Let’s change the world
Tuesday January 18th 2011, 12:38 am
Filed under: Family,Knit,Politics

This started with a stray comment between us but the idea has only grown more insistent.

In response to the shootings in Tucson, Arizona,  Ellen and I have been talking about what we could do to make manifest the idea that we want our Congresspeople to deal civilly with one another. To hear one another. To talk things out. To not do what will play on the news the loudest but to do what’s best for all of the American people the best they know how.

How could we personally help make that actually happen?

My uncle Bob Bennett of Utah, in his remarks to his colleagues on leaving the Senate last month, discussed the general philosophy of the Republican party vs the Democratic party re the role of government,  and then pronounced, “Both sides are right.”

This is a man who had been rated one of the most conservative members of the Senate (and with whom I often disagreed politically).  But he’d also had real-life experience: as a homeowner trying not to lose his house at one point. As a former business owner who knew that for businesses to succeed, their workers had to have the peace of mind of knowing that they could have adequate medical care should something happen to them or their families.

He said, and I’m paraphrasing to the best of my memory, It’s the meeting in the middle to negotiate our differences that is where we do our best work. None of us is supposed to get everything all our way in any other part of life, and certainly not in politics where we are working with people with completely different life experiences.

So here’s what Ellen and I are hoping for.

Never mind, I’ll let her tell it, she says it better than I do.

From Ellen:


“Here is what I think I’d like to do.

Invite any and all knitters who would like to join in to knit a hat (sizing information here) for their own congressional representative, whether Senate or House.  Ask them to email me, perhaps send a photo or link to a Ravelry project, and let me know to whom a hat has been sent.  I can track who is being covered (literally!) and if anyone wants to knit more than one hat, they can send them to me and I’ll handle mailing them to a rep who hasn’t received one yet.

I’d like to write a standard note to go with it, to which any knitter could add her own personal message.  I’m also thinking how cool it would be to design a hat for it, but I am also telling myself to keep it manageable.  (Her husband) suggested that the hats be purple, a blending of red and blue, but I told him I want them to be worn!

This doesn’t rule out hats for the victims, which is also a good idea and could be a use for some of the extra hats, though I still don’t know how to go about getting the names or how to deliver them.  After thinking on it all week, though, what is really compelling me is to highlight the need for civil discourse even over things we disagree on.”


From me: I would plead that the hats be of a material you’d want to wear yourself. I want each recipient to feel they are being treated with the great respect we all mutually deserve.  For whatever it’s worth, I can vouch for the fact that the Plymouth King George (how’s that for an ironic name!) baby alpaca/merino/cashmere blend on sale for four bucks a ball (for the moment, at least) will make an absolutely soft, warm cabled hat using two balls; I just knitted one. Three balls should I think get you two plain beanies.  All in a day’s work.

I’m not trying to shill for DBNY, I’m just trying to convey the idea that it doesn’t have to be a lot of money for it to be something nice if you don’t have something ready in your stash. Support your local yarn store, too. However it works for you.

We want each individual to be glad they got one–and wouldn’t it be cool to have Congresspeople swapping around with each other to get just what they want? Let the cheerful negotiating begin!

I just ordered two more balls in, yes, Ellen’s husband, purple.

Can you just picture the photo-op we could all make happen? Knitters can change the world. We can set the tone. In wild color combinations or subdued: as the song says, We’ll give them something to talk about.

You in too?

(ed. to add: What should we call this campaign? So far I’ve come up with Talking Heads.)

13 Comments so far
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Mr beest often says that the world would be a better place if knitters ruled it. I don’t know for sure, but I do think that if more politicians knitted, this would be a better place. Admirable initiative, I wish you all the best.

(From a citizen from a currently government-less country 😉 We’re taking our time to talk out our differences but there seems to be no meeting in the middle.)

Comment by tinebeest 01.18.11 @ 2:32 am

You got me. And purple because I got some as a gift for the holidays (in Malabrigo, no less!) from the yarn shop. Soft, squishy, what I would want to wear. Let Ellen know – she can tell me if New Jersey is “covered” or if it needs to go to Montana, New Mexico or Nevada – my other homes at one time or another. I’ll start right after this baby sweater is done – the mom is having the c-section next week.

Comment by afton 01.18.11 @ 7:21 am

I’m all for civil discourse and compromise (all statesmanship is compromise), but I am so mad at my elected representatives that I am more likely to knit an indictment than a hat. Also, sadly and truthfully, me and double points have Issues. I’m working on it, but the DPs are stubborn and sit there, glowering, instead of getting involved in the therapy! I will, however, use some rather wild yarns in my stash (a particularly vivid turquoise and fuchsia eyelash comes to mind, as well as some sinfully soft mohair in a charming shade of red), and I might be able to cobble together a really wild hat, which, actually, I would wear. Which is the least evil of the congresscritters is going to be the hard part.

Comment by Patricia Day 01.18.11 @ 7:33 am

What a lovely idea! What’s the time-frame? I’m a little over-committed at the moment…

Comment by Channon 01.18.11 @ 8:03 am

Count me in!!! Just ordered 4 balls of King George.

Comment by Jayleen 01.18.11 @ 10:16 am

OK. You got me. That heather lavender that I used for that sweater is just sitting here. I was just thinking that it would make a lovely skirt to go with that sweater. LOL. It would take a lot more than the 1 ball that is left in the stash for a skirt. Hehe.

Comment by sherry in Idaho 01.18.11 @ 11:13 am

That is a fantastic project all of you are doing. As to civility, that is the direction in which things get accomplished. One side says the ‘targeting’ language contributes to violence; the other side denies it. Maybe so; maybe no. But one thing is for sure — violent language does not HELP!

Comment by Don Meyer 01.18.11 @ 1:12 pm

You’re right – the timing with my “just say no” self-improvement campaign is uncanny! I love this idea, though!! And let me see how my first week of classes go, I may be in for this one yet 🙂

Comment by Jocelyn 01.18.11 @ 6:20 pm

oh what a great idea!
What about red & blue hats — they’d show that a design that uses BOTH colors can be lovely, just as a law that takes from both sides can be effective and right. (or give red hats to the “blue” folks and blue hats to the “red” ones…)
(I tried in my head to see something tricksy and optical illusiony that used both elephants and donkeys in a mutually supportive way, but it made my brain hurt.
Anyway, I’m going stash diving to see if I can come up with appropriate yarn. Too bad the King George doesn’t come in both colors.

Comment by Helen 01.18.11 @ 6:55 pm

Oh, I am so heartened by the response of your wonderful readers, Alison! I am going to start my first hat tonight, for sure, if all these fabulous people are starting theirs.

Comment by twinsetellen 01.18.11 @ 7:15 pm

I think your project name is in your post: Civil Discourse. As a civilian of the large country to the north of you where the discourse is about to be very uncivil (thank you ‘murican-style attack ads)I am watching this plan with interest. After all, the Yarn Harlot’s crew raised over $1 mill for MSF so a collection of Congress/Senate hats should be pretty straight forward, right??

Comment by Another Joan 01.18.11 @ 7:34 pm

As you might have guessed, I’m in too…at one point Ellen mentioned a possilbe tag line — “Warm heads, not hot heads” and I rather like that!

Comment by twinsetjan 01.20.11 @ 10:29 am

I am already in (thanks for the quick email response). My blog post tomorrow will be about your project — hope it brings you more participants!

Comment by kmkat 02.01.11 @ 11:03 pm

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