Knitters channel pink power through Pussyhat Project

NEW YORK — A cozy little cat-eared hat has captured the hearts of knitters around the world in a pink-colored show of solidarity with thousands who plan to attend women’s marches in the nation’s capital and elsewhere Jan. 21.

The caps are at the center of the Pussyhat Project, thought up by Los Angeles friends and knitters Jayna Zweiman and Krista Suh in the aftermath of the November election.

The two, with help from their knitting instructor, came up with the DIY project and swept social media with a call for knitters, crocheters and sewers to get busy and donate their creations to crowds expected at the Women’s March in Washington the day after President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration

So far, the project has taken in more than 60,000 handmade hats, with many more created by rogues doling them out to friends and family or planning to keep their own heads warm on the National Mall and more than 200 sister demonstrations.

“We’ve been selling pink yarn like crazy,” said Angie Paulson, who works at a knitting shop, The Yarnery, in St. Paul, Minnesota. “We can’t keep it on the shelves.”

She planned a knit-in with customers to make more.

The hats are, in part, a response to Trump’s caught-on-camera remarks about grabbing women’s genitalia, using the loaded P-word. The project’s co-founders want to take back the derogatory term pussy while infusing the traditionally “feminine” color of pink with strength in support of women’s rights.

Amy Nowacoski, 43, made herself a hat to wear either on the National Mall or a march in New York. She considers the hat a kind of merit badge among knitters.

“It’s ‘Yay, of course I did the pussy hat.’ You? There’s a lot of that in the knitting world,” Nowacoski said. “Additionally, it could force newscasters to say ‘pussy hat,’ which would be incredibly entertaining.”

Zweiman and Suh thought marchers in Washington — in January — would need warm head gear and also might enjoy a unifying element.

The two, both Hillary Clinton supporters, launched the project just before Thanksgiving weekend, using social media to spread the pattern created by Kat Coyle, who owns The Little Knittery in Los Angeles.

“It was just so perfect, not just because of Trump’s comments but because of the shame and emotion in the fight for women’s rights,” Zweiman said of the design.

Added Suh: “What surprised me about all of this was the depth of emotion of people who are participating. People are reaching out to us, talking about how this project has lifted them out of a depression, that it’s been their way to channel their grief and anger.”

Knitters are not only sharing their hats but they’re showing them off on Facebook, Instagram and elsewhere. Some are selling them for as much as $35 on Etsy.

Zweiman and Suh estimate that creators are making an average of about eight hats each. Some have included little notes attached to their hats before dropping them at designated locations around the country for distribution at the Washington march.

Other knitters have tweaked the official hat pattern, coming up with their own cat-ear designs. Zweiman and Suh have heard from knitters of all ages and genders.

“It’s really been just incredible,” Suh said. “The process of making the hats and preparing for the march and really including everyone, everywhere who wants to participate but may not be able to march has been so much of this project.”

The official pattern calls for a specific brand of worsted hand-dyed wool in fuchsia. Tobias Feder, who owns the Uruguay-based company, Malabrigo Yarn, said he has been swamped by requests for the color and about eight other shades of pink.

“Our inventory on pinks was wiped out fairly fast,” he said by telephone. “We restocked as fast as we could and are now shipping some but it is probably too late.”

No worries, some knitters said. Other pinks will do.