The first knit a square on the go a success

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The first knit a square on the go is a success

So much has happened since the last ezine, I thought it best to split this month's news into two issues. Perhaps every two weeks would be fairer on you too, as last month was a book! It is so exciting to see the number of squares building on a weekly basis, we would love to share that with you more regularly.

From an administration point of view it would be best to only publish the list of arriving squares at the end of each month.

Soweto Comfort Club are distributing volumes of blankets for the rest of May, so the next ezine will be full of pictures and stories of the children and their blankets.

Look what you have achieved.....piles and piles of blankets

SQUARE CIRCLE ISSUE NINE - 16 MAY 2009

 

NEWS
A record week for our square tally!
Playing a role in raising awareness
A media kit for you
The first World Knit A Square On The Go (KASOTG) Day is a success!
- Kyla's story
- Erin's story
-Kalai's story
Getting KAS into schools
Generous gift of 89 beanies

COMMUNITY NEWS:
Expanding the knit-a-square community
Let the creative you free in the rest of May
Trip to South Africa on the cards

NEW TO THE SITE:
Tears for AIDS grannies and their orphan grand children

More photographs of your beautiful work

COMING NEXT TO THE SITE:
Poncho Pattern by Beth
Postal FAQS

 

 

A record week for our square tally!

May has produced another milestone for knit-a-square. Ronda and the SCC ladies opened parcels containing 1,299 squares, and 71 items of clothing in ONE WEEK! Imagine if we could keep that up. That's 55 children who will have warm blankets as a result.

Total squares to date: 6,128 squares, 176 beanies, 110 sweaters, 55 vests, 38 others (toys, ponchos, bibs etc)

What a day it will be when we reach 10,000 squares.

Sometimes it may seem to you, that there are so many people sending so many squares but it is hardly making a dent in the huge goal we are striving to achieve. Think of 55 children (a bus load of kids), who currently lie on inadequate bedding surfaces, huddled under make-shift covers, and then imagine them snuggled under hand-knitted blankets with a warm beanie on their heads and you may feel as I do - a sense of wonder at what can be achieved where there is a will.

I hope that thought will inspire you to keep sending squares and clothes and to tell others about the plight of these children.

 

Playing a role in raising awareness

The tragedy of these children still remains mostly hidden. I often ask people what they know about the AIDS orphans in Africa. Many of them understand there is a problem, but have no idea of the scale.

Most people have never really thought to imagine what it means to grow up without the love and support of parents. Or of the burden the grandmothers of Africa face. Or what the future holds for a society with millions of parent-less children. It is a painful subject to contemplate.

However, each square, beanie, vest, or sweater you send offers a small, but very meaningful message to these children, that they are not entirely forgotten.

Awareness spreads like a virus. If you talk to your family and friends, they will talk to theirs and theirs will talk to theirs, and so it goes on. And that means many more people will know about these children - gathering momentum like rolling a snowball down a hill.

 

A media kit for you

We now have a press and media kit page aimed at further helping you spread the word with a monthly updated media kit to download and send to your local press.

We had our fifteen minutes of fame this week with a story in the local paper. Sadly they got just about everything wrong. Our names, the number of squares and the size (22 sq cms - huh?) and worst of all the knit-a-square address.

But none the less we received an anonymous donation of 68, 6 x 6" squares which will make two small children very happy. So press WORKS!

 

The first World KASOTG Day is a success!

For a relatively impromptu "world" event, it was a great start to doing just that, gathering momentum.

Firstly, we should thank Kyla (right) for her inspiration to make this happen and Andrea (left) for supporting her so well, and for coming up with the absolutely ingenuous idea, an 8" ruler that doubles as a brochure on the back, shown below. Slightly modified so that it is one sided only, it is up on the spread the word page so that you can use it to do just that. It will be of great use for Square Circle groups and schools of course. Thank you Andrea.

Between them, they came up with a host of ideas, including key chains (Kyla) and bracelets (Andrea) to sell and raise money for postage.

 

Port Credit High School, Mississauga, Canada, May 2nd
The event was for a crafts fund-raising day for Interim Place, (a counseling and shelter service for abused women and children).

CANADA - Kyla's report

 

 

 

 

"Right at the beginning we had one lady come in with two big bags of yarn, she walked over and dropped them off with us, saying "I knew you would be here so I brought you some yarn!" and I have no clue who she is or how she found out about us.

Another lady came over from another table and, at the end of the day, she brought us over two squares - one of which appears to be silk and is really soft.

A young woman came by and said "I have a big box of afghan squares for baby blankets that never got put together, they are a whole assortment of sizes, from maybe 7 inches to 10 inches or so, can I send those?" I told her yes, because if she has a full box, it may be enough to make a blanket out of even if its just a couple baby blankets.

I gave my phone number out to one lady who has blankets and blankets and blankets. She just keeps making these things and wants to unload them on somebody, so I told her I could pick them up and then get them to Soweto Comfort Club somehow.

People really enjoyed having the tea, and just a place to sit down. And it worked to our advantage becuase they would grab tea and cookies, sit down and see the yarn and the instructions. It would sort of slowly dawn on them that it wasnt just a free for all, it was connected to the KAS tables. So then they came over and dropped off a donation, took a flyer, asked some questions.

I had one woman come and sit and have a good conversation with me who orignally came form East Africa, so she knows the situation that the kids are in and was really touched by the project. Another two woman who don't knit or crochet but use a loom have promised some baby hats, and even the girl who came out from SNAP (local community newsletter) to take pictures of the event took a flyer and said that she would look it up and see what she could do.

People not only took flyers for themsevles but for friends and family, and a lot of people said "thats really neat, did you know aobut this charity project?" and shared what projects they were doing for other similar charities.

Andrea's bracelets sold pretty well, my key chains sold to kids. We had a plate of cookies out on the table that also sucked in the kids, then we got to chat to moms and dads for a while.

I had six movies on the go on my laptop, and people would stand and watch the childrens' faces go by on the screen and listen to the heartstring-pulling music and then come over and talk. My blanket really got attention, people were touching it and hefting it and commenting on how warm it must be.

Overall, we made just over $30 in donations/key chain/bracelet sales. Andrea got a big glass jar then crocheted a 'sweater' for it, and the whole jar was covered in this crocheted cosy and it looked really good. She sat and made a vest and I made two squares, then we had overall 7 squares come out of the day.

 

 

SOUTH AFRICA - Erin's report

Unable to organise a shopping mall or suburban square at such short notice, Erin's KASOTG had a very different flavour! Erin, her family and good family friends set off to stay with Ranger Rob in the Kruger National Park in the middle of wildest African bush. They extended the event across the two days, knitting at breakfast and against the beautiful African sunset.

Ranger Rob's House, Kruger National Park, South Africa, May 2nd

Erin said: Robbie (Ranger Rob) was getting so into knitting, we had to tear it away from him. It was his first knitting experience ever and he was pretty determined to learn how to do it right.

He had literally been fighting fires for about 19 hours the previous day. We were having a skottel (large outdoor wok for cooking over a fire) breakfast near a dry river bed in the bush and we could hear the elephants breaking branches and snorting nearby - absolute heaven!

 

 

 

Now how much knitting the boys actually did remains a mystery, but just seeing them with the needles in their hands should be an inspiration to the other half of the world's population to get knitting and sending squares, don't you think so?

 

Melbourne, Ivanhoe Street Fiesta, Australia, May 2nd

 

Given how little time we had to organise it, we were just so lucky that it turned out to be the day of our local Ivanhoe shopping strip street Fiesta. We were able, at the last minute, to arrange a small marquee in the middle of the street.

MELBOURNE - Kalai's report

May 2nd turned out to be an amazing day. The sky was blue and the sun shone all day without a breath of wind or a cloud in the sky.

The whole family, Mum (Sandy), Dad (Roger), sister (Cressida), her fiancee, Sunny and my grandmother (Zanny), all arrived at nine to get the ball rolling in our knit-a-square t-shirts. Our little marquee in the middle of the street was in a prime position too.

We set up with lots of knitted squares strung around the marquee and posters saying, 'have a go, knit a row and make an AIDS Orphan warm". We had a table with biscuits, flyers, thank you notes and Andrea's rulers.

We also had forms for people to fill out with their email address and names and the incentive of a prize for one of those names drawn out of a hat. We had six deck chairs out which were pretty much filled from 10am -4pm.

 

We met hundreds of people and plenty of them stopped to have a knit, chat or teach their children to knit. Cress was good at asking passers by to come in and knit a row, Roger handed out flyers and Zanny and Sandy taught people to knit, including a five year old. They also told people all about the AIDS orphans. Sandy was interviewed by the Event Radio DJ which brought more people to the tent.

I spent most of the time knitting away and talking to the people about knit-a-square. One woman had just had a heart transplant but she looked so well. Many people made suggestions, mostly about contacting schools which was great.

Our great friends came by too and knitted or donated squares.

Patrice who is a designer with ArtWords, my parent's business just around the corner, helped out too by printing flyers when needed and taking these wonderful photographs.

By the end of the day we had 8 completed squares, 7 half finished squares and a list of thirty people to subscribe to to Square Circle.

The day was a great success, not to mention a fabulous bonding experience for the family.

What do you think?

What is exciting about these three events is how different they are, from the venue to the number of people involved. It proves that similar awareness raising events could happen anywhere and be organised by anyone, in your home, local coffee shop, village square, shopping mall or city square.

I so hope that this gallant start will get us all thinking about next year's Global Knit-a-Square-on the go.

And I would also like to credit Kerry from the Forum who was actually the first person to come up with the idea in response to the i-knit-weekender in London in September.

We already have lots of things we would do differently or would include next time, so by this time next year, if you all give it a bit of thought, there will be a raft of great ideas to host small to huge events throughout the world in homes, villages, towns and cities.

Kyla wrote in ravelry.com about next year:

We could the first Saturday in May. After a little while you will be able to advertise the date with detailed information on the web page, and people can see when to turn up and where. You could list things like “Williams coffee house, Port Credit, Mississauga - knitters and crocheters to meet between 10 and 3.” And if it truly is global, then we will have people turning out all over the place. If we do it that way, then smaller locations like coffee shops would be a better place because people come to sit down anyway.

This is the ground floor for what could be a serious international event, linking hundreds of thousands of people to crocheting and knitting squares and helping raise awareness for these children we all care so much about. It will be a great conversation to have and we look forward to your ideas in our new Square Circle Forum. (see below)

 

 

Getting KAS into schools

I have spoken often about the need to ask teacher's to take up knit-a-square as a program in schools. Debbie Posmontier from Springside School in Philadelphia has shown that it can be very successful and popular with the children. There are now 55 children who are knitting squares in her school which is really wonderful. Debbie wrote in a recent letter:

"We have 55 girls knitting, at last count and have finished about 30 squares. Some have produced squares after just a few days of practice. Others are still struggling to learn.

What I have found is that those who struggle with reading or math are the best knitters! This has empowered them and I see them teaching the other girls who do not struggle with academics but are struggling as knitters.

It has been a wonderful time for the girls who have always felt that they could not achieve or excel at something. Now they know that they can! We also have several teachers and parents contributing squares. I have set up a "communal" square in the Faculty Room and several teachers visit regularly and knit a few rows. We have finished 3 squares that way! (School's equivalent of KASTOG - Ed!) I was contacted by a group of college freshman from Chestnut Hill College who wanted to knit for charity. They have contributed 88 squares that they have knitted and crocheted during the semester. My knitters were so excited to see the huge box of squares the college girls had made. They quickly calculated that we have made more than 2 blankets already.

From left to right in picture: Laura M., Laura H., Jessica A., Aly A., and Sarah Z. List of other square makers: Elizabeth G. Flor V. Laura H. Alyx B.

Now we are working on options for mailing the squares to you. I have some ideas for raising the money and/or asking for help from UPS and FedEx. We are also investigating stories through our local TV stations and newspapers. I'll keep you posted on our progress! Thank you Debbie and all the girls who have contributed so many squares.

Please let me know if you are a teacher or parent and interested in bringing the program to your school. I would be delighted to help, but also any advice from teachers would be gratefully received for incorporation into the new teacher's resource which I am re-writing at present to make it more teacher friendly.

 

Generous gift of 89 beanies

Ronda has been invited to talk to two schools in Johannesburg, one last Monday, Cedarwood, and one next. She said she had a wonderful response from the children and the teachers and parents who were there.

After her talk, a women, Jill Herb, asked her to come back to her house afterwards to meet her sister, Pam Carron visiting from Canada. Pam has a small knitting charity in Vancouver, driven by her church community. They knit beanies for hospitals and the troops in Afghanistan. She had brought with her 89 beanies and was hoping to find a good home for them, so Ronda was delighted to take them. Thank you Pam.

 

 

Expanding the knit-a-square community

NEW - The Square Circle Forum will be fully functioning by Monday night eastern standard time.

This is a wonderful step for knit-a-square. I SO hope that you will all take the opportunity to sign up and start up the lively happy conversations of the knit-a-square community. All that activity will have Google very pleased with the site and happy to send new knitters and crocheters to join in.

And that is what we need, more knitters and crocheters...... more squares......more blankets.....more warm children.

I will send you the live link as soon as it is up and ready to go. The three K's (Kyla, Kalai and Kerry) and I will be very happy to welcome you.

Let the creative you free in the rest of May

The most beautiful creative work is being done in response to the this challenge Make it in May - intricate stitches with beautiful borders and detailed patterns. Just one of these squares in each blanket will make it a work of art and the children will love them. Here are just some of the amazing squares ...... clever, talented people.

 

Tears for AIDS grannies and their orphan grand children

AIDS grannies
I put this page up after being contacted by Jane from Canada. She runs a website called Rhubarb Rally and they are hosting an awareness event for African Grannies. Jane put me in touch with the Stephen Lewis Foundation - a remarkable charity based in Canada. Some of you have already mentioned them to me in the past. In researching information for this page I found an excerpt from a speech made by Stephen Lewis in his role as UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa.

He so eloquently describes the extent of a young orphan girl's loss I was unable to complete reading it aloud to my husband for the tears that choked my voice. Nothing I had read before so graphically captured such sadness.

More than anything this will confirm for you how you may touch these young people and bring them some comfort with your efforts.

More lovely letters and piles of beautiful gifts from you for the children

Here are some of the amazing photographs of your squares, beanies and letters. They bring joy to all of us involved in this work. Thank you.

Until next time, I look forward to talking to you in the forum and take care. Sandy

PS. There has been sufficient interest in an accompanied trip to South Africa for us to start planning the first one in early March 2009. If you are interested, please fill in the form on the Visit South Africa page.