This discussion aims to give you an up-close and personal look at what happens on opening days at the Knit-a-Square barn. I'm a partially-sighted volunteer who who attends with my guide dog Tango and my driver Bongi, who has also become a keen volunteer. While everyone else opens parcels, sorts squares and packs items ready for distribution, I listen and take mental notes so I can pass on something of the atmosphere on the ground. Enjoy!
Leanne, I'm one of the crafters that pretty well just makes squares so I'll stick to that and try to speed up a mini parcel. I noticed the drop in received squares for April so maybe these new shipments will make up for that. I do hope so
As always, I enjoy reading your snapshot of what is going on in the KAS barn. Thank you and a warm 'Hello' to the entire team in SA.
Hello Leanne, thank you for another Barn update. Clearly you are all going to be very busy with your latest shipments which are timely for your winter distributions.
I am sorry to learn about the shortage of squares, as of course the blankets are at the heart of KAS. When you said that members working hard to meet the demand for the more complicated items, do you mean completed blankets or something else?
I, like other members, only started making completed blankets at a time when so many squares were being received at the Barn and there was little or no money to pay the gogos, and by sending completed blankets we believed that this was helping the financial situation. I know there have been shortages of toys and handwarmers and members have worked hard to send more.
I'm sure the Mods will be happy to let members know what the current needs are.
Thank you again Leanne for our regular KASbarn updates, it really does help members feel closer to KAS SA.
Hi Christine, and thanks for your appreciative comments. No, I'm not referring to completed blankets, these are always a joy to receive because they are usually beautifully put together and edged. I don't even mean to suggest that we don't want the hats, hand-warmers and toys. There just seems to have been a patch where less squares have come in. Not something to worry excessively about, but worth noting for the record because it is so unusual.
Like you, Christine, I started making complete blankets at that time and for that reason and then found I really enjoyed planning the design and making them up. I try to make a variety of items to send but certainly never envisaged that squares would be something there would be a shortage of. I have a simple square on my hook at the moment - looks like that should be my plan for the time being!
I also will make some squares to use up my bits and bobs of yarn before I make my next blanket. I enjoy making blankets, so I'm glad that they are still wanted :))
I am imagining that it is just the ebb and flow of the arrival of different types of parcels at different times. We began the year with an appeal for toys and handwarmers and so folk probably focused on them and a lot of those contributions would be arriving March to May, especially from those countries who still do seamail. No doubt squares/blankets will be arriving in abundance soon and more toys/handwarmers will be needed....lol. It always seems to be a balancing act. :))
Thank you for this week's report, Leanne. So generous of you to still provide us with 'the latest', even when you can't be there. xo
I have a lot of squares and completed blankets to send off. It's basically a question of getting everything packaged and finding the money for postage.
The May numbers will surely be way up with all the wonderful parcels that arrived this week.
I know my mom sent out at least 4 parcels maybe 5 with squares and toys over April. Crossing paws that they arrive in May in time for the winter distributions
As I reported last week, we received 29 boxes of squares, blankets and other items in one day, all of which needed to be opened and sorted as quickly as possible. Consequently, this week's opening day was another exciting event, with everyone working at top speed to make up blanket bundles for the gogo groups to sew up. With warm winter sunshine streaming through the windows of the barn and lively chatter filling the air, it was a fun place to be!
Of course, there was also a pile of parcels collected from the post office which needed to be opened. Although I'm not personally involved in the opening and sorting of parcels, I enjoy positioning myself close to the volunteers who are opening parcels and listening to their conversation. Sometimes, someone will read out a message contained in a parcel and hold up one or two special items to show everyone. It's great to hear from members in this way, especially if they include a comment about what Knit-a-Square means to them. Occasionally, people send in a sketch showing how they want certain squares to be combined. We love feeling the connection with our knitters and crocheters, knowing how much thought and care goes into producing their work.
Even so, it's not all plain sailing. Some parcels arrive with no details of the sender enclosed, making it impossible to accurately record the contents on our Received Squares list. I understand from the volunteers that they will occasionally receive a package that says, "I'm sending 35 squares in two separate parcels," but then only include their details in the first parcel. With so many parcels coming in at once, it's very difficult to match up the second parcel with the first. Often, they don't even arrive at the post office on the same day, let alone get opened by the same volunteer. Just a reminder to everyone that the process of recording what we receive is made much easier when each parcel contains its own form, as displayed on the website.
We were happy to get quite a few completed blankets in this week. There was a collection from a gogo group as well as several bags brought in by Estelle and Athele. Estelle has her own little network of friends who help her and she keeps them busy with a consistent supply of blanket packs. They really seem to love doing it too, because they often whip up as many as 20 blankets in a week.
I spent part of the morning helping Estelle and Athele pack blankets for an orphanage called "Acres of Love". The orphanage provides a home for 130 children, so our aim was to fill 13 bags containing 10 blankets each. Because the blankets are stacked in piles on shelves that reach to the ceiling, I find that I'm unable to really appreciate their design from afar, but up close, when folding and packing them into bags, I'm blown away by their extraordinary variety and loveliness. As I've said so many times before, squares on their own can look very uninspiring, but when the colours, textures and stitch patterns of a coordinated bundle are combined and neatly sewn together, they can take one's breath away!
Speaking of taking one's breath away, we were delighted with the response of our members to the May appeal to bless our gogos. The donations are being totalled up as I write this, and the gogos will soon receive the benefit of your generosity. I will keep you updated on how the money will be distributed, but it will probably be in the form of an increased payment for every blanket they sew up. Cash is what is most needed, after all, given the extreme pressure on many of the women to cope financially.
Meanwhile, we have our sights on Mandela Day in July, when we will be partnering with several organisations to do distributions. This means that, between now and then, our knitters, crocheters, gogos and volunteers will be working towards a deadline. Hopefully, the postal service will fulfil its duty by keeping the parcels and boxes rolling in! But whether the post is fast or slow, the demand for warm blankets, beanies, hand warmers and toys goes on, and so do we!
Thanks for the update Leanne. It sounds like the barn is a beehive of activity.
Thank you, Leanne for this very comprehensive report.
I know the importance of sending EVERY parcel with a packing slip. The first two parcels I ever sent (sent at the same time) appeared three months apart on the squares list...so it is important to include your inventory and name etc., INSIDE each parcel.
About three weeks ago, I sent a small parcel of 'African/Mandela' themed squares by airmail (usually I send seamail), which I hope will arrive in time to be put into blankets for Mandela Day. :))
Thank you Leanne, always a joy to hear from you.