Knitting in the News: Political Craftivism

Let me begin with a disclaimer, that will apply to this post as well as any possibly politically charged issue that may be referenced on this blog in the future.

With the election and inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States, our population has begun to very openly express their political opinions, be it leftist, rightist, or down the middle.  For the purposes of this blog, I will strive to keep my own personal political beliefs out of the conversation and remain as neutral as possible.  I ask that any comments that  a politically themed post may generate remain respectful to anyone that may read them.  Comments are moderated, anything I deem offensive, crude, or an attack on another will be deleted. 

It’s 10 days after the inauguration of Donald Trump, and your local yarn shop is probably still a bit low on pink yarn.  By now, everyone knows about the “pussy hat” worn at the women’s marches around the county in response to the inauguration and comments of an offensive sexual nature that were brought to light during campaign season.

This week the brain beanie is on the rise (more pink yarn) to support those in the sciences that are being gagged.

Craftivism, is defined as the practice of engaged creativity, especially regarding political or social causes to bring about change via personalized activism.

I am in love with the concept of craftivism.  The idea of physically making something takes  time, energy, and dedication, more so than picking up something from the store pre-made.  The pussy hat (and I cringe using that word, my southern great-grandmother is rolling in her grave, and I would consider her a feminist) is certainly not the first act of craftivism but it certainly is the most well-known public example.

womens-march-on-washingtonPolitical viewpoints aside, I encourage you to check out the photos of the men and women wearing these hats, there are hundreds, if not a few thousand examples floating around.  You’ll find some obvious first-time knit and crochet projects out there.  How many new crafters were born out of this act political activism?  How many will get bitten by the yarn bug and will begin other projects?  In a culture where the average attention span has been reported to be 8 seconds; it’s amazing so many people were introduced to a skill that requires concentration and focus.  It’s healthy!

Love it or hate it, the pussy hat may have started another revolution.  Despite our own personal viewpoints on reason for this mass act of craftivism, crafters should be encouraging newcomers.  Not pushing them away because of their viewpoint.

I’m saddened by the reaction of several local yarn shops that have publicly stated that they are not interested in selling yarn that will be used in possible future acts of craftivism.  Shop owners have the right to do as they please, but it makes little to no sense to push aside customers for political views.

All I know is this crafter is more than happy to see more acts of craftivism, and am more than happy to teach that first-timer how to work that yarn around needles or hooks to make their statement.

Social Knitting?

When knitting comes up in conversation the image of a matronly woman sitting in a rocking chair often comes to mind.  There she sits, alone, needles clicking away at some beige colored yarn.  This is the reality of some, well, maybe without the rocking chair, or the age….or the beige yarn….

It’s the norm for some of us knitty types to just work in the comfort and privacy of  our own homes.   At the end of a stressful day I’m absolutely guilty of grabbing a project and heading for the couch, with a cup of tea, or something harder depending on just how stressful that day was.  I knit alone for the first four or five years after picking up needles for the first time, and then there was the discovery of whole knitting social networks out there.

It happened after I moved to the current homestead and stumbled into a local yarn shop.   In the center of this shop was a long table with chairs set all the way around it.  No one was there that afternoon but the owner brought up she had several times a week where other knitters would come in and work on projects together and invited me to come.  The concept was a bit foreign to me, it took a few weeks to take her up on the offer, but I finally packed up a project into a bag and headed back down to the shop on a Saturday afternoon.

No joke, my social life changed.  This introvert found her tribe! The shop was filled with a group of vibrant and varied individuals, both male and female, working away and laughing their asses off.  All ages, and walks of life were sitting around that table.  I was made to feel welcome within minutes after getting grilled with the typical who-are-you and what-do-you-do questions.  You know, the typical initiation into any group.  After meeting these people, my knitting began to travel with me wherever I went, and if there was more than a few minutes of waiting time, out the needles would come.

Sunday mornings would  usually begin with a caramel macchiato, people watching, and yarn manipulation at the local coffee-house.  That led to another invitation to a knitting group on Thursday evenings packed full of more amazing people after being discovered knitting in a corner.  For the better part of a year and a half, Thursdays and Saturdays had standing plans to meet up with these knitting nuts.  The Thursday group began to disolve after jobs and life began to impact schedules, but both groups have introduced me to friends that have become family.  I really don’t know how I’ve survived without some of these people in my life, and we all have one thing in common, we love making things out of yarn.

All that said, there have been studies pop up over the years (just google them) that have shown crafting with others can improve confidence and self-esteem, reduce stress, and help with feelings of isolation (well duh on that last one).

If you are in northeast Georgia, or north-metro Atlanta wander into Yarn Rhapsody  in Gainesville, on Saturday afternoon, we’re a welcoming kind of people, and don’t bite.  Claudia (owner) also carries an amazing selection of yarns.  Side note: there has been no payment for this endorsement, this shop has turned into my home away from home.

Grab your yarn and tools of choice and get out there.  Find a group!  Or just start knitting at your local coffee house, the group will find you.  Thank me later.