Bread and Roses Shawl

I have struggled with this shawl. The idea is clear as day in my head, but getting it out on paper and realized in yarn has been more challenging that I thought it would be. The good news is that the problems have been solved and it is now coming together beautifully. The rosebuds look gorgeous and the Czech seed beads are a lovely shade of pink/copper/gold. I’m a bit concerned about the ears of wheat, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

It is my suffrage shawl and it is not going to be ready in time for the NZ elections where one of two women will definitely be Prime Minister (17 October). Nor will it be ready for the British Columbia elections (24 October) but I’m pretty sure it will be ready for me to swish around my shoulders and watch the US elect a women Vice President. They might fall short again, it’s true. But the shawl is reminder to keep fighting for your rights not only for the most basic of things, enough money to buy food and shelter but also that we all deserve beauty, art and inspiration in our lives.

I hope when the pattern is published at the end of October 2020 that this shawl inspires other knitters or brings joy to anyone lucky enough to have it given to them as a gift.

Glorious Inspiration

Bread & Roses (Judy Collins)

I have loved this song and this specific version for as long as I can remember. As I got older the lyrics resonated more and more for me. If there was an anthem just for me and my philosophy on life, this would be a good place to start. It has never failed to move me and I wanted to pay tribute both to the beauty of the song but also the continuing cause of women’s suffrage.

Lawrence Textile Strike

As someone in fiber arts I’m also interested in the association the song has with the Lawrence Textile Strike where thousands of women mill workers took to the streets for better pay and working conditions. Although the strike captured public sympathy and drew attention to the cause, it ultimately was not successful in significantly improving the lot of mill workers. Yarn dyers, and fabric designers are still trying to work out how to make a living wage from fiber arts. Sweatshops in the developing world continue to have horrendous working conditions and give the developed world a false sense of the cost of clothing production. It’s still relevant.

Lyrics

As we go marching, marching
In the beauty of the day
A million darkened kitchens
A thousand mill lofts grey
Are touched with all the radiance
That a sudden sun discloses
For the people hear us singing
Bread and roses, bread and roses

As we go marching, marching
We battle too for men
For they are women’s children
And we mother them again
Our lives shall not be sweated
From birth until life closes
Hearts starve as well as bodies
Give us bread, but give us roses

As we go marching, marching
Unnumbered women dead
Go crying through our singing
Their ancient call for bread
Smart art and love, and beauty
Their drudging spirits knew
Yes, it is bread we fight for
But we fight for roses, too

As we go marching, marching
We bring the greater days
The rising of the women
Means the rising of the race
No more the drudge and idler
Ten that toil where one reposes
But the sharing of life’s glories
Bread and roses, bread and roses

Our lives shall not be sweated
From birth until life closes
Hearts starve as well as bodies
Bread and roses, bread and roses!

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