Tea for 502,860

Don’t mess with knitters.  Especially in California.  I wasn’t kidding about guerilla knitting.

Photo by Grant Neufeld

Shaun and I managed to score the comfy chairs in Starbucks yesterday morning.  She bought a copy of The San Fransico Chronicle, and was hogging reading the front page. Fine.  I grabbed the Bay Area section: Oh yippee. detailed coverage of Tunnel Expansion…yawwwwn.  I flip to under the fold.

Then I spewed my coffee all over both of us.

As long as we have guerrilla knitters, we will be safe from terrorist action in our country. Overnight, knitters from Berkeley and Oakland sewed a giant knitted T cozy onto an art sculpture placed at the Berkeley/Oakland border.

and I quote (Caroline Jones, Chronicle staff writer):

“…Rogue knitters encamped along the Berkeley-Oakland border with lawn chairs, tea cakes and knitting projects to protest the city of Bekerley’s order that they remove and 8 foot knitted tea cozy they sewed over the T in a public sculpture they believe insults Oakland.”

The artwork is a giant word sculpture that reads “Here” on the Berkeley side, and “There” on the Oakland side.

The librarians and English majors among you are already chuckling, aren’t you?  It’s an obscure literary reference to Gertrude Stein, who once said of Oakland: there is “no there there.”

Having grown up in Oakland, and then moved to Berkeley on my own, I am unfazed by the existence of knitting subversives.  As a young woman, making my way through the hippies, drug zombies, naked people on bad acid trips, superman-outfit guy, and flower children on Telegraph Ave to Cody’s books, I saw what would now be a remarkable scene: a Berkeley police officer, bending over a ragged man in a doorway.  The man in blue straightened up, took a nice long hit off the joint, and handed it back, saying: “Man, it’s cool.  Just try to hide it next time, okay?”

To Shaun, a Detroit native, the concept of Rogue Knitters is incomprehensible.  Grannies knit.  Not rebels.

One does not use knitting as a form of civil disobedience.  Yeah.  Well. This is Berkeley. Flowers were used in Berkeley as a form of civil disobedience.

I am not surprised by how this is handled by the authorities.  It never goes to the police, who would probably roll their eyes.  Some poor city worker is forced to tromp over to the knitting shop (presumably the location of the Rogue Knitting Cell), and demand the knitted cover be taken down.  The knitters refuse.

My guess?  End of story. It will rot off.  It does not pay to engage with protesters in Berkeley, especially knitters.  They are capable of knitting a City Hall Cozy when enraged.

For those of you who still need your whack adjusted:

San Francisco Chronicle story here.

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10 thoughts on “Tea for 502,860

  1. Wendy

    Like the site revamp! I knitted subversively, in that I hid it from my friends for years. Yes, I was a closet knitter for decades, and sheepishly explained to my husband that my potholder had been destined to be a baby blanket, but I gave up on it due to my workhours. It was black. Yeah. 🙂 Love this story.

    Reply
  2. lizgoldsmith

    Wow, you’ve just given me a focus for my knitting. No more scarves, hats, Victorian collars or shrugs. I’m going to be a rogue knitter. I just love the concept. I am someone who knits and crochets when I feel anxious or overwhelmed. Last year I made A LOT of stuff. I’d love for it to have a political statement. But will it have the same effect here in Boston or will people just shake their heads and pretend not to notice?

    Reply
  3. Winter

    I never could knit. My eye hand coordination wasn’t up to it. I wonder if they have a yarn roller division of their rogue knitter army…

    Reply
    1. theliteraryhorse Post author

      Yup! It’s even semi-automated. I’ll set up the umbrella swift and hand you the ball roller, all you have to do is crank the handle, voila: balled yarn. Sort of what bandage rollers are to horse bandages.

      Who says you have to knit to be involved??

      Reply
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  5. Cara

    So? It’s Berkeley. Better on the ground, knitting, than in the trees.

    BTW Great museum of cultural anthropology there.

    Reply
    1. theliteraryhorse Post author

      Cara, why I haven’t I seen your saddle pads before?!? Okay everyone, mandatory: head on over to Cara’s for some of the most unusual and beautiful ENGLISH saddle pads around. I want the blue one (on the gray horse)! Problem, none of my guys would accent the pad correctly.

      And amen to on the ground than in the trees. I love Berkeley, I just like to poke at the newpaper. I mean really, “Rogue” knitters?

      Reply

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