Some people make statements with the pen or by taking action, but three women are taking a different approach and enlisting the power of the sewing needle. Yes, the sewing needle.
They’re pioneers in the newest form of social activism — dubbed craftivism — where messages of protest and awareness are knitted or crocheted in an effort to inspire change.
Meet Betsy Greer, the woman who brought craftivism into our vocabulary. For Greer, it all began after she watched a political puppet show in the New York City Village Halloween Parade. The simplicity of the show caught Greer’s attention, and she realized that subtlety can inspire just as much change as loud voices.
That’s when she started crafitivism, or “a way of looking at life where voicing opinions through creativity makes your voice stronger, your compassion deeper, and your quest for justice more infinite,” according to Yes! Magazine.
Her equipment — knitting, cross-stitching and embroidery — have been used to create anti-war graffiti, as well as a new project, which focuses on PTSD. The work depicts the experiences that soldiers have during an episode in order to raise awareness about the disorder.
Then there’s Sarah Corbett who has taken craftivism to a new level. Not one for marches and demonstrations, Corbett began her craftivist by blogging as “A Lonely Craftivist.”
However, she realized that there is strength in numbers. So in 2009, the Craftivist Collective was born. The focus of the group is on positivity, peacefulness and meditation rather than preaching. Being part of the group does not take away one’s individuality, but rather gives individuals a chance to work at their own pace, contemplating the issue and the piece. Group “stitch-ins” are a chance for all to come and discuss their work and issue at the hand.
Cat Mazza came into craftivism from a slightly different world. Originally, Mazza was on the Carbon Defense League where she saw how the group used “tactical media” to spread their message. The tactic was inspirational and Mazza left to form MicroRevolt, a feminist group dedicated to the anti-sweatshop cause. In addition to crafting, MicroRevolt has a few extra tools in its belt — including performances, workshops and web-based projects.
From 2003-2009, the group launched an anti-sweatshop project with a particular focus on Nike. To protest the sporting goods company, they created a 15-foot-wide red quilt containing the Nike swoosh, and a knitted or crocheted square from 40 countries and every U.S. state. Their current project is logoknit, where the logos of sweatshop offenders (Gap, Disney and Apple) are knitted onto articles of clothing. Anyone can join and design a logoknit with the free web application knitPro.
So what’s stopping you from grabbing your needles?