kindness activist

kindness activist

Monday, January 23, 2017

Knit Hat Kindness

If you have read any of my writing you can pretty much figure out which “team” I am on.  I try not to look at the world in such black and white terms, but I guess this is a time where to tell the whole story clearly I need to announce that I am proud to be a bleeding heart liberal feminist.  My friends all know that, so they assumed that I would be going to the Women’s March in DC on January 21.  I mean, it was taking place practically in my backyard.

Women's March logo
Only, quietly, I knew I was not going…  I hadn’t talked about it.  I hadn’t really even formulated the reasons for skipping it in my own head.  But I was not going. 

I wasn’t scared to march.  I wasn’t apathetic about the issues.  I was very worried and concerned about the election results.  I was EXTREMELY nervous about the rights of women, immigrants, people of color, and the LGBTQ communities being hurt by the new administration. But I just could not find the motivation, the SPARK, to march.

A friend asked if we might be able to house his girlfriend and her friend who were coming for the march.  “Sure,” I said, knowing I myself wasn’t going (but not telling him that) but thinking, “We can drop them off at metro and they can go march”.

People talked about what they were going to write on their signs.  People went on about how excited they were to march.  People were booking hotels, buying plane tickets, ordering t-shirts and buttons, and I was quietly, dully going about my daily life.  I know part of it was a general malaise, perhaps a depression, about the state of the country.  I felt lost and helpless, and I wasn’t sure what showing up on the national mall with a handmade sign the day after inauguration would do to change any of that.


Do I know Karen from Chicago?
I asked my partner, “David, do you know someone named Karen Hoyer from Chicago?”.  He confirmed that he knew her, and that she is a clown in children’s hospitals like he is.  Here is the post she tagged me in:

      “Susan Thompson-Gaines(2 more people tagged) are you going to the Washington Women's               March? I am at a knit-a-long to make PussyHats for women to wear - Would you wear it if I sent           it to you? (You can say "no I have a hat already" and my feelings won't be hurt!                            

Yes, out of the blue, a woman who at the time I thought was a complete stranger (but it turns out I had met once in Chicago) was offering to HAND KNIT ME A PUSSY HAT.  I was NOT planning to march, and I had been feeling rather on the fence about the whole idea of the pussy hats, but then suddenly someone I do not know offers to make me one, and that act of kindness was the nudge I needed!!!

Seriously, from the time she asked if I would like her to make me a hat, I was 100% in.  I don’t know if it was the “invitation” I needed to feel included, the nudge in the butt I deserved to get in action, or what, but it WORKED. 

Let’s be clear:  I do not knit. I am in awe of anyone who can.  Many people who made hats for the march poo-pooed the idea that they were difficult.  “Oh, it is nothing!”   “I can make one lickety-split!”  “Those hats are so easy!”. 


To someone who looks at a ball of yarn and wonders how in the hell THAT could ever turn into a sweater, I tell you that KNIT HATS ARE AMAZING.

Karen in her hat on the way to the march in Chicago!
So just like that!  Karen gave me the nudge I needed.  One afternoon I peeked out on our porch to find a little manila envelope with my very own pink hat inside.  It fits well.  It is warm.  It is lovely.  And it is powerful.

My hat, my sign, my main squeeze, and my capitol in the background.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR KINDNESS, KAREN.  When I marched, you marched.  The issues you told me that you care about: equal pay, reproductive rights, freedom of the press, a ban on handguns, and poverty are also issues that are close to my heart.  I appreciate your nudge.  The march was something I NEEDED, but I didn’t even know it.  Spending the day jam packed on the National Mall with millions of diverse, caring, passionate people was a spark that ignited a fire in me.  My shoulder blades are as sore as can be from holding my sign up high all day, but every time I feel a twinge of pain in them it makes me smile.   

A sea of humanity, dotted by little clouds of PINK everywhere you looked.
You, Karen Hoyer, are a Kindness Activist.  And you are #WhyIMarch  

A marcher in DC - isn't her sign awesome?


  1. Karen is a friend of mine and let me tell you, you're spot on about her! Thanks for the lovely post.

    1. Glad you like the post, and you are lucky to be an in person (as opposed to just online) friend of Karen!!

  2. Thank you Susan -- you are too kind. Now, to add on... I must admit that I didn't even know about the Women's March until I read about the PussyHat Project in a knitting blog. This year had been stressful, with the Big Apple Circus going under and our Clown Care Program falling to pieces -- you know what it's been like. I've been using knitting for others as therapy so these hats fit the bill. I have to admit I didn't even know there was a Chicago Women's March until someone just assumed I knew about it and expected me to be there. I'm glad I did go, and I'm glad I brought my daughter along. And I'm super surprised that she (a finicky teenager) continues to wear the pussy hat I made for her!

  3. Smiling Twin = Karen Hoyer. Name given to me by my twin sister Kathie who says she's always the one frowning in our baby pictures.

    1. THAT IS A PERFECT NAME FOR YOU - Smiling Twin. Keep your eye on the mailbox, Kindness Activist pin mailing out tonight. :)