I suffer from itchy fingers, and pins and needles. When I am not busy on the book, I always want to stitch, but I dearly want my work to benefit someone who needs it. When I was young I stayed in a pensione on Thira - a wonderful Greek island - in the days when it was a 13 hour journey by ship from Piraeus, as was the supply of water which got towed in a huge plastic tank behind the boat, since there is no water, other than dew, on Thira. What impressed me, having been brought up in a Yorkshire family where I believed absolutely nothing went to waste, on Thira, examples of household economic practice went way off my meter. Crumbs were assiduously gathered from the table top each morning, but whereas Yorkshire crumbs were breakfast for the birds, the Thira crumbs were potted. After a couple of days I rehearsed enough courage (and Greek) to ask what would happen to the pot of crumbs. At the end of the week, my hostess replied, we shall have a nice bread-crumbed fowl escalope. Oh, I replied, so the breadcrumbs will be for free? No! they are paid already, was the rather terse reply. Then she went on, as if concerned that sounded a bit harsh, if I cannot keep or preserve food, there is always someone who needs it more than me, and I give it to them.
In these hard times, there is always someone whose need is greater than ours. So by giving this sewing kit to make lavender filled hearts or buying it for yourself, you will be helping a business woman in the Lulu Works Trust. The Lulu Works Trust is a small business that takes its name from a variety of shea nut which – with support from Oxfam (The Oxford Agency for Famine Relief) – is helping to change women's lives in South Sudan. Traditionally, used as food, lulu nuts also produce pure shea butter, and it's this that forms the basis of the Lulu's product range. And it's a range that is generating a growing income for women in the Mundri area of South Sudan. Today Lulu's range of products includes body butter, hair cream, mosquito repellent, lip balm, soap and cooking oil. For more details of this Oxfam project - and others too, just click here.