Leanne Hunt is a Johannesburg-based fiction and self-help author. Despite becoming legally blind at the age of 17, she obtained an Honours degree in English literature and worked as a freelance journalist. She is married with two daughters of whom she is very proud, and a guide dog named Tango. Her interests over the years have included singing, songwriting, acting, spiritual retreats, counselling and knitting for charity.
Theme music: “Mr. Sunny Face” by Wayne Jones. [Youtube Audio Library] © Creative Commons Licence.
Production and editing: Natali Williams, LIME Virtual Business Support.
June 15, 2021 – Blankets to keep out the winter chill
The term “informal settlement” is frequently used in describing where our vulnerable children live but the actual location, history and conditions relating to such settlements seldom get discussed in our reports. This episode goes a little deeper into the challenges our children face, both physical and developmental.
Georgie Purdon from the Angels Care Centre in Howick, KwaZulu-Natal, chats to Leanne about a recent distribution of Knit-a-square blankets to children under 5 years old. Together with beanies, hand warmers and toys, the blankets brought them delight and warmth ahead of a particularly icy snap.
June 1, 2021 – Kindness in action
Knit-a-square is an amazing community of caring people, brought together by our shared commitment to keep South Africa’s vulnerable and orphaned children warm. This episode of the podcast celebrates our connections at every level.
Susanne Leverton was raised by her mother to think of others and spent her working life serving in the arid region of Central Australia as a remote nurse among indigenous people. Now in retirement, she lives on the coast and enjoys knitting picture squares and crocheting blankets to send off in the mail to the barn. We hear her story and the motivation behind her work in this episode.
May 18, 2021 – Volunteers at work
In this episode, Leanne chats to several of the volunteers at the barn. Ronda measures herself against a mountain of blankets, Sue bubbles over with wonder at the creativity of so many contributors, Wandi anticipates packaging up 90 bundles for distribution at two separate crèches, and Estelle shows off a pair of gorgeous crocheted blankets sent in by Patricia Underwood.
May is the start of the chilly season in South Africa, so plans for getting blankets, beanies, hand warmers and toys into the hands of vulnerable children are ramping up. If you have not yet joined the warmest crafters on earth and wish to do so, the Knit-a-square website contains everything you need to know and more. Join the Square Circle Forum and be inspired!
May 4, 2021 – Celebrations to cheer the children
Amy Pettigrew is one of our most active moderators, keeping members up-to-date with various discussions on the Square Circle Forum and regularly overseeing Knit-a-square’s monthly themes. In this episode, she joins Leanne from her picturesque home in Houston, Texas to chat about crocheting and her busy online role.
We hear about the first trip she made to South Africa and how it exposed her to the needs of the children. Memories of that trip continually serve to remind her of what she can do to help. With enthusiasm and curiosity, she dreams up monthly themes that motivate and excite our members. The May monthly theme entitled “Celebrations” is an invitation for knitters and crocheters everywhere to jump on board, learn about South Africa’s unique festivals, and contribute beautiful squares for inclusion into warm, colourful blankets.
April 20, 2021 – Where our blankets go
Squares sent in to Knit-asquare get sewn into cosy blankets and distributed to vulnerable children at day care centres, crèches and informal settlements around Gauteng and beyond. In this episode, Leanne speaks with two of Vivienne’s contacts in the Northern Cape to discover more about their work at the Early Childhood Development Centres and what the blankets and toys meant for the little ones.
We hear from Sienah Motshabi from the Tswelelopele Community Crèche and Lerato Kgadiete who used to work at the Atamelang Day Care Centre, both in Warrenton. Just learning about how difficult conditions are for families living in that area will help you appreciate the enormous impact that your handmade donations can make on the children who receive them.
As always, details about our work can be found on the Knit-a-square website and you are welcome to get involved.
April 6, 2021 – Friendships on the Knit-a-square Forum
Gloria Grandy, editor of the KAS Snippets, joins Leanne on this week’s podcast to talk about the wonderful people she has met on the Square Circle Forum and how her life has been enriched as a result of helping South Africa’s vulnerable children. We hear about her deep friendship with Anne Powell and the origin story of the River John Square Knitters group. We also find out about Tunisian crochet, one of her special loves.
Gloria’s family wrote and recorded the delightfully catchy Knit-a-square song, so that is included in this episode. If you like what you hear, please visit the KAS website, join the member forum and browse the discussions to see where you can best offer your crafting skills!
March 23, 2021 – Reflections on a year like no other
Estelle has been at the forefront of operations at Knit-a-square over the past year and chats to Leanne at length about what it was like, both at the barn and on distributions. We hear about some new volunteers who have joined the team and their impressions of opening days.
If you like what you hear and would like to participate in the work of Knit-a-square, please get in touch via the website. There are many ways to get involved, from volunteering at the barn to knitting, and from donating directly to purchasing items from the online store. Plus, we have a wonderful warm Square Circle Forum which we are sure you will find super inspiring and informative!
March 9, 2021 – The rewards of reaching out
Patricia Gribble shares with Leanne how her work with visually-impaired people led to a meeting with the Prime Minister and the establishment of the St. Pancras Knitters in Plymouth. Her group has contributed 600 blankets to Knit-a-square to date and formed strong relationships in the process which have sustained them through their year of lockdown.
Trish also gives us a glimpse into her life in Devon, including family holidays to the Scilly Isles and France. She doesn’t go anywhere without her knitting and her enthusiasm for Knit-a-square and vulnerable children in South Africa is truly infectious!
February 23, 2021 – A spell in the park
Ronda and her husband Peter contracted COVID while visiting family in the Cape over Christmas. In this episode of the podcast, she shares with Leanne how they managed to make the most of a bad situation and benefit from the extra time with loved ones.
Ronda also reveals her deep passion for the bush as she describes their subsequent stay at Ngwenya Lodge on the Crocodile River near Kruger. We hear about her new home and garden, as well as news about the post, the volunteers from Soweto and the ongoing work at the barn.
February 9, 2021 – Finding freedom within limitation
Welcome to 2021, a very different start to the year from what we are used to. Everything is limited, from travel to access to yarn, and so we have to make adjustments.
In this episode, Leanne takes the opportunity to share some thoughts from her own experience dealing with visual impairment. We hear about her latest knitting projects and ideas for connecting with friends. Even if your world has grown smaller, she tells us, it’s still possible to find wonderful ways of celebrating the things we care about.
November 17, 2020 – Crafting in good company
In the final podcast episode of the season, we get to hear the famous Knit-a-square song, contributed by Gloria Grandy and members of her family.
In addition, Leanne shares some of the feedback she’s had from members about the Knit-a-square podcast. She invites participation from other members in future episodes. If you wish to be a guest on the podcast next year, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
November 3, 2020 – How to stay sane during a pandemic
Today’s podcast guest is Liz Geldenhuis, a local volunteer whose passion is sorting squares and sewing them up into blankets.
Liz shares how she came to be involved in charity work and then a member of Knit-a-square. We hear how she keeps herself busy during lockdown and the role that Knit-a-square plays in keeping her busy and sane in spite of social isolation.
Please remember, if you are a new listener and want to know more about how to contribute to Knit-a-square, you can find details about knitting, volunteering and donating on the website, www.knit-a-square.com.
October 20, 2020 – Clever tips for creative knitters
This week, Karen Gordon from the northeast of England chats to Leanne about the very important role that knitting has played in her life. Having had mobility problems from childhood, she learned to make garments for herself then switched to knitting for charity. She describes how Knit-a-square gives focus to her knitting and what it means to be able to help and encourage other members on the forum.
Karen also shares some great tips on where to find new yarn and other extras at affordable prices. For anyone who has not yet attempted the monthly themes for squares, this episode is sure to provide some valuable motivation!
October 6, 2020 – A tough distribution
In this episode, Leanne chats with Athelé about her recent visit to one of the roughest and most dangerous “squatter camps” she has seen.
We hear about the dreadful conditions in which orphaned and vulnerable children sometimes have to live and the amazing people who help the community at JikaJoe with food, medical care and other basics for survival.
If you want to see photographs from the distribution, please visit the Square Circle Forum on the Knit-a-square website or look up Athelé Oosterbroek on Facebook. If you wish to donate towards future distributions like this, or the work of KAS in general, look for the “Donate” button on the Knit-a-square website or make a purchase from the KAS shop on the Knit-a-square Facebook page.
September 22, 2020 – A summer harvest
This episode features an interview with Mili Kus, a long-standing member of Knit-a-Square and an olive farmer on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. With charming grace, she describes her natural surroundings,, work in the olive grove, and passion for charity knitting.
If you would like to participate on the podcast, please send me an email, telling me a bit about yourself and your involvement in Knit-a-square. Our community is already strong, thanks to the Square Circle Forum on the website, and the podcast is just one more way for us to connect and support each other.
September 8, 2020 – Celebrating our local volunteers
In this episode, Leanne chats to Ronda and Estelle to get a detailed update on post from overseas, numbers of squares coming in, and numbers of blankets, beanies, hand-warmers and soft toys going out.
We hear about Ronda’s move to her new home, the local companies and knitting groups that have risen to the occasion to support Knit-a-Square during the pandemic, and Athelé’s distribution at the Jika Joe settlement in Pietermaritzburg.
August 25, 2020 – Knitting yarns
In today’s episode of the show, Leanne chats to Roger McDonald who has been involved with KAS from the start.
As Sandy McDonald’s husband and business partner, he helped conduct research for setting up the website and wrote poems that inspired and delighted members of the Square Circle Forum when it first began.
Prepare to be entertained as Roger talks about his childhood with a grandmother who handled her needles like a magician and reads extracts from his as yet unpublished volume entitled “Knitting yarns”.
August 11, 2020 – Twelve boxes of squares on their way!
In this week’s episode, we hear from Cath Riley of Liverpool, a long-standing member of Knit-a-Square who has used her crocheting skills and community connections to send hundreds of blankets’ worth of squares to South Africa. She chats about her choice of shipping method and describes the process of gathering the squares ahead of dispatch.
We also hear from Vivienne, a volunteer living in Soweto, who talks about her involvement with the children at a local community outreach project and how they are managing during the lockdown with the closure of schools.
July 28, 2020 – Mandela Day and the Soweto Gospel Choir
This is another bumper episode, full of news about the various ways in which our members continue to touch the lives of orphaned and vulnerable children in South Africa.
In the first half, Leanne reports on the effect of COVID-19 in various areas around Gauteng. Ronda reports on six different Mandela Day activities that took place on 18 July. We hear about how the work is continuing during lockdown.
In the second half, Sandy McDonald and Debbie Posmontier share their memories of Knit-a-Square’s partnership with the Soweto Gospel Choir to provide blankets for the children at Nkosi’s Haven in 2010. Many of you will remember this amazing venture, but if you are new to Knit-a-Square, prepare to be delighted and inspired!
July 14, 2020 – Fancy a bit of armchair travel?
As South Africa enters its fourth month of lockdown, the weather is turning bitterly cold. Regular distributions are out of the question but our volunteers at Knit-a-Square have found ways to hand out blankets, beanies, hand-warmers and toys to the children in spite of the restrictions.
In this episode, Leanne interviews Bongi about her visit to an orphanage in central Johannesburg. Then she chats to Athelé ahead of her trip to Clarens in the Free State, and follows that up with a report on how that trip went.
All in all, this is an episode full of cultural contrasts and scenic detail.
June 20, 2020 – Meet the creator of the KAS website
This is a jam-packed episode guaranteed to warm your heart.
Leanne introduces us to Ronda’s niece, Sandy, whose early connection with knitting and interest in the internet inspired her to invite knitters around the world to contribute squares for blankets to warm vulnerable children in South Africa. Sandy recalls how the website brought people in from all over the world, and shares some of the wonderful ideas and projects that helped form our highly active and committed community.
In the second part of the show, we hear from Ronda, Athelé and Estelle about efforts on the ground to distribute blankets, beanies, hand-warmers and soft toys as winter bites down in Gauteng.
Be sure to have some knitting or crocheting in your hands as you listen to this bumper episode!
June 16, 2020 – Explore the Square Circle Forum!
In the first half of the show, Leanne chats to Lindi, Knit-a-Square’s longest-serving volunteer, who shares about life in Soweto during the lockdown and her work distributing blankets.
In the second half, she chats to Andrea, one of our hard-working moderators, about the Square Circle Forum. This is our membership platform which is easy to join and full of interesting conversation threads. This is where you’ll also find photos of completed blankets and distributions.
June 2, 2020 – Keep making those squares!
In this episode, Leanne includes an interview with Amy Pettigrew who runs the Knit-a-square Facebook page and is a moderator on the Square Circle Forum. She chats to Ronda and Estelle about their dauntless quest to find squares for our volunteers to sew together into blankets, and provides information about some knitting-related events to keep you all inspired and motivated.
May 19, 2020 – Join us for a knit-along!
Hear from KAS board member Wandi what a typical distribution looks like, and how the generosity of our members across the world allowed volunteers to care for their extremely needy neighbours. Find out too about the KAS KAL as Rebecca Price explains how she came up with the idea for the knit-along and where to find instructions for the different types of squares the finished blanket will contain.
May 5, 2020 – These are the days of distancing and face-masks
In this episode, Leanne reflects on how awareness of the virus and the need for social distancing have forced us to suspend operations temporarily. We hear from Ronda, Estelle and Athelé about how they are spending their time and what is on their minds.
Also included is a handy idea for using up stash on Knit-a-Square projects. learn how to join scrap yarns with a magic knot, create magic balls of light and dark tones, and alternate these light and dark tones to produce eye-catching spirals and surprising colour combinations.
April 28, 2020 – Welcome to the barn
The Knit-a-Square barn is what we affectionately call our work space. Basically a large room with good light and ventilation, it has a long table where we unpack parcels, sort squares and pack blankets for distribution to vulnerable and orphaned children.
April 20, 2020 – Pick up your needles!
Welcome to a brand-new podcast about charity knitting – A podcast for knitters and crocheters who love to share patterns and stories about how their craft impacts the lives of others. This episode introduces Leanne Hunt, your podcast host.