Sunday, November 29, 2009

Follow Up: Knit-a-Square

First, I need to thank you for your responses to my last post!  After I asked you all about your favorite charities, I received a remarkable email from a woman named Sandy, the co-founder of a group called Knit-a-Square.  I've asked Sandy if it's okay for me to share a bit about the organization, so here are a few details, in her words:

"[Knit-a-Square is] an ephemeral idea which has taken hold and become a not for profit called KasCare in just over a year,  I thought to cast out the idea to the world of knitters and crocheters and ask them if they would send 8” squares to South Africa where we could make them up into blankets for some of the 1.4 million children orphaned by the twin perils of HIV/AIDS and poverty.  Actually I am in Australia, originally from Zimbabwe, my Aunt lives in South Africa and had told us she regularly bought and gave out cheap blankets at traffic lights to cold children.  

We gave up our jobs and work full time now on KAS.   Nearly 50,000 squares, 3,200 items of clothing have arrived from 3,000 members in 34 countries, mostly the States and Canada.  The program is in about 60 schools internationally and we are thinking about how to create a grass roots movement the equal of Roots and Shoots to raise awareness of this mostly hidden but terrible human tragedy, the orphans of Africa."

I thought I'd share Sandy's work here on Magpie's Fancy since I know that some of you are knitters and crocheters, too.  You can visit the site to find instructions for knitting and sending squares.

Here, too, is a poem written by Sandy's husband, Roger McDonald, and collected in his book Heart Yarns:


Why knitting? With a thousand things to choose
of graver consequence I would have thought
that fickle and departed tart, my muse,
might have inspired a more enthralling sport.

But no. So knitting it would have to be.
Two sticks, a length of string and endless time
to make some sense of purl and plain. To me
it seemed a vague and lonely pantomime.

Initially, the battle with disease
looked too unequal. How could knitters armed
with nothing more than needled yarn appease
that monster, AIDS? How could it be disarmed?

A million and a half (or thereabouts),
unparented, abandoned and alone,
hungry, homeless, hopeless, cold. My doubts
soon set about knitting themselves a home

in my gut – a useless site to stitch.
Faithless me. How could I have forgotten
the internet’s electric talking which
energises fibre, yarn and cotton?

Now suddenly your knitting is a rhyme,
a hand-sung hymn, a symphony of clicks
performed by nimble fingers (unlike mine),
a wall of hope in wool instead of bricks.

I’ve come to like your craft, when once I fought
my mother for the right to be outfitted
in any form of garment that I thought
a million miles removed from being knitted.

And like it more for what it represents:
the thin, unbreaking thread of simple love
that salves the small and poor, without pretence.
Is this the proof I search for from above?

Roger McDonald, May 2009



  1. This is perfect!!! I finally know what to do with all my leftover yarn!! Thanks so much for alerting me to this, Gigi! I will take this information to my knitting shop as well.

  2. Oh that is just so wonderful. You know it's just so simple isn't knit some squares. Just imagine the difference that will make for a child.It's just so heartbreaking.

  3. C O O L blog... and i love this ! my daughetr, her friend and myself are just contemplating beginning knitting. perfect.
    ps i love your music section of your profile. if you dont mind, i will follow you

  4. What a great idea - thanks for sharing the details! I'm very interested in this sort of charity!

  5. ...It is hard to believe that something so simple can help so much....I'm off to see how I can up all the extra yarn I have in my house...thanks for giving use this link Gigi...

  6. What a wonderful project. My knitting skills are limited to knit only (no purl) scarves, but I will check it out to see if I can still make a square. I would have to do it after Christmas, but my guess is that they will accept them any time. Thank you!


  7. How did you come by the name Magpie??
    Do they have them in Maine? I only saw
    one in my life in Sligo Ireland.

    You are a very Pretty young lady
    and smart too.

    When you paint and blog
    who's got time to Knit?


  8. Gigi,
    What a brilliant idea...a purpose for my knitting! Just took up the 'sport' again, and now I cannot wait to send lots of colorful squares to this incredible charity! Thank you for introducing me to such a loving and meaningful cause!

  9. It's a good idea - something we can all do and within even my meagre crafting ability. And the children will have assembled blankets of care from many people, rather than the work of one person or a machine, which, while such pieced care is intangible, can't be bad as it raises more awareness of the need for help.

  10. Do you know, Gigi , that this has been going on for years via different organisations. It is such a good idea as, it doesn't take much effort and, when they are all sown together, make wonderful blankets etc. I think that it is brilliant that you have brought this up, especially at this time of year. XXXX

  11. I have to agree with everyone else... What a marvelous idea! Thanks for posting about it. Now, when I sit down with my knitting, I'll know that it's going to a good cause rather than to my redo pile (I'm a beginner).

  12. It just so happens I can knit a square! Love this idea. Thanks for sharing. Sweet poem too.

  13. Gigi- would it ever interest you to organize some sort of collaboration between bloggers for knit-a-square? Like get a whole bunch of bloggers to pick a color theme and everyone sends the squares to you or Sandy? I'm sure it wouldn't be hard to make a little widget with a picture of a knitted square that says "I'm Knitting a Square, Won't You?" or something us knitters could post in our little mind is churning with thoughts of some such blog-collaboration for a wonderful project in the spirit of Christmas...

    Anyway, big hugs to you. Hope you guys had a marvelous T-giblets!

  14. look at those beautiful faces! this is wonderful gigi! thank you for passing this love, on to us.

  15. Hello all, I am touched Gigi that you have posted this and greatly moved by the response of your readers. We welcome you all to our fantastic KAS community of folk who knit and crochet for the children (and many of them do lots more too, sending little toys and hand made scrap books as well). We are all making a difference one square at a time. Thank you, Sandy

  16. I love this heart-warming idea. I've just visited the site and will start using up some yarn that I have. The thought that these small squares will warm a little child is a gift... to us.

  17. Hey Gigi, what a beautiful post ! My sister and niece are great knitters so I will be sure to pass along the info about this wonderful project to them.
    Despite our own set backs this past year we still realize how very, very fortunate we are. I count my blessings every day. My favourite charitable organization has always been OXFAM. My sister has always supported World Vision. Sadly, she just received a letter last week informing her that the lovely young person she was sponsoring was dropping out of the WV program because the family felt the need to escape the violent community in which they were living. It's so heartbreaking.

  18. Hi Gigi!
    Its been a while since I've been blogging, but what a surprise and joy to see your new header, its lovely! LOVE the leaf lamp! And then this post! I was just thinking about what I could do this year to give to others, and sure enough, I crochet! Thanks for sharing this great program!
    Glad to see you had a great holiday!

  19. Wow, what an incredible project. Thanks for sharing!

  20. Wonderful project!
    I agree with all the lovely comments here~


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