I missed out on the Haight-Ashbury experience. Alas, I wasn’t yet a gleam in my mother’s eye in the summer of love, 1968, but I’ve always been interested in the counter-culture movement and the art that it spawned (or vice versa). I’m a fan of Janis, The Doors, hell, even bell-bottoms to a point, and flower power rocks. But I didn’t know that crochet – especially my grandma’s penchant for loud, proud, acrylic afghans and lap throws – was also subversive back in the day.
In the latest issue of Interweave Crochet magazine, there is an interesting article discussing the history of crochet in the late 60s and early 70s and the kind of statement that making (and wearing) crochet had on the public. This idea of changing the world, one stitch at a time, intrigues me. Can the simple act of drawing loops together really be influential – then or now?
I’m thinking it can. Even now, how we choose to spend our leisure time (and money) has a big impact on our families, our community, even the economy. What of the grannies who crank out afghans and donate them to the shelters or the church groups that sew hats for the homeless? Are these people changing the world, one stitch at a time? Yep, I think they are. And it isn’t just the crafty that can do this. What about the people who buy the homemade soaps, the handmade aprons, the quilted coverlets? Isn’t the money spent on these things going to local crafters rather than Wal-Mart? Not only that, but those items can be given as gifts, spreading the revolutionary spirit, so to speak; a (quilting) Bee-In, if you will.
Handmade, whatever it might be, seems to me to be a powerful way to make a statement. For me, the statement is about independence, community, values and ingenuity. It says that I’m resourceful, thrifty, useful, connected and that I support my local artisans and neighbors. It says a heck of a lot more to me than things made in sweatshops and sold at rock-bottom prices at a box store that drove away the local merchants.
That’s a lot of revolution in one little stitch.