Ok, so yesterday I had the most exciting train ride of my entire life.
Quite a long time ago, Jamie Chalmers (AKA Mr X Stitch) sent me an email telling me they were re-realeasing The Subversive Stitch. Awesome news! The seminal book on embroidery + feminism, once again on shelves! No longer will it cost £60 to buy (due to its rarity), affordable once more- and us impoverished students can actually own our own copy!
So then last week my Mother came to visit me in London. We did a day of culture- went to see the Chris Ofili at the Tate Britain (My mother was bowled away) and then the quilting exhibition at the V&A (I was bowled away) and then in the gift shop I spied it- The Subversive Stitch! Piles of them. I instantly began cradling one, squealing a bit – then I had to explain myself to various bemused looking strangers, then a bemused looking Mother too. She likes to spoil me, so she bought it for me- and how grateful I was!
I hid it from myself for a week. I’ve had too much work to do. However yesterday’s train ride? I decided I was allowed. The book was first released in 1984, and so it has been updated for this release. An introduction sets the scene, explaining how the world of Embroidery has changed since the release, and most importantly- its current state. And here’s where the excitement sets in. I was reading it happily, as much as I would enjoy a normal article on Embroidery, when suddenly the name ‘Jamie Chalmers’ appears. Hold on. Jamie Chalmers as in… Mr X Stitch? Jamie Chalmers as in the man who owns a piece of my stitchery, who embroidered me a calendar, who I was sitting in Euston having pints with the other week? In my excitement, I texted Jamie with haste “YOU’RE NAMED AND QUOTED IN THE SUBVERSIVE STITCH?! So fucking jealous! And proud to know you, obv.”
Calm down a little. Read on, with a grin.
“The London Craftivist Collective was formed by Sarah Corbett in 2009.”
Sarah Corbett, my friend? The London Craftivist Collective, my craft group? No way, no way! I’d spent the past two years being told by any tutor I talked to about my work for longer than two minutes, that I really oughta read The Subversive Stitch, and now my craft group is in it? This was insane. The CC got excited enough when we got a mention in The Observer… And now we’re in a seminal book in Textile Art history? At this point I realised I was actually saying out loud “Woah-ho-ho! Oh my god! OH MY GOD. fuck fuck fuck”
I rang Sarah immediately. She’d not heard about it, she’d not heard of the book either- thought I was talking about Subersive Cross Stitch- I tried my hardest to contain myself long enough to be able to explain what a big deal this was. Phone down. It’s ringing. It’s Jamie. I read out his quote to him- he’s excited too. “It’s mad to think I’m named in a book alongside Tracey Emin” Exactly, Mr X, exactly!
After the phone calls had stopped, and then the realisation that I had to sit on this train that I’d just made a hell of a lot of noise in for another 15 minutes kicked in, I just sat looking out of the window and thinking. Suddenly, it seemed like the choices I’ve made in my life have been the right ones. When my friends, and fellow contemporaries who respect me as much as I respect them, get their names into such go-to essays, it really shows me that I must have chosen the right path, or at least have travelled down it well. It wasn’t long ago that I didn’t have a clue what I wanted from life, and honestly believed I didn’t have a talent in the world. Swelling with pride, I’ll admit- I shed a little tear. I am pleased to be part of such an exciting world.
What a brilliant end to a brilliant week.
See, I’ve a smile on my face: