I live in Johannesburg, not far from the Knit-a-Square office, and thought it would be nice to write about the experience of visiting the blanket room for the benefit of overseas knitters and crocheters. I know how lovely it is to get insight into the personal side of the charity one supports and i couldn't wait to experience the sorting, packing and stacking process firsthand when I read about it on the website.
At the outset, let me say that I am a really new member of KAS. I only came across the organisation in January 2017 when I did an online search to find a knitting circle I might join. Reading about Ronda and how she started the project inspired me enormously. Then, coming to the forum and immersing myself in some of the discussions, I knew that this was exactly the kind of community I wanted to belong to. Clearly, the members love knitting for good and are super-generous when it comes to helping children in need.
I should also explain that I am severely sight-impaired and rely on a driver to get to where I want to go. My driver's name is Bongi, so she came along as a volunteer too. We found the KAS office in a nicely-secured office park with good parking outside a large garage door, which provided pleasing light and ventilation for the large, open blanket room beyond. Bongi's first words were, "My, there are a lot of busy people in there!" My first impression, without the benefit of vision, was of a serene interior with gentle, uplifting music playing from a sound system at the far end of the room, and of cool air blowing from a large fan to keep the space feeling dry and fresh. Incidentally, there was no trace of a musty smell after February's flood, and the sunlight coming through the windows on the north side made everything feel bright and cheerful.
Ronda greeted us warmly and offered us tea and somewhere to sit while she oversaw the volunteers who were driving the van out to deliver squares to two of the sewing groups. We were shown how the squares are unpacked from their soft packaging and the details of the senders recorded. A couple of volunteers were grouping squares into matching sizes and assembling bundles of 35 coordinating squares. I learnt how to butterfly the loose threads on a square by feeling how it was done, as it had been impossible to follow the pictorial directions on the website. I also got to finger some of the beautiful hats, hand warmers and soft toys that had been sent in, and marvelled at the amazing colour choices some of the knitters had chosen. I'm a knitter myself but have tended to be very conservative in my selection of yarns. That, i can tell, is going to change!
Finally for today's entry, I want to rave about some of the blankets I saw. Again, I had not been able to see them in photographs displayed on the website, so was eager to get up close and touch some of the finished items. They are, in a word, stunning! Laid out on the floor in a pile like stacked pancakes, they reminded me of exotic tile designs comprising rich mosaics and beautifully textured pieces. Some were set in a grid, while others nestled in cosy companionship with each other, the entire effect being one of eye-catching elegance. But not just eye-catching. I couldn't help but run my fingers over the interesting textures. There is nothing quite like knitted or crocheted fabric. It's squishy and huggable, intricate in its stitchery yet strong and comforting in its expanse. It gave me a warm fuzzy feeling to be in the midst of so much lovingly-crafted handwork and committed teamwork. I shall be reporting back regularly on my visits to Knit-a-Square and I hope I can impart to you how much Ronda and the team in SA value and appreciate your participation.
Until next time, let the warm fuzzy feeling be yours as you stitch away!
Leanne, reading this brought a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes but I did also get a warm fuzzy feeling. :) Your description of the blankets laid out on the floor like a pile of pancakes was perfect. Personally, I don't think the photographs really do them justice as I am certain that they are much more colourful and vibrant in real life. Thank you so much for finding the time to write this and I look forward to your next report. :)) xx
Touching and inspiring - thank you, Leanne!
Dear Leanne, Your story has touched me emotionally. What a special person you are. You are so right, the team is working so hard and they are full of love and unselfish. I am duly impressed that you wanted to go to the KAS Office and touch the blankets. Sometimes there are pictures which show the beauty of them. And I agree with Joan that most of the photographs do not really justice to the beautiful structures and color combinations. But thanks to the team and Christine Johnson we HAVE photo's which is a lot of extra work. In my imagination I can see that the blankets are all beauties and you dear Leanne, gave me a feeling of warmth and love. Thank you so much. You are inspiring. Big hug xo
Your incredible prose has transported us to the KAS barn, and we have been able to share your experience. Thank you so much for all the little details, particularly the tactile. Through your words we can experience what the children will get to experience.
Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a moving recount. I look forward to reading about your future visits. Please thank Bongi for all her help, too.
A warm fuzzy feeling and happy tears for me, while reading this beautiful recount of your visit, Lee. It is so very descriptive, I can picture myself right there and you have brought the blankets and squares to life in our minds and sight in a totally new way.
Thank you so very, very, much for sharing your experience with us....and I look forward to your next 'share' with us....no pressure. :))
Leanne, thank you so much for this great description of your visit to the KAS sorting room. It's so vividly recounted that I feel that I'm in there with you. I would love to be able to visit Ronda and her team, but live a little too far away. So I'm looking forward to hearing more about your visits. Welcome to KAS, Leanne.
Hi Leanne - You have written such a wonderful piece , would you mind if I used this and featured it on the KAS FB page along with a lovely photo of you ? xox
Sharon, you are welcome to use it. I'm only grateful to be able to play a useful role, and it's wonderful to hear how positively people have responded. Thanks for asking!
Lee, your beautifully worded account transported me to the KAS barn and allowed me to imagine a little of your experience, which was wonderful. Thank you for sharing your visit with us.
I had previously seen your photo with some of your very beautiful blankets, now I can imagine you with the Ronda and the team :))
Leanne, thank you! Your words have allowed me to stand among the volunteers, see the beauty, touch the softness, and feel the warmth and love in that big room. You have experienced something that most of us can only imagine ... but you have brought our imaginations to life with this extremely well-written report.
(((BIG HUGS)) to you and to Bongi. I am already looking forward to another of your beautifully written reports.
Thank you Leanne for taking me to visit Ronda with you. I'm touched. I'm in next time. Best regards / diana