6 Reasons Why Trump's Team Might Think Pussyhats Are Imported
If you've seen any coverage at all of Saturday's Women's Marches around the world, you've probably seen the (mostly) pink hats with kitty (ahem) ears worn by many marchers, and chances are that by know, you're aware of the Pussyhat Project . And if you are a person who engages in a yarn or fabric activity of any kind, you were probably aware of it well before January 21, 2017.
The same can't be said for Trump's team, including his senior lawyer:
1. They've never made anything by hand themselves.
For people who do make stuff by hand, it's easy to forget that for someone who never has, it all looks like magic. I find that pretty much anyone who makes stuff by hand, whether it's a textile (like knitted, crocheted, or sewn hats), or woodworking, or metalworking, or pottery, or lovingly bitsmithed digital imagery, can find common ground with anyone else who does -- we've all heard people say "You know you could just buy that, right?" and we all know people who think the ultimate compliment about something handmade is "Wow, that looks like you could have bought at a big box store!" (this really needs some sort of "headdesk" animated gif or something.)
For people who've never made something by hand, basically, the only way they've ever gotten something is by purchasing it. Let that sink in for a moment; this one is deep, with all kinds of implications. Imagine living in a world where you have to buy every single thing you want; where you can't just make something; and where everything, by extension, must be for sale.
2. They've never met anyone who makes anything with fiber, yarn, or fabric.
I suppose this is possible, but by the numbers, it's unlikely. In the USA alone, the Craft Yarn Council of America estimates that 53 million women know how to knit, crochet, or both. That's not counting knitters who don't identify as women, and not counting those who sew -- for whom firm numbers seem trickier to find, but as an industry in the USA, home sewing has been estimated as being a 30 billion dollar industry. So by the numbers, even the ones we can't pin down easily, it's likely more people in the USA had the capacity to make a pussyhat, than voted for Trump (61 million).
3. They don't get that makers make stuff to make ourselves feel better.
I know, right? It seems so obvious to those of us who, when the going gets tough, go to the craft/hobby/making supply store for a new project -- to those of us who deal with stress and worry by trying to find something constructive to do with our hands. But there's a group of people whose image of dealing worry and despair doesn't look like descending on the yarn shop in hopes of finding a project to take our minds off stuff, but instead like... I don't know, maybe sitting on a mattress on the floor of an otherwise empty room lit by a bare lightbulb dangling from the ceiling over a fedora into which they're flipping cards while hoping the bottle of tequila doesn't run out before sweet oblivion finally comes?
I'm really not sure; I can admit I don't really know how people deal and process if they can't make things with their hands as a coping mechanism. But I personally know an uncountable legion of knitters, crocheters, and sewers who made these hats practically nonstop starting the week before Thanksgiving. If you knit or crochet and have been in contact with the knitting and crocheting population of the USA -- and let us recall, that's a population of 53 million women plus an uncounted number who don't identify as women. And as to the folks who sewed pussyhats, well, there too, I saw folks buy fabric and make multiple. Like usually a half-dozen or more.
4. They have no idea how big a project a hat is -- or isn't.
To put this in perspective, one day my family got on a plane in California to go visit family Ohio, in February. "Crap," my husband said as we were getting ready to leave the house, "I don't even have a winter hat right now." I grabbed a ball of my handspun yarn and a crochet hook and threw them in my carryon bag. I started the hat (more complex than the pussyhat) when we boarded, and it was ready for him to wear when we stepped off the 4-hour flight. As to the knitted pussyhat, one friend of mine cast on for hers at 11pm on January 20th, got a few rows in, had a regular night's sleep, and was done in time to wear it to her local rally starting at 11am. For the sewn one, your major time sink would probably be going to the fabric store, or if you don't have a dedicated sewing space, clearing the table and setting up your machine.
That's not to say nobody made fancier, more complex variants -- but everything about the pussyhat patterns was intended to be beginner-friendly, inexpensive, fast, and easy. The kind of easy that means you wouldn't rule it out as a first project for a brand-new crafter. The kind of easy that makes experienced crafters roll their eyes and say "I can't believe I'm knitting another one of these things," and still others make modifications and go their own route.
5. They don't know any of this stuff because they've dismissed everything involving fiber, yarn, or fabric as feminine.
C'mon, seriously, why would a normal manly man know anything about any of that stuff, amirite? I mean, it's almost as if this possible reason could serve as a starkly ironic example of why women might make a shitload of pink hats and march, isn't it? I say screw it, let 'em keep thinking that; it makes organizing the radical crafting circles that much easier when we know there's a whole crowd of people who've already written us off and won't even be trying to infiltrate. But this leads me to my final list item, the one I think is probably the single biggest factor.
6. They're just not knitworthy.
Although it's been knitters who use this particular word, the same premise applies everywhere: is this someone who rates the time and effort you'd have to put into making something for them? Will they care for this handmade thing? Will they value it? Will they appreciate it? Will it end up thrown in the washer and dryer and shrunk and felted? Will your hours of work end up being used like a rag? Will the recipient make a comment like "Wow, I really prefer this one I bought as an afterthought in the checkout lane at Wal-Mart?" Perhaps this will end up being another story where the young, idealistic knitter sobs in their hands about how Cousin Mike asked for a sweater last year and everyone thought he was serious so they made it and Mike used it to scrub the toilet, while the grizzled veterans find themselves saying things like "Well, when I rule the world with an iron fist wrapped in an elaborate intarsia glove made of handspun qiviut, my propaganda wing will leaflet crowds with instructions on the care of handknits!"
So, yeah: odds are no knitter (or crocheter, or sewist, or quilter, or... yeah) ever deemed Mr. Cohen (or the others following suit asking where pussyhats come from) to be knitworthy.
So what's the truth about these hats?
A final point
Yes, it's possible that a few pussyhats worn by marchers may have been made by people who do not live in the United States of America. That's almost certainly true of the hats worn by people marching outside the USA, for one thing -- and because there are some people living in the USA who are deemed knitworthy by fiber artisans who live elsewhere. For some knitters (and crocheters, and sewists, and quilters, and and and) all it took to make someone knitworthy for a project involving a few hours of time was for that person to plan to march on January 21st.
Stay tuned, and count on the nation's fiber artisans to continue to create by hand for movement after movement -- and for lots of information to start showing up about how to tell the difference between a handmade had and a mass-produced one. Protip: the fast track to being able to tell is often to try making something yourself.