KnitWits For Madiba

A Message from Carolyn

Good morning dearest KnitWits for Madiba,

I am so immensely proud of each and every single one of you. As I scroll down our page each and every day, I am just amazed by the fire, passion and dedication that I see. 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day has really and truly exploded into a "movement" and from what I see, has no intention of ever slowing down!!!

What was once seen as "Carolyn's little tea party" has now become a movement, and is reaching far and wide. People are coming together from all walks of life - different races, different religions, different ages, different socio-economic backgrounds  - all with one goal in common - to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate than themselves.

I see knitathons happening here, there and everywhere!! In schools, old age homes, hotels, homes, parks, restaurants and even prisons!! Not just in South Africa but all around the world.

We have become one big family - binding together through bright, colorful thread.


The stories you are telling of how 67 Blankets has changed not only your life but how it is touching so many THOUSANDS of lives really makes me so very proud. As you all know, this explosion of "good wool" was never my intention, I really wanted 67 blankets to hand over to Zelda. Challenge accepted. Challenge done!! Then I could go back to my life, back to the pool and read my book. This was not to be!! 67 Blankets has truly changed my life for good. Thanks to you all, I have a real PURPOSE!! You drive me, you make me feel alive and needed. Every day brings new challenges, new duties, new excitement, new beginnings.

What a joyous journey the past year and a half has been. Together we have realised so many milestones in our short history - we gave birth to a gigantic award CAMPAIGN OF THE YEAR after just 9 months, we SMASHED the GUINNESS WORLD RECORD on April 21 this year at the Union Buildings. This was South Africa's WOOL CUP where we were ALL players!! We also launched into every single jail in South Africa (243 jails) on August 7, 2015 with the signing of an MOU with National Commissioner, Zach Modise and we have formed a great partnership with the Department of Correctional Services.  We have even recorded a special 67 Blankets SONG with PJ Powers, Timothy Moloi and Proverb which has just been released. Each download will raise funds to help us with our 67 Blankets journey. They lyrics were written by 11 year old Ella Grealy (my godchild) and two prison inmates.  And we have plans to put together a COFFEE TABLE BOOK.

Dearest KnitWits - CAN YOU BELIEVE ALL THIS???? !!!! I am truly overwhelmed and still pinch myself every day. This is a beautiful dream being played out - and we are ALL players in the realisation of this extraordinary time where stitch by stitch we are weaving together great friendships, weaving together communities, weaving together one big family; knitting together our fragmented society - and making the world a smaller, friendlier, tighter woven and more loving place.

I have hats. And I take them off to you ALL !!! Stitch by stitch we pledge to keep thousands upon thousands of people less fortunate than ourselves warmer over all the winters to come, in the name of our beloved father of our nation, Tata Nelson Mandela (Madiba).   We will never allow him and the ideals he stood for to be forgotten.

My love and grateful thanks to you all. Long may we continue to spread our "goodwool".


A Message from Mr. Paul Mashatile

I have permission from Mr. Paul Mashatile to post his speech for you all to read. I am so proud that we are being recognised for the work we are doing in knitting our nation together.




Address by the Chairperson of ANC Gauteng,

Paul Mashatile, at the 67 Blankets for Mandela Day Community Knithaton,

University of Johannesburg,

18 July 2015


Programme Director

Mrs. Graca Machel

Founder of 67 Blankets Movement, my sister Carolyn Steyn

The Media

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

Comrades and Friends

60 years ago South Africans from all walks of life descended on Kliptown which is a stone-throw away from here to adopt the Freedom Charter. Those women and men - young and old, rich and poor, workers, peasants and intellectuals - from the rural and urban parts of our country – dared to dream. They dreamt of a better life for all. They dreamt of a country were there is no oppression of one race by another. They dreamt of a country were its children do not have to travel long distances on empty stomachs in pursuance of education. They also dreamt of a country were the people govern and there is equality before the law.

Against the backdrop of brutal repression, intimidation, brute force, our forebears defied the odds and made the trip to Kliptown were the aspirations of the vast majority of South Africans were encapsulated into the Freedom Charter. This patriotic exercise was a labour of love. Those who came before us loved their country and their people and they were motivated by nothing except their quest for freedom, equality and peace. They trailed a blaze of volunteerism for the betterment of not only themselves but also their people, their continent and the world.

Gathered as we are today on Mandela Day, we are paying tribute to their selfless contribution to the freedom we are enjoying today. We are inspired by their exemplary deeds of understanding Botho/Ubuntu. They taught us a fundamental principle that “I am because you are”.

It is these values that even our great statesman, global icon, leader and father, President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela subscribed to. These values of selflessness, discipline, love and generous giving are the ones that kept not only him but also generations of leaders of our country going. It is these values that continue to nudge us to not forget about those who are less priviledged. Indeed, it is these values that inform our drive to create a better life for all our people.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are here today to make a difference in the lives of not only those who are in need but also our own. Giving in all its facets is an act of love and it is said that when you give, you shall receive. 21 years into our nascent democracy and significant progress notwithstanding, the triple challenges of poverty, joblessness and inequality are still facing us. Some of our people still go to bed hungry, some of our people do not have a roof over their heads and some of our people still live in squalor.

It therefore means that there is still work to be done to improve their lot. Those amongst us who are better off have to be moved to contribute towards changing the lives of those who are not as privileged. I am therefore proud of you for having made it here today and the sole aim being to contribute to efforts to lighten the burden of others. Tata Mandela is also proud of you as he was committed to changing the lives of all of us especially the poor. Hence, he spent more than 27 years in prison in pursuance of a dream.

Ladies and Gentlemen, as we engage in activities in promotion and preservation of Tata Madiba’s legacy of cheerful and generous giving, let us be alive to our responsibility of making our country a better place to work and live in. The government alone will not be able to do everything to create a better life for all of us. We must be ready, as we are demonstrating today, to put our collective shoulder to the wheel. In partnership with government, private sector and civil society, we have to do our bit in pursuance of the dream as espoused in the Freedom Charter.

My sister, Carolyn, I am proud of you. From humble beginnings when the idea of knitting 67 blankets was planted in your heart, the seed has grown in leaps and bounds and not only South Africans but also people all over the world are knitting for Madiba.

I remember the glow on your face when you completed the first blanket and I can still remember vividly how you patiently taught me how to knit. Thousands of blankets later, you are still knitting. My sister, you are an inspiration to all of us to do something for humanity.  Let us continue to knit not only the blankets that will provide warmth to the needy but also knit our nation together. Tata Madiba was committed to nation-building and reconciliation and our efforts today and in the future are a fitting tribute to him and the legacy he has left.

We should therefore continue to knit day in and day out because everyday is Mandela Day. Let us do our part in building a great and winning nation.

Ladies and Gentlemen, our forebears have left us a rich legacy and we cannot betray it because our country will not know genuine freedom, peace, stability and progress unless all of us are able to access the opportunities brought about by the democratic breakthrough of 1994.

Let us therefore be part of efforts to ensure that the people indeed govern, there is work and security, the people share in the country’s wealth and the land is shared among those who work it. We must also open the doors of learning and culture to all whilst ensuring that there are houses, security and comfort and that there is peace and friendship.

With our crochets in hand, together we must move our country forward.

I thank you!