Julia Bryan-Wilson, a foremost scholar of handicraft, writes in her book Fray, “[Textiles] occupy a central place in traditionalist histories while they also erupt as potential sites of resistance.” They are claimed by some to be a continuation of domestic subjugation, by others as a space of non-political pleasure, by still others as a medium for protest.
“Textiles are contingent,” Bryan-Wilson told me recently. “You cannot claim for them that they are inherently anything.”
In the hands of contemporary artists, knitting has also been used to protest war. In this sense, the World War II–era propaganda poster slogan “Remember Pearl Harbor; Purl Harder” can seem to take on new meaning.