Stenette & Annette Grosskopf's beautiful blanket!
Stenette & Annette Grosskopf’s beautiful blanket!

“Sometimes, people come up to me when I am knitting and they say things like, “Oh, I wish I could knit, but I’m just not the kind of person who can sit and waste time like that.” How can knitting be wasting time? First, I never just knit; I knit and think, knit and listen, knit and watch. Second, you aren’t wasting time if you get a useful or beautiful object at the end of it. I will remember that not everyone understands. I will resist the urge to ask others what they do when they watch TV.” 

― Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, At Knit’s End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much  
My best thing in the morning is to make myself a cup of coffee with cream, and then snuggle back into bed, open my I-Pad and go through Facebook. No, I’m not a Facebook addict but there are times for Facebook and this is definitely my “time”. I noticed Carolyn Steyn making a remark on FB: “Oh great! News of 67 Blankets for Madiba is spreading overseas to Cyprus and the UK!”
       I wondered what 67 Blankets for Madiba was. Then blow me down if my friend Judy Ditchfield didn’t comment: “This 67 Blankets for Madiba is great fun. My knitted blanket is beginning to take shape.”
       Then glory be, if I don’t see another friend of mine commenting: “Carolyn,I am crocheting the most gorgeous blanket in red, purple, green, yellow and blue. Someone is going to love snuggling up in this rainbow blanket. Gosh, I am enjoying doing this!”
       Holy moly! What on earth was everyone doing? Crocheting and knitting? What on earth was this  67 Blankets for Madiba? Not being one to merely sit and wonder, I got on to my I-Pad and sent Carolyn a message demanding to know. I got back the most delightful response:
        On my husband’s birthday, December 19, 2013, I was boasting about my hidden talents – swimming and crocheting to my good friend, Zelda la Grange, (former personal assistant to Nelson Mandela). We had all had the privilege of spending many quality times with Madiba and his wife and family over the years. 
       She said to me with a wicked glint in her eye: “Okay, Ms Crochet Queen, I challenge you to crochet or knit 67 blankets by 18 July for Mandela Day. Go on, Carolyn, I dare you to do it!”
       “Ha, no problem! Challenge accepted,” I quipped back. 
       On Christmas Day, my sister arrived with bags of wool and a crochet hook, and so I started then and there to make squares. It didn’t take long for me to realise that there was no way that I would be able to make 67 blankets with my own two hands by July 18 (Mandela’s birthday). No way at all!The first people I approached were my sisters and my closest friends. However, 67 is a huge quantity and I don’t have 67 friends in my immediate circle. But I do have hundreds of friends on FB!! I put a plea out on FB and it snowballed from there!! 
       We now have 67 Blankets for Madiba Day in South Africa, in Australia, in the UK, in Cyprus and we are working on other countries! 
       How utterly wonderful! But, please tell me, I wrote, why 67? She was quick to reply.
67 is the number of years that Mandela gave fighting for freedom and service to his country – hence the significance of the number. Every year people around the world are encouraged to give 67 minutes of their time doing something good for their fellow man. 
       In our case – 67 blankets. We will give these blankets to those in need.
      I guess that this is a testament to Madiba Magic. He had the ability to inspire the masses for the greater good of humankind and this is his legacy.
       Wanting to find out more, I contacted Judy Ditchfield about her blanket. Judy recently opened in her show 6 Dance Lessons in 6 Days which was a rave success in Johannesburg. She said to me that she had only started her blanket once they had opened. “I didn’t have time to learn all those choreographed numbers, words, moves and knit!” She laughed. “Once we’d opened, the work on my blanket began! I want it to be a happy blanket for the person who gets it, so it has loud and vibrant, bright stripes! I have tried to crochet little flowers to sew onto the blanket which will make it special. My sister, Kath, passed away in April last year. If Kath had been around, she would have jumped onto this project like mad, and would have rallied the troops to join in. She taught me to crochet, along with my late mom in law, Queenie. So this crocheting has a special feeling about it. I feel that they are with me, watching, encouraging. And smiling!”
       Another friend of mine, Tammy Bonell Garner who now lives in the UK, told me: “I have been a knitter all my life. My Granny taught me when I was about eight and I took to it immediately. I love it and have knitted ever since. I can talk and knit at the same time!!! I can even watch telly and knit! This used to drive my ex-husband, Rex (Garner) insane! He said I was always looking down at the knitting or the pattern, just when something important happened in the story and then I’d ask him to explain!
       I hope my blanket will be finished in time for June 30, when they all have to be handed to Zelda. She will make sure they are all distributed to worthy charities and children’s homes. She has a team of big butch bikers, who will ride all over the place delivering them. The Madiba Day initiative is INTERNATIONAL, not just for South Africa. He wanted it that way.”
       Yes, Madiba wanted so much for this country. For the world. He had a special place in his heart for children. After-all they are the future.
       I am unable to knit or crochet because of my hand. But, I can write. And I can motivate! So, won’t all you knitters/crochet-ers out there please join this wonderful initiative and ‘Pay it Forward’.
Lee-Anne Sidwell knitting her blanket  in bed via head-lamp!
Lee-Anne Sidwell knitting her blanket in bed via head-lamp!

This is what Madiba would have wanted.

“Together as a nation we have the obligation to put sunshine into the hearts of our little ones. They are precious possessions. They deserve what happiness life can offer.”
“There can be no keener revelation of a societies soul than the way in which it treats it’s children.”
Nelson Mandela
If you want to knit or crochet a blanket, you can either join the ’67 blankets for Madiba day’ page on Facebook, or alternatively email Johan Vos: There is a comprehensive background story on Facebook, but in short participants are required to knit, crochet (or in any other way make with their  own hands) a blanket. The blanket should be single bed size (150cm by 200cm), and should preferably be in a darker colour.