Archive | with my hands.

Things I’ve either made or written over the years.

To stitch is to start 

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Simply put, the act of stitching gives us agency. That’s why I’ve been making hats for the pussy hat project. I’ve been knitting my way back into action one step at a time. Too often I make to-do lists that are grand and have massive goals, like “be more productive,” which, while aspirational, don’t help much at all, really.

What does help is the act of creating something from two sticks and string. I can watch it grow in my hands, I can see it take shape, I can literally track my production.

Textiles (along with other crafts) give us time to process. We can rip out what is not working, in both our hands and our heads. We can be inspired by the actions of others. We can join the others that came before us, stitching along with them.

Textiles are catalysts for action. They show us that action isn’t taking one massive step, it’s taking lots of little steps and stitches from which to build on. Like the stitches our hands make, one stitch becomes two stitches becomes two thousand. And in this way, textiles show us how to move forward.

I’m going to the march in DC because when I interviewed some of Australia’s knitting nannas, one of them (Louise Somerville!) told me they started showing up at mining sites to let the companies know they were watching. (Apparently that was boring so they brought their knitting- and the badassery only grew!) I am going to the march not in anger or rage, there will be no yelling for me.

Because when I’m angry, I lose my capacity to make the world a better place. That’s my focus, seeing what craftivist-type work people make, maybe passing out some #yasvb signs and taking some photographs to share with you.

Do I hope our next president makes the world a better place? Yes. Despite all my feelings, I still have hope that there will be some good done. But I will watch. I will not yell, I will not scream, I will not rage. I will continue to work quietly towards making the world better stitch by stitch, the more that want to stitch along, the better.

And that’s just my reason. There are 200K other reasons. And we don’t have to agree on why we’re going. We just have to agree that showing up in our hats is a mark of resistance. A handmade notation that “this is not okay.”

That we sat down and made hats in our own time means that we care enough to take tiny action steps. For some, we may make out of anger, chomping at the bit, but, for others, we may be stitching to embolden ourselves to speak our truths on the matter.

These stitches we make we make to remind ourselves we have agency, our voice matters, we are not alone. They can help us stitch our ways into being activists of whatever sort of activist we wish to be. What matters is that we make these stitches, that we show ourselves that we are strong enough to make something from nothing.

And, along the way, if we meet others with the same hats or wishes or stitches, we can meet their strength with our own and stand together.

Our stitches do more than just make hats, they jolt us into being and becoming agents of change. They show us what is possible. They show us we are powerful. They are the sparks that remind us that change only happens when we take the first step, take the first stitch.

With them we join a legacy of makers, a thread extending both into the past and present, who have our backs too. And in both directions, we can make our voices heard loud and clear, we just need to be brave enough to listen to our hands and our hearts first.

So, if you’re not sure where to start or what to feel or what to do, first, stitch. Then the rest will come.

Tour notes, job changes, and other fun things.

Sometimes you come back from tour and things that were routine in your life suddenly change. Sometimes people say one thing and then change their minds later. Sometimes you find yourself at a crossroads where it’s either get another job or look into going back to school. And sometimes that crossroads is a pretty scary and weird place.

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Finally! I had craftivism badges made thanks to the lovely people at Six Cent Press! If you’d like one, please comment here or email me, as I’ve been sharing them with people that weren’t able to come see us on tour. This pic was taken on my friends’ kitchen chair that was just the best shade of blue.

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This little buttoned-up beauty was part of a workshop that Kim Werker, Leanne Prain, and I ran at Makeshift Society in San Francisco. I had a little extra help from some yummy coffee from Ritual in Hayes Valley, where the barista was listening to some crusty punk that was sweet music to my tired ears.

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Earlier that today the amazing Sonya Philip had taken us to SCRAP SF, where I found my new spirit animal, who I later found via an online friend is actually Stratos from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Apparently, he is a ruler of the Bird People, can fire “bolts and streams of energy from his hands,” and learned how to fly from an egg, so naturally, he’s my kind of dude.

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I also found marquee letters at SCRAP, which I discovered are kind of the best.

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This gem of a quote was on the wall of Tillamook Station, where we held a workshop thanks to Isaac Watson of Maker’s Nation. You can read an account of what it was like to actually take the workshop from Lisa Walker England here. If that sounds like fun to you, we’re definitely up to doing more, so get in touch!

All of these photos were originally posted over on Instagram, so if you’d like to be ahead of the curve, come follow me over here.

Additionally, should you have any job opportunities for a writer or editor, I’d love to hear about them.

Week #12 of 48 Weeks of Historical Craftivism, the Changi Quilts!

Last week, we talked about the Changi Girl Guides quilt, so, as promised, here’s the info about what the women made. It was a bit difficult to figure out who made what quilt, as one is held at the British Red Cross Museum in London and another two are held at the Australian War Memorial Museum in Canberra. Therefore, please make sure to follow each link below to learn more about them!




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When Singapore surrendered to the invading Japanese army early in 1942, many British service personnel and civilians – including women and children – were sent to an internment camp at Changi Prison.

Men were separated from the women and children, and there was little contact between them so families didn’t know if their loved ones had survived.

In the first six months of internment, women embroidered their names and an image that meant something to them on squares of fabric. The squares were sewn together to form quilts, which were given to the military hospital at Changi barracks. For many of the men, it was the first sign they had that their wives and daughters were alive.




The making of the quilts was designed to alleviate boredom, to boost morale and to pass information to men in other camps that the women and children were alive. Mrs Mulvany’s initial idea was that only the wives of soldiers should contribute squares because their husbands were not interned in Changi Prison with the civilian men and could not know the fate of their families. She was herself the wife of a British soldier. However, there proved to be too few military wives in the prison to make up enough squares for even one quilt and so it seems that all the women were given the opportunity to contribute a square, some contributing more than one.

In a shrewd political move, Mrs Mulvany secured the permission of the Japanese commandant to pass the quilts – ostensibly made for the “wounded” as stated on the back of each quilt – to Changi hospitals, by making a quilt for the wounded Japanese. In the event, the Japanese quilt, also containing the signatures of the women who had made it, was passed with the other two to the hospitals and eventually given to an Australian medical officer.

Each woman who wanted to make a square was given a piece of plain white cotton (provided from various sources including flour bags and bed sheets) and was asked to put “something of herself” into the square, together with her signature. From the evidence of Sheila Allen, who made the map of Australia square on the Australian quilt, it seems that it was possible to nominate the quilt on which the square was to be placed. This may explain why there are no Australian names on the British quilt, for instance, and why some of the names on the Japanese quilt are duplicates of those on the other two quilts (not enough women may have volunteered to contribute squares for the Japanese quilt).

While the Japanese tolerated the word “gaol” (the commandant may not have been familiar with the word), the “V” for victory, and the “thumbs up” sign on the squares, the word “prison” was not acceptable, so that when Mrs Mulvany and a Dutch internee came to assemble the squares they had to unpick this word. This can be seen clearly on two of the squares on the Australian quilt. The squares were machine-stitched together and the edges then over-embroidered in red. Very few of the contributors saw the completed quilts.




Each woman was asked to put “something of herself” into the square, together with her signature. The meanings of many of the personal messages on the quilts are now lost.




As very little contact was allowed between the men’s and women’s sections of the camp, many of the men had no idea whether their wives and children had survived. Each contributor was therefore asked to ‘put something of themselves’ into their square in addition to embroidering her name. When, with the permission of the Japanese Commandant, the quilts were given to the Military Hospital at Changi Barracks they provided lists of names of women who were at least alive. This news spread through the hospital and beyond.

The quilts were all made during the first six months of internment and fulfilled a dual purpose during this very difficult period. A small embroidered message was attached to the rear of each quilt stating that it was to be passed to a Red Cross Society at the cessation of hostilities. On a practical note the messages contained the instructions “It is advisable to dry clean this quilt”.

Three quilts are known to exist and it is probable that there was a fourth as the quilts were intended to be presented to the Red Cross Societies of Britain, Australia, Canada and Japan at the cessation of hostilities. One quilt now hangs at the British Red Cross museum in London and another two quilts at the Australian War Memorial Museum, Canberra. The whereabouts of the alleged fourth quilt is unknown.




There is also an embroidered tablecloth with 126 names:


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Embroidered signatures are of internees in Changi prison and staff at Miyako Hospital, 1942-43. The item belonged to Mary Thomas (b. 1906) who was interned in Changi and also spent time in the Miyako Hospital suffering from dysentery. Many of the names can also be found on the three Changi quilts made by the women during their first year of internment for the men imprisoned nearby. Some of the names can also be found replicated on EPH 4566, which is an embroidered bed sheet with signatures made by the women at Sime Road Camp, where the Changi prisoners were moved in May 1944 and on EPH 6519, a small tablecloth embroidered at Changi.




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While the Japanese tolerated the word ‘gaol’ on the quilts [they may not have been familiar with the word], the word ‘prison’ was not acceptable so when Mrs Mulvany came to assemble the quilt she had to unpick the word when it occurred. The work of nine Australian women is represented on this quilt: Dr Margaret Smallwood, Sheila Allen, Judy Good, Helen Latta, Vera McIntyre, Betsey Millard, Nea Barnes, May Watson and Eunice Austin-Hofer. It is likely that a quilt was made for the Australian Red Cross not because there were many Australian internees, but because it was assumed that the Australian Red Cross would play a major part in supplying aid to Singapore and POWs in Asia.

The quilt is made up of 66 embroidered squares, each signed in embroidery with the maker(s) name. All the squares are edged with turkey red chain-stitch. The squares are bounded by a broad white cotton border, and the same material has been used as a backing.

I’m sewing! I’m sewing!

This past Tuesday I learned how to not be scared of my sewing machine thanks to an Intro to Sewing course at Bits of Thread here in DC.

It was so momentous that I literally had the following clip from What About Bob? in my head:





I have slugged my grandmother’s old Singer sewing machine to my various apartments for over a decade now, yet been so scared of using it that I had only actually tried it out once or twice. I had literally become a Luddite, as I kept saying things like “it’s too fast” or “I can’t handle all those moving parts” whenever talk of me actually using it came up in conversation, as not only do I have it, but it sits permanently in my living room (it’s built in to a table).

So, I decided to face my crafty fear and go for it. Here are the results:


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Ahoy! Now how I know how Bob felt in that clip and feel so triumphant for having mastered my fear of the moving needle!

Curious, do you have any crafty fears? And if so, have you mastered them?

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