Tag Archives: wool against weapons

Small films, big ideas

This year, Stroud had its first film festival. I managed to be at the launch, not so very long ago, which included the winning films from the film competition associated with the festival, because Stroud doesn’t do things by halves!

These are all short films with local connections, and they were all played on the night, and for all of their localism, they have things to say that deserve a wider audience. In the order in which they were shown then…

What is Art? Funny, playful and also rather clever. John Bassett does a lot of local theatre, his update of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists last year sent me out to read the original novel.

Ganapati Clayman. Andrew Wood talks about art and Parkinson’s disease. I spent a few weeks last year being Andrew’s studio assistant. He’s a brilliant and fascinating person. I spent a lot of time re-whiting walls and cleaning floors, being a studio assistant not being a terribly glamorous sort of job really.

7 Miles of Pinkness is about the huge Wool Against Weapons protest last summer – 7 miles of pink knitting stretched between 2 nuclear weapons sites as we watch the government trying to claim that spending £100 billion on replacing Trident –  weaponry it would be unthinkable to ever actually use – is a good idea. Much to my surprise, I discovered on the night that I am fleetingly in this film. My abject panic does not come over as clearly as I had feared. My section had just run out of wool, we had no idea where any spare wool was, and I was stood where the wool wasn’t when a nice man pointed a camera at me. I’m very proud to have been a very tiny part of this epic, international project. I’ve also helped turn the scarf into blankets for international aid projects.

Ultimate yarn-bombing

Wool against weaponsThe boy and I set off from Stroud at half eight yesterday. There were two coaches from Stroud, and we knew many of the other people who were going. Plus we had Green MEP Molly Scott Cato on our coach, so we were feeling especially awesome. I spent much of the hour and a half or so of journey sewing. Final pieces of scarf had come in and needed attaching to each other, so many of us were doing just that.

Arriving at Aldermaston was intimidating – the double fences, the barbed wire, the large number of police officers, the large, uneasy-making buildings. Here, they make nuclear weapons, which was a sobering and unsettling thought. And there we were, standing up to nuclear weapons… with wool.

And such wool! Brightly coloured banners and scarf sections, with words of peace and hope worked into them. More than the needed 7 miles of wool, made by hands around the world. Knitting full of love and intention, and expression of our desire for a better, safer world. 5000 people knitted. Jaine (who organised) explained it worked out at 27 years of work. An incredible expression.

Huddled together outside the coaches, with a lot of police around, the fences to one side, traffic whizzing by… I felt very small and nervous. What we were up against seemed so enormous, this terrifying, slaughtering power backed by the state. Then the wool came out, and we started to unravel our first roll. The drumming and cheering started. People sang. Those of us with needles started running around to connect up pieces as required, and the whole atmosphere changed. We were making something, coming together as a community, armed with knitting needles and wool to challenge the most deadly weapons on the planet. As Theo and I were both on sewing up duty, we raced along the lines looking for gaps, needles held high like swords. It felt potent.

By 1pm, we had the seven miles of wool in place. We held it up, we made noise, we held silence, we made more noise, we rolled it up and took it back in pieces. There were speeches. Molly Scott Cato talked about the relationship between the arms industry and the nuclear industry. The relationship between arms manufacture and international slaughter. The need for peace.

The proposed new Trident project we are protesting against will cost somewhere around 100 billion pounds (government estimates 80 billion, other estimates are higher). What would you do with that much money? How many peacekeepers could you fund? How much diplomacy could you enable? How many refugees could you help? How many war criminals could you bring to justice? How many hungry people could you feed?

Trident will give us the means to kill 45 million people.

I think that stands reflecting on. Ask in what circumstances you would feel comfortable with the slaughter of 45 million people, and the consequences of using nuclear arms on that scale. You can find out more about anti-nuclear protest here – http://tridentploughshares.org/

With the protest over, the scarf is being re-worked to become many blankets that can be sent to places of need. Some of them, no doubt will go to refugees from war zones. I’ve brought a segment home and have started the task of undoing and remaking. However, getting those blankets to where they are needed, is going to cost, so if you can help out at all with that, go here, please, and do what you can. http://www.woolagainstweapons.co.uk/?page_id=1104

I’m very glad I was there, proud to have been a part of that, awed by the scale, by the love and labour that went in to making it all work. My parents were protesting against nuclear weapons before I was born. My son is getting involved. Maybe by the time he has children of an age to protest, we won’t be still having to stand up against this madness. I hope, his will be the last generation called upon to resist, and that we will see sense, and stop making insane weapons that cost the earth and that we could never use without damning ourselves in every way.

Wool against Weapons

I have gone off today on a coach from Stroud with other Wool Against Weapons folk, to protest through the medium of wool. So, rather than a usual blog pot, here are some photos – both taken by Chris Hastie at Druid Camp and are re-used here with permission.

10570428_850437411635632_6826475609340304292_nThis one was taken early on Saturday night, and as Talis Kimberly sang about Eleanor Roosevelt knitting, Sophie and I were sewing segments of scarf together. The scarf went up for a bit of a dance, which was fabulous as it stretched the length of the marquee!

That’s Tom sat next to me, looking serious.








1546048_850436044969102_47608862912746272_nThis one shows a section of scarf laid out in a morning meeting. After the protest, the pieces will be reassembled into blankets and sent to projects that need them. I’m hoping to be involved with that stage, too.

I’ve contributed some knitting (not a whole piece, but lots of bits of communal pieces) and a fair bit of sewing, and some emergency crotchet to fill in a narrow bit.

Wool against Weapons

c. Jaine Rose

c. Jaine Rose

I spent Sunday afternoon at beautiful Hawkwood, an amazing place on the edge of Stroud that does all manner of courses in a gothic venue. There were apparently about 60 of us there, sewing bits of wool to other bits of wool, and eating cake. This may strike you as an odd way to spend a Sunday…

Wool against Weapons is an incredible protest project. The aim is to create a seven mile long pink scarf, as a protest against renewing Trident. The scarf will join the Women’s Peace Camp at Aldermaston and the other Atomic Weapons Establishment at Burghfield, Berkshire on August 9th 2014. It’s a wild thing to be doing.

As a Druid, I am very much pro-peace. I appreciate there are, however, counterarguments. Mostly they go ‘evil, terrorist nations will get nuclear weapons and if we have no means to defend ourselves, they will blow us off the face of the planet.’ It is a consideration. However, the UK is not a superpower. Maybe it’s time we accepted that we are not a world-dominating giant and started thinking more realistically about our place in the world. If we are bombed to hell, as an island, we’re dust. Yes, some guys in a submarine can exact revenge, but so would every other nation on the planet. America is a much bigger consideration for rogue governments than our couple of submarines ever will be.

In terms of weapons stockpiles internationally, we are all holding far more than can possibly be justified by the rogue nations argument. I’m very conscious that making and storing weapons is not a risk free activity. Weapons that exist can wind up in the wrong hands. Things can go wrong with them and accidents happen. When you are playing with weapons of mass destruction, small mistakes are very dangerous indeed. Humans, being flawed, fallible, sometimes deluded creatures, would do well to consider the implications. We could do with being a lot less arrogant, and a lot less willing to stash great supplies of methods for slaughter. The thing about nuclear, is that it reliably kills a lot of civilians. It is not a targeted response to rogue leadership, it is a means for mass slaughter. There are better ways to defend ourselves.

Replacing Trident is going to cost some 80 billion ponds. We can’t afford to take care of our poor and vulnerable (allegedly) we can’t afford to maintain our flood defences, and we’ve cut funding for the arts, for tree planting, for libraries and leisure centres. 80 billion pounds is a lot of money. I wonder at our priorities when we are happy to accept an epidemic of malnutrition, but we can afford to replace weapons that we probably wouldn’t ever use. They’re a deterrent, to use them would be to plunge the world into mutually assured destruction. They are a bluff. An 80billion pound bluff, while the number of homeless children rises. This is insane.

So I went along and sewed, and I shall have a go at making a segment as well.

http://www.woolagainstweapons.co.uk/ and https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wool-Against-Weapons/570747079617581?fref=ts for more.