The last few weeks have been emotional for many within the knitting and fibre arts community. There has been not just one but two cases of extreme insensitivity which have acted as the catalysts for important conversations within the wider online community, firstly about about racism and secondly about mental health.

Up until now I have remained in the shadows, spending hours reading through Instagram posts and stories by Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) and how they have been treated by fellow knitters and crocheters around the world. 

I am privileged. I am a white, middle class, highly educated British female. I have a supportive and loving family who help whenever and however they can when times get tough. I do not have to deal with socially engrained racism on a daily basis but just because I don’t experience it myself does not mean that it doesn’t exist. 

Modern politics scares the crap out of me, it truly does. What is currently happening around the world, particularly in the States and my native UK with regards growing political tension, increasingly visible racism, xenophobia, homophobia and sexism chills me to the core. 

I pride myself in my knowledge and understanding of social history and injustices – I am a strong believer in the theory that history repeats itself and the only way to stop atrocities from reoccurring is by recognising the warning signs. 

I remember at school whilst studying about the Second World War and the years leading up to the ‘Final Solution’ and the ensuing Holocaust. Myself and my classmates all asked the same question ‘why did nobody speak up?’ – even at the age of 10 we were aware that silence in the face of brutality is a symbol of complicity. 

I am not part of a ‘silent majority’.

I am watching and I am listening. I sincerely apologise if my lack of public discourse on the subject in any way signifies complacency on my part.

I am naturally averse to confrontation and I do not deem myself to be a keyboard warrior. My beliefs are my own and I fight hard on a daily basis to question information I receive through the media, both social and the press. I am not a finger pointer and I do not make accusations from behind a computer screen. I do, however, welcome open and factual-based discourse from both sides of any debate. I believe that the only way to move forwards within our society is to understand each other. 

7.5 billion humans are never going to all agree the same thing at the same time but I truly believe that education is the only way to resolve conflict in all its forms. If somebody says or writes something offensive by all means call them out on it. Ask them for explanation and if their belief is due to misinformation or a lack of awareness, educate them. 

Building walls never helped anybody (I’m looking at you, Fartface).

The main focus of my incoherent ramblings is that Sealy MacWheely is and always will be a safe space. 

For myself and many others knitting and fibre crafts is a refuge from the stresses of modern life. Over the last couple of years in particular the virtues of knitting, spinning and crochet have been widely publicised in relation to therapy for a variety of mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, as well as acting as a focus for people living with chronic pain conditions. I love having a common ground that unites rather than separates us as human beings and after years of struggling with my own identity I am proud to have finally found what I deem to be ‘my people’. As such I feel sick to my stomach reading about how members of our community have vastly different experiences to my own simply because of the colour of their skin or ethnicity. Likewise I cannot convey the disgust I felt at reading comments which reflect the trivialisation of suicidal intentions within not only a public but a professional forum. 

Last year, back when I was writing my business plan I included a section on how Sealy MacWheely stands against discrimination in all of its forms. I envisioned a shop and community space which is welcome to all, irrespective of race, gender, sexuality, dis/ability, religion, age and mental health. I sincerely hope that I have achieved this goal and if you ever feel that I fall short please do not be afraid to let me know. The only thing I ask is that any discussions are respectful to both parties and do not descend into anger or hurt-fuelled accusations. Human instinct is to bristle under confrontation and nobody is perfect, myself included. 

I am told constantly by the media that I am part of the ‘snowflake’ generation. This term is meant to imply that we are a generation that is weak and easily offended. What they don’t seem to understand is that when a billion snowflakes come together they can cause an avalanche. ❄️

Love to all, 

Katie xx

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