If you’ve secretly yearned to engage in a radical act of knitting, here’s your chance. Ladies (and gents), wield your needles!
An organization called CodePink is using the craft to raise awareness about its cause — world peace. (It seems to me that knitting for the greater good is a far better way to employ sharp, pointy objects than threatening other human beings with them.)
CodePink, according to information at its Web site, www.codepink4peace.org, “emerged out of a desperate desire by a group of American women to stop the Bush Administration from invading Iraq.”
CodePink organizers drew on Bush’s theme of color-coding Homeland Security alerts (yellow, orange, red) and chose the color pink as its symbol as an alert “to call for men and women to wage peace” — end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and stop new wars.
CodePink is the brainchild of political activist Medea Benjamin, social activist Jodie Evans, shrimp fisherman and author-activist Diane Wilson and Earth activist Starhawk, and 100 other women who launched the organization on Nov. 17, 2002. In the four months that followed, CodePink members conducted all-day vigils in front of the White House to call attention to their call for peace. During that time, some of the CodePink members, including high-profile authors Alice Walker and Maxine Hong Kingston, along with Starhawk, Evans and Benjamin were arrested.
Clearly, the organization is not for the faint of heart.
Here’s where knitting comes into the equation. CodePink is organizing an effort to create a “cozy” to cover the fence in front of the White House on Mother’s Day. Emblazoned on the piece will be the words, “We will not raise our children to kill another woman’s child,” a philosophy based on a sentiment in a Mother’s Day proclamation given by Julia Ward Howe in 1870, which sparked the annual national observance of Mother’s Day. Howe’s words in the proclamation are, “We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”
Howe also penned the lyrics of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” of “he hath loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword” refrain, which seems at odds with her call to pacifism, but she wrote that song in 1862 at the height of the American Civil War when life as most knew it, North or South, was torn apart by armed conflict. Given that, it’s no wonder her subsequent work embraced a call to peace. Howe, who lived much of her life in Boston, also maintained a home in Gardiner, according to the Web.
Organizers of the CodePink radical act of knitting are seeking 4-inch-by-4-inch knit squares, tightly knit in a pattern of your choice in any shade of pink or dark green. The pink squares will form the background and the green squares will spell out the message.
Deadline for mailing the squares is Monday, May 4. Send squares to CodePink House, 712 5th Street NE, Washington, D.C. 20002.
Organizers request that knitters take a moment to e-mail email@example.com to let them know how many squares and in what colors you plan to send. That information will help them figure out whether they have enough of the green ones to spell out the message.
The Skowhegan area has a CodePink chapter. Contact person is Lisa Savage. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. However, my attempt to contact Savage by e-mail failed to elicit a response in time for this column.
For more information about CodePink, its mission and radical knitting, visit www.codepink4peace.org.
Sharon Fitzgerald will present a program on feed sack history, design, development and use in quilts and other items at noon Friday, May 8, at the Page Farm and Home Museum. Her talk is part of the Brown Bag Lunch series at the museum. Bring a lunch and add to your store of stitching lore.