67 Blankets is celebrating a milestone this month; the organisation has been knitting and crocheting for good, for 10 years!
South Africa (15 January 2024) – The 27th of January marks 10 years of 67 Blankets for Mandela Day. The initiative was started 10 years ago as a challenge to Carolyn Steyn and has grown into a project that created hundreds of thousands of blankets for people in need.
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.
After just nine months of existence, 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day won CAMPAIGN OF THE YEAR at the South African of the Year Awards in October 2014.
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.
“67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day has turned into my entire world, and as we head towards our tenth year since inception, I would like to congratulate every Ambassador and the KnitWits for Madiba, on their amazing contributions over the years. I look forward to many more years celebrating our 10th, our 20th, and even our 30th anniversaries. Stitch by stitch we are knitting lives and nations together. I could not be prouder of our amazing ‘close-knit’ 67 Blankets family. I only wish my parents were still alive to see how I am living a purpose-filled life. They would be so proud. And I wish that Madiba were still alive to witness this Knitting and Crochet Revolution in his name.” – Carolyn Steyn
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 broke 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.
The day is being celebrated with a big birthday event in Steyn City. Good Things Guy founder Brent Lindeque will even be there to share in all the good things. If you want to find out more about joining the celebrations, you can get all the details here.
You can also 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.