Tag Archives: needlework

These Ain’t Your Granny’s Stitches

Dale Spender feminism quote in needlework by Rosa Martyn (of My Little Stitches) isn’t the only feminist needlework out there, but it’s a great example of something — a cause, a philosophy, a book — inspiring you into picking up a needle and thread. In this case, Martyn did her cross stitch on the back of a cotton jacket.

Motivated? Good!

See more of the modern and radical needlework out there by keeping up with the Craftivist Collective.

See Also: Sew, Whatever Happened To Learning How To Use Needle & Thread.

Stitches In (My) Time

My mother, as she will tell you, is neither a very artsy person nor a very domesticated woman. While she is a rather gifted decorator, with an eye for beauty, detail, & quality — and a pocketbook which supports the artsy along with the arts, she doesn’t make things (other than reservations!). The result is that she didn’t teach me to sew or anything like that, and she was always rather fascinated by my continued purchase and completion of craft kits. As a kid, I taught myself to sew.

There was an older woman in our family who could have taught me, or at least nurtured me and and encouraged my interest; but she didn’t. (I’ll not name her, nor the relationship to me; so as not to hurt others and because the specifics of who she was does not matter as much as what she did or didn’t do.)

When I spotted this woman’s jar full of buttons, I was allowed to examine them. I fell in love with some adorable vintage lamb buttons (like these, except the ones I loved were made of white plastic). When she wouldn’t even broker the idea of giving me one, I decided I had to earn those coveted figural buttons. So I decided to teach myself to sew.

I began with what I thought would be a simple beginner’s project, using an iron-on transfer to place the blue outlines of a cheery juvenile bunny rabbit onto a piece of scrap muslin (both from a garage sale), and earnestly began making my first stitches.

After completing most of Mr. Bunny Rabbit’s head, I — in that shy sense of accomplishment of a beginner — presented my first wobbly stitches to this woman. I receive not one word of praise, even for taking up such an activity; instead she told me my stitches were uneven, clumsy, and generally poor.

They were uneven, clumsy, and generally poor — I was a child teaching herself needlework.

Had her appraisal included any sort of constructive tips in terms of just how to improve my stitches, I might not have been so devastated.

But I didn’t give up. I just didn’t show her, or anyone else, what I was working on. In my mind, I thought if I could improve, if I could make something worthy of showing, that one day I’d earn her respect — and those cute figural lamb buttons.

But I never did.

I never felt skilled enough to show that woman what I made, needlework or otherwise.

Years passed. I continued to make things. But, full of that woman’s scorn for my work, feeling that my skills were so poor that I’d never be worth mention let alone any investment in time, supplies or support, I just “piddled about” with projects on my own. My parents knew what I did, simply because good parents know what their children are up to, be it reading, crafting, or whatnot.

So when this woman got too old to use any of her sewing machines, my parents asked if I could have one. That woman refused; like the jar full of old buttons, the sewing machines just vanished from her house — and my life. But not my memory.

Instead of giving me the gifts of her time and counsel, of nurturing me and my skills, this woman left me with a very poor opinion of my work. I made less things, tried less projects, and, certain what I was making was crap, I obviously wasn’t going to let my peers see the fruits of my “piddling about.” By the time high school ended, so had my crafting efforts. I put them on hold for that “someday” when I’d have my own apartment and could piddle in private.

The story of that path or a promised “someday” is another story. But today’s point is that children and beginners need to be encouraged to create things. No matter how uneven, clumsy, and poor their initial (and subsequent) works may be.

Needlework is especially worth encouraging — not only as a nearly lost art, but as a practical life skill; the number of persons who cannot even replace a button or repair a separating seam is astonishing.

To help foster a young child’s interest in ans mastery of needlework, check out Easy Hand Sewing for Kids. Heck, if you don’t consider yourself a child but your stitches are childish, check out that article (and the slew of resources within it). It’s never too late to learn.

And, as far as I can see, it’s never too late to give an old lady her comeuppance.

Image Credits:

Vintage animal buttons via Prestige-Enterprises.

Vintage iron-on transfer of baby animals via Blondies-Spot.

Whimsical Postcards Featuring Prints Of Original Felt Projects

Just think, you could keep the glow of fireflies in a jar forever with these adorable postcards and note card sets (with envelopes) featuring the latest felt and needlework designs by Melissa Crowe of Checkout Girl.

Image copyright Melissa Crowe of LittlePinkHouse.

Celebrating & Collecting The Art Of Bookmarks

Bookmarks are a great way to try on art. And I’m not just saying that because I’m one of the presenters at the first Bookmark Collectors Virtual Convention, either.

Bookmarks come in so many styles and are made of so many materials, you can enjoy and experiment with form & function ideas and concepts in your own mind without feeling the pain you would at some gallery reception. But even if such interior dialogs aren’t of any interest to you, bookmarks are a great way to inexpensively try types of art.

Simple bookmarks with reproductions of the masters and/or famous artists are cheaper (and take up less space) than posters — so it’s a grand way to make inexpensive mistakes. Maybe you find yourself drawn to the vivid oranges in a mod artwork, but after a week of seeing it, you find yourself feeling it reminds you more of a fast food restaurant. If so, you can just stick it in a drawer, doodle on it, or give the darn thing away. Or, you could start collecting them. *wink*

For those with modest or even tiny art budgets, collecting bookmarks may not only be the way to get your hands on copies of works by famous artists, but original artwork as well. And they aren’t only the little paper-slip or folded varieties either.

Made of metal, fabric, plastic, cord, wood, scrimshaw, and more, there are many craftsmen, indie and unknown artists making bookmarks.

Maybe you’ll even be inspired to make some.

If so, Jen Funk Weber, owner of needlework design company Funk & Weber Designs and founder of Needle and ThREAD: Stitching for Literacy program, is hosting the The Making of an Embroidered Bookmark and the Stitching for Literacy Program session at the conference.

The first annual Bookmark Collectors Virtual Convention, an online event celebrating all things “bookmark,” will be held on February 20th and 21st, 2010. Registration is just$10 for all the sessions, forums, and trade show & gallery goodies.

To entice you to consider attending the event, and collecting bookmarks, I’ve enlisted the help of our very own Laura Brown, founder of Doodle Week. We’re offering five Bookmark Collectors Virtual Conference Commemorative Collector Bookmarks for the first five folks (from the US or Canada) who mention “The Ungulate” in their registration for the event.

Only 12 of these commemorative bookmarks will be made (five to be given away here, five my antiques and vintage collectibles site, one for the artist, and, ever the collector, one for myself), so it’s truly a limited edition. A great addition to — or way to start — your bookmark collection.

I hope you’ll consider participating in the conference; if so, I’ll “see” you there! If not, at least consider the possibilities of art bookmarks.

Image Credits:

One of six The Wedding Of The Mouse bookmarks by Japanese illustrator Gustav Klim, via Mirage’s Bookmark Exhibition.

Metal bookmark by CL Designs.

Wooden bookmarks by TRwoodworks.

I’m Going To Need More Books doodle commemorating the bookmark convention by Laura Brown.