Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘politics’

knitting-for-good

I’ve spent the past few days working through my copy of Knitting for Good, by Betsy Greer of Craftivism. (This is one of the benefits of working in a bookstore!) I’d like to fill you all in on what a great book this is, and some of the reasons why I think it’s a really important contribution to the growing canon of knitting writing.

Greer’s book focuses on the importance and significance of knitting. While I may be preaching to the choir on this one, I think that an emphasis on knitting as a productive practice is necessary, when many people see knitting as a non-essential hobby. Knitting for Good knocks down this assumption immediately, using its relationship to feminism — much to my delight — to illustrate the good that can come from picking up the needles. The common misconception is that knitting is an idle act, “women’s work” meant to pass time; Betsy Greer asserts that just the act of knitting itself is an act of healing, of meditation, and of self-love. I’m sure all of us who knit (or do any kind of craft) understand this: to sit down and make something is to assert my ability to shape my world, to create something as I want it, and to be present in what I’m doing.

I love that Knitting for Good links feminism and domestic arts like crafting. I know I went through my feminist crisis when I got super into things like nesting; Betsy Greer will have us understand that knitting or cooking or quilting is not an act of disobeying feminism, but rather celebrating its tenets:

This domestic reclamation can be celebrated with pride and heads held high… As a direct result of years of hard-working women who proved themselves just as capable as men of earning wages, we now have the freedom to make money for ourselves and then knit a sweater out of expensive cashmere bought with our own paycheck… When we don an apron and start to cook or take measurements for a garment, we can be empowered by the notion that we are self-sufficient and choosing this path instead of following society’s expectations… Feminism has given us the strength to explore our otions instead of being concerned about regressing or kowtowing to cultural standards.

Right on! That’s what I loved about this book — its continual insistence on the fact that the act of creation is important and productive and deserving of respect.

Knitting for Good is constructed to reflect an expanding of personal borders that happens with knitting. First, the emphasis on knitting as a healing act for the individual; from there, the empowered individual has new means with which to interact with family and community. I myself have benefited from this aspect of craft and knitting: the ability to connect with my grandmother and aunt through crochet and cross-stitch and quilts and how we make things for our living environment. It truly is a unique and special connection, and Knitting for Good will have us remember that.

Knitting and craft can be used, once connected with a community, to benefit that community — I especially like Betsy’s focus on the more forgotten members of society, like the homeless, elderly, and abandoned animals. Knitting for these people gets to be a way to connect with them and recognize their humanity, becoming a political act of insisting on the importance of each member of a community. I also appreciated that Knitting for Good includes why focusing on buying homemade is important — in a time of large chains, supporting your local independent store and artisan is an intensely political act that will ultimately benefit the community. Buying local, Greer points out, supports those local crafters who are enriching the community with their art.

In short (ok, not so short), this is a lovely book with many sturdy take-home messages, as well as personal reflections and patterns that will inspire you to pick up your needles for a good cause. I highly recommend it as a personal read — it will make you feel fantastic about your choice to be a crafter — and I really recommend it as a gift for that crafty person in your life*. This book is an act of love, for crafting and for the world at large.

*Hey, while you’re at it, keep with the message of Knitting for Good and make this an act of love and politics by getting your copy at your local independent bookstore instead of Amazon or Borders!

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Some less happy election follow-up. If you have an aversion to harsh language, I would recommend you not read my thoughts in this post.

Thanks. Let’s keep on keeping on, folks. We can’t afford not to.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Dear Dad,

I am astounded. Our country just elected Barack Obama!! This is the first election in which I’ve been able to vote where I can say, “Yes. That is my president.” I called swing state volunteers. I brought up the tough issues with Mom. I gave my sister that extra nudge to register to vote. I feel like this was very much my election.

But I sit here thinking how much this is even more so your election. You grew up in Chicago, amid racial tension I can only imagine — the grandson of an Irish immigrant family made you the member of a population pitted against the adjacent local black population, due to both of your being situated in low-income families with minimal access. It took me a long time to understand your discomfort with racial issues, especially since you gave me the benefit of living in an area where everyone was going okay.

I remember, at the beginning of my college career, interviewing you about growing up. You told me how much you wanted to get out of Chicago, because everyone was so angry, and your only experience of whites and blacks relating was of it as violent and impossible. I was impressed, though, at how you narrated to me that as you grew older you came to understand that this tension was a product of poverty and class, of the recent immigrant population with which you identified being pitted against a similarly disenfranchised population. I realized what a difficult understanding this must have been for you to come to; beyond that, I was filled with a new understanding of what it meant that you did not pass the racial tension you experienced on to your daughters.

So today, I can’t help but think of you as I watch tens of thousands of people gather in Chicago, where you grew up, to cheer in our first black president. You told me yourself that you never would have believed the possibility of this moment when you were my age — a multiplicity of races gathered in a public space to celebrate a black president, in the very city where you witnessed first-hand so much conflict. How things have changed.

I am so glad I got to share this night with you. To call you, excitedly, because the person we wanted had been elected. And, for the first time in history, he is not white. I’m excited because it’s Barack, I’m excited because of the symbolism of this moment. Maybe more than that, I’m excited because this is a sign of what can happen when people try. Desegregation happened in your generation because young people who believed in basic rights — people like me — refused to allow discrimination and hatred continue. Look where that got us. I have to say, I believe more than ever: Yes We Can.

There is so much more work to be done, and although this is one significant step, there are so many forms of inequality — racial and otherwise — that we must continue to work against. Thank you though, Dad, for raising me with not just the belief but the knowledge that inequality is unforgivable, and that I can be a part in moving towards a more equal and just society. I really believe today — for the first time in quite a while — that America can be a place in which I can once again put my faith, and that a better tomorrow is truly within my grasp, one day and one step at a time. It certainly appears that it was for you.

I love you.

Read Full Post »

Ready? Set?

VOTE!!!

It is crucial that you get out and vote today.
But I bet you knew that already.

Read Full Post »

Proposition 8

I’m going to take a stand here, and set aside pretty pictures for a second in favor of something heavier and more serious.

I want to encourage all of you, everyone who reads this, to get educated about Proposition 8 if you live in California. If you know someone who lives in California, talk to them about it.

The fact of the matter is that Proposition 8 is crafted specifically to bar non-heteronormative couples from entering into a marriage. The entire text reads:

“Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid and recognized in California.”

I find this idea atrocious. While I understand that marriage is a complicated issue that involves the State, religion, and family structures, I think it is unbelievable that our state could potentially limit a person’s access to a legitimate social contract because of their sexual orientation. The Proposition is downright unconstitutional and discriminatory. We live in a time where most people would balk at this kind of legislature on the grounds of gender, race, or socio-economic class; why then is it acceptable when it comes to sexual orientation?

Any governing body should not be discriminatory against a class of people. Plain and simple. And I’ll argue from an emotional point, too: this Proposition would deny one of my best friends, as well as a close family member, the option to marry the person they love and are committed to. The inability to decide to enter into a marriage brings with it a loss of legal rights and legitimacy. I can’t believe we live in a time where this is acceptable.

Google’s providing a little light for me right now, in taking a stand against this Proposition.

Please. Please. If you live in California (or another state where a similar Prop is on the ballot), make sure you can vote and vote against discrimination. Talk to family and friends about resisting those who function out of fear and hatred. Vote for love — love for everyone.

ETA: Looks like Levi’s and PG&E are also getting in on the act! I’m so glad to see major companies taking a stand out of the understanding that this is an equality, not a morality, issue.

Read Full Post »