Although it’s technically not a crochet book, I absolutely couldn’t do my June Crochet Book Celebration Month without mentioning this important new book by Betsy Greer. Craftivism celebrates everything I love about crafting and crochet.
What is Craftivism?
Editor Betsy Greer defines craftivism as “a way of looking at life where voicing opinions through creativity makes your voice stronger, your compassion deeper & your quest for justice more infinite.” She and a friend coined the term more than a decade ago and it’s become increasingly recognized in recent years. She describes it in more depth here.
From the book’s press release:
“Craftivism” is a worldwide movement that operates at the intersection of craft and activism. It is also a grassroots endeavor that proves small acts can have a large impact. Craftivists often follow in the footsteps of the nonviolent protest movement and invite others to join a conversation about the social and political intent of their creations. In 2011, The American Craft Council and American Craft magazine listed the advent of craftivism as one of the most notable events in the last 70 years of making in the United States.
Basically, in my words, craftivism is a way of using craft to hone your opinions on what matters in life and express those opinions to the world around you through hands-on making.
About Craftivism, The Book
This is an amazing book collection of essays by terrific makers of all kinds who explore different aspects of craftivism. There are essays about craftivism at the personal level, which is something that really appeals to me since I believe that crochet heals individuals as well as communities. And there are essays about craftivism at a political level, which is of interest because it’s stunning to see the change that can come about in the world when creative people come together to use self-expression to raise awareness of issues they care about.
Crochet in Craftivism
This book includes essays from a huge range of crafters that do a variety of different types of work. Crochet is well-represented here.
- There’s a full interview with Maria Molteni of Net Works, the project that brings knit and crochet basketball hoops to under-maintained urban spaces.
- Installation artist Inga Hamilton mentions in her essay that one form of craftivism is “to cover a gas station in crochet to highlight the world’s dependence on oil”. I’m guessing she was referring to Jennifer Marsh’s project called Gas Station Project (pictured above).
- Jessica Vellenga writes about Yarn Bomb Yukon’s project that covered a plane in knitting and crochet (pictured below).
- L.J. Roberts writes about the power of Patrick Hillman’s Crochet Magic Johnson, saying that it “initiates a dialogue about homophobia, masculinity, fear, sickness, and AIDS through the fusion of a hyper-masculine heroic persona with the femininity and tactile softness of crochet”. (Piece also pictured below).
- Rebecca Addison writes about Stitches for Sisters, which collects knit and crochet sqaures to turn into blankets for women and children around the world.
- Otto Von Busch has a terrific essay called Crafting Resistance and in passing it mentions the Counterfeit Crochet Project by Stephanie Syjuco.
Why This Book Matters
This book is important. Here’s why:
- Crafting heals. Crochet saved my life and I’ve seen it heal so, so many other people. It heals families, groups and communities. This book is about that.
- It’s inspiring. Sometimes we can feel like such small solo voices. When you see all of these voices together in this one book you realize that your creative experience matters.
- It celebrates gender equality in crafting, in activism and in art.
- Craftivism is a movement. You can join it just by being who you are and making what you make. It’s something you’re probably already a part of.
- It’s beautiful and interesting and fun. There are so many great images of terrific creative projects in here that this also makes a good coffee table book even though it’s really an educational book.
About Editor Betsy Greer
From her press release:
“Betsy Greer is a writer, a maker, and a researcher, and the author of Knitting for Good!: A Guide to Creating Personal, Social, and Political Change Stitch by Stitch. She runs the blog www.craftivism.com and believes that creativity and positive activism can save not only the soul, but also the world. Betsy lives in Arlington, VA and can be found on Twitter @craftivista.”
In her press release she also shares about her own craftivism:
“My own work, which is primarily done in cross-stitch, is about giving the words and thoughts of others a larger platform. One of my longest-running projects is the International Anti-War Graffiti Project, which takes anti-war graffiti done by anonymous individuals from around the world and converts it into cross-stitch. In doing so, I juxtapose the feminine “soft” stitch with the masculine “hard” graffiti. By displaying this work online and in galleries, I hope to show that people around the world are united in their anti-war convictions, despite varying political views.
My next project is a quilt about PTSD. By embroidering people’s statements about the disorder (which I have) in their own handwriting, and having others embroider their own statements, I hope to encourage discussion about PTSD. By grouping together, on a quilt, statements from people with PTSD, I hope to make people with the disorder feel less alone and more empowered to heal themselves.”