Footnotes on Needlework
Want to dive further into this month’s theme? We’ve compiled a list of resources to inspire your next needlework project, from visible mending to a documentary on Craftivism.
1. Essential reading on needlework is Rozsika Parker’s The Subversive Stitch: Embroidery and the Making of the Feminine. This book illustrates how embroidery has become associated with women, despite being practiced by both genders since the Medieval period. Recently, Joseph McBrinn has published a book that explores the history of men’s needlework in further detail. Queering the Subversive Stitch: Men and the Culture of Needlework draws upon examples of men’s needlework and depictions of the male needleworker, an important step towards subverting the notion that needlework is solely ‘women’s work’.
2. Inspired by our review of the Fries Museum’s Haute Bordure exhibition to start an embroidery project of your own? The Crafts Council Nederland and the Fries Museum have organised a series of events related to the exhibition. Next up is a masterclass in Chinese Embroidery Techniques and a workshop on Free Embroidery with Lily Odette. You can also purchase recordings of their online lectures on Middle Eastern Embroidery and Traditional Regional Costumes from Southwest China from the Craft Council’s website.
3. A documentary available to watch on BBC iPlayer (UK), highlights the various ways activists are using needlework to make difference. Craftivism: Making a Difference covers the craftivist movement, from the women making pussyhats to wear to the Women’s March and protest Donald Trump's inauguration, to the Hombres Tejedores, an all-male knitting group in Chile, who use knitting as a form of protest and to deconstruct gender norms.
4. Needlework isn’t only about making something new, it can also be about mending or repurposing the old – and in some cases it doesn’t even involve using needles or thread! Knitwear designer Olivia Rubens teaches you how to make yarn from an old t-shirt, use your fingers to knit, and fill those holes in your jumper in this video for Fashion Revolution.
5. Finally, on the topic of mending, this article in the New York Times introduces the concept of ‘visible mending’. A creative and more sustainable alternative to throwing away damaged clothing, visible mending can begin as simply as sewing a button back on. Here’s 5 easy stitch fixes to get you started.
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