All About Squares
How big should squares be?
Blanket squares should be 20cm (8 inches) on all sides.
Does it matter if my square is not exactly the right size or shape?
Squares don't need to be exactly 20cm in size, as long as they're close. Our teams of blanket assemblers in South Africa are very good at combining squares of similar sizes and shapes into blankets, even if some of those squares are not quite the right size, or even if they're a bit wonky! It's a good idea to make sure that the square is fairly sturdy though. If you need to change yarns, make sure that the tail is securely woven in. Otherwise, curious little fingers might accidentally unravel your work!
How many squares are there in a blanket?
It takes 35 squares to make a blanket. That's 7 squares long and 5 squares wide, for a blanket that is 1.4 meters by 1.0 meters, large enough to keep a child warm at any age.
I have enough squares to make a blanket. Should I sew it up, or just send the squares separately?
We have a small army of blanket assemblers in South Africa ready to sew your squares together, so we normally prefer that you send the squares separately. This helps us out in a few ways:
- There are no postal duties for squares, but sometimes there can be for blankets. If a package gets checked in South Africa and has a complete blanket, then we might have to pay a small amount of extra duty to receive it.
- We have a partnership with a rehabilitation project in a South African prison, where inmates can choose to contribute back to their community by assembling blankets. The more squares we can provide them, the more inmates can have the opportunity to participate in the program.
- Each blanket is made up of squares from dozens of different countries. That means that when a child wraps themselves up in that blanket, they're getting a hug from the whole world. A 'global blanket of love'!
Of course, if you have an already assembled blanket which you would like to send, don't dismantle it! We're very happy to receive ready-to-go blankets as well as squares.
Do squares need to be 100% wool, or can I use yarn I already have?
Squares can be made of any type of yarn, as long as it's warm.
What is a yarn tail, and how long does it have to be?
A yarn tail is the piece of yarn that hangs off the end of the square when you're done. Our sewing volunteers can use this tail to help with the sewing up, as long as it is in good condition and doesn't have any knots. Please leave about 50cm (20 inches) of yarn (for sewing the squares together). Butterfly* the tail to the square. If there are any loose ends of yarn hanging off your square other than the main tail, then please weave these ends in neatly around the edge of the square.
*How to 'butterfly the tail' is as easy as 1, 2, 3 . Use contrasting yarn and follow the directions :
Where can I find appropriate knitting/crochet patterns?
Any square pattern which comes out the right size is welcome! Likewise, if you have a favourite garment pattern which you enjoy making, then they will almost certainly be fine. Just aim to make it at least large enough for a small toddler. We have produced an official book of patterns, specifically chosen for KAS needs. If you are looking for inspiration, check out the patterns in the KAS Pattern Book.
Other Knitting and Crochet
Do you accept items other than squares?
Absolutely! We also accept hand/wrist warmers, sweaters, vests, socks and hats suitable for toddlers through to teenagers. For babies and young children, we accept KAS Cuddles (a toddler-sized knitted sleeping sack). Children of all ages also love small, cuddly hand-made toys.
We also try to support the crèches which take care of these children, by providing them with pencils, crayons and small educational alphabet and number books, all of which are very welcome.
From time to time we will also receive a special request for some particular kind of item. Keep an eye out for "Wish List" threads in the forum, which describe these items.
What items do you most need?
Squares! Squares are at the heart of everything we do at KAS, and it takes 35 of them to make a single blanket for a child in need. Our second most requested item are knitted hats. Remember that by age 4, most children's heads are the same size as an adult's, so aim for adult-sized beanies!
What size should I make garments?
Most of the children we visit are between toddler and primary school age, so items to fit them are especially prized. Hats and beanies need to be about the same size as an adult would wear - a four year old will comfortably fit into a fully adult sized hat! Vests and sweaters should be a bit longer than average, so that they completely cover kids' midriffs, and remember to leave plenty of room for those adult-sized heads to fit through. Many of the kids wear multiple layers of clothing under sweaters and vests, so make sure that arm holes are extra roomy to accommodate all those additional layers.
Do you accept items for babies?
Yes we do, however, please ensure that only baby soft yarn is used. Most of the children we visit are toddlers or older, so that is the age bracket we most need items for, but we have partnerships with several organizations in South Africa which help to distribute baby items. However, please do not send premmie hats or baby hats as we are grossly over-stocked. If you would enjoy making something for babies, but you're not sure what to make, why not try the "KasCuddle" from the KAS PATTERN BOOK - there is both a knitted and crochet version available.
What are Go-Overs and Slip-Overs? Is there a difference?
A Go-Over is a special kind of sweater designed specifically by KAS for the needs of South African kids. It's made entirely out of squares sewn together in a particular arrangement, and is loose-fitting so that it can 'go over' all the other layers that kids will be wearing. They are a bit more heavy-duty than the average sweater too! A Slip-Over is a kind of vest, also designed by KAS to meet a particular need. They should be made with soft, low-allergy yarns.
Where is KAS based?
KAS is a world wide organization, with members in dozens of different countries. We are incorporated in Australia, with the assembly and distribution of squares managed in South Africa. The KAS Board and Moderation team are made up of KAS members and supporters from across the globe.
What countries does KAS help?
KAS blankets, hats and garments and currently distributed in South Africa, particularly around the Soweto and Johannesburg areas. We are also looking to expand into Zimbabwe. Obviously, we'd love to be able to help even more areas, and may do in time, but for now it's important to focus on areas where we are already able to make a significant difference.
How can I support KAS financially?
More than just about anything else, KAS needs funding. The money we are able to raise makes it possible to cover expenses in South Africa, things like postal duty, fuel for the cars to get to pick up packages and get to blanket distributions, and transportation for our volunteers. Sometimes it is also used for special projects, like purchasing ponchos for kids just before the wet seasons. You can make a financial donation by going to our Donations page. If you are able to make a recurring donation, (for example, once a month for a certain period of months,) then that helps us with planning our budget. Of course, if you're not sure if you can make that kind of ongoing commitment, we also welcome once-off donations. (Just select "1 month" from the drop down list).
What non-yarn-related items does KAS need?
At certain times of the year, KAS will identify a need the children have which can be easily purchased and sent through along with knitted items. Common items include pencils, crayons, small notebooks and other stationery, as well as plastic yarn needles for sewing up and strong plastic garbage bags to help bundle together squares for transport. Keep an eye on our wishlist posts in the forum to see what items we're looking for at the moment.
What can I do to spread the word?
Spreading the word is also of vital importance to KAS. We are a grass-roots movement, and our success depends on getting more members - both crafters and non-crafters! We have a selection of resources that you can use, including sample letters and brochures which can be passed on to others who might be interested. Share the news at knitting circles, yarn shops, online forums, anywhere crafters might be. KAS is also a great fit for retirement villages and homes, where many of our most talented crafty members reside. If you're involved with a retiree community, why not let them know about KAS?
How can my school or youth club get involved?
If you are associated with a school, you might like to consider introducing a Kids project. Knitting is a great skill for children to learn, and at the same time they will be participating in a world-wide community helping their South African 'cousins'. If you're interested in running KAS as part of a school program, please also consider purchasing our Teacher Resource.
How can my company or organization get involved?
If you are part of an organization which would like to partner with KAS, we'd love to hear from you! Offering your services as a drop-point for squares and then sending those squares off on behalf of knitters and crocheters is a great way for businesses to engage with the local community. Other options include having a square-knitting competition internally, or sponsoring a South African creche distribution financially. If you'd like to talk to someone about possibilities for corporate involvement in KAS, let one of the moderators or administrators on the forum know and we'll put you in contact with the right people.
Where do I send my items?
All squares should be securely packaged up and posted to:
Private Bag X900,
PO Bryanston 2021, South Africa
Please make sure that you clearly label the package as "No Commercial Value" and "For Charity Only". If it is practical for you, try to use soft-sided packaging rather than boxes (as boxes attract a small additional postage duty,) and try to use packaging which can be easily recycled. Brown packing paper is great! It's okay if you need to use boxes or other forms of packaging though, so don't worry if that's all you have available. Inside your package, please include a packing slip* with your name, email address, your country of origin, and a list of what your package contains. This makes it easier for the South African team to keep track of which packages they've opened for the square lists. * Please refer to the Posting Us Squares discussion for details for your particular country as well as a link to the packing slip to include in your parcel.
Is there somewhere local that I can send packages to, rather than South Africa?
Alas, the answer is probably 'no'. Our efforts are focused on the children in South African, so we cannot provide local drop-off depots at this point. However, from time to time, a generous individual or corporation offers to forward on squares knitted locally. When this happens, we will have a thread in the forum providing the alternative address and any information about the offer (there is generally a 'cut-off' date after which point no more squares can be sent through that provider). Most of the time though, we consider the postage costs to South Africa to be a donation towards keeping the children warm and protected.
My post office requires that I sign a declaration for my package. What is it, and what should I put on it?
All international parcels will require a declaration of contents, and will most likely require that you specify a value. This declaration is used to make sure that nothing dangerous gets sent through the postal system, as well as to provide information about how much duty or tax is due on the package when it arrives. To make sure that KAS doesn't need to pay any unnecessary duties, make sure that the package description says "knitted squares for charity, no commercial value", and that the estimate of value is 0. (If your postal officer does not accept a value of zero, then make sure you put a very small value - the higher the value, the more KAS needs to pay to retrieve the package!)
How will I know that my squares have arrived?
About once a month, a new Square List will be published. These lists contain the sender names and a summary of the contents of each of the packages that have been opened during that month. Don't worry if it takes a few months to see your name on the lists - very, very few packages have ever been lost, but the postal system is often very slow and there is often a large backlog of packages yet-to-be-opened in South Africa.
I still need help! My question isn't on this list!
No problem! We've got a category in the forum where you can get answers to whatever KAS-related questions you have. Go here and click the "Add" button to post your question, and another member will soon be along to help you out!