19 Nov 2016

I’m working on a list of how we can do what I am going to call “Knitting as a Political Act” (ht to Rick Steves).

I’m talking about using our knitting as a subversive, activist, protest. Here are some of my ideas. I’d love to hear yours in the comments.

(I’m not talking about charity knitting, which is something that I see as being quite different.)

1) Yarn bombing with a message. Maybe the message is knit in text into a banner or poster to carry in a protest. Maybe the messages is conveyed in the colors (rainbow) or motifs (safety pins). But the message has to be explicit and obvious for it to count as political knitting.

1b) Knit sweaters and accessories with political messages knitted in. Wear them proud!

1c) Designers: create patterns with political and activist messages.

2) Create a diverse group of knitters and talk to each other about issues — no fighting or yelling. I have some specific ideas for how to moderate a group like this that I’ll be writing up soon.

Knitted Womb by MK Carroll. Pattern on Knitty.com

Knitted Womb by MK Carroll. Pattern on Knitty.com

3) I’m re-booting my Government-Free VJJ program in January to send knit, crochet, sewn, felted uterus softies to anti-choice politicians. (You can find the pattern in the photo on Knitty.)

4) Whenever you knit or publish a pattern, share information about the people, history, and culture represented in the techniques and patterns you make. Knitting was brought to the USA by immigrants. To appreciate knitting is to appreciate the contributions of immigrants. Say it loud.

5) Create a group of activist knitting friends and work together on common causes, raise money for organizations like the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, the NAACP, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and so forth. Go to protests together. Call your representatives regularly.

6) Support the use of environmentally friendly yarns and fibers. There are a couple of books about this available and I’ll work on a page of suggestions and information about different fibers and yarns and how they are processed.

7) Boycott yarn manufacturers and craft store chains that are racist, sexist, or homophobic. Spread the word about them.

8) Don’t let knitting take the place of other activism such as attending protests, calling and writing your representatives, voting, and so forth.

9) If you’re a designer or yarn company, don’t be silent about injustice and bigotry. Speak out without fear of losing customers. Get some balls (of yarn) and take a stand.

10) Promote the work of designers, crafters, and fiber artists who are not white. Help make the crafting world more diverse and inclusive.

Knitting as a Political Act 1

Skullness Bag, Free on Ravelry

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10 Responses to Knitting as a Political Act
  1. These are great ideas, Donna. I thought of one more…create a book club/knitting group and read and discuss books about civil rights, civil disobedience, dystopia, history, etc.

  2. What a great idea! Can’t wait to see how it goes!

  3. I downloaded your resist hat. Going to make it in a nice politically democrat blue. I made pussy hats for my friends and me for the women’s marches. Thanks a million for this idea!!! I look forward to more of them!!!

  4. I wholeheartedly back everything your saying about inclusivity in the knitting community. I am also among the white privileged since the only racism I’ve ever experienced is the black community against me. I believe that many of us do not intentionally want to be racist or promote any kind of racism but sometimes are just not sure how to go about it and afraid of doing the wrong thing. I do NOT condone any kind of bullying or revenge tactics. I think that is a step backwards and only causes more division. We are all learning and changing but we need freedom to do that because the road ahead is not always clear. There has to be an air of tolerance during this time of change. We hear you, we see you and we respect your rights and needs. Be patient!

    • There’s no such thing as black racism against white people. There may be individual black people who don’t like white people but that’s not the same thing. Racism is a system of culture that overwhelmingly gives privilege to one group over others–and it’s white people in our world that get to have that privilege. Hence the term white supremacy. The system is rigged so white people win with less work. And it’s also set up so that those white folks who are not rich or prosperous will side with the rich and powerful whites against people of color and immigrants. It’s not just about bullying or the hateful actions of individual people. It’s about a system that oppresses entire groups on a daily basis in every part of life.

      • Lorraine Hayes March 19, 2019 at 3:04 pm

        prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.
        “a program to combat racism”
        synonyms: racial discrimination, racialism, racial prejudice/bigotry, xenophobia, chauvinism, bigotry, bias, intolerance; More
        the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.
        “theories of racism”

        I googled this…..I don’t see anything about color, what am I missing?

        • Discrimination can be based on skin color, also known as colorism or shadeism, is a form of prejudice or discrimination in which people are treated differently based on the social meanings attached to skin color.

          AMENDMENT XV
          SECTION 1
          The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, COLOR, or previous condition of servitude.

          Subconscious racism can influence our visual processing and how our minds work when we are subliminally exposed to faces of different colors. In thinking about crime, for example, social psychologist Jennifer L. Eberhardt (2004) of Stanford University holds that, “blackness is so associated with crime you’re ready to pick out these crime objects.Such exposures influence our minds and they can cause subconscious racism in our behavior towards other people or even towards objects. Thus, racist thoughts and actions can arise from stereotypes and fears of which we are not aware.[36]

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