SA’s KnitWits exceed target with 29 km long scarf for Mandela Day

THOUSANDS of KnitWits for Madiba have more than doubled the Guinness World record by knitting a scarf that measured over 27 km.

The enormous masterpiece beat previous record holder Mother India’s Crochet Queens‚ a women empowerment organisation‚ which in May last year crocheted a 14,089-km long scarf.

The organisation 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day celebrated what would have been Madiba’s centenary birthday by breaking the Guinness World Record for the longest crocheted scarf by a team‚ which was laid out at the historic Nelson Mandela capture site in Howick on Sunday.

The team had set a target of 27 km — signifying the number of years Madiba was imprisoned — but exceeded that, reaching 29,16 km.

The organisation’s founder Carolyn Steyn said: “It’s a massive accomplishment. It was four-and-a-half months of work which was very little time to make close to 19 000 scarfs which came from all corners of South Africa.

“South Africans are amazing people and they love a challenge. When we put a challenge to them they rise every single time,” she said.

Steyn said there was no better way to pay tribute to Madiba than in the way they have done this year.

“On April 24, we created the largest portrait blanket in the world depicting Madiba’s beautiful face. It was so big you could only see his face from the sky and via satellite. That kickstarted the Mandela centenary celebrations.

“When I realised that our work was done with that masterpiece, the idea came. I sent out the message to KnitWits for us to create the longest scarf in the world measuring 27 km — one kilometre per year that Madiba spent behind bars.”

Steyn said about a month ago, they only had four kilometres at the 67 blankets headquarters.

“At the time I thought do we continue, do we cancel or do we postpone? The following day I went to my school, Jeppe High for Girls, and they handed over four kilometres and I realised we had a fighting chance,” she said. “The country rallied and everybody was crocheting. We had knitathons all around the country galvanising people to turn out scarfs as quickly as possible.” Leading up to the big day‚ thousands of people crocheted scarves to the exacting standards of the Guinness World Book criteria of 20x200 cm per scarf. It took two days to lay out.

Steyn said within the next two weeks the scarves would be returned to their provinces of origin and distributed to communities in need.