I didn’t go on last week’s massive, marvellous Women’s March in London, but I’m proud that two of my crochet pussyhats did. When the next big March comes around (probably in the autumn to coincide with the planned State visit of the dangerously moronic President Fart) I hope there’ll be even more hats, so I’m sharing my very easy crochet pattern here, and ways to adapt it for other crafts.
I also hope there’ll be me there in my own hat, if I can work out a way to keep my crowd anxiety at bay. I cannot remember in my lifetime a time when it was more important to stand up against the normalising of hatred and violence against fellow human beings, simply on the grounds that they do not share the same nationality, skin colour, religion, sexuality, or gender as you do. For let’s be clear – we can talk about all the -isms, but this is not political or theoretical. This is playground injustice where the weak and fearful stand by and cheer while the school bullies justify their cowardly violence with the most blatant lies and denials of facts. Where voicing the most vile hate-filled opinions is applauded and given front page dissemination and a regular guest slot on BBC Question Time.
Those of us not looking for an excuse to hate have been bewildered by how this could have happened. There has been finger-pointing at the echo-chamber of social media and the disenfranchisement of communities far from the metropolitan political centres. To me, this might show why the apparent speed of the hatefulness caravan has come as such a surprise, but it doesn’t explain its acceptability among so many apparently previously sane people. In fact, I don’t think these ignorant outdated attitudes have ever gone away, but it’s become increasingly unacceptable to voice them publicly. So the question is, why is it now acceptable?
My suspicion is that this has something to do with connection and empathy. We’ve never been such a connected society. Through social media, I have ‘friends’ and ‘followers’ in countries all over the world who get a running commentary on my life and thoughts, in text and images. Having a mobile phone means that I am available to contact anywhere, at any time of the day or night (or it would if my phone/service provider wasn’t so crap). But at the same time, I haven’t spoken to anyone in person but my husband for the last two days. If you don’t count me thanking the girl at the Chinese supermarket checkout.
When you interact with individuals in person, you recognise them as being people like yourself: they cease to be the ciphers for all the things you perceive as being wrong with your life, in particular the lack of control.* I’ve experienced this extensively at first-hand: I couldn’t tell you the number of times I’ve been party to a conversation that started with “I wouldn’t want one of them living next-door to me” and ended, “Of course, I don’t mean you. You’re just like us.” But if I don’t talk to people in person, perhaps they won’t see that I’m just like them? Perhaps all this virtual connectivity has derailed our capacity to empathise with others as fellow human beings?
So going on the Women’s March seems like more than just standing up against hate. It’s IRL-connecting, with real people, in real time. We should do more of it.
And some more easy things to do:
- Sign the petition against the State Visit to the UK. It’s long since passed the 100,000 mark needed to trigger Parliamentary debate, but it’s important to show both government and those affected by the early actions of the Trump regime that the supporters of decency are many more than the supporters of hatred and division.
- If you can afford it, consider donating to the American Civil Liberties Union who are currently fighting all sorts of multiple injustices as they arise.
- Say hello to the woman at the school gate standing on her own, wondering if other parents hate her. To borrow from the murdered MP Jo Cox, you have more things in common than things that divide you.
- Keep talking to your children about what’s happening and why it’s wrong. This is probably the hardest thing I’m suggesting – how to explain why people hate someone else just because of the colour of their skin or the way they choose to pray? – but it’s also the most important in the long term.
- Make a hat. Make a few. Put them on other people’s heads, in person. This I can help with.
*It would take too long to consider the idea that this lack of control is mostly invented by those in power and determined to keep you feeling powerless. And I’m sure you want me to stop blathering and get to the pattern.
How to make a pussyhat
The principle is the same whether you choose crochet, knitting or stretchy fabric: make a strip, long enough to go round your head and deep enough to reach from forehead to crown (5cm deeper if you want a folded brim); fold it in half and sew together at side and top; turn it the right way out and stitch diagonally across the two top corners to make ears. This is how I made mine (UK abbreviations):
Using 4.5 mm hook and double knitting wool, make 31 ch.
1st row: Htr into 3rd ch from hook, htr into every ch to end. 2 ch, turn. (30 sts including turning ch.)
2nd row: Working into the back part of each loop, miss one st, htr into every st to end. 2ch, turn.
Keep working 2nd row for a total of 50 rows (or as many as you need to wrap round your head). Fasten off, leaving a long end of yarn to sew seams.
Fold length in half and sew side and top seams. Turn right way out.
Using small running stitch or back stitch, sew across each top corner diagonally to make ears. (The contrasting yarn here is just to show where to stitch.)
You have a pussyhat! Easy!
(Tip: better on real people than on footballs.)
NB I’ve turned off comments on this post, for all the obvious reasons.