Right now, making a pair of relatively simple mittens, knitting feels methodical. Melodic even. Other times, knitting causes every muscle to strain and my temples to pound with frustration. Sometimes I would rather just burn the sweater I’m knitting since it’s turning out all wrong, but I don’t. Instead I keep knitting, because I know I’m backed by a needlecraft community that is spread out all around the globe.
Nea Glad is one of the co-founders of ‘Unifying Progressive Handicraft’ – a needlecraft association based in Malmö, Sweden. She and her friends started the association in the summer of 2012. Since then it has grown and today they get together once a week to hang out and do needlework. Now and then they also participate in political projects or conduct workshops.
Nea says: “Through our association we wish to create spaces that enable people of different ages, colors, nationalities and abilities to meet through their mutual interest. It doesn’t matter where you come from or how old you are, as long as you like to needlecraft. In that way, needlecraft can be a way of connecting people who would never have met under different circumstances. When knitting together, categories, which otherwise might divide people, are less present. Even though education, sexuality, gender identity and health might still be important parts of our identities, they are not the reason we get together.”
She continues: “We wish to create spaces free from the imperative ideals of capitalism and let the results of our needlecraft be measured by a different yardstick than the one of the market. Where the production can be slow and where techinques, simple or advanced, will be passed on and create a linkage between us and the women before us, to whom needlecraft wasn’t always as joyful as we find it today.”
Women have been doing needlecraft through generations but it has never really been considered a valuable skill since it has (almost) always been carried out by women only. “Unifying Progressive Handicraft” wishes to reclaim the value of needlecraft, and also raise awareness of the important role needlecraft has played for women through history. Needlecraft enabled women to organize during times when it was not otherwise possible for them to do so freely.
“Our aim is to keep enable people from different backgrounds to get together, learn and inspire each other through needlecraft. We wish for a community without fixed borders and through our meetings we will keep striving towards a more inclusive, open and equal society. Even though we might not always succeed, we will keep our motto in mind; through needlework, towards revolution!”
Until April 2nd you will find “Unifying Progressive Handicraft” at the City Library in Malmö, where they have an exhibition. If you live in Malmö, or if you’re visiting – don’t miss it!
Cover photo credit: Unifying Progressive Handicraft