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Wednesday, January 29, 2014


(Caroline Smart & Pauline Dalais and the beginnings of the artSMart blanket!
Pic by Kajal Bagwandeen)

Inspired by the 67 Blankets for Madiba Day project, an artSMart team comprising editor Caroline Smart with manager Pauline Dalais is putting together a multi-coloured blanket.

The artSMart office is ablaze with the different colour wools and well-known actress and television presenter, Kajal Bagwandeen, was kind enough to photograph the two new Knitwits (as those involved in the project have been dubbed). Online manager Clinton Marius ensures the stories get out to the public!

The project was the idea of Zelda la Grange, former personal assistant to late former president Nelson Mandela, who presented a challenge to well-known Johannesburg live-wire personality Carolyn Steyn to knit 67 blankets by July 18 for Mandela Day. These blankets would then be distributed to those in need.

Carolyn Steyn initially put the idea out to the arts community and the response was incredible. Leading theatre personalities, both women and men - not to mention the Minister of Arts & Culture, Paul Mashatile – responded immediately. Before long, Knitwits were popping up everywhere, inside and outside South Africa, inspired by the values of the project. The list grows by the minute.

“I have been crocheting and knitting things since I was very young,” explains Caroline Smart. “I love creating things and sometimes go a bit overboard. Once, when I was crocheting a double-bed blanket, I decided to take it on a trip to the UK so I could crochet while we were driving fair distances. I even worked on it on the plane. Must have been crazy! To think of doing something like that now boggles the mind!”

While Smart needed no encouragement to pick up her crochet hook again, Pauline Dalais required a bit of persuasion.

“I never thought that I would ever crochet in this lifetime - but look at me go!” she says. “When Caroline asked if I'd like to assist on the 67 Blankets for Madiba Day Project, I laughed ‘cos I know absolutely nothing about crocheting. Within an hour, she taught me how to crochet and I was hooked! Although, I must admit my technique is more croch-knit! I don't know if I'll ever get the hang of holding the crochet needle in the conventional manner! However, I feel all the more blessed to be involved on this project, as I feel that I have benefited! The process is both therapeutic and gratifying! I am a proud Knitwit!”

For the full story visit It’s also well worth taking a look at the 67 Blankets for Madiba Day Facebook page where the most wonderful array of knitting and crochet work is being produced, from the most basic to those which should be displayed on an exhibition!