Anne Powell

    I’m just a ‘plain Jane’ square

    Nothing fancy, nothing grand!

    Just a ‘plain Jane’ square,

    Made by a loving hand.

    You think I’m not important?

    Well, think again, my friend!

    ‘Cause many other ‘plain Janes’

    When they’re joined end to end

    Will keep an orphan warm at night,

    Wrap ‘round them on cold days,

    And tell them that they’re loved

    In, oh, so many ways!

  • 'Twas the Night Before Christmas in Soweto


    Anne Powell

    ‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the camp
    Orphans were huddled in hovels quite damp

    No stockings were hung, for the world didn’t care
    There was no hope at all that St. Nick would be there.

    The Gogo sat watching the kids fast asleep
    And for their lost parents, she started to weep.

    A small gift for each, she thought through her tears
    Would bring them such joy for the whole coming year.

    And she curled up beside the smallest wee tad,
    “Tomorrow we’ll sing, I won’t let them be sad..”

    Then outside the hut, she heard a commotion.
    It sounded like hoof-beats! And full of emotion...

    She peeked out the door with her heart in her throat
    Saw a little old man and eight small antelope

    And the strangest of vehicles - with runners not wheels
    And a jolly old fellow in red head to heels.

    The Go-go was panicked, didn’t know what to think.
    But Santa just smiled and gave her a wink.

    “Don’t be afraid - let me in if you dare
    I’ve a sackful of gifts sent by Knit-a-Square.”

    As he entered the shack and looked down at each kid
    Fast asleep on the ground, down his cheek a tear slid.

    Then he reached in his pack and pulled out for each child
    A beautiful blanket of squares bright and wild.

    As he bent down to cover them up from above
    He whispered “This was made, for you, with great love.

    All over the world, people know, and they care.
    The work of their hands , with you they now share.”

    He waved the Gogo goodbye, and went to the door,
    Then he stopped and said “Oops - there still is one more”

    And out of his sack pulled a blanket for her
    Wrapped it close round her shoulders - ‘Twas as warm as fur.

    As she watched from the door., and saw him depart
    The warmth she was feeling, was deep in her heart.

    And she heard him exclaim as the sled rose on high
    Merry Christmas Soweto, from the KASfolk and I.

    AP 1/12/09

  • Posted by Gloria Grandy on January 23, 2016

    Glance Back, but Move Ahead

    by Valerie Zalewski


    For this first edition of KAS Snippets 2016, I wish to welcome you all to another year of "snippets", all the little bits of news and anecdotes that make KAS the warm friendly place that it is.

    We would like to include a "Guest" article each month. Guidelines can be found [here] and we hope that you will feel free to submit something for inclusion in KAS Snippets.

    I feel a little like the ghosts of past, present, and future rolled into one. As most of you know, KAS was started in 2009 by Ronda and her family, the idea being to knit squares that could be made into blankets to provide warmth and comfort to the very many orphaned and vulnerable children in South Africa.


                         These were the very first 2 parcels that Ronda received in 2009.

    It is said that from small acorns grow great oak trees. We can attest to the fact that from 2 small parcels a very large number of blankets have grown.


    In 2015 we received a total of 207,990 squares from all over the world. This means 5942 children are being kept warm with a KAS blanket.

    We also welcomed many new members to the Square Circle Forum, bringing our membership up to 4243 industrious crafters.

    As with any community, there were both ups and downs. The ups consisted of the phenominal number of squares and all the  new members.

    The downs were due in part to the problems within the South African postal system, leading to the temporary shutting down of the Bryanston Post Office. We hope that there will not be too many problems of this kind in the future.

    Other less positive points come from the overload of work for the SA volunteers. A heavy increase in the number of squares arriving means much more work for Ronda and her team, opening parcels and often having to fight with the tangled jumble of un-butterflied tails. Then, of course, there's the additional problem of finding space enough to stock the squares and then the finished blankets until Distribution Day, finding funds to pay rent on such a space once found, and paying a small amount to the "Gogos" who help in sewing together the blankets.

    This brings us to the present situation. After using her house as the storage space for KAS for several years, Ronda finally managed to liberate her home. Since then she has had to move several times before finding an ideal locale on the ground floor with easy access for bringing in the large van-load of parcels, adequate space for working easily, and room for storing blankets and other items.


    To face the problem of funding, the KAS Shop has been given a complete face-lift. Thanks to the hard work of Andrea Palmatier and several members of the Mods group, we now have a very modern, cheerful shop. It makes shopping there a real pleasure. There are items for EVERY budget, even the smallest.

    By shopping in the KAS Shop we can help to provide snacks for the children on Distribution days, put fuel in the KASmobile, pay the Gogos for the blankets they sew, and contribute to the different items that KAS badly needs to help our children.

    It can also be a way for non-knitting friends and family to be an active part of the KAS family.

    To move on to the future, we must consider how to help Ronda and her team of volunteers continue to use the enthusiasm of KAS members efficiently. Over the years more and more items are coming in that are not directly related to the blankets. While most of these items are very useful, they can't always be easily treated, stored and distributed. It is felt that we must move on to concentrating on those items that can be dealt with the most efficiently. A Wish List for 2016 has been published on the forum and you can find it [here].  Basically the most needed items are the squares, hats (preferably in a ribbed or similar pattern so that it will "grow" with the child's head), hand-warmers and soft toys.


    To prevent overcrowding with storage, items such as go-overs, cuddles and sweaters or vests will be passed on to other organisations, such as Hotel Hope or Mama Ntombe's Community Project who can more easily distribute them. But be assured that they will all be used to help as many children as possible, although you may not see such items in the photos of KAS Distribution Days.

    To alleviate the problem of finding enough willing hands to sew the squares into blankets, completed blankets can now be sent to Ronda, but it is important that the parcels still be labelled "Knitted Squares" and "No Commercial Value". The blankets should be the same size as our usual 35-square blankets. This size has been calculated to provide a blanket that will be useful to a child as he/she grows.

    A convenient packing slip and label can be found [here].

    Squares that are sent must be correctly "butterflied" so that precious time isn't spent in disentangling loose tails.

    Instructions for butterflying can be found [here].

    I wish all of you a wonderful year 2016 and thank you for every minute of the time you spend making KAS the best place to be for providing the love, warmth and comfort that the children need.

  • Posted by Gloria Grandy on February 21, 2016

    Volunteer for a Day

    by Cath Riley


    For me, the KAS experience started nearly 2 years ago when I found the Website and started making squares. Recently retired, I had lots of time so I got stuck in - and it took over my life!

    In July last year I broke my arm, which meant we couldn't go on our annual holiday in the Dordogne in France.  This year, we decided to visit the Knit-a-Square offices in S.A. to meet the people I had seen in the Forum photos.  Ronda and Estelle encouraged me, and as we have family in SA we combined it with a holiday.

    After a great time with family, staying in game lodges, Safari drives etc., we went to the KAS S.A. office on opening day. My dream had come true!  It was surreal to actually be there, an emotional experience.

    It was what they called a slow day as there was not much post. After introductions and chatting, we started opening parcels. The first one, which had 70 beautiful squares, did not have a packing slip!  There was a large box with over 600 squares and what a job it was sorting them out!  There were all sorts of shapes, sizes, and weights, and we must have had 20 different piles of sizes - not one of them with a tail, let alone butterflied.  It was a back breaking job for all concerned. I realized then how important the correct size is, and also to put them in some sort of order when we send them.

    I spent some time chatting to Ronda who told me some of the difficulties - first and foremost is getting enough volunteers. She could do with so many more to make life easier, although there are the regulars who turn up every week and are very loyal. The financial situation has eased slightly thanks to the fund raising efforts, pay for a day, and monthly contributions. She mentioned how valuable all those $5 contributions are. Now there is the KAS shop. All the monies from that go directly to Ronda in SA.  I urge everyone who can to visit the shop and purchase items, as this will help greatly and make everyone's job easier.

    We stopped in the middle of the day for a lovely lunch made by Estelle - homemade quiche and a beautiful salad - and we had time to chat some more. Ronda, Estelle, Wendy, Molly, Wandi, Linde, and Joel are now real people to me, not just faces in photos. They do a wonderful job which is very tiring, but so worthwhile.

    We were unable to go on a distribution due to time constraints, but I think Ronda was relieved as it was far too hot for the children to put on the blankets, hats and hand warmers to show us how happy and appreciative they were.

    Who would have thought that such a simple idea of making and sending 8" squares would grow into such a wonderful organization, keeping so many children warm on cold South African nights. Children who have nothing - and I really mean nothing - are provided with warmth and comfort and love. On our travels we passed the informal settlement of Diepsloot and what a sad, depressing sight it was. There was an uncountable number of shacks made from all manner of things and the place seemed to stretch for miles. Ronda said that it is a terrible place, full of crime, rape and murder. The team are very brave to distribute in such places, though it is the place where they are most needed. Hats off to them!!

    I had a wonderful day and the welcome I received was fantastic. Rest assured that this is a fantastic organization run by caring, hardworking people, and I, for one, am proud to be a little part of it.  I will continue to support it in any way I can.

  • Fundamental Human Needs


    [Reposted from the December Challenge thread by request.]

    My December Project...

    The December 2010 challenge caught my attention in a way that none of the other challenges had. Like most people, when someone asks "What does the world need most?", the first words which pop into my head are "World Peace". (Thanks, Miss Congeniality!)


    But that didn't really feel enough for me. It's not something tangible, it's not something which I have any direct control over, and most importantly, it's only an end goal. End goals are great, but it's strategies which get you there, and I really wanted to come up with something that was a bit closer to a strategy.

    What I really wanted, and what I really felt the world needed, was for every person in the world to have their minimum needs met, so that they are able to be the best possible person that they can be. That's a tall order, and I'm neither a social scientist not a philosopher, so I decided to have a hunt around for some inspiration along that theme. Eventually, I stumbled across Manfred Max-Neef's Fundamental Human Needs. It is a list of nine things which are the basic requirements for all human beings to be happy. They are universal, in that they are not based on one particular culture or economic system. They are not sequential; you don't meet one then move onto the next, they all interrelate. They are also, conceptually, quite simple. They are ideas that everyone is already familiar with.


    So I now had a name and a framework for my world wish. I wanted all people to have their fundamental human needs met, according the Max-Neef's nine points. The next challenge was to figure out how to craft that. From this came my actual December Project:

    I would create one item or set of items for each of Max-Neef's nine Fundamental Human Needs. Each item would achieve the following:
    - Represent the concept behind of that need
    - Be of practical use to an orphaned or at-risk child in South Africa
    - Be small enough to post, but significant enough to be worth posting
    - Contain some major hand-crafted element, which I would make myself

    And then the real kicker...
    They must all be done by the end of December. Eek!

    With only a few ends to weave in, and a whole lot of packing up to do, here's what I ended up with.

    Most of the work KAS does is in the area of subsistence. Subsistence is all about having food and shelter, physical and mental health. It is also, traditionally, one of the most fundamental of those fundamental needs.

    To represent subsistence, particularly in the context of KAS, I made a blanket. Blankets can keep a person warm when it's cold, and they can provide padding from the hard ground. They're also simple. Subsistence is all about having the simple necessities of well being..

    The blanket was machine knitted in 8 ply on a Bond (bulky gauge), but could just as easily have been hand-knitted over a longer time frame. It was made in four long panels of stockinette, each joined using the sew-as-you-go technique and ending with a folded hem. 


    Affection is about the ability to love and be loved. This need reminded me of a story posted in one of the KAS newsletters, which described some of the younger kids in the creches getting their own toy. The children took those small toys and treated them like babies, carrying them on their back like mothers did with their own children. That spoke volumes to me about the childrens' need to express affection.

    To represent affection then, I made several small toys which I nicknamed 'snuggle squares'. They borrow from KAS's 'square' motif, but turn those squares into soft, squishy, lightweight little characters that children can hug and carry with them. The snuggle squares are hand-knitted in 4 ply sock yarn, with eyes cut from felt and hand-sewn on.affection-1.JPG

    Understanding of the world and about ourselves starts with simple curiosity, but really flourishes with education. It comes from having access both to formal education in schools and informal education from family and community. For a lot of these orphaned or at-risk children, both formal and informal education must come from the same place, the creches and orphanages where they spend a lot of their time.

    To represent understanding, I machine sewed a simple, child sized satchel for a school bag. It's made from double thickness cotton fabric, which should make it strong but also keeps it lightweight for little arms. And because a school bag is no use without school supplies to put into them, I might have slipped in a few exercise books and lead pencils somewhere along the way. 

    To be able to live confidently, one must feel safe and protected. In the western world, people in high-danger situations wear strong kevlar vests to protect them, but for a child at risk in South Africa a warm, tightly knitted vest affords a different kind of protection; protection from cold and sickness.

    To represent protection then, I made a child sized vest. The main body of the vest was 4 ply baby yarn machine knitted on a Singer (standard gauge). The ribbed collar was hand knitted, and the sleeves were crocheted. The vest is longer than it is wide, so that it can afford its protection to a child's whole trunk. 

    Having responsibilities, relationships and a sense of involvement in community are all key to the participation need. It is about being a part of groups and communities in a happy and healthy way. This need reminded me of another story which came from the creches, about how the carers used hand puppets as communication tools with small children.

    To represent participation, I made a set of felt hand puppets. The great thing about hand puppets is that they are an activity that works best when playing with others. Even more importantly, they let children play out social scenarios in ways which helps them to understand socialisation in their world. The puppets are made by cutting shapes from sheet felt, then hand sewing a running stitch around all the edges. The faces are made with black yarn and stick-on eyes, and the hair is glued on novelty-yarn. 
    The need to create is something very familiar to all crafters. It is that desire to be able to turn imagination and inventiveness into something real. To fulfil this need, people need to have the skills, materials and freedom to be able to express their ideas creatively.

    To represent creation, I collected a bag of crafty bits and pieces suitable for small children - pipe cleaners, stickers, wooden beads and blue tack. To fulfil my part of this task and include something I created myself, I included small samples of yarns which I had hand-spun.creativity-1.JPG

    Everyone needs to know who they are, to have a sense of belonging and a place in the world. Identity is all about that sense of self, both personal and as part of a families, communities and cultures. It is, by its very nature, a very individual thing, which makes it hard to find something to give away that will build a recipient's sense of identity.

    To represent identity, then, I machine sewed a fabric wall hanging for a creche or orphanage to hang up. The main piece of the wall hanging is a single fabric panel with a map of the world on it, illustrated with famous, cute and cuddly animals from various geographies. It has a pocket at the bottom, which allows it to be weighted down with cheap plastic rulers (which I have included), but these rulers can be slipped back out again if the wall hanging needs to be cleaned. It is bright and cheerful, which makes it great for kids, but it also gives carers a way of introducing their charges to idea of a whole world community. 

    Fun and games aren't just fun and games. Having access to leisure can mean having time to play, or it can be time to rest, or having the opportunity to imagine. For kids in particular though, play is a vital part of development, and one of the best ways for kids to learn about their world.

    To represent leisure, I made several felted woollen balls. These start out as pom-poms, which are then wrapped in wool roving or tops, tied up in the toe of a stocking, and washed until they felt into great, soft, lightweight balls. The balls are sturdy, and soft enough that if they get thrown at someone they won't hurt. Give a kid a ball, and they'll come up with a dozen different games to play with their peers, affording them both creativity, interaction, and of course, a whole lot of fun. 



    Freedom is all about having passion about things, and the autonomy do to something about it. This was easily the hardest of the lot to figure out an item for.

    To represent freedom, I made a hand-knit pair of socks. While these socks won't do much but keep a little person's feet warm, they symbolise the ability to go anywhere and do anything a person wants.


    In some versions of the list of fundamental human needs, there is a tenth 'unofficial' need added to the list: "Dream"

    To my mind, this was a reminder that while we create lovely things for children and send them over, some things are limited by more than our ability to imagine and hope for better things, or even to hard work in achieving them. Some things, like the ongoing KAS operation both in South Africa and in Australia, are also limited by their funding.

    So to represent Dream, I have made a financial donation to the KAS organisation, so that they can use it to help realise everyone's shared goal of a better life for the kids. I'd encourage everyone who's read this far to consider making their own donation to the KAS Dream as you start the new year. 

  • One Square For An Elbow




    One square for an elbow, one for an arm,

    One for a shoulder, to help keep it warm.

    One for a wrist and one for a knee,

    One for a hip - just how hard can this be?

    One for a bicep, I nearly forgot!

    Where is that green yarn I know that I bought?

    One for an ankle and one for a thigh,

    One for a shin - a square blue as the sky!

    Now one for a bottom to help keep it warm,

    Whatever the weather with sunshine or storm,

    With violet? Or yellow? as warm as the sun,

    Then double these numbers - and two sides are done!

    Next, one for the left chest, one for the right,

    Two for the tummy with colours so bright.

    One for each collarbone, one for each hand,

    With love for a child in a far-away land.

    Four more for the back and one for the neck,

    Have I finished knitting? Just count them to check.

    Thirty-five squares created with love,

    And maybe an extra, - could I knit a dove?

    If I can’t do a blanket, I can knit a square,

    If I cover an elbow, there are others here,

    We circle the planet and work one by one,

    To send in our parcels - a blanket is done!!

    With love to all at KAS

    and the wonderful people who join up the squares

    - Bless you, every one!

    Arlene Guerin, Sept. 9, 2013

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