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The Green Knitters emerge!

Posted by Sylvia Olsen on

Niu Savea, our friend and tenant

I used to say don’t mix politics with knitting but now I’m breaking all my own rules. The Green Knitters are up and running. On Wednesday night, August 18th, the first twelve enthusiastic knitters got together to knit Adam’s way into the legislature for Saanich North and the Islands. We are going to make toques and headbands as a fundraising project but also as a way to get women together to talk, to plan, to ...

…and we know that when women gather stuff happens.

In the past knitting and politics; knitting and social change have gone together like a hand and the proverbial mitten.  

We aren’t exactly sure what the Tricoteuse (French for knitting woman) were doing when they knit while watching the executions in Paris during the French Revolution. But if Charles Dickens is right the women—think Madame Defarge—were subversively documenting the names of all the victims by knitting them into their stitches.  

Women on both sides of the World Wars knit socks and sweaters for their men, hoping the warmth would give their military the edge. 

Years ago the late Irene Harris from Chemainus First Nation told me that in the 1960s when First Nations leaders were organizing their resistance to government oppression knitters paid their way. She said that the meetings of the National Indian Brotherhood were always in Ottawa, which meant a costly trip for the Chiefs from the west coast. So Coast Salish knitters set up in the crowded waiting rooms in the Vancouver airport with bins of wool and needles, and with toques and socks and sweaters for sale. They knit and sold until they made enough money to get one of their leaders on the plane. Then they knit and sold some more until they got the next one a ticket.

So you can see where I got the idea. We will knit and sell and knit and sell until we get our man on the plane to Victoria next May—the provincial election.

The first Green Knitters gathering was a trial run. I messed up the pattern, Joni messed up the kits and everyone was getting acquainted with how it’s going to work. Some people were picking up their needles for the first time in decades, some were experts—everyone was excited to take part.

Once we are up and running we'll have toques for the utterly Green, but be careful the Saskatchewan Roughriders might want to steal our idea. We'll have toques for the Green-lite, with just a touch of green and whole lot of class. They are the sort of hat you could buy your father for Christmas and he could wear it proudly to his red or orange or blue meetings without a hint of contradiction. We'll have headbands for the young and active Green utterlies or lites.

 

Charlies Rice and Joe Elsworth the hardworkers renovating our house

Check out the Saanichton Fair for the first toque's first appearance and watch social media for the announcements of where to buy your hats and how to become a Green Knitter. Because I think there are really only two kinds of people in the world--knitters and people who wish they were knitters.

Tex McLeod my partner and go-to guy for modelling

If you ever wonder what you can do to make a difference think about the Tricoteuse and think about Irene and the other Coast Salish knitters. Simple things, uncelebrated things, things that go undetected and under the radar can change the world. 

Just a final note on gender: the Green Knitters is not just about women. Tex (my partner) will join us. Adam will join us—he’s a good knitter. So…men…don’t hesitate…come and check it out.


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