Crafting for Democracy

As you're all aware, Madison, Wisconsin is the epicenter of a huge U.S. political battle. It consumes those of us who live here. Everyone wants to talk about it - whether to commiserate or to dissect the minutia of all the political wranglings. Frankly, it's exhausting.

This was the scene on Saturday: 

I've coined three terms: "rally fatigue", "rally stress", and "rally anxiety." I'm thinking about trademarking them... (j/k)  Over the course of the last two weeks, I've bounced between these three states of being - none of which are particularly pleasant. Then, on Friday night (2/25), I got to add "rally inspiration" to my list of terms.

You see, Friday night was the first meeting of the Knit-In/Craft-In for Democracy. As we all know, I can't resist an opportunity to knit in public with a group so, of course, I went. One report counted 92 people in attendance on the 2nd floor of the north wing of the Capitol. Most were knitting but some were crocheting, or spinning, or sewing. On person had set up a make-shift craft "table" with bits of paper, glue, pipe cleaners, and such - like you'd see in elementary school art rooms. It was awesome.

photo courtesy of Carrie Ouradnik
photo courtesy of Thea Dingo

photo courtesy of Carrie Ouradnik
People chatted and laughed. They talked about their knitting and about the rally. There was an air of camaraderie and of doing something "important" - even though we were just doing what we'd probably be doing at home, in front of the t.v. The "event" lasted until about 9:30p.m., at which time many protesters were bunking down for the night so it was the right time to leave. We dispersed as we'd arrived, with hugs and words of gratefulness and support.

From that first, three-hour gathering, the Knit-In/Craft-In has expanded. People convened again on Sunday February 27 starting at noon and are encouraged to keep coming every day, starting at noon, until the end of the "siege."

Carrie, a friend from my knitting group, (aka CraftyPuppyLover on Ravelry) provides this account of the end of the day:
"They were supposed to close down the capitol and start arresting people that didn’t leave at 4. So a few of us stuck around, and were planning on peacefully leaving once we were personally told to by an officer...and that never happened! My VERY unofficial guess is that there were about 200+ people that stayed behind, and the officers all just stayed calm. (edit: I have seen this number as high as 600, it's probably in the middle somewhere)

At around 7pm we got the word that there would be no arrests and that everyone was free to stay the night! Kelda Roys was SUPER AWESOME and escorted me upstairs once we figured no one was going to be arrested. She was also the person that was escorting others around to make sure that we could all get things like water, gatorade, and pizza into the capitol to feed the protesters.

I left around 7:45, I felt like I was there long enough to have my “body counted” and so that people could stay the night. The last thing I heard was that they were going to let in more food and eventually move everyone down to the ground floor so that the 1st floor could be cleaned, and that no one would be forced to leave."
I think that, when it's all said and done, the thing that inspired me was the peacefulness of it all. Throughout this ordeal, there's been no violence - even though there's been horrible anger. And we crafters are not known for being too unruly so we fit perfectly into this non-violent protest. Ghandi would be proud. Let's hope it stays this way.

One last note: as I was leaving on Friday night, there was a documentary filmmaker shooting video of the knitters. Here's the video she produced:


- Alex


  1. Love the post! Just a heads up you may want to fix your Knit-In/Craft-In for Democracy link (it appears to not be linked correctly)

  2. Thanks for the tip. I'll take a look at the link.

  3. Walker is a weasel!