All about babies and you

All about babies and you

Penny wrote in the forum last week: I want to share that my new grandson was born yesterday. He was born healthy and lucky to have a loving family around him. Makes me even more determined to make squares and hats for the kids in Africa.

There was a lot of talk about babies this month in the Square Circle forum.

Andrea gave birth to her healthy son Evan on June 4th and commented, that she hoped to get back to making squares and was thankful that she had finished her initialled squares for Ten Thousand Homes the day before!

Other grandchildren were born or being looked after, including Ronda's which made her very busy this month.

There was mention of three pregnancies in the forum, including Rachel who kindly submitted the alphabet crochet patterns, and was happy to have done so before the nausea set in. And we delivered blankets and hats to our first preemie babies.


This tiny, minute little boy, Mpumelelo, born at 7 months weighing only 870gms, (30.6ozs) at birth, is now almost 1Kg (2.2lbs) so is 'doing well'. Mpumelelo has a mother, although she is very, very young, but perhaps it was the article copied below, from the British newspaper, the Guardian, that so poignantly juxtaposes the privilege of loving and caring for children and the tragedy of babies abandoned. The KAS community can help.


25 JUNE 2009

Our first preemie baby
Abandoned babies- how we can help
July Challenge – wrap a newborn in warmth
Purl Princesses purl (and knit) up a storm
Debbie's girls and their sweet letters
The wonderful work you do
A big idea, for a big give
The beautiful children of the Mother of Peace Community and Anna's prayer shawl
Future blanket distributions
The much promised short video
Family knits

Ten thousand homes challenge – an overwhelming response

Rachel's alphabet squares
At last! One of the videos – the Methodist Church Distribution



Tiny children who need soft, warm love

Ronda made contact with Edenvale Government Hospital where she and Erin delivered 14 baby blankets, 25 preemie hats, 12 tiny sweaters and 24 tiny vests to the ICU High Care, Neonatal, Paediatric Ward. Ronda wrote: 'It's a government hospital which means people are forced to wait in long queues for hours and there are never enough beds. But Sister Devi Govender, the senior nursing sister was very helpful and extremely grateful for the contribution. Ronda also commented that it was impossible to get an idea of how minute these babies are. Mpumelelo's hat was barely bigger than doll size and his little head only filled the bottom third of it.

They also visited the paediatric ward, where blankets will be distributed. Ronda wrote: "This little girl is ill with pneumonia and her crying was too awful for words – such a sick baba with no mum or dad around. Erin and I were completely choked up over her." It is brave to visit places where there is evidence of so much suffering. But they are where your hours of stitching will comfort small children, like this little girl. So much in this issue reflects the complexity of this tragedy, a mixture of sadness and hope, good works, hardship and gratitude. We share with you the story as it unfolds.

Abandoned babies–what can we do to help?

The notion of abandoned babies, of young women so desperate they find themselves faced with no other choice, is painfully difficult to think about.

This article by the Guardian Newspaper (UK) last week reports a sharp rise in the number of babies abandoned by mothers in recession hit South Africa.

They quote Jeanette Birrell, managing director of Tshwane Place of Safety as saying: "A lot of girls falling pregnant now don't have an income. They're living on the street, they don't have a home and they're desperate". Tshwane Place of Safety is receiving as many as 12 requests a day to take these babies. At this time they have 225 babies in their hundred safe homes.

Another article published in the Daily News on June 28, 2007 offers this further insight by Psychologist Saloshnie Chetty who was quoted as saying " The personal circumstances of the mother are often the most telling factor when it comes to the abandonment of babies. Aids is a reality in today's society and is ripping families apart. Most young women who are affected by Aids and are also in the grips of poverty, do not possess the emotional, mental or financial capacity to support a child. The grotesque and unbelievable nature of these acts attests to the desperation these girls are experiencing. They feel isolated; they do not know where to turn. Abandonment seems the easiest way out"

She was further quoted as saying: " to educate women of their choices, government needs to reach out to these women . . . and provide them with the knowledge they require to make an informed decision regarding the future of their newborn baby.

The work of organisations such as Tshwane Place of Safety deserves support and that of Orphan Network which has been created to join together all organisations that are involved with Orphans and Vulnerable Children and those who have would help.


July Challenge – Wrap a newborn in warmth

Which brings me to the July Challenge and how we can help.

Let's gift them a warm start.

That may be the best way to acknowledge this most sad and heartbreaking reality, to knit and crochet for these babies during the month of July.

The details of the challenge are still being worked out, but in essence we wondered if this wouldn't be an appropriate time to team up with one or two other KAS members to knit an entire baby blanket (12 squares). If Tshwane is getting 12 enquires a day, that is lot of new-borns who need warmth. Let's wrap them in love and warmth to help them a little on their way.

If you are not yet a member of the Square Circle Forum, this is a perfect opportunity to join this caring community and help these babies. We look forward to meeting you in there.


Purl Princesses purl (and knit) up a storm

Purls Palace is the most delightful yarn shop, with a Japanese influence. It is in Daylesford, about an hour and a bit from Melbourne, where my mother, Zanny lives. Zoe Bradshaw who owns the shop and Sue (Catsmum) were instrumental in organising Purls Palace knitting club, the Purls Princesses, to put on a knit-a-square day on June 4 this month. Kalai, Cressida and I took the day off (very happy family outing!) and drove up to spend the day to meet Zanny and participate in the event.

Zoe, together with The Rare Yarns Company had contributed the yarns for free and there were perhaps up to 16 knitters at any one time. What a haul – 111 squares on the day and 13 more a bit later, plus the kindness of all participating in making a donation (Aus $5 each) to the postage, which not only helped send all the squares but dozens of other donated squares.

It is a great way to make lots of squares, enjoy the friendship of community knitting and cover the postage. We made good friends along the way and added a few more members to Square Circle Forum, one of whom Tik, is expecting her baby any day now. And the local paper the Daylesford Courier interviewed Zoe and I and wrote this article at the bottom of the press archives page, which was another great way to publicise knit-a-square (although I look as if I have a stomach ache!)

Perhaps you may be able to talk to your local yarn shop and get a similar day happening.



Debbie's girls and their sweet letters

Debbie Posmontier pioneered the knit-a-square school's program, introducing it to the girls in years 2-6, aged 7 and 11, in March 09 at Springside School in Philadelphia. At the time she wrote: "We will sit in the sunshine in the meadow behind the school, a lovely place to knit for the less fortunate children on another continent.”

Over the next 3 months the girls learned to knit and many teachers became involved. She wrote again: "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!"

By the middle of May, she had posted 60 squares with another 80 soon to be sent. In early June they sent another 75. What a wonderful effort. But also important, has been the effect on the children. "Many girls have asked me if we can do this again in the fall, (September), and I answered with a resounding, Yes!


The wonderful work you do

There is such a remarkable volume of work arriving in South Africa, every known colour, hue and pattern. Many of you write charming and caring letters too, which Ronda keeps safely. They are wonderful mementos of the work you are doing for the children and we aim to collect and compile them, the photographs and the stories into a collection of publications to be made available to the KAS community, including the children who have received the blankets. (See survey below.)

It is not just in the knitting and crocheting that you do you work. Many of you spend a lot of time contributing to the groups, helping others, coming up with ideas and spreading the work. Everyone in KAS is indebted to you for this help.

So, which of these many colourful photographs to include in the ezine? This is a troublesome decision and although it would be democratic to publish them all, I would be months older by the time it was done and you would think we no longer existed! So I hope you will accept that this quite substantial, but random selection of the extraordinary work you do serves to include you all. But more importantly it is evidence that everything you do is noted, sorted, bundled and distributed to children who are warm now because of you.

I went back over all the hundreds and hundred of photographs that Ronda diligently sent and found some that had gone unnoticed in the rush of last month, so those are included too. Knowing that you have a passion of what you do, I am sure you won't mind scrolling through pages of beautiful knitting and crocheting, especially as you will realise that all of this is currently, or soon to be, making a child warm.

Left: Greetings from Pennsylvania – just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate all that you are doing and how much I enjoy making the little sweaters and vests for you. Please tell everyone that we love them and keep you all in our prayers. Peace and love, Sharon Right: Rhonda's beautifully executed work is clearly identified from her other work on both Ravelry and Square Circle Forum.

Rhonda is a regular and very helpful contributor to the groups together with Jeanne who recently started a discussion: 'crochet beanie hat, easily sized up or down, infant to adult' . And you will recognise Jeanne, as her avatar is the cutest baby photo you have ever seen! It will most clearly answer any sizing issues you may have with crocheting a hat.

Left: 44 squares from Dee and Carole, Atlanta Right: Mountainview Community Church Ramona, California, old friends now.

We really hope that many of your members will join the Square Circle forum Church Groups, recetnly added to the forum under Groups. There are so many church groups contributing that it seemed a great way for you to communicate and share your common interests.

Left: the first squares to arrive for a Ten Thousand Homes child, Promise Mokoena from Donna Overton. Ronda has bundled Donna's squares together with matching squares from those sent by the United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge. Middle: Little Lerato is a regular visitor to Ronda's house with her very young mother, who walks incredibly long distances to help. She is wearing one of Julie Waldo's lovely beanies. Julie also sent 47 squares. Right: a gorgeous jumper which is from the Make it May challenge sent by 'dumelaisuza'.

Right: Lindiwe with the ENORMOUS box of 230 squares from the United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge (again !) Left: the squares from the box – wow!

Sandra King the Director of Pastoral Care sent the amazing photograph below of the Knitting the Threads of God's Love members together with their first 78 squares in May. Ronda took the squares to Midway Methodist church in Tchiawelo, who made such a lovely job of their blankets, as seen in Square Circle No 10.

This blanket distribution event can be seen in this video which is up at last – the link is at the bottom of this ezine – can't have you all disappearing too soon! They were absolutely delighted and I believe have written directly to Sandra. Thank you so for such a wonderful effort and I hope some of your members will join the Church Groups in the forum.


Anne Warburton is a generous and regular contributor from Cape Town. She sent this parcel of goodies recently including felted slippers to comfort the Soweto Comfort Club ladies. Lindiwe was very pleased as you can see, and she gave a pair to Jo who was flying overseas the next night to an Alpha conference. Ronda has just 'confessed' on the forum that she is wearing the other pair. Great hit with the SCC ladies Anne, especially as Lindiwe and Jo have both been ill, thank you.

Tom sent a large 16" square and Sandra sent 4 red 8" squares. Ronda and Lindiwe arranged them and Ronda sewed it up. It makes a very attractive blanket. Luckily there were enough red and greyish squares to make up a full blanket.

Ronda is so proud of her own parish community – Bryanston Church who have contributed these lovely piles of squares along with several more. Right: In the background parcels and parcels, 50 of them from the UK.

How many days here of Kyla's square a day contribution? Looks like at least a month, they look fabulous. And from Sue Gascoigne (UK) who is a regular contributor in the UK Group. Lovely colours.

Left: University of Bradford school of engineering design, technical admin staff – great contribution, thank you. Middle: From Laurie Hake, the books which were gratefully received by Mother of Peace, see below, (and thank you your squares too). Right: Hello Florence and thank you for these 10 beautifully knitted squares.

Left: 69 super squares,Dorothy van Opstal – Methodist Church in Appomattox, Virginia. It was all hands to the wheel during this week with over 1000 squares opened. Daniel (Erin's son) and his little friend Liam were very proud to have opened and counted this box on their own and Hannah (Erin's daughter) opened and modelled this lovely jumper with pockets and warm fleecy shirt underneath plus hat from Paulette Pronk. Paulette also sent a whole lot of warm thermal baby outfits which will be put to wonderful use for our new borns. Fantastic colour combination – from a new contributor, Martha of North Plainfield NY. Ronda said they put a few more similar colour squares in this and made up a lovely blanket pack.

Aren't these felt and applique squares from Cindy Fitzhugh stunning. We also received 91 squares and 9 hats this month. Just a fabulous contribution, thank you Cindy.

Left: richly coloured sweater, vest and squares from Lisa Wylie which came with a book, Toby. Right: such pretty crochet blankets sewn by Jo and Lindiwe from last month. The blanket on the right has been made up of dozens of tiny little 8 x 8 cm squares we were sent from Australia. It is lovely, but the ladies are very happy that mostly they only have to work with 8" squares!

Left: Machine knitted fairisle design vests from Cherryl Graham, NI Knitters in Northern Island. Hopefully more of you from beautiful Ireland will join the NI knitters group in the forum soon. Right: superbly knitted squares from Janice Gassman. Those edges are amazing.

Right: A warm and touching letter from Anita and her sister Judith from Buffalo. I am sure they speak for us all. Left: 3 large sweaters, 12 hats and four scarfs from Joan Briar, Colorado. They look so warm Joan, what a generous contribution too.

Left: Lindiwe with squares and hats from Jean Anderson, UK each one complete with these lovely motifs. Right: What a great start to our baby hat collection. Soft, pretty hats from Gayle de Groot.

Our great group of friends, formed when our children were at kindergarten, came together recently for a winter weekend away. As Roger wrote, "it only needed Sandy and Kalai to pull out their needles and yarn to get first the women and then the younger people talking, and knitting, including the men". 22 squares all up. The blank space is waiting for Cressida's, little misshapen, but first ever knitting attempt at a square to be finished!

Left: To add to our baby pile, three soft and warm blankets from Sonni Bosman, Cape Town and sometimes Zimbabwe. Thanks Sonni. Right: And finally, these blankets were knitted and sewn and delivered by Jessica, an Anglican priest in Pretoria. Aren't they lovely?

At the end of the most massive parcel opening week (over 1800 squares), Ronda's house was literally festooned with squares and only a day to go before her family arrived from Cape Town! Grateful thanks to Annie, Erin and Sonya for stepping into help sort them all into blanket packs and clear out the spare bedrooms just in time. They had a very late night, but don't they look happy with all your wonderful work.


Going through the multitude of emails and photographs that Ronda has sent in the last 6 weeks, there is just so much more that could be going into these ezines. Sadly time and space just does not allow. There are so many equally fantastic contributions, (large and small) which while not shown here are none the less making any number of children warm who were cold before. I hope though, that these photographs will convey to you all how deeply appreciated your work is, and that every item we receive is catalogued and handed over at some point to a child to keep warm.



A big idea, for a big give

From Roger McDonald:
So many souls have given so generously, not only in love, labor and time, but in thought. The feelings expressed in the frequent posts to online groups and forums bring tears, mostly of joy, gratitude and pride in humanity. Now we want to involve you in a VERY BIG IDEA. If you do nothing else with this ezine, please click here and complete the survey. It‘s the start of something that will bring tears of joy to you.


The beautiful children of Mother of Peace Community and Anna's prayer shawl

Ronda made contact with Pat Prinsloo who runs the nearby Mother of Peace Community which has been operating since 2002. She organised to deliver blankets for the 17 children who are cared for by them, all orphans, many with HIV themselves, boys of 17, 15, 13 and 10, also one of 9 who is tiny because he is very ill with HIV, girls of 13, 11, 8 and 6, and four 9 year olds, three toddlers and baby boy of 8 months found abandoned on the side of the road. He must have been loved Pat said, as he was clean and wrapped in a blanket. The community are afforded the ground by a devoutly Catholic family who lives next door and there is a fully consecrated chapel on site.

The approach to the home in which the children live – Ronda said it was so cold that day, they thought it would snow. This blanket is the one Ronda had joined. It looks beautiful and warm – such a wonderful gift for an orphan child.

Some of the beautiful children of the Mother of Peace Community

Left: Princess, Right: Mama Pat with Gift, Arnie and JoJo wearing their new hats. Ronda said Arnie thanked her most beautifully and she wished she had caught it on video to share with you all. Next time.

Left: Two of the 'big boys' Isaac and Enoch., middle: Kholofele and Gift, right: Milly and Dido. Milly loved having her picture taken apparently!

Baby Gabriel, the 8 month baby boy found on the side of the road. What a beautiful child and how grateful we are that he was found and is being looked after by 'Mama Pat' and those that help her.

Left: Pat and Baby Gabriel in the brightly painted children's bedroom. Middle: Tebogo and Swabi Right: Milly and Dido posing in the back yard.

MITTENS? Interestingly, Pat has made a request for mittens. Does anyone have a pattern for mittens? If so could you post it on the patterns page on the forum

Pat mentioned to Ronda that so many of the women who come for evening vigil services walk a long way and are frozen stiff by the time they arrive, almost always with inadequate clothing. Ronda wrote: Imagine my DELIGHT when, the very next day, I opened a lovely bottle green prayer shawl, sent by Anna di Bartolomeo of Ontario. I felt it should go straight to Pat for these women's use in the chapel. Pat was delighted as well with the blankets and hats that Ronda delivered.


Future blanket distributions

There is a lot of work going on in the background regarding blanket distributions. The ladies of Phiri Parish, Moletsane, White City, Protea South and Midway Methodist Church are all currently sewing blanket packs which Jo and Lindiwe take to them, and are all accounted for. Deborah of Moletsane has distributed many of their made blankets to children in their area and taken photographs which, by her own admittance, are not the greatest quality. I have none the less included some of them here to show that your squares continue to be made into blankets and to make children warm.

Ronda says the ladies of Midway Methodist church (as seen in the video) are sewing madly. I hope soon there will be another blanket presentation there. Zeverfontein has a second and even poorer creche (shown below), which Ronda is planning to organise a distribution to and Pumla at Freedom Park has been given blanket packs which she is currently making up. Also, Bill who works at Mother of Peace is very involved with a nursery school of 40 children, who have absolutely nothing, called Telkom, as it has been made up of bits of an old demolished tele-communications building. Ronda is planning to visit Telkom with Bill and Pat to take them items of clothing.



Tit bits

Ronda has heard from Shannon Jacobs of Cedarwood School – the remedial school she presented knit-a-square too in mid May. At the time Ronda suggested a target of 200 squares. Apparently they have made 2000 squares! How fabulous is that. Ronda will collect them at assembly on Monday 6th July. She will need a van I think.


Family Knits

Can I challenge you all to send me photographs of you and your family or friends knitting? Okay, I have cheated, although the photograph was sent to me unsolicited. This is Charmian (Zanny and Ronda's other sister who lives in London), her husband Patrick, daughter Sophie and grand daughter Briony. We would love to publish any photographs you send of your family or groups knitting, so gather those menfolk, children and friends and get them involved too.


The much promised video

At last, and I do apologise as I promised this way back after the last ezine. It was a bit of a challenge learning how to stitch bits together and post it to you tube. Hope you enjoy it. It is heartfelt singing from the women and children, and wonderful to watch. Here it is.


Community news: Ten Thousand Homes

We had an overwhelming response to the the Ten Thousand Homes challenge to knit initialled squares for the 143 children needing blankets. The list was fully subscribed with in 8 or so days. Such a great response. Thank you all. These children will value the fact that they own a hand-knitted blanket with their initials in it. Please visit the forum in a day or two for the July Challenge. We will have all the details up by the end of June. And by the next ezine we will be able to show you lots of initialled squares.


Good bye from this issue

Nqobile says it so charmingly with a kiss. This coming month I am going to try to send two issues that are a little less like a novel. There is a lot coming up that we would like to share with you, especially about becoming a registered charity and fund-raising.

The list of square donators can be found here on the square list page. It only covers June 4, 11 and 18 and not the massive arrival Ronda has had recently, so please don't worry if you can't see your squares listed.

There are at least another 1,800 squares to be accounted for yet. The tally is extraordinary, just short of 13,000 squares to June 18 and 980 items of clothing, but Ronda believes we may now be close to 15,000 squares plus she picks up the 2,000 squares from Cedarwood School on Monday.

Please join the Square Circle forum, if you haven't already. It is the friendliest place to be with many different voices and interesting conversations. And I hope very much that you will fill in our survey.

To support knit-a-square, you can purchase Heritage Blanket and visit our store on the main site. Thank you.

Stay well and happy, until next time, Sandy

PS. I have just had the exciting news from South Africa, that as I send this out to you, Radio Highveld 94.7 is doing segment on knit-a-square. Radio Highveld is Johannesburg's biggest radio station with a massive listenership.

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