Today is July 4th, a day that always reminds me how deeply I love and believe in the ideals of our country. For Little Skein, it’s also debut day for a new fabric that is close to my heart: Liberty Knit.
I’d like to tell you the story of how and why Liberty Knit came into being.
Earlier this year, I discovered the activist and artist, Kimothy Joy, who creates beautiful portraits of inspirational and politically-active women. Kimothy has a strong and positive voice, clearly focused on making the world a “better, more equitable place for all." I commissioned Kimothy to adapt one of her portraits into Liberty Knit with a comment written by me.
My commission was in January, just after the Women’s March and the Pussyhat movement. I was moved by how many women participated (five million worldwide, with over 400 marches in the US and a further 160+ internationally), and I was also struck by how far we still have to go.
While watching and participating in the march and movement, I heard several comments from colleague knitters and designers wondering, in a curious and thoughtful way, what difference a march or visible pink hat could or would make. It occurred to me that making one’s views and voice visible and prominent is a critical first step of change, not unlike the stitches of a large project where it seems as if the knitting will go on forever but the garment will never be finished. As knitters, we know that each stitch will make a difference (even when we’re bored or tired or discouraged) because we have the experience of one stitch at a time adding up to something so much more.
Since January, I have felt the need to express my hopes and ideals for America more strongly with each Executive Order, tweet, and statement that comes from the current political administration.
As many of you know, I have a particular affinity for immigrants and refugees, and in January, launched an ongoing project here at Little Skein to provide a warm and handmade welcome to refugees.*
For me, the desire to speak up is not about politics. Indeed, I believe that everyone in America, whether in a “red state” or “blue state,” wants the same thing: opportunity, meaningful work, a safe future, and the chance to find happiness. We may disagree on how to make this happen, but I believe the core value is the same.
Some people believe that a business owner should not express political views, and I respect those business owners and patrons who decide that knitting is knitting and they don’t want to discuss politics or current events in the midst of their hobby.
For me, though, Little Skein is built around who I am. And so it makes sense for me to share my values alongside my knitting, new fabrics, and new kits.
When my son was a toddler and hitting was an instinctive way for him to express frustration, I told him that we never hit. Never. And when he started elementary school and heard hurtful language on the schoolyard, I told him that we never talk like that. Never. We find better ways and better words to express (or release) our frustration.
It matters to me that we speak kindly, that we stretch ourselves to understand different viewpoints, and that we provide a warm welcome to others in need.
This morning, I read a beautiful op-ed from the Congresswoman from Washington’s 7th district, Pramila Jayapal. She said, “Immigration is about more than just who comes here and who is allowed to stay. It is about who we are as a country and what we are willing to stand up for.”
I believe that it always matters when you speak up for positive values. Liberty Knit was created to share this view.
* The Warm Welcome project will continue as long as knitters want to send me hats. You knit a hat; I’ll make sure it gets to a reputable organization who will get that hat on the head of a refugee who needs it. Details about how to contribute a hat are here.