It turns out that the humble act of knitting can be quite politically charged. Ravelry, a social network for knitting enthusiasts, announced on Sunday (June 23) that it was banning expressions of support for Donald Trump and white supremacy, equating the two stances.
“We cannot provide a space that is inclusive of all and also allow support for open white supremacy,” the site said in its announcement. “Support of the Trump administration is undeniably support for white supremacy.”
On Ravelry, where users post knitting patterns, you can find templates for confederate flags or “Make America Great Again” hats. A moderator for one of the Ravelry forums noted on Twitter that “emotional labor” of “defusing angry & ugly situations where casual hate & intolerance is directed at queer, non-Christian, or minority people” is “exhausting.”
The network said it is not endorsing Democrats or banning Republicans, and not banning people for past support, or conservative politics in general. Members who have violating content on the site won’t lose access to their project data, Ravelry also noted. It said that the policy was modeled on a forum dedicated to role-playing games. You can’t currently join the Ravelry, and Quartz reached out to ask whether it was due to increased interest because of the new policy. Roughly 800,000 people have logged onto Ravelry in the last month, according to a counter on the site.
Many knitters came out in support for the policy, with plenty of knitting jokes:
But others were not happy with the decision, either because they were Trump supporters, or thought that the website shouldn’t be politicized in any way, or they disagreed with equating support for the president with white supremacy.
As Catherine Shu, a knitter, noted at TechCrunch, knitting has a long political history, most recently expressed by the so-called “pussy hats” that thousands of women knitted for the Women’s March in protest of Donald Trump’s election. The knitting community also recently had a wide-ranging discussion on social media of racism in its ranks.