Why I’m Proud to Celebrate Pride.
There are two reasons why June is my favourite month – summer sun and Pride. A whole month when the world turns into a rainbow, there's a spring in my step and I can hold my head just that little bit higher. Pride is a celebration of all things LGBTQ+, appreciating your most authentic self and expressing who you are. And, alongside being a celebration, Pride is also a protest. It’s about standing up for who you are and for the community that loves and accepts you, while at the same time highlighting how much further we still have to go. I, for one, could not be happier to be a part of it.
I am beyond proud to be a member of the LGBTQ+ community, but it was a long road to reach that point. The things that helped me get there were my wonderful partner Callen and knitting. I first took up the craft almost three years ago and, once I started, there was no turning back. I had found this world full of fantastic colours, amazing designs and the most wonderful people being 100 percent themselves. It gave me the confidence to do the same and, most importantly, I felt like I belonged and could express myself in whichever way I chose to. Even if that means only knitting in red, blue or grey!
There are a whole host of amazing LGBTQ+ designers doing what they do best – expressing themselves and their individuality. Here are just a few who have inspired me over the years:
I have long admired ash’s designs. Their use of pattern and texture creates stunning garments, which are both practical to wear and visually exciting. My queue is filled with their designs at the moment, and there’s simply not enough time to get through them all. ash is also a natural hand dyer, creating beautiful yarns through natural, sustainable methods.
Pattern recommendation: Sweet Pea
As well as being a knitter and knitwear designer, Max is also an illustrator for children’s books. Using his illustration background he creates pattern designs that are simply constructed, yet interesting and graphic. Perfect for those looking for a fun yet sophisticated design with high impact. I've been lucky enough to test knit for Max on several occasions and his patterns are a dream to work from. Clear and concise with stunning results.
Pattern Recommendation: Hide and Peak Sweater
Of course, you can't mention Max without Vincent. Vincent started out his knitting career as a designer, with beautifully designed patterns that are sophisticated and easy to wear. I was lucky enough to meet him (and Max) when they both came to AYS for a workshop a few years ago. Vincent had just started to dye his own yarn and the colourways he had put together were just awesome. Rich, moody shades perfect for so many projects! The range has continued to grow ever since. Rumour has it there is a range of Vincent's yarn at A Yarn Story…
Pattern recommendation: The Beauceron
Yarn recommendation: Twist DK is my favourite at the moment, and it has to be Lyra's Hat for a colour choice
When I first started knitting, I was instantly captivated by Stephen's bold use of colour and striking designs. They are fun and exciting, and the combinations he puts together are daring. Above all, in a world where we are often told we must conform to certain ideals, Stephen is unapologetically himself and I just love that. His amazing yarn photography and amusing videos make following him even more joyous.
Pattern recommendation: Woven Chevrons
These are but a few of my favourite LGBTQ+ designers at the moment. There are countless more and there’s just not enough time or space to list them all. But this Pride month please go and support an LGBTQ+ designer or dyer. You could purchase one or two patterns or a skein of yarn, it makes a huge difference to independent makers. You could even start with just a follow on their Instagram.
While Pride is a celebration, at its heart it is – and always will be – a protest. Pride does not stop on June 30th, and every day it is needed more and more. The questions I often get asked are: ‘Do we still need Pride?’ or ‘Why is Pride important?’ My response is usually: ‘There are still around 69 countries in the world where homosexuality is illegal and countless more where LGBTQ+ rights barely exist.’
So, yes, there is still a long way to go.
Love is love.
This Pride month A Yarn Story will be donating £500 to Mermaids. A charity which supports transgender, non-binary and gender-diverse children, young people, and their families.