Your work up close

Your work up close


As promised, here is Square Circle Issue 17.2, featuring your work up close, much of it in blanket layouts for the Jabulani Khakibos Kids and Ten Thousand Homes.

It completes last Sunday's ezine, which had it been any longer may have made you feel like this little tot happily asleep in his new blanket, or like our South African knit-a-square ladies at the end of this ezine!

SQUARE CIRCLE ISSUE 17.2, October 29 2009


A video to gladden your heart

Your work up close

Dates for the knit and crochet tele-seminar series

Since Sunday we have been joined by 21 subscribers and nine members in the forum including two men, which is always exciting. Welcome to you all and we really look forward to meeting you in the forum and ravelry group.

A video to gladden your heart


The Jabulani Khakibos Boys video is now replaced with a video of touching snippets of children at many of the distributions in the last six months, singing and saying their thanks to you.


Ronda takes snippets of video at all the blanket distributions. I have strung them all together and the result is a chorus of song and prayer from these little children thanking you for all you do. Here is it is.


These many photographs showcase just some of the work arriving in South Africa. By far the greater contributions we receive are our beloved 'plain jane' squares. Without them we could not make up the quantities of blankets we do. You may spot some of your 'plain janes' in the blanket layouts shown here.

Many of the photographs are captioned, but most are just a visual feast and a celebration of what you are achieving. Whether your work shows up in these photographs or not, please know that everything you send is a huge gift for the children who receive your beneficence.

Please make sure that you read the details of our 'Knitting and Crochet Hero's Tele-seminar Series at the bottom of the ezine which starts on Wednesday 18 Thursday /19 November. We are REALLY excited about this and see it as way to introduce you to some fabulously interesting knitting and crochet folk with fascinating stories to tell, while we get to meet many potential new KAS contributors. A victory for everyone.

left above, July Challenge from Marion Gous of Rooihuiskraal, South Africa. We were very lucky to be featured an article in the South African magazine, Vroukeur. Since then we have had many amazing contributions from women all over South Africa. Thank you Vroukreur.

Right above, Erin Hawkins from Reims in France sent these super squares, some of which were used in the August in Africa challenge blanket featured on the right below.

Another Ten Thousand Homes blanket layout below with initialled squares by Kyla from Canada.



Left, another contribution toward the hundreds of squares from Ronda's Parish, Bryanston Catholic Church. Middle, 74 sqs from H Cooks and right, Betty Dreitlein of California, sent 70 fantastic squares. Both wonderful individual contributions.


We sent this bunny comforter square in a blanket,
with Jo, one of our KAS volunteers, to a little girl of 17 months old,
named Masego.

She lives in the Protea South squatter camp with
her grandmother.

She was born with a boy twin but he died when they
were only 7 months old.

Jo says the situation is just too sad for words
– they have nothing at all.

So we bundled up some warm tops, a blanket
for Masego with this clever comforter contributed
by Lorraine Soukup.

it is stories like this, that make us know the value
of the work you do.


All the Johnsons! Above, Christine Johnson's work including a July Challenge baby blanket, fabulously creative August in Africa squares, September Challenge felted squares for the Hill Kids and Christmas presents galore which just 'slipped' in! Below, 95 squares and 17 beanies from Pam Johnson, UK and on the right, Ronnie and Sallie Johnson. Go the Johnsons!

Veronica La Du (12), above, who organised friends, family and her community to knit 700 squares – wow! Veronica is an inspiration to other young people. She also graces much of our promotional material, so she is working all the time to promote knit-a-square. A fantastic contribution, well done and thank you very much Veronica.


Left, from Helen Flagg on behalf of Clear Lake Methodist Church, 142 squares and 4 beanies and right, from Sandra Pace on behalf of WestWinds Church, 136 squares. These bundles of squares from churches and communities are greatly appreciated, as there are often enough squares for at least 5 – 6 blankets. It does not sound a large quantity, until you actually think of 5 to 6 children. That is cause for reflection. Having a positive impact on that number of children is truly incredible.

Left, St Marks Episcopal Church, Arkansas and right, Lauren Fissel's contribution. She had such a great idea and sent plastic rain poncho's for the Hill Boys. Ronda says we should put these on the KAS wish list.

Warm fluffly squares from left, Michelle Heckman and right, Marya McDonald, who we hope is Roger's sister from Brisbane!


Five stunning ready-made blankets from Wenona School, Cremorne, NSW Australia co-ordinated by Aisha Stuart, a year 6 student at the school. We are always so pleased to see the work of the younger members of our community. Thank you Aisha and all the students who participated.

Aren't these two sweaters left above beautiful? They are from Carole Metzger of Chicago. On the right, Florence King of Roxbury and the Hooks and Needles Group, 211 squares, fabulous contribution, thank you.



Left, another great effort from a church community, 142 squares from Trinity Church, MacKinac Island and right, Frances Quinn of New York sent these three little sets with very attractive and interesting top and side fastenings, lovely.


Five of our very regular contributors from the forum who send piles of beautiful squares, loads of 'slipped' in gifts, baby clothes and all of whom spur on the KAS community.





From top to bottom: Laurie Hake (gorgeous Africa in August Squares), Dawn Laverty, (superb baby blankets), Paulette Pronk (sends so many generous parcels), Mary Lokken (sewing kits for the go-go's) and Karen Fontana, who along with Anne and Jeanne cheers us on! Thank you all so much.



A four page story written by Camille Iann, Director of Secretarial Support Services in Mosaics, the secretarial newsletter of Dewey & Le Beouf, a law firm with offices all over the world. She writes about their amazing contribution of 1,100 squares from legal secretaries in all their offices, globally.

This sets a fantastic challenge to all corporations around the world to prove they can do the same. Thank you again everyone at Dewey & Le Boeuf for contributing so wholeheartedly to our cause.





Dates set for the Knitting and Crochet Heroes Tele-seminar Series


Our idea to bring you fascinating stories live from the world of knitting and crochet has finally arrived! The first of a series of online interviews with our 'knit-a-square heroes' – legends, eccentrics, writers, designers, business gurus- knitting and crochet bloggers – launches on November 19, 2009.

Please put these dates in your diary. We will write soon with the details on how you take part. You just need your computer and the link and access code we will send, to listen to the interviews and ask questions at the end.

At this point, we have confirmation as shown, on these dates and we will confirm the other two shortly, but we hope they will all be one week apart. We are also waiting on confirmation of one other participant, but we may put them into the second series planned for February next year, because of the proximity to Christmas.

Liz Raad, published author of knitting for profit and business consultant (19 Nov 9am Sydney / 18 Nov Vancouver & LA 6pm, London 9pm, NY 8pm)

Sally Goldenbaum, published Author of the Seaside Knitters Mystery series

Susie Hewer, Guiness World recorder holder and innovative fundraiser

Sandy McDonald, co-founder of KasCare (10 Dec, 9am Sydney / 9 Dec, Vancouver & LA 6pm, London 9pm, NY 8pm)



Don't forget you to have a look at the new KAS book review page. A hundred percent of the proceeds from the sales of any of these ebook or physical book products go directly to support our work with the children.




A little bit of fun

Perhaps it was a really long day of opening and sorting. Pauline you will recognise your circular blanket which Lindiwe and Jo pounced on as they said it would make a very glamorous hat, which it does indeed!

We are right in the middle of our Spring Racing Carnival here in Melbourne and it would happily grace a race-goer – not quite so sure about Ronda's look though!



We will be in touch again to remind you about the details of the tele-seminar but until the end of November now, please keep knitting and crocheting.

How proud will we all be if we hit the milestone of 2000 blankets by the end of the year. Let's try.

I'm off to my knitting needles! Take care everyone, Sandy

Sew on and sew forth!

Sew on and sew forth!


The last one for the year!

We are drawing to the end of our first year working together to make a difference in the lives of some of the most marginalised children on earth, those who have lost one or both of their parents as a result of the twin perils of HIV/AIDS and poverty.

It is time to reflect on what we have achieved in this remarkably short space of time, what the future holds and to ask you in doing so, not to lose sight of our common goal, to make a difference in these children's lives one square at a time. It is also time that we think of, and thank those, who have so tirelessly worked to sew up the blankets during the year. They have been our unsung heroes!

To that end we warmly welcome the new members who have recently joined us and look forward to your contributions to this goal.


December 6 2009


Highlights of the year
Results of the first appeal
Where to from here

Change is afoot
Lindiwe's sewing group
Hoefflin Centre sewing group – Bez Valley
A new introduction – Grace Community Centre
Bryanston sewing group
Co-opting the family sewing group!

Maria's Creche
Back into the Bez Valley with surprising results!
A little bit of Christmas at Sedibeng Sagophilo Methodist Church

The KAS e-calendar and Christmas giving
Help us win the Pareto Competition for $2000
Understanding KasCare, knit-a-square and KasKids™
Computers for the Jabulani Khakibos Kids
Heloise and a tragic story
KAS meets Thousand Homes
Support for other worthy causes
Soweto Gospel Choir
Our future.



Unforeseen for any of us, was the sheer diversity of our work on the ground in South Africa during our first year of operation. Looking through past ezines to remind us of the various distributions, I was struck by how fantastically different each one was. While we here, in Australia, have knowledge of South Africa having either lived there for periods in our lives or visited, we were none the less unprepared for the range of situations these children live in.

We have been, or will be, introduced to the most marginalised, the small groups of children who live untended in the hills of the Bez Valley, and doubtless all over South Africa, and to those who are cared for in church-run organisations like Sedibeng Sagophilo, to whom we distributed during November.

In trying to communicate the extent of the need of most of these children, it may be superficially easy to overlook, especially when they look clean and well fed or have a roof over their heads, that they are orphans. They have lost the people who would love them the most, who would guide them through their lives, or they have been abandoned by those parents who could not love them, or could only expose them to abuse.

If they have been fortunate enough to find shelter, solace, food and even warmth through the auspices of church run organisations, or homes such as Mother of Peace and the Jabulani Khakibos Kids, can we judge whether they are less deserving of our care, love and concern than the children who have even less?

Where ever the blankets have gone, they have been wrapped around children who would never otherwise have been gifted something so beautiful as a hand knitted blanket. We believe that all your work so far given out, has done much more than just warm the little ones and young adults who now own the blankets and garments, whatever their circumstances.

Beyond the children, there are the carers and our wonderful volunteers everywhere in South Africa, Australia, the US, Canada and the UK. Then there is you, the person responsible for making and sending the squares and garments to warm the children and the gifts to enrich their lives. We are all touched by this flood of love from us to them. It is the closest we can get to putting our arms around a child who has lost so much and faces such an uncertain future.

The culture of a people

There is another factor too. From afar, you may not be able to reconcile, for example, the small cramped and clearly extremely poor living space with these clean and mostly well dressed children, below.

This is Tebogo and his twin sister lerato who are cared for by their grandmother. The twins were abandoned by their mother shortly after birth and their father is unknown. They received the second and third blankets we distributed in March this year at Phiri Parish, Soweto.

We are aware of the pitiful allowance the family must live on each month and their grandmother has no work.

You will see from a photograph later that in far greater poverty than this, hardly imaginable until you see it, a woman washs her clothes.

Throughout Ronda's amazing chronicle of thousands of photographs this year, there are dozens which show washing on the line or cleanly dressed people who are in fact mostly destitute.

Ronda has told me that clean and respectable clothes are an essential component of survival and aspiration in South Africa, even if you only have one set. There are the exceptions of course, the Hill Kids and the little children who wander the streets, with no adult intervention, or have parents who are abusing substances, are as one would expect, grubby and unkempt.

They too are the children that Wandile, Heloise and Kungeka look out for for in their various caring ministries which now includes giving out KAS blankets where it is appropriate to do so.

We think that next year many more of the blankets will go to these very poorest of the poor children. But it will be far more difficult to report on these more random distributions and it will not stop the flow of love and largesse to those children who live with some care surrounding them.

The fact is they remain orphans, abused or abandoned children no matter where they live and part of this terrible and growing statistic: 1.4 million in South Africa and nearly 15 million around the world. We have an enormous job to do!

KAS milestones


In compiling the e-calendar (yes it is done, but more about that later), with the help of Kyla – thank you, we put together this rather impressive list of milestones during 2009. We have achieved so much!

16 January 2009, first issue of Square Circle sent – 26 subscribers
26 Jan 2009, first square arrived in South Africa
Number of unique daily visitors to the website: 54


22 February 2009, Lion Brand article raised membership to 1100
24 February 2009, 4th issue of Square Circle sent – 856 subscribers
Number of unique daily visitors to the website: 1210 (thanks Lion Brand)


March 17 2009, first school to introduce knit-a-square, Springside School, Philadelphia
March 8 2009, Ravelry knit-a-square group started
March 12 2009, first KAS forum live (ProBoards)
28 March 2009, first blanket distributed to Jamey, Phiri Parish, Soweto
Number of unique daily visitors to the website: 376



23 April 2009, 5,000th square arrived in South Africa
25 April 2009, first major sewing bee, Moletsane, Soweto
30 April 2009, 9th issue of Square Circle sent – 1368 subscribers
First challenge on ravelry: April Race – 761 squares
Number of unique daily visitors to the website: 381


2 May 2009, the first world knit-a-square on the go day. (KASTOG) in Canada, Australia and South Africa.
15 May 2009,first creche distribution at Zeverfontein, Gauteng
16 May 2009, first major church distributions, Soweto
18 May 2009, Square Circle Forum went live.
Challenge: make it in May


17 June 2009, first distribution to an orphanage, Mother of Peace Community, North Riding
26 June, 14th issue of Square Circle sent – 1612 subscribers
Challenge: Blankets and hats for 144 orphans at Ten Thousand Homes (all subscribed and sent)


17 July 2009, 20,000th square arrived in South Africa
18 July 2009, first Mandela Day distribution
Challenge: Keep a newborn warm – 255 blankets and hats for Tswhane Place of Safety (all subscribed and sent)

5 August, 2009, first blankets delivered for abandoned babies at Tshwane Place of Safety, Pretoria
11 August 2009, first blanket distributed to an orphan at Ten Thousand Homes, Transvaal
24 August 2009, 500 members reached in Square Circle Forum
20 August 2009, first distribution to homeless children, Bez Valley
9 August, 16th issue of Square Circle sent – 1856 subscribers
Challenge: August in Africa


22 September, 2008, KasCare, the organisation incorporated
30 September, 2009 resources page up on website
Number of unique daily visitors to the website: 460
Missed milestone: 30,000 squares
Challenge: 35 GO-OVERS for the Jabulani Khakibos Kids, and 40 felted blankets for the Hill Kids (all subscribed)


Challenge for the month: Dedicate-a-square and Stash-buster
01 October, 2009, first distribution to newly orphaned children, Diepsloot Shack Settlement, Gauteng
29 October 20th issue of Square Circle sent – 2124 subscribers
Number of unique daily visitors to the website: 513
Challenge: Dedicated squares (187 pledges) and stash buster


Number of unique daily visitors to the website: 523
Missed milestone: 40,000 squares
Challenge: SLIP-OVERS, 53 pledged

Number of forum comments 29 811 (will we make 30,000!)
Number of squares inching toward 50,000
Number of knitted and crocheted garments inching up toward 3,500!
6 December 21th* issue of Square Circle sent – 2270 subscribers
Total estimated blankets including baby blankets distributed or in distribution: 1,600
Challenge: Red squares for AIDS awareness

* Discrepancy in issue number because I have included Updates 1 – 3

NOTE: For any of you interested in rereading some of these milestones here is the link to the back issues of Square Circle.


Results of the first appeal

We sent our first appeal out at the end of November by email, in order to help secure the South African operations. This raised US$3233.46 from 54 donors. Your letter of deep gratitude for this support and Foundation Donor Certificates are in the mail.

In addition, Ronda had compiled a database of all the contributors who had written to us since January with a physical address. We have reason to believe that many of these good people are not subscribers or members of the forum, so we are sending out a letter in the mail to ask them too for help.


If you receive the letter and you have already had the appeal by email, please accept our apologies. At this time our database is being compiled manually and we are unable to cross check. We are hopeful that you will accept our need to continue the appeal and not be offended if you receive it twice.

While this is a really amazing result in fund-raising terms, it cannot on its own secure the South African operation. We will need to build our funding to at least US$3000 a month going forward, especially if we intend to grow. A pledge of an amount a month is a great way to achieve this. Contact us if this is what you would like to do.



Where to from here?

In order to continue operations in South Africa, we will use this money sparingly but with consideration for reimbursements first and extra resources second.

Currently we pay for transport which includes taxi fares to and from Soweto (about an hour away from Ronda's house) for the volunteers, sometimes twice a week and fuel for transporting the boxes, bundles and distributions.

Postal costs
The start up costs for our postal address amounted to US$250 and we must pay a yearly subscription of US.$120. Postal costs mount up even though duty is not as onerous as it was earlier in the year, but now there is a new handling fee of ZAR25 (about USD$3 or 4) per box. It arrived unannounced and with no explanation. This is really what we must expect for moving hundreds and hundreds of pounds/kilos of knitted goods into South Africa.

Canteen costs
Canteen costs include buns and fruit at distributions and during the days of postal opening and collating.

We also pay a stipend to all of our willing volunteers. These are not wealthy people and their time with us comes at the cost of their being able to look for and secure other paid work. Sometime during the year we took the decision that we could no longer expect their unstinting and willing help without payment, albeit incredibly modest. They should be correctly remunerated as soon as we can afford it.

Between Ronda, donations from family members and ourselves we have managed this.

Ronda has also paid for all other expenses at a personal cost of about ZAR5,000 a month, (about US$6000 for this year) bearing in mind there were far fewer expenses in the earlier months so next year we would expect this to be more like US$8 to 9000.

From the date of our incorporation, September 22, she can be reimbursed for these costs and going forward these will no longer come at an expense to her for as long as the money lasts.

These figures will be made available to our donors in an annual report by June 30 2010, once we are audited, as we must be by law in Australia.

Clearly, we have been greatly fortunate to date that Ronda and her amazing team of volunteers have loved this work so much that they have done it all, at a cost to themselves and for for little or no pay over the last year.

We cannot expect this to be ongoing. While everyone loves the work it is hard physical labour and we need a young, energetic person who can collect the post, unpack it, bundle it and transport the packs around to the sewing groups. Ronda has indicated her willingness to continue until such time as we are able to employ this person.

In the new year we will look to find someone who fits the bill, at first part time, but with a view to employing them full time if the volume of squares and garments continues to grow as it has this year.

For now, together with regular help from Lindiwe and the others they co-opt into helping, we hope this will be adequate until funding is available.

Sylvia Vannelli, a forum member has contacted a British volunteer program operating in South Africa, on our behalf. We are hopeful that when we supply them details of our work on the ground we will be eligible for their volunteer program. Thank you Sylvia.

Warehouse space
Fairly soon, we will also have to either secure the warehouse space we have been donated by equipping it with alarm systems, proper water-tight storage and shelves and trestle tables, or find another space that will provide that at a reasonable cost.

The Lowries have been saintly in their willingness to share their home with tens and tens of thousands of squares. Until we can move KAS into other premises, for now we hope that with a bit of resorting and shelving we can create a space in their shed which will act as a temporary warehouse. These costs will be reimbursed. We will also purchase trestle tables for sorting and bundling squares to spare their backs.

Goals for 2010
We will just reach 50,000 squares this year and 3,500 garments, so our goal for 2010 is 100,000 squares and 7,000 garments.

While this is not a volume that can be handled by our current volunteer resources, it is one we must aspire too as a community if we are to reach more and more children and ensure that in so doing, many thousands more people in the world are aware of their plight.

Please, do not stop your work for fear of overloading our South African operation. Without your work, we can neither continue to warm our children or seek funding.

We will continue our work to secure funding from organisations such as the Stephen Lewis Foundation who are currently reviewing our proposal. We hope very much that we will be able to report positively on that front in the next ezine.

It is clear that the money we have received, while we are all deeply grateful for all of your gifts will not go very far next year. We hope we will receive further donations from those who may have missed the first appeal or not realised the severity of our circumstances.


FROM SOUTH AFRICA – change is afoot

With all the above in mind and in light of the reflection on the variety of distributions, we think that some change in the way we operate in South Africa next year will be sensible, to help sustain the work we are doing.

The KAS approach will become twofold, Lindiwe, Wandile, Kungeka, Heloise and Josephine (when she is able), will look for grassroots projects in Soweto and expanding to other areas and will take 500-700 squares per week to that end.

As you will read later, they will organise various sewing groups where the distributions are to take place. The benefits are great for everyone. The groups have 'ownership' of the blankets and involve women in constructive community work, so they too become part of the chain of giving.

Ronda will pursue new projects similar to Sister Satos' Vuselela Centre at Diepsloot, Ten Thousand Homes, Jabulani Khakibos Kids, Usindiso, Nkosi’s Haven and Mother of Peace and in so doing, make connections with many new people working on behalf of the orphans.

If we are able to secure the services of a part time employee, then apart from managing the postal collections and distribution of the bundles to the sewing groups, they will also oversee the collation of the data, how many squares, how many blanket bundles, how many blankets distributed and to whom.

At least one of the KAS team will be at distributions where they are formal or record all that we can where they are informal. One of the pre-requisites of a future employee is that they are as adept with a camera as Ronda, so that we can keep up the wonderful flow of photo stories to show you how your work is being put to use.


Lindi's (Lindiwe) Sewing group

Lindi has already organised a new sewing group, the Methodist ladies from Sedibeng who run an amazing support initiative for children and adults with HIV and the elderly, serving some 200 people and are thrilled to have squares to stitch together and hand out. Lindi says the set up is run by two incredible women, Doreen Makete and Sarah Serobatse. The women are meeting once a week and have already done more than 20 blankets – she is just delighted. Well done Lindi.

You can read more about Sedibeng under our distribution stories.

The women include Doreen, Sarah, Hilda, Sheila, Manatha, Mrs Kekana, Mrs Lefutso, Thabile and Mbali. Thank you from all of us at knit-a-square to all of you for your invaluable help.



Hoefflin Centre sewing group – Bez Valley

Things have not gone quite so smoothly at the Hoefflin Centre sewing group which was organised by Heloise. The plan was that the many tens of women that Heloise feeds as part of her food ministry, would sew blankets in return.


Five or six women habitually come to sew up squares. But whenever Heloise arrived with food, there would be upwards of 80 or more waiting to be fed. We rather gather that she does not take lightly to being taken advantage of! So either these folk will be sewing blankets or they may not benefit from her food program.


Some of these blankets are being sewn for distribution to the Hill Kids, together with felted blankets currently being sewn by Ros Truelock, others for the orphaned children in the area.


While it is mid summer now, even so temperatures can cool during the night. The plan certainly involves ensuring that Heloise reaches these children with blankets before winter, although it is hard to know how many there are. Our Bez Valley story shows that extreme poverty does not preclude all the differentials of a more affluent life!


On a later visit Ronda and Erin went to Hoefflin Park to meet Heloise and Selina and the sewing group (8 or so were there, quite an improvement) to distribute morning tea to the sewers. Ten of the 20 childrens blankets had been stitched up and very well too. Heloise couldn't start her van that morning, and Selina has a bad knee so both arrived late and then there was no tin opener for the jam and no kettle to make the tea! As Ronda wrote, Mondays at Bez Valley are always a surprise.


But as is seemingly always the case, our involvement with these remarkable people is a rich source of connections, that will continue to extend the work we do.

Three little recipients of the work of the Hoefflin Sewing Centre and your squares.



Grace Community Centre

On this morning, they met an amazing young man, Claude Nkebi, project manager of the newly establish Hellenic Church counselling centre just down the road from the Hoeffline Centre.

Ronda had planned to distribute some blankets and sweaters to children at the local clinic. When they got there, the sister suggested instead that they go to meet Claude, where she sends her very sad or serious cases. She explained the majority of those who visit the clinic are women having babies weighed or vaccinated. It is heartening to know that these services continue to run as they should, despite the increasing poverty so evident in South Africa.


Ronda wrote: " And what a find! He and Heloise are both involved in feeding schemes. He has very recently come from tan area called Doornfontein, where he says needy people are literally lying around in the streets and he had more work than he could cope with but with no infrastructure to help him.


"Since moving across to the Bez Valley he has been desperate to 'get amongst it' and was praying for someone local to cross his threshold. Then along came Heloise and Selina!


"They are definitely going to pool their resources, knowledge, contacts and sources of food which is just fantastic. He was almost tearful when I showed him the 10 blankets, 10 toddler blankets, beanies and sweaters. He so 'got KAS' and what a really lovely young man – attentive and interested in all we told him about KAS, and also very keen to refer his patients to the sewing group as part of their therapy and for community support."

Heloise, Claude Nkebi, Erin and Selina in Claude's offices

Doesn't this reflect goodness?

It spreads like a ripple on a pond in ever increasing circles. You find knit-a-square and then knit a square! Your square arrives in South Africa and is put into the hands of a woman who stitches it to others.


In doing the work of KAS, we meet those who will introduce those in great need to the sewing groups. They in turn benefit by community work and extra food.


The blankets are made and wrapped around children who are comforted by their warmth and love. We write to tell you of these stories and you tell others who then knit a square and so the circle grows.


Bryanston Methodist Church sewing group

The Bryanston Methodist Church have formed a sewing group to help sew blankets for Oliver Quambash's (Hotel Hope) project for the community of homeless people who live on an old mine dumps , with many children among them.


You may remember that Cedarwood School, South Africa exceeded our wildest expectations in May this year, producing just short of 4,000 squares in 5 weeks. At that time Oliver had found the groups and we were thrilled that these squares were the exact number of squares to make the number of blankets required.

While it has taken some time, we are are so pleased that with the help of these kind and willing women, we should be able to get blankets on the 'dump community' before next winter. Oliver is very excited.

The group with Oliver , full of enthusiasm to get to grips with the Cedarwood squares.


Co-opting the 'Family' sewing group

All in the family: Niece, Tracy from Zimbabwe and sister, Charmian from the UK put hard to work and, below, Charmian with one of several beautiful blankets she stitched up.

You may have gathered over the year, that various family and friends are squeezed in among the squares into the spare room in Ronda's home. No one escapes the work that follows, although it appears that everyone loves it and wants very much to be involved. It extends too to Erin's house where even their youngest, Hannah has become adept at sewing squares together.


Charmian (Zanny and Ronda's middle sister) recently visited for a month to help but also to insist on some enforced rest for Ronda, and a lot of planning over the endless teapot. She is a staunch supporter of KAS and a major donor already. She has also offered to help with professional fund-raising expertise here in Australia, for which we are immeasurably grateful.


We are looking forward to sending you photographs of the Australian family hard at work too, when we visit in March 2010.




Maria's Creche – distribution by Lindiwe, 17 blankets.

Lindiwe distributed to this small creche recently.

Front: far left is Precious – pink/turquoise blanket, next with blue head-band is Mamelo, then Refiloe (Re-feel-weh)- red/white Dineo in browns – slightly in front, another Refiloe, turquoise colour at neckline, Siyabonga – big boy with sandals. Back Row, right to left Elisa, Mike, Dumi, Mbali, Temba (colourful blanket) Ngobile (pink on left shoulder) and Lwazi .


Back into the Bez Valley, with surprising results

Heloise had recently gone up into the hills to discover a bunch of children she said were living like little animals. She told Ronda some of them could hardly speak in words. This seemed a truly desperate state of affairs. Ronda and Erin, together with Heloise, set off to see if they could locate these children, to at least give them some food and return with the felted blankets when they are complete. They were nowhere in sight. But the days events painted another picture which we believed worthy of sharing with you.


I will let Ronda's tell you the story with her and Erin's photographs and in her words.


First off we stopped at a burnt out, boarded up building which, Heloise explained, had housed a bunch of homeless men for some time, until the police came along and tried to evict them. They refused to budge so the police (note) petrol bombed the place and burnt it to a crisp. Nothing daunted, these men have simply boarded up the windows and "built" individual shacks, almost like bedrooms, INSIDE the gutted building – quite incredible.

Next to Heloise on her right, is literally a 'hole in the wall' with another mattress in it, where two guys shelter at night. How Heloise found these men, I have no idea. She has a real nose for finding homeless people. This is the back of the building where the men do their washing.

Here are two of the men outside their 'bedrooms'. They were so friendly – but they need foam mattresses, bedding, cutlery and crockery of any sort, staple foods etc. All are looking hard for work which moved me greatly and they were all well spoken.


This fellow brought out his KAS blanket to show us and obviously did not have no clue of the connection! We didn't ask how he had it.

As I explained in a recent communication, a few but not many blankets will just make their way elsewhere, such is life in Africa. But they are warming a homeless person, even if he may be not be an orphan.


Then the fellow we had first met next to his 'bedroom' INSISTED that I sit on his bed to see how comfortable it was.


After we left the building, we made our way down the hill to where Heloise believed we may find the children. This would have been such a pretty residential area in the early to mid 1900s I would think. Some of the houses have fallen down now, most are squatted in, burnt out or messed up in some way.

I had taken some bags of apples and also a supply of beanies and scarves this morning and as we arrived, the people came up to see what was going on and to help themselves.

In the first photo you will see some quite well-hidden shacks further up the hill which is where, Heloise says the real bush dwellers stay hidden from view. Perhaps this is where the children, who cannot actually speak, live.

How amazing the need to keep clean even under these circumstances. This woman was washing clothes and took time out to literally inhale her apple!

Heloise referred to this chap is 'the captain' – he was completely and utterly drunk, but later on came rushing down the hill after us to tell me I could come and visit them anytime, no problem whatsoever ….. The Captain with his apple – he so needed the blotting paper!

(Note from Ed: Such a strange juxtaposition, this KAS blanket waving brightly on the line. Ronda thought it wise not to ask. There are some things we just need to accept, and along with the variety of folk who inhabit these hills, it brings a great deal of colour and warmth to the area.)

Like these two… and the trolley man in the background.

Peeking into the photo on the left was a man Heloise called 'the security guard' who she says keeps an eye on things, perhaps warning people of the police, but also keeping the people calm when people like Heloise and ourselves are around.

Erin had a long chat to the two designated 'security men' both of whom claimed they would much rather work than hope for handouts. It seems to be the message from the unemployed around the world, doesn't it?

One of the shacks, with more pristinely clean washing on the line.

Relaxing Bez Valley style.

Heloise absolutely relishes this work and the more rough it gets the more she enjoys herself. She bosses everyone around and they seem to just love it.

We will most definitely be going back to this area with food soon and I am very keen to make a collection of foam rubber mattresses and bedding, not only for the hill people but for the burnt out building people as well. * These are the poorest of the poor and they are desperately in need of practically anything you can think of. ENDS

I don't know about you but this is the closest we have been to such abject poverty. It would be the case for Ronda too I believe. It had a strange effect, it made me marvel again at the human spirit. And that poverty does not preclude all walks of life from existing with in, the gay men and the drunk, the woman washing her clothes and the pleasant and hospitable men in the burnt out building.

There has been a suggestion that the Hill Kids mingle with the adults in a sort of community but that has not been verified. I suppose you would have to be there at night. Ronda and Heloise are determined to find these children.

One thing we do believe though is that there is no guarantee under these circumstances that the children will get to keep their blankets. Perhaps we ought to acknowledge that if we are to work in these areas of utter destitution in an attempt to help the Hill Kids, we can't make the rules. But also, once you know these people are there, you can't walk away and do nothing.

* Ronda contributes to Heloise's food and other ministries out of her own funds as she has to KAS up until now. However KAS funds will not be used to support this work, as much as we would be willing to help if we could.




Christmas at Sedibeng Sagophilo Methodist Church, Mapetla, Soweto


As mentioned above, Lindi had been introduced by Wandile to this Methodist Church group, led by Doreen and Sarah.

At Sedibeng, Erin with Doreen (Chairperson of the NGO) and Vivienne the administrator. They operate out of these old shipping containers. It is a large project helping 70 people living with HIV/AIDS; 126 orphaned children; 34 infected/affected registered with the charity and they also run a school holiday programme in which they have 38 children currently.

Lindi says they are proactive, energetic women who are very excited about KAS and want to sew as many blankets together as they can to start distributing to all sorts of projects in the area and further afield. She gave them an initial 1500 squares to make up. Doreen and Sarah insisted that everyone who is part of their project would be sewing up squares – including the men, young and old, and they made up 106 blankets in less than 4 weeks!

Sedibeng is a very enterprising project, properly and formally constituted. Ronda was given their Annual Report and she says it's impressive in content. It is in Mapetla – another extremely poor Soweto area with massive squatter camps.

Wandile and Lindiwe took a large box of Christmas gifts to allocate and wrap into 106 separate gifts for this distribution day.

So on Friday 27th November, we had our first distribution there which was combined with a Christmas party organised by them and with the gifts sorted out by Lindiwe from you.

Wandile, Dikeledi and Ronda being closely observed.

What a beautiful blanket, what stunning squares!



The children arrive from the school across the road for the presentation and the giving out of gifts. Most of these children are cared for by Sedibeng in some way or another, many are orphans and many are grandchildren of the sewing ladies. It is so heartening to know that some of these children are cared for and that organisations like this exist to support the carers to look after them.

But then again look at these little faces.

A prayer before the presentation.

The older children came next and within no time these two were into the snakes and ladders already!

And two littlelies!

Ronda says there will be two further distributions of Christmas gifts before the end of the year, which will be something to look forward to reporting on in January.



The KAS e-calendar and Christmas giving

KAS e-calendar

It's done! We wish we could have extended it to a hard copy but not this year. But we have created a KAS calendar full of photos and with the challenges we know about, plus a history of highlights from this amazing first year noted on the relevant dates.


The Calendar is 14 pages, 12 months with a cover and an explanatory page, and we are offering it to you US$7.95. It is on US letter but prints equally well on A4 landscape. You can either have it printed professionally and spiral bound or you can do it at home and just punch a few holes in the top.


Once you have purchased it, we're encouraging you to send it far and wide as a gift to as many people as you like, with our love and best wishes for a wonderful 2010. You will be achieving three magical things:


1. You will further help our cause by putting more money into the kitty for South Africa

2. You will do a grand job of spreading the word if you send it to everyone you know

3. You will be reminded every day as you look at your calendar of events of the work you have done this year and the wonderful work you continue to do.

Please click here to purchase your e-calendar now!

We are sending the calendar manually, so please be patient. We will do a mass distribution once every two or three days. We hope thousands of you buy, which may take a bit of time, but what a fabulous problem to have!

Christmas giving

What better way to give this Christmas with our holiday giving idea. Purchase blankets at a dollar a square and use one or all of these cards to gift the orphan blankets to your friends and family. The cards allow you your choice of gift on the back:

This gift will wrap a warm, lovingly hand-made blanket around:
An abandoned baby or——abandoned babies
An orphaned toddler or——-orphaned toddlers
An orphaned child or ………orphaned children
An orphaned teenager or………. orphaned teenagers

After you have paid for your choice of blankets, you can return to the site to fill in the form to download the cards.

And yes, there is nothing to stop folk from just downloading the cards without purchasing the blankets, but we trust you and those who consider charitable giving at Christmas.

Please click here to do your Christmas giving this year.



Help us win the Pareto Competition for $2000 Pareto is a fund-raising organisation running this photograph competition on facebook.

The photographs are all from charities and the one with the winning votes wins $2000 for their charity! Our photo of the darling little newly orphaned boy with his blanket was winning for a while, but we have dropped back to fifth.


To vote go the link below and click on the photograph, but more importantly, beseech your children and grandchildren, who all have Face Book accounts to send it to their friends and beseech them to vote too.


What better way can we think of to spread the word about KAS to the younger generation then this! And we may get to win $2000 as a Christmas gift. Think of what we can do with that to help in South Africa.


This is what I have been copying in to those I am asking to vote and to pass on to their face book friends.

KasCare’s knit-a-square asks the world’s knitters to send 8” squares to South Africa where they are made into blankets for orphans and abandoned children. There are 1.4 million orphans and 500 children a day are added to that dreadful toll through the twin perils of HIV AIDS and poverty. KasCare also raises awareness of their plight.

Here is the link – VOTE NOW!



Understanding KasCare, knit-a-square and KasKids

Some of you may be finding the various names and communications confusing.

When we incorporated, we needed an umbrella name to cover our administrative and fund-raising arm. That is KasCare Inc. Any communication you receive from us about fund-raising or donations will come from KasCare.

Our official KasCare website is under construction and will be up very soon, although we are concerned that the usual Christmas rush may make our developers a little slower than we would like. is a program of KasCare and as such will continue to look and feel just as it does, connected to its two major communications platforms, Square Circle ezine (this) and our friendly Square Circle Forum.

KasKids™ is the name we have given to our developing schools program.

We believe that it is essential we introduce the plight of the orphans, knit a square and a number of other activities we can do for the orphans to children around the world today. Not only will we teach these children to knit and crochet, a very valuable craft, but we will teach them they can make a difference one square at a time.

They will learn about this great body of children who are growing up at the same time as them, and hopefully this will encourage empathy and understanding of what the orphans face now and into the future.

In discussions recently with an eminent childhood development specialist, we asked: "do these young children face any childhood development issues from a potential lack of parental love and stimulation among other factors?"

He suggested that while there would most likely be some quite severe issues in developmental terms, there were none the less simple measures that could be taken that would have a positive effect.

One of these involved visual and imaginatory stimulation. Scrap books as a tool that school children could readily develop would be a great additional activity to add to the school's program as a visual stimulation for pre-school AIDS orphans and abandoned children. As this is part of the KasCare mandate, we are planning to meet with him in the new year to learn more.



Heloise and a tragic story

Heloise delivered a baby in the park on Monday 19, October.

She heard a noise as she was walking along the pavement and saw this young pregnant woman in great distress. She persuaded her to remove her jeans and found the head of the baby already crowning.

Apparently, it happened so fast she had no time to consider that she had not the first idea of how to handle things. Somehow she managed to grab her van and load up the mother and baby to take them to the local hospital.

The mother, a 16 year old Zimbabwean apparently, subsequently fled the hospital leaving her son behind.

Heloise has been searching for her ever since but there has been no sign of her in the area. Tragically, the baby now falls into the category of compulsory incarceration in a state institution to be returned across the border when he is 18 years old as a completely stateless human being, unless somebody lays claim to him before the police get involved.

How many other little ones are being born into this desolate state of affairs?

And this young girl? How have we so failed in Africa, that a society exists in which a young girl flees from a hospital leaving her new born behind?

In all probability this young girl would be another statistic of the truly awful rape statistics in South Africa. A combination of terror, the social blight and stigma of an un-wedded pregnancy, possible HIV/AIDS and the fear of being an illegal immigrant from Zimbabwe would have left her with no earthly choice but to flee. Too young perhaps to understand the consequences for her son, but destined to mourn for the rest of her life.


Support for other worthy causes

Usindiso Ministries

This tragic story makes organisations like Usindiso and Oliver Quambasch's work with young pregnant women even more worthy.

Ronda met Jaye Bradly at the Jabulani Khakibos Kids anniversary function.

She wrote: "the women and children cared for by Usindiso Ministries are needy and should also be given hope and learn to trust in the goodness of people around them. Jaye says the Usindiso social worker is very keen for the teenagers and women (abused and/or sick) to be involved in art and craft projects and sewing up of blankets could very well meet that need – which meets a massive need for us, also of course. " Jaye says that government funding is hopelessly inadequate and in decline, and she is hoping to make a tour of American churches at some stage in a desperate effort to find financial support for Unsindiso so that she can expand her services to the community.

"She was excited when I mentioned the amazing support we get from so many churches overseas. We thought perhaps we would ask our church contributors to look at her website and correspond with her if they are interested in her work.

If she does travel to the States, we would ask her similarly to advocate for us. This is a wonderful way to keep winning for everyone involved.



KAS meets Ten Thousand Homes


At last KAS and 10K homes get to meet!.
En route to Ngwenya in the Kruger National Park, which is in the same direction as Ten Thousand Homes, Ronda and Charmian packed her car to the gunnels with 10-thousand homes bundles and met up with Jen Price to hand over. Jen and her husband Jeremy were co-founders of Ten Thousand Homes a while ago during their 14 years of ministry in Africa. They have, after all this time, returned to the United States for a very well deserved 6 month sabbatical. She has left the project in the capable hands of Hayley and Brittany and we look forward to ongoing news of the making and delivery of the blankets.

Beautiful little girls: Tracy Langa, Nokuthula Ngwenya and Zanele Mshaba

The older boys: Ronny Chuloane, Thapelo Ngobeni and Trevor Manzini

I'm guessing, but they certainly look like siblings: Pride, Thobile and Khulile Mnisi

The older girls – Nosipho Mabuza, Nkuthula Ngwenya and Ndaba Thusile

The boys: Mancoba Ngwenye, George Temba and Sicelo Vilakazi

The girls: Fundisile Vilakazi, Petheni Mabunda and Busiswe Mokoena

Busisiwe's story is so heart-wrenching, it is writ large on her sweet face. Jen Price said on her blog: "Have you ever listened to someone's story and thought, "How much can happen to one person?" That's what I was thinking when I listened to Busi's story. This little 10-year-old has been through so much . . ."

Busi lost her mother when she was five and from then on until Ten Thousand Homes came to her rescue, her story is a litany of abuse. She now lives in a safe environment. We will all hope and pray that she and the many others like her, will continue to be supported by organisations like Ten Thousand Homes, and warmed by blankets made by us all one way or another, to comfort them. And that she will now for always be safe.


Soweto Gospel Choir


We are delighted to tell you that after months of quiet negotiation, an idea borne out of a contact between Hanna Russo and Debbie Posmontier, KAS members from Philadelphia and the Annenberg Centre where the Soweto Gospel Choir are soon to perform has come to fruition!

Roger followed up and discovered to our amazement that their management team hailed from Melbourne, just a few kilometres away.


His creative mind got to work and he conceived of this plan. What if he was to write an anthem for the orphans and ask the Soweto Gospel Choir (SGC) to sing it? That first request was not possible as the choir are well practised in their routine months in advance (although we haven't given that idea up). His anthem is beautiful and brings tears to the eye just reading it.


Then he put this idea to them. Could we organise 25 local children with 25 blankets to wrap abound the shoulders of the 25 SGC chorister and a pledge to be made that the blankets be sent back to South Africa to give to 25 orphans in the orphanage they sponsor? They agreed in principle! We were ecstatic, recognising the public relations value of being able to present the KAS story to an audience of 950 people!


Debbie and Hanna immediately agreed to help with regard to finding the children and storing the blankets. Then began the negotiations with the SGC and the Annenberg Centre on the details. That took several months. At this stage we have permission to have the children on stage to present the blankets and to have a display in the foyer with promotional material.

The Annenberg Centre will make an announcement and short speech about KAS before the blankets are delivered and will invite the audience to consider making and donating a square to the cause, plus give them out material about KAS, presumably in the program.

In the meantime, Debbie had suggested a local, well known children's choir who just happened to be practising an African hymn as the children for the presentation and asked that they be able to sing the hymn as they presented the blankets. This seemed an incredibly moving touch. At this point we are waiting for final permission on this request, although we are hopeful.

Then of course it was off to the forum to ask for the 25 blankets to be made in time. We had left our run very late as we just couldn't ask for the blankets without knowing for sure we had the gig!

We received confirmation only 6 days ago as I write and within a matter of days our amazing KAS community had banded together and pledged completed blankets or sewing of squares which should easily cover the 25 blankets required to be sent to Debbie in time. Now that is spirit! As Laurie posted: "WE CAN DO THIS!!!!" And we have! You really are an awesome bunch of people. Thank you.

I imagine many of you, like myself would do a lot to be in the front row, but we will rely on Debbie and Hanna to give us a blow by blow account for the February ezine and in the meantime we are going to be working hard to get additional publicity for KAS.

There is a beautiful snippet of their singing on the website here, if you have not been fortunate enough to hear their work before.




On the home front

The Lowrie's home has been a constant refuge to many children over the years.

There is so much coming and going, that it is hard to keep up with the extended family they look after. But this is their latest addition, a cute little bundle, Atillia, Shelta's baby girl, born 28th June.

Shelta is now back at work and is related to Otillia who works part time for Ronda. Otillia hopes to take this little mite home over Christmas, to their rural family home hundreds of kilometres away. Life for families, even those who are generously employed, is complex and fractured in Africa.


Ronda: "don't you LOVE her, asleep on a giraffe pillowcase, wrapped in one of my old towels!"





What would the end of the year be without thanks to some amazing people who have helped us achieve what we have.

Ronda, Roger, Kalai, Cressida and I would like to thank first of all Lindiwe who has been a trojan all year, always available, working long hours unpacking and bundling, finding new opportunities, just being a complete KASer in every way.

We would like to thank Jo. While she has been prevented from helping too much recently owing to other commitments, she was a stalwart in the earlier months and continues to look out for opportunities through her parish in Soweto as does Deborah.

Wandile and her great friend Kungeka have taken KAS to their hearts and are now actively looking out for opportunities for us to meet the children we want to help. They also sew and join and help Ronda whenever they can.

Heloise for the introduction to her remarkable ministries and her complete absorption of all things to do with KAS. I am sure we will continue to bring you many stories over the years about her work!

Anne and Sonya, Ronda's friends from her parish, who both give of their time voluntarily whenever they can to help unpack, sort and bundle.

Some quiet people in the background, Cheriel Quested who helps with sewing and Ros Truelock who has sewn together all the felted squares that have arrived over the year.

Erin who supports her mother and KAS whenever she can find time in her busy life as a mother of two young ones and her new career as a doula midwife.

Zanny, my mother, for her quiet and determined support all year for all things to do with KAS and for coming to terms with pattern writing (which had her tearing her hair out) so we could put together Heritage Blanket!

Charmian and her family for being our first major donor this year which allowed Ronda to continue with the operations.

Dianne Sisak of Minter Ellison who has so patiently worked on incorporating KasCare and Minter Ellison for their pro bono work on our behalf.

John Bushell who has spent hours of his valuable time sharing his fund-raising lore with us, introducing us to influential people and pointing us in the right direction.

Our administrators and cyber friends who have been such a fantastic support throughout the year.

Jeanne, our cheerleader and huge encourager, always there to have a cyber cuppa with!

Karen for her interest in pushing the technical limits of the Ning forum site to ensure we have a professional communications vehicle, plus her sizeable contribution to the forum.

Anne who championed the GO-OVER and SLIP-OVER and more recently has spent long hours in the forum tidying up the categories and making it less confusing with the help of Karen and Jeanne.

We hope you will reward this hard and diligent work by becoming active members if you aren't already.

Kyla whose growing babe, all her cyber aunts (and uncles) are watching over like clucky hens. Her 'pledge-a-square-a-day' in March this year moved KAS very rapidly from expecting one square to thinking it would be okay to ask for a few more. And for her work in all the groups.

Kerry who started our first forum to get us going and who came up with the idea of KASTOG (knit a square on the go).

Laura who started the ravelry group which RhondaH now looks out for, having also made many great contributions to help folk with postage issues.

Debbie for introducing KAS to her school and encouraging us that schools would take to it like ducks to water, and more recently for inspiring the Soweto Gospel Choir event together with Hanna.

Andrea for her contribution of the initial hardworking 8" ruler/flyer which after several iterations is now winging its way all around the world and will be on the seats of the Annenberg theatre we hope.

Gay who worked to create the KasBag currently in prototype production in Hamburg, South Africa. Hope to bring that to you soon.

Our big ideas people many of whom can see the vision of where we could be and what we can do to get there. Invaluable encouragement.

And then there's you. Some of you make truly monumental monthly contributions and we marvel at your generosity and how much you have made and sent. But I fear that once I start naming folk we will be here for a very long time and what if I left one of you out!

Many of you spend long hours in the forum contributing everything from fantastic ideas to friendship, all of which is greatly valued.

If you have made just ONE square and sent it you are worthy of a deep gratitude from us for understanding what we are trying to do and wanting to help. More than that often brings us to tears. So thank you all.

Finally, I must personally thank my immediate family, on behalf of us all, who gifted me this year to follow my heart.






Our future


If you have read this far, well done! Time to talk about our future as I am sure some of you may be asking yourself about that.

We are not confident that in this climate, and because of our set-up, sufficient funding will come to support our full time work with knit-a-square.

Most of you will know that I gave away my position in our family company a year ago to work full time for knit-a-square and now KasCare as it has evolved, voluntarily. Both our daughters work for KAS in part time capacities, and in the past months Roger has joined too, as our family business has drawn to a close, in a concentrated and focussed attempt to seek funds.

It would seem that we are in a difficult place with regard to funding. We are an Australian not for profit helping African orphans. Australian organisations mostly aim their social programs at Australian interests understandably.

To achieve funding in America you need to be incorporated in the US. We have already made contact with an appropriate legal firm and even at a friendly rate we would need to find US$5 – 7000.


South African companies have been willing to listen, but have a similar story to tell across the board, recession, job losses and a reduction of whatever philanthropic activities they have.

We are yet to tackle corporate in the UK and Europe, although they are on our agenda.

We are applying to every foundation that has a fit with our mandate and we are deeply grateful to Tamara Brennan (Sexto Sol) and Dawne Sliming Smith for their invaluable advice on all this and many other fronts.

So we have given it our best shot and would not give up, but that we are no longer in a position to sustain even a greatly reduced livelihood without an income. So we have no choice but to scale back our work for KAS and return to some form of income deriving activity, in the interim.

How will this impact on knit-a-square? Well, to be honest I don't know yet.

It is true that we all work long hours in pursuit of this work which we love greatly. Much of my time is taken up in web traffic driving activities, correspondence, ideas generation, implementing plans, discussions about the forum, correspondence with Ronda, the ezine, administrative details (even when you don't have money, there is still paperwork!) and promotional activities.

What we are certain of is that Cressida and I will continue to work on the schools' program. We are all agreed that is vital to the stability of KAS.

If you consider it for a while, once it is in the school it is about the relationship of the teacher to the students and KAS and then the work just continues, (awareness raising, spreading of the word, knitted squares), independently of any of us. It is a really good example of the 80/20 principle at work in our favour!

The more schools we can get KAS into the better for the orphans (and the children who work for them too!). And another reason to get some serious help in South Africa to relieve Ronda.

We feel we can sustain a three month window to complete and implement the program and that also we will have a better chance of getting discreet funding for just this arm of our activities. If any of you can think of a suitable funding partner, please let us know!

I aim to keep up the ezine although in a shortened form. Correspondence may become difficult, on a good day it takes up many hours, much of it relationship building in all it's forms. Other activities will cease.

Kalai will work part- time on continuing to seek press opportunities, in the forum and on correspondence.

What we must plead with you, our committed KAS community is not to let the flame go out.

Someone at sometime is out there who will recognise what we are doing and will say:" it should not just be for lack of money that such an cause fuelled by so much good will, effort and love from around the world just fades away."

Nor should it be because of our now urgent need to derive an income. There is more to KAS than us. Please keep knitting and crocheting and looking for ways to fund raise to help in South Africa.

We wish you a wonderful, peaceful and healthy 2010.

With great fondness for you truly remarkable folk, Sandy



PS: Just one little sneak look at your wonderful work this issue: One of the box of gifts that went to Sedibeng (most appropriate to have a Pooh book at the top of the pile! And these 8 full of fun squares from Sarah Grey in Madrid, to remind us that South Africa is hosting the World Football Cup in June 2010. There ought to be a lot we can do about that!

PPS: I nearly forgot – the list of squares arriving in South Africa since 22 October – 18 November. Oops!

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.

Hats on heads and snugly wrapped children

Hats on heads and snugly wrapped children

The photographs tell this issue's story. They paint a vivid picture of the conditions the children live in, but at the same time they tell of the human spirit, the ready smile, playfulness, gratitude and love of each other.



Snug as a bug

– Zeverfontein Creche
– Methodist Parish Soweto
Singing to gladden your heart Babies at Baragwanath Hospital
Bigger Sweaters and Longer Sleeves
KAS – a not for profit?
Heritage Blanket
AIDS in Africa day presentation

The awesome forum

– the groups
– a resident poet
Ravelry Group here to stay

Heritage Blanket and more press

Poncho Pattern by Beth, Postal FAQS and Square Patterns



Zeverfontein Creche – 15 May 2009

Zeverfontein Creche was a new experience for Soweto Comfort Club. It is in an extremely poor area of Johannesburg and the young women who work with these children, do a remarkable job with very little.

Ronda wrote: Their creche "building" is an old shipping container and, apparently, the port-a-loo they have to use is so ghastly, nobody can bear to go near it.

The St. Vincent de Paul girls who volunteer there, are trying to raise funds to get a new one, or have this one cleaned up on a regular basis. No good getting a plumber in to quote for an alternative, since there are no sewerage pipes serving the entire area. Things we just take for granted."

Not all of these children are orphaned, some are infected with HIV AIDS, some have parents who are very ill. Understandably, it was explained that there was sensitivity regarding the status of the children, and we were respectful of that.

Besides which, we were agreed that it would be unkind to single out only orphan children when clearly every child, as desperately poor as they are, would be happy for the colour, warmth and love that is so inherent in each blanket.

We distributed 31 blankets and hats here. Ronda said that what is so remarkable about the children is how cheerful, well behaved and ready to smile, they are. The photographs poignantly demonstrate this, and Ronda's captions bring them to life.

LEFT: They were SO good about going straight to the "teacher" to hand their blankets in and make sure they were put with their belongings to go home. For such tiny little things their discipline was amazing.

RIGHT: Lining up to wash their hands before being given something to eat.

Having received their biscuit and cheese, they were waiting patiently to say grace. The little boy with the blue top on just couldn't resist a quick lick of his cheese.

The hairdressing salon!

Lindi Ngwenya (same name as Lindiwe Ngwenya who you know from Soweto Comfort Club,) organised the event with Ronda through her parish.

Ronda was also accompanied by Leo (short for Leonor), who is an exchange student from Canada. She came to Johannesburg to do some charity work. Hopefully Kyla can join Ronda and the SCC ladies next year to experience something like this.


Methodist Church Community Distribution – Saturday 16 May



Ronda wrote: We went to two church distributions within the Methodist church community. At the first church the women were dressed immaculately in their church finery, but don't be deceived. This is a very poor community. They get very little, if anything from the government. What little help they receive is from the church itself.


The women run a creche for about 30 children and the conditions are awful, a bit like Zeverfontein, using an old freight container with a port-a-loo which is totally inadequate.

The difference is that they do have utilities in Soweto, so they could have a proper facilities if they had the money. They say the container is FREEZING cold and many of these kids are HIV positive so extremely vulnerable.

The blankets were beautifully sewn up. Ronda said they were touched and thrilled by their work.

Each blanket had been crocheted around the edge, the squares were all correctly matched in size, were even and lay beautifully flat.

They are collecting another 15 blanket packs from Jo and are desperate for them. We only scratched the surface although everyone was delighted and there was lots of singing, praising, thanking and joyfulness going on. (See video!)

They then went on to this tiny little Methodist church with a relief pastor, Philip. He was very taken with Knit-a-square and promised to help by transporting Lindiwe and Jo which is a huge bonus.

Ronda and Lindiwe in front of the squatter camp right next to church.

Soweto Comfort Club volunteer, Florence's husband, John, is an architect who has done amazing work at Phiri Parish. He is currently drawing up plans to rebuild this little church too.

Things have a certain dynamic when you are in these situations and Ronda wrote of what happened next: "Lots of local kids saw the commotion and just popped in, so we ended up with about 70 children milling around and the only way we could share out the blankets was to get family groups together and hand out one blanket per family.


It was pretty heartbreaking, but these kids are so used to being messed around, they were just delighted with everything that happened, not one argument or sulk to be seen. It's humbling, truly.

We could not know which children were orphaned, but many of them were not with adults and we were told by some of the AIDS counsellors present that were desperate for foster homes. Everyone in these areas is enduring great hardship of one sort or another.


Soup queue – the church tries to feed all the children every day. Don't you love the little chap with his cap on sideways – clutching his piece of bread and so hungry he's about to leap into the soup pot!

Singing to gladden you heart.

Ronda has sent some wonderful video snippets some of which I have stitched to the original Jamey video. It will be uploaded to this page on the forum by tomorrow (Monday). I hope you will return to watch it. The singing of the women at the Methodist Church and their obvious joy and celebration of the blankets will surely gladden your hearts.



A newborn baby benefits from knit-a-square


This adorable little baby was born to a young women and was 5 days old (born Friday 15th) when this photograph was taken. The mother Cynthia, is 18 years old. The baby's name is LETABO which means Happiness in South Sotho (pronounced SU-TU).

Ronda gave Letabo this quilt, which was sent within a huge consignment from Judy Adams of Beautiful Saviour Lutheran Church in Illinois with 205 squares, extra wool, material and this patchwork quilt.

Judy wrote to say that it was enclosed as one of their members could not knit or crochet, but wanted to participate and so created this beautiful soft quilt. Now it is wrapped around little Letabo to ease her passage into a hard world. I hope Judy if you read this you will pass it on to your member who made it with thanks.





Children at Baragwanath Hospital

Our visit to the Charles Hurwitz TB Clinic – annex to Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital … on 21/09/05


From Ronda:It was amazing – We met with the lovely staff, Lindi, Onica, me, Ms Lesele (CEO of the clinic), Jo, Florence

Mrs Lesele had contacted Josephine to request an Alpha Course be run at the clinic in order to bring strength, hope and spiritual comfort to the staff. They are not given any kind of counseling for stress, or debriefing procedures to help them cope with the trauma of losing a high percentage of patients, most after months of nursing and close relationships developing.

We started with a meeting to introduce ourselves – they told us about their work and we told them about you (the knitters) and knit-a-square and explained how it all works.

LEFT: Lindiwe with Lalitta Makeleni 15 months (boy) and Erin with Lenamola Faku




Ronda wrote: "We had to wear masks while inside the ward because these children and babies are all TB sufferers themselves. Some of them are seriously compromised not only by TB but coupled with underlying HIV … some are orphans, and one or two have parents in the adult wards. At the moment they have only 9 children on the ward, at times that number swells to 30.

When they are well, the orphans go to foster homes under Social Welfare, but many stay for 6 months or more. The school seems to operate spasmodically but it is part of the childrens' ward set up.


The little girl on the left is two and a half, but very ill and spent time in the walking ring because she's too weak to walk.

These little children seem to embody so much hope, despite their truly devastating circumstances. Wrapped in your blankets, let's find a way to work with them to rise to the challenges that they face as they grow up.


Bigger sweaters and longer sleeves


Many of you may have worried about the short sleeves on the pullover pattern and the fact that they are all very small. It is not that we won't be able to distribute every vest and pullover that has been sent to the many thousands, and more, very small children that need them. But rather that there are older children that need them too.

So for the moment Zanny is going to knit up a larger sweater with longer sleeves so that I can include that pattern on the site. We also have a larger vest pattern which will go up on site and, of course, if any of you have simple, easy to knit long-sleeved sweater patterns, then please, send them to me for inclusion.

Just today, I was contacted by Linda from Canada with a picture of a delightful crochet pullover made of scrap yarns. I have asked her if we can include the pattern on the site.

This is what Ronda has said about the sweaters.

And we promised to go back to the Methodist Parish community, when we had more larger beanies and sweaters … But we need to re-think this in a way, because while the sweater pattern is adorable, the short sleeves make it impractical for a Johannesburg winter weather.

It's already been really cold here and most of the kids do seem to have an ill fitting assortment of track tops which are bulky rather than warm. The sweaters don't fit over the top of them comfortably. They would be ideal for autumn or early spring, but not really in winter. I think you need to have a discussion about a loose-fitting, long-sleeved pullover which might be easy to do.

We have received 10 middle-sized stripey pullovers which are going to old for Ten Thousand Homes, as many of their children are older. Anything we receive which is larger than a 4 year old size, we are saving for that project.

It's a bit of a balance and quite tricky, because we see so many children here in Soweto who could use that type of pullover. Certainly this weekend (18 May) – there were many more children than there were warm items available to give out.


Knit-a-square – a not for profit.


It will be no surprise to most of you, that we must now seriously consider registering both knit-a-square and Soweto Comfort Club as not for profits.

Between us, Ronda, her team of volunteer workers, Kalai (almost full time) and me totally full time, we need to raise some income to cover the costs and sustain the work we are all so passionate about, and committed to doing.

There are foundations who will support Soweto Comfort Club for their on-ground community work. We also intend to begin the work of attracting corporate sponsorship and fund-raising, but of course we must be registered to do that, so that all received funds are correctly accounted for.

As far as the way in which we do this work, and our relationship with you, nothing should alter. Many of you have been on the journey with us from almost day one and we really wanted to share the voyage with you. This way we can be here for the long haul and continue to raise awareness and help to keep our children warm.


Heritage Blanket



At long last, we have finished Zanny's pattern book for the Heritage blanket she knitted for us last year. For those of you who are advanced knitters, the stitches will be relatively easy.

What we hope, is to inspire your inner artist.

Yarns and wools available today are so soft and exquisitely coloured and the textures are luscious, so this is an invitation to paint with your knitting needles!




Heritage Blanket is laid out with the pattern for every block in a box, with space for you to record your choice of yarn and stitches as you go. That way it is truly a heritage blanket, as you will have a record of exactly how you made it. I hope, if any of you take up the challenge, you will send us photographs of your results.

Every e-book purchased is a donation to knit-a-square and Soweto Comfort Club for our first fund-raising efforts. As always feedback is gratefully received.



AIDS in Africa day presentation

A small, but very active, Christian Fellowship Foundation run by Pastor Glenn Rowbotham in Daylesford where Zanny lives, put on an event last Sunday (24 May 2009), African Aids Awareness Morning. I was invited to make a short presentation about knit-a-square and the work you are doing for the AIDS orphans.

Members of the congregation had worked hard to decorate the small church with African colours and themes, and the choir was practising hard, singing Jabulani Africa as we set up.



The wealth of wonderful photographs that Ronda has sent of your amazing contributions and the blankets around children, provided a moving slide presentation for the story I told them of knit-a-square and the incredible and generous response from you.

I finished the presentation with the excerpt of the speech on the AIDS grannies page from Steven Lewis. It is impossible to read the last paragraph without the emotion catching in your throat, as it did on this day too. Many people were wiping tears from their eyes at the end.

Afterwards Knit-a-square was presented with a very generous donation which we gratefully received. In part we will spend it to print Andrea's fabulous 8" ruler flyers, as they are an excellent promotional piece and a great reminder for those who have them, especially if they are used as bookmarks.

We were also presented with about 18 of these gorgeous, soft and cuddly hand-knitted teddy bears by a member of the church, Gary who is a fervent knitter. We have labeled them and they are on their way to Africa soon. He says he will be knitting many squares in the future. At the end of the event, members had cooked up an African feast and we had a great lunch of spicy stews and fragrant rices and mealie meal porridge (called sudza in many parts of Africa).

As a result of this, we will now actively seek to make presentations in other churches, schools, retirement villages and to Rotary and Lion charitable groups. That will keep us busy! The dream – to come to Canada, UK, Europe and the USA and do the same thing. Perhaps next year, and it would be a great way to spread the word, don't you think?


The awesome forum

Square Circle Forum went live on Monday 18 May. Within 24 hours it had 250 members – isn't that fantastic. The activity has been hectic with lots of contributions, blogs, and group discussions. There are now 8 groups, Canadian Corner, United States, African Knitwits, UK, NI knitters, Knit me, Hobbiedee Breigroup and Downunder and the land of the long white cloud!

We also have a resident poet, Tim Whitsun. His first poem is greatly moving:



Why knitting? With a thousand things to choose
of graver consequence I would have thought
that fickle and departed tart, my muse,
might have inspired a more enthralling sport.

But no. So knitting it would have to be.
Two sticks, a length of string and endless time
to make some sense of purl and plain. To me
it seemed a vague and lonely pantomime.

Initially, the battle with disease
looked too unequal. How could knitters armed
with nothing more than needled yarn appease
that monster, AIDS? How could it be disarmed?

A million and a half (or thereabouts),
unparented, abandoned and alone,
hungry, homeless, hopeless, cold. My doubts
soon set about knitting themselves a home

in my gut – a useless site to stitch.
Faithless me. How could I have forgotten
the internet’s electric talking which
energises fibre, yarn and cotton?

Now suddenly your knitting is a rhyme,
a hand-sung hymn, a symphony of clicks
performed by nimble fingers (unlike mine),
a wall of hope in wool instead of bricks.

I’ve come to like your craft, when once I fought
my mother for the right to be outfitted
in any form of garment that I thought
a million miles removed from being knitted.

And like it more for what it represents:
the thin, unbreaking thread of simple love
that salves the small and poor, without pretence.
Is this the proof I search for from above?

Tim Whitsun
May 21 2009


Check out the blog for more of his work. Let's hope that his wonderful words are a regular feature of the forum.

We look forward to meeting you in there sometime soon and sharing the lovely, warm KAS community with you.


June Challenge

For those of you not yet in the forum, the June Challenge has been posted by Kyla. It's a great idea and will be a very personal way of gifting a square to a child with their initial on it.

If we receive lots of other initialed squares, above and beyond what is needed for the children of Ten Thousand homes, we will just incorporate them into blankets in the future. There are always going to be children to whom we can match an initialed blanket. It is a grand idea. Well done Kyla.

From Kyla: "There is a list of names and ages of the children of the charity 10 000 Homes, and it is a very long list indeed. These are the children who still need blankets who live with 10 000 Homes, and our June challenge will be to focus on them and their blankets. We are going to make them totally unique, very special squares that have their name or initials in them. When you post these squares mark them as being the name squares for the 10 000 Homes kids, and they will go into blankets for those children, and only for those children.

Happy stitching everyone – Kyla!"

You can find the list of names on the forum, although we will be re-posting it soon under Kyla's name so that she can administer it, which means you may find your posts being moved in the next few days. After that it will be plain sailing.

Ravelry Group
There was some concern from the Ravelry Group that the new forum would mean the end of the group. On the contrary, they are both very different and equally vital. I hope that both will continue to grow, as will the Face Book group, and that there will be some cross over, as we share stories, patterns and photographs.

I have written to the members of the proboards forum, which was started by Kerry, to suggest that we migrate that membership to Square Circle. Particularly in light of Kerry becoming very busy in her job recently, making it difficult for her to be as active as in the past.


On that front congratulations are in order. Kerry was engaged this month to her partner Toby – we extend our warmest congratulations and best wishes for a wonderfully happy life together. And grateful thanks for being the initiator of a forum and one of our early heroes.



New on the site

Well the forum of course! What with the forum, presentation and Heritage Blanket, I am way behind on all the pages that need attending to on the site. That is a priority for June. I know that all of you, Kalai, Kyla and Ronda and Erin in South Africa will be busy in the forums, so I will attend to the site again. There are so many patterns, new heroes, and updates to do. In the next ezine expect a bit more news on that front!

We do have a bit more press to add to the PR and Press pages and have recently been contacted by Vogue Knitting America to do a short feature on knit-a-square which is wonderful.


POSTAGE Ronda is paying far less duty as your parcels arrive, without values attached to them and stating 'For Charity Only'. Thank you so much. Also, we have received hats and scarves as well, with no duty payable. Whole blankets are still attracting duty, so we hope that we can keep to just sending squares.


Finally, your squares!

Thanks to Matt who works in ArtWords, we have sorted out the best way to get you the latest updates on the arrivals of squares. Ronda has been very diligent in sending me updates every week and I am hoping that my rather limited excel skills have ensured that they have all been faithfully copied and pasted into the 20 page(!)pdf which is now available for download.

It is much easier for you, I know, if all the names are just listed in the ezine, but short of coding a 20 page long table, it is just not practical.

So all you have to do, is click here through to the specific page on the site which will have a download link on it. The names are mostly alphabetical and listed week by week.

A few parcels arrived water damaged (with apologies from the USA postal service attached). Although the contents were fine, Ronda was not able to decipher the names. We feel very confident now that all post is being faithfully delivered on the South African end, which is exciting.

Thank you all for your patience to wade through another small novel. What to do? There is just so much news and so many wonderful photographs to share with you. I feel certain we will reach the milestone this month of 10 000 Squares – that will be a very exciting day. You can now check the tallies on a regular basis here.


Have a wonderful June Challenge. The next issue will be lovely and covered in initialed squares!

Stay safe, please crochet and knit pain free. See you in the forum.

Till the end of June (unless I just have to tell you something!) Sandy


PS. These gorgeous blankets were made by Judith Blignaut from Alberton, South Africa. One of the benefits of being on the home turf is that you can make a whole blanket without worrying about duty. So we look forward to seeing a whole lot more of blankets from within South Africa.

The first knit a square on the go a success

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



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

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

Tears for AIDS grannies and their orphan grand children

More photographs of your beautiful work

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 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.

Jamey receives your first blanket

Jamey receives your first blanket

On Saturday a little disabled orphan called Jamey, received the first blanket made from squares sent by you. Erin, Ronda's daughter took a video of the presentation, and I have put a link to it in the story below. We are sure you will be as moved, even to tears, as we were.

There is so much to tell you, I hardly know where to start! But it will be better to split this issue into two, one today and one by the end of the week/weekend. Hope you are happy to read that much. Here's what will be in both issues:


Bags and bags and car loads of squares
Opening and sorting –
the bounty of your gifts
The first of many tears
Organising for the first sewing bee
The first recipients of your blankets


The blind woman, her adopted orphan grand daughter and their blanket
Colourful Soweto
Daniel learns to knit
Hannah teaches Bastile to draw
Heart-breaking, heart-felt and heartening stories and pictures from
Hats and vests for the children of
St Basil's School, Zimbabwe
Our wonderful Square Circle Groups (ooooh la la Texas!)
Must have' knit-a-square t-shirts

– Forum – the race for April
– tally
– Facebook photographs
– Square a day journal



– Knit-a-square heroes – a must read!
– Free crochet patterns
– Teacher Parent Resource




Bags and bags and
car loads of squares

The last issue was at that point Ronda had written to say 'it was raining squares in South Africa". The torrent turned into a deluge and by last Friday she and the Soweto Comfort ladies had opened 1831 squares; 9 vests; 22 sweaters; 1 shrug; 2 hats. I know there are quanitites of boxes and parcels still on their way from communications with you.

Given that the first squares, mostly from family, arrived in January, this is a truly fantastic beginning. Bless you for this wonderful start to the knit-a-square project. Josephine's heartfelt thank you is addressed directly to you and I hope you will look at the video on the Soweto Comfort Club page.

Ronda has sent dozens of wonderful photographs of your beautiful squares. This ezine format doesn't really allow me to include lots of photographs, but Kalai will put many of them up on the Face Book knit-a-square group and we will create a gallery, hopefully by next week when you get issue two. Just as a taste, here are a few. Aren't they wonderful.

A kaleidoscope of colour and love.

Here is a photograph of Josephine (Jo) and Lindiwe with Mike and Hilda at the post office who are as excited as we are.

Ronda wrote: Hilda is so caught up in the excitement, she rushes out to greet me and says she has started knitting her first square.

She had explained to everyone there, "that the people of the world want to help," and that seems to have inspired a great deal of enthusiasm for the project."

Isn't that great?


Opening and sorting – the bounty of your gifts

Many of you have written lovely notes and included little treats, all of which are very heart-warming and gratefully received by the Soweto Comfort Ladies as they worked.

Ronda wrote that it was like Christmas anyway, on the two occasions the SCC ladies got together during March to open parcels and sort out the squares.

Florence, Josephine, Lindiwe, Sonja and other helpers, among them Erin (Ronda's daughter and also moderator of the South African region on the forum, and her two children Daniel and Hannah) were all involved. Ronda said the excitement was electric on the Thursday before they set about organising for the first sewing bee.

I imagine that when you are in the presence of so much generosity and goodwill, knowing the benefits that so much crafted beauty will bring, that you would feel greatly uplifted and humbled at the same time.

The question has been asked – is their an end to this project? There can be no end in the forseeable future.

As I wrote to Tamara in Mexico, "there will be millions more orphans on the planet before the social issues surrounding AIDS and governments not having the political will to supply anti-retrovirals are resolved.

What we have done is to make the most wonderful start in beginning to address warming some of these many million of children. But more than that, you are each an ambassador for their plight, and the more of us who talk about it to others, the more awareness there is, the more likely change will come.

It is for their futures too, that we must be concerned. If the children are recipients of your bounty, then it is conceivable that they will experience just a glimmer of the kindness that exists in the world. Beyond being warm, this will encourage them as they grow older to imagine the possibilities that exist for their future.


The first of many tears

Among the parcels to be opened by Jo, was one containing two books, one by Joyce Meyer who is a best-selling Christian writer and TV evangelist and the other written by the sender herself, Dr. Betty Jane Ramsay. Jo was so overwhelmed when she read the title of Joyce Meyer's book ' Tell them I love them," she had to be 'mopped up' before she could pose for this photograph. A wonderful gift and we thank Dr Ramsey for her kindness.

Tears were going to rain all week as we approached the first sewing bee.


Organising the first sewing bee

Last week was very busy in South Africa, as Ronda and the others raced around, collecting parcels, organising them into bundles of similar weights and colours and packing them all up.

Plus Sonja, Jo and Lindiwe sewed together a few blankets as templates for the sewers to see on the day itself. Lindiwe had as her special project, overseeing the sewing teams and Jo, Florence and Ronda were also organising the actual event. A friend of Jo, Mr Nkunu, runs the "Mangalane Bakery" in Chiawelo, Soweto and had agreed to deliver fresh bread rolls on the day to the sewing ladies and every time they convene to stitch blankets together in the future.

More tears as Ronda heard from Jo, that the Soweto Community was really taking knit-a-square under their wing. A pastor of a small pentecostal church group which operates in one of the nearby squatter camps had also conveyed great interest in the project.

Indeed knitting and crocheting for small groups within Soweto will, in time, make the task of fair and even distribution of the blankets, jumpers and hats easier, especially if we know in advance the age and sex of the children.

Apart from the sewing teams, members of the parish community, the Soweto Comfort Club ladies, Father Francis of the Holy Rosary Phiri Parish in Soweto was to be there to bless the occasion.

Over here in Australia, apart from wanting very much to be there, we busied ourselves with writing instructions for the joining of the blankets, replying to correspondence and in my case, continuing to build the site. There is still so much information to go up including your tips and patterns, but more about that next issue.


The first recipients of your blankets

"Erin wrote about the day: Saturday was absolutely fantastic. Such a special, special day. I so wish you could all have been there. There was much talk about all of you, the knitters and crocheters, and so you are very much in the minds of all the people that were there. There were many tears shed and lots of relationships cemented.

I am SO happy that my children were able to witness this whole event unfolding and really be involved in it. It'll be one of the very special things woven into their fabric (or knitted, rather!), and I am sure something that will stay with them for the rest of their lives."

Jamey is a young disabled orphan and Selina (affectionately known as Ma Mhlangu) is his elderly caregiver. Ronda wrote: "Most of the women who are involved in caring are the grandparents, because it is the 25 – 45 age-group which is being decimated by HIV AIDS. It is an awesome responsibility they take on when they themselves are a struggling section of the population in every sense of the word.

Truly they are an inspiration for other more wealthy women whose greatest anxieties may range from their looks to their clothes and money!" It does put life into perspective.

Jamey's wheelchair was donated by a collection organised by Debbie, who is in charge of the welfare for the community of the nearby Parish of St Phillip, Neri, Moletsane, Soweto.

The video made us all cry. Click on Jamey to view it, or go to the website, it is on the home page.

On this occasion, baby blankets were also given to the very small twins Lerato (girl) and Tebogo (boy) who were abandoned by their mother (father unknown) and left with their grandmother shortly after birth. At the time there was an appeal on radio and TV calling for the mother to return, but she has never been seen, or heard of, again.

Their grandmother (gogo) is unemployed and this trio are completely dependent on the squatter camp and church community for everything.

Little Lerato's face seems to reflect their sadness. I hope, as I am sure you do, that the blankets they have been given will bring a little warmth into their lives.


There is so much more to write to you about, and so many more photographs. I hope you will forgive me for ending the newsletter here and continuing on in 2 or 3 days time.

Ronda and I are just finalising the list of square senders, but in the meantime, please celebrate with us the arrival of so many squares, perhaps recognise some of your wonderful work, and bear with us as we work through these amazing, but rather frantic early months.

From all of us, all of the Soweto Comfort Club Ladies, especially Ronda, Jo, Lindiwe, Florence and Sonja and of course the community of Soweto whose small orphaned or abandoned children will benefit from your kindness.

With love and heartfelt thanks, Sandy