my Christmas Eve boxes this year!) So probably more like £600 I would guess. But it has totally been worth it. I am so, so proud of the amount of money that you have helped me to raise. The total is currently £27, 204 and I have pattern sales to add to that total at the end of January. Then I will close my page and bring my fundraising to a conclusion. That's not to say that I will be stopping fundraising, but I do need a break from it as it has taken over my life somewhat for the last two years. It's been a good distraction though as it has given me something positive to focus on throughout the months and months when I was shielding on my own. I've also been nominated for a CraftWorld award - I'm sure that I won't win, but just being nominated feels like winning. My aim throughout has been to raise money into much needed research into myositis and also the raise awareness into this rare autoimmune disease. I hope that I've managed to do both.
Thank you so much to every single person who has supported me: by donating a prize, buying virtual raffles tickets, sharing my fundraising on social media, buying my patterns - I couldn't have done it without you! xxx
Link to my fundraising page on Just Giving here.