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Friday, January 24, 2014


(Theatre personalities Samantha Peo, Angela Kilian, Judy Ditchfield, Nondumiso Tembe and Michael de Pinna work on their blankets with Carolyn Steyn, the one knitting with green wool)

When you think of knitting, what comes to mind? A grey-haired dear? Think again! Knitting is now hip and is being done, en masse, for a good cause.

67 Blankets for Madiba Day started as a challenge but has quickly grown into what some are calling a movement. It’s captured the attention of the Minister of Arts & Culture, Paul Mashatile, Hugh Masekela, Angela Kilian, Tim Moloi, Michael “yebo goggo” de Pinna, Nondumiso Tembe, Samantha Peo and Judy Ditchfield as well as corporates and do-gooders in Australia, London, the US and India, with other countries coming on board by the hour!

Carolyn Steyn, the Founder of 67 Blankets for Madiba Day explains:  "In December, Zelda la Grange, former personal assistant to late former president Nelson Mandela, presented me with a challenge to knit 67 blankets by 18 July for Mandela Day. These blankets would then be distributed to those in need. I gladly accepted Zelda’s challenge but soon realised that I wouldn’t be able to achieve it alone. I then called on my friends for help and developed the 67 Blankets for Madiba Day Facebook Page. My friends shared the Page with their friends, who shared the Page with theirs, and in just two weeks, hundreds of people from around the world have pledged to knit a blanket for Mandela Day.”

Joining the movement is easy. The only requirement is that the single bed sized blanket or baby blanket has to be handmade – no store-bought blankets will be accepted. Blankets can be knitted or crocheted and should measure 150 cm x 200 cm. Most importantly, those who pledge to make a blanket must keep their promise and complete the blanket or blankets by July 1, 2014. Drop-off points for the blankets as well as the charity beneficiaries will be announced closer to the time on the campaign’s Facebook Page.

According to Zelda la Grange: “While we are all still saddened by the passing of Madiba, turning those emotions into something meaningful helps overcome the sadness. Mandela Day will soon be upon us and we are very touched by the vigour of the 67 Blankets knitters. We can each make a difference and these knitters are showing us how. I am confident we will get more than 67 blankets ready for Mandela Day and my Bikers for Mandela Day group are happy to hand-deliver these to the most rural and underprivileged people across our country. I commend Carolyn Steyn for her determination and the love with which she took on this challenge.”

Steyn continues: “Never in my wildest dreams did I expect this kind of incredible response. It started out with me wanting to make a difference with my own two hands and has transformed into something much, much bigger. This campaign reminds me of something Madiba once said: “We must use time creatively, and forever realise that the time is always ripe to do right.” I guess that this is also testament to what I like to call, Madiba Magic.  He had the ability to inspire the masses for the greater good of humankind and this is his legacy,” says Steyn. 

Those taking part in the 67 Blankets for Madiba Day campaign are calling themselves ‘knit wits’.  Some are knitting and crocheting for the first time. Their motto? “Stitch by stitch we can make a difference and help keep people warm this winter!”

For more information, visit the 67 Blankets for Madiba Day Facebook Page.

artSMart has become involved with the project with Editor Caroline Smart and Manager Pauline Dalais working away at producing the artSMart blanket for the project. Come on, KZN – travel this creative road with us!