Knitting volunteers spread ‘good wool’

Healthcare workers at Lady Michaelis hospital were surprised to receive scarves made by KnitWits.

A group of volunteers called KnitWits have been knitting scarves for health-care workers to thank for them their hard work on the Covid front line.

On Wednesday last week, the KnitWits placed the brightly coloured scarves on trees and fences at the Lady Michaelis hospital to surprise the health-care workers there.

It was all part of the Secret Scarf Shhhh campaign run by 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day, a non-profit organisation, to spread “good wool” around the country, including sites in Plumstead, Athlone, Bellville and Grassy Park.

The 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day movement was founded in 2014 when Mr Mandela’s personal assistant, Zelda le Grange, challenged Carolyn Steyn to make 67 blankets for Mandela Day, on July 18.

“Following on from the Rainbow Nation Blanket of Hope, in May, where over 4 500 blankets were given to Gift of the Givers to distribute in KZN, the secret scarf mission continues with the theme of thanking the health-care workers for their incredible work and sacrifices they made over the last 28 months,“ said Ms Steyn.

“July in South Africa is Nelson Mandela month, a month to celebrate the life and legacy of our former president, Nelson Mandela,” she said, adding: “We’re excited that we can all come out after a long lockdown into a changed world and pay tribute to the health-care workers and continue with the theme of hope for the rainbow nation.

“I cannot thank our KnitWits enough for their commitment that continues to bring warmth to people across our nation every year.

“This year we have seen a greater involvement from learners at schools across the country, both at junior and high school levels, which brings a youthful enthusiasm to the blanket family.”

Lady Michaelis facility manager Leonora van Wyk said: “We feel proud to have been acknowledged and appreciated with these scarves and that people care about us.”

67 Blankets ambassador Ruth Ely, of Grassy Park, said they had handed out about about 50 scarves at Lady Michaelis. Ms Ely has passed on her love of knitting and crocheting to her 10 year-old granddaughter, Keziah, who recently completed her first blanket.

Pat McKenzie, of Rosebank, learnt to knit at a very early age and believes it is something that every child should learn, boys and girls. Ms McKenzie took it up again during lockdown and said she knitted while watching television or reading.

Anna Mthethwa, of Muizenberg, learnt to knit and crochet as a child but only took it up again when she met Ms Ely and her mother, Monica van der Bergh, at an organic market at the Muizenberg civic centre. They gave Ms Mthethwa a refresher course and inspired her to get hooked and be the creative “wooligan” that she is now.

Each scarf has a 67 Blankets label with a message that says, “I am not lost. If you are cold and need me, please take me. With love, 67 blankets for Nelson Mandela Day.“

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Anna Mthwethwa, from Muizenberg, hangs scarves from a tree at Lady Michaelis hospital. She learnt to knit and crochet as a child.
KnitWits, from left, Priscilla Ghall of Grassy Park, Anna Mthethwa from Muizenberg, Jessica Lambert from Plumstead, Pat McKenzie from Rosebank and 67 Blankets ambassador Ruth Ely from Grassy Park.
Each scarf has a 67 Blankets label with a message that say, “I am not lost. If you are cold and need me, please take me. With love, 67 blankets for Nelson Mandela Day.“
Lady Michaelis hospital health-care workers, from left, Fungiswa Tyam, facility manager Leonora van Wyk and Luleka Ntwalana.