Craftivism is a form of activism, typically incorporating elements of anti-capitalism, environmentalism, solidarity, or third-wave feminism, that is centered on practices of craft - or what can traditionally be referred to as "domestic arts". Craftivism includes, but is not limited to, various forms of needlework including yarn-bombing or cross-stitch. Craftivism is a social process of collective empowerment, action, expression and negotiation. In craftivism, engaging in the social, performative and critical discourse around the work is central to its production and dissemination. Practitioners are known as craftivists.
The term craftivism was coined in 2003 by writer Betsy Greer in order to join the separate spheres of craft and activism. Her favorite self-created definition of the term states, "craftivism is a way of looking at life where voicing opinions through creativity makes your voice stronger, your compassion deeper & your quest for justice more infinite"
Although the term craftivism is a recent addition to crafting lexicon, the use of craft as a subversive tactic can be found throughout history. First, the word craft is often associated with trickery. To call someone crafty is to identify them as clever and cunning  In Greek, one would say to "spin" a plot. Similarly, the French word for trick is tricoter, which means to tie or knot together. In the novel A Tale of Two Cities, the character Madame Defarge, a worker for the French Revolution, secretly encodes the names of those soon to be executed in her knitting.
Practices of craft or "domestic arts" have traditionally existed and been organized spatially within the private sphere. Therefore, the labor and production of craft was generally interpreted as unproductive female labor in the home, as it was never integrated into profit-making systems. Rather, it was marginalized and undervalued. As a result, women's significant and creative work in the private sphere—clothing the family, knitting blankets, weaving the loom—did not receive the same respect as male-dominated activity in the public realm. Furthermore, the patriarchy has been successful in claiming these domestic values for women and using it as a way to keep women in subservient roles. The rise of consumer-friendly crafts, including kits, transfers and readymade designs, has further diminished the status of craft and women's amateur practices. Women and craft have been excluded from the fine art world and as a result many women put their creativity towards craft practices. Craft was "a universal female art from transcending race, class, and national borders. Needlework is the one art in which women controlled the education of their daughters and the production of art, and were also the critics and audience." Although practices of craft were spatially organized within the private sphere, women occasionally would organize groups to engage in these practices collectively. In these craft circles or meet ups women would not only share patterns and skills but also engage in conversation about their lives in the private sphere. These groups of women would discuss their lives and personal struggles encountered as women. This type of group discussion is a form of activism rooted in Consciousness raising that was key to Second-wave feminism as it helped to raise awareness about the types of oppression women were experiencing in their everyday lives.
The Anti Capitalist, Anti Sweatshop and DIY movements popularized practices of craft for activism. These movements influenced third-wave feminists to adopt a craftivism ethos. Most forms of craftivism identify strongly with third-wave feminism. Third-wave feminist crafters are attempting to subvert the association of craft with domesticity by embracing domestic arts while identifying as feminists who are making the choice to embrace this new domesticity. Third-wave feminists are reclaiming knitting, sewing, and other crafting activities traditionally feminized and associated with the private sphere. Through this reclamation, contemporary women aim to reconnect with the female-dominated art forms, to legitimatize the importance of undervalued craft, and to show that 21st century women have the privilege to express themselves through craft, with fewer constraints exercised by the patriarchy. This act of resistance and shattering of the public/private binary is expressed physically through public knitting and craft circles who take a private-sphere activity and insert themselves in the male-dominated spaces of the city One example would be the Anarchist Knitting Mob who held a "Massive Knit" event in Washington Square Park to honour the death of activist and urbanist Jane Jacobs. Knitters decorated the trees, benches, and light posts with colourful yarn and unique patterns. Sarah Corbett, founder of Craftivist Collective, encourages craftivists to set up private and public what she coined 'stitch-in' workshops.
Women’s craft has often been undervalued or ignored in the art world. Women’s craft is considered belonging to a lesser cultural sphere and categorized under such terms as ‘applied’, ‘decorative’ or ‘lesser’ than other art forms such as painting or sculpture. This critique of women’s craft and craftivism as a ‘lesser’ art form has been contested within the discourse of feminism. Some Feminist Art discourse excludes craftivism. This feminist intervention into the art world perpetuates a hierarchy of art where craft is a lower art form. Some feminists deem craftivism as reinforcing domesticity and consider it a retrogression of the feminist cause rather than a subversive tactic.
Craftivism is also centered on ideas of environmentalism and sustainability. When buying new materials, many craftivists choose organic fabrics and fairly traded products such as home-spun yarns. Yet, even more popular within the movement is the utilization of vintage, thrifted and repurposed goods in order to minimize waste and promote reuse. This display of resourcefulness acknowledges the finite resources on Earth, and the valorization of quality over quantity. Craftivist, Betsy Greer, is quoted saying, "While I think that crafting has become something fairly elite and cliquish in some areas, at its heart, it is very much made for individuals who value both their time and their money".
Historically, craft was the pre-capitalist form of production, where each created item possessed a "use-value," a term comparing the usefulness of an item to the exchange equivalent. Now within a capitalist system of mass production, craft has become a commodity to be bought and sold for money, where it is now referred to as having an "exchange-value". Due to this movement from use-value to exchange-value, there is less emphasis on the time and skill expended to create an object, and more importance on making it available to the masses as inexpensively as possible. Traditionally associated with a strong community so vital to the creation and distribution of craft, crafting has since lost its use-value and has been "captured by capital".
A popular way to resist the commoditization of craft is through the Do-It-Yourself or DIY movement. Popularized through "zines" of the 1990s, DIY inspires people to be self-sufficient and to rely less on the market for basic necessities that can easily be created on one's own. DIY is a resistance to both the capitalist nature of the fashion industry and pressures to conform and buy a style. An example of this is the Counterfeit Crochet Project, which seeks to "debase and defile designer items one step at a time".[note 1] Crafters have also subverted the market through the use of open source patterns and information sharing on the internet. Sites like Burdastyle allow crafters to upload and download sewing projects at no charge. Similarly, Cat Mazza's online software KnitPro allows users to download images into detailed knitting patterns at no charge.
Efforts within the craftivist movement against capitalism focus primarily on the international issue of sweatshops. Some craftivists believe that either sewing one's own clothing or buying only hand-made is the best way to protest unfair labor practices around the globe. Other craftivists take the issue even further, using the act of crafting as a protest against sweatshops. Artist and activist Cat Mazza created a campaign against the inhumane labor practices of Nike through the creation of a giant blanket depicting Nike's trademark swoosh. From 2003-2008, international crafters were asked to mail in 4x4 inch stitched squares to border the blanket and to sign a petition against Nike. Mazza also created a second web-based software called Knitoscope that transforms video into animated knitted stitches. Each video has a corresponding testimony featuring various professionals who work against sweatshop labor.
Artist and Activist Kirsty Robertson feels that the subversive efforts of craftivists against capitalism are limited by their dependency on the internet and new communication. She points out that for this reason, global justice knitters are not completely removed from the economy themselves 
Some craftivists see their art form as a protest against war and violence. Anti-war craftivists choose to make their statement by juxtaposing a colorful, soft, and fuzzy yarn with cold and dangerous weapons. In 2006, Danish artist Marianne Jorgensen stitched a giant pink "tank blanket" and placed it over a M24 Chafee combat tank to protest the Iraq war. She has been making these blankets since Denmark entered the Iraq War, and doesn't plan to stop until it is over. She writes on her website that, "Unsimilar to a war, knitting signals home, care, closeness and time for reflection...When [the tank] is covered in pink, it becomes completely unarmed and it loses its authority". Much like Jorgensen, Canadian artist Barb Hunt works to question the acceptance of military logic in society by creating knitted antipersonnel land mines out of wool.
Similar to her campaign against Nike, Cat Mazza started an anti-war effort entitled "Stitch for Senate" on the fourth anniversary of the Iraq War. She enlisted two people from each state to knit a soldier's helmet liner which would be sent on to every senator. Unlike the apolitical Operation Home Front efforts that knitted gear for soldiers, Mazza wanted "to start a dialogue about the war and to get politicians to keep the promises they made during the midterm elections".
The Viral Knitting Project is an anti-war effort that translates the 0/1 binary code of the dangerous Code Red computer virus into a knitting pattern of knit/purl. The color and code relate to the anti-terrorism alerts of post 9/11 United States. The project is attempting to "draw together links between technology, culture, capitalism and war".
The Craftivist Collective, founded by Sarah Corbett, is an activist social enterprise which uses craftivism to engage people in social justice issues and solidarity movements. There is a manifesto and a checklist of goals for the work of the group which includes being welcoming, encouraging and positive, creative and non-threatening, and focusing on global poverty and human rights injustices.
One of the Craftivist Collective's key achievements was to convince the M&S board to pay their 50,000 employees the living wage in 2015.. This campaign was awarded with the Economic Justice Campaigner of the year 2017 by Sheila McKechnie Foundation, and was nominated for the 2017 Care2 UK Impact Award. 
On the back of this award, Sarah Corbett continues to work with large charities to deliver strategic craftivism projects and teach them in the art of gentle protest.
Australian artist Sayraphim Lothian uses craftivism to "make people's day brighter". She leaves small handcrafted works of art on the streets for people to find and take home “aimed at creating tiny bubbles of joy in the lives of passersby, tiny surreal moments that might make people do a double take.".
When craftivists take to the street, they utilize various protest models.
A popular form of protest is the "knit-in," where knitters infiltrate a public space and knit. They might ride a subway, occupy a civic building, or sit in a park. They use the knit-in to draw attention to their issue of concern. The Revolutionary Knitting Circle of Calgary, Canada stage a knit-in in front of Calgary's financial office buildings during the summit of the G-8 nations in 2002. The Knit-in not only provides an opportunity to protest against injustice, but also allows for a running discussion about social issues between the stationary knitters. Jack Bratich of Rutgers University argues that, "Knitting in public also creates a gendered question of space. It rips open the enclosure of the domestic space to public consumption, exposing productive work that has contributed to women's invisible and unpaid labor". Women are, thereby, able to gain power from an activity that previously symbolized their repression.
Craftivist Carrie Reichardt has covered her home, car and studio with mosaics which utilizes ceramics, screen-printing and transfers to highlight "plight of inmates on death row, the Black Panthers, and the spirituality of the planet."
Another form of craft-themed activism is guerilla art. The Texas-based group Knitta places street art such as street pole cozies and antenna warmers in cities throughout the country. Similarly, a blogger in England, Sarah Corbett, "creates textile art with political messages in public spaces first by herself at a blog called 'a lonely craftivist' and then as the head of the worldwide Craftivist Collective.
Volunteers for Postcards To Voters often create their own hand-decorated postcards to send to potential voters ahead of elections in hopes of increasing turnout. The work can be done solo, but is often done at "postcarding parties" at a volunteer's home or a cafe.
In the spring of 2009, an online debate began over the definition of craftivism. The debate spread after the self-titled Craftivism team on Etsy had an inner-group argument about the political affiliation of its members, causing some members to leave the group. The original description of the group states, "The Etsy Craftivism Team is a team of progressive Etsyans who believe that craft and art can change the world. Some of us use our work to carry messages of protest and political activism. Others believe that the act of making craft can be an act of resistance. Still others see that by buying and selling directly from the maker we are challenging the all pervasive corporate culture that promotes profit over people." Conservative members accused the group of assuming a liberal agenda, and argued that politics should not be involved. Some members of the group felt that the mere act of crafting itself was political, while others felt that the act must also be attached to a political message. Rayna Fahey from Radical Cross Stitch replied to a thread stating "Personally if a John McCain supporter joined this group and told me that my latest piece in support of indigenous sovereignty was a well-made piece that serves the purpose for which it was designed well, I'd think that was awesome and I'd have hope for the future of this world." In contrast, craftivist Betsy Greer believes that "the personal is political," and that you cannot separate the two.
Activism consists of efforts to promote, impede, direct, or intervene in social, political, economic, or environmental reform with the desire to make changes in society. Forms of activism range from mandate building in the community (including writing letters to newspapers), petitioning elected officials, running or contributing to a political campaign, preferential patronage (or boycott) of businesses, and demonstrative forms of activism like rallies, street marches, strikes, sit-ins, or hunger strikes.
Activism may be performed on a day-to-day basis in a wide variety of ways, including through the creation of art (artivism), computer hacking (hacktivism), or simply in how one chooses to spend their money (economic activism). For example, the refusal to buy clothes or other merchandise from a company as a protest against the exploitation of workers by that company could be considered an expression of activism. However, the most highly visible and impactful activism often comes in the form of collective action, in which numerous individuals coordinate an act of protest together in order to make a bigger impact. Collective action that is purposeful, organized, and sustained over a period of time becomes known as a social movement.Historically, activists have used literature, including pamphlets, tracts, and books to disseminate their messages and attempt to persuade their readers of the justice of their cause. Research has now begun to explore how contemporary activist groups use social media to facilitate civic engagement and collective action combining politics with technology.The Online Etymology Dictionary records the English words "activism" and "activist" as in use in the political sense from the year 1920 or 1915 respectively.Anti-sweatshop movement
Anti-sweatshop movement refers to campaigns to improve the conditions of workers in sweatshops, i.e. manufacturing places characterized by low wages, poor working conditions and often child labor. It started in the 19th century in industrialized countries such as the United States, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom to improve the conditions of workers in those countries.Betsy Greer
Betsy Greer is a writer, editor, maker and speaker credited with popularizing the term Craftivism.Carrie Reichardt
Carrie Reichardt is a contemporary artist, who works from a mosaic-covered studio in London, The Treatment Rooms. A member of the Craftivism movement, Carrie Reichardt uses murals, ceramics, screen-printing and graphic design in her work. She is a dedicated advocate of the movement and curated one of the few exclusively Craftivist exhibitions in the UK,.Reichardt's preoccupation with seditious ceramics places her within an artistic tradition extending as far back as William Morris and the production of subversive souvenirs during the Victorian Jubilee. Her first solo exhibition, entitles Mad in England, provided an exploration of this theme, which she has continued to pursue in subsequent work. Reichardt's most recent exhibition in the Mad in England series, timed to coincide with Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee, saw the artist inspired by the present day dissent evident in movements Occupy the City to UK Uncut.
Reichardt trained at Kingston University and received a First class degree in Fine Art from Leeds Metropolitan University. In 2009 she was invited to become Artist in Residence at Camberwell Art College as part of the Artists Access to Art Colleges programme. This initiative provides placements for visual artists and singers in higher and further education institutions across England.She followed this by a period as Artist in Residence at the Single Homeless Project. She remains a supporter, donating a percentage of the profits from some of her ‘Mad in England’ range to the charity. For the past two years she has exhibited at the Whitecross Street Party in Islington as part of her ongoing collaboration with the SHP.Carrie Reichardt has spoken on the use of craft and art as protest, most recently for National Museums Liverpool’s International Women’s Day lectures in March 2012. She has also represented the UK as part of a group of international artists invited to mosaic the Argentinian Government building in Buenos Aires.
Her recent work includes:
The Tiki Love Truck – commissioned by ‘Walk the Plank’, specialists in outdoor performance. This mosaic-covered pick-up truck, was dedicated to the memory of a death-row inmate. Winning first prize at the inaugural parade in Manchester, the truck has since participated in the Illuminated Parade in Blackpool, and the Glowmobile Parade in Gateshead.
Trojan Horse –a life-sized resin horse, with a skull for a face and coated in a mosaic ofinformation about the abuse of horses, made in collaboration with sculptor, Nick Reynolds. This protest against equestrian cruelty was displayed at the Cheltenham Festival Races, an event symbolic of the British establishment and an international centre of horse racing. The project was featured in The Guardian
The London Elephant Parade 2010 – Carrie’s mosaic elephant, ‘Phoolan’, was part of the largest ever public art event – taking place outside London’s Natural History Museum
The Milan Elephant Parade – this joint project with Reynolds was inspired by the revolutionary spirit spreading across the world and conveyed the message that ending capitalism is the only true way to save the elephant and the planet. The elephant was displayed outside the Triennale di Milano Museum of Art.
Mary Bamber, a life-sized ceramic-adorned figure of the revolutionary socialist, Mary Bamber, now on permanent display at the Museum of Liverpool.Richart is best known for her anarchic crockery, where vintage floral, kitsch, royal and religious crockery is given a new twist by re-firing with layers of new ceramic decals. They are modified in a "radical use of traditional things", along with skulls, cheeky slogans and political statements.
Carrie Reichardt’s work has featured in the press including, The Observer, The Guardian, The Evening Standard, Tile and Stone and in several books including; ‘1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse,’ Garth Johnson, ‘Mural Art No 2’, Kirikos Iosifidis and ‘The Idler 42 - Smash the System’ – Tom Hodgkinson.Cat Mazza
Cat Mazza is an American textile artist. Her practice combines tactical media, activism, craft-based art making and animation in a form that has frequently been described as craftivism. She is the founder of the craftivist collective microRevolt.Coral Short
Coral Short (born 1973) is a queer Canadian multi-media artist and curator. Based in Berlin and Montreal, they are best known for their performance art, as a curator of short film programs, and as a creator of affordable queer artist residencies.Craftivist Collective
The Craftivist Collective is an activist social enterprise which uses craftivism to engage people in social justice issues. It was set up in 2009 by Sarah Corbett.
There are around 1000 members worldwide. The main group is based in London with around 10 further active groups.
The Craftivist Collective was a runner-up in the Observer Ethical Awards 2013 for the Arts & Culture Award. They were named by the Times as one of their five 'New Tribes' of 2012.
Followers of the movement include Lauren O'Farrell, Reverse graffiti artist Moose, Guardian craft columnist Perri Lewis, jewellers Tatty Devine, comedian Josie Long, Tilly Walnes. entrant in the first series of the Great British Sewing Bee, Company craft columnist and author Jazz Domino Holly, and mosaic artist Carrie Reichardt.Sam Roddick is a mentor to the group and suggested the honorary label 'Craptivist' to cover non-crafty supporters.There is a manifesto and a checklist of goals for the work of the group which includes being welcoming, encouraging and positive, creative and non-threatening, and to focus on global poverty and human rights injusticesDIY ethic
DIY ethic refers to the ethic of self-sufficiency through completing tasks without the aid of a paid expert. Literally meaning "do it yourself", the DIY ethic promotes the idea that anyone is capable of performing a variety of tasks rather than relying on paid specialists. The DIY ethic requires that the adherent seeks out the knowledge required to complete a given task. The term can refer to a variety of disciplines, including home improvement, first aid or creative works.
Rather than belittling or showing disdain for those who engage in manual labor or skilled crafts, DIY champions the average individual seeking such knowledge and expertise. Central to the ethic is the empowerment of individuals and communities, encouraging the employment of alternative approaches when faced with bureaucratic or societal obstacles to achieving their objectives.Feminist art
Feminist art is a category of art associated with the late 1960s and 1970s feminist movement. Feminist art highlights the societal and political differences women and those of other gender identity experience within their lives. The hopeful gain from this form of art is to bring a positive and understanding change to the world, in hope to lead to equality. Media used range from traditional art forms such as painting to more unorthodox methods such as performance art, conceptual art, body art, craftivism, video, film, and fiber art. Feminist art has served as an innovative driving force towards expanding the definition of art through the incorporation of new media and a new perspective.Fiber art
Fiber art refers to fine art whose material consists of natural or synthetic fiber and other components, such as fabric or yarn. It focuses on the materials and on the manual labour on the part of the artist as part of the works' significance, and prioritizes aesthetic value over utility.Handicraft
A handicraft, sometimes more precisely expressed as artisanal handicraft or handmade, is any of a wide variety of types of work where useful and decorative objects are made completely by hand or by using only simple tools. It is a traditional main sector of craft, and applies to a wide range of creative and design activities that are related to making things with one's hands and skill, including work with textiles, moldable and rigid materials, paper, plant fibers, etc. One of the world's oldest handicraft is Dhokra; this is a sort of metal casting that has been used in India for over 4,000 years and is still used. Usually the term is applied to traditional techniques of creating items (whether for personal use or as products) that are both practical and aesthetic.Handicraft industries are those that produces things with hands to meet the needs of the people in their locality.Machines are not used.Collective terms for handicrafts include artisanry, handicrafting, crafting, and handicraftsmanship.
The term arts and crafts is also applied, especially in the United States and mostly to hobbyists' and children's output rather than items crafted for daily use, but this distinction is not formal, and the term is easily confused with the Arts and Crafts design movement, which is in fact as practical as it is aesthetic.
Handicrafting has its roots in the rural crafts—the material-goods necessities—of ancient civilizations, and many specific crafts have been practiced for centuries, while others are modern inventions, or popularizations of crafts which were originally practiced in a limited geographic area.
Many handicrafters use natural, even entirely indigenous, materials while others may prefer modern, non-traditional materials, and even upcycle industrial materials. The individual artisanship of a handicrafted item is the paramount criterion; those made by mass production or machines are not handicraft goods.
Seen as developing the skills and creative interests of students, generally and sometimes towards a particular craft or trade, handicrafts are often integrated into educational systems, both informally and formally. Most crafts require the development of skill and the application of patience, but can be learned by virtually anyone.
Like folk art, handicraft output often has cultural and/or religious significance, and increasingly may have a political message as well, as in craftivism. Many crafts become very popular for brief periods of time (a few months, or a few years), spreading rapidly among the crafting population as everyone emulates the first examples, then their popularity wanes until a later resurgence.Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna
The MAK – Austrian Museum of Applied Arts / Contemporary Art is an arts and crafts museum located at Stubenring 5 in Vienna’s 1st district Innere Stadt. Besides its traditional orientation towards arts and crafts and design, the museum especially focuses on architecture and contemporary art.Postcards To Voters
Postcards To Voters is a group of American volunteers who write postcards to targeted voters in the hope of increasing Democratic turnout in close, key elections across the country. Founded by Tony McMullin, the group started informally in March 2017 with a handful of volunteers who wrote postcards in support of Georgia congressional candidate Jon Ossoff. By November 2018 it had grown to nearly 40,000 volunteers from every state in the U.S., including Alaska and Hawaii, and sent approximately 3 million postcards. Volunteers write and often decorate the postcards by hand, paying for their own supplies and postage.Although it is not clear exactly how effective the postcards are, a 2007 study showed that handwritten notes were three times as effective as machine-printed ones, and the group has supported more winning than losing candidates. Among the candidates the group has supported are Doug Jones of Alabama, who won a special U.S. Senate election in December 2017; Conor Lamb of Pennsylvania, who won a special U.S. House election in March 2018; and Danny O'Connor of Ohio, who narrowly lost a special U.S House election in August 2018. A full list of races and results can be found on the group's website.Revolutionary Knitting Circle
A Revolutionary Knitting Circle is an activist group which uses craftivism (specifically knitting and other textile handicrafts) in their efforts to bring about social change.
The first Revolutionary Knitting Circle group was founded in Calgary, Canada, by Grant Neufeld in 2000. Since then, groups have formed across Canada, in the United States, and in various parts of Europe.SIMY
SIMY is a Youth work project working in the Townhead area of Glasgow. It is a community made up of young people from Townhead, Royston, close to the city centre making it a natural gathering place for young people. Traditionally most of these young people attend Glasgow St Roch secondary school or Lenzie however with the shortage of places the local young people attend different schools throughout Glasgow and East Dumbartonshire.Sarah Corbett
Sarah Corbett is an award-winning speaker, professional activist, author and the founder of Craftivist Collective, a social enterprise which uses the technique of craftivism - combining craft and activism - to engage people in social justice issues "in a quiet, non-confrontational manner involving pretty, handcrafted gestures of defiance."She wrote A Little Book of Craftivism which was published in 2013, and How To Be A Craftivist, published in 2017.Susan Goldberg
Susan Goldberg is an American journalist and editor in chief of National Geographic Magazine. She is the first woman to edit the magazine since it was first published in 1888. Before joining National Geographic, Goldberg worked at Bloomberg and USA Today. She is an advocate for cross-platform story telling.The Tempestry Project
The Tempestry Project is an ongoing collaborative fiber arts project that presents climate change data in visual form through knitted or crocheted artwork. Works are produced by knitting or crocheting a single row in a specified color representing the high temperature each day for a year, and multiple works are typically displayed together to show change over time.
The word "tempestry" is a portmanteau of "temperature" and "tapestry."