Introducing... Wool Against Weapons!
Thursday, October 24, 2013
We talk to Jaine Rose, founder of Wool Against Weapons, about giant pink peace scarves, using our voices and why knitting is her 'weapon' of choice.
When and why did you establish Wool against Weapons?
The idea for Wool Against Weapons came to myself and another knitter as we sat in a muddy field around a campfire on the day I managed to scale a very large barbed wire fence as part of a direct action protest, in December 2012. We thought it would be a brilliant way to let everyone know that our Government is planning to spend a huge amount of money - over £100billion - on renewing Trident, this country's weapon of mass destruction. We thought a big knitted peace scarf would send out the clear message: "nuclear weapons do not make our planet a safer place. We do not want them, nor can we ever use them. Let's redirect our money into healthcare, education, environment and positive change!"
Jaine and co. holding up the scarf so far.
Whose idea was it to knit a giant scarf? What inspired you?
The knitter and activist that I talked to that day was Angie Zelter, a brilliant woman, and it was her idea initially to knit a long long peace scarf that could later be made into blankets for war zones. We were inspired by bringing together knitting and crochet with activism and yarn bombing.
How did you get involved with Action AWE?
I became involved with Action AWE - a grassroots campaign of nonviolent actions dedicated to halting nuclear weapons being made at the bomb factories at Aldermaston and Burghfield - through Angie. They are a really friendly and creative bunch of activists who are planning lots of interesting events in the next couple of years.
Why are you using knitting as your ‘weapon’ of choice?
Ah, good question! Well, knitting is creative, war is destructive. Knitting unites us all - we join together in cafes, pubs, libraries, village halls, each others homes - we chat, drink tea, share patterns, put the world to rights. Using knitting as a way of protesting is a powerful and beautifully visual way to get a political message out into the world. And it has the most brilliant purpose. Knitters can't resist being involved with something crazily different.
And, why pink?!
Pink seems like a perfect antimilitary colour - look on google for Marianne Joergensen's pink knitted cosy that she and 1,000 volunteers knitted for a Danish tank - it's wonderful and a really well known image. Also, pink will look so colourful as it stretches across the green countryside next summer. There are lots of different shades of pink being sent to me, and a few knitters are enjoying the anarchy of knitting in purple, orange, red and the odd bit of something else like turquoise - which always makes me smile!
Jaine, in a sea of pink!
How did you decide where to stretch the scarf in between?
The scarf is going to stretch between the two weapons factories - Aldermaston and Burghfield in Berkshire, which is about 7 miles in distance. We will need thousands of people to help us unroll pre-joined pieces of scarf next August 16th, and hold it up. I think its going to be quite a sight, and a fantastic day.
When is the big reveal going to take place and what are you planning for it?
The big event will be on August 16th 2014 - it will be the most wonderful day of guerrilla wool-fare - as we unroll the U.K's longest yarn bomb. There will be music, and speakers, and thousands of knitters all helping and having fun. And cake - of course!
What is it you hope to achieve with this action?
My hope is that we all start having real conversations about what on earth is happening in the world with costly wars spiralling out of control, and then feel empowered to get our voices heard, and collectively bring about a change in attitudes. I hope that we all have the most brilliant day, and feel part of something bigger. I hope it makes the politicians very nervous, when they realise that there are very many knitters and voters out there, a year before a general election who care enough about peace to knit a 7 mile long pink peace scarf.
How can people get involved? What do need them to do?
We still need lots of pieces of scarf to be knitted and crocheted - the pieces need to be approximately 60cm x 100cm - details are on our website at www.woolagainstweapons.co.uk - and there are some brilliant photos of everyone's pieces that have been sent to me, for inspiration. It's really easy to become involved - just pick up your needles, check out the website and off you go! And of course, put the date in your calendar next August and bring all your friends and a picnic.
Pieces donated by Lorri Tolan [L] and Ann from Wisconsin, USA!
Have you started to stitch the scarf together yet? How long is it so far?
Yes, the scarf is being joined up in 40m lengths - it looks amazing. I have no idea how long it is - pieces are being knitted up and down the U.K and all over the world - so I am not quite sure how many knitters are joining in and how many bits they are knitting. Word is spreading and the campaign is snowballing, which is pretty exciting.
[L] The latest stack, ready to be sewn together. [R] Pieces of scarf rolled into pinwheels ready for transporting.
What is going to happen to the scarf afterwards?
Well, afterwards the scarf will be repurposed into blankets - we should have over 2,500 beautiful, colourful, useful blankets to send out to war zones, Syria in particular, and to refugee camps. Also, closer to home, some will be sent to hospices and care homes. So nothing will be wasted.
Where can people find more information?
There is lots of information on our website at www.woolagainstweapons.co.uk and plenty of pictures and updates on our Wool Against Weapons Facebook page. We are also on Twitter @waweapons and on Ravelry under the name PinkPeaceScarf.