Knitting a movement: Why you'll see pussyhats everywhere in January
SEATTLE — Pussyhat. It’s a smirk of a name for a bright pink, knitted cap with little ears poking up from either side. Meow.
But don’t be fooled. All over America, knitters are casting on with a vengeance, making enough Pussyhats for an estimated 200,000 women who will gather in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21 — the day after Donald J. Trump’s inauguration — to march in support of women’s rights.
“We’re not targeting Trump specifically,” stated Cassady Fendlay, a spokeswoman for the Women’s March on Washington, which has inspired sister marches in other major cities on the same day. “It’s much more about being proactive about women’s rights.”
So proactive, that knitting stores like Weaving Works in Seattle’s Ravenna neighborhood are stocking up on pink yarn and passing out patterns created by The Pussyhat Project, started by a group of women in California.
Knitters can make hats and donate them to knitting stores, where non-knitters can pick them up before the march. The Backstage Knitting Podcast is hosted a Pussyhat Making Party at the Red Door in Seattle.
“We’re making our uniform, using our crafting to make a statement that we’re all in this together, and standing for the same thing,” said one of the podcast’s hosts, Bethany Bevier, of Tacoma. “Whenever there’s a crisis, my first instinct is, ‘What can I knit for them?’ To knit for social justice is very empowering to me.”
Graphic designer Kyle Reynolds, 45, will be marching with two friends and has requested three Pussyhats from Weaving Works.
“I’m all thumbs,” she said. “But the Pussyhats make me think of tribal paint. They represent unity. And they show that we stand as one and need to be heard. We’re not going to sit back and accept what’s happening with the current political climate.
“I don’t know what else to do but march,” she said. “I don’t know if it will do any good. I just need to be with my people.”
I get it, which is why I am going to the march — and knitting like a nut. The act has to be one of the quietest protests one can make. You do it with your hands and barely make a sound, all the while thinking there will be plenty of steam coming out of those little pink ears as they make their way past The White House.
President-elect Trump has bragged about assaulting women. His pick for vice president, Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana, signed several restrictions on abortion, including requiring that aborted fetuses be cremated or interred.
Both tap into Bevier’s fears about the new administration. Her biggest concern is maintaining reproductive rights, but she was also shaken by the comments Trump made on an “Access Hollywood” bus about “grabbing” women between the legs.
“The Pussyhat represents to me that we’re grabbing back,” Bevier said. “You can’t say things and brush them off as nothing. (Trump’s) comments were very triggering for women, and that’s a problem. You have to be able to say, ‘I said some very bad things and it constitutes sexual assault and that’s not OK and I’m very sorry for that.’ But that didn’t happen.”
Well, it did. Barely. “I apologize if anyone was offended,” Trump said in a statement after the video became public.
You bet we were offended. Which is why we’re knitting Pussyhats for hundreds of thousands of women who will wear them as they walk together past the U.S. Capitol. That sea of pink will issue a demand for “the protection of our rights, our safety, our health and our families,” according to the organizers’ mission statement, “recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.”
Feminist icon Gloria Steinem and Harry Belafonte have signed on as honorary co-chairs of the march, and Planned Parenthood of America is joining as a “key partner.”
If you have been wringing your hands since November, well, you can put them to better use. You can knit. And if you can’t knit, you can march in a pink hat that someone like you made for you. Together, you will make a statement. You’ll make sense.
“Strong women together can make a difference,” said Sally McKenna, of Lake Forest, Calif., who requested hats from Weaving Works when she was in Seattle to see her daughter, Kalin McKenna, over Christmas.
“We are strong; we are going to stick up for ourselves and stick up for people who can’t stick up for themselves,” said McKenna, who is 67.
“It’s so important for me to be a voice and let this new administration know they can’t walk all over us. So here we are.
“Strength in numbers, right?”