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Oxfam needs your help knitters!

Posted by laurapurlprincess on January 26, 2008

Oxfam logo

The nice people at Oxfam want to enlist the help of knitters around the country to knit or crochet squares for a giant baby blanket, which will highlight the lack of medical care for mothers in Africa and South East Asia.


Every minute, a woman with no medical care dies in pregnancy or childbirth

Millions of mums in poor countries get low-quality health care, or are forced to go without it altogether. High fees, a shortage of hospitals and clinics, and not enough doctors and midwives means women struggle to get the medical care they need and all that too often they don’t survive to look after their babies. In Africa and South East Asia pregnancy and childbirth represent the biggest cause of death amongst women of childbearing age.



Each square you can knit or crochet will represent a newborn baby, left needlessly without a mother because of lack of healthcare. These squares will be joined together and handed into the UK government in September.

African child


Here are the instructions on how to contribute:


Each square should be 9 inches in size and preferably made using double-knitting weight yarn. Please make sure that you use make a 9 inch square – odd sized squares can be very difficult to piece together.

You can use any type of yarn, provided that it is washable. All colours are welcome. Superwash wool or washable cotton yarns are particularly suitable. 

Plain stocking stitch always curls up at the sides. You can prevent this by knitting a narrow border of garter stitch all round the square. To do this, just knit the first and last five rows (no purling!), and always knit the first five and last five stitches of every row with your stocking stitch in between.  

Many people like to make patterned squares. You can find a dictionary of stitch patterns available free at each of the sites below: 


Others may wish to use up different coloured odds and ends of yarn to make striped or multicoloured squares. Some ideas and examples are available here: 


If you want to design your own multicoloured pattern, you can find special graph paper to do it at the sites below – just print out a sheet and have a go at creating your own unique square.


Crochet Squares are also very welcome. There is a wonderful selection of free patterns at the site below. You can enlarge the small squares by adding a few extra rounds until you reach nine inches. 


To finish please weave in all yarn ends on you squares and, if necessary, block them neatly to size. This will save lots of time when it comes to assembling the blankets.

Send knitted squares with your name, address and email by 1st August 2008 to:

Sarah Blakemore

Oxfam campaigns

47 Park Square East


LS21 2NL

Hapy knitting!


35 Responses to “Oxfam needs your help knitters!”

  1. […] The nice people at Oxfam want to enlist the help of knitters around the country to knit or crochet s… […]

  2. Debra Siu said

    We are the Relief Society of the Wembley Ward of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We participated in the knit a river project last year and would like to participate in knitting squares for your giant baby blanket. I know that once we get going, we could manage probably sackfuls of squares which would be expensive to post. Would your Oxfam shops take them for onward delivery to your HQ?

  3. S&B London said

    Hi Debra,
    Best to contact Oxfam and ask as this is thier project that they are organising.
    I hope they will accept your bags of squares! I;m sure they will be glad for the support.
    S&B London

  4. Aileen said

    Would love to knit some square – an excellent idea! but it will be a bit of a debut into the world of knitting for me. Could someone who can knit please tell me approx how many stitches to cast on to get a nine inch sqare! Cheers

  5. Sarah said

    Aileen – I’m very new as well, only ever managed scarfs – not using patterns.

    What I do know is that it depends on the yarn & needles you are using… Your best bet I’d say is to either go to a knitting shop and ask (they are usually very helpful) or a department store, haberdashery section.

    Hope this helps! 🙂

  6. Laura said

    Hi Aileen,

    Sarah’s advice is spot on. It’s all dependant on the yarn and needles you use. It owuld be a good idea to get someone at the shop to help you.

    I usually cast on a bunch of stitches, stretch them out on my needle and measure. For a 9′ square you should measure about 8″. Knit a few rows and check.

    Hope that helps


  7. Gillian said

    Hi Knitters

    If you look at any double knitting pattern it usually has a tension square you need to knit . Work out how many stitches you will need for the bigger 9inch square. Tension squares are often 4 inch x 4inches.


  8. pauline said

    The easiest way to get a square is to start off with one stitch and then increase a stitch at the beginning of every row until one of the sides measures 9″. Knitting the squares in this ‘diamond’ fashion gives a nice firm square.

  9. Jennie said

    I’m in. needles at the ready. Agree with Pauline, start with one stitch and increase beg of each row. easy, peasy! Way to go Oxfam, keep up the good work.

  10. lynne said

    Looking forward to joining and getting knitted – what a wonderful idea – a patchwork of love and a message to many. Thank you

  11. Cathy said

    The link for the crochet patterns isn’t working. Is there an alternative site?

  12. Jo said

    have LOTS of wool from half unpicked projects that never really worked…as a hopeless but willing knitter squares for Oxfam is just right! my first knitting was squares for sunday school in the 1950s….

  13. Michael said

    Manufacturers also put a tension square on their bands. So if it shows 22 stitches over 10cm i.e. 4 inches with size 8 needles then you will need 50 stitches for a 9″ square. Happy knitting.

  14. Geraldine said

    I have an old “Knitting for Oxfam” leaflet that includes patterns for basic T-shaped pullovers as well as instructions for blankets made from squares or strips. Do Oxfam still want these pullovers and 6×4 feet blankets? I have enough leftover wool to make about half a dozen.

  15. hedgewitch said

    thanks for that tip, Michael!

  16. Alex said

    For anyone who is a member of the Ravelry online community, we have just set up a Ravelry group for contributors. The group is called Oxfam blanket for maternal mortality – please come and join us!

  17. […] and I’ve been knitting some squares to send off. You can read more about it here and here (Ravelry group here). It seems really worthwhile, and I hope they make their target of 250 000 […]

  18. Michael said

    I don’t want to put anyone off Pauline’s idea. But when I did a ‘diamond’ type square the increase sides measured 9″ O.K. but the decrease edges came up in excess of 10″ and would be kinder difficult for the Oxfam folks to sew into a blanket. Your instructions did say no odd shape squares. I just pulled it out and started again the straightforward way.

  19. Josephine said

    Hello knitters!

    I’ve just noticed a little error in the postcode… It should be
    LS1 2NL

    Happy knitting!

  20. Helen said

    Answer for Geraldine regarding the Oxfam T shaped jumpers.
    No Oxfam don’t take the T shaped jumpers any more. The transport costs became too much. They will however accept the blankets, these do not go out to the 3rd world anymore for the same reason. They are sold at music festivals to raise funds.

  21. Steve said

    Michael said: “But when I did a ‘diamond’ type square the increase sides measured 9″ O.K. but the decrease edges came up in excess of 10″ and would be kinder difficult for the Oxfam folks to sew into a blanket. Your instructions did say no odd shape squares. I just pulled it out and started again the straightforward way.”

    I’ve always handknits blankets squares diagonally, and yes, I’ve produced some decidedly pear shaped “squares”, But if you sew them together sympathetically (ie, with an eye to the extra length on two sides), all comes out well in the wash… Similarly my machine knit blankets aren’t always composed of perfect squares, even though they’re knitted as cast on X, knit Y rows, but by the time they’re put together and so on, they keep the warm in as well graph paper velvet.

  22. Heather said

    I trust that once the woolly banner has made it’s point that it will be transformed into thousands of useful sized blankets and put to good use? I couldn’t bear the waste otherwise !!

  23. Bev Q said

    If your readers would like some more patterns to use I have plenty on this page:

    I also have this knitted 9″ square pattern on my site

    Bev of

  24. Jan said

    Hi all, great idea oxfam .My teenage daughter always thought knitting was for the oldies, but when I told her I was going to knit squares for this good cause she actually said she wanted to knit one to. So not all teenagers are bad and we now have another knitter in the pack.
    Great Goals everybody.

  25. Lucy said

    This is a great idea. How will the blanket be presented to the UK government?

  26. michael said

    O.K. So now the game is over and a small portion of the blanket has been given to Mrs Brown how come there is no report of this either here or on Oxfam’s own web site? The only thing I have seen was a very small picture in The Times with a very strange caption that gave indication of the origin of the ‘quilt’ or it’s significance. Was all our work for nothing?

  27. H said

    So, what happened? Sounds like a really good idea but I saw no publicity at the time. I work in an Oxfam shop and didn’t hear about it, which is a shame, because it would have been a good thing for getting people together.

  28. Audrey Astin- Stanley said


    Want to find pattern for T-shaped sweaters for children.Evidently there is an old oxfam pattern somewhwere. Can anyone help?

    • Sue Brookes said

      I knitted dozens of these jumpes and Oxfam had to stop taking them due to costs. Does anyone still have the pattern please as I knit non stop for International Aid who NEVER say no to anything.PLASE help.

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  30. Gwyneth Winter said

    I was hoping to be able to knit something for Oxfam to send to needy people but all I can see on your website is a need for squares to be worked and sent before 1st August 2008. Does this mean that you no longer require knitted items?

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