Welcome and thank you
On behalf of the abandoned children and orphans of Southern Africa, welcome and thank you for subscribing to the first issue of Square Circle.
If you like this e-zine, please do them a further favour and pay it forward by sending this to a friend and asking them to subscribe to Square Circle. The more knitters who find us, the more squares, the more blankets.
SQUARE CIRCLE ISSUE ONE 16 January 2009
Understanding the plight of the AIDS orphans in Southern africa
How knit-a-square was conceived
Knit anywhere, anytime (and write a yarn at the same time)
Teach your children how to knit and give
Overcoming postal issues
New, easy baby blanket knitting patterns coming soon
Heart to hand: The circle makes the squares.
The square make the circle.
Knit-a-square is just over three months old. The home page was launched on October 3 2008, so we are very excited that you have both found the site and subscribed to the e-zine as a foundation member of Square Circle.
It is very early days in knit-a-square's life, so we don't have photographs and stories to tell of the children and their blankets yet. But the squares are beginning to arrive, (although I think many of them may have been knitted by family and friends at this stage).
Here is Ronda, of the Soweto Comfort Club in Johannesburg, with the first parcels. These contained the felted squares shown on the felt-a-square page on the site.
There are many new interesting initiatives and pages coming in the next few weeks to tell you about and, as this is the first issue, you may be interested in reading about our beginnings and to see some photos of the wonderful people already knitting for us. Come on the men! But first, let's put the plight of these children into perspective, to help you more clearly understand the need to knit for them.
Understanding the plight of the AIDS orphans in Southern Africa
The statistics on the number of children who have been orphaned, and worse, who will become orphaned in Africa because of a combination of poverty and HIV AIDS, is difficult to grasp.
By researching the populations of some of the world's cities, here are a few statistics to help put the size of this tragedy into proportion.
A report from UNAIDS, (2008) states there are 11.6 million orphans living in sub-Saharan Africa.
That's enough children to replace the combined populations of London, Paris and Sydney.
The same report states there are 1.4 million orphans in South Africa.
They would fill 14 stadiums of a 100 000 capacity, 3,370 jumbo jets or replace the population of Phoenix, Arizona.
In four years, at the increasing rate of nearly 500 orphans a day, there will be 2.5 million orphans. That is roughly the same population as Cape Town, Toronto or Houston today.
To be an orphan in Southern Africa is not only to lose the parents who would have loved and cared for you, but to most likely forfeit education, to be constantly hungry and often bitterly cold.
How many knitters are there in the world?
This is a statistic far more difficult to discover. But a Google Adwords search revealed five million searches in December 2008 for the words knitting and knit. Is it fair to assume that many of those searching were knitters? And if everyone knitted a square, we could make 1.25 million blankets.
Not a bad effort for a ball of wool and an hour or two of their time.
How knit-a-square was conceived
From the original idea to the site as it stands today has been the most amazing six month journey.
It started when my aunt, Ronda, visited us in Melbourne, Australia in June last year. She lives in Gauteng, a province of South Africa that contains the major cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria.
For many years now she has been involved in charitable work in Soweto mainly, but now with a small start-up children's charity, Hotel Hope, providing family style homes for abandoned children and orphans, both affected and infected with HIV AIDS.
She told us how she often carried cheap blankets in her car to give out to the homeless people at traffic lights and how frustrating it was: too few blankets for too many people.
She also told us much more than we had previously known or understood about the scope of the tragedy of the AIDS orphans, and also about the scale of poverty that besets so many in South Africa.
My mother, Zanny, Ronda's eldest sister is an addictive knitter. She had just completed this most beautiful heritage blanket as a gift for us, made out of knitted rectangles.
My husband, Roger, and I run a marketing and graphic design business and had just been to an online seminar about the new world of Web 2 and social networking. We were looking for a way to usefully employ this new knowledge. And then we discovered Site Build it, an organisation that works with you to build your own website, but not just in an ordinary way. They literally hold your hand every step of the way.
It was like fitting four pieces of a jigsaw together. Initially, we were just focused on getting up a site that would be found by you as a knitter and to persuade you to knit squares and send them. But now, what can be done for the orphans has become imperative.
We hope that you will feel the same way and become further involved over the years to help make a difference to these truly underprivileged children. To that end we have included on the site, a list of charities that are doing remarkable work in many regions of the world, as well as Southern Africa.
To that end we have included on the site a list of charities that are doing remarkable work in many regions of the world, as well as Southern Africa.
Knit anywhere, anytime
Addicted knitters will knit anywhere, anytime. What if we challenged you to put up the a photograph of the most interesting, unusual, difficult, amusing places you have knitted? We will publish the best photos in each issue of Square Circle.
Here's a picture of Zanny, knitting high in the stands of the Melbourne Cricket Ground, watching 20/20 cricket between Australia and South Africa on 11 January 2009.
Unlike some of the fielders, she didn't drop a thing all night!
And a few more to inspire you. Megan in her eensy, weeny bikini at the beach, January 2009 and the showgirls of Melbourne's Glamourpuss studios, backstage during their annual tap dancing extravaganza, November 2008
Why not write a yarn as well
By February, you will be able to upload not only your amusing knitting pictures, but your own knitting patterns, pictures of your best knitted pieces, knitting stories, or tips and techniques. This will be invaluable for you and our other visitors as a knitting resource and we are looking forward to having your submissions. Please make a note to visit the site again after this date.
How knit-a-square was conceived
We are nearly finished a substantial teachers' and parents' resource e-book aimed at helping children learn knit to give. But more importantly, why they should knit to give.
Giving has a rich history and should be taught to young children as a legacy from one generation to the other. If you are a teacher or parent, please consider this for your children's school.
Children have boundless energy and will knit with great fervour and passion, as described in the story of the boy's schools during the World War II in 'men's knitting' on the site but this knitting project will also empower them to know they can make a difference.
The more squares, the more blankets, the more children who are ill or cold will soon be warm.
Overcoming postal issues
We have had a few queries about postage, in particular whether there is a guarantee that the squares will arrive safely in South Africa and also how to post more than one square.
Sadly, the South African post does have a reputation in some quarters for issues of petty theft. This in part was reflected in the knit-a-square concept, as we realised that one 8 x 8" square, or even three separate squares would be less attractive to pilferers than a completed blanket.
We have also spoken with the manager of the post office where the squares are arriving for collection and he has assured us that they will be held safely.
There may be some pilfering, but we believe it would not be sufficient to dissuade anyone from knitting and sending the squares. The scale of need is so great, that whatever squares may disappear will be keeping someone warm who was previously cold, so they will still serve a purpose.
We have just put up a new page just on the postal instructions which I hope will clear up any confusion on how to mail one or up to three squares. Please let me know if this is not clear by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Zanny's new baby blanket patterns coming soon
The most popular download so far has been Zanny's square vest. Here's a picture of her great-nephew Luca, wearing a version of the pattern. She altered the pattern when she saw this photograph as she believed the neck opening was too wide.
Zanny has been knitting up a storm and very soon (hopefully by the end of January), we will have a booklet of her best knitting patterns for embroidered babies' vests, jumpers and baby blankets.
We are going to be very busy the next two weeks, delivering on all the items discussed above, so visit us again soon, www.knit-a-square.com , to check on progress.
Winter in South Africa is only five months away.
It regularly drops below zero degrees at night in Johannesburg, so think about those freezing little children and PLEASE keep knitting.
I hope this will be start of a long relationship between you and knit-a-square and thank you once again for joining us in the Square Circle.