Based on our recent visit to South Africa, we are now in a position to be a lot more specific about the needs of the children and to discuss with you what works and what we need more of. Some of these instructions run counter to the knit-a-square site, but it will be changed very soon.
There are some general 'wish list' requirements too which I will start with.GENERAL REQUESTSGARMENTS
YARN - please use yarn (either wool, acrylic, bamboo or cotton) which is soft or softish to touch. Scratchy, stiff or too thick yarn is unyielding and uncomfortable on the skin. Many of the children do not have full undergarments to wear under such clothing or they are wearing many layers, so loose, soft stretchy garments are more useful.
SQUARE VESTS - the pattern will soon be removed from the site and replaced with SlIP-OVER patterns. If you do wish to use the square vest pattern, please add another third again to the length to make it longer. We are finding that the square vests ride up the children's tummies and leave them exposed and cold.
PREEMIE HATS - at this time we just do not have the resources to regularly distribute to preemie babies and so we currently have sufficient stock of these hats.
GO-OVERS - please make sure that the arms are in proportion to the length of the garment. We have received some GO-OVERS which are too short in length while the arms are very long. If you could bear in mind the proportions of a traditional pullover while knitting these garments that would be very helpful. To discuss this, could you go to the GO-OVER category on the forum.
SLIP-OVERS - these garments should definitely be made in soft, yielding yarn as they are either warn directly against the skin or are stretched over other items for added warmth. They can be made thicker (with two strands of yarn) but perhaps then they should be knitted or crocheted on bigger needles. There are very specific instructions under the SLIP-OVER category on the forum.SQUARES
YARN - squares can be knitted or crocheted in any yarn - it is not so important that they are super soft, as long as they are warm and as close to 8" as possible.
PLEASE ONLY LEAVE A TAIL - I YARD/METRE LONG. We bundle the squares into 50's and get into a terrible mess with the very long tails. Please sew in the beginning tail and leave a 1 metre (1 yard) tail attached at the finish.
We would appreciate it if these tails could be neatly butterflied and laid on top of the square.
DELIVERY - please send the squares flat with the tails neatly wound on top of the square. Folded squares or rolled squares with the tails bound around them take a long time to flatten and sort.
ENDS - we would be very grateful of the ends could be neatened. Some squares arrive with the end just snipped off and this may lead to a blanket unravelling.
It is lovely to include one creative square in each blanket among the plain jane squares, so if your mood is creative do send us embroidered or other creative squares if you feel like it. They add yet another dimension to our beautiful blankets. DELIVERY
LABELING - Very soon, we hope to have up our new system which will allow you to enter your name, email address and what you have sent. You will be able print out a label to attach to your parcel with a barcode which we will be able to scan and prompt an automated response to be sent to you to let you know your parcel has arrived. It will also automatically update our database saving a great deal of time. We hope that you will all take up this option for labeling as this is truly a win-win for everyone. We will keep you posted as to the launch date.
DUTY - please ensure that NO VALUE is placed on your custom labels. We only have to pay a small mandatory handling fee on any box, so if your squares will fit, please send them in a package rather than a box.OTHER ITEMS
PLASTIC RAIN PONCHOS - these are the most desired of all the 'slip-ins'. We will use every rain poncho sent for the children in the informal shack settlements. The rain comes in deluges and everyone in a shack would be saturated during a rain storm. The ponchos will be used during summer and winter to stay dry inside and outside.
Currently under discussion. (See http://forum.knit-a-square.com/forum/topics/rain-ponchos-lets-be-very
) Please contribute your thoughts on the best, most economical, and environmentally friendly way to send ponchos to South Africa. Once we are decided, we can determine the number and make of ponchos for the wish list.
STATIONERY - pencils, erasers, sharpeners and ball point pens are most welcome. We will distribute these in bulk to the schools in the informal settlements rather than to individual children. Oasis South Africa with whom we are collaborating in the Warm Cosmo City Blanket Drive, are delighted to be able to give these to the very poor schools in the area as they have nothing.
SCRAP BOOKS - we would love to deliver a scrap book to every child in an informal settlement creche. They are devoid of any form of book or visual stimulation. Having seen the children's response to the blankets, it is true that they would devour images of colour and brightness, so this is a very desired item.
TOYS - we will deliver toys in future to the informal settlement creche children. They are aged 0-6. Soft toys would be most appropriate or knitted teddy bears. BLANKETS AND HATS
BABY BLANKETS - Again our resources are too limited to source hundreds of babies for distribution at present. We have received many more than the original 250 baby blankets for the July Challenge and bags and bags of clothes. Oliver Quambash of Hotel Hope will take a number each month for his Mother's in Crisis Program. Ronda is distributing to the Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto again next month, but after that we do not require any further baby items until further notice. Although Ronda's specific note was, if you want to knit for a baby then please do so rather than go elsewhere as we will surely find a small baby for your generous donation.
In future, each child will get a blanket and a hat. We are receiving lots of hats but as we have found out, the need is enormous so there is no end to how many hats we need. Please keep sending hats of all sizes (except preemie.)SEWING GROUPS AND DISTRIBUTIONS
Sister Sato of Vuselele Community Centre in Diepsloot currently has 635 children who they term OVC - orphaned or vulnerable children - in her day care centre. This number grows each day. She was ecstatic at the thought that these children may each get a blanket and hat. So far we have given out about 90 blankets, so we aim to hand them another 540 finished blankets or blanket packs to sew themselves before and during winter. At this stage shelter is very limited.
Lutheran Church, Phiri Parish and Moletsane Methodist Church - Soweto. Lindiwe and Wandile are taking approximately 1050 squares a week (30 blankets) for the women of these churches to sew for the AIDS creches in Soweto. Wandile says she can identify hundreds of creches each with about 30 - 40 children in them for blanket distributions.
Methodist Church Sewing Group, Pimville, Soweto, Lindiwe had a meeting with their chairlady (Khaya) who has organised a sewing group. They are meeting three times a week to sew blankets from the 1,800 squares they have and will continue to collect 1,800 squares every 6 - 8 weeks from now on.
Antoinette McMaster Sewing Group - Antoinette lives in Johannesburg and has a group of knitters and sewers who are prepared to sew 50 blankets a month so we will be distributing 1,750 squares per month to her through Erin. The blankets will be returned each month for distribution to the creches.
KasCare and Oasis South Africa, Cosmo CIty Blanket Warming Project - we have delivered about 4,000 squares of the 17,500 squares required with another 3,000 waiting for collection. Teams of women led by the 30 community health workers in Cosmo City are sewing the blankets and delivering them through the clinics to mothers who are HIV AIDS positive, for their children. These children are often ill themselves and of course are in danger of being orphaned as their mothers are infected and often extremely unwell.
Mosaiek Church - Cosmo City. Mosaiek Church Community has planned a blanket sewing day on May 17 with the aim of sewing 70 blankets.
Cheriel, Ros, Anne, Ronda, Bryanston Catholic Parish - between Ronda and her Parish friends they have sewn well over 350 blankets and will continue to do so.
With this these sewing goals in mind we would need just short of 50,000 squares between now and the end of July. We estimate that we already have about 10,000 waiting to be processed so our goal then is 40,000 squares in the next 3- 4 months.
Because we are able to just hand over squares to all of these avenues for distribution our processing will be much quicker without having to sort and make blanket packs. We are planning a couple of 'MEGA-OPENING' days with as many volunteers as we can find. Once we have the new database processing software in place and you are using the labels, this process will speed up significantly which will be exciting.MEMBERSHIP
We have had approximately 80 KASers take up the membership suggestion of a small recurring amount per month. Our goal is 1000 membership subscriptions.
We are very keen to ensure that you only contribute what is within your means, either in terms of purchase of yarn, postage or a donation. It is not at all desirable that any of you create hardship for yourselves.
Perhaps it would be acceptable to suggest that non-knitters in communities or families may contribute by purchasing a membership subscription of US$3 a month.
Regardless of a membership subscription, ANYONE who contributes by knitting a square and sending it is considered a member of our KAS community. It is not a pre-requisite that you pay a subscription fee to be a member of KAS. We remain deeply grateful to those of you who have found it within your means to help us by doing so.