Monday, 26 October 2015

Make Do and Mend: The Innocent Smoothie Big Knit

The leaves have started showing off their golden colours, scarves are being dug out from the bottom of the wardrobe and some of us have even dared to put our heating on. Winter is approaching. But it's not all doom and gloom, the start of the chill also means Innocent restart their Big Knit campaign, hurrah! and this year we want you to get involved too.

The colder months can be tough for a lot of people, as many as 25,000 older people's lives are at risk because of the cold and the lovely lot at Innocent just couldn't have that. Back in 2003, they had an idea. They asked some older people, and some younger people, to knit little woolly hats which they slipped onto their smoothies, and for each one sold they made a donation of 25p to Age UK.

The idea snowballed and so far the people of the UK have knitted an astonishing 5 million hats, which is amazing. And have raised over £1.7m, and raised awareness of the great work done by charities like Age UK.

Some facts and figures for you:
Last year the Big Knit raised over £215,ooo which could fund...

40,000 blankets
helping vulnerable older people to stay warm despite the winter chill.


20,000 hot meals
to be delivered by friendly volunteers to older people who would otherwise struggle to cook for themselves.


10,000 emergency heaters
for older people at serious risk of the cold.


21,511 essential Winter Warmth packs
which contain:
• A fleecy blanket
• Thermal socks
• Thermal cup
• Hot water bottle 
• Thermal hot water bottle cover
• Room thermometer 
• Soup packets

10,755 days at a local Age UK centre
with a hot lunch, activities and the chance to meet new friends

Phew that's a lot. We love this campaign, you get to do your bit whilst being all crafty and it gives you something to do with those devious fingers. All you need to do to get involved is to log on to print yourself off a pattern and begin. They have a wide range of designs ranging from beginner bobbles to expert foxes and all manor of ones in between. We're only beginners here at HQ but have added a fruity theme to our first little pile...

Once you've knitted your pile, just put them in a envelope with a note stating how many you've knitted, the date and your name and address and send them along to:

The Big Knit 2015
Innocent Drinks
342 Ladbroke Grove
W10 5BU

All hats needs to be in by the 11th December and they will be in stores from the Feb 2016. If you've got any questions, send them over to or call them on 0207 993 3311.

We would love to see what you've been knitting, send us a picture on our Twitter or Facebook page and we'll show you off. We might even dazzle you with out designs every once in a while. 

This blog falls into our Make Do and Mend series which is all about sewing, making and mending. Find out more about this series and our others at on our Overview blog or find more in the same series by pressing the "Make Do and Mend" tab at the top of the page. 

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Prepare yourself, It's coming: The Preparation

We know mentioning Christmas will make so many of you groan and cries of "But it's only October!" will drift over to us from all 4 corners of the globe, but with only 10 weeks to go on Friday you just can't avoid it, the festivities are coming. We like to help and put your plans in place and your preliminary parts preped, so each year we bring out our Prepare Yourself, It's Coming blog series, all about giving you what you need to make this Christmas your best yet. Some of the post are rehashes from the years before as their topics are just timeless and some, like this one, are new

We wanted to begin our 2015 stint with a over all preparation blog. The way we see it is, some stitches in time now can make sure you aren't having to do it all at once and can fully enjoy the frivolities, safe in the knowledge you're nice and organised. We all have different ways of doing it, when we ask about it in our office, we have a dead split; one half not thinking about it till December whilst the others starting in July and one has even got half of their shopping done already, but no one likes a show off.

The Smug face of Early Present Buyers. (Image from Reddit)
Prep has 3 main perks. 1. It should stop you getting stressed, 2. It will save you money and 3. It means you can be enjoying the season as you've got all under wraps and you aren't stuck in a sorting office queue when you should be stuffing your face with mince pies. So hush your grumbles, take off your Bah Humbug hats and have a read of our handy preparation guide so you too can be smug, we mean, prepared come December.

The dreaded Post Office queue. (Image from Google)

Lists are your friends

You can't talk about preparation without talking about lists, these babies were born for getting you ready for anything. The best way to start is with an overall list and then breaking that down into smaller more manageable ones. Think:

  •  Food lists, what food do you like eating? What recipes do you know will go down well? What snacks are always a must?
  •  Presents lists, our head honcho keeps her present list going all year round so when a present idea pops into her head for Miss "I'm the hardest person to buy for" she jots it down so there is less of a panic when it comes to start buying
  • Making list, are you going to be crafty this year with some decorations and gifts? When do you need to start them so you're not frantically glue gunning your fingers on Christmas eve.
  • That "Christmassy Feeling" list, write down all the things that give you that festive glow so you make sure you get them all in. It could be a certain film, a distinct biscuit or even a certain place.
  • A Card list, so you know how many to buy and who to send to

Top Tip: Use an app like Wunderlist to compile all of the above so you don't have millions of bits of paper floating around.


Being so far in advance with your Christmas head means you can pay attention to what people are into so you can buy them a better present. You won't need to panic buy gift sets for Aunty and Unc if you've already picked up on the fact that the first is really into crime thrillers and the second managed to loose their favourite scarf last year. The thought of how many gifts are unwanted each year makes our blood run cold, it's such a waste of money and goes against the true meaning of it all, no one ever said Christmas to them is 4 boxes of unopened Lynx sets.

Tip Tip: A lot of sites, like Etsy and Not On The High Street already have their gift section set up (cough Our's is here) Have a look through them and see if anything reminds you of something a giftee said, ie You see a red hat and then remember Great Aunt Mildred has a thing for red berets.

Pinterest for the Win

If your memory is anything like ours, remembering what type of wrapping paper you want to make or that perfect table layout is going to be near impossible 70 odd days before you need it so this is where Pinterest comes in. Find a picture of said thing, pin it, forget about it, then look at it all again once you are full of mulled wine and minced pies and actually need it. It's also a great place to get ideas from gifts to outfits so put it into your prep to save some of your brain power. 

Top Tip: Make your board secret because a) you don't want everyone stealing your ideas and b) it's less irritating for everyone else.

This is our Christmas Pinterest board

Food Trials and Tricks
Food is one of the main reasons the festive season is just so brilliant. Whenelse are rich, sweet, delicious foods so ready available and no one judges you when you eat enough for a family of four. Use the few months you have ahead of you to perfect those recipes you want to wow everyone with at Christmas, its a win win, you fine tune your menu whilst you get a little taste of the festivities early.

Top Tip: In these pre months, you can pick up bits that last for ever like crackers or After Eights whilst they are a little cheaper and more importantly, in stock.

Pennies and Pounds

The best bit about being organised? You. Will. Save. Money. Having the extra time means you can search around for the cheapest deal on eBay, Amazon, Groupon and have the extra breathing space to buy things from further afield, knowing you have plenty of time for it to arrive. Buying in advance is also normally much cheaper for experiences or days out like Spa days, especially with vouchers. Most place offer deals and discounts pre December to get people in but with long expiry dates so they can be used whenever.

Top Tip: Sign up to voucher sites or just search the website you are on before you pay at the checkout. You'd be surprised at how much you can save.

Extra Places

There are some great websites that are great for helping, our favourites being: - This site has been running since the 15th September and aims to give you a tip a day on getting ready for the holiday season. They range from clearing out old toys to setting up a gift closet and being daily means you don't feel to overwhelmed by it. - All of this website is good but we especially love their printable planners

And one finally bit, don't worry, starting your preparations this early isn't about starting Christmas early, the reason its such a magical time of year is because it's only once a year and all you are doing is just getting all the loose ends tied up. Christmas, like life, is what you make, so being organised just means you've got more chance to make it fabulous.

This blog falls into our It's a Modern World series which is all about lending your hand to the little things to make the big things happen. Find out more about this series and our others at on our Overview blog or find more in the same series by pressing the "It's a Modern World" tab at the top of the page.