When Crafting Gets Political

If you missed it earlier today, Ravelry, a resource a great many crafters use to find patterns, ideas, and other crafters drew a line in the sand.

To make a long story short, leave your support of Trump and his administration off of Ravelry.  If you want to read the full announcement you can find it here.  It’s been one of the biggest political moves I’ve seen in the crafting world, period.

I was surprised by the move, but will admit I’ve not been surprised by the reactions I’ve seen in other crafting groups I follow online, responses to the policy seem to be firmly in one camp or the other.   The political climate in the good ol’ US of A has been more than a little tense the past few years.  I try to make it a point to keep my own political beliefs off of Coffee and Wool and it’s associated facebook page unless a craft related event warrants it, and even then, I do my best to remain neutral.  Which, believe me, can be pretty difficult somedays. I’m not politically neutral in my non-crafting life.

Overall, I’m not a huge fan of heated political discussion getting involved in a medium I use to relax and use as a form of thoughtful meditation.  It’s just a good way to ruin a good thing, but there is a great many people that use fiber art in many forms to express their political beliefs.  Art in any form has a lot to do with personal preference and expression.

The most recent example that a lot of us saw, made, or where asked to make where the “pink pussy hats”.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with craftivism or crafting your political viewpoint, I’m all for it if that’s your thing.

What a lot of people tend to forget when it comes to membership in large social networking forums like Ravelry, Facebook, Twitter, etc., that they are entities that are making their own rules and those rules can evolve as needed.  We all sign ToS agreements (that very few of us read) that all have legal language along the lines that our posts can be moderated on whatever terms the site choses.

If you find yourself disagreeing with the new Ravelry policy and don’t feel like you can further participate within those realms, you have the option to collect your patterns, download your site data and move on.  If you find yourself celebrating the new policy, carry on as normal.  But I feel like the point needing to be stressed that ad hominem  attacks on fellow crafters for falling one way or another does little to help ease tensions.  We are unique in the fact that we are such an amazingly diverse group that has a single element that unites us.

So the big question here is, did Ravelry make a mistake with this announcement?

Yes, no, maybe?  Yeah I know, I’m not a help at all here.  Go back and read that part where I would like to politically neutral. The best answer here is, time will tell. The crafting community is incredibly diverse.  There will be a noticeable percentage of people that will walk away from Ravelry over this new rule.  Will it be enough that advertising slows?  Is there a chance advertisers will pull their own sponsorship? Maybe.

A lot of us American’s are a little too tense these days.  Maybe we should just pick up our yarn, master our craft, and be the better example and keep things civil.

Update: Much like the sites I’ve listed above having rules about what can and can’t be said, this blog also has some very basic guidelines.  I moderate the comments, and anything I deem inappropriate or down right spam gets rejected. There’s only been two that I’ve rejected and one of those was on this post.

I was rather rudely told to “check my privilege” and my crafting history over the comments I made in the rest of this post.  I’m going to address it very quickly.  There is a long and beautiful history of knitting participating in politics, codes and information have been hiding in hand crafted items for centuries.  There are thousands of objects created that have a clear political stance.  I’ve always supported those that have chosen to express their political views despite how I feel about where they fall on the political spectrum.  I expressed that support in the main text as well.  Read things before you jump down someone’s throat.

I’m far from blind or ignorant of the discussions regarding racism and white privilege within the fiber arts and crafting communities that spawned from instagram posts and into broader mediums.

Bottom line, this crafter has chosen not to express her political viewpoint on a blog or on a facebook page.  The rest of my life is affected by political choices and the ideologies of others being forced on me wether I agree or not, crafting is the one realm where I can reject that influence and I intend to keep doing so. It does not mean I remain silent on political topics in the rest of my life.

The greater goal of Coffee and Wool is to share information, encourage fiber artists new and old, and remind people that crafting can have an amazing impact on one’s life by being a medium for meditation, relaxation, and at times socialization. I cannot have a public political stance and have those goals for this ongoing project. I won’t alienate people that way.

Knitting in the News: Political Craftivism

Let me begin with a disclaimer, that will apply to this post as well as any possibly politically charged issue that may be referenced on this blog in the future.

With the election and inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States, our population has begun to very openly express their political opinions, be it leftist, rightist, or down the middle.  For the purposes of this blog, I will strive to keep my own personal political beliefs out of the conversation and remain as neutral as possible.  I ask that any comments that  a politically themed post may generate remain respectful to anyone that may read them.  Comments are moderated, anything I deem offensive, crude, or an attack on another will be deleted. 

It’s 10 days after the inauguration of Donald Trump, and your local yarn shop is probably still a bit low on pink yarn.  By now, everyone knows about the “pussy hat” worn at the women’s marches around the county in response to the inauguration and comments of an offensive sexual nature that were brought to light during campaign season.

This week the brain beanie is on the rise (more pink yarn) to support those in the sciences that are being gagged.

Craftivism, is defined as the practice of engaged creativity, especially regarding political or social causes to bring about change via personalized activism.

I am in love with the concept of craftivism.  The idea of physically making something takes  time, energy, and dedication, more so than picking up something from the store pre-made.  The pussy hat (and I cringe using that word, my southern great-grandmother is rolling in her grave, and I would consider her a feminist) is certainly not the first act of craftivism but it certainly is the most well-known public example.

womens-march-on-washingtonPolitical viewpoints aside, I encourage you to check out the photos of the men and women wearing these hats, there are hundreds, if not a few thousand examples floating around.  You’ll find some obvious first-time knit and crochet projects out there.  How many new crafters were born out of this act political activism?  How many will get bitten by the yarn bug and will begin other projects?  In a culture where the average attention span has been reported to be 8 seconds; it’s amazing so many people were introduced to a skill that requires concentration and focus.  It’s healthy!

Love it or hate it, the pussy hat may have started another revolution.  Despite our own personal viewpoints on reason for this mass act of craftivism, crafters should be encouraging newcomers.  Not pushing them away because of their viewpoint.

I’m saddened by the reaction of several local yarn shops that have publicly stated that they are not interested in selling yarn that will be used in possible future acts of craftivism.  Shop owners have the right to do as they please, but it makes little to no sense to push aside customers for political views.

All I know is this crafter is more than happy to see more acts of craftivism, and am more than happy to teach that first-timer how to work that yarn around needles or hooks to make their statement.