Knitting can be a form a therapy (and sometimes, a form of aggravation). Do the hours spent on a project equate to more than the pile of half-completed projects at the back of your closet? Is the effort worth it for few momentarily pleased nieces and nephews to wear your creations once or twice? Most of the knitters I know say “yes.” Some knitters are taking things to the next level and making a real impact with their craft. Here are ten knitting influencers who are making a difference in 2018:
10. Anne Hanson – Knitspot
Why she is awesome: Anne is all about giving back. Ten-percent of proceeds that come from the business side of Knitspot go to organizations that are “committed to world improvement.” She does specify that in order to keep admin costs down, they focus on giving to non-religious orgs so that more of the buck reaches those in need. Some recipients include The National MS Society and Doctors without Borders (via Knitters without Borders).
Favorite recent post or project: The second post of the year for Anne included some updates on a Red Scarf fundraiser (scholarship fund for students in the foster care system), a sweater project that she was rehabilitating, as well as some info around a new “Pairings 2018 Club” that began in February with “courses” shipping to those who sign up from April to August. Each course includes yarn inspired by the food of that course, a pattern designed by Anne, and a recipe from guest chef Katharine Wainwright.
Where you can find and follow her: Twitter
9. Monica Rodriguez – Knit’s All Folks!
Why she is awesome: Monica is really trying to emphasize the diversity that exists in the creative community. Her posts weave in notes of inclusiveness that are all about setting up shared spaces in crafting. She provides free patterns, and has an entire section on her blog devoted to witty posts on pop culture!
Favorite recent post or project: Towards the end of last year, Monica posted a review of the show Godless on Netflix which is both honest and humorous. She touches on a scene that features a WOC (woman of color) knitting and points out the contextual absence of these types of references on TV in general. This type of post is “craftivism” at it’s finest, if you ask me.
8. Karie Westermann – Karie Bookish
Why she is awesome: Karie is all about “knitting local” and sustainable fashion. Her recently released book, “This Thing of Paper,” explores the connections between books and knitting. She also shares guest blog posts, workshops and tutorials.
Favorite recent post or project: In September of last year, Karie wrote about her on-going relationship with Blacker Yarns out of Cornwall, UK. They mainly provided the yarn for the projects featured in “This Thing of Paper,” and are focused on producing wool from 100% pure, natural and local fibers.
7. the community – Blazing Needles
Why they are awesome: Blazing Needles is a gathering place for a community of knitters in East Salt Lake City, Utah. Knitters in the group have spearheaded many charitable campaigns, from blanket knitting for the Rape Recovery Center to collecting yarn and needles for women in Africa to knit while recovering from fistula surgeries. They prepare auction baskets for many local fundraisers. They have also come together to support the homeless youth in our community by collecting or buying tents, sleeping bags, coats, and other vital items.
Favorite recent post or project: In mid-January, the Blazing Needles blog featured a post on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Woven into the narrative of his myriad contributions to the civil rights movement were ways that people can give to others through crafting and community, like knitting handmade prosthetic breasts for Knitted Knockers or “Little Hats, Big Hearts” for the American Heart Association.
6. Donna Druchunas – Sheep-to-Shawl: Subversive Knitting
Why she is awesome: Donna’s “Subversive Knitting” section of her blog is devoted to politics and knitting; the tagline of which is “Knitting can be a political act.” She also offers an online course in “Craftivism,” and provides a weekly “resistance update” post around the U.S. political and social activism climate.
Favorite recent post or project: In her January 9 post entitled “Friendly American Knitters,” Donna explores counter-movements in small acts of kindness and the acknowledgement of others through eye contact, etc. She recommends joining a knitting activism small group because she thinks that “it’s still important to use knitting as a way to connect individuals of differing viewpoints and find common ground.”
5. Tom van Deijnen – TOMOFHOLLAND
Why he is awesome: Tom is laser-focused on textile history and sustainability through REPAIR. How often do we give up on a project midway and discard of the progress, or trash a favorite old sweater over one little tear or pull? He is also passionate about traditional knitting techniques and UK-based wool.
Favorite recent post or project: Tom’s most recent post describes the tender way that he lovingly repaired a beloved family friend’s knit toy, a kangaroo named Mrs. Pademelon and her joey. Is your heart melting yet? I am a puddle of mush as I type this. The coat was restored with sweet, friendly patches and all was well again. I am sure that Mrs. Pademelon is as relieved as we are that Tom is so keen on restoration over waste.
4. Sian Modine – Real Good Yarns
Why she is awesome: Sian focuses on mindfulness and consciousness when it comes to acquiring yarn for her projects. To borrow her words, she “conducts research into how her yarn is produced to make it easy for others to make conscious choices about the yarn that they buy.” She hopes for ultimate respect for the people and animals involved in yarn production when and wherever possible.
Favorite recent post or project: The majority of Sian’s posts are based around knowledge-sharing, which I really appreciate. One recent post explores the notion of “fair trade” as it pertains to the UK (“Fair Trade Fortnight” ran from Feb. 26 to Mar. 11). She announced that she will be putting out a series over the next few weeks (I love formats like this!) featuring different fair trade yarns.
3. Jayna Zweiman + Krista Suh + Kat Koyle – Pussyhat Project
Why they are awesome: This project is near and dear to my heart, partially because it was born a few blocks from my old apartment in LA in Atwater Village at the (original site of) The Little Knittery. Regardless of your political leanings, I think we can all agree that one little pattern can really pack a pink punch! If there is anything to be learned here, textiles and the meaning we place on and around them make an impact. They can even change the world. I’m not sure if these ladies still “hang,” but I sure hope so, because they were really able to birth a movement! Krista is keeping things going with her involvement on the “Evil Eye Gloves” for the upcoming “March for Our Lives” on March 24th.
Favorite recent post or project: On the Pussyhat Project’s blog, a post from January of this year really helps to clarify everything that the hat was intended to be, everything it is, and everything it isn’t. It’s really worth the read and the share.
Where you can find and follow them:
2. Kylie – Stitches & Spoonfuls
Why she is awesome: Kylie keeps a blog, but she also produces yarn and dyes from ethically-sourced natural dyes. She is #2 on the list for me because she represents so many folks in the knitting community as far as I am concerned. Knitting projects are a part of daily life (even when we aren’t knitting, we are thinking about it or building a pattern in our minds). There is a meditative, yet mighty quality around sharing the books you read and the projects you work on with the world the way that Kylie does. She is proud to share who she is, and that type of quiet courage deserves a round of applause! It makes a difference. Your projects do, too.
Favorite recent post or project: She hasn’t posted on her blog for a little while, but she is quite active on Instagram. Many of her posts feature a book that she is currently reading along with a knitting project, yarn or dye. She is also a fan of Taproot Magazine, so high five on that, Kylie!
1. Dana Kandalaft – Tight-Knit Syria
Why she is awesome: Tight-Knit Syria is something called a “social enterprise organization” which provides wool to women in Syrian and Lebanese refugee camps across the middle east so that they can ultimately be paid for their knitting and sell what they create. Dana founded the non-profit after visiting northern Syria in 2013. Since then, she has expanded to “Threads of Syria” in partnership with Artisan & Fox which includes the making of scarves and other crafts.