What’s Knitted Knockers all about?
Thousands of women each year are diagnosed with breast cancer and have to undergo a mastectomy. Knitted Knockers is a wonderful movement of generosity and compassion that gives these women a viable alternative to silicone prosthesis.
The Knitted Knockers movement was founded by Barbara Demorest in 2011. A breast cancer survivor herself, Barbara was faced with the same dilemma women all over the world experienced who have had a mastectomy and are awaiting reconstruction surgery: how to feel ‘normal’ again.
When her doctor showed her a pattern of a ‘knitted knocker’ Barbara knew she needed to somehow make these knitted knockers available to women just like her. Now a global movement, knitters (and crocheters) have become involved and individual country chapters have sprung up, like the Irish chapter, which was founded by Ann Cooke and Linda Burgess in May 2015. “I came across a post about Knitted Knockers in a crochet group on Facebook and I made a pair for Linda, who loved them,” explains Ann.
The main benefit of knitted knockers over other prosthesis like silicone is that they are light and comfortable. They are washable and easy to make too, says Ann, who can knock up a B cup crochet version in around an hour. Another key factor with the Knitted Knockers is that they’re free.
Here in Ireland the organisation is gathering steam with volunteers coming on board every week. “As the number of volunteers grows and we are getting a regular supply of Knitted Knockers our aim is to make them available more locally to people so that they can pick up some extras whenever they need them,” says Ann.
To achieve that Ann and Linda are reaching out to cancer support groups around the country: The Girls Club in Cork was the first centre to make them available and they have had a very positive response with the ladies who come to their centre. Knitted Knockers are also available at Roscommon Cancer Support Centre and in the coming weeks they will also be available in three more centres in Carlow, Westmeath and Louth. Women can also pick them up at two wool shops: The Craft Cabin, Ballyconnell, Cavan and Loza Wool, in Clondalkin, Dublin and in the coming weeks they will be delivered to another shop in Tipperary.
For knitters or crocheters who want to get involved, there are a number of patterns in different cup sizes. The knockers themselves are typically made with a soft 100% acrylic or 100% cotton, or a blend of both. “We get requests for all different colours too so my suggestion is to make them in a colour that you think is pretty yourself,” says Ann.
For women who receive Knitted Knockers, the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. “I have had people tell me they cried when they opened their package in the post, sometimes because of they knew they were about to get relief from the discomfort of their regular prosthesis but also at the kindness of strangers. Everyone is delighted with how light and comfortable Knitted Knockers are and with how quickly they arrive in the post,” says Ann.
This wonderful movement puts the spotlight on women helping women. And for knitters and crocheters it’s a worthwhile and rewarding way to use your hobby to make a huge difference in the life of another woman.
For Ann, running Knitted Knockers Ireland has kept her very busy. She spends time every day writing/answering emails, updating the Facebook Page and either making Knitted Knockers or sewing up some that others have sent to her. Knockers are also sent out daily to women around the country.
For anyone who would like to get involved they can contact Ann through Facebook, or email. Knitted Knockers Ireland is not a registered charity, so the organisation relies on the generosity of people to supply their own wool and to send the knockers to Ann in Dublin. Once a month the group have a get together in Ann’s local library in Donaghmede, Dublin 13, where people help put the filling into completed Knitted Knockers. Filling the knockers is one of the most time consuming jobs so Ann is very grateful for any help she gets with that.
“I’m expecting to have to make that a more regular meeting as we grow so that we can keep up with the demand,” says Ann. “We have had several knitting groups and ICA groups contact us as they are interested in making Knitted Knockers for us so that’s really wonderful as this will be an ongoing thing.”
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