Knitted hearts

A Work of Heart

We spoke with Clare, who has brought lots of people together for a project of a knitted garden to be displayed at the RHS Malvern Spring Festival 10 to 13th May 2018. A Small Sparks grant was used to help pay for materials and Clare was kind enough to chat to us and tell us about the project – how it got started and plans for the show.

Hi, I’m Clare Young. I had an idea to start knitting because of my mental illness, my psychologist suggested I try knitting to alleviate my symptoms so last Christmas I knitted an angel. I was 50 last year and I thought “I can’t do it for myself, I need to raise money for somewhere.” Obviously the choice for me was to raise money for the Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice where my husband died, so I wanted to raise £500 in his memory. I made £1300 by knitting angels, Easter baskets, Easter bunnies etc…

Then we got the idea to yarn-bomb a tree at the hospice so I gathered 25 of us together and we yarn-bombed the tree in the centre of the roundabout at the hospice with the theme of “Four Seasons” – so each branch was a different season. We did it as a secret so that people came back to work and saw it the next day.

Clare holding knitted pots

A friend saw the pictures and ask me if we could knit a garden at RHS Malvern Spring Festival – I thought that it was going to be really, really hard. She said it would be 3 x 3 metres – turns out it’s 4 x 4 metres! But, almost a year later, we’re nearly done with it.

We are knitting a 4 x 4 metre show garden which is modelled on a hospice bedroom – but it is a garden! It has grass on the floor which is knitted, knitted wallpaper on the wall and a bedroom with a knitted bed. There’s quite a twist on it – so we’ve got welly-boots with flowers in, vegetables in the chest of drawers and we’re hoping to raise £50,000 for the hospice because Ken would have been 50 in June.

Work of Heart Garden Plan

How many people have you got involved now in knitting your garden?

It will be up to 350 people by now, with many community groups throughout the county and beyond – which is just mind-blowing! We’ve got WI’s, knitting groups, care homes knitting for us – everybody seems to have heard of us and it’s been completely overwhelming actually.

I wanted it to be a community project and an evolving project, so we had an architect who designed the plans for me. “Heart” was important to me because I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t love the hospice and love Ken, so I wanted it to look different everyday as an art installation. So, I started the concept of knitted hearts.

People could come to the show, pick a heart that meant something to them – whether it was a favourite colour of their loved one or a favourite football team, they would donate towards the hospice and then place their heart in the tree whilst thinking of their loved one when they did it.

Knitted gnome and flowers

We estimated we needed 10,000 hearts. So far through the post I’ve had 5,000 and we know there are hundreds more because people are contacting us through social media to tell us they’ve made them.

What I wasn’t expecting was that people are knitting in memory of a loved one. So not only are we going to be providing hearts for people to register their grief to somebody, people are knitting through their grief and it’s almost like I’ve given them permission to do that, which wasn’t a side effect I had thought about.

I’m grieving, I’m only 29 months in and that’s why I started it – for my grief. But I’m actually gathering a whole group of people, which none of us could have predicted. It is quite extraordinary.

Watch the full video interview here: Click to watch

Click here to visit the Work of Heart website

Click here to visit the Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice website

Click here to visit the RHS Malvern Spring Festival 10 to 13th May 2018 website

About Small Sparks grants

The Small Sparks fund has been created to help small groups of people throughout Gloucestershire to get together to do something they enjoy and make a difference to where they live.

You might need gardening equipment to grow vegetables together, books or wool to get a club going, or wool and knitting needles for a group you are already a part of.

You can apply for a grant of up to £250 if you can show us that:

  • At least one of you wanting to enjoy the activity has a disability or is an older person who would like to make more friends
  • There are at least four people involved in total
  • Everyone is prepared to contribute their time, energy and talents.

For more information about Small Sparks, visit our grants page or contact