An opportunity has fallen into my lap. In my house I refer to winter as “Knitting Season.” I pick up a project or two each year and as the weather warms up I pack the knitting back up for the year. This year has been different. This year’s knitting season has been extended.
In early January I was hearing rumblings of the Women’s March Movement that was to take place in Washington D.C. and the sister march happening locally in St. Paul, MN. I knew with the changes in our presidential administration that this march was going to be a big one and an important one for us (my daughters and I) to attend. My every intention is to raise, strong women out of those two little loves of mine! This is how it starts, no?
I had been seeing links flying around social media about The Pussy Hat Project leading up to the march and knew this was something I could get behind, as a knitter. Oh, but I didn’t have pink yarn. My friend Courtney did. We arranged a textile swap and I began knitting. I always assumed that it being called a “pussy hat” meant that we women were taking back that word, from Trumps ever so special, “grab ’em by the pussy” comment. But it is said to be named after a cat, pussy cat hat…Again I don’t know. I don’t get hung up on it too much. That hot mic tape of Trump’s “locker room talk” was the last, final, horrifying straw for me, so I choose to view the Pussy Hat as an empowering way to take back the word pussy. But in the end, the hat is merely a symbol for women’s rights and equality.
This movement’s mission, I believe, was to be inclusive of all who identify as female. I don’t care your race, or what you got packin’ down those pants of yours. If you identify as a female (or male!) and you believe in women’s rights, join us! I am aware of the criticisms from the trans communities and from people of color regarding feeling left out. They argue, “Not all pussies are pink and not all women have pussies.” I will absolutely go with you on that one! But first, I think rather than slamming the women who wore the pink pussy hats to the Women’s March we could first stop and acknowledge the function that it served.
Based on the mission statements of both The Women’s March and The Pussy Hat Project, I do not believe there was any ill intention of exclusion of any demographic. Being in a crowd with a sea of pink hats, for me, created a sense of unity. It was something that joined us all together both individually and collectively. All of the hats that we showed up with had a story. Being able to look out over the crowd and spot bright splashes of color that represented women demanding equality was a powerful visual for me. That said, this wasn’t a powerful image because those splashes of color were pink splashes of color. But then why use pink? Sigh. I’m not sure why that color was chosen but it is probably safe to bet that any color at all would have caused there to be at least one demographic that would have been unhappy with the selection. I’m sure the same effect of unity and outrage would have held true had everyone been wearing green or orange or yellow or a even a goddamn shade of puce.
So I made my hat. I did it up right too, handmade needle felted patch and all! It took me weeks, when it should have taken me a few hours. The night prior to the march I made a smaller sized one for Juneau who would be riding in the backpack during the march. That way she could “match mama.” Rue would have to cope with her regular pink hat….for now.
Below is a candid picture taken of the girls by someone in the crowd. It was posted on The Women’s March Facebook Page.
The Women’s March which yielded over 100,000 people in St. Paul, but afterwards life resumed to normal again. I put a lot of time into that hat of mine and it was warm as hell! I intended to rock that thing out the whole rest of the winter. But I wasn’t seeing hardly any other pussy hats around town. I began to worry, Was this whole Women’s March just a camp high for people? Where the hell are all the hats?!
Every day for months I still got that spark of unity from others in the community. People would stop me everywhere I went, no joke (the bank, the gym, my kid’s school, grocery stores, the street, etc) to ask me about my hat.
Did you make your hat?
Did you attend the Women’s March?
These 2 most common questions would usually lead into stories about their attendance at the march, or why they couldn’t go but thanking me for going for them, etc. Never have I experienced nasty looks from the hat, only kindness. I started to notice that people were nicer to me with my hat on. Doors were held for me more often. One night I went to a club my cover charge was refused because of my magical hat!
The girls and I at The Planned Parenthood Rally in St. Paul. This time I had Rue’s hat done. She had requested a “Cotton Candy Pussy Hat.” We chose the colors and designed it together. Below is a picture of the three of us at the rally sporting our hats!
Looking for ways to get involved to support Planned Parenthood? Check in here to see what’s up!
During many of these encounters with strangers, people had said, “Oh I really wish I had one of those hats too but I’m just not crafty enough. They are way too expensive online.” I thought about this over a few days. Is there a way that I can make them for cheap? Would anyone want one? The march is over so probably not…
I was standing in line at post office #3 on my quest for post card stamps as I was out post card blitzing the Senators (as the next portion of the Women’s March Movement) and I thought, I’ll just throw it out there and see what happens. Maybe like 2 people will want hats…
I wrote a quick blurb on an ap called Nextdoor. It is like a craigslist meets Facebook for your neighborhood. On a whim I recalled I had no pink yarn, so I before heading to Michaels for supplies I would check out the thrift store across the street. They just so happened to have 3 large skeins of pink.
Thus, the Mad Pussy Hatter was born.
The project grew and took on a life of its own. By the end of that night on the day of the first ad, I had 6 orders. There was a steady stream of orders for hats coming through. Once I slowed down, I put out a follow up ad. There was hardly a response. I thought to myself, This must be over. It was fun while it lasted. I’ll just put one more ad up and if nothing comes of it, then I’ll never mention them again. That ad yielded 23 orders! Plus 2 customized covers for horseback riding helmets. Right? That is awfully specific, and it wasn’t for the same woman. 2 totally different women from different states! I was keeping quite busy.
Throughout the project I sorted those who wanted the traditional pink hats and those who would give me full creative reign on the projects. Those were my favorite. This is where I began to play with a variety of textures and colors. I began to ask prospective buyers to give me an adjective to describe the person for whom the hat is intended along with a color scheme. I would try to embody it within the hat so it would be more customized. This began to work out really well, and often the designs were right on the nose with the individual’s taste.
My hats began to spread by word of mouth and some have even been shipped internationally! I have hats in Germany, Australia, Canada, and France! One girl contacted me from Indiana requesting a hat before her graduation ceremony, as Mike Pence was to give the commencement address! The excitement of being part of that whole “fuck you” scenario made my whole week! She recently contacted me earlier this week to tell me she was going to be spending a year in Bosnia starting this Fall and her hat would be joining her!
When I completed the longer list I thought to myself, Well, it’s nearly June. It’s super hot out. Nobody wants to buy hats now! The LAST thing I want to do is put a hat on my head in this weather!
I happened upon an amazing little book shop called Subtext Books in St. Paul. It matches all of my liberal/feminist values and they have an adorable, cozy little reading space. I met the owner as I was browsing. She was very friendly. I noticed there were handmade art pieces here and there splashed around the shop. I asked if she had any need for Pussy Hats. She stated that yes, she was hoping to start carrying some of those hats! She went on to say that she and her whole staff attended the Women’s March in January as a company. We discussed some news issues and set a time to re-visit in the fall about getting some hats in stock.
In the meantime I have been making and stockpiling hats for an upcoming art show in Minneapolis called Craftstravaganza. The artists for this show are hand picked by the facilitators so I will find out next week what my status will be. IF we make it in- come see me! MAD PUSSY HATTER will have a booth! I have some fun ideas and more fun designs to show off!!
If you are interested in seeing my some of my previous work check out my Mad Pussy Hatter Facebook Page.
If you have any questions or are interested in more information about what I do and what my mission is, feel free to message me through the Mad Pussy Hatter Facebook Messenger.
I am also open to ideas and “words/phrases of inspiration.”
Currently I have been drawing a word from a biscuit box and make a hat based on that word. Want to add a word to the biscuit box? Message me!