As far back as the 1960s in Britain, when anti-nuclear protesters - mainly women - set up a peace camp at Greenham Common, they turned an air force fence into a work of art with their knitting and material crafts. In fact, knitting’s association with political dissent goes back hundreds of years - to the grim days of the the French revolution. Women known as les tricoteuses (knitting women) famously sat by the guillotine in Paris during the “reign of terror” - and were later immortalised by Charles Dickens in the sinister character of Madame Defarge in A Tale of Two Cities. They would watch the executions calmly - knitting the symbolic red “liberty cap” between deaths, according to some stories. Those bonnets rouges are a symbol still worn by the figure of Marianne, the embodiment of France. The United States adopted that patriotic-yet-productive spirit during its own revolution, when women knitted clothing for soldiers during the war of independence - a wartime tradition that continued into the twentieth century.
— “Pussyhat’ knitters join long tradition of crafty activism’, BBC