I was first introduced to the idea of Craftivism  last year at The Papered Parlour’s V&A Museum of Childhood exhibition: It’s Your Write. Before we even got through the door we were faced by the most amazing giant knitted quilt:

Papered Parlour Knitted Poem
(c) Papered Parlour

What an introduction! The quilt was a the largest knitted poem ever produced, Dylan Thomas’ In My Craft or Sullen Art, courtesy of the Poetry Society. Inside there were organisations like The Craftivist Collective, Ministry of Stories, Fine Cell Works and loads of other interesting groups (there was also cake and a drink called Cocktea, it was AWESOME!)


If I remember correctly it was a combination of Proseco and elderflower wine all I know for sure is it was delicious!

I hadn’t come across the idea of craftivism before but as soon as I got chatting to the lovely ladies at the Craftivist Collective stand I realised there was more to cross stitch and crochet. At the time, they were selling packs for you to create your own mini protest banner.

Mini protest banner kit
Mini protest banner kit

You can visit their Flickr group for some great examples but here is my favourite:

Superman says wise up!
Superman says wise up!

The idea behind these being that you make your own banner, hang it somewhere visible (controversial or otherwise), take a picture and share it online. Simple.

There are many things I love about craft but it had never occurred to me that it could be used for activism. My experiences of crafts like cross stitch, knitting and crochet came from the matriarchs of my family who were all excellent at needlecraft. It was something they took huge pride in. We had hand knitted shawls as babies, school jumpers growing up and hand made prom dresses when we got older.

Knitting patterns have been handed down in my family since the 40s, I inherited the most amazing collection when my mum died and some day I hope to use them to raise money for Janie’s School (I’m thinking an exhibition or some such like, if anyone has any ideas I’m very open to them!):

40s knitting patterns
How much do I want their waistlines!
Family knitting
How cute (and slightly Stepford)

I love the thought of using skills that traditionally bring women together as home makers and using them to protest the big issues. Not only is it empowering but it’s attention grabbing.

How many emails do you think ministers and MPs get complaining about stuff? Compare that with presenting them with a jar of jam with a protest message hand sewn into the lid and you see where craftivism can have an impact.

The other great thing about craftivism is that your protest is usually in the shape of something beautiful and hand made. There is nothing the internet likes to share more than pictures of beautiful hand made things (ok, ok, I know, cats and porn but apart from that).

So I for one am going to take up the crafts of my mother, grandmother and grandmothers before them and use it not for quiet acts of conformity but for loud acts of unladylike activism. My mum wouldn’t have me any other way 🙂

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