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29 March 2010 @ 01:16 pm
A good place to start is to explain the mission.

Lets say you knit or crochet one 8x8 inch square. Then you put your square into the mail, stamped and addressed for the Soweto comfort club in Johannesburg South Africa. Then a group of dedicated people, men and women, sit around a coffee table surrounded by knitted and crocheted squares from all over the world, and your little 8x8 inch square is joined with 34 other 8x8 inch squares into a blanket.

Then the blanket is given to a young child who has lost his or her parents to AIDS. Probably the child has the HIV virus as well.

"It is estimated that there are 11.6 million orphans in sub-saharan Africa. 1.4 million live in South Africa.

They live in terrible poverty. They need love, shelter, food, education and warmth. Many children's charities are working hard to provide the first four. Charity knitting (and crocheting) can provide the last."

It can go below zero in south Africa at night.

When I found the charity, I dug out my knitting needles and some scrap yarn that I had leftover from other knitting projects. I am not new to knitting for charity, I have knitted baby hats and crocheted Izzy dolls in the past. I started making squares - my first square was made while studying for an exam, the next was made while watching a movie. About two days in, I realized that with a little bit of effort, I could easily make one of these squares a day. I found little patches of spare time here and there, on the commute to school, studying or watching TV, in doctors offices or in the breaks between classes. Once you get good at knitting you don't need to look at it anymore, it becomes automatic so your attention can be elsewhere. This makes it even easier to multi-task.

so I emailed the woman who started the charity, sandy, and said "hello, I pledge to make one square every day," she said "you're a trooper," and that's where it started.

I realized very quickly that I had more than enough time to make one square every day. I was knitting in class, I was knitting on the bus, on the subway, anywhere where I can grab enough time to put in another row or two.

Since I am now knitting all over the place, people are starting to notice and catch on. One of my professors has been inspired to pick up her needles again, and I taught one of my classmates to knit last week, and in about five minutes she was off and knitting herself.

If I knit one square a day for a year, I can single-handedly make nearly 10 blankets. That doesn't sound like a lot for the amount of effort that I'm putting into the project, or the number of children who are freezing cold every night.

But if 35 people knitted/crocheted one square a day, we would make one blanket every day. 30-odd blankets in a month, 365 blankets in a year.

If you don't knit, then start! a family friend taught me when I was five, so it's easy to do and simple to keep up on - surely you can knit if a five year old can knit? If you don't crochet, then maybe you would like to learn? Many people tend to pick either one or the other, but either method can help to make a blanket.

Here is knit a squares website:


Thanks, and I hope you'll join me.
13 May 2009 @ 12:04 pm
yes, I am still knitting. Trying out new patterns, some of which are working nicely, some of which are being frogged a dozen times and then given up on. More of them are working than are not however.

Oh yeah - the May challenge is 'try something new' in case I haven't told anybody yet.
05 May 2009 @ 09:22 pm
Reached that magic number of 70 squares. This means two full sized blankets.

The April race did really well, I ended up with 24 squares myself, but overall we had over 760 (the ravelry site will say 761 but there's another forum counting them too, and there may be a few stragglers on there that haven't been counted yet.) which is something like 15 blankets. They are making blanket sizes for infants, younger and older kids, and the average number of squares for these is 25, so we have started to calculate blankets based on that number.

Another knitter has started her own month-long knitting/crocheting rally similar to my April race,  called "Make it in May". The idea is that you pick sometihng new in the yarn would that you have wanted to try and do it. some peoplewho are knitters are learning to crochet a square, and crocheters are trying their hands at knitting. Other people are trying new stitches or new patterns. It just has to be sometihng new, and you set the goal yourself.

I recently came into the posession of a little handbook called "knitting dictionary: 800 stitches and patterns" that came out in 1963. This little thing has hung out in somebodys grandmothers closet along with two large bags of yarn for years and years until it was dug out and given to me a few weeks ago. It is black and white of course, but full of really good patterns and some pretty amusing typos. For my 'Make it in May', I am goingto try a new stitch every day, working my way through the book. I am skipping all the many varaions on the k2 p2 ribbing, and teaching myself some of the more complex stuff. I'll skip the lacework chapter of course.

Garnet (puppy) is now six months old, and big enough to barge through the baby gate that has kept her safely in the kitchen for so long if she wishes. Which she does. So we have started to let her out and into the living room while we are there to watch her. Now Garnet beleives that everytihng that is ball shaped is her ball, so she will go over to the mountain of yarn and select a ball, bring it back and drop it on your feet. Now you can do all the yelling and telling off that ou would like, there is nothing that will get thorugh to this pup -  the ball shape is too ingrained in her brain now. You can drag her away from the yarn, smack her bum, trade the yarn out for a pigs hoof, barracade it with the coffee table, but she fights her way back to her 'balls' and picks one off the top of the pile and takes it back to her bed for her enjoyment. If you yell at her for the 6 trillionth time, she just gives you a hurt and rather confused look, "but they are balls! they mut be my balls? surely you are yelling at somebody else...?" solution - the yarn is going to move out of the living room. I don't like having arguments with my dog over it.

Posted 20 squares today. I found two freezer bags and rolled up the squares into little squishy sausages, and squeezed 10 of these into a freezer bag each. I sat on the to get all the air out, and taped over the zipper end. Took them to the post office where we stuffed them into one large package and paid $17 for them to go to SA by surface mail - aka by boat. Cool. To go by air would have costed twice as much, and the lady warned me that it may take a month anyway. Surface mail will certainly take a month, more like 6 weeks, but I am not paying double to save maybe two weeks.
02 May 2009 @ 04:10 pm
Email to Sandy after the relay:

"Wow you did really well! We weren't as successful, but we may have had less people than you. I don't know how many flyers Andrea had made (and they were the expensive looking, glossy high-quality flyers that she got for free, as well as big impressive-looking posters, she did really well with those) that we gave out, but we had about half as many as when we started, and we had a decently good stack when we started. We tried to push the 'knit a row with some tea,' but most people said 'oh I would but I am only here to do a quick loop through, then I have to go to somewhere else," but they took flyers and information home with them with promises to knit some at home.

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 to check out our 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 sqaures 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, becuase 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 you 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, then sit down, and then see the yarn and the instructions and 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) who took 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.

Andreas 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) and she sat and made a vest and I made two squares, then we had overall 7 squares come out of the day - with frequent pee breaks for Andrea, who is all baby belly.

things that realy realy worked;
- photos and stories of the kids (Jamey was the big pull)
-tea, cookies right at the table
-us if we sit there and knit
-photos of kids - putting a face to the cause really works
- the t-shirts. people knew who to talk to
-telling them that the same event happened half a wold away, and it was truly a 24 hour knitting relay.

things we need to change:
-we need to be in a situation where people can come and sit down, so a coffee shop or a libary. Somewhere where people were coming in to sit anyway, becuase then they have the time to knit with us. Andrea is going to email a local knitting store and ask them about setting up something like that.
-people weren't aware that they were supposed to sit and join us, so we need a big sign for that.

overall, it went really well. I got one person signed up for the ezine, (most of the people were seniors and didnt have an email address) and a number of people promising to make squares at home."
30 April 2009 @ 10:14 am
My blanket is all sewed up, and quite warm.

things that are under control:
-instructional book
-key chains
-donation jar
-extension cord

things not under control
-more tea
-money box
23 April 2009 @ 09:41 pm

t-shirt got here.

I was worried it wouldn't get here in time for the relay next Saturday, but I was sitting on my bed sorting through the squares to make the blanket, and I watched the mail man walk up and stuff a package in my mailbox. Then I took the dog out to pee and picked up my t-shirt, ran back inside and made my boyfriend take a picture.

I did start to sew together the  blanket today, its going to take a little while. I have time.
23 April 2009 @ 10:16 am
I swear that i will get started on that blanket today. I need to get going now because it'll take a little while to sew it all together.

I mostly have it planned out in my head - I know what my squares look like and I know where to put them.

other things to work on -
-find kids for art lessons
-staining parents deck/fence
-considering veggies and herbs to go in three gardens
-organize guide dogs times for volunteer 'sitting at table answering questions' in the mall,
-organize two really important commissions that cannot afford to wait any longer
-dances for weekend show
-uniform for weekend show
-pick up yarn from what seems to be a dozen locations.
-find some sort of tea tray for next sunday.

-jims dads dinner on saturday, my uncles dinner on sunday.

okay that feels better - now blanket time!
21 April 2009 @ 08:53 am
I have taken to only making the little squares. So far there is 19. I need to make about $30 off of them so that they at least pay for themselves, then anything else on top of that is a bonus for the postage. (If I have posted a different money amount in response to 'how much I need to make for the squares to pay for themselves' and now it has gone up, its because I bought key chains.) It's hard to try to guess at which ones will sell and to make more of those ones. I imagine that I will be knitting these things at the relay - hope that I will be knitting these things at the relay - to make up for the ones that are sold because everybody will want one or two or twelve of them that much. except not really. I am realistically expecting to sell perhaps three of them.

I am saving the putting together of the blanket until this evening after my exams - last exam today, and then officially out of third year. Not much of a clue as to what happens after that. The squares that don't got into the blanket may get posted, as it will be difficult to bring 365+ squares down to SA - that's a lot of suitcases. Some of them will have to be posted ahead of time. I think I may end up keeping this one blanket and bringing it out to every event that happens here so I always have something to show people, 'this is what you are helping to make," and then I will bring it to SA when its touring and advocacy is finished.

Looks like everything is more or less organized for the knitting relay, now we just wait it out until the relay actually gets here. Oh yeah - I'm waiting on my t-shirt to show up. Checking the mailbox about a half a dozen times a day. I don't even think the mail gets delivered once a day. (And when it does, it's somebody elses bills. If its not for the people who lived here before us, its the bills of the people who lived here before them)
19 April 2009 @ 09:51 am
still not knitting big squares. Exams take a lot of writing, and I can feel that my tendons are swollen from that.

I ma making key chains though! I bought a bunch of the actual chains yesterday so I have something to link them all on now. I am still experimenting with the red ribbon, I think they look a lot better small than they do large.

there are 15 days left before the knitting relay, I still need to get a hold of a tea tray, get some things printed, make the blanket and as many little key chains as I can. Oh and I guess a money box would be a decent idea as well. I imagine that I will be knitting on the day of the event, so I am taking it real slow right now. maybe a table cloth? I guess the blanket will act as that.

Many people have suggested various tensor bandages or other support devices, thanks guys, I'll look into it.
15 April 2009 @ 08:17 pm
Not totally happy with these, can't seem to work out how to make the AIDS awareness ribbon not look stupid. oh well - they will take some tweaking.


So annoyed that I can't knit today. Wrists still hurting - have taken up regular icing and finger/wrist stretches. Needing to do something with yarn in my hands, I have taken to winding every skein and combination of half skein half giant tangled mess into neat little balls. These are helpful because a) they take up much less room this way, and b) a bunch of the balls will be available at the knitting relay in *gasp* about two weeks. gotta get on that.