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How You Can Knit a Blanket for Someone in Need and Honor One of History’s Greatest Activists

By knitting a blanket (or squares) for 67 Blankets, you’ll not only help keep needy people warm, but you’ll honor one of history’s greatest humanitarian activists: Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela is best-known for his activism that led to the end of South Africa’s most infamous law, apartheid (the segregation of the non-white citizens of South Africa that comprised the majority of its population).

But many may not know that in the last few decades of Mandela’s life, following the end of his political career, he was an equally outspoken advocate and activist for the eradication of poverty.

A gifted public speaker, Mandela offered many talks on the evils of poverty. Some of his best quotes include:

  • As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality exist in our world, none of us can truly rest.
  • In this new century, millions of people in the world’s poorest countries remain imprisoned, enslaved and in chains. They are trapped in the prison of poverty. It is time to set them free.
  • While poverty persists, there is no true freedom.

The Personal Challenge That Led to a New Knitting Movement

Carolyn Steyn, the founder and director of 67 Blankets, is a media personality from South Africa. She is a good friend to Zelda la Grange, the longtime personal assistant to former President Mandela.

In 2013, Zelda presented Carolyn with a challenge: make 67 blankets by Nelson Mandela Day (July 18) of the following year.

Here’s how Carolyn tackled the challenge, according to the 67 Blankets website:

I quickly realized that I would need the help of friends if I were to achieve this target, so I turned to social media. And over the years this initiative has grown into a global movement mobilizing thousands of active members in South Africa and around the world to crochet and knit blankets and scarves made with love and our own two hands, at the same time demonstrating the true meaning of ‘Ubuntu’ (humanity to others).

We have also gone into correctional facilities over the years to help rehabilitate prison inmates by teaching them how to make blankets for people on the outside whose lives have been affected by crime and poverty.  

 I am proud to say that to date, 67 Blankets has distributed well over 167,000 handmade blankets, and hundreds of thousands of scarves to those in need, setting four Guinness World Records in the process.

About | 67 Blankets

What a wonderful way to pay tribute to one of history’s great humanitarians and also knit for the needy at the same time!

How You Can Get Involved

What began as a South African initiative has exploded and grown into a worldwide program! In many countries around the world, you too can knit blankets for needy citizens while honoring the memory of Nelson Mandela.

If you live in South Africa, you can choose one of 76 different ambassadors around the country to collaborate with! You can find a list of ambassadors both in South Africa and around the world on this page.

The following countries also participate in the program:

  • India
  • Ireland
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

If you live in one of these countries and wish to participate, you can contact your local (or nearest) ambassador and receive information about either drop-off locations or shipping.

For an eye-popping list of the beneficiaries of 67 Blankets, take a look here!

Now then, let’s get to the knitty-gritty: what should you knit, if you want to participate?

Blankets, of course!

You can also choose to knit squares; however, bear in mind that since someone else will be assembling a blanket from your squares, you’ll want to make them identically sized. 67 Blankets requests that squares be 20 cm by 20 cm (this is about the same as 7 3/4 inches by 7 3/4 inches).

The following sizes are requested for blankets:

  • Adult-sized: 140 x 180 cm (55 1/10 x 70 3/4 inches)
  • Child-sized: 120 x 160 cm (47 1/4 x 63 inches)
  • Baby-sized: 100 x 120 cm (39 1/4 x 47 1/4 inches)

For further guidelines, you can take a look at the 67 Blankets FAQ page.

You can find a multitude of free blanket knitting pattern collections here; you can also find patterns for knitting squares here.

And to see what’s happening with 67 Blankets at any point in time, you can visit their Facebook page.

For knitters who want to make a difference–particularly those living in South Africa–this is an outstanding way to do some real good while reflecting on the life, work, and vision of Nelson Mandela. Why not find your nearest ambassador and start a blanket today?

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