Wool Blankets
Photo Credit: Ksenia Chernaya via Pexels

67 Blankets for Mandela Day was founded by Carolyn Steyn, nine years ago today; the KnitWits as they are affectionately called, have knitted over 67 thousand blankets for people in need.


South Africa (27 January 2023) – 67 Blankets for Mandela Day was founded nine years ago and today Carolyn Steyn celebrates the occasion with her fellow KnitWits. She shared a message of thanks, love and encouragement to every person that has played a role in the initiative since its founding.

The KnitWits, an affectionate name for those who take part in knitting or crocheting for various projects, have done incredible things. Rallying as a national initiative, they have made over 67 thousand blankets. These are then sent to people in need, whether as winter warmth or as a piece of comfort after natural disasters.

How it all started.

In December 2013, Zelda la Grange, late former President Nelson Mandela’s trusted assistant, presented philanthropist and ‘Arts Angel’ Carolyn Steyn with a challenge: knit, sew or crochet 67 blankets in honour of their friend Madiba.

These blankets would then be distributed to those in need on Mandela Day, an official day declared by the UN in 2009.

Carolyn gladly accepted Zelda’s challenge and called on her friends for help. This inspired her to create a Facebook group called “67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day”. In just days, hundreds of people from around the world had pledged to knit a blanket for Nelson Mandela Day.

Since then, 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day has transformed into what some are calling a “movement” – a movement that has captured the attention of many South African and international celebrities as well as corporates and “KnitWits for Madiba” in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Cyprus, London, the US and India.

Breaking Records for Charity

While the group’s focus has always been to give back in honour of Madiba by giving blankets to those in need, they work tirelessly to fly the South African flag high. The KnitWits even set and break world records. All in the effort to keep people warm through winter. They have previously knitted the world’s largest blanket portrait of Mandela (which was visible from space) and also knitted the world’s longest scarf.

In 2021, the KnitWits collaborated to make a giant Springbok blanket out of 2754 smaller blankets.

As this year marks the 9th year, Carolyn added a few photos of the leaders and celebrities that have helped to date. She also shared some amazing facts about the initiative. She also asked every person involved to give themselves a pat on the back for all their hard work.

“Nine magnificent years of hard work, incredible milestones, Guinness World Records, gatherings of the clan, time in schools, churches, hospitals, in jails, homes for the elderly, children’s oncology wards, orphanages, townships, rural areas, squatter camps, rehabilitation facilities, visiting and connecting with so many thousands of people across every spectrum of society, handing over our blankets made with so much love to people who really need them.

We have shared our stories, laughter and spilled tears. All the while UNITED though a single goal, a single mission: “Stitch by stitch we aim to keep thousands upon thousands of people less fortunate than ourselves warmer over ALL the winters to come, in the name of our beloved Nelson Mandela.”

The sheer dedication of our go-getter Ambassadors throughout South Africa and the world and so many thousands of global KnitWits has truly brought us together to form this ‘tightly-knit’ family of which I am SO proud. I truly feel like the proudest Mama Bear of this beautiful family.

Never in my wildest imaginings would I ever thought that a simple challenge on my husband Douw’s birthday in December 2013 where Zelda suggested that I make 67 blankets for Mandela Day 2014 would have resulted in all THIS!! We can quite comfortably say that we have not distributed 67 blankets but way over 67 THOUSAND! And it is thanks to YOU! None of this would be happening without YOU!”

You can join the 67 Blankets cause and become a KnitWit via their Facebook group here. In the group, you will be able to connect with fellow KntWits in your area, collaborate on community-based projects, chat directly with the leaders of the organisation and stay up to date with exciting projects.

Sources: 67 Blankets
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About the Author

Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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