Craftivism... it's about women expressing themselves through creativity.

Knitting, needlework, sewing, weaving... all these creative activities have been diminished over the years as 'women's work'.

Initially these skills were performed (mostly) by women to maintain a household, clothe families and create furnishings.

Then the industrial revolution allowed many of these skills to become mechanized and woven textiles and clothing came from factories. Women were then employed to operate the machines and in places like Oldham (where my Grandmother was born) Mill work gave many women a social and sometimes financial freedom as they became part of the work force. Yet even as women gained some independence, the factory roles they held were never highly regarded by society.

There is much debate about the emancipation of women joining the workforce in factories vs. the enslavement of women working in dangerous and harsh conditions usually for less money than men.

Hand Craft work and the skew of women employed in this industry was usually viewed as less worthy than other creative endeavours and usually labelled in a derogatory manner as 'women's work'. As opposed to skilled crafts such as woodwork, leather work or shoe making which somehow were more masculine and therefore more respected in the workforce.

The history of women radicalising crafts such as needlework and knitting has become known as Craftivism. While Craftivism is making a resurgence, especially since USA elected Donald Trump as President, the seeds for women using craft as political activism have long been planted in the textiles industry.

Historically you could say the Craftivism movement started with The Arts and crafts movement from 1850(ish). establishing Craft as protest.

" The Arts and Crafts movement was a social/artistic movement of modern art, which began in Britain in the second half of the nineteenth century and continued into the twentieth, spreading to continental Europe and the USA. Its adherents - artists, architects, designers, writers, craftsmen and philanthropists - were united by a common set of aesthetics, that sought to reassert the importance of design and craftsmanship in all the arts in the face of increasing industrialization, which they felt was sacrificing quality in the pursuit of quantity. Its supporters and practitioners were united not so much by a style than by a common goal - a desire to break down the hierarchy of the arts (which elevated fine art like painting and sculpture, but looked down on applied art), to revive and restore dignity to traditional handicrafts and to make art that could be affordable for all. " Click for full article.

In modern times women are reclaiming the craft of knitting, sewing and needlework to protest against inequality. It has become a feminist rallying cry to use methods previously diminished as docile and subservient, to create loud art works to declare feminist rights. There is also plenty of evidence that throughout history there has been subversive work in embroidery, quilting and knitting.

Betsy Greer has been heralded as the initiator of the modern term Craftism. Often the act of simply creating our own products instead of purchasing mass produced goods is seen as a creative statement.

And in Gabrielle Craigs' essay Altruism, Activism and the Moral Imperative in Craft   she states " I suggest a supplemental definition for craftism: using craft skills and ethos to directly engage in creating culturally enriching experiences."

I enjoy the community element of craftivism. I have worked on community projects and it's very rewarding. One of my most favoured images of Craftivism at work was watching the sea of pink Pussy Hats worn by protestors around the world in 2017.

This movement was inspired by the vulgarity of President Elect Trump during his campaign - women took ownership of the slur and knitted kitten ear beanies in bright pink to wear in protest.

 

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Needlecraft workers have also been forthright with embroidered messages. A recent article for Time Money magazine has heralded the popularity of Craftivism . Shannon Downey from Badass Cross Stitch has a high profile for her protest works. With high profile protests and clever images, the Craftivism movement is becoming more recognised and people are loving it!

In Australia, I have been following Tal Fitzpatrick, a long standing craftivism creator. Her current project is the curation of an embroidery collection of pieces celebrating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Her exhibition and talk on this project will be held next month in Melbourne.

Some of the works she has featured on her Instagram account are outstanding. Please have a look.

There is certainly a lot of political debate about what Craftivism is and what it stands for. You don't need to make statements or swear. You can create events, be part of a community, stand out from the crowd. Use your creativity as your voice.

There is a wealth of information on creativity and subversiveness to examine, this blog merely scratches the surface. Maybe this has peaked your curiosity if you have not been previously aware of the history of craftism. If so I hope enjoy exploring this subject in further detail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Start Small

You may have seen a lot of social media posts about oversized chunky knitting lately. I’ve certainly been tagged in a few!  

These huge arm sized Knits look really cool and lots of fun, but for a beginner, I like to start small.  A bit like my new kitten Earl. So cute!!

Handwarmers are the perfect project to get you knitting. They are easy to knit - worked flat, not in the round - and you will learn all the essential knitting skills. 

Learn to cast on, knit, purl and cast off.  From there you will be ready to tackle any project.  

The beauty of a small project is it is quick to finish so you won't have time to be bored. Also these little projects are very portable - just pop it in your bag and you can knit wherever you like - the bus, the beach... where ever!

 

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The WhatJaneKnits handwarmer kits are such a great project currently available in two beautiful colours - dark blue/green teal and vivid fushia.  They also make a great gift for guys and girls.

Superior quality 100% Australian merino yarn. 

The handwarmer project kit comes complete with beautiful yarn, knitting needles, pattern, sewing needle and resealable project bag.

There are video tutorials and help from me online. 

 

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Beautiful teal handwarmers and beanie  

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Small things are so cute.. fushia handwarmers 💗 

In Flanders field the Poppies blow

In 2014 the Tower of London was surrounded by thousands of ceramic poppies. A spectacular display in memory of the 100years since Great Britain joined the First World War in 1914.

Crowds of visitors came to view the sea of poppies cascading from the Tower into the moat. An image that was both beautiful and solemn.

 

This year Australia will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the fateful battle at Gallipoli on April 25th. Melbourne will host a spectacular ceremony to honour and show remembrance for this tragic day. Part of the remembrance will be the display of thousands of hand crafted, knitted and crocheted Poppies.

The Melbourne Poppy project was established by Margaret Knight and Lynne Berry to commemorate their fathers' war service. The women hoped to collect 5000 handcrafted poppies from various community groups and interested individuals.

However the project has snowballed and they have already received in excess of 170,000 knitted, crocheted, felted and other stunning handcrafted donations.

I look forward to seeing the finished project when nets filled with an expected 200,000 poppies will be displayed around Melbourne and Federation Square.