On January 21, humans everywhere united for the Women’s March. And whether you were at the march on Washington, or one of the movement’s many sister marches, there’s no way you didn’t see a pink hat, or a thousand.
The Pussyhat Project was co-founded by Krista Suh and Jayna Zweiman, and its mission was simple: to create a sea of pink. The hats, representing both marchers and makers near and far, were a message for unity, or as Suh put it, “the new symbol of resistance.”
“As much as we hoped and prayed and visualized, it was still stunning to see all those women’s rights supporters gathered together in DC and around the world,” Suh told us.
But the Pussyhat Project didn’t stop after the streets cleared. In fact, it’s the opposite. In New York, I see at least a handful a day—on the street, train, wherever. It’s quickly become both a symbol and reminder to not only fight, but to keep fighting. They’re even hosting the Pussyhat Global Virtual March on March 8, in honor of International Women’s Day and A Day Without a Woman.
We talked with Suh about the project’s success, her personal connection to knitting and what’s next, so grab your hat, or your yarn, and read on below.
Photo via Getty Images/Mike Coppola
Paste: First off, congrats on Pussyhat Project’s massive success at the Women’s March! Did you ever expect to see that many hats?
Krista Suh: We didn’t expect it but we hoped and prepared for it. We’re an ambitious bunch over here at Pussyhat Project! As much as we hoped and prayed and visualized, it was still stunning to see all those women’s rights supporters gathered together in DC and around the world, with so many of them wearing the new symbol of resistance!
Paste: The hat has quickly become a symbol of unity, how do you see the project growing from here?
Suh: I think the hat will be a physical reminder for all of us to A) Keep the good work up and B) Keep hope alive because we know that it’s already worked once—so many people from all over the country and all over the world did small actions that came together in a big way at the Women’s March. So any small action we take individually, for example, calling our senators, can add up to a big unified result, and the pussyhat is living proof of that.
Paste: The experience of knitting a hat seems to be as important as the hat itself. What has your personal experience with knitting been like?
Suh: My grandmother taught me how to knit and my knitting teacher Kat Coyle has taught me more since then. Knitting is so therapeutic to me, it gives me something tactile to do when so much of the world and so much of my work as a screenwriter is amorphous. So it’s soothing to make something that I can see and touch and feel the progress of.
Paste: What is the particular moment the Pussyhat Project was born?
Suh: I was on a road trip with my family for my parents’ anniversary. I was looking out the car window and wondering what I could do at the Women’s March other than show up. I was thinking of what I could do on my person, visually: hold up a sign, wear something… nothing clicked until I realized that as an LA girl, I’d be super cold in DC and I thought idly that maybe I could knit myself a hat… and that’s when it clicked. If I as a beginner knitter could make this hat, anyone could, and people could send them in to DC and thus participate in the march even if they weren’t physically there. I immediately texted Kat to ask her to help—she is such a knitting super star and used to be a professional pattern maker, and above all, she is an amazing person who felt the devastation from the election results as much as I did.
Paste: What are some of the most powerful stories that marchers have shared with you?
Suh: Men have told me that they are so grateful for the pussyhat because it gives them a way to express publicly to women that they are safe and they will not harm them. A 99-year-old woman named Rose knit her own pussyhat. Young children as young as 6 or 7 are learning to knit with a pussyhat being their first project! One woman sent in a hat expressing that because of PTSD from being a rape victim, now rape survivor, she cannot be in crowds and cannot march, but she can and did send it 10 hats for marchers in DC as well as making another 10 for her local march in her hometown. People write in notes with the hats about women’s issues that mean the most to them—I particularly relate to people’s hopes to end violence against women and domestic abuse. One woman simply wrote “Planned Parenthood—because it saved my life.”
Paste: What women’s issues spark you to put on your hat?
Suh: I want to make the world a safer place for women—physically in the streets I want women to feel safe walking around and socially I want women to feel safe expressing themselves and their ideas. I am super passionate about this, and the pussyhat grew out of that need to make a change, or at the very least try!