For this blog, I decided to interview Arkansas State Senator Sue Madison of Fayetteville. As a long time acquaintance, I’ve seen Senator Madison knitting or crocheting on multiple occasions. A little background on the Senator, she is a real estate investor originally from South Arkansas who received her Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Louisiana State University. She has two children and a few grandchildren. She comes from a Presbyterian background and is very active in her community. She serves on the Legislative Budget Committee and on the Senate Committee for Arkansas Girls State. She is a Democrat and a very progressive advocate of both education and environment. Recently, she sponsored the first bill making animal cruelty a felony in Arkansas. She is a civil servant to the state and is still pushing for the Equal Rights Amendment to be ratified by the Arkansas Legislator. Below is the dialogue of my recent interview with Senator Sue Madison.
Sara: So I remember you saying that you learned to crochet in elementary school at recess because the teacher would not allow girls to do physical activity, so when did you learn to knit?
Senator Madison: I learned to knit in high school. My first knitting project were black socks for my father because he could not wear socks with elastic and wanted to hire someone to knit socks for him. I told him I could do it, went to the library to check out a book on how do knit, and did it! My next knitting project was a sweater I knit for myself, it took so long! By the time I was done with it, it looked so hideous that I ended up taking it apart after the first time I wore it and re-knit it into a new sweater.
|Senator Madison (sorry I do not have any pictures of her knitting)|
Sara: So what other projects have you knitted?
Senator Madison: I knit mole hair sweaters for my sister and mother as well. Then when I was studying abroad during college in Scotland, my roommate and I were knitting sweaters for our boyfriends, but by the time she got back, her boyfriend had broken up with her. I also have knitted baby blankets for my children, my sister’s children, and my grandchildren.
Sara: So which do you enjoy more, knitting or crochet?
Senator Madison: I find knitting is easier and faster for me. Crochet is more difficult and slower. I sometimes pack my knitting to work on when driving between Fayetteville and the Capital so I can knit if I get stuck in traffic. I started knitting in the Budget Committee meetings at the Capital because they were just so boring, and Senator Bisbee told me “You better not let the press see you knitting!”
Sara: Oh wow, so what are some of the more unusual places you’ve been caught knitting?
Senator Madison: Well, when I go to the football games, I knit while tailgating and sometimes skip the games and knit by the tailgate and watch the stuff. I was so relieved I could just tailgate and not have to go to the games. I knit at the Capital, but not when in the Senate Chambers. No one has ever given me any problems about it, they are often curious as to what I’m knitting. I’ve been working on socks for my husband, son, and son in law lately from a pattern off of youtube. I’ve found many a good videos for knitting on the internet that would have made it so much easier for me learning to knit. It is easier to knit and focus on other things, so I knit most often instead of crochet.
|Senator Madison with|
Razorback Coach Bobby Petrino
Sara: What is your favorite knitted project?
Senator Madison: I just hate coats because they are so bulky around the arms, so I knitted a shawl for myself in the winter that I get so many compliments on!
Sara: So, with all your political actions, have you taken part in any craftivism?
Senator Madison: No I haven’t. But I think it is important to know these skills or everything we have will be imported from China or Indonesia. I find these skills very essential and hate to see them disappearing. These skills have been around so long that I would hate for people to distance themselves from their objects. Shepherd’s used to knit while minding their sheep and with the technology today, it is easier to learn so there is no excuse.
|Senator Madison with former President Clinton|
Sara: Do you think there are any gendered stereotypes to handcrafting?
Senator Madison: No, matter of fact men have made some of the best patterns online and like I mentioned, shepherd knitted while tending their flock. Women just happen to be seen more often knitting then men.
Sara: Well, thank you for your time. I appreciate it and happy knitting!
|Senator Madison with her daughter and Attorney General McDaniels|
(For full notes and recordings from the interview contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org)