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Over the last two weeks we have literally seen knitting and crocheting become the new “in thing” around South Africa and everyone wants to do it!

“Why?” you ask – well, because of a lady by the name of Carolyn Steyn.  Carolyn lived in the United States for ten years and in England for five years.  She was nominated as one of the “Most Exciting Women” by the Beverly Hills Sheet in 2004.  In the US she studied at the Beverly Hills Playhouse under acting guru, Milton Katselas, along with fellow students, Kate Hudson, Giovanni Ribisi, Jeffrey Tambor, Tony Danza and Doris Roberts, amongst others.  She had roles in the television series Melrose Place and Babylon 5, and appeared in numerous plays in Los Angeles, such as Harold Pinter’s Betrayal, Private Lives, and Shadowlands.

In South Africa, Carolyn completed a BA (Dramatic Art) Honours at WITS as well as a T.L.S.D. through UNISA, performed for PACT Drama for several years, notably in the production, Poppie Nongena, which ran for an entire year.  Carolyn then joined a local radio station, where she became a familiar voice, reading the news and co-hosting the weekend breakfast show.

Carolyn currently co-hosts a Radio Today show called “Whispers with Carolyn Steyn and Michael de Pinna”.  She also serves as a Patron of the Joburg Ballet, Patron of the Auto & General Theatre on the Square and is a Naledi Theatre Awards judge and ‘Arts Angel’.

The lovely Carolyn Steyn.

No prize for guessing I how got to meet Carolyn then! 

The initiative that Carolyn has launched was presented to her as a challenge at her husband’s birthday dinner on 19 December 2013.  A dear friend of the family, Zelda la Grange (former, long-serving PA of our late president Nelson Mandela) suggested that Carolyn make 67 blankets and distribute them in the name of our beloved Madiba.  She took up the challenge, but quickly realised that there was no way she would achieve this on her own and instead asked her Facebook friends to get involved.  The rest, as they say, is history…

The “67 Blankets for Madiba Day” Facebook page was launched and South Africans were encouraged and indeed motivated to get involved.  KAS pledged 67 blankets to the cause and also handed over another 67 blanket packs for those people wanting to get involved but who may not be able to knit or crochet a blanket from scratch.

Carolyn invited me to tea at the lovely Saxon Hotel, where I was able to tell her part of the amazing KAS story and share in her enthusiasm to get South Africa knitting in order to help keep people warm this coming winter. 

The first hand-over of blankets took place on Monday, 7 April 2014 at the Auto & General Theatre on the Square as part of a very special event which was attended by Wendy, Erin and myself. 

Entrance to the event was gained by presenting a hand knitted blanket at the door, and so people from all walks of life arrived with their beautiful creations.  We were treated to drinks and snacks followed by speeches by the Minister of Arts and Culture, Paul Mashatile, who had specially learnt to crochet for this initiative and Carolyn Steyn, herself, who shared just how ‘blown away’ she has been by the level of interest and generosity shown by all - from the outset.  She thanked KAS personally for its contribution and briefly described our project to the enthusiastic audience - a great way to increase awareness for KAS.  The formalities were followed by a wonderful evening of entertainment by a group of 11 very talented, female singers – South Africa’s “Leading Ladies”.

 The blankets were packaged with this message from KAS.

Since this successful launch, Carolyn and her Knit Wits have travelled to Robben Island and held a knitting event in the cell in which Nelson Mandela was imprisoned.  They, again, received enormous publicity with articles in many of the main stream newspapers in South Africa, numerous television and radio interviews and Carolyn is even busy shooting scenes for a local TV production, Generations, Africa’s most popular soapie.  She plays the role of Carolyn Steyn, Founder of 67 Blankets for Madiba Day! 

Knit-A-Square is so pleased to be a part of the “67 Blankets for Madiba Day” initiative and to have had the opportunity of meeting with like-minded individuals, albeit from a different walk of life, who have clearly recognised how much difference a few stitches can make in a person’s life.

We encourage you to follow Carolyn on her Facebook page and watch the Knit Wit Revolution unfold in South Africa! Knit-A-Square supports you all the way !!!

 Can you spot one of your squares?