Paint it purple

This isn’t exactly a post about knitting or crochet or wool. It’s about women – it’s International Women’s Day today. This morning I celebrated by calling C “The Patriarchy” whenever he made a suggestion or wanted to push the trolley at the supermarket. I also posted a status on Facebook making reference to how Taiwan apparently mark International Women’s Day – by releasing survey results about women’s increasing waistlines. Now, I have done basically no research on this, so I can’t speak with any authority, but I was quite shocked when one of my friends – an educated healthcare professional, and a really very kind and lovely woman – didn’t automatically agree that this seemed a bit ridiculous. We both gave our point of view, and that was that: no animosity, no hard feelings. And I’m not going to use this platform to air my views about something I’m no expert on.

However, I am an expert on being a woman. I’ve been doing it for years – I’ve got the anatomy to prove it and everything. I am a fantastically lucky woman, with a family who want what’s best for me, a boyfriend who supports me wholeheartedly and lets me boss him around sometimes (OK, most of the time), an education system that supported me to the point where I can now contribute to it, a healthcare system that’s saved my life, kept me healthy and let me cry on them, and a network of friends – men and women – who are happy to let me be me even when I’m being a bitch. I’m part of a society that doesn’t gang rape and kill me for going out of the house on my own in the evening. My contributions to that society, small as they are, are valued and rewarded. In a very small way, I can be a role model. We might have a very long way to go on embracing gender equality, but when I walk out of the house with no make on, or the wrong sort of clothes, or the wrong sort of hair, or trainers that have definitely seen better days, no one points and stares. And my part of the world lets me be confident enough to say a firm “No thank you” to anyone who might.

But it isn’t OK to settle for that. Malala Yousafzai can tell you that. Jyoti Singh would have been able to tell you that.

We can’t change the world today. It’ll be a long time before there are significant, meaningful changes. But put it this way: you can’t knit a cardigan in an afternoon – that doesn’t mean you never cast on. You knit away, one row a day, for weeks and months and years. And then, eventually, you’ve made a difference. You’ve created something that makes the world better. Maybe you dropped a stitch or the sleeves aren’t quite long enough, but something new exists because of you.

So find a way to make a difference. Educate yourself, and be grateful that you can. Call on your network of strong female friends and ask them what they think. Donate your time to a women’s charity. Mentor a young woman who needs some help. Or just get on your blog and write a post about how it really is time we cast on that cardigan.

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Casting on… and on… and on…

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You know when you’ve got about ten projects already on the go, at various stages of completion? And then suddenly you feel the need to cast on another eight?

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I love how they all look together – like a bouquet! They’re not for me though; tomorrow is the first meeting of my brand new knitting club in school. Unfortunately I’m not allowed to call it Stitch and Bitch, and Knit and Natter sounds a bit too twee for inner city secondary school students. Any suggestions? I’ve actually been too nervous to announce it in school – I’m just quietly recruiting students from my own classes! I’m thinking it would be too hard to teach a whole room full of people at once though… I remember learning at the same time as my sister, and it was torture waiting for my mum to finish helping her and rescue my dropped stitches for me.

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I’ve got a video sorted, which I’ll play while I’m helping people individually. And I’ll take my favourite beginner’s knitting book – Knitty Gritty – so they can look at projects a bit more inspiring than the standard ‘Endless double knit scarf in garter stitch’ that seems to be everyone’s first project! (Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but there’s no instant gratification!)

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I’ve cast on fifteen stitches of leftover bits of acrylic DK from my stash, onto pairs of 4mm needles. In theory, they’re about the right size for a phone case or a little purse. Then once they’ve done enough rows, I can show them how to decrease for a curved flap, and how to make a buttonhole.

Now I just need to cross my fingers and hope that some students turn up!

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I do keep meaning to show you what else I’m making at the moment. I’ve got lots of little projects on the go, but not enough time to sit down and make real progress on any of them. Even the little green and cream tunic from my last post is waiting for the messy border to be ripped out and replaced with a tidy one. Most of my works in progress are crocheted rather than knitted – I really do think I prefer crochet these days, possibly because it grows quicker, or because I don’t have to get to the end of the row before I stop! I prefer knitting for garments because I like a thinner fabric, but I don’t ever make clothes for myself. Crochet seems to be more versatile for making shapes and patterns, which is what I really love. I will do my very best to get some photos taken soon!

How lovely life would be if I could be paid to teach knitting all day!