Thousands of women knit pink pussy hats to wear at Trump protest marches

Celia McCarthy and Pamela McKinstry, co-owners of Piedmont Yarn in Oakland, show off the pussy hats they made. Their store will host a knit-in and will serve as a drop-off place to deliver hats to marchers in Washington D.C as well as the Bay Area. Photo: Celia McCarthy

Almost every day for the past few weeks Celia McCarthy has sat down to knit a pink hat. To be specific, a pink hat with ears, colloquially known as a “pussy hat.”

McCarthy has knit 12 pink hats so far, but only one is for her. The rest she plans to send to Washington D.C. where they will adorn the heads of some of the hundreds of thousands of women who are expected to march on Jan. 21, the day after Donald Trump is inaugurated as the nation’s 45th president.

McCarthy is not alone. Thousands of women around the United States (and a few from Thailand and Australia) are busy knitting pink hats for the Washington D.C. march. Some women are knitting the hats in the privacy of their own homes. Some have launched knitting circles. Others are going to yarn stores to knit with strangers with a common vision.

The idea, launched by two women in Los Angeles and the owner of their local yarn store, for the Pussyhat Project is a big “F … you” of sorts to Trump and the values he espouses. They are hoping that the 200,000 marchers all wear the pink hats and send a strong message of resistance.


“If everyone at the march wears a pink hat, the crowd will be a sea of pink, showing that we stand together, united,” the website of the Pussy Hat Project reads. “Pink is considered a very female color representing caring, compassion, and love – all qualities that have been derided as weak but are actually STRONG. Wearing pink together is a powerful statement that we are unapologetically feminine and we unapologetically stand for women’s rights.”

The shape of the hat, with its “pussy” cat ears, is also a play on the statement Trump made while filming an episode of Hollywood Access with its host Billy Bush. Trump and Bush were riding on a bus and did not realize they were being recorded. They started talking openly about groping and kissing women. Trump bragged that since he was a star he could do whatever he wanted to women. He could even “grab them by the pussy.” Bush was fired for his comments.

The reference to pussy was just one of many inappropriate comments Trump has made about women. During one of the three presidential debates, Trump referred to his opponent, Hillary Clinton, as a “nasty woman.” Since then, many women have embraced those words and used them to describe themselves as a way to refute Trump’s sexism.

“It’s wonderful to see younger women embrace the term pussy, the color pink, and the power of the handmade and take all of those pejorative terms that have been used to put us in our place and use them to form some sort of communal power,” said McCarthy, who lives in Berkeley and is the co-owner of Piedmont Yarn in Oakland.

The Pussyhat Project’s genesis came a few days after the election. Krista Suh, 29, a screenwriter who lives in Los Angeles, had campaigned for Clinton in Ohio. She and a friend, Jayna Zweiman, 38, an architect, were devastated by Clinton’s unexpected loss and were spending time at their local yarn store, The Little Knittery, to knit and process the impact of Trump’s election.


Suh had decided to attend the Jan. 21 march and realized that it would be cold. She thought about making a hat, and then, in discussions with Zweiman, realized that having women all wear the same hat could be a powerful statement. Kat Coyle, the owner of the store and the two women’s knitting mentor, came up with a design simple enough for beginners. Suh and Zweiman got up the website the day before Thanksgiving and began advertising the project on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter with the hashtag #pussyhat.

Since then thousands of women have posted pictures of the hats they have knit. While it is impossible to know exactly how many people are participating in the project, Suh thinks there are between 30,000 to 100,000 pussy hats already made. Around 60,000 people have looked at that pattern posted on the website, with more looking at the website. There have been thousands of tweets and more than 2,000 Instagram photos. One woman wrote on Instagram about a 99-year-old who was knitting hats for marchers. A Pennsylvania woman has made close to 100 pussy hats and is selling them for $15 on Etsy.

“We are definitely making a dent,” said Zweiman. “We know we have thousands and thousands but we don’t know how many thousands.”

A map of places where knitters are making pussyhats. Photo: Pussyhat Project

One reason the hat project has taken off is because the hats can be made in just a few hours, which makes it easy for people to knit multiples to give away. It is really just a rectangle that “forms” ears once placed on a round head. Novices and others can watch a how-to video on the Pussyhat Project website. Knitters with experience are customizing their hats with stripes, pom poms, and other things. All work, said Suh, has long as the hats are pink.

Those who cannot attend the march in Washington are invited to make hats for others. There is even a downloadable tag on the website where a maker can introduce herself and comment on which issues concern her, said Suh. The idea is to connect women around the country, she said.


If knitters send the hats to a Virginia mailing address before Jan. 14, they are guaranteed to make it onto the head of a marcher, said Suh.

“You don’t have to take a public speaking class to be political,” said Suh. “You can use your knitting needles and the skills your grandmother taught you and be equally impactful.”

McCarthy first heard about the pussy hats on Plaid Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, when a customer mentioned the project. The idea struck McCarthy, who had previously made up small pins that read “Nasty,” as a way to funnel her anger about Trump’s election. Many of her customers are also making pussy hats, either for themselves or others.

Piedmont Yarn will host an event at the store on Jan. 8 from noon to 4 p.m. to help women knit their own pussy hats. They will get hats to the Washington D.C. march if they are dropped off by Jan. 15. Hats dropped off later than that will go to someone marching in Oakland. Piedmont Yarn will be hosting a contingent in the Oakland march.

Carolyn Weil in one of her pussyhats. Photo: Courtesy Carolyn Weil

Dozens of knitting stores around the country are also holding knit-ins or acting as central collection spaces for the pink hats. Ciara Zanze, who bought the 45-year old Rumpelstiltskin knitting store in Sacramento six months ago, has offered her store as a place for knitters to drop off completed hats. She is hoping to connect with a knitting circle in Davis to take the hats.


Carolyn Weil of Berkeley has made three pussy hats so far and she intends to keep knitting them until she heads to D.C. in late January. She will march with her daughter and stepdaughter, her stepdaughter’s mother and mother-in-law, and a family from New Hampshire with three generations of women, including a toddler.

“It tickles me to no end,” said Weil. “It’s a real direct protest.”

Learn more about the project.
See photos of various pussyhats
Watch a how-to video.

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