Sunday, 3 June 2012

At the intersection of cross stitch and feminism

Here's some pics of my finished and in progress cross stitch pieces.

"Feminist rage is not a finite resource -- there is enough for all the doomed rebellions"
Inspired by a quote from Twisty at
I like this quote because it seems to be such an apt response to that ever present question -- "you think you have it bad?  What about Afghani women?"  I also enjoyed applying a very feminine skill to those very angry words "feminist rage," it seemed delightfully ironic.  I'm not sure what to do with it yet -- I made it with a scrap of fabric and it's not really an easy shape to use.

As I said under the picture, I was inspired by a quote I read over at iblamethepatriarchy.  I always used to be fairly ambivalent about radical feminism, but some recent stories of members of online radical feminist communities engaging in transphobic bullying, my ambivalent respect for their doctrinal purity has been replaced with a firm belief that the exclusive nature of their feminism does not represent any doctrine I can support.

The font chart I used is from here and I used a slightly fancier edging stitch than normal.  I found the instructions at stitch school, where it's called up and down button hole stitch

Here are another couple of pics which include the edges which are cut off in the frame above -- the pitfall of scanning images in rather than taking pictures is that what you gain in lighting and clarity is lost in the strictness of the A4 size of the image.

My other finished project is not explicitly feminist, but I chose to believe that subverting traditionally feminine forms of craft can be an implicitly feminist activity.
The pattern is not mine and can be purchased here
The Futhark is an ancient Norse alphabet.  It's a phonetic alphabet and was used by a variety of cultures for quite a significant period of time.  The name is the sounds of the first six letters (fehu, uruz, thurisaz, ansuz, radio and kenaz).  The third letter of the alphabet, thurisaz, was used in mediaeval English until the invention of the printing press, when it became cheaper to use separate "t"s and "h"s than the single letter thorn, as it was called during this time.

I decided to do this because I liked the idea of stitching something a little bit shocking.  In this I'm following the lead of Julie at subversive cross stitch.  I like how geometric the designs looked.  Counted embroidery and runes go quite well together, probably because things designed to be carved into rocks and bone have fewer of those pesky curves which are so difficult to stitch.

My current project is something I've talked about on here before: a cross stitched project of Kathleen Hanna, surrounded by her own words (alphabet chart here).  Here's a progress shot.

I'm so sorry if I'm alienating some of you, your whole #@%*ing culture alienates me

They call it climbing, we call it visibility! They call it coolness, we call it visibility! They call it way to rowdy, we call it finally free!

When she talks, I hear the revolution; in her hips, there's revolutions; when she walks, the revolution's coming; in her kiss, I taste the revolution! (in progress).

... More text to come.
Normally, I'm not massively fond of my own work, but something about this fascinates me.  I don't think I'll be able to give it away when I'm finished!

There's still got plenty more to be stitching round the edge, but I'm already thinking of making a companion piece.  The most famous image of Virginia Woolf is a black and white photo, which I would like to reproduce using backstitched letters instead of cross stitch.  My idea is to delineate the areas of her face and then use different coloured threads to backstitch the one large quote across the whole expanse, starting with her mouth for instance, and then the quote restarting in her eye.

My other option is to do something in the same manner as the Kathleen Hanna portrait -- cross stitch the face and then embroider the words around the outside.  I'm tempted because I really like how that looks to be turning out, but another part of me sees something really confrontingly true about Virginia Woolf drowning, almost, in her own words.  Confronting images in a ironically domestic setting is part of my modus operandi with this project, so that bears some looking into.

I would do it in blue or sepia tones, I think, but this is a while away yet -- I probably won't start until after exams.  I've still got to finalise the most important detail: which quote to use!  I'm a massive Woolf fan, so trawling through her vast body of work will be a pleasure, but choosing a difficult task.

That's all for now, but I will keep posting as I get more words out on the Kathleen Hanna portrait and get closer to finalising the plan for the Woolf portrait

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