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Friday, January 31, 2014


(Retha Cilliers & Kim Davis)

The latest Durban creative personality to embrace the 67 Blankets for Madiba project is Retha Cilliers, CEO of the massive national Field Band Foundation.

Currently confined to bed for cancer treatment, she decided that she wanted to crochet to make her personal contribution. So friend and colleague - and now fellow Knitwit - Caroline Smart headed for her home armed with crochet hooks and wool. She found herself with two eager learners because Kim Davis, Retha’s close friend and carer, also decided that she would like to learn the skill.

“It was a delightful couple of hours watching them get to terms with wool and crochet hooks which often decide to do their own thing! Another challenge was one of Retha’s adored cats who decided the entire process was for his benefit!”

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 (as they have come to be called) have been popping up everywhere, inside and outside South Africa, inspired by the values of the project. The list grows by the minute.

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!