The not-so-gentle arts

caitlin-t-mccormack-01

The skeletons above are made of crocheted thread (you can see more here).  When knitting and crochet became popular some years ago, there was a flood of subversive patterns for people who want something more hip than socks. (Well, plain socks. I’ve seen some seriously hip patterns for socks.)  The free pattern site Knitty has a lot of stuff you wouldn’t expect to see in knitted form. Like this skull ski mask.  Or Blythe doll clothes. Or (I kid you not) a uterus.  Right now I’m knitting this skull scarf.

But subversive knitting isn’t necessarily new.  Consider Madame Defarge in A Tale of Two Cities. She would knit as people were condemned to death, and knit their names in code into her pattern.  This use of knitting is unsettling, because we tend to associate the craft with home, with warmth, with little old grandmothers.  But isn’t that exactly why people have begun knitting the unexpected?  Knitting need not be confined to the realm of “safe,” and neither need be knitters themselves, usually women (but not always, and that is significant in its own way).  We might not be knitting the names of the condemned into our sweaters, but we can bring about our own revolution, one stitch at a time.

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