The Colours of our Mettle

For the first time in Olympic history, Canada has topped the medal standings at the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. This goes for the Summer Olympics as well. We’re now tied for second place but for quite a few days we stood at the number one spot.

Medal Standing

I don’t typically watch sports but there’s something about the Olympics that turns me into a tense, raving, rabid patriot. David thinks I’m crazy for yelling at an athlete to go faster or for being concerned when someone crashes on the luge track. I guess it’s because I have a competitive streak and I’m a proud Canadian. I’m flabbergasted that we’ve done so well, being used to Canadians getting shut out of a medal in fourth place or not making it to the top ten. I’m so proud of our athletes and wish the athletes from around the world all the best.

GO, CANADA, GO!

Here’s a photo of blanket three for Michael’s:

BlanketThree

And here is blanket four:

BlanketFour

As the Seasons Change

Autumn is one of those weather-crazy seasons in Canada. In a span of 24 hours, it could be sunny, warm, rainy, cold, windy and snowy. Just the other day we had brooding clouds, rain, sleet and hail, all mixed with sunny breaks. Out come the woolen items from their summer hiding places, whether handmade or store bought.

IMG_9472I know that South Africa is coming into their summer months but I can’t help but think what it’s like to go without a pair of handwarmers or a hat on a cold day. To know there is nothing to protect you from the elements is a harsh reality for many. Luckily, KAS members are there to help.

Recently I watched a show about glass. It followed the invention, innovation, tinkering and collaboration that has brought us to a time where, among many other things, we can share photos. From spectacles to mirrors, fibre optic cables to cameras, glass has transformed the way we understand the world.

Now, imagine for a moment that we couldn’t share photos of our achievements, squares, distributions. We would miss so many opportunities to innovate, tinker and collaborate. We have made our very own social network with KAS. Like the lenses in a microscope, ideas build on each other and create a whole new way of seeing the world. Through the sharing of photos we have single-handedly broadened our experiences of humanity.

GUIDELINES FOR SUBMISSIONS TO KAS SNIPPETS

GUIDELINES FOR SUBMISSIONS

to KasSnippets

 

What is KasSnippets?

KasSnippets is our monthly newsletter intended to keep readers informed of what is happening at Knit-a-Square and throughout the KAScommunity.

 

Who reads KasSnippets?

We hope that all Forum members and possibly non members read our newsletter.  In short, KasSnippets is available to readers from all over the world from many varied backgrounds and cultures.

 

Why Invite Guest Writers?

It doesn’t matter where you live in our great big world, if you are helping to create warmth for the children in South Africa, you are a valued member of our KAScommunity.  Since KasSnippets is our community newsletter, we would like to give everyone an opportunity to contribute.

KasSnippets is a perfect platform for anyone who would like to try a hand at writing a one-time blog, share a good idea, inform us of something wonderful, make us giggle, or share a good news item.

 

If you would like to be a Guest Writer, please remember these few things:

PLEASE:

– Keep your piece around 300 words.  Remember we are a “snippet”.

– Always be respectful, upbeat, and positive.

– Don’t share personal views on politics or religion.

– Remember to consider how others will perceive what you write.

 

IDEAS FOR ARTICLES: 

– History of the Square Circle Forum

– Insights into the beauty of your part of the world

– A poem or something humourous.

– Something factual such as success stories of a SA child who made it out of the informal settlements and built a life

– An informative piece on JAM,

– Profile someone you know who is “giving back” by serving in Africa or in their own community.

– There are many good news stories … you aren’t limited to things KAS-focussed.

 

If you need to lay down your needles and hooks for a bit, perhaps you will “pick up a pen” and share your writing talents with us.  We would love to hear from you.

 

Submissions may be made by Private Message to either

 Gloria Grandy or Valerie Zalewski.

 

ALL SUBMISSIONS RECEIVED WILL BE READ AND ASSESSED BY OUR EDITORIAL PANEL.

IF YOUR PIECE IS ACCEPTED FOR INCLUSION IN KAS SNIPPETS, WE WILL LET YOU KNOW WHEN TO WATCH FOR IT.

A SEWING KIT FOR THE GOGOS: NEW SHOP ITEM!

Hi everyone!

 

We've got a new item up in the shop today, specifically in response to some of the feedback in January that you wanted to (a) be able to support the Gogos who do such a fantastic job assembling squares in South Africa, and (b) have more options to make donations for less than $10. We bandied a few ideas back and forth with the SA team, and borrowed a few thoughts from the New Year thread, and we have a few great ideas for new shop items. This is the first of them!

 

Sewing kit for a Gogo

 

Our wonderful team of Gogos (older women) in South Africa use these sewing kits to make up all of the donated squares into blankets, but that’s not the end of it. A sewing kit also makes it possible for them to repair or even make their own clothes, blankets and other valuable items.

Depending on individual needs and interests, a sewing kit might include some combination of scissors, needles, thread, pins, yarn, knitting needles, crochet hooks, fabric, or various other vital crafting tools and materials. Your donation will be helping these women to help us, and to help themselves.

 

For just $9, you can purchase one of these sewing kits now from the Sewing Kit page on the KAS shop.

All the other shop items are still there too, so keep an eye out for something which touches you, maybe Fuel for the KasVan or some Snacks for a Distribution?

 

 

 

* Please note $9 is strictly representative of the average cost of a kit, as precise costs can fluctuate from case to case. All KAS Ops Sponsorship donations are added to a common fund, used to cover operational costs in South Africa.

A NEW YEAR, A NEW SITE, and, SOME QUESTIONS

Happy New Year, everyone!

Welcome to 2014.

 

I hope that everyone’s 2013 will be remembered fondly, and that you are all looking forward to another fantastic year.

 

I know the moderators have already planned all sorts of exciting new challenges and activities for the new year. It won’t be long now before the first distributions of 2014 start happening in South Africa, which I’m sure we’re all looking forward to. The new year is always an exciting time!

 

A New Website

 

Speaking of exciting times, I’m delighted to announce that the knit-a-square.com website has had a massive overhaul, and all of these changes will become visible to everyone at some point over the next six hours. Depending on which Internet company you use, you might even be able to see the changes now:

http://www.knit-a-square.com/

(If you are computer savvy, you might like to clear your browser cache to make sure that everything is showing up correctly. If you have no idea what that means, don’t worry. Your computer will catch up by itself, you just might need to wait a little while.)

 

The rework to the site has been a monumental effort, starting back in September of 2012. The project has taken fifteen months to get right, and we’re all really excited to see it working!

 

Special thanks must go to Pam Antink, Laurie Fortier, Linda Maltby, Anne Powell and Sandy McDonald for going through every single page on the site, checking its content, and updating it to be completely up to date. Thanks too to Ronda Lowrie and Wendy Hardy for writing several new pieces of content relating to the South Africa project, which have now been added.

 

Over the next few weeks there will be a few more changes. We’ll be migrating Laurie’s wonderful ‘one square at a time’ blog over into the new KasBlog section of the website, which also includes the South Africa Reports from Ronda and Wendy, the KasSnippets from Pam, and an archive of all our eZines and articles.

 

We hope you love everything on the new site. If you notice anything on there which isn’t working, or anything on the forum which doesn’t look quite right any more, please let me know. It could be that we missed something during the switch over, and it will probably be an easy fix.

 

Some numbers

 

At this ‘end of year’ time, I thought it might be great to share a couple of unofficial numbers. Most of these are not officially confirmed yet, and I’m sure more will be coming out in the next few weeks, but if you’re like me then you’ll probably be keen to see them anyway.

 

Squares

Anne has gone through the square lists from January through to November (the December list has not yet been finalized) and confirmed that this year we received at least 145,848 squares! That’s enough to make blankets for at least 4109 children. Once the December numbers come in, we’ll publish the full breakdown of all the wonderful goodies which have arrived over the year.

 

I also have to make a special shout out to the forum members participating in the “Great Heights” challenge. Together, you have already managed to make so many squares that, if they were all stacked one on top of another, they would be tall enough to reach the top of the Sydney Opera House. Inspirational!

 

 

The KAS Operations Shop

The KAS Ops Support items first started to appear in the shop this year, and your support of them has been fantastic. Since they first appeared, you have sponsored:

  • 20 months worth of Mobile Phone Subscriptions! That allows our volunteers to call creches and other distribution centers and plan ahead, to communicate with our financial sponsors in South Africa, and to coordinate all of the activity that goes on constantly in South Africa. 20 months’ worth is enough to keep two of our volunteers connected for almost a full year each.
  • Fuel to get the KasMobile to at least 28 distributions! That means picking up squares from the post office, taking them to be sewn up, and then driving them all over to place to be given to the kids. Fuel is absolutely vital to our ability to get your squares where they can do the most good.
  • Snacks for 44 creche distributions! Nothing makes a distribution into a party more than delicious snacks for the kids to enjoy while they wait for their blankets and toys to be handed out.
  • 97 Reams of Paper! Along with the pencils and crayons which make their way into our packages, paper enables kids to express themselves through drawing, and to learn vital elementary skills like writing and mathematics. The beautiful illustrations and cut-outs that the kids make are also perfect for brightening up otherwise dull walls in their creches and day care centers.

It’s worth remembering too, that if we are ever lucky enough to get more support for one Ops item than we need, those funds will go to fill a shortfall in some other operational activity. That way, we can keep everything running at peak efficiency!

We’ve also seen sales of 28 Teachers’ Guides, which only goes to show how powerful the idea of KAS is in primary and secondary schools all around the world!

 

 

The Forum

Pam has done some analysis on the forum itself, and discovered that over the year we have gained 1,503 new members. Hi new members!

  • 254 new members discovered us through the Internet
  • 112 new members found us through family and friends. Well done to everyone who has been sharing KAS by word of mouth, your efforts have been successful!
  • 124 new members found the forum through other avenues, including Facebook, Ravelry, and print media.

If you are one of these new members who hasn’t yet introduced yourself, it would be quite wonderful to hear from you. If you’ve just joined in the new year, welcome to the cause! We look forward to sharing this experience with each and every one of you.

 

And finally, some questions

 

Most of you probably don’t know, but when I’m not knitting or crocheting, I work in IT. One of the things IT folk like to do at the end of and important project or milestone is to hold a ‘retrospective’ meeting.

 

We review everything we’ve done, identify things that went well, things that we can do better in the future, and come up with ideas for things we might like to try. I’d love it if you would share your thoughts with us around those things.

 

If you would like some specific prompts, here are some questions to think about. Be as creative as you like, especially if you have new ideas! If you’re not comfortable answering publicly here, you’re also welcome to send me a private message. If you have any other thoughts or ideas which don’t match one of those questions, share it anyway.

  • What moment(s) stood out most for you during the last year in KAS? What about it made it stand out?
  • What do you think KAS does really well?
  • What do you think KAS should focus on doing more of, or doing better in the future?
  • Is there anything you would like us to do less of, or to stop doing entirely?
  • If there was exactly one thing that KasCare could do to make your KAS experience more engaging, easier, or more fun in 2014, what would that thing be?
  • Do you have any brilliant ideas for things we might try in 2014?

 

Treat this is a huge sharing and brainstorming thread if you’d like. How do we make 2014 the best KAS year yet?

 

Happy New Year everyone!

2014 KAS CALENDAR (and other shop goodies!)

The new 2014 edition of the KAS calendar is now available for purchase in the shop!

You can buy it now for $9.95.

 

Many thanks to Sandy for designing next year’s KAS calendar, it is full of beautiful photos of the kids and your knitting masterpieces. The money from every purchase helps us to continue the distributions and support for the kids, their carers, the creches and the gogos of South Africa.

 

All of the products in the shop are sent to you as digital files which can be printed off straight away at any local printing shop, which makes them perfect ‘last minute’ gifts for friends or family who are a challenge to shop for. While you’re at the shop, maybe you can think of someone who would really appreciate a gift of one of the other items.

 

 

Paper for a Creche

Communications

Fuel for a Distribution

Snacks for a Distribution

 

Have a wonderful end of year, and I hope to see everyone even more enthusiastic come 2014!