The popular knitting and crochet website Ravelry says its 8 million members are welcome to garter, seed or purl stitch their way through thousands of online patterns — but if they want to cast on with any pro-Trump views, they need to do it somewhere else.
The website’s administrators announced Sunday that Ravelry is “banning support of Donald Trump and his administration” in any form, including “forum posts, projects, patterns, profiles” and anything else.
“We cannot provide a space that is inclusive of all and also allow support for open white supremacy. Support of the Trump administration is undeniably support for white supremacy,” Ravelry said in a statement.
Ravelry said its new policy is not an indication of support for one party over the other. It also said members are not allowed to entrap Trump admirers into political discourse on the site.
“Antagonizing conservative members for their unstated positions is not acceptable,” administrators warned.
They did not specify any aspects of the Trump administration’s policies that they regard as white supremacist.
Since Trump’s election, there has been a scattering of politically based patterns posted to the site — which in turn have sparked impassioned discussions in its forums. Perhaps the most popular of these is the pink “pussyhat” that became ubiquitous at women’s marches in 2017 and came to symbolize a feminist rallying cry against Trump for his remarks about women.
In another veer into explicitly political territory, one scarf pattern creates an illusion that makes it look like “innocuous stripes from the front, but says F*** TRUMP when viewed from an angle.”
There are also pro-Trump projects. A member called Deplorable Knitter has posted several hat and scarf patterns that echo the “Make America Great Again” slogan, along with “Build the Wall” and Trump 2020 images.
Reaction to the policy has been nearly as polarized as reactions to the president himself. Conservatives and Trump supporters have roundly criticized the changes, saying Ravelry’s administrators are biased and limiting free speech.
“This is equal to bakers who won’t bake a cake for a same sex marriage,” wrote one Twitter user who goes by Pamelapoppins. “Politicizing ravelry leaves a bad taste in my mouth.”
A Ravelry member named Debra took issue with being equated with a racist because she supports Trump.
“I support our president and the Trump administration and I am not a white supremacist nor do I support white supremacy,” she tweeted. “I am a conservative. How dare you call me [a supremacist].”
“I have used Ravelry for years but never again,” Debra added. “I am closing my account immediately!”
One woman, who said she is one of Ravelry’s many forum moderators, tweeted, “I can say that the emotional labor of defusing angry & ugly situations where casual hate & intolerance is directed at queer, non-Christian, or minority people is frakking exhausting.”
Author and knitter Clara Parkes called the shift a “watershed moment.” In a tweet about the controversy, she wrote, “I’ve been with them since 2007, and believe me, they do not take these steps lightly.”
Some see the move as one that could reverberate well outside the crafting sphere.
The new guidelines come as social media companies, including behemoths such as Facebook and YouTube, are grappling with how to deal with the use of their platforms by white supremacist groups to spread racist messages or misinformation across the Internet. The Ravelry team says it based its new policy on similar changes made by the role-playing game hub RPGnet last year.