There seems to be a public misconception that political activists and protesters are young, unwashed and unemployed or unemployable. Not true. Anyone can be an activist and contribute to change. Any type of action can be strong. If we get together and use our strengths, we can make change.
We get together a group of women in their prime of life, who appear to be mild, middleclass and conservative (you can dress up/down). They make their presence felt in the war against unconventional gas mining, other forms of non-sustainable energy and nasty rapacious greed. We use the common stereotype of the sweet little old lady to lull the bad guys into a false sense of security. The idea of the Knitting Nannas is that of the iron fist in the soft fluffy yellow glove – there aren’t many scarier things than a forthright woman in her prime.
Knitting Nannas bear witness to acts of stupidity and greed, to save the land and the water for the kiddies – the future generations. We want to bring attention to our movement and to what is happening, gather supporters and media attention, so we can bring a halt to unsustainable and downright idiotic projects.
The idea is that we get together at politicians’ offices, work sites, rallys and anywhere else we please to show a mild mannered yet stubborn front, where we get out our camp chairs, table (with lace tablecloth if possible), our knitting (of course!) and have a little tea party. If the workers approach us we offer them a cup of tea. Our demeanour is mild and concerned, both about the environment, the politicians’ reputation/legacy and the workers’ welfare. Our presence is to be positive, creative and above all, fun. After the tea party, we settle down and do our thing. We are using knitting for the title, but any other craft form, card games, crosswords, shelling peas… You get the idea, we’re quite ready to settle in for the long haul, but in the meantime we are keeping ourselves busy. Blockades and protests can be very stressful, and can seem to take forever. The Knitting Nannas have noticed that sometimes the protestors can become a little bored, and a little restless. Big soft Nanna hugs, chats and knitting lessons can break the tension. A 35 degree day, with a standoff with the police or miners can wear the strongest tempers down. When the Nannas turn up with an esky full of icy poles, and share them with the kiddies, the truckies and the cops (“Not while I’m on duty, ma’am”), the sleeve of care gets a little bit ravelled back up again. As we get out of the Nannavan with big smiles on our faces, tempers unflare. A real ice(cream)breaker.
The original Northern Rivers nannas decided to knit yellow and black triangles primarily because of the “Lock the Gate” signs that were strongly associated with the local movement. They are also the colours of danger and are very noticeable. You can’t miss that row of yellow berets sitting at the front of the courthouse/ cinema/ parliament house.
The yellow triangles we knit, crochet, tatt, embroider, collage etc have been used as bunting for our stalls or sewn together to make an enormous yellow triangle. Some nannas knit for the Wrap with Love charity. Others knit the ubiquitous berets. Beanies, dog coats (and cat coats – just try putting one on), scarves, baby booties, signs and banners, danger tape – they are all part of our finger-busying output. And you couldn’t possibly dream of some of the projects people suggest – or the ones we think of ourselves.
As well as knit-ins at exploration and mining sites, we stage knit-ins:
– in front of the politician of your choice’s office;
– the offending Company’s offices;
– supporting rallies and community events;
– flash mobs;
– and whatever else works.
What are you Knitting? – A Revolution.