Just chiming in with my thoughts about KAS.
The reason we send squares and not blankets is largely to do with customs. A full blanket would be considered a gift or 'something of a value' that could then be resold. A stack of squares have no immediate retail value and when marked "FOR CHARITY ONLY" and "NO COMMERCIAL VALUE" seem to be just fine. We are lucky that the folks in S. Africa who work in the Post Office have been so wonderful as there is a wonderful volume of envelopes and boxes arriving weekly.
With regards to patterns I suggest you visit Ravelry and check out the Knit a Square group. You can see what other KAS members have made, what yarns and needles etc.., You can do a people search for me, justdawne, and see my squares. I always give details of what yarn and how many stitches cast-on.
I count myself as one of the many knitters who dislike swatching for gauge. And yet, I do have to say it has been necessary to my success in making 8 inch squares. Once I know how many stitches I'm getting to the inch I just multiply that number by 8. I have found that the average DK yarn worked with 4mm (US 5) or even 4.5mm needles needs about 32 stitches cast on.
If you have an excess of finer yarns you can Navajo ply them, creating 3 strands from a single ball. The squares will knit up quickly on larger needles. I do this a lot for speed and for thickness/warmth.
Don't worry over much if your squares are just shy of 8" or a bit larger. The dedicated and talented folks in the Soweto Comfort Club are able to make works of art out of every sent square by matching it with others of the same size/weight. Just do your best and have fun at it is my motto.
I look forward to getting to know each of you better and seeing your squares. When you have a moment please add a comment on
the blog post so we know who's in?