It has been thrilling to watch the crafting world turn our hands to making pussy hats in a collective show of creativity and dissent initiated by the Pussy Hat Project in a beautiful, well worded and inspiring call to craft. The founding Pussy Hat Project knitting pattern was designed by Kat Coyle of The Little Knittery in Atwater Village, Los Angeles, USA. It’s an ingeniously simple design, knitted flat in worsted weight yarn with a long rib section and stocking stitch body.
Throughout the project, which was only started in November 2016 with the aim of making over a million hats to be worn at the Women’s March in Washington DC, many knitters, crocheters and sewers have speedily added their alternate hat designs, recipes, hacks, riffs, adaptations and suggestions to the mix along with a growing pile of finished hats. Apparently we’ve caused a national shortage of pink yarn in the USA. This is particularly appropriate if we think that much of that yarn was bought from independent local yarn shops, often women-owned and specifically supporting women in their communities. We’ve also made use of what we have in our stashes and those of friends. It has encouraged many to learn or return to knitting. Whoop whoop!
When I first heard about the project, I immediately stash dived what I thought was all my thick(ish) pink yarn. You can see it here in a picture I took of my pink yarn and groceries last year. It’s nice for me to look back at that picture and realise how much of that yarn I’ve knitted in the interim.
IN THE PINK – from rhubarb to radicchio, things are looking rosy. All the pink #yarn in my stash with a particularly pink round of groceries. I haven't made one of these #foodandyarn pictures in a while… Pink skinned #potatoes, pinto beans, #lychees and #rosé. A little pink salt to balance out the #almondroca and strawberry filled koala bears. And #primroses to add some colour to the balcony.
The woolly pink yarn that remained I offered it up to knitters for free via Instagram to make pussy hats with. It has been lovely to see all that yarn being used; transformed into hats across the UK and sent off, to be worn by marchers on the Women’s March in Washington DC on January 21st, 2017. Here are a few of the projects it became:
Pussy hat. Day four was Knit Something. The first one I did, with Patons Clansman 4ply kindly supplied by @sweaterspotter , came out too big so I'm going to redo it. This one is a combination of the pink Clansman, Excelana 4ply in French Rose by @susancrawfordvintage and some maroon stuff I found in the freezer. For the Women's March on Washington DC, 21 January 2017. Best get it in the post. #pussyhatproject
I can't make it to a march but I can knit so I have spent a little of my holiday time #knitting a #pussyhat for @p_ssyhatproject with yarn kindly donated to me by @sweaterspotter. I've also given it my own special stitchbirdie treatment 💗#millionwomenmarch #pussyhatproject #handstitched #badges #knittersofinstagram #knittingforthesoul #knittingforwomen
I thought I’d sent off all my pink yarn, but I found a little more…
Having missed the safe postal deadline to get my hat to the USA on time (for a justifiable rate), I decided to make myself one to wear to the sister march in London. There are solidarity marches happening all over the USA and in cities across the globe. You can find details on the main march in Washington and the sister marches here: https://www.womensmarch.com/. There is currently a glitch in that website for the international marches, but they are happening (places like Facebook might help fill in some details whether there is one, big or small, local to you). I’ll be at the one in London starting at noon outside the US Embassy on Grosvenor Square and ending with a rally on Trafalgar Square. I do hope the weather will be more conducive than it is today!
Some intense hours of knitting later and we have Pussy Hats.
In an uncharacteristically speedy move on my part, I’ve put together a really bare-bones free pattern for them. It hasn’t gone through the rigorous rounds of testing, editing, photography and graphic design that I usually put my patterns through, but you can find it on Ravelry as Kettunøsin.
Our pussy hats are knitted in the round from the brim to the ears in heavy DK/worsted weight yarn. I give a couple of options for the rib at the beginning of the hat (and accompanying cast on suggestions), because options are good. I’ve stuck with Kat’s super simple shape of a straight-across finish at the top of the hat. While her pattern is folded, then seamed at the edges, this top is made by using a 3-needle cast off. The simple shape seems to communicate the urgency of the situation and the short deadline. And the ears are decent. If you fancy getting more shapely in the ear department, there are a lot of fantastic cat ear hat patterns to be found (and invented) with all sorts of clever approaches to shaping the ears.
Since my remaining yarn was 3 shades pink Navia Trio from the Faroe Islands, I remembered there’s a cathead motif in Føroysk Bindingarmynstur, THE book of traditional Faroese knitting motifs collected by Hans M Debes and published (for many decades) by Føroyskt Heimavirki in Torshavn. The chart you’ll find in my pattern is adapted from the ‘kettunøsin’ pattern in that book. The name of the hat is the name of the pattern, which is Faroese for ‘the cat nose’.
I love the sharing nature of this project from conception through to realisation and the strong, colourful mass the marchers will create wearing them. I hope enough hats will arrive in DC on time to have the desired visual impact. I’m sorry mine won’t be there to join them, but I’ll put it to good use in London to help friends locate me. One of them has never been to a demonstration before. I’m old hat in comparison – I can remember being taken to the marches in support of the minors strike in the mid 1980s in my pushchair as a wee one.
The Pussy Hat Project is all about caring, warmth, support and friendship (with a good dose of humour and politics thrown in), while at the same time channelling a call to action which is the result of fear and anger. The hats represent not only the people who are present, but the engagement of those unable to be in DC. They’ve given people a way to feel productive while thinking through their despair. Even after the march, the hats will stay symbolic for years to come. It’s been a while since there’s been such a unified cause to knit for.