As 2010 draws to an end and a New Year dawns it is only natural to reflect on the reality of what we have/what the reality of our world is and to be thinking of what we wish would improve, what could be changed so that life is kinder and brighter for all of Earth's citizens.

The December challenge is a little different; challenging KAS members to put on their thinking hats to get the creative juices flowing as they reflect.

Instead of a challenge tied to a colour scheme or particular motif lets all reflect on the virtues common to all faiths and embraced by those of no faith as well.
Our theme for the December challenge is to answer a few not-so-simple questions:

As 2011 dawns what do we need most across the globe?  What does that look like to you?  How can we make an abstract concept into something we can hold in our hands as gifts to the children of SA? 

How would the lives of the orphans improve if our most fervent wish were to come true?

Over the past few years I have often been inspired by members as they share how they pray or think positive thoughts for the children with each stitch.  The image of love, friendship and brotherhood boxed up and finding the way to Ronda and team in SA gives me hope.

This December I know that I'll be hoping and praying for Peace for everyone. 

Peace would mean cooperation by the adults of our world resulting in food, health care and education for all. 

My own challenge will be in figuring out how to conceptualize this so my thoughts can be shared and made concrete. Probably a hat of some sort as I think we all need to think more about Peace so that it will become reality. When I think of Peace I can't help but think of the colour blue.

Fairness and friendship are 2 other virtues I will reflect on with each stitch. 

A fair world would ensure education, food and safety for all children. A friendlier world would be cooperative so that together we can grow more food more efficiently and share resources to conquer diseases like HIV.  

This new and improved world will be alive with colour, with all colours being respected for what they are and not compared to any other colour. Together, like our KAS blankets, each colour will enhance the rest creating a world more beautiful because of it's diversity and unity. Cooperation wins over comparison or competition every time in my book:)

I know that Ronda is hoping for larger beanies/hats.  We have a surplus of teeny, tiny baby hats and larger children hoping/waiting for a hat of their own. Larger beanies (for children 3-11 and teens 12+) would be a nice for Ronda & team to receive in the coming weeks.  Imagine the joy they'll have stockpiling warm hats for the next winter season in SA. I think it will give them peace of mind. 

Ronda and team have much enjoyed the colourful squares sent during an earlier challenge (the Pete Lovemore memorial challenge). When in doubt, colourful squares are always needed year round.

Please share your reflections as you work your way through the December challenge. It will be wonderful to hear from all of you and to have a little more insight into your thoughts about the children, our world and how KAS continues to shine a light on South Africa's most vulnerable citizens.

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Happy Holidays to you too Dawson and to all the KASers, whatever you celebrate this time of year--including just plain being inside out of the cold if it's winter where you are.  I admit the knitting looms make very loosely knitted hats...unless I work with two strands of yarn.  It also works the hat up thicker if you do 3 wraps round the peg and take the lowest strand up over the other two.  But I admit though they work up fast I still love crocheting hats more. :)  Heal up that yarn burn...a sign of a dedicated KASer for sure, going at that speed.  I never get yarn burns, I have an automatic braking cat!

hi...I have not been on line for sometime appears one and all have been holiday busy...I will be looking forward to a new year with KAS and the team work we reflect....Gods Forever Love to all

My December Project...


I'm not sure I can say why, exactly, but this challenge caught my attention in a way that none of the other challenges have. Like most people, when someone says "What does the world need most?", the first words which pop into my head are "World Peace". (Thanks, Miss Congeniality!) But that didn't really feel enough for me. It's not something tangible, it's not something which I have any level of direct control over, and most importantly, it's only an end goal. End goals are great, but it's strategies which get you there, and I really wanted to come up with something that was a bit closer to a strategy.


What I really wanted, and what I really felt the world needed, was for every person in the world to have their minimum needs met, so that they are able to be the best possible person that they can be. That's a tall order, and I'm niether a social scientist not a philosopher, so I decided to have a hunt around for some inspiration along that theme. Eventually, I stumbled across Manfred Max-Neef's Fundamental Human Needs. It is a list of nine things which are the basic requirements for all human beings to be happy. They are universal, in that they are not based on one particular culture or economic system. They are not sequential; you don't meet one then move onto the next, they all interrelate. They are also, conceptually, quite simple. They are ideas that everyone is already familiar with.

So I now had a name and a framework for my world wish. I wanted all people to have their fundamental human needs met, according the Max-Neef's nine points. The next challenge was to figure out how to craft that. From this came my actual December Project:

I would create one item or set of items for each of Max-Neef's nine Fundamental Human Needs. Each item would achieve the following:
- Represent the concept behind of that need
- Be of practical use to an orphaned or at-risk child in South Africa
- Be small enough to post, but significant enough to be worth posting
- Contain some major hand-crafted element, which I would make myself

And then the real kicker...
They must all be done by the end of December. Eek!

With only a few ends to weave in, and a whole lot of packing up to do, here's what I ended up with.

Most of the work KAS does is in the area of subsistence. Subsistence is all about having food and shelter, physical and mental health. It is also, traditionally, one of the most fundamental of those fundamental needs.

To represent subsistence, particularly in the context of KAS, I made a blanket. Blankets can keep a person warm when it's cold, and they can provide padding from the hard ground. They're also simple.  Subsistence is all about having the simple necessities of wellbeing..

The blanket was machine knitted in 8 ply on a Bond (bulky gauge), but could just as easily have been hand-knitted over a longer time frame. It was made in four long panels of stockinette, each joined using the sew-as-you-go technique and ending with a folded hem.


Affection is about the ability to love and be loved. This need reminded me of a story posted in one of the KAS newsletters, which described some of the younger kids in the creches getting their own toy. The children took those small toys and treated them like babies, carrying them on their back like mothers did with their own children. That spoke volumes to me about the childrens' need to express affection.

To represent affection then, I made several small toys which I nicknamed 'snuggle squares'. They borrow from KAS's 'square' motif, but turn those squares into soft, squishy, lightweight little characters that children can hug and carry with them. The snuggle squares are hand-knitted in 4 ply sock yarn, with eyes cut from felt and hand-sewn on.


Understanding of the world and about ourselves starts with simple curiousity, but really flourishes with education. It comes from having access both to formal education in schools and informal education from family and community. For a lot of these orphaned or at-risk children, both formal and informal education must come from the same place, the creches and orphanages where they spend a lot of their time.

To represent understanding, I machine sewed a simple, child sized satchel for a school bag. It's made from double thickness cotton fabric, which should make it strong but also keeps it lightweight for little arms. And because a school bag is no use without school supplies to put into them, I might have slipped in a few exercise books and lead pencils somewhere along the way.

To be able to live confidently, one must feel safe and protected. In the western world, people in high-danger situations wear strong kevlar vests to protect them, but for a child at risk in South Africa a warm, tightly knitted vest affords a different kind of protection; protection from cold and sickness.

To represent protection then, I made a child sized vest. The main body of the vest was 4 ply baby yarn machine knitted on a Singer (standard gauge). The ribbed collar was hand knitted, and the sleeves were crochetted. The vest is longer than it is wide, so that it can afford its protection to a child's whole trunk.

Having responsibilities, relationships and a sense of involvement in community are all key to the participation need. It is about being a part of groups and communities in a happy and healthy way. This need reminded me of another story which came from the creches, about how the carers used hand puppets as communication tools with small children.

To represent participation, I made a set of felt hand puppets. The great thing about hand puppets is that they are an activity that works best when playing with others. Even more importantly, they let children play out social scenarios in ways which helps them to understand socialisation in their world. The puppets are made by cutting out shapes from sheet felt, the hand sewing a running stitch around all the edges. The faces are made with black yarn and stick-on eyes, and the hair is glued on novelty-yarn.

The need to create is something very familiar to all crafters. It is that desire to be able to turn imagination and inventiveness into something real. To fulfill this need, people need to have the skills, materials and freedom to be able to express their ideas creatively.

To represent creation, I collected a bag of crafty bits and pieces suitable for small children - pipe cleaners, stickers, wooden beads and blue tack. To fulfill my part of this task and include something I created myself, I included small samples of yarns which I had hand-spun.

Everyone needs to know who they are, to have a sense of belonging and a place in the world. Identity is all about that sense of self, both personal and as part of a families, communities and cultures. It is, by its very nature, a very individual thing, which makes it hard to find something to give away that will build a recipient's sense of identity.

To represent identity, then, I machine sewed a fabric wall hanging for a creche or orphanage to hang up. The main piece of the wall hanging is a single fabric panel with a map of the world on it, illustrated with famous animals that come from various parts of the world. It has a pocket at the bottom, which allows it to be weighted down with cheap plastic rulers (which I have included), but these rulers can be slipped back out again if the wall hanging needs to be cleaned. It is bright and cheerful, which makes it great for kids, but it also gives carers a way of introducing their charges to idea of a whole world community.

Fun and games aren't just fun and games. Having access to leisure can mean having time to play, or it can be time to rest, or having the opportunity to imagine. For kids in particular though, play is a vital part of development, and one of the best ways for kids to learn about their world.

To represent leisure, I made several felted woollen balls. These start out as pom-poms, which are then wrapped in wool roving or tops, tied up in the toe of a stocking, and washed until they felt into great, soft, lightweight balls. The balls are sturdy, and soft enough that if they get thrown at someone they won't hurt. Give a kid a ball, and they'll come up with a dozen different games to play with their peers, affording them both creativity, interaction, and of course, a whole lot of fun.


Freedom is all about having passion about things, and the autonomy do to something about it. This was easily the hardest of the lot to figure out an item for.

To represent freedom, I made a hand-knit pair of socks. While these socks won't do much but keep a little person's feet warm, they symbolize the ability to go anywhere and do anything a person wants.

In some versions of the list of fundamental human needs, there is a tenth 'unofficial' need added to the list: "Dream"

To my mind, this was a reminder that while we create lovely things for children and send them over, some things are limited by more than our ability to imagine and hope for better things, or even to hard work in acheiving them. Some things, like the ongoing KAS operation both in South Africa and in Australia, are also limited by their funding.

So to represent Dream, I have made a financial donation to the KAS organization, so that they can use it to help realize everyone's shared goal of a better life for the kids. I'd encourage everyone who's read this far to consider making their own donation to the KAS Dream as you start the new year.


You're a gem, truly inspirational! Thank you for sharing this with us.You have made so many beautiful things and I am thinking about challenges in a whole new way.

This is great! I love your explanation of it all.

And... I especially love the balls! I'm going to give that project a whirl - I've got some 100% wool yarn that is simply bad quality an scratchy, but it felts up beautifully!

Thank you! Have a great 2011!


The felt balls are great fun to make, because they're so fast! Scratchy wool is actually the best kind for felting, because the little hooks on the wool fibre which make it scratchy are the exact thing which makes strong and resilient felt.

well done!!!!!

Ronda and her crew will certainly be awed on opening this.

you certainly researched completely


I am so behind here on the forum.  Things have been so very busy for me.  I've been looking forward to New Year's Day and the gift of 'lazy hours' with which to do what one chooses.  I thought catching up here at the forum would be nice....


Am I ever so glad that I did not miss this post!


I am so impressed with how you've been able to take something abstract and vital and make it into something concrete that can be expressed for all to understand and enjoy.  Not only have you created wonderful things for the children but you've exposed many to Manfred Max-Neef's Fundamental Human Needs which is really, really cool.  


I really cannot tell you how awestruck and impressed I am.  Really.  I would need to write 7 pages just to tell you how incredibly clever and awesome this is.  what a way to make the intangible into something tangible.  I am in awe.


I will be smiling all day from reading this wonderful thread, and this post especially.


That's exactly what I thought Dawne.

Thank you so much Erica for giving so much thought and intelligence to this and then sharing it with us. You have so completely verbalised everything I have been groping towards and I am also in awe of your skill in producing such appropriate items. A wonderful post!


Erica, I am blown away! This is pretty much the first post that I read having just returned from a few weeks off and trying to get back into reality. What an awesome, awesome, awesome way for me to get my head right back into all things KAS. Thank you so much! An amazing effort, I just love it x x x
What a wonderful New Years day message for KAS, Erica. Well written and thought through. I'm sure that each KAS member will find at least one aspect that they can resonate too, and create their own versions - so thanks also for the inspiration, Mary Kristel & Sue are already on the case! Bless you for the No.10 aspect - finance for the KAS organisation. I've agreed to take on Finance & Funding as a new regular feature for the KAS Forum. I nearly put up the first appeal at midnight to start off the New Year, but the final paragraph was not reading well so I decided to delay until today - I'm so glad I did for your contribution is a great warm and caring kick-off!
I agree, this is superb Erica.  Bravo barely covers it.  What a wealth of inspiration for us all and so warmly lovingly done.  I am fascinated with the balls as regular balls take up so much space and weight that postage goes through the roof.  Do the pompoms have to be wool too or could they be acrylic and just wound with the wool?  I am asking as that combo would work for me.  Does anyone know if you can felt wool around an acrylic core?  Love the photos! Those puppets are super but the Snuggle Square is a great idea! I get a square that turned out too big or too small and presto, another Snuggle Square is born!



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