I want to talk about craft and activism can come together, because it’s been on my mind.
There’s a lot of talk about the role of crafts when it comes to politics, and I think it’s an important conversation to have. After all, there are a lot of people (like me, and probably like you if you’re reading this) who put a lot of stock in sitting down and making something, and it can often feel like a fantastic antidote to the world around us. It is the act of creating something and making something from scratch while it seems as though he people at the top are doing their level best to destroy.
I think that’s a beautiful thing: when destruction becomes the norm, we focus on creating.
By doing this, we reject the notion that destruction is the most important thing. Crafty people can pick up their sticks or their yarn or their clay or whatever they use and make something in the face of loss of hope. Not only does that mean there’s one more beautiful (and useful) thing in the world, but it also shows we can focus our energy into making things better instead of letting things happen. If we don’t pick up that yarn it will never be a hat.
A popular topic in the knitting world nowadays is those pink pussy hats from the Women’s March, and that’s important. Those hats made a statement and brought people together against a common enemy. However, it’s not the only version. When reading a book on adult education and activism recently I found the example of some quilters on Vancouver Island who helped stop a power plant being constructed that could harm the environment. By bringing the community together and then piecing the quilt together in a public place as part of a protest, they provided people the chance to ask questions and learn about the topic in a fluffy, harmless way which opened the eyes of many locals and helped stop a potential disaster for the area. Craft really can make a difference.
Knitting a pussy hat is not enough to turn this tide of shit, but there’s good news too: crafty people tend to congregate in groups both online and off, which means that we have the chance to share our views and motivate one another. I see it on Ravelry all the time. If you’re a member of LSG, you probably see it too (don’t look it up if you’re not!). It’s happened in every civil rights movement of the past century: groups of people come together and figure out how to make change happen. It doesn’t always work, but sometimes it does.
It might seem like I’m an idealist and maybe I am. That said, I’m also a realist. I know things are bad and they’re going to get worse, but I believe anything that helps people come together and focus their energy can help. It also helps that knitting (for many, including me) is a form of meditation, since we’re going to need to keep sane and calm through a lot of nonsense if we’re going to make a difference.
I wish I had something more to say about what to do next, but I’m working on it. I think the pussy hat project proves that many knitters and other crafty folk are willing to try to make a difference, and I hope that it continues. We may not be able to make a difference with one person (or one hat), but with thousands, they might shut up and listen.