This is a letter is to my American followers, and to my fellow Vermonters.
Think Globally, Act Locally. That’s an old saying, but it applies today as much as ever. In my past several posts I’ve written about things I’m planning to do, and what I hope I can inspire some of you to do–on a national level–local to our country. Today I want to talk about what we can do even closer to home, in our local communities.
As part of my year end planning every year, I’ve started participating in a program called Quest that is intended to help entrepreneurs envision “business as un-usual.” Today we had this prompt to spur our thoughts:
In your work life, your personal life, and in your community, how will you use power as a force for good, and empower those around you in specific acts that make up your day?
In my business, I am going to open a small local yarn shop here in Vermont and continue to hold knitting retreats, give talks at local libraries and bookstores, and hold events at my private studio. I want to bring more money into the town where I live, and my way to do that is to bring knitters here–to buy yarn, to take classes, to eat a local restaurants, to buy from local shops.
I also want to empower local people through knitting and by giving talks about Knitting as a Political Act. My first talk on this topic was a few weeks ago, just after the election. The topic was ostensibly “Finding My Roots Through Knitting,” but my theme for that talk is the idea that knitting was brought to America by immigrants who came 400, 40, and 4 years ago. And that when we appreciate different knitting techniques, styles, and patterns, we also should be appreciating and honoring the immigrants who brought their beautiful knitting to our shores. It’s a message of inclusiveness, diversity, and love.
I don’t think knitting, or any craft, is solely about making pretty or useful things. When we make things with our hands, we are carrying on traditions that come from different times and different places. We are honoring the people that taught us these crafts, as well as those who invented them, improved them, and passed on traditions for generations, centuries, or even millennia.
I believe making things is a way to connect people and create community. A community based on craft can be incredibly diverse. I see this in many ways when I teach knitting classes. (Although the knitting world is not perfect, and in the places where I have taught, the vast majority of students and teachers are white women.) I would like to build on this aspect of knitting, and of knitters being kind and friendly and having a common ground for starting relationships. Our weekly or monthly knitting groups can become something more than just “stitch and bitch” sessions. They can be a way to begin to heal the world.
I wrote about this a little bit in Stories In Stitches 4. As a gift to you, today, I’m attaching a PDF of my fairy tale from that book here. Please enjoy and think about how you can use your knitting, or other crafts, to heal the world. (These illustrations are by my sister, June Druchunas.)