Craft is a calming, meditative act for many of us. Working with yarn, especially, means working through knots and complex problems. Craft is also joyous and a communal act about creating something that wasn’t there before, or fixing something that doesn’t work anymore.
The Black Lives Matter protests since George Floyd’s murder have been in the news all over Europe, and there were like 15,000 of us at the rally in Berlin in June. A lot of U.S. expats I know in Berlin feel a little helpless, watching from afar. But we’re still citizens; we still vote; we still have a vested interest in our home country.
For the protest at Alexanderplatz, I wanted to make some kind of handmade sign bearing the names of victims, and after some experimentation I came up with these crocheted banners. Each one bears the name of a Black person murdered by police. Black people are three times more likely than white people to die this way. Tony McDade was killed by a police officer in Tallahassee just two days after Floyd.
I was inspired by many Black women, the original craftivists. Sara Trail of the Social Justice Sewing Academy made a Say Their Names quilt in 2017 that is powerful. The Yarn Mission has been doing anti-racism work in the fiber space for years, and they recently updated their list of Black-owned yarn makers and shops.
Making these name banners is a meditative act. I’m sharing the Crochet Their Names pattern as a free, open-source project for the cause. I had considered monetizing the project to raise funds for BLM organizations, but instead I am making donations to mutual aid funds and therapy funds like the Loveland Foundation directly, and I encourage you to do the same.
I shared the #crochettheirnames pattern in some crafting groups on Facebook, and a friend in Cincinnati, Jenifer Sult, worked with her neighbors to fill her yard with the names of Black people who we cannot forget. I’m still trying to find a home to display the banners here in Berlin. (If you see a good spot, let me know.)
If you connect with the project, I hope you try it yourself and that the banners remind us all that Black lives matter, every day.