The Struggle for Freedom Meant You Took to Your Spinning Wheel
Happy Birthday America. The freedoms enjoyed in this, my home country, were hard won as all freedom is. Today we hear cries of how freedom is under attack. Guess what? It always was and it always will be. The people who enjoy freedom must never forget that.
Before the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4th, 1776, America was determined to show that she could survive without the British. That meant being frugal, drinking coffee instead of tea, and it meant spinning. Americans were boycotting British goods, especially British imported textiles. In an act of rebellion, women took to their spinning wheels, their knitting needles, and their looms. If you were a Patriot, you wore homemade clothes from homespun yarn.
If you English folks won’t give us the liberty we ask… I will try to gather a number of ladies armed with spinning wheels [along with men] who shall all learn to weave and keep sheep, and will retire beyond the reach of arbitrary power, clothed with the work of our hands, feeding on what the country affords… In short, we will found a new Arcadia.
Charity Clark, June 1769
After the American Revolution, it was widely expected that women would return to their former place in politics…. out of it completely. That didn’t happen of course. Once the genie is out of its bottle, it never really goes back in. Spinning bees and knitting socks for the first American soldiers wasn’t just about independence for our country, it was about personal independence for those women. Once those ladies started fighting for liberty, they just kept on fighting.
Happy Fourth of July! God bless America. Have a safe and joyful holiday. Enjoy your knitting (and crocheting!) and spinning and weaving. Never forget that the skills you have are part of what set a whole country free.
Want to know more about early American textiles?
- No Idle Hands
- The Daughters of Liberty
- Knitting America: A Glorious Heritage from Warm Socks to High Art