How you can help

We would like your help...

Patients at State hospitals and clinics in South Africa are typically destitute, malnourished, as well as being very sick or injured. Many are jobless, many are homeless, and many have no loved-ones to provide the basic needs for them in hospital.

The Ruth Mailbag Group strives to provide for the needs of destitute moms and babies in the maternity and NICU of our local state hospital and several other hospitals in our country who have asked for our help by providing them with a basic baby pack for their new and or sick babies.

If you can assist please get in touch with us through or visit our blog at for more information.

Yours sincerely,
Joy Coetzee
Founder – The Ruth Mailbag Group

Or a hospital near you... please, browse through the following list, I’m sure you will find a government hospital near you to support:
Contact Details of Public Hospitals in South Africa -
Eastern Cape -
Gauteng Province -
Johannesburg -
KZN -;
Port Elizabeth -
Western Cape -

Wednesday, 27 February 2013



WELCOME TO ALL OUR NEW MEMBERS – Thanks to all the community newspapers who support our cause e.g. the Berea Mail, Northglen News, Benoni City Times, Springs Advertiser, Germiston City News, we have nearly 100 new members, who have made contact with us recently and who are working for the babies at the Government Hospitals near them.  We have started with a beanie project but will expand this to include them in all our other projects starting in March.  We trust that YOU will ALL have a long and happy association with our group over many years of crafting for the babies in our various communities.

THANK YOU - Allyson Johnson, Australia; Amy Lubik, Port Coquitlam, Canada; Ann Green, UK; Anonymous; Antoinette Joubert & Tannie Fannie, Strubenvale, Springs; Benoni City Times; C Goddard, Surrey, UK; Carol Bower, UK; Colleen & Mabel Raciborska, Pietermaritzburg; Di Watts; Doreen, family & friends; Francis Labuschagne; Gail Rozendal; Gerty; Joan de Pindray; Judy Bryer, West Sussex, UK; Karin Strauss; Kathy Platts, Loughborough, England; Knit & Natter, Harworth, UK; Linda Ward, West Midlands, England; Looklocal Benoni; Looklocal Berea; Looklocal Germiston; Looklocal Springs; Lorraine Baxter, New Zealand; Louise de Kock; Lynda Hobley & Aunt, UK; Margaret Wood, Hampshire, UK; Marthie Labuschagne, Hercules; Meisie; Mr/s Laidler, UK; Mrs Jerome; Margaret Potter, England; Northglen News; Renate; Retha Fountain; Shirley Brownlee, Norway; Springs Advertiser; St John’s Church, Carlton-in-Lindrick, UK; St Mark’s Church, Oldcotes, UK; Sue Richardson Morley, West Sussex, UK; Yvonne Summerfield, England.


Yvonne Kidd: The parcels continue to come in and they are all very substantial. Good to see all the good hearts out there!  Thanks!!!

Port Shepstone Hospital: March 2013 - Port Shepstone Hospital: Dear Mrs Coetzee, Thank you so much for this contribution, it’s really making a difference in people’s lives.  Once again, thank you, Mrs PP Morai (PRO), On behalf of Port Shepstone Hospital Board.

King Edward VIII Hospital: On Mon, Feb 25, 2013 at 12:41 PM, Ndlela Nontobeko <> wrote: Good day, I thought you have items to give out already because we do get from organisations who have collected or rather willing to donate. I do not think we would like to be advertised as people, who need such donations; I am sure there are hospitals that really need such than us. We only receive as a good gesture not that we go out seeking for such. For that reason, I would like to unsubscribe.

King Edward VIII Hospital has been unsubscribed as requested.  We know from personal experience that patients at Government hospitals in South Africa are typically destitute, malnourished, as well as being very sick or injured. Many are jobless, many are homeless, and many have no loved-ones to provide the basic needs for them in hospital, so, this last message was both a SURPRISE AND A FIRST for me.  However, it brought me to remembering a song that was popular in my youth and the following lyrics came to mind, “I've looked at life from both sides now, From win and lose and still somehow, It's life's illusions I recall, I really don't know life at all.”


Saturday, 9 February 2013: Gifted to Isabelle Osethu Crèche (Daphne's crèche) 62 medium size beanies. Thank you Knit-a-square for these beautiful beanies, they have now all found forever homes. Bless you and thank you!

Sunday, 10 February 2013: Gifted 19 newborn sets and 10 premature sets…  smallest group we have gifted in a long while…  moms were very chatty and thrilled with their packs, several asked if I was selling and when I assured them that it was a present for their new baby, they were so excited, ululated and chorusing “thank you”, a particularly responsive group, even those who obviously had just come out of the theatre, still attached to drips and looking as though they could do with some sleep.  To everybody who makes this gifting possible, bless you and thank you, may you know in your hearts how grateful these moms are for our little gifts.

Sunday, 17 February 2013: Gifted to 21 newborn babies and 12 premature babies, mommies all grateful, staff expressed their appreciation, too. Pleasant social visit.  Thank you for your support!

Sunday, 24 February 2013: Gifted 22 Newborn and 15 premature babies. 2 moms in KMC. The newborn babies were being bathed and the new moms were being taught how to bath their babies. A very, very tiny baby in NICU and I ask that you say a special prayer for this baby and his very young mom.  Thank you for making this gifting possible.

MEETING – Every first Saturday of the month at 14h00 to about 16h00 at the Juana Maria Home, Francis Road, Ladysmith.  Bring knitting, crocheting, looming, sewing, donations, patterns and/or wool to swap...  We will discuss past projects, current projects and future projects, a show and tell of our donations and works in progress...  When the business of the day has been completed we will sit back to relax and socialise!!! Look forward to seeing you there!!!


1.      Lenten challenge

2.      March – Easter Babies and Easter eggs for the moms!

3.      Knit baby beanies to help keep our babies warm this winter – deliver to any state hospital near you

4.      April – Freedom Day babies

5.      May – Winter Warmers

6.      June – Nelson Mandela Day

7.      World Wide Knit in Public Day – June 8, 2013

8.      July – Christmas in July


Name of hospital: Tambo Memorial Hospital
Address for donations: Boksburg
Name and telephone number of staff liaison person: Please email your intention to make a delivery to, For Attention: Chief Matron T Moloko, and then they will advise you who the contact person for your delivery will be.
Needs: Premature and Newborn baby clothes and blankets
Website: .

PATTERNS – With winter fast approaching I would like to suggest we put the short sleeved vest / singlet / pullover pattern away and concentrate on long sleeved garments for premature and newborn babies in our various communities.  You may like to try the following patterns, but nothing stops you using your own favourite patterns:

FINISHING ITEMS - Please finish your items before sending. I have been receiving items with NO buttons, NO ties, etc. I may not have the same yarn you used to make the item, so, therefore I can't finish it. It just takes a minute to go through your items to make sure they are done. After all, you work so hard to make these beautiful items why not finish them. :-)

BLANKETS - Preemie blankets should be 24 x 24 inches. No smaller, please. 3 or 4 ply yarn can be used. Our preemie hospitals really prefer the larger blankets :-) Round ripple blankets are beautiful for newborns but they are not good for preemie isolettes, so, please only make them for newborns.  Most hospitals prefer 30 x 30 inches size blankets, that way they can be used in the units and taken home for newborns.

COLOURS – This is Africa and we all enjoy colour, from the pastels through the whole spectrum to the brights and so do the moms and babies.

SIZES – We gift babies of all sizes and weights, from under a kilo to newborn babies of 3 kilograms.

SWEATERS / JACKETS / TOPS - Should fit 4 or 5 lbs and up as most hospitals like them for going home. The tiny sweaters are NOT used in the unit; they want the sweaters to put on the babies when leaving.  Make sure the booties you make are easy for the nurses to get on the babies feet. We don't want booties that make it difficult to get on. A sweater that fits in the palm of your hand does no good. It will NOT be used. Please think about a little baby. Make your items to fit 4 or 5 lbs and up, please, sweaters any smaller will not be used!!!

Last but by no means the least... POSTAL STRIKE IN SOUTH AFRICA - FOR THE TIME BEING PLEASE DO NOT SEND ANY PARCELS BY AIRMAIL OR ANY LARGE CONSIGNMENTS OR BOXES.  Please continue to send small parcels or packets, as these are likely to trickle through as they do not require Post Office Counter Staff to issue charges. Bless you and thank you for your co-operation.

Happy crafting, shopping or sorting your cupboards for good quality gently used goodies!

Joy Coetzee - Founder

The Ruth Mailbag Group

Proverbs 31 - 13. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.  20. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.  31. Honour her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Contact details: Fax 086 516 4618; Email

Related links:!forum/the-ruth-mailbag- (General information e.g. projects, newsletters, etc); (General information and we share photos of our knitting/crocheting and patterns); (General information and photos of the donations);

FREE LISTING – HOSPITALS WHO NEED BABY FRIENDLY ITEMS: Please complete tear strip below and return to or fax 086 516 4618 or mail to: The Ruth Mailbag Group, C/o Foto First, 180 Murchison Street, Ladysmith 3370.

Name of hospital:

Address for donations:



Name of staff liaison person:

Telephone number of staff liaison person:





Thursday, 21 February 2013

Easter Baby

How you can help

there are many items you could donate to

Easter Baby

Closing date for this project – 1st Saturday in April

Easter eggs for the moms

Wool/buttons/lace/ribbon/fabric & sewing cotton

Blankets/clothes/toys/toiletries for preemie & newborn babies

New and good quality 2nd hand goods

All items donated are much appreciated


“For charity – NO retail value”



Then why not join us or send in your finished items

Please remember to add your name and address / email so I can let you know they have arrived...
Contact -; Fax 086 516 4618; Related link -

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

"Baby its Cold Outside"


The Ruth Mailbag Group is a Volunteer Organisation based in Ladysmith in the KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa. This group is intended primarily for the Ladysmith area and surrounds, but please feel free to join in and then arrange collection points in your own area no matter where you are in South Africa or globally. The Ruth Mailbag Group is an initiative which would be of benefit to all countries/towns and villages worldwide and particularly in Africa where there is an undeniable need. If you're serious about using your knitting and crocheting skills and even your organisational skills, or simply if you want to get involved and inspire, The Ruth Mailbag Group welcomes you with open arms.

We are trying to get all communities involved with our "Baby its Cold Outside" initiative - be a caregiver in your own hometown and hook up with us! Start your own branch of The Ruth Mailbag Group in your own community!

Crafters to knit and crochet items for preemies and newborn babies e.g. warm hats, mittens, booties, socks, slippers, jerseys, jackets, vests and blankets
for your own community.

This project will run all year!!! Call your friends, get together, and let's warm babies in need! Please tell others about this project! Let's warm the babies this winter. Here are some ideas for places that might need what you make: Paediatrics wards, NICU's and maternity wards. You choose. Let's see if we can get someone from as many countries/towns and villages as possible, involved! As you complete items feel free to Join Us on Facebook & write on the event wall. Let's start helping babies today! Please join in and be “counted”.

If you are craft challenged please consider donating bought items and items that cannot be handmade e.g. toiletries, supplies for knitting, crocheting and sewing, etc.

Please help!

Joy Coetzee

The Ruth Mailbag Group

Related links:!forum/the-ruth-mailbag-

Contact details:
Fax 086 516 4618

Monday, 11 February 2013

Winter in South Africa - Appeal for winter warmers

Winter in South Africa (May to July) is characterized in the higher-lying areas of the interior plateau by dry, sunny, crisp days and cold nights. So it’s a good idea to make and donate warm clothes with long sleeves and long pants.
The hot, humid KwaZulu-Natal coast, as well as the Lowveld (lower-lying areas) of Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces, offer fantastic winter weather with sunny, warmish days and virtually no wind or rain.
The Western Cape gets most of its rain in winter, with quite a few days of cloudy, rainy weather. However, these are always interspersed with wonderful days to rival the best of a British summer.
The high mountains of the Cape and the Drakensberg in KwaZulu-Natal usually get snow in winter.
Patterns to get you going; you may also use any pattern of your own choice:

Thank you in advance for your support!

Contact details: Fax 086 516 4618; Email

Address all your post to: The Ruth Mailbag Group, “No Commercial Value - For Charity Only”, C/o Foto First, 180 Murchison Street, Ladysmith 3370, South Africa.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

We need bootees, please!!!

We have run out of bootees and hope that you will have oddments of yarn that you can use to knit some bootees for the babies (premature and newborn), please. You may like to try one of these patterns –


Size; 32 weeks.

Length; 7cm.


1 x 25g ball 3 ply 100% wool.

1 pair 3.25mm needles.

Cast on 42 sts. Knit 22 rows garter stitch.

Cast off 9 sts at the beginning of next 2 rows. Knit 16 rows.

Next row; K2 tog along the row.

Repeat above row.

Cast off remaining stitches and sew up side seams.


Size; 1.8kg 2.5kg 3kg.

Length; 7cm 8c 9cm.


1 x 25g ball 4 ply 100% wool – main colour.

Remnants for contrast x 2.

1 pair each 2.75 and 3.25 needles.

Using main colour and 2.75mm needles cast 31 (33) (35) sts.

1st row; Right side, K1, *P1, K1 rep from * to end.

2nd row; P1, *K1, P1 rep from * to end.

Work 12 rows of rib as above.

Repeat 1st and 2nd row 5, (6), (7) times.

Change to 3.25 needles and continuing in main colour start with a knit row and then continue

in stocking stitch for 8 (10) (12) rows, finishing with the right side facing.

Divide for instep:

K19 (21) (23) turn.

Next row; P7, (9) (11) turn.

Work in stst on these 7 (9) (11) sts for 8 (8) (10) rows.

Dec 1 st at each end of last rowo n 9cm size only 7 (9) (9).

Break yarn, slip these sts onto a safety pin.

With right side facing rejoin yarn to right side of instepand knit up 8 (7) (8) sts evenly from side of

instep. and knit up 7 (7) (8) sts evenly down left side of instep.

Knit remaining 12 sts on left hand needle 45 (47) (49).

Work in garter stitch for 3 rows. Using contrast work 4 rows garter stitch.

Change to main colour and work 2 rows garter stitch.

Shape foot:

1st row; K1, *K2 tog, K17, (18) (19) K2 tog, K1, rep from *once more. 41 (43) (45) sts.

2nd row; Knit.

3rd row; K1, *K2 tog, K15 (16) (17), K2 tog, K1 rep from * once more. 37 (39) (41) sts.

4th row; Knit.

Cast off.

(Pattern – Wellington Children’s Hospital)

Another Easy Knitted Booties pattern from my friend Marthie Labuschagne -

4ply baby wool and 3.25mm needles

Cast on 28 sts. Knit 10 rows.
Row 11: K12, K2 tog, K2 tog, K12.
Row 12: Knit across
Row 13: K11, K2 tog, K2 tog, K11.
Row 14: Knit across.
Row 15: K10, K2 tog, K2 tog, K10.
Row 16: Knit across.
You should have 22 sts.

Rib these sts for 10 rows,K1,P1 or K2,P2. Cast off in ribbing.
Fold finished bootie in half and sew the center back seam and sole closed.

Phyllis Botha’s cute bootee

3 ply use 12 knitting needles
4 ply use 11 knitting needles
Cast on 50 sts
Knit 8 rows plain
Row 1 k21, k2tog, k4, k2tog, k21
Row 2 p20, p2tog, p4, p2tog, p20
Continue this way till 30 sts remain
Knit 2 rows
Then make ribbon holes - *k1, wl fwd, k2tog, repeat from * to end.
Purl 1 row
Knit 2 rows
Work 5 rows in k1, p1 rib
Cast off loosely

Thank you in advance for your support!

Contact details: Fax 086 516 4618; Email;;;

Address all your post to: The Ruth Mailbag Group, “No Commercial Value - For Charity Only”, C/o Foto First, 180 Murchison Street, Ladysmith 3370, South Africa.