07 Jun 2016

Suffrage In Stitches, a New Old Story

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A Guest Post by Katherine Durack

It’s hard to believe that just a year ago I attended Donna’s Birth Your Knitting Book writing retreat in Montgomery, Vermont.

A lot has happened since then:

  • My article on the 1900 National Suffrage Fair was published in PieceWork magazine, along with patterns for the Sunflower Suffrage Shawl and A Suffrage-Fair Washcloth.
  • Another article and pattern were accepted (check out PieceWork’s forthcoming July/August issue).
  • I completed a pattern and story for Donna’s Stories in Stitches book series (keep your eyes out for the Liberty Sontag in volume 6).
  • I wrote a proposal and developed a series of projects for an ebook and submitted the concept to a publisher.
  • I’ve completed several new Suffrage In Stitches designs (researched, patterns developed, but not yet written up).
  • I had a professional head shot taken by a great photographer (I highly recommend doing this with friends, good music, a bottle of wine, and a lot of laughter in what we called our “head shot party”)
  • I worked with an amazing graphic designer to create a logo for my Suffrage In Stitches project, and got some fabulous business cards designed and printed.
  • I worked with a friend and web goddess to launch my 2 websites — Patterns4SuccessCrochet.com, my main site, andSuffrageInStitches.com, my special project site. Oh, and I created a Facebook page for my business.
  • I published the first independent Suffrage in Stitches pattern — “Ratification,” celebrating the work of Alice Paul and the 100th anniversary of the National Woman’s Party.
  • I gave my first 2 Suffrage In Stitches trunk show talks — at Upton House in Warren, Ohio, and in Cincinnati where I live. I’m slated to give my third talk at Sewall-Belmont House in Washington, DC, on June 11.
  • I sent out my first Suffrage In Stitches newsletter (also with the help of my web goddess).

Wow. When I put things in a list like that, I can see how much I’ve accomplished in just a year —and I have to say a lot of these things have happened because of the encouragement I’ve received from Donna, the people I’ve met after taking her workshop in person and online, and the support I’ve received from my family and friends. I’ve been lucky to be able to devote myself full-time to this new career — but to accomplish all this, I also had to follow Donna’s advice to hire others to help out.

Suffrage In StitchesMost rewarding has been the progress I’ve made on Suffrage in Stitches, a 5-year project leading up to the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment and US women’s right to vote. It’s been exciting to uncover some of the curious connections between needle arts and woman suffrage, and I am continually amazed to learn about the women — thousands of them, over several generations — who committed their lives so you and I could exercise our political voice.

It seems to me particularly important in a presidential election year to remember and honor the sacrifices these women made. Think about it: how many presidents can you name? And how many suffragists?

Perhaps the most important thing you can do — even if neither candidate for president excites you — is to become informed about your state and local elections, and to vote for the candidates and the government you believe in. If you’re not sure where to start, check out the League of Women Voters. Founded in 1920 at the last annual meeting of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, the League’s mission was to make sure that women who had just gotten the vote had the information they needed to cast the ballot. And for almost 100 years they’ve been providing nonpartisan voter information elections nationwide.

RatificationI hope you’ll join me in learning about some of those who made it possible for women in every state to participate and sharing their stories. Consider buying Ratification to support the educational efforts of the historic National Woman’s Party — I’m donating proceeds from June 2016 sales of Ratification to celebrate their 100th anniversary.

I like to think of the Suffrage In Stitches projects as “throwback hashtags” — maybe you see a design you like, you make it, you wear it — and when someone comments on your work, YOU tell the story behind it. It’s only through many voices that our shared history can be preserved.

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