Monday, February 01, 2010

Knitting the revolution

When ever anybody makes a statement about gender in weblogs which indicates that women don't blog, I ask them to go start reading knitting blogs. It's one of my secret addictions, to surf knitting blogs, reading about all the things I could have made if I just put the computer away and picked up some yarn instead. Lucky for me, there are women out there who are both computer literate and knitting smart!

One of these has the weblog Med pinner (with sticks, sticks meaning knitting-needles). On her weblog, which is full of really beautiful patterns and experiences with knitting (yes, it's legal to take a picture of clothes people are wearing while outside in a public place, no, it's not permitted to publish recognisable pictures of people without their permission unless they are part of a parade or a performance or something similar where it's obvious that they are there in order to be seen. This picture doesnt' show the face though, so it should be ok.), she has a button. The text says: The revolution is being hand made, and it links to an exhibition of crafted goods in Sweden.

I had to google that though, to see if I there might be a movement behind it, and what I found was:
An artists' collective named Handmade Revolution.
Two volunteers organising markets in the UK for handmade goods.
Canadian events for selling and buying handmade goods in the "Make It" fairs.
And an angry rant against the idea that the revolution can be hand made.

On the one hand: No, knitting does not remove the fact that my entire life is supported by unsustainable technology. The only times when I get anywhere close to sustainability is when I live in the cabin with simple technology, fishing and growing most of the food, and cooking on a fire made of wood we cut clearing the garden and land around the houses. But even then I am very aware that it's just a matter of days before I turn on the electricity, get into the car and go shopping.

Still, there's another way to think about a hand-made revolution.

If we are to have a systemic change, which is what we need, it will mean that everybody must expect lifestyle changes. We may for instance have to move back to the lifestyle of the fifties, giving up on twice-daily showers, and moving into areas which will allow us to walk or ride a bike or bus to work. We can't drive to malls, and the huge cities need to change very radically, in order to allow for local produce and local markets. And each and every step of the way will mean more direct, hands-on and personal engagement with the comforts of our lives.

One pair of hand-knitted mittens is just one less pair of mittens produced by Indian child slaves sold. But the knowledge and skill it takes to make those mittens can be the key to changing society, if it's used at all levels of life: Knowing how to cook your food from scratch, knowing how to grow it, knowing how to pick and find it, knowing how to use the resources that surround you, knowing how to build a house, row a boat, repair a bike, redress your furniture, repair your clothes and care for a well of fresh water - all this is knowledge that needs a hands-on approach. Technology may save us through some new, sustainable solution, but it's the hands-on knowledge of how our comforts are brought to be that can make us accept this as important.

So start knitting, now.


Erla said...

Facebook har ført til at eg no saknar ein "likar"-knapp.

Klepsacovic said...

I agree with your idea that it's not the knitting itself that matters, but the cultural shift, or the new way of thinking of creating and repairing, which will change the world. Sew on your own button rather than drive to the cleaners that sews buttons, or even worse buying a whole new coat.

Repair the bike, but the big first step is t ride it! This summer I rode a bike to work, only a couple miles, but it was very nice. Considering the ability to avoid traffic, it was about as fast as a car and much less stressful.

Torill said...

The time I really appreciated living in a small town was as the kids were growing up. Feet and bicycles gave us all so much freedom of movement, when everything was within walking distance. Also, living in Umeå taught me how much you can really get done with a bicycle!