International Women’s Day: Knitting & Crafting as Feminist Acts

I’ve often asked myself how something so quintessentially feminine aligns with my identity as a feminist. When you think about sewing and knitting, it often conjures images of women relegated to housework. Now, for better or worse, we are not responsible for making our own clothes, and women are not as directly responsible for clothing their families (I won’t get into fast-fashion in this post, which is a completely different can of worms). Making clothing is a choice for most of us in the United States, and choice is the essence of feminism. Feminism isn’t about rejecting things that are “feminine,” so I’m letting go of the notion that knitting and feminism don’t align. Creating things for yourself, family, and others can be extremely powerful, and it is a very feminist act. 

Here are some ways I have found making your own clothes can be tremendously powerful from both economic and personal perspectives:

  • It gives us a choice of where we funnel our money. Many of our LYS and small fabric stores are female-run and owned. There are also all of the pattern designers, indie-dyers and yarn producers that we can support through our purchases. 
  • It frees us from conforming to fashion trends and norms. We get to pick colors and fabrics that we like and are not limited to what is made available in the stores, which is often dictated by people who are not representative of the wider population 
  • We also get to customize our clothes to fit our unique bodies. It allows us to free ourselves from concerning ourselves with numbers and sizes. It frees us more from attempting to conform to sizing standards that are out of touch for many of us. 
  • By making clothes, we are decreasing our dependence on countries and factories where women are exploited for their work. The fast-fashion industry is, in many ways, very anti-woman, and it profits tremendously from our dollars. 
  • Making, for many of us, is an act of self-care. It gives us identity and balance outside of our roles in our households and jobs, which is tremendously important. 
  • It does allow us to connect with the women who came before us, and it gives us something to leave behind. One key example of this is the Pussyhat; it will be a long lasting symbol for the women’s movement, and it will provide inspiration for generations of women beyond ours. 

I hope everyone is spending this day thinking of the women who came before us, the women who we know now, and the women who will come.