By Ethan Poe
Knitting may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of feminism. Instead, it seems to be one of those “household” chores feminists sorely despise. But in recent decades, feminists have taken up knitting as a tool for activism, self-expression, and a way to create clothing that suits their own beliefs.
In the past, activities like knitting, baking, and cooking have been used to degrade and control women. Knitting’s association to patriarchy and domestic life didn’t really mix well with feminism. But, quite recently, many feminists started seeing knitting as a way to express their beliefs in a creative manner and to break free from a problematic clothing industry.
Considering knitting’s historical relation to sexism, how did feminists learn to embrace it again? Feminist knitting came into popularity partly because of riot grrrl, a feminist punk rock campaign that focused on producing feminine art. Knitting allowed women in the riot grrrl movement to customize their clothing free of consumerist influence.
The Internet has played an important role in propagating this feminist knitting frenzy. Blogs and social media sites like Pinterest have allowed women to share projects and designs to feminists around the world. The Internet has also given women the ability to organize events and demonstrations related to their shared values. For example, feminist knitting communities have recently started knitting prostheses for women with breast cancer. Women have used knitting blogs not only as a way to create and share work but to heal and empower their peers.
Artists like Casey Jenkins have also used the traditional image of knitting to subvert gender roles in performance art. By using activities that had once restricted women to express liberation, these artists are showing the world just how powerful women are.
In addition, particular knitting practices like yarn bombing have become popular tools for feminist activism. Yarn Bombing, in which feminists use colorful displays of knitted yarn to display a social message, has been used to convey powerful messages of women’s rights, human rights, and anti-war sentiments. This form of activism allows feminists and others to make bold statements in an unconventional way, to create a lasting work of art that will not damage public spaces. Whether worn on the streets or put up for all to see, feminist knitting has indeed made a statement.
Girls around the world are using knitting to make a social impact. How are you letting your voice be heard? Let us know in the comments below!