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In this project, I examined knitting and how it has served women historically from the first acts of craftivism in the 1600s to contemporary examples of knitting being used today as a catalyst for art, activism, and community building. Included in my examination is the latest resurgence of knitting, which is part of a history of handcrafts revivals sporadically occurring over the last century. I compared the current resurrection of knitting from its predecessors and believe that today the use of knitting is more significant in the larger context of progressive, social and political activism. This resurgence, which has its origins in the 1960s with the rise of a number of social movements--feminism, civil rights, environmentalism and the antiwar movement, was the object of philosophical debate: Were handcrafts imposed on women as a means of suppression by a patriarchal society, or should handcrafts be celebrated as a high art that elevates women’s experience?


As part of the larger Post-Modern world, activist knitters in the twenty-first century have continued their advocacy of human rights and the peace movement and have further championed a broad-spectrum of social justice and ecological causes. The communication revolution afforded by the World Wide Web has allowed like-minded individuals to connect and participate in a grassroots movement leading knitting to become a personal and collective symbol of both empowerment and dissent as well as a tactic of protest.


I concluded that the use of handcrafts and knitting circles have provided a vehicle for women to form collective and communal identities, develop their voice, share stories and personal histories, and contribute to family and community. ​​​​​​​​​​



1. Installation-.JPG
5. Voices of the Yarn-IMG_0500.JPG
4. Mosaic of Chatter.jpeg
2. What Was, What Is, What Will Be-video-IMG_0507.jpg
6. Giving Witness-video-IMG_0494.JPG

© 2013 by Cheryl Hirshman. Proudly created with

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