Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Knitting with a Purpose

My friend, Mary, shared this article with me and I thought I would share it with you...

"Got Sticks?  Knitting with a Purpose Can Help Change the World"


A couple of things jumped out at me as I read this...

First of all, every time I see knitting or fiber art in print, period, regardless of the details, I get a little thrill.  Do you know what I mean?  It's not just because I find reading about knitting as much fun as actually doing it (true statement; you should see my knitting book collection:),  but I love it when knitting appears in mainstream  publications where you least expect it.  Readers have an opportunity to be educated about the fact that knitting isn't just for sweet, white-haired grandmas (no offense to all of the sweet, white-haired grandma knitters that I know!  You guys rock!)  But speaking from the perspective of a knitter who hasn't reached that status yet, I enjoy every opportunity to break that stereotype; to point out that knitting is being done by men and women of all ages, children and teens...from all backgrounds, all personalities, all cultures and so on.  You get the picture. I'm sure I take this all a bit too seriously, lol, but I must tell you that I feel it is my duty to point out that the one art form/craft I choose to spend a huge amount of my life on IS serious to me and deserves a little respect! ;)

In the article, the writer talks about why this stereotype even exists:

"'Knitting and handmade crafts fell out of fashion with the dawn of the first of three waves of feminism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and also coincided with industrialization and mass production. You could get things cheap, and knitting and sewing and those kinds of things were seen as the shackles of oppression that women were throwing off,' Gates said.  

As a result some of these women had daughters who never learned the craft of knitting. Enter the second feminist wave in the 1960s and 1970s. 

The third extends from the 1990s to the present when knitting came back into fashion. Young women against mass production wanted to learn the basics, and knitting became cool."

Well, being a hardcore feminist who happens to get pure enjoyment and comfort from many of the traditional, domestic arts (not ALL mind you, but many), it helps to understand where the shift in thinking came from (knowledge is power, right?), but it does not help me sleep better at night knowing the thing I love the most is still viewed by many men and women as something "old and boring and not worth the effort."  (Yes, someone said that to me.)  It just bothers me.  Can't help it.  Which brings me back to knitting in print..now can you see why I so enjoy a well written article that portrays another dimension of the craft and gives readers a different perspective?
Did you notice this part in the article?
"In 2003, Betsy Greer, whose master’s dissertation at Goldsmith’s College in London was on knitting, do-it-yourself culture and community development, coined the term “craftivism,” a form of activism incorporating elements of anti-capitalism, environmentalism and the third-wave of feminism centering most notably around knitting."   Betsy Greer's master's dissertation was on knitting...Yeah, that makes me extremely happy.  Non-knitters reading this right now might be thinking, "You are kidding...what could she possibly write about?"  There's more to it than you think, really.  Trust me. ;)

The other theme of this article that got my attention was charity knitting...who's doing it, why, and for whom. I am part of  a group that meets once a month for that very purpose.  We work on a combination of local volunteer knitting/crocheting projects such as hats and scarves for homeless children through Monument Family Connections, and national volunteer knitting for projects like Operation Helmetliner, knitting and crocheting wool helmet liners for troops in Afghanistan and Irag through the organization Citizen Sam.  I know for me it has helped immensely to have goals and to work on things as a group.  I tend to accomplish more this way.  But I also got to thinking about a term I heard not so long ago and how I could apply it in my life:  microcharity.

What's microcharity?  The idea is that one person simply gives to another in need, with no middle person or group involved.  It's as simple as noticing that a child in your neighborhood has no mittens or that the elderly man always sitting at the bus stop could really use a winter hat.  You knit it (or crochet it, or sew it or whatever), walk up to the person who needs it, and give it to them.  Microcharity.  Seems simple enough, doesn't it?  And that's not to take away from what we do as a group, either in my own town or collective as a nation.  But acting on your own, reaching out to those that you see in your world everyday in the simplest of ways, can be every bit as powerful.  Who and what would you see if you stepped out the door tomorrow with that thought in mind? How would that change your perspective?


  1. Hi Donna! It's been ages, good to see you again. I am moved by the idea of microcharity, I think it would make a world of difference, and I mean that literally, if people took it to heart and practised it.

  2. Hi Melanie! So good to hear from you!! Yes, the microcharity idea hit home with me as well. Simple concept, potentially powerful effects. And I loved the idea of just giving to someone, no explanation needed, smile, and walk away. Drop me a line if you get a minute. I will do the same. We have a lot to catch up on. Are you on Facebook? I'll have to check. ;) Tell Mike hello! I bet the kiddos are growing, growing!