I was looking for interesting stories for the May Campaigns Update newsletter and a colleague told me about a book on protest knitting that her mother had just bought. Now I can't knit very well but honestly one look at this book made me really wish I could! It looked like so much fun, and on top of that the items had a purpose above and beyond looking pretty or keeping my head warm.
What has knitting got to do with saving nature you might ask? Well, along with all sorts of other crafts, it can be used to make a point or a statement about anything. From bad company practices and inequality to the nature and climate crisis. The term most often used is craftivism which has been described as the art of gentle protest.
In our busy digital world with overflowing inboxes and 24 hour news, it can be very hard to cut through the noise. Don't get me wrong digital campaigning with petitions and online actions is an effective and accessible way to influence change. But it's not the only way, and often 'slow campaigning' such as craftivism can be extremely effective because it takes thought, time and effort, and produces a tangible item that is hard to dismiss or delete.
We've done craftivism before. Some of you may remember when RSPB staff, volunteers and supporters made hundreds of hand-crafted green hearts for The Climate Coalition's Show the Love campaign which aims to raise awareness of the things people love that they don't want to lose to climate change.
Those hearts went everywhere. To senior staff for important meetings with Government departments; to reserve staff so they can talk about and share their climate stories with their visitors; to celebrities such as Anna Friel, Chris Packham, and Simon Reeve (pictured) who shared them on social media; and last but not least to politicians across the UK, including the Prime Minister and Westminster front benchers. It was hugely effective and encouraged lots of important conversations about tackling climate change.
So, if crafting is your cup of tea why not use it to make a difference! Here are some great books, articles and information to get you started.
Protest Knits: Got needles? Get knitting
by Geraldine Warner
Thanks to Fran's mum for this recommendation and for inspiring this blog! Geraldine Warner brings you more than 15 crafty projects from the easy to the complex. Knitting and handicrafts have a long history in protesting and crafty activism.
Find out more
Really Cross Stitch: for when you just want to stab something a lot
by Rayna Fahey
Inspired by the banners and signs at recent marches around the world, Really Cross Stitch takes all that anger, outrage and protest and puts it inside a pretty, decorative border. Along with some snarky commentary and general annoyance.
Featuring more than 40 truly original cross stitch designs, the book also contains instructions on techniques for new stitchers.
Knitting for good: A guide to creating personal, social and political change stitch by stitch
by Betsy Greer
Every time we knit, we have the opportunity to create positive change in ourselves, our community, and in the world. That’s Betsy Greer’s fervent belief, and in this book she shows us how.
Betsy explores the ways we can use knitting to slow down in a fast-paced culture, while using the craft to benefit charities in our communities, to advocate for worthwhile causes, and to support individuals and communities across the globe.
Filled with insights from knitters and crafters on how they use craft to benefit others, Knitting for Good! will get you thinking about knitting in a whole new way.
Other things you might like to check out:
Craftivism: Making a difference on BBC Four
Comedian Jenny Eclair meets crafters using their skills to make the world a better place, one stitch at a time.
Watch it quickly as it's only available for another 5 days
Craftivist Collective: Changing our world one stitch at a time
Our gentle craftivism is for everyone wherever you are in the world: from skilled crafters to burnt out activists, introverts, highly sensitive people, people struggling with anxiety and those people who want to challenge injustice in the world but don’t know what to do, where to start or how to prioritise their energies and time.
A stitch in time: how craftivists found their radical voice - The Guardian
If street protests are too shouty, craftivism may offer an alternative and still powerful means of political expression.
If you get crafting for nature do let us know how you get on :)
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