Old Maiden Aunt Yarns

Studio 30. Ritchie Street. West Kilbride. KA23 9AL. Scotland. info@oldmaidenaunt.com

to russia, with love

it’s nearly time for the Ravellenic Games again, when knitters all over Ravelry challenge themselves to complete an entire project during the Olympic Games.  as in previous games, Team Old Maiden Aunt will be competing, & making lovely things from OMA yarns!


this time around, however, i had a bit of a dilemma.  i’ve always loved the challenge of the Games, and the fun of sharing projects & encouraging each other.  but as many of you will already know, the current political situation in Russia with regards to the recent anti-LGBT laws has created a lot of controversy surrounding the Sochi Winter Olympics.  i had initially planned to boycott the Olympics, and the Ravellenic Games, but wasn’t completely sure that that was the best way to express what i was feeling.


principle 6 of the official Olympic Charter states, “Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.”  under this principle, it’s hard to understand why the Games are even being held in Russia, whose recent laws ban “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations to minors.” it’s now illegal to hold any gay pride events, speak in defense of gay rights, or say that gay relationships are equal to heterosexual relationships. critics say that the statute is written so broadly that it is in effect a complete ban on the gay rights movement and any public expression of homosexuality. russian activists have also reported a huge increase in violent homophobic attacks.


i don’t make a habit of lecturing folk about politics, or forcing my views on anyone, but everyone who knows me (either in “real life” or here online) is probably already aware of my beliefs, as i certainly don’t make a habit of hiding them either! as a member of the LGBT community, i’ve experienced discrimination and hatred firsthand, and try my best to actively work for equality. and as a queer business owner, i feel like my business & associated activities should also reflect my personal and political beliefs. i thought long & hard about even bringing this up, as i definitely don’t want to discourage anyone from participating in the Ravellenics, or ruin the experience for you. it’s always so much fun, and i’m really happy that my customers want to participate and compete for Team OMA!! but i also felt that by not saying anything, i was rather letting myself down.


so, here’s what i’d like to propose for Team OMA – for every team member who successfully completes their Team OMA Ravellenic Games project, i’ll personally donate a minimum of £5 to Stonewall UK, an organisation who works towards LGBT equality both within the UK and internationally. i may end up being able to donate even more per person, depending on how many/few of you complete your projects!!


i’ve also created “nothing to hide” (kermit the frog fans should recognise the reference!), a rainbow-hued sock yarn that i’ll be dyeing from now until the official start of the Games in february.


merino sock nothing to hide 3


because of the dyeing technique, every skein is different, so instead of dyelot batches each skein will be individually numbered.  i’ll be dyeing this colourway on the merino sock yarn base only, and adding it to the web shop in batches as it becomes available.  since dyeing this colourway is a lot more work than my normal dyeing process, and because i’d like to raise even more money, i’m going to be selling them for £15 per skein (instead of the normal £12 per skein), with £5 of each skein sold going straight to Stonewall UK.


so please join in the Games – compete for Team OMA, knit lots of fabulous stuff (rainbow-ed or not!), medal in all your events, and make me poor!!!

16 Responses so far.

  1. Heather says:

    Well said! I hope the Winter Games will help to change Russian policy.
    I’ll be buying a skein and knitting it up for Ravellenic’s, its gorgeous! H x

  2. Roro says:

    This is a great idea!! The yarn is gorgeous. I too am so furious about the Sochi Games – I love the Olympics (and have to follow them for my job) and have been so torn about what to do about it.

  3. Lorna says:

    Well said indeed. The situation in Russia is truly horrible, and I really do hope that the Winter Games might help do something to change attitudes there. I’m not sure I’ll be able to take part in the Ravellenics (I’m about to have a baby, which ruins your knitting time) but I’ll be buying a skein of yarn and making a donation myself.

  4. Rosesred says:

    Completely agree with the sentiment and fabulous yarn!

  5. Lia says:

    Ever since learning of that horrible law that was passed in Russia, I have felt torn. How do I support the work of all Olympians but denounce repression and violence? I have admired the stance and courage of everyday citizens who have stood up, but It is far too late to move the games back to Vancouver, which the IOC should have done. I ,will follow your lead and support the Olympians, organizations like Amnesty and Stonewall UK. Thank you for your honesty and help.

  6. Mousy Brown says:

    Great Post! I’m buying a skein even though I’m not taking part in the games just because I feel really strongly about what you have said…I work with teenagers who experience discrimination and bullying, confusion and disgust and we live somewhere where supposedly being LGBT is fine…I can only imagine how much harder it must be somewhere where it is now illegal…

  7. Julie says:

    I love the idea and the colourway. I cannot legally marry my partner in my home state of Alabama, but I will knit us both a pair of socks that we can wear with pride.

  8. Jo says:

    Just received my skein today and it’s absolutely beautiful. I wanted to thank you for it, and to say that I totally admire and support your stand.

  9. Schuie says:

    Although you don’ t like to bring politics to your knitting/yarn forums, I’m grateful for your comments. I knew of the controversy,but not of the extent of the oppression! Once my big paycheck (ha, ha) is deposited I’ll be joining Team OMA!

  10. Claire says:

    Yay! Managed to get a skein of this. What you’ve done is wonderful.

  11. […] of the dyer-in-chief, Lilith, comes across clearly in her blog. It was there that I read her post to russia, with love which deals with her dilemma over participating in Olympic knitting-related activities (the […]

  12. Claire says:

    Thanks Lilith. I’d been ambivalent about the Winter Olympics and Ravellenics myself for the same reasons, and wasn’t quite sure where to go with it – until I heard about this blog post on A Playful Day. Have just made a donation to Stonewall myself.

  13. […] I am not going to dwell on the political aspects of the Winter Olimpics in Russia, as others have written far more eloquently than I could ( old maiden aunt) […]

  14. […] like is the reason for creating the yarn. Please read Old Maiden Aunt’s blog post about it here; it just about sums up my feelings about the Winter Olympics – I love watching the games but […]

  15. […] Lilith, the indie dyer behind Old Maiden Aunt wrote this excellent blog post, discussing why this issue is so important and giving some insight into her stance in relation to the Ravellenics. She also dyed some amazing yarn, although that has now unfortunately sold out. […]

  16. […] join or not. There is a significant amount of controversy behind the actual games this year. This post from the Old Maiden Aunt blog and this post on Ravelry (you’ll need to be logged in to see […]

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