Friday, March 20, 2020

Suffrage Sewing Week: Knitting

Sojourner Truth, suffragist and well known speaker.
Her portrait shows her knitting.

"Knitting is the saving of life," Virginia Woolf wrote.  To Woolf and other crafters, there is something very comfortable about knitting.  I admit, the only time I did serious knitting when I was in college; my best friend in nursing school knitted as well.  There's something comforting about the rhythm of the needles as we work away at our knitting or purling.  It's most likely why so many people took up knitting (and quilting by the way) after 911.  

Of course, knitting can be political as well--case in point--the pink pussycat hats worn a few years ago:
A pink pussycat knit by Jayne B.  Apologies for the color being off, we are having a few dark days here.

Suffragists knitted as well.  Like embroidery, there were special clubs for knitters associated with various suffrage branches:
There were even classes taught:


Piecework magazine published an interesting article on suffrage and handwork (read here).  The aspect of this article that I find fascinating is the consistent rationalizing of why women shouldn't have the vote.  On one hand, suffragists were perceived as unwomanly creatures who shirked their domestic duties; but when they sewed or knitted to raise money for the cause, they were portrayed as frivolous.  

In 1915, while World War I ravaged Europe, an article was syndicated throughout the U.S. about Belgian suffragists who tried to help their country:

When the United States entered World War 1 in 1917, people knitted socks and sewed articles to support the troops:

Everyone knitted to do their part including boys:



And of course, suffragists:

Under the direction of Carrie Chapman Catt, the president of the National American Suffrage Association, suffragists knitted throughout the country to help the war effort.  They were joined by all groups of people in the country to do their part, just as we are doing our part now to try to protect ourselves and communities:


If you are knitting a project and would like to share a photo with the group, send me an email and I'll post it on the blog!
Stay safe dear friends!










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