3500 midwives needed ! Get knitting ! This campaign has now ended – a huge thank you to everyone who helped us knit almost 500 midwives. Watch out for photos and a full update soon.


The Royal College of Midwives has highlighted that the UK is still short of 3500 midwives.  This is an update to the published report here.  The update to the report can be seen here. Whilst this is an improvement on the 5000 midwives needed three years ago, this chronic shortage adds to the pressures that midwives are facing every day in their working environment.  Additionally there is a ‘retirement time bomb’ as over a third of the current midwifery workforce is aged 50 or over.

This ‘knit a midwife’ project was inspired by a Twitter feed:

twitterfeed knittedmws

How can I help?

The challenge  is to create 3500 knitted midwives and we are hoping you can help. We know there are a lot of knitters/crocheters creative folk out there!  The aim is to provide a display of the knitted midwives at the RCM conference in Harrogate on October 19th and 20th 2016 to demonstrate what this shortage looks like.  This display will act as the voice of those who made them.

Please help us knit 3500 midwives to help us build this display.  If you would prefer to crochet we have that option too. Tell us why you created the midwife, it may be that you just love knitting or that the doll represents a special midwife you know. What does the doll mean to you?  Tell us about you, are you a midwife? A student? A mother?

Here’s the first one.

knitted midwife

Knitted midwife number one!

“I’m Lindsay, a Midwife Lecturer and Supervisor of Midwives. I’ve given birth to 3 children and had wonderful midwives each time.  I knitted this midwife to represent every midwife I know who works very hard to make a positive difference to every woman or student midwife they meet.”

Where are the instructions for making my midwife?

The pattern provided here is for a basic doll. Wee Folk Art have kindly given permission to use this pattern and you can personalise it as you wish. It is especially ideal for beginners.  Please knit the 10″ doll using 3.75mm (size 9) needles.  The doll will be about 9″ tall.  If you prefer to crochet, then here is one you can use, again with kind permission from Amy’s Gurumis

How do I personalise my midwife?

Instructions and ideas for personalising your midwife can be found here.

What do I do with my midwife once it’s finished ?

Please send finished midwives to the address on the about page.  They will be looked after very carefully until they are displayed at the Conference and in October will be cherished whilst on display.

We would love to see photos of your finished midwife.  You can share them on our Twitter feed @knittedmidwife or our Facebook page Knit a Midwife Campaign.   Use the #knitamidwife You could even add a placard or a sentence about you and your knitted midwife.

Here’s our photo gallery

Please note we are unable to return knitted midwives.

What will happen at the Conference?

Anyone who attends the conference will be offered the chance to complete a questionnaire on the impact of seeing them and what it means to them. What difference would it make to them if the midwives were real?

We will use any information provided about your knitted midwife  to create a story about the knitters and why they have knitted them. Anything you tell us will be completely confidential and no personal details will ever be disclosed. The questionnaires from the conference will be used to explore feelings engendered by the impact of the display.  We will write about it afterwards.

What will happen to the knitted midwives after the conference?

At the end of the conference the knitted midwives will be available to anyone who would like one in return for a donation in aid of the RCM benevolent fund.  We are unable to return any midwives to knitters.


A deflated midwife trying to smile.

Looking forward to meeting all the knitted midwives!

Please share widely and tell all your friends.


Knit a Midwife campaign – Scotland

Please note that the knit a midwife campaign on this website has now ended so please do not send any photos or midwives here.

University of West Highlands are running a similar fund raising campaign for the International Day of the Midwife.  If you would like more information about this, have your knitting needles ready and follow the link to their website:



Thank you.


Wow, what a conference!

It’s all now over and a huge thank you to everyone who knitted midwives and supported this campaign to raise awareness of the shortage of 3500 midwives in the UK in 2016.  Also thank you to everyone who helped set up and supported on the two days: especially David Hobbs, Angela Jackson, Jenny Plows, Helene Marshall and also Oxfam of Skipton who kindly lent 3000 balls of wool to represent the midwives that are still missing.

We now have the task of collating the stories that came with the midwives and the questionnaires collected at the conference.  This will happen in the New Year and you’ll be able to read about them when they are ready.

We had 492 knitted midwives on the Art display and  more have arrived since totaling almost 500 midwives, well done everyone, this was a powerful message.  Many of you took the time to knit a midwife (or midwives) and this says much about how people feel about midwives.

321 knitted midwives went to new homes following the conference raising £1605 for the  RCM Benevolent fund, incredible.  After discussion with the RCM the remaining midwives are now with the University of Bradford Midwifery Society.  The knitted midwives will be present at their events and you can have one for a donation to Mummy’s Star , a charity that supports pregnant women with cancer – so far they have raised £150 with them.

Here are some photos of the conference.



I loved the arrival of this parcel





One car packed and ready to go – we had 3 cars full




Cars unloaded and ready to go at the Harrogate International Centre


Wow! Don’t they look amazing.  See if you can find yours.

Someone’s looking restful.

Mmm….looks like we have an escapee sliding down the stair rail #positivedeviant

Such a shame that Jenny Hall couldn’t be present but her woolly counterpart made up for it and kept her collaborator company.


A powerful reminder of the reason for this campaign; the UK has a shortage of 3500 midwives.  It has been clear from the reaction to this campaign that people feel very strongly.

If you would like to see more photos taken at the Conference please click this link RCM Conference photos

Continue to follow us on Facebook ‘Knit a Midwife Campaign’ and on Twitter @knittedmidwife

Thank you to Emily Hobbs, the designated young person who looks after @knittedmidwife on Instagram

Photo gallery of knitted midwives


So pleased that everyone’s busy knitting. Some have arrived already and are making themselves at home and getting on very well together as midwives do!   I’ll put pictures on here when they get posted on social media.  Your finished midwife should be sent to knitted midwife at the address here so she can be included in the display at the RCM conference.  The sight of all those knitted midwives will have quite an impact!

How to personalise your midwife

Now you have finished the basic doll you will want to make your midwife look fabulous.

First start with the face.


Mark eye positions in the centre of the face with pins, there should be 4 knit stitches between them.

Using one strand of your chosen eye colour wool make an oversew stitch twice  for each eye,  2 rows in length.

Give your midwife a lovely smile by using one strand of lip colour wool. Start in the centre about 3 rows below the eyes and make a stitch either side 2 stitches across and one row high.

Next add hair.

You have 2 choices for the hair.  You can either add strands of hair using a crochet hook or knit the hair then sew it on like a hat.

For adding hair with a crochet hook I followed the weefolkart instructions  here


To knit hair, use wool colour of your choice and  4.5 mm (UK 7) knitting needles.

Cast on 16 sts.

Row 1+2: Knit
Row 3: Cast off 2sts, K to last 3 sts, turn
Row 4: K to end
Row 5: Inc in first 2 sts, K to last 5 sts, turn.
Row 6: K to end.
Repeat these six rows 11 more times.
Cast off.
Stitch cast on and cast off edges together. Gather round the short  row ends, pull up tightly and fasten off.
Turn right side out.
Place the piece on doll’s head with seam at centre back   Sew around edges to secure in place.

Choose how you want your midwife to look dress wise.  Is your midwife male or female?  Wear uniform? Scrubs? Work independently? Work in community?  Retired? A student?


The simplest way to make your midwife look like she (or he) is wearing clothes is to use different colours when knitting the basic doll.  Use shoe colour for the first few rows then trouser colour up to the waist then top colour up to the neck and the last few rows of the arms.


To make trousers knit using chosen colour exactly as for the basic doll up to the waist in a size larger needles.  Sew leg seams and back seam then put on your midwife.

Jumper or cardigan.

Back (Front alike for jumper)

Cast on 24 stitches.

Knit 4 rows in K1P1 rib.

Knit stocking stitch for about 18 rows (or desired length)

Knit 2 rows K1P1 rib. Cast off.

Cardigan front (knit 2)

Cast on 12 stitches.

Knit 4 rows in K1P1 rib.

Knit stocking stitch for about 18 rows (or desired length)

Knit 2 rows K1P1 rib. Cast off.


Cast on 20 stitches.

Knit 4 rows in K1P1 rib.

Knit 8 rows stocking stitch (short sleeves) or 16 rows (long sleeves) and cast off.

To make up

Sew shoulder seams then stitch in sleeves matching the centre of the cast off edge with the shoulder seam.  Sew side and sleeve seams.


If your midwife is to wear a dress then knit the body of the basic doll in your chosen dress colour.

For the skirt cast on 65 stitches.

Knit 2 rows .

Knit 20 rows (or desired length is reached) in stocking stitch  and cast off.  Sew up the back seam. Attach to the doll by sewing around the waist making sure the back seam is at the back of the doll.

Once your midwife is finished.  Wrap her carefully and send to  About

Remember to include a few words about why you have knitted the midwife.

Your midwife will be looked after very carefully and be on display at RCM Conference

We are unable to return knitted midwives.