Donna's Writings

07/31/2017

We Knit Too: Diversity in Knitting

This year we journey together to explore our knitting roots and learn more about knitters and designers of many different backgrounds. As part of this project, I’ve created a series of guest posts to introduce you to designers who are women of color. Enjoy!


Hello! My name is Gaye Glasspie, most folks know me as GG from GGmadeit.com and I knit. I am the writer behind the blog Confessions of a YarnHo. I also happen to a POC (person of color) Did that statement make you gasp? Did it shock you? I pray your response was “no,” because in my opinion, one has nothing to do with the other.

I have been knitting for about 8 years now. I am self taught and never once did I think I shouldn’t knit because of my race. I have traveled the states for work and have met some of the kindest folks ever through my knitting. I wear glasses but I am not blind, therefore, I noticed that I would often be one of the few, if not only, brown faces present. Again, I didn’t think it was an issue until recently. Well there was that incident in Florida, but we won’t talk about that right now. *rolls my eyes hard*

Let me start with I was raised to treat people the way I want to be treated. So even when life kicks me in the teeth, I greet everyone I meet with a smile. I don’t do labels, wait can we talk about that Plucky Yarn though? I digress, my point is if I meet you and you knit, that’s the important part. I don’t care if you are young, old, male, female, blind..,wait that would be so cool. You all get the point right?

The 2017 Fall edition of Knitscene features lil ole me in the blog spotting section. *insert big ole cheesy grin* Yes they spotted the YarnHo and I couldn’t be more proud. As a result, my followers have increased as well as the activity in my inbox. It goes down in the DM’s, isn’t that what the kids say? LOL! Just about every congratulatory note mentioned the fact that I was black. A few of them even referred to me as the black face of knitting and I was immediately like wait, what? I wanted to say “are you not on Ravelry?”, there are tons of us doing some amazing knitting.

I have this delayed reaction disease, am I the only one? When I think back, anytime I wear my T-shirts with my logo (a natural haired black woman knitting) I ALWAYS get stopped. Heck I was just happy that folks like the shirt, and prayed they purchase. I never ever thought they liked it because it represented a POC knitting. Then I remember when I was looking for pictures for my Knitting in Black History board on Pinterest. I struggled finding many pics, but my reaction was not one of dejection. I just felt like some work needed to be done.

We, POC, can do anything that anyone else can do, if that is what we want to do. I guess the real issue is exposure. I think those in power should be more diverse because we are out here knitting our tails off. We purchase yarn too, hence the blog title: Confessions of a YarnHo, LOL! To quote Lorna Hamilton Brown, who just submitted her dissertation on “ Myth: Black People don’t Knit: the importance of art and oral histories for documenting the experienced of black knitter” at the end of June “Say it Loud, I knit and I’m proud!


Follow GG online:
Ravelry.com | Facebook.com | Instagram | Blog: Confessions of a YarnHo

Diversity Series 2017, Knitting, Subversive Knitting
82 Comments
  1. GG! You are an amazing and talented knitter! And an even better person! I have loved following you this far.

    • Thank You Sarah!

      • Hi GG, I started God’s Hugs Prayer Shawl Ministry of Rush Temple Ame Zion Church Queens, New York in 2010. I was wandering were are all the POC who knit/or chochet were at. I would Google african american prayer shawl Ministries and only found 2. One was from Austin, TX. This will be our second year going down to see them in September to fellowship with them. Also, They came up to see use about 2 years ago. Thank you so much for your blog. Very educational and up lifting. Check out our website godshugsprayershawl.weebly.com. You will get am idea what we do. Many Blessings

  2. GG I love your Facebook post and your blog! Keep writing, sharing and knitting (in orange)!

  3. Thanks for sharing GG! And thanks for always speaking about the hard truths with sincerity, compassion and acceptance! You’re a model of love and grace!

  4. From one POC to another, keep the sharing and inspiration flowing my knitting sister. Your energy has touched many of ALL colors! Do not let anyone steal your thunder! There’s always a few bad apples in a bunch! Happy knitting!

  5. Thanks for your wonderful article GG! I love diversity in all its diverse forms, I love bold women, I love orange, I love fellow yarnho’s, so it’s no wonder I love you! xoxo

  6. Go, your fb posts bring me sunshine every day! I have taken pause to your being a POC who knits. After reading your great article, I question whether I have done a dis-service to you. But then, many tourists have asked if I’m Amish, when I knit in public! The resounding answer is NO! I live in Lancaster County, Pa.? So knit on, beautiful lady, and continue share your fabulous smile! You make the world a better place!

  7. I came across GG through Lorna Hamilton Brown who actually interviewed me for her MA dissertation. No-one has ever remarked to me that ‘black people don’t knit’ and it’s just as well. I’m black, have knitted since I was taught by my Mum (who’s also black) at 7 yrs old and have worked as a knitwear designer for over 25 years. I have a white husband, am wearing blue trousers, a black flowery top and orange leather slippers ( just incase you’re wondering it’s ok I’m working at home). Why should we mention colour at all? In some instances it’s because sadly there are still some narrow minded people around who actually believe that certain ethnicities don’t do this or are better at that due to their colour. I lived in Scotland for 14 years and not once did anyone remark how strange it was to see a black woman knit although a lot of them were gobsmacked by how I cast on and knitted ( I knit Continental rather than traditional Scottish) GG is a wonderfully warm, enthusiastic lady. Sending love to her and everyone whatever their colour or background x

  8. PS I also have a friend who is a POC who wrote and dessigned patterns which appeared inn many magazi

  9. GG

    I’m so glad I stumbled upon your page and it wasn’t because I googled POC who knit or crochet.
    I’ve been a follower ever since. just read the article and comments. I was drawn to you because of your vibrant personality, you are so orange! I use to sit on the floor of Goldman’s s a child. My mother knitted and showed me how to knit, this all being approximately 57 years ago. My mother’s two friends always knitted as well, along with her friends who were considered,”white.” All I saw were house holds with knitters of different cultural backgrounds. I also crochet and was taught by a friend of mine’s mother, POC. The only colors that matter arre the color(s) of the yan you use to create .

  10. Way to go GG! Excellent article and I am so proud to be a POC who knits too! I don’t remember where I first heard about you, but have been a fan ever since!

  11. I have been following GG for a few years, and I find her to be inspiring and uplifting. It was exciting to stumble upon another natural knitter, and someone so full of joy for life and yarn of course!

  12. This is a great article about perception and judgement. What amazes me the most is that other people are amazed to learn we do knit or crochet, with our own two hands. Lol! As if there is some secret society only known to one group and said group has cornered the market on any one thing. Just really insane.

  13. GG in one of my favorite people! Thank you so much for spot lighting her! I guess I’m in the minority of people that do not understand why people see color instead of personality, talent, smiles etc… Beautifully written GG!

  14. I first met GG in her Knitscene article. I read lots of knitting magazines but was moved by GG’s smile, enthusiasm, and honesty. Her smile is contagious and she makes me feel that I, too, can accomplish a lot in this beautiful creative world! GG is a true leader with a heart of gold! I am sorry if color (skin) is an issue for people. It’s so NOT what’s truly important! Carry on Miss GG! You have many friends out here! We love you!

  15. GG is the best! I first met her through knitting in Bryant Park with Knitty City in NYC.
    GG, keep on doing what you are doing! You inspire so many!

    Love to you! ❤️❤️❤️

  16. Keep on knitting and keep on writing ! You are an inspiration to all of us !!

  17. Hey GG,
    You know when I first seen the POC acronym I was like why she did she point this out? Then I read on and then I said oh yeah I get it now and I remember your story from FL, still pisses me off that this is a reality. At any rate I’m also a POC who lives and loves to crochet and knit; also self taught via YouTube. I find that when I meet anyone who has the same passion as I do we have some of that kismet thing going on and we feel a instant connection. And then on other hand I can come across some folks who feel as if they’re superior because they have more knowledge or instagram followers than you do. And they look their noses at you and not let you in their circle; believe me I’ve been there. It can become somewhat of downer, but hey I’ve never met anyone see me sweat! Pause… I was about go on and on. All you can do with those folks and look at them side ways and keep it moving. And I say all this GG to say that I’m 100% superbly proud of you my sistah for taking the risks and following thru with what you love and not letting nothing or anyone stopping your journey!

    • Thank you Erica! My grandmother taught me you are what you respond to and that person they think shouldn’t knit..well that is not ME!

      thanks for reading and responding!

  18. I have to admit when you said POC, I immediately thought of the bright colors you knit with, especially orange.

  19. Proud to be another yarnho who embraces the many hues of folks who knitvas well as the many hues of the fibers that flow through our fingers!!!

  20. I don’t feel so alone when I read this?

  21. I love GG, and follow her because she makes amazing things; because her pictures are filled with cheery orange; and because she has the BEST smile – always makes my day better!
    Not sure what happened in FL, but as someone who lives there (still a NYC Yankee at heart :) – deepest apologies :(

    • The only thing that matters about Florida, is 98% of the places I visited I would consider my home away from home. The other place doesn’t warrant a discussion and absolutely doesn’t require an apology from you. Thanks for reading

  22. So proud to say I too am a POC who loves knitting and loves following you! Sending hugs and positive thoughts from your fiber Godmommy!

  23. I’ve been following you for I don’t know how long (because good relationships feel like that: they’re a part of You that seem like they’ve always been there) and you teach me something with every post. It may be a new technique, a new yarn, or most importantly, enforcing how much we love this craft and how it feeds our souls. It is our refuge and our creative outlet, and I share it, like you, whenever I can, with whomever I can. You inspire me!

  24. Love this article, and love you, sweety! Keep on knitting and being your fantastic self!

  25. You are such a remarkable woman GG, please continue to inspire others to share what they create with the world. Your light shines and brightens the fiber community. God bless you in all you endeavors.

  26. I have been following GG for a couple of years and she is such an inspiration. Her knitting and attitude are amazing. She inspires me to try things in knitting that scare me at first. Meeting her one day is at the top of my bucket list,

  27. I just learned of GGMadeit a few months ago through a doll making class. Since then following her blog and other outlets. I have learned so much. Enjoyed every written word ,video and periscope.
    Love the moves your making GG. CONGRATULATIONS!

  28. Where is the lie????
    We are HERE!
    We KNIT!
    We are PROUD!

    **ANNDDD we buy lots of yarn!!**

  29. You have been an absolute treasure of a find! I am of Inuit and British heritage, so knitting is a relatively recent arrived thing to my family on this side of the Atlantic, 5-6 generations maybe? But like everything else, a skill that improved living conditions in the North, knitting took hold quickly and firmly.

    We all have the power to make choices about how we think of any given person. For the love of everything rational and holy, make your judgments based on actions not appearance. Handsome is as handsome does. And you are doing wonderfully! I think the age old craft gained a wonderful ambassador the day you decided to pick up a set of needles!

    Keep on stitchin’!

  30. Gentle chuckle as I shake my head. Yes POC knit. I continue to be intrigued by my now deceased Mother telling me about her Dad as a little boy seeing his Mother turn the heel of a sock. Huh? To give you a rough timeline when Grandpa witnessed that, my Mom would have been 99 November 4th, 2017.i wish I had known that years and years and years ago. And that I had been into knitting as heavily then! What else could I learned about the history of knitting in my own family who are POC!! I hope a history of POC in knitting can and will be compiled. It will be found in bits and pieces such as in a book by Precilla Gray, Mighty Rough Times I Tell You which compiles interviews of former slaves who were at least 10 years old by the time of the Civil War. The interview titled Knitting My Way Through is the one you will want to look for. Thank you GGmadeit! A follower in Chicago, IL.

  31. Comment *Hi Gaye! I’m so proud of you! We met through Facebook as I admired your passion for big chunky knits! Keep smiling my dear, and don’t worry about what people say. You are a fabulous knitter in your own right! ?

  32. When Ravelry first started I looked for and friended as many black people I could find bc there are basically none here in SC. One of the white girls at knit night commented about it, asking why all of my ravelry ‘friends’ where black….I asked her why all of hers were white.

    When I am knitting/crocheting in public, black people often comment that they didn’t realize black ppl still did ‘that’.

  33. Yes! I love reading your blog and Facebook posts. We don’t really think of color just the creativity that unites us.

  34. Hey GG! I love your energy and enthusiasm. I’ve been connected to you in some way or other since I found you in Google groups quite a while ago. I’ve always felt you were a beautiful woman. Period. No adjectives needed. In the age of instagram and FB there is no need for more descriptive labels. We all have eyes to see. Keep putting out that creative vibe. oooxxx

  35. I’ve been following GGMadeit for a few years, since Gayle first invited people to follow from the facebook knitting group we have been in. I’ve even exchanged a few messages about knitting and activism with her over the years. One if the photos on her Pinterest board is of my little girl learning to knit. She inspires me as a knitter, and she inspires my daughter’s quest to have natural hair. She inspires because her joy and her kindness can not be contained.

  36. Love this, I’ve been folloyGG for a while now. Haven’t yet meet her in person but I love her! I too am a POC self taught knitter of 30 plus years. Love my craft, thank you, that’s all.

  37. Thank you for sharing my story. I love what you are doing with this series. You are the best!

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