A blanket is a lifetime gift


Welcome to all our many new Square Circle subscribers and hello to those of you for whom this is the second issue. For anyone wanting to start the story from the beginning, click this link to read Square Circle Issue #001.

If you like this e-zine, please do the children a further favour by sending this to family and friends and asking them to subscribe to Square Circle. The more knitters who find us, the more squares and the more blankets.


Our progress to date

African story – Baphumelele Children's Home

Australian story – a firestorm tsunami

New on the site:

Crochet Square Vest, Jill from woolcrafting.com

Visit South Africa – a survey

Knit anywhere – first contribution to the site, thank you Sue Benest

Yarn weights – let's make the definitive comparison chart

Three lovely bright pullovers from Janette Binns

Postal advice from Canada, thanks Anne Powell

Parent/teacher resource publication date

Lion Brand Company features knit-a-square

Heritage Blanket

A dollar lasts a day, a blanket a lifetime.

It's been a busy month since the first issue went out. Firstly, we would like to thank all the many people who have so warmly greeted knit-a-square with wishes to contribute by knitting and sending squares.

As discussed in the previous issue, which you can read by clicking on the link above, Ronda has again been in contact with management at the collection post office in Johannesburg, who have fully briefed the staff about the volumes of post we expect to arrive and continue to do so for many years.

Here she is with one of the large collection bags, many of which we hope will be bulging with knitted squares when she collects again shortly. (She has been in Cape Town for the birth of her fourth grand child, Gemma Grace).

The first joining day is set for 28 February 09. We will look forward to photographs of the first blanket for our next issue and even better, the first recipients. You will all have cause to be proud when you see the first children with their knit-a-square blankets.

We have some wonderful contributions from visitors like Anne Powell, who has detailed all the postal cost variations for Canada and who has put forward some very welcome suggestions as well.


I will put these on the site shortly, but the details are below. We would be delighted to receive similar information for the site from other countries around the world.

Does anybody recognise these squares sent from the UK? They were among the first to arrive this year and will certainly be in the first blankets.


African Story

Baphumelele Children's Home, Khayelitsha, near Cape Town, South Africa

Like so much about this great human tragedy, it is the stories of our human will to do good, and to do so when pitted against apparently insurmountable odds, that shine like beacons.


Rosalia Mashale (Rosie) and the children she has given a home to is such a story. Baphumelele (pronounced: bah-poo-meh-LAY-lay) is a Xhosa word meaning progress.

Rosie is a trained primary school teacher who in 1989 moved to Khaylitsha, near Cape Town, one of the most poverty stricken townships in South Africa. She immediately undertook to look after unsupervised neighbourhood children, who she had seen foraging for food in the local rubbish dumps, and soon had 36 children under her care.

Since then, with only the support of her community initially, she has built a charity which includes cluster housing for eight children with two live-in care givers, an educare centre for up to 230 children, and numerous other community-based initiatives.

She describes some of the many 'heart-wrenching stories' of the the children who they care for, coming to Baphumelele, babies, some only a day or two old and children abandoned in plastic bags and left on freeways and in railway stations.

Many of these children arrive in terrible physical condition suffering from malnutrition, serious skin infections, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.

They need intensive medical care, some of which is given by a volunteer doctor and nurses visiting twice a week.

They now have 23 full time care givers, a number of support staff, and many long term volunteers from around the world.

I have written to Rosie to ask her if our square pullovers and vests or squares for blankets are what the children require and will let you know in the next edition of Square Circle. In the meantime, you can donate to Baphumelele Children's Home here.


The Victorian bush fires

This week as many of you will have read, Victoria, the state of Australia of which Melbourne is the capital, suffered the most cataclysmic fire storms. One of the worst hit areas were 30 kilometres north of where we live, here in Melbourne.

The warnings were very dire so we evacuated my mother, Zanny, (still knitting) from her small country town surrounded by tinder-dry forest. We are deeply grateful that her area was not affected, although we grieve on behalf of the families who were lost or who have lost everything. No one has remained untouched by the scale and horror of this day.

This bush fire has been described as a firestorm tsunami. Whole towns were completely obliterated, with almost no warning for the residents as curtains of fire 50 metres high, swept through and destroyed everything in their paths.

Air temperatures in areas unaffected by the fires reached 48C/118F. Within the firestorms, engineers estimate core temperatures reached up to 1400C/2550F, whipped on by furnace-like gale force winds. The sky was forbidding, a deep, impenetrable brown grey, glowing orange from under the clouds of smoke. While we knew the fires were ferocious, no one understood until days later the extent of the tragedy.

Our thoughts and prayers are for the 7,000 homeless people, most of whom have lost friends, family, pets and livestock, livelihoods and their communities. We also think of the many burns victims and injured, some still fighting for their lives.

A moment of joy was this CFA (Country Fire Authority) fireman stumbling upon a lonely koala bear in the recently burnt out bush. It really is worth watching, as you will see, he was a very thirsty little bear.

Funds are being raised by this video, for the RSPCA and other wildlife and animal rescue agencies, who are doing a wonderful job looking after the injured animals.

The Australian Red Cross appeal has so far raised over Aus $100 million dollars in one week, a testimony again to the goodness of the human spirit in the face of great adversity.


What's new on the site

New on the site since last month:

Crochet Square Vest – courtesy of Jill from woolcrafting.com

Jill very kindly crocheted a square vest and provided the pattern for it here, as we had many inquiries for crocheting. Soon she will crochet a square too and we will put that pattern up as well. Jill designs her own crochet patterns and has some unique baby blanket ideas. Thanks Jill for your contribution.

Visit South Africa – asks if you ever thought to visit South Africa, would you prefer to be accompanied, or what would you like to see? There is a short questionnaire at the bottom of the page so that we can judge a demand for such a journey. We look forward to your responses.

Knit anytime , just a few stitches everyday, anywhere. A light hearted look at the fact that knitting is a portable craft. We invite you to upload your own photographs and pictures for publication in each issue of Square Circle.

by Sue Benest (Burlington, Ontario, Canada)

I quit smoking on January 8th, 2009. I was looking for a healthy, useful "addiction" to take its place. Voila, knitting! I needed something small and quick so I could see results immediately. I was overjoyed to find this site, and am using the scraps left over from my own afghans to make these squares. I knit at the computer, I knit while playing cards or board games with my daughter, I knit on the bus, I may even knit in my sleep!

No photo Sue, please send one of you knitting in your sleep! Well done for quitting smoking too.

Yarn Weights – Eight ply, 10 ply, worsted, sport weight, aran, bulky, super weight, fine, medium ……
I recently put up a page on yarn weights as there has been some uncertainty regarding the different descriptions of yarn weights between countries. Despite a lot of research, I could not find an absolutely definitive chart for country to country. Actually the more research I did, the more confusion!

As we demonstrate here, any size of square vest can be made depending on the needle size rather than the yarn weight. But most comparison charts I could find were very prescriptive as to which needles could be used for which weight. These recommendations did not always concur with the needle size (6 mm) and yarn weight (8 ply), we are using here in Australia for the squares.

So, please if any of you have some knowledge in this area, contribute it to the site, on the yarn weight page, with the aim of eventually creating a clear and simple international comparison chart. Your knowledge would be wonderfully appreciated.


Lovely square pullovers

Janette Binns sent this photograph of the three lovely square pullovers she and her mother had knitted. Aren't they great colours? I am hoping that we can track these jumpers and have a photograph taken of them with their happy new owners for publication in Square Circle. Thanks Janette.


Advice from Canada

Anne Powell from Uxbridge, Canada, has very kindly provided this detailed information on posting the squares from Canada. She also makes the very sensible suggestion that knitters leave a tail of yarn (approximately two metres, 3 yards) attached to their square rather than as a separate piece. This makes great sense and I will alter the instructions on the site to suit. Any other suggestions would be gratefully received. I will put up a knitting and sending suggestion page shortly to accommodate your ideas.

Here is Anne's postal advice:

One square in a business envelope costs Can$2.36 + tax to send.

By using "small packet rate" and sending more squares per packet, it is cheaper.

By Canada Post's definition, a small packet is any envelope or box with a total dimension of 90 cm. or less (Height + width + length). Charges are by weight – 0 to 250 Gm. It costs Can $6.22 to send and there is no tax on international mail over $5.00.

Today I had the post office weigh some squares. A 10×13" Kraft envelope, plus one Ziploc, plus six squares weighs 216 Gm, so we might even squeeze in a seventh square. This would reduce the effective mail cost per square to between 78 cents (seven squares per envelope) and $1.04 (six squares per envelope) as compared to the $2.36 cost for one square.

Non knitters contribution. Anne also makes the invaluable suggestion that non knitters can contribute too, perhaps by bringing pre-addressed and stamped envelopes to her church for collection by the knitters for their squares. That is a wonderful idea, Anne, and I will post it as an idea to Square Circle on the site.


Parent/teacher resource update

The parent teacher resource is almost complete – another day or so. It started out as a small manual and has grown to 36 pages! Some of the information is on the site, but it has the convenience of being in one logically flowing document for ease of use.

We are very much hoping that teacher's will take up the resource as a way of teaching their pupils the importance of giving, and teaching them a craft by which they can do so. Knitting one square is empowering too, as we will be able to show that it makes a difference. The book will be for sale on the site and through clickbank.com, although we do not yet know the final price.


Lion Brand Yarn Company

I am excited to tell you that Lion Brand Yarn Company, a 130 year old American organisation, will be featuring knit-a-square in their newsletter next week. They have a very large membership, so we are hoping that many of them will take up knitting squares.

If you want to subscribe to their free newsletter, this is the address: http://www.lionbrand.com/content-email.html.

A great feature of the newsletter is their knit-along section. This week they had just completed a remarkable cable tunic which looks very advanced. There are clear directions and by reading some of the blog attached, it looks like everyone helps each other. Great idea.


Heritage blanket

Zanny and I have been putting together a complete pattern guide for her heritage blanket featured in the last issue. There are 96 blocks in the blanket, so it is taking longer than I imagined.

Once we have finished that one, we will move onto the blanket she knitted for Cressida (our younger daughter) for Christmas. By that time she will probably have finished the blanket she has now started for Kalai (our older daughter), inbetween sending dozens of single squares to South Africa. Little Gemma Grace, Ronda's newest grandchild, is to be the recipient of the now finished baby blanket featured on the site, and that too will be added to the pattern book.

That's it for this month. We are really looking forward to future editions which will feature the children and their blankets. Please keep writing, as we love hearing from you, and as always, we are very grateful for your contributions, knitting and sending squares, advice, hints and tips. Stay safe, Sandy.

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