A Revolutionary Knitting Circle
is an activist
group which uses craftivism
and other textile handicrafts
) in their efforts to bring about social change
The first Revolutionary Knitting Circle group was founded in Calgary, Canada, by Grant Neufeld in 2000. Since then, groups have formed across Canada, in the USA, and in various parts of Europe.
The groups claim three main goals:
Promoting community independence
They hold that communities
are currently subject to the corporate
rule and that a goal of the Revolutionary Knitting Circles is to return them to independence
from that rule.
While not advocating an end to trade (be it local or international), the groups are working to build the capacity for all necessary subsistence production at the community level. The theory being that, with the ability to take care of all essential needs, communities will be in a position to say no to trade deals they do not want.
Breaking down social divisions
The Revolutionary Knitting Circles oppose various social divisions
, including age
. The groups actively seek to include a diverse range of people, from across those divisions, in cooperative efforts.
This goal is also served by having the groups often publicly represented by youthful males (such as the founder).
Given the common view of knitting as work associated with middle- and lower-class women - typically older women - the groups hope that this representation will help to counter stereotypes.
Changing how activism is done
The groups hope to increase participation in activism by offering a different approach from the often intense, and sometimes hostile, modes of activism most commonly associated with social justice movements.
History of Actions
The first major action initiated by the Revolutionary Knitting Circle was the Global Knit-In
held during the 2002 G8
Summit. Groups in a number of cities and towns hosted protest
rallies featuring knitting outside of major corporate sites, especially bank office towers. Notable among these was the mass rally held in Ottawa
- where protesters set up a 'social safety net' made of knitted squares.
In 2003 the group produced a pattern for white knitted arm-bands with a peace symbol. Members of the Knitting Circles and other interested knitters produced numerous arm-bands from the pattern which were worn in the mass peace marches and rallies held that year.
In 2004 the group produced a pattern for a banner displaying the words "Peace Knits" The pattern called for individual 6 inch squares to be stitched together - allowing for many knitters to contribute to a single banner.