Monday, 18 August 2014

Wool Against Weapons

Last Saturday I had the privilege of participating in the most colourful protest. Trident submarines that contain nuclear warheads costs the UK £100 billion pounds a year. What would you rather see that money spent on?

The contract for the Trident submarines will be up for renewal in the next year, we wanted to send a message to the government that this is the time to make the change, to be the change, to be a leader in the change. A treaty banning nuclear weapons is on the international agenda—why is the UK boycotting? For more information read this leaflet from Action AWE

Over a year ago two wonderful, mad ladies named Angie Zelter (co-founder of Action AWE) and Jaine Rose had a brilliant idea to “yarn bomb” the nuclear weapons factories in England in Aldermaston and Burghfield by knitting a seven mile long pink scarf that would stretch between these two armaments factories to send a message to the government about our desire for a peaceful future.

Would it work? Would people knit? Even if people did knit their hearts out, could they knit 7 miles worth of wool?

The answer was YES.

It was decided that the protest should be held on Nagasaki day to remember the 135,000 people who lost their lives to the atomic bomb. The word went out all over the world and people started knitting.

I heard about it from some other Quakers and I was so moved by their efforts that I asked our Meeting to help me. I wanted to take part in this peaceful pink protest. I wanted to contribute a knitted panel to the cause, but there was only one small problem.

I didn’t actually know how to knit.

Not to worry. I was taken in hand by some lovely Quaker Friends who patiently showed me and showed me again.


And again.


I was a bit of a slow learner.


But after eight months of work I managed to produce a panel that was 23.5 inches by 39.5 inches.


Well it was supposed to be.


I started adding stitches somewhere along the line and mine got wider and wider and wider by the end.

But I did it.


We met and joined up all our efforts and in the end we had 20 metres worth of wool to contribute. That’s about 22 yards for my American peeps. Here we are outside our Meeting House showing off our efforts.


On the demonstration day four of us decided to take the train together and we had a jolly time. We shared food and laughter and took turns carrying the wool through the Tube and Train stations (it was Hitchin to London Kings Cross to Paddington station via the Tube then overground train to Reading, change at Reading for Mortimer station—for all you train spotters out there)   The journey was a pleasant two and a half hours. When we arrived we caught a shuttle to the protest.


Despite accidentally getting off the shuttle at the wrong station (we wanted RED for Faith Groups) we managed to find our way there where we met up with some other friends (old and new)


We got the call that the seven miles of wool was complete (with some to spare) around 12:30 which was cause for huge celebrations. Our section had enough to cover both sides of the road.


It was grand.


There was singing--we sang old peaceful favourites like We Shall Overcome and Last Night I had the Strangest Dream and some new favourites sung to the tune of A Bicycle Built For Two with lyrics like Trident, Trident, your missiles will kill us all. 


There was more eating.


Then at 1:00 we all joined together holding the scarf and whooping and whistling and ringing bells and this was followed by a three minute silence.

You can watch a video about it here:


Then we all unpicked our bits that were joined together while we did a bit more singing and eating.


Lastly, all the Quakers got together and sat in a circle and held a Meeting for Worship in the middle of all the chaos of singing voices, laughing voices, happiness, buzz and excitement. We centered down and felt the enormous warmth of the sun and God filling our hearts.


Did I mention the amazing, perfect blue sky, not-too-hot weather we had sandwiched between two days of solid rain? Thanks, God.


A friend agreed to cart our wool home by car and so we strolled  along back to the train station (the shuttle would have taken HOURS to get all the people back there) and made our way home.


It was a wonderful day with hundreds of people there, all wanting the same thing in our hearts: A peaceful world. There was wool from all over the world--as far away as Africa, Latin America and Canada. We saw wool from France and Austria in our section. Thousands of people knitted and sent wool, even if they couldn’t come themselves. Hundreds of people of all ages, races, gender and sexual orientation were there, all of us bursting with love.


So what happens to all the wool? Well, everyone was asked to take their panels home and turn them into blankets for disaster relief or the homeless.


Could you ask for anything better?


 We also got some coverage on the BBC which was grand.


I am so proud to have taken part, to have learned to knit (however badly) and attended this historical moment. I plan on stepping up my activism when we move to Wales on Wednesday.



Yikes. Better get packing