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Mass craftivism: the local women changing the world one stitch at a time

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A group of seven women from Stirling, Falkirk, and Clackmannanshire have added their section to an enormous scarf of climate messages made to “put the Earth centre-stage” at COP26.

The scarf was made by Stitches For Survival, a community of crafters from all over the UK, and the magnificent one point five kilometres of knitting was displayed around Glasgow Drying Green during the conference.

Sections of the scarf have also been used to campaign locally and were displayed at the Stirling Climate Festival, during visits of the giant puppet storm, and at protests outside of chemical plants such as Mossmorran.

Despite having never knitted before, Mandy Cairns, a 48-year-old from Dollar, “accidentally” became Regional Coordinator for the local group after attending the wrong meeting.

Mandy was keen to get involved in climate activism to try and “deal with the frustration and helplessness” she was feeling after having watched “the environment deteriorate”. Struggling day to day with fibromyalgia, ME, and OCD, the project has been “quite challenging” for Mandy, but craftivism “has helped take [her] mind away from pain and exhaustion”.

Mandy said: “Craftivism is a beautiful and colourful way to convey a very serious, powerful, message in a non-aggressive way.”

36-year-old Nora Pinel became involved in climate activism after moving to Stirling, from Spain, two years ago.

Nora was inspired after seeing that people here are “very close to nature” and she contributed a beautifully intricate scarf section. She used “hearts hanging from birds to represent the power of nature” and spiritual colours to send her climate message of hope. Nora described the special nature of “women working together to create a new style of life for the future” and said the reveal of the finished scarf was “a magic moment”.

Cath Dyer, a 71-year-old from Falkirk, started knitting at the age of 11 and has not stopped since.

Sat with knitting needles in hand, she said that craftivism, such as the creation of the scarf, emphasises that “softness is also strong” and is “a powerful way of the gentle people’s voices being heard”. She joked that she is not very creative, and her three sections are “the really boring in-between ones” that “show off the really beautiful ones”. However, she said that in every panel the knitters were “showing their hearts” and that “we all have to use whatever gifts we have for the benefit of society”.

66-year-old Brenda Kay from Dunblane is the coordinator for the Scotland South region of Soroptimist International, a charity that stands up for women.

Women around the world are disproportionately affected by climate change and so Soroptimists rallied behind Brenda and contributed around 68 panels to the scarf. Brenda spoke of some sections as “real works of art” and described how “specific memories” had been woven into the scarf, with one woman using “the leftover fabric of her late sister” and others using baby clothes.

The sight of the scarf has touched many people, even moving some to tears. For Brenda, this emotional response to communities working together “shows that small individual efforts, when combined, can make such an impact”.

COP26 has come to an end, but the journey of the scarf is not over.

Some sections have been kept for future climate campaigns and exhibitions, whilst other parts are being repurposed and made into blankets for refugees, the homeless, and neonatal hospital units.

The scarf will continue to do good and continue the fight for a greener planet.

Feature Image Credit: Twitter @StitchesFor

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