Celebrating charity knitting heroes

Celebrating charity knitting heroes


world knitting


Simple. Profound. Life changing.
Giving is Living presents a clear, practical guide to making generosity a part of our everyday lives. It shows us how small efforts to reach out to help those in need can make a real difference.It explains that generosity does not have to be about giving money. It can start with a smile, cost nothing, and it can do so much good.

While charity knitting or knitting for kids may have been of interest for some of these knit-a-square heroes, they have taken to heart the plight of the AIDS orphans, and are championing this crochet and knitting project with a passion.

It is this commitment that will continue to drive interest and ensure that we reach our goals.

The goals are modest, given the scale of this unfolding tragedy, but as each of you takes ownership of this project, or spreads the word, we are more likely, to not only achieve the goal of
10,000 blankets in 2009, but beat it.

Every additional blanket keeps another abandoned child or AIDS orphan warm.

You are all charity knitting and crocheting heroes
The map represents all the states and provinces of the countries around the world from which you, and many hundreds of knitters and crocheters, are sending squares.

Over and above charity knitting, for every square you knit and every person you tell about it, you are all contributing to changing the world's awareness of the plight of these children.

There are many people who deserve mention on this page and to whom knit-a-square and the children who will benefit as a result of their work, owe grateful thanks. We hope too, that there will be many people in the future who we can add to this growing list.

Please take the time to read some of these inspiring and heartfelt commitments to this project as we post them to the blog over the next few weeks.

Just a few knitting stitches everyday, anytime, anywhere

Just a few knitting stitches everyday, anytime, anywhere

Just a few knitting stitches, that is all it takes, everyday, anytime, anywhere, and you will quickly complete an 8 x 8" square.

Knitting for charity has never been easier as these committed knitters prove. Use our free easy knitting pattern or whatever knitting stitches you love to work with. As long as your square measures 8 x 8", it will soon be in a much loved and unique baby blanket wrapped around an AIDS orphan in Africa.

The goal is 400 000 squares in 2009, many hundreds of millions of stitches.


knitting stitches

The showgirls of Glamour Puss Studio, backstage during their annual tap dancing extravaganza.

This would be an impossible goal, except for all the wonderful people knitting for charity around the world.

We would love to acknowledge you all, so we challenge you to send us pictures and stories of your wonderful efforts to knit squares for these children, and we will publish the best ones in each next issue of the Square Circle ezine.


knitting for charity

It's going to be an amazing collection and tell the story of all of you, who have so generously contributed to making a unique baby blanket for the abandoned children and AIDS orphans of Southern Africa.

So please knit a square anytime, anywhere and take a photograph to upload with your story in the form below.

Click here too for your super easy knitting pattern and the postal instructions to make sure your squares reach Africa safely.

And if you planning to visit South Africa , you may want to consider filling in our survey regarding an accompanied tour. Thank you all.


Here I am knitting anytime, anywhere . . .

Please add to our collection of fabulous photos to tell us your story of knitting anytime, anywhere – watching the tennis, backstage, onstage, in a bar, up a mountain, on a boat, camping . . . or perhaps you knit just a few stitches everyday, like a prayer or a mantra, before you go to bed.

So take a photo and upload it. You know what they say, a picture is worth a thousand words! And it demonstrates your generosity too, in helping the AIDS Orphans.

Make a beautiful baby blanket out of knitted squares

Make a beautiful baby blanket out of knitted squares.

unique baby blanket

Knitting squares to make a baby blanket it not only a great way to learn how to knit, but you can make a beautiful and unique blanket which will be with a child for many years.

You can also be very creative using a variety of knitting stitches and the beautiful yarns available today, as you can see from the laid out squares here.

This is another one of my mother, Zanny's blankets, which she has just completed but is yet to sew up.

Traditionally baby blankets have been made in whites and pastels, but babies are stimulated by colours and are able to detect subtle shifts in shades as early as two months, so surround them with a palette of beautiful colours.

baby colours

Pretty patterns and rainbow colours
Make it unique too, by varying the knitting stitches to create different textures and surfaces for them to touch and feel. Many of the yarns today are so soft and gentle to touch, so chose them not only for colour but for feel as well. Yarns that are a blend of wool, silk, alpaca and even bamboo are warm and delicate to the skin.

Like all craft work, it is best to plan your baby blanket carefully from the start. Start with two main colours, as shown in the blanket pictured – purple and turquoise. Then add another two to three colours which either tone in – the dusty pink and the dove grey – or are blended in by a mutual colour, in this case the multicoloured pastel wool which contains tones of most of the other four colours. Four to five colours is usually enough. Any more can make such a small blanket look messy.

These square knitting patterns, like all our square instructions, use 8 ply yarn and 6mm (4UK/10 USA) needles. There are 24 squares, 6 x 6 inches (15 x 15 cms) arranged in six rows of four squares. Despite choosing 8 ply yarn, there will be some variation in the square sizes. Don't worry about this, it is easy to slightly stretch the squares to fit each other when sewing up. Also as demonstrated here, changing needle sizes dramatically alters the size and feel of the square, so you can experiment with this as well if you want more or less squares in your baby blanket.

If you are learning to knit, then perhaps try the simpler knitting stitches to start, although once you have mastered knit and purl stitches, there is no end to the wonderful knitting patterns you can make.

And when you are finished knitting your beautiful and unique baby blanket, please use your wool scraps to knit one 8 x 8" square (or more) to send to Africa to make blankets for AIDS orphans.

Please also join Square Circle ezine for stories of your efforts to help keep these children warm and for new baby blanket patterns.

Why should we be surprised to see men knitting?

Why should we be surprised to see men knitting?


Contrary to popular prejudice, men knitting used to be commonplace and was not exclusively a female preoccupation.

In fact, many historians back the view that it was men who created knitting and contributed significantly to its development.


One view is based on the theory that Arabic fisherman, skilled in knotting fishing nets, probably spread the knowledge via the Mediterranean.

It is surprising that boys are not taught how to knit. As many internet blogs and sites show, there is probably a vast population of men knitting now and re-learning the pleasures of the craft.


men knitting

Here’s a snippet from an interesting editorial written by Amy Singer, editor of online Knitty magazine which is encouraging about the increase of men learning how to knit.

"Cool knit shops like The Point in New York have boy-only knitting nights where a knitting-newbie-man will feel no embarrassment in asking for help casting on or cabling. Not that they should be embarrassed, but every new knitter I've ever met is highly self conscious until they get the hang of things."

Knitting for the troops

Of great relevance to our knitting project was a piece written by Clinton W Trowbridge for the Christian Science Monitor in 1997. It tells a wonderful story of American schoolboys knitting squares to sew into blankets for British troops during World War Two.

It highlights the normality of men knitting "…at boarding school during World War II, however, everyone knitted – including the headmaster, the teachers, and the whole football team. We knitted 9-inch squares, which somebody else sewed together to make blankets and scarves for British soldiers…"

And once the boys had learned how to knit "…good many of us took up knitting seriously and made socks, sweaters, and woolen hats. We would knit in bed after lights out and, some of us, even more surreptitiously, in chapel."

Knitting for Britain as a knitting project was seen by the boys as something of an escape from more serious work, but "… no one ever thought it odd that a school of 200 boys should be busily whiling away the hours in such an activity".


man knitting

Knit-a-Square.com knitting project

We want to get thousands of men knitting again, along with boys, girls and all the men and women knitters of the world.

Like Tom (UK) knitting squares for knit-a-square, March 2009

AIDS in Africa has decimated the adult population.

There are now 1.5 million orphans in South Africa alone with over 500 a day being added to that number.

These children are destitute and cold. Many of them are infected with HIV AIDS themselves. It often falls below freezing in sub tropical Africa.

By learning how to knit, you can knit an 8 x 8"(20 x 20cm) square to send to Africa to be made into blankets for these children. This is a simple task for a great knitting project, which takes little time and costs even less.

Please take up the challenge, like the American school children during the war, and help make these children warm. Let's get thousands of men knitting again. Follow these simple instructions to knit and post your square. And also, please subscribe to the Square Circle ezine. We look forward to bring you stories of the children with their blankets, knitting patterns and tips and techniques.

Form a knitting circle

Form a knitting circle. Knitting for charity in a community of friends is good for the soul!

Heart to hand:
The circle makes the squares. The squares make the circle.


knitting circle invitations

The same as a book club, a knitting circle can be the basis for life-long friendships. Being united in a common purpose, by knitting for charity, makes the effort even more meaningful.

How many times have you thought that you would love to get involved in a craft, or a group or do some good in the world. Sometimes we are so busy, it all seems way too hard.

This knitting project is a really simple way to start. Not expensive, little required and a fantastic outcome. Eight people in a group, each knitting 5 squares would be enough for a child's blanket.

Knitting store

And a great way to kick start a life-long hobby which, apart from knitting for charity, will see you creating many wonderful items of clothing, gifts and perhaps even a heritage blanket for yourself or your loved ones.

Wool today is exquisite, multi-textured and in every colour imaginable as you can see in the beautiful blanket my mother, Zanny knitted for me.

This wonderful display of wool is at Purl's Palace, Daylesford, Victoria, Australia, which is well worth a visit. You can view her site at www.purlspalace.com
Photo by Jack Sarafian.


Here are some suggestions for how to get a knitting circle together:

1. Download the 'Square Circle' invitation. Click here. 2. You could start with your immediate family and friends and ask them if they know anyone else who would be interested

3. Settle on one regular date, ie second Wednesday of every month. Try not to change it once you start, just to accommodate one member. Once the regularity is affected, the group tends to break apart. Just make it on a 'come if you can' basis.

4. Agree to host it on a rotational basis, or go to your local wool or craft shop and ask if they would host it for you after hours. Great benefit for them!

5. If at home, decide whether the host is going to supply food and beverages. If you have a group of 8 – 12, then you are only involved in this once every 8 – 12 months. Your efforts will be greatly rewarded by the conviviality of sharing food together, but also the enjoyment of meals shared at other member's homes. Food is definitely a topic of enthusiasm for most people and recipe sharing an added benefit!

6. Make sure for the first meeting that everyone brings at least one ball of 8 ply wool, a pair of 6mm needles and a darning needle. If they are already involved in a knitting project, ask them to bring it to show the group.

knitting group

7. Print out the knitting and sending instructions for the squares for everyone

8. Please join our mailing list for the Square Circle ezine. This way we can keep you in touch with our knitting project and the success of your blanket for our charity for children.

9. Also, please contribute your knitting circle stories, patterns, and successes, and if you make a heritage blanket, please send us photos.

Zanny's bowling friends set to knit after a day's hard bowling. Proves you can knit anytime, anywhere!

Welcome to Square Circle. We look forward to a life time's association and making many blankets together

Knitting for charity pain free

Crocheting or knitting for charity pain free is possible if you follow these basic rules for injury prevention.

I know that many of you are crocheting and knitting multiple squares day and night, and as a result AIDS orphans who were cold now sleep warmly at night. But at no stage should any of you suffer an injury as a result of your wonderful endeavours.

Here are some basic rules for injury prevention to help ensure that you remain pain free and can crochet and knit until your hearts content.

Rules for injury prevention

1. To prevent injury, start with a basic training schedule

2. Never knit or crochet when you have a current injury

3. Stop knitting or crocheting immediately there is any pain. Always work in a pain free range.

4. Stop knitting or crocheting when you feel fatigued and are recruiting other muscles to help continue your work

5. Knit and crochet in good light to avoid eye strain

6. Maintain good posture while you knit or crochet

These are general guidelines for injury prevention. If you have any concerns about being in pain or discomfit, please consult your health care practitioner. As with all injuries, after seeking and following professional advice a full recovery can generally be made and a return to knitting and crocheting possible.

1. To prevent injury, start with a basic training schedule
You are attempting to be a marathon knitter and crocheter. And as such, like any elite athlete, you need to train to be able to knit and crochet with endurance. Too many of you, especially those of you learning how to knit or crochet, or picking up your knitting needles or crochet hook again after years away from the craft, just launch straight hours of work.

Start slowly and build up. As a rule of thumb, you could start by working for 20 to 30 minutes a day, slowly on a sliding scale according to half your age. So for example:

20 for 10 days
30 for 15 days
50 for 25 days
70 for 35 days.

This will give your wrists and arms the opportunity to build strength and endurance just as a marathon runner must train over months even years to first run the distance and secondly run fast.

2. Never knit or crochet when you have a current injury
If you have an form of injury to your hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, neck of back, then DO NOT KNIT OR CROCHET. Wait until the inflammation has settled down and you are completely pain free before starting again or you have been given the go ahead by your health practitioner.

3. Stop knitting or crocheting immediately there is any pain. Always work in a pain free range.
Stop knitting or crocheting the moment you are not pain free in your hands, wrist, forearms, shoulders, neck or back. Always work in a pain free range.

4. Stop knitting or crocheting when you feel fatigued and are recruiting other muscles to help continue
Do not push past the point of fatigue. Be aware of 'trick' movements of your body, such as hitching up of the shoulders, artificially supporting your arms (resting them on an armrest for example) as this means your arms are too tired to hold themselves up on their own. If you are over recruiting your shoulder muscles to support your arms, or constantly stretching your neck or have a headache, then this is an indication of fatigue and you should stop knitting and crocheting.

5. Knit and crochet in good light to avoid eye strain
Try to knit or crochet in natural light, near a window or if at night with a good light using a day light globe to avoid eye strain. if your eyes are straining, you are more likely to recruit neck and shoulder muscles to hold you closer to your work and this may result in an injury.

6. Maintain good posture while you knit or crochet
Good postural guidelines:
– sit in a comfortable chair that supports your back well with your feet on the floor
– your back should be supported so that it can maintain a normal neutral spinal position (all the normal curves of the spine in place). Twisting and slouching for long periods may case strain and injury.
– your work should be held in the midline position, with your shoulders and neck feeling relaxed.

Basic stretches
It is generally recommended that you do stretches if you are training your muscles. As with any activity where you have not used muscles in this way before consistently, they should have length, strength and endurance and be able to relax completely to ensure injury prevention.

R.I.C.E. injury prevention
If you are unable to see your health practitioner immediately, then the recommended Level 2 First Aid rule in Australia is R.I.C.E Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.

REST: stop knitting and crocheting. Continuing to do so may worsen the injury or cause additional problems

ICE: This speeds up healing by contracting the blood vessels and reducing the inflammation. It can be done using a pack of frozen peas or crushed ice blocks in a tea towel. Keep a layer of cloth between the ice and your skin. Apply twice a day (or more if advised by a health practitioner) for no more than 10 to 15 minutes.

COMPRESSION: Also assists to speed up healing by reducing any swelling. Use an elastic bandage and wrap the injured area firmly but not so tightly that it affects your blood flow. if it is too tight it will cause further swelling.

ELEVATION: Generally means having the injured part above the level of your heart. So if it is your hand, wrist or forearm, then wear a sling so that it is raised or use pillows to rest it on. This should help decrease pain.

Consult your health practitioner if pain persists and remember to prevent injury and get fit for knitting and crocheting, do not return to your work until you are entirely pain free.

I hope these basic guidelines to injury prevention help you avoid any injuries and allow you to crochet and knit pain free for years to come.

And especially to keep the AIDS orphans of Southern Africa warm.

Please subscribe to the Square Circle ezine for stories of your 'pain free' squares arriving in South Africa, the children and their blankets.