Knitting is what I turn to when I’m happy, when I’m sad, when I’m mad, and when I’m anxious. I’m sure this is mostly because I can always control my knitting and even when my knitting attacks it can always be tamed (it might require a little help from my friends but it’ll be up and running again). It makes sense that I’ve spent the last week obsessively knitting pussy hats.
I have to say that the Pussy Hat Project is everything I love about knitting (community, knitting for others, and a kick in the pants) and I took to it like a bee to honey. I’m not a marcher, I don’t enjoy making phone calls, I have a limited budget, but I can knit. I had a whole skein of Malabrigo Worsted in my stash and pulled it out and cast it on. (As an aside, I think we all know if you ask knitters to knit something and send it somewhere you should be prepared for an avalanche. We are nothing, if not, an obessive people)
A few days later I got a message from a friend who dyes yarn who had dyed up a special batch of pink and was offering me free yarn to knit more hats. (Come on, who says no to free yarn???) I call her the yarn fairy as she wishes to remain anonymous but it was lovely and I was happy to knit with it. Why was she giving yarn away you might ask? She was concerned about losing customers if she promoted it through her shop. This made me so sad but I understood and respected her decision. (Later, her decision would prove correct. I saw another dyer who did promote her pink yarn and suffered the wrath of the angry social media mob) And, really, I can’t think of anything more American than taking advantage of selling something that is in high demand!!!
I was hoping to find someone headed to DC so I could have more knitting time and before the week was over I had more offers to take hats than I had hats. My hats (and those that my mother and knitting friend knit) went with another friend of mine who was headed down with 4 other women. I found out she was going to the march (she’s not a knitter) and I texted her and said “do you need a pussy hat?”. She’s also not an online person so I was worried after I sent her the text that she would not know what I was talking about. But she texted me back with an enthusiastic Yes!!! She took 5 of my hats and I dropped the 6th one of with a friend who was heading down as well and is not afraid to hand a complete stranger a hat.
As the project grew, so did the opposition voices. There was an op ed in the Washington Post (I won’t even supply the link) that basically said wearing pink hats was dumb and we needed power and passion. This completely excludes the idea that we can have plenty of power and passion and wear a pink hat. And then the Freedom Hat popped up on Ravelry which is not a Pussy Hat (don’t go look at it, it’s a blue Pussy Hat). There was the Buzzfeed story about an older lady who posted a picture of her grandson in a Pussy Hat and was accused of child abuse. She got those people back and I would suggest you check out that story – it’s awesome! I think we knew it was going to be big when Whoopi Goldberg put one on during the View.
Here’s the thing – on Thursday I dropped off the one hat with my friend. I left her house and by the time I got home she had posted a picture of herself wearing the hat I gave her. Nothing else in the post – just her wearing the Pussy Hat. And, in the comments, it was clear that people understood that she was going to the march and it was clear many of those people did not know of her plans prior to the posting of the picture. The hat had become a symbol of those who were marching. And, that’s it – the hat unifies everyone, kind of like a uniform. Why do you think sports teams hand out free t-shirts or rally towels at play off games? It’s so everyone has something to rally around. Likewise, my non-knitting friend came and picked up her 5 hats Friday morning and was so excited that she put one on right away. It’s that uniform that says “I’m here!” I feel like this is the point that haters of hat (but supporters of the march) are missing. We want something to say we’re part of this thing.
When my hats were done and in the hands of marchers I have to say I was a little sad. Knitting those hats was giving me a purpose and letting me do my part. I’ve always loved stories about women (and men) knitting during war times but never thought I would actually be “knitting for the cause”. Likewise, I never thought I would be liking artwork that talks about “joining the resistance”. That’s the stuff I read about in those YA dystopian novels, not my real life. But, here we are.
So, what happens next? One look at the Hat Tracker page will tell you that we still have much work ahead of us. (anyone else notice that gaping hole in the middle of the country???) There are some awesome people out there who want to continue this knitting activism. Follow Donna Druchunas – she has put out a free e-book on Ravelry called Knitting as a Political Act. There is a Facebook group called Compassionate Craftivists. Christine Campbell (The Healthy Knitter) is continuing her peace knitting in the new year. Knit Aid just opened a US address to send items for the refugees. We all need to find where our place is in trying to make a difference now and I know my place is with these brilliant crafters.
As I type this, marches are going on all over the world and all of the photos that are coming in are full of pink hats. Every time I look at Instagram I end up with tears running down my face. I still find so much comfort in my Instagram feed, although, it keeps leading me to believe we can make some changes (until I read the hate comments which always bring me crashing back down to reality). And seeing the support from all over the world is really humbling. (Did you see the post from Arne & Carlos?) From what I can see the Pussyhat Project was successful beyond what anyone could have thought when it started which is so heartwarming.
Why the title of this post? Well, I had a lunch with one of my best friend’s on Thursday who happens to be a woman and part of the LGBT community, her worries are many. As we exchanged stories over the course of our lunch I kept knitting on my Pussy Hat and I kept saying with each, awful, news item we talked about “and so I knit” because, in these times, I don’t know what else to say or to do and so I keep knitting. I close with the words of the wise Elizabeth Zimmerman “Knit on with confidence and hope, through all crises.”