I received this comment the other day, in response to the post “What do military helmets have to do with knitting?“:
this edition is too military for me… I wanted to buy it but I am not a USA patriot and I dislike these military themes… I think we should try to live in peace and not celebrate war times in the momentary difficult situation (Ukraina….)
Oh my goodness! It distresses me beyond measure that anyone would think I am celebrating war times or that I encourage patriotism!
I’m so sorry if the posts I’ve made about Stories In Stitches 3 have not made it clear that 1) I do not support war in any way whatsoever, and I do not believe there is any such thing as a good, just, or righteous war and 2) I despise patriotism and nationalism and consider both to be dangerous and pernicious.
(I have written about the situation in Ukraine briefly before and am working on a longer essay about that situation that I hope to be able to post here soon.)
World Wars 1 & 2 were two of the most hideous events ever to take place on planet Earth. I do not celebrate these wars through knitting and remembrance. I mourn the events and every soul lost through the violence caused by patriotism, nationalism, and human intolerance. The knitting projects in Stories In Stitches 3 are all symbols of peace and hope.
The Dancing Stitches Socks tell the story of my great-great grandmother who was born in Russia in a Jewish shtetl (village) before WW1, and are a memorial toward all of the other Jewish grandmothers who knit and lived and loved in Eastern Europe at that time, but who did not have the fortune to come to America before their world was destroyed by the hatred and violence of the Nazis.
The Flying Fish Knee High Socks are my interpretation of Marc Chagall’s paintings of similar motifs, which were inspired by his father’s work as a fish monger in another Russian shtetl during the same time period. Many of the most poignant of Chagall’s paintings are those he created during the Second World War when he was in the United States. These paintings are are currently in the exhibit “Love, War, and Exile” at the Jewish Museum in New York.
The old shul, the old street
I painted them just yesteryear.
Now smoke rises there, and ash
And the parokhet is lost.
after visiting the Vilna Synagogue
The Hiroshima Peace Socks are inspired by a pair of fabric slippers in Ishiuchi Miyako’s photography collection, ひろしま hiroshima. Double knitting creates a two-layer sock that replicates the two layers of fabric used in the originals. In the title of her collection, Ishiuchi uses a special kind of writing, called Hiragana, that was solely used by women in times past. She says, “Using this way of Japanese writings for the title means to the artist that this series is made by the point of view and feelings of a woman.” I’ve used standard Kanji characters to write Peace on my socks. The knitting itself represents women’s work to me, and the frequent status of women as civilians, unwilling participants, and victims of sexual abuse and violence during war.
The three helmet liners, designed and knit by Ava Coleman, although originally made for soldiers, also speak to me of hope for future peace, as Ava’s story “Travel with Colette” shows that, like so many other things that have been invented for military uses these knitted hats can find new life in peace time. I also find the photo of my cousin’s son wearing the green hat to be a strong message of peace for the future. And the dolls designed and knit by Rohn Strong speak to the loss and terror that children face in war, and how knitted and hand-made items can provide a small measure of comfort in the face of terrible loss.
I know that many people, and Ava may be one of them (I haven’t asked her), see World War 2 and a “necessary evil” and a war that was fought for noble causes and that America “won the war” and stands as a heroic nation because of our part in conquering the Axis powers, including the Nazis and the Japanese. Many Americans even justify our use of the atomic bomb. Personally, I think that is all a huge load of horseshit (or propaganda, if you prefer). Of course, it doesn’t matter what I say about this particular war, there will be people who strongly disagree with me and who will choose not to follow me or to buy my books because of it. I just want to make sure that those of you who may disagree with me, do so because we actually disagree, not because I’ve failed at communicating how I truly feel.
Whether you buy Stories In Stitches 3 or not, I hope that you will all stand by me in supporting peace and humanism, rather than being part of the violent conflicts so often caused by patriotism and nationalism.