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The Inclusive Stitch

inclusivity

noun [ U ]

UK  /ˌɪn.kluːˈsɪv.ɪ.ti/ US  /-ə.t̬i/

the quality of trying to include many different types of people and treat them all fairly and equally:

The candidate said she believed in inclusivity and she valued the city’s gaycommunity.

If you are an active follower or participant of the online knitting, crocheting, spinning community you will be familiar with the discussion around inclusivity in the fibre arts, particularly as it relates to the creation of a safe space for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ members of the community. If you have somehow stumbled across this blog from outside of the community (welcome, pull up a chair and I’ll stick the kettle on) you may not be aware that there has been a vigorous drive towards improving the perception and reality of inclusion online and off. More recently this conversation has hit international news, I’ve seen reports from US and UK press, following the update made to Ravelry’s policies to include a total ban on the advocacy of white supremacy on their platform. For those of you who have come here from outside the fibre arts Ravelry is a major platform for knitters, crocheters and spinners, combining a sales platform with social media in the form of forums.

Outside of the fibre arts community there is a perception of knitters as a quiet community, largely female, largely middle class, largely older, largely white, kinda sweet. For a long time inside the community the perception was broadly similar. Commercial patterns and publications showed samples on predominately white and slender models. Independent designers are more likely to model their own designs (although not exclusively so) which automatically introduces a wider variety of body types. What was being presented to us was a middle aged white sea of faces, with the occassional speck of colour. And this is where the definition of inclusivity from the top of this post comes in. If we do not actively seek to embrace the creativity of those in marginalised groups those specks of colour will remain just that. Specks. However, they should be broad strokes. There are many talented and active creators who are BIPOC, who are LGBTQ+. There always have been. We need to recognise them. We need to show each other, and the rest of the world, just how wrong this perception of crafters is. And over the past few months there has been a lively discussion on how best to achieve this.

Whilst this discussion has been going on there have been many calls for members of the community to quieten down and “go back to the knitting.” People have claimed that politics has no place in crafting. There are significant flaws in this argument. Politics is about people. Politics is about how we, as people, interact with the world and each other. Politics is instrumental in everything we do. You cannot be a functioning member of any society or community and not be impacted by politics. On top of that crafters have, throughout history, flexed their political muscles. Consider the women in India who, encouraged by Ghandi, spun and wove their own cotton fabrics by hand so that they weren’t supporting the British cotton trade. Indian cotton was shipped to England to be milled, before being shipped back to India to be sold locally. The British colonial powers demanded that the Indians bought British milled cotton and banned them from milling their own. The boycott and it’s associated civil disobedience led to the decline in the British cotton industry, which was not great for the British working class in mill towns (although they were still significantly better off than the Indian workers), and was ultimately successful in that Indian cotton became a global market force. Similarly, the Daughters of Liberty were known to boycott British goods during the American Revolution, using their crafting skills to assist in the shortages that ensued. In more recent years we have seen a rise in craftivism, from the pink Pussy Hats seen on women’s marches, to knitted banners proclaiming “Balls to Trump” being held aloft during protests. There have even been smaller, more discrete political displays tied to specific causes, like the designs for Project Semicolon, or knitting blue hats as part of an anti-bullying campaign. Crafters have long been politically active. Google any of the examples I have given and it becomes clear that politics most definitely does have a place in crafting.

The Ravelry statement relates specifically to the open promotion of white supremacy and the current Trump administration. Once you actually click through and read the policy it becomes clear that Trump supporters are not being banned from the platform. People who hold white supremacist views are not being banned from the platform. What has been banned is the use of targetted, hateful speech that makes the environment unsafe for those in marginalised groups. Let’s delve into that a little more.

Firstly what is a white supremacist? White supremacy is an extremist right wing view that claims the white race is inherently superior to all others (see Merriam Webster). Less radicalised persons will understand that we are all equal, regardless of the amount of melanin in our skin. Besides, as far as I am concerned, there is only one human race. Our colour relates to the ethnicity of our ancestors, which we may or may not feel connected to. Extreme views can be a force for good, William Wilberforce and the Abolitionists are an excellent example of this. However, often extreme views are more destructive. Hitler and the Nazi Party, for instance held well known extreme views on race and other marginalised groups that have been widely condemned. Indeed many Nazi views fall under the heading of white supremacy. So should we allow such extreme views to be publically aired on a forum such as Ravelry?

The initial reaction to banning a topic from being discussed is that we have a right to free speech. But here’s the thing, what we consider to be rights are not always inalienable. Sometimes they come with conditions attached. Our inalienable rights, as human beings, are the right to food, the right to water, the right to shelter, and the right to safety. The rest of what we deem to be rights are in actual fact privileges. With privilege comes responsibility. We have a responsibility to protect the inalienable rights of everybody. The moment you ignore your responsibility by using free speech in order to cause harm and strip another person of their safety you forfeit that privilege. The announcement of Ravelry’s new policy has been triggered by the actions of people on the forums who not only harassed others online, making that space unsafe, but also took steps to threaten an individual offline in a coordinated effort. That individual is still being harassed as I write. It is unacceptable for anyone to behave in this manner. It is unacceptable for a forum that is aiming to provide a safe and inclusive space to allow such extreme views to be aired on its platform.

Having reached this point it should be clear that I stand by Ravelry’s move to remove the promotion of white supremacy from the site. However, I believe that it has taken far too long for that step to be taken. I believe that it is a strong step, but it is only one step. There has always been anti-hate policies on the platform, and yet the situation was allowed to escalate to the point where an individuals safety was at threat IRL. It should never have reached that point. I believe that all our social media sites need to take a long hard look at their systems for enforcing their anti-hate policies so that no one is put in that position again. And I believe that those of us who do not fall into a marginalised group need to remember that the crucial letter in BIPOC is the P at its heart. It stands for person. And that is the basis on which I choose to meet and assess people on. Person first, then their actions.

And yes, I will now get back to my knitting. Loudly and with pride at the diverse community it puts me in.

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Fibre in the Frame

Over the past few days I have been doing a fair bit of Netflix and knitting (well it is half term!). Or rather Netflix and knitting/weaving/sewing. There have been two shows in particular that have held my attention, the George RR Martin series Nightflyers and the fabulous adaptation of the Dark Horse Comic The Umbrella Academy. The latter has proven to be an instant hit amongst the members of my virtual knit night (I have obviously encouraged them to check out Nightflyers too). Not only are these shows well produced with an engaging ensemble cast but being SciFi and superheroes they are right up my alley. However there is something else that ties these two shows together. In both shows we see a character indulging in the fibre arts.

Now we are all used to seeing women knitting, crocheting and embroidering in films and on tv – that is what genteel ladies used to do apparently. Supposedly it made them more marriageable. But in Nightflyers it is Rowan, the male xenobiologist (played by Angus Sampson), who not only sports a knitted cardigan but is seen knitting – one can only presume that he made the cardigan himself.Screenshot 2019-02-18 22.50.01

The much lighter show The Umbrella Academy also features a male knitter in the form of Klaus (Robert Sheehan). The Umbrella Academy doesn’t wait to slip the knitting in as we watch the series, ninja style, but instead includes it in the trailer.

Screenshot 2019-02-18 22.58.49

With both these shows being hot on the heels of each other it got me wondering where else we can see men on screen (outside of YouTube) indulging in the fibre arts. And from what I have been able to find, with the assistance of Google, there are precious few instances of male knitters for us to gawk over. I’ve found a further four.

So in no particular order…

Cary Grant knits in the 1943 film Mr Lucky.

cary grant

Morticia Adams taught Lurch to knit in the 60s.

Lurch

In the 70s it was Hawkeye of M.A.S.H. fame who took up the needles.

Hawkeye

And of course no list of fictional male knitters would be complete without Gromit!

grommit

Here’s hoping we see more male fibre artists featured on film before long. And if you know of any I’ve missed, by all means let me know!

 

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Merry Christmas!

So all the presents are wrapped, the suitcase is almost packed, and the sewing machine has been tucked away for the festive period (knitting is far easier to take on the train!).

We are heading away for a couple of days, and would like to take this opportunity to wish all of our readers a very merry Christmas (or whatever other festivities you celebrate at this time of year).

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November Round Up Show Notes

WIPs:

Latvian mittens – I got my kit from Love Knitting. https://www.loveknitting.com/catalogsearch/result/?order=relevance&dir=desc&q=latvian+mittens

Socks, to my own “pattern” in Paintbox Sock Yarn, I got mine from Love Knitting. https://www.loveknitting.com/catalogsearch/result/?order=relevance&dir=desc&q=paintbox+sock

Big Red by Mina Philip, the Knitting Expat – this is a test knit so the pattern is not yet available (Mina has given permission for test knitters to share progress on this project). I’m knitting mine in Cascade 220 which I got from Love Knitting https://www.loveknitting.com/cascade-220-fingering

Believe it or not I am not sponsored by Love knitting!

Plans:

Man knitting = Forest Hill by Erika Knight https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/forest-hill

FOs:

Hi-Low hem cardigan

Pattern = Simplicity 8377

https://www.minervacrafts.com/shop/sewing/patterns/simplicity-8377-a-simplicity-ladies-easy-pattern-hacking-sewing-pattern-8377-knit-cardigans

Fabric = Lurex Open Knit Fabric Navy and Gold

https://www.minervacrafts.com/shop/fabric/dress-fabrics/mf-310718-47-lurex-open-knit-fabric-navy-gold-per-metre

Minerva Crafts provided me with the fabric for free in return for a blog post.

Teeny Tiny Yoda from Star Wars Crochet by Lucy Collin, pattern linked on my Ravelry project page: https://www.ravelry.com/projects/ZozieM/yoda

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18th November 2018

Ewe Sew You Podcast Show Notes – 18th November 2018

Part 1 and Part 2

Introduction

Welcome to Ewe Sew You, I’m a knitter, sewist, weaver and teacher living and working in Buckinghamshire, UK.

I can be found online as follows:

Instagram: @zoziemozie

 

Ravelry: ZozieM

Blog: ewesewyou.com

YouTube: Ewe Sew You

Works in Progress

I’ve been actively working on 2 projects since the last video.

The Throwback by Andrea Mowry in Universal Yarns. This is a Worsted weight open cardigan with a colourwork yoke. I’m knitting on KnitPicks Interchangeables with 5mm tips for the stocking stitch, 5.5mm for the colourwork and 4.5mm for the rib as this is what gave me guage. Project Page linked below.

https://www.ravelry.com/projects/ZozieM/the-throwback

Latvian Mittens from a kit which I bought from LoveKnitting (link below) – other retailers will also have the Knit Like a Latvian kits. I am knitting on Hiya Hiya Steel DPNs in 1.5mm for the cuff and 2mm for the rest. I cast these on as part of the #blamedunderknitalong run by Caroline of the Knitting Vicariously podcast.

https://www.loveknitting.com/knit-like-a-latvian-knitting-kit-latvian-grey

Plans

I received some navy and gold open knit fabric from Minerva Crafts in return for a blog post which I am planning to make in to a cardigan using Simplicity K8377 which was a cover gift with Sew magazine.

I am also planning to make the jacket from this months Craftine box, which is a subscription service available from https://www.craftinebox.co.uk

Temptaptions

Whilst preparing for the #blamedunderknitalong I have been thinking about the knitting projects that are tempting me to cast on at the moment. Here is my current list until I get distracted again!

Knits for me!

I’ve also put together a Ravelry bundle on Man Knits which you can find under the bundles tab in the Ewe Sew You group on Ravelry.

Favourite Podcasts

These are the podcasts I try to keep up with, there are others I dip in and out of:

Knitting:

Sewing:

Spinning:

Mixed Crafts:

Non Craft, dip in and outable – audio podcasts:

If anyone has any recommendations for weaving podcasts please do let me know!

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Comfort and Elegance

Cowl Close UpHaving just sent my second blog post to Minerva Crafts I’m coming to the conclusion that I need more elegance in my wardrobe. I made a Freya dress from Tilly and the Buttons out of a gorgeous tan floral velour. I’m not going to go into great detail about that particular make here but I’ll add a link to my Minerva post once it goes live – which I expect won’t be for a little while as Minerva coordinates their blog well ahead of time.

There is something about tactile fabrics like velour and satin. They can take the simplest of garments and elevate it to a luxury piece. The simple elegance of a clean lined item in a luxury fabric is pleasing to me. It means I can dress a garment up with statement pieces of jewellery for a night out, or make the everyday a little less mundane by adding dressing it down. I can see myself making a series of velvet tops to wear with jeans through the autumn and winter, or silky camisoles for the summer. And yet I regularly turn to plain jerseys, and needlecord to make my daily wear outfits. I rarely think of the more luxurious fabrics when I plan a make to wear from work to weekend. But I so love wearing them!

When I knit I have moved away from acrylic yarns, mostly. Not only because that will help reduce my plastic consumption, but also because I generally prefer the feel of natural fibres to acrylic (although the Paintbox Baby DK I used for some baby knits is buttery soft). Does that mean I will never work with acrylic yarn again? Doubtful as it does have it’s uses and is often what is found in schools to use in weaving etc. It does, however, mean I am paying more attention to the feel of the fabric I am producing when I knit of crochet. So why not when I sew?

Certainly knitting is a slower process than sewing garments on a machine, so I like to use yarns that are pleasant to work with, rather than the artificial feel of many acrylic yarns. But surely the same level of thought should be given to the clothes I sew. My pledge, therefore, for future fabric purchases is to think of my sewn everyday garments as not just utilitarian items, but items that should be a pleasure to wear and stroke. I want to be able to grab a simple and comfortable outfit from my wardrobe and have it make me feel elegant – what better way to do that than to pepper my clothing with splashes of luxury fabrics?

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Festive Crafting

man in santa claus costume
Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

How has it got to the 4th November and I still don’t have my festive crafting organised? Normally by this time of year crafters have been busily turning into elves for at least four months. Not me.

I have started a cross stitch tree ornament. And I do have some needle felting projects lined up. All of these are featured in my October Round Up over on YouTube. I did also buy some wool in a sale over the summer anticipating a knitted present, but that is not yet even cast on. So I am feeling decidedly unprepared for the holiday season this year.

With a mere 7 weeks to go before Santa starts to load his sleigh I know that the time is simply going to fly past – not least of all due to the silly season kicking off at work this half term with the sugar rush of Halloween and the premature excitement of the school fireworks display over the past week. In addition I have a test knit on the go, and blogs to write for Minerva Crafts (my first one comes out December 23rd), not to mention a growing list of selfish need to makes (and a scarf to finish for the OH). So this may not be a year when I repeat my feat of entirely handmade christmas presents, which I’ve achieved twice, once being entirely knitted from stash and hand delivered wrapped in the previous years left over paper (can you tell I was on a budget?). However that is a goal I have in mind for another year. Who knows, if I start now maybe I’ll have it all done in time for Christmas 2019.

I will be keeping you up to date with the progress of my needle felting and cross stitch, both here and on the YouTube channel, so keep an eye out over the coming weeks to find out how many times I stab myself with a felting needle. In the meantime I’m off to swatch a card I simply HAVE to have now the weather is turning frosty (seriously, I’m chipping ice of the bike saddle before I cycle to work these days), and to put a few more rows on the Big Red I am test knitting for Mina Philip (Knitting Expat) in blue. You never know, I may even get out the scarf in the oh so exciting black and grey acrylic brioche that the OH asked me to make him last winter… … …