Shelley, Founder of Preemies UK, tells us why she setup the charity and shares her tips for new knitters

17 April 2018

Shelley, Founder of Preemies UK, tells us why she setup the charity and shares her tips for new knitters

Shelley Mitchell is the founder of Preemies UK, a charity that encourages knitters to make handmade cardigans, hats, blankets and toys for premature babies around the UK.

Shelley has been running the service since 2006 and with the help of a dedicated team of volunteers and Facebook fans, sends knitted items to neonatal units across the country. We caught up with Shelley to find out more about the work of Preemies UK and to pick up some tips.

Why did you decide to start Preemies UK?

I began Preemies UK following my daughter Rhiannon's (now 14) admission to a Special Care Baby Unit, it was one of the worst times in my life, and I wanted to do something positive that would help other babies and families. Along with running the charity full-time and owning my own craft business, I work closely with other organisations that support parents of preemies and parents who have experienced baby loss. One that is especially close to my heart is the Butterfly Awards. The awards celebrate the positives that come to light in the toughest moments.

How many baby items have you sent to neonatal units so far, this year?

So far this year we’ve sent 15,507 items to UK-based neonatal units. This includes, but is not limited to: cardies, hats, bonding hearts, booties, positioning snakes and mittens. We are very grateful for every single item that we receive!

Do you have any top tips for “new knitters?” who would like to join the #Hats4Preemies project?

Everybody has their own way of learning. I’m completely self-taught by watching YouTube tutorials and asking friends. I didn’t get on well with reading patterns and found watching others made it easier to learn. There are some brilliant resources out there for beginners; one of my personal favourites is the Bob Wilson Crochet Channel. Once I learnt, I taught all my four children, and now they make their own knits.

What would you say is the best type of yarn for knitting or crocheting hats for babies?

I would recommend a double yarn. It needs to be warm and washable. Hypoallergenic yarns are also good. For my own projects, I tend to buy Yarnfair Baby DK Acrylic Yarn from Wilko.