Ever since Charles Dickens wrote about Madame Defarge embedding secret codes into her knitting, the world has known that knitting can send a powerful message.
Of course, knitters have known that for much longer. Knitting for someone else is a powerful message of love and support and comfort, whether it’s a gift for a loved one or a stranger in need.
Up until the Women’s March on Washington (and all the sister marches around the world), knitting* didn’t get much attention in the political sphere.
Then, all of a sudden, there was a sea of handknit hats, people declaring that we will not submit to hate and fear and control. A crocheted pussyhat landed on the cover of Time Magazine, and a knitted one on the cover of the New Yorker.
Of course, the resistance doesn’t stop with pink hats. If the last two weeks are any indication of what is to come, it’s going to be a busy and exhausting four years.
There are, of course, the practical things we all can – and should, and must – do, like calling and writing our legislators. Not just the ones in Washington, D.C., but the local ones too. We can’t forget that local policies make way for national ones. There are the marches, which I hope will continue to show the world that America is not full of hate and fear, though our President is. There is the legal action to challenge our President’s illegal and unconstitutional actions. And we can give financial support to all those organizations that care for marginalized people, for our environment, for the arts.
And of course, we can keep on knitting. I’ve started thinking of this kind of knitting as politknits. It can encompass any topic, really, so long as it’s current. Unlike charity knitting**, the primary purpose of politiknits is to send a message, loud and clear. Politiknits tell the world what the maker is thinking. Politiknits tell the world that this is not okay. Politiknits tell the world this is what I’m doing to change the world.
One of my favorite politiknits debuted at the Women’s March on Washington. Designed and worn by the inimitable Bristol Ivy, the Peace de Resistance mittens pattern features a clenched fist and the message, “Resistanace is NOT Futile.”
All proceeds from pattern sales are donated to a rotating list of charities. In the first 24 hours the pattern was on Ravelry, it shot up to #1 on the “Hot Right Now” list, and generated over $4,000 for organizations that work to make life better for all people, not just those in power. There are 85 projects already on Ravelry - and more added every day.
There's so much that I love about these mittens. Mittens, something soft and warm and made by hand. Mittens, that bear a traditional colorwork pattern, with anything but a traditional message mixed in to that pattern.
There's a growing need for resistance to hate and fear on all fronts. Politiknits are just one, but I love them because they're an encouraging and exiting way to express ourselves as creators.
As Bristol said: Let’s make some good trouble, y’all!
*and crochet, and sewing, and so-called women’s crafts in general
**Charity knitting is generally meant to fill the needs of warmth and love for the intended recipient. A good and wonderful and necessary thing, just different.