A few weeks ago I was stuck in a rut, going around and around in circles about the #pussyhatproject. By December it had become a well-known fact that knitters around the globe were creating piles of these things to be worn at the Women’s March, planned for January 21st, the day after Inauguration Day here in the United States. Day after day I was seeing them pop up in my Instagram feed, on Ravelry, and on Twitter, but I was hesitant to jump on the bandwagon. There were concerns that the hats would take away from the seriousness of the issues at stake, or that they were too infantile and silly, or that the purpose of the march was vague, unclear, and unlikely to force any policy changes. Or, and maybe this was just an issue in my own mind, that it would be silly to make hats for people that they would never wear again. (I apologize, it’s just the pragmatist in me.)
Then I decided I would make hats for a few of my friends, just as a gesture of support in a political climate that may soon see some disappointing policy changes for women. Then I thought, “Well, I do like pink,” and then I found myself at my local yarn store (LYS) wandering the rows in search of anything pink that would knit up in a flash.
Ultimately, I ended up knitting three pussyhats, all in super-bulky yarns, and one almost-pussyhat for myself. (I’ll leave the details of that one for my next post, but it’s the darker hot pink one in the picture above.) I had come home with a skein of Madelinetosh A.S.A.P. in Beach Bonfire (pink with black speckles) and Malabrigo Rasta in Porrinho (pink and purple variegated), and immediately jumped on Ravelry to find patterns to suit both. I used the Super Cat Hat for the Malabrigo Rasta version since I was pretty confident in 40 stitches around being a good fit (having just knit a Vermonter with the same stitch count), but for the Madelinetosh version I went with 52 as my cast-on number (stolen from another free pattern for a simple super-bulky hat called Calzetta), because it was clear that not all super-bulkies are made alike. In addition to knitting up at a smaller gauge, the Madelinetosh was much bouncier and had quite a bit of drape, while the Malabrigo had a ton of structure.
I fussed a lot about getting the fit right on all these hats, which was probably not necessary, but I was so determined to give these ladies gifts that were worth wearing again, or at least cherishing as a nice memory. After knitting the two versions with a single yarn each, I had scraps leftover, so I eeked out one more by knitting the brim with Malabrigo, and then striping the two yarns until I ran out. Since the Madelinetosh was thinner, I held it with a strand of Cascade 220 in a dusty pink to keep the gauge fairly even. The colors were actually such a good match that you can barely tell it isn’t just a slightly more variegated colorway of Rasta.
As I was barreling through these knits, it occurred to me that the Pussyhat Project was an extremely smart and clever idea – the pattern is unbelievably simple, especially if you do the version that’s in the round (see the KitKat hat, not officially the pussyhat pattern, but essentially the same thing). Cast on, knit 2-3 inches of ribbing, switch to stockinette, knit to a length of 7 or 8 inches, three-needle bind off. I think the original pattern was written to be done flat and seamed, but I honestly think in-the-round is better for beginners, and although some patterns called to kitchener/graft the top, I preferred the three-needle bind off method, both for quickness of execution and for the extra structure, which helps the ears stand up.
The sister march in our little city was calm, peaceful, and jubilant; in fact, it felt like a block party more than a protest. If anything, it was giant support group for those of us who are unhappy with the outcome of this election, and are gearing up to become more politically active than we’ve been in the past eight years. Obviously, a march like this is more about building momentum than accomplishing anything specific, and I think it was extremely successful in that respect.
Mostly I loved spending the afternoon with my ladies, and watching them march happily with pink hats atop their heads. It’s always rewarding to knit for others (especially when you get the chance to see the gifts in action), but for this purpose it felt even more significant.
I’ll be back in the next post with details about my own hat. Oh, and if you haven’t read the book in the first photo, We Should All Be Feminists, check it out! It’s adapted from her TED talk, which can be found here and her novel Americanah is on my short list of upcoming reads.