Archive for April, 2010

Strange little world

April 30, 2010

So, some months back I did a little embroidery for a special project that I shall keep secret for now. But you can see the embroidery I did for it!


Two little cotton bulls on red silk. They are done with long and short stitch, which took forever but were received ever so well and I’m rather proud of them. I shalln’t lie. The person who I stitched them for, when she saw the first one said “I can’t believe this is by hand!” To which my tutor replied “They weren’t, it was a machine” HO HO HO JOKES! Unfortunately the woman in receipt simply assumed this was the truth, and was then excited by the fact they made machines that did embroidery like that. I gather that over lunch with him, she asked him what machine it was I’d used – at which point he had to admit his joke had failed and in fact it was a labour of love, with my hands.

Boasting over. Detail shot.


All this took place in January, I think. It was certainly over by March, anyhow.

A couple of days back, and we’re now at the end of April, I went down to the RSN studios to find some tapestry wool, for a canvas design I’ve been working on, in the shape of a bulls head. The head of the studios saw this, and excitedly told me she’d found something in a box recently that I’d like. “Because I know you like bulls an’ that.”

Holy fuck. Spot the difference, anyone? Apparently this was done in the 80s, or something.

So, obvious things first:
It’s a bull.
It’s (mostly) in black.
It’s on red.
It’s stance is extremely similar.

Less obvious things:
The stitch is exactly the same one I used.
The amount of strands in the needle, the same.
The direction of the stitches are the same.
The length of the stitches are the same.

My tutor was in stitches when I showed her, we sat giggling at it for a good few minutes not quite sure what to say. Why on earth had I chosen to do the exact same thing all these years later? It must be something in the water in these parts.

It was pretty good for me to find- it totally confirmed to me that this obsession with bulls I’ve developed recently has been a good one to get. I started stitching the bulls when I realised my history was peppered with them. Reappearing and reappearing time and time again. And now it seems my future will be that way too.


Why? What’s your problem?

April 23, 2010

Ok, so I’ve been going cross stitch pattern mad recently. There’s an explanation for that! It’s school work, innit. I explained the unit a bit here and here, but yesterday we handed in our work and I can say I’m finished! Well, sort of. I’ve still got to actually get the pattern in a position for selling it (and I will be! zomg! you can buy something I made!) BUT, here is what you can make:


The kit will be for a sampler only, but will have instructions on how to apply it to things like jackets/tea towels/pillowcases… you get the picture.

A close up!

The quote is by Dale Spender, from her book ‘For the Record: The Making & Meaning of Feminist Knowledge
It ends with:

“If someone says ‘Oh, I’m not a Feminist.’ I ask ‘Why? What’s your problem?’

I was very excited to make my first ever sampler (ish thingy) and I hope you like it too. Did I do good? Did I? Did I?

Edit, just found this:

I’m just mad about voting

April 12, 2010


I love it. I’m really fortunate to live in a democracy and my god, I will exercise that right and come May 6th, I will be down at the polling station bright and early to cast my vote with pride.

I get really upset when people don’t vote, and are entirely apathetical about the whole thing. There are people in certain parts of the world, who at the expense of having a voice, lose limbs or worse. All we have to do is walk down to a local polling station maybe three times a year, and many of us still don’t. Why is that?

When women don’t vote I get even sadder. It’s hardly a secret that suffragettes had to fight and fight and fight for women to get the chance to vote, and not that long ago either- not even one hundred years back. They chained themselves to fences, they starved themselves (and then got force fed), they were imprisoned and even died for the vote- famously Emily Davison threw herself infront of the Kings Horse at Epsom races for it. And what of it now? It seems women hardly care. You owe it to your mothers, your grandmothers and all your sisters to say ‘Thankyou!’ to those women and cast your vote.

The last time The Craftivist Collective met to discuss future plans, we decided we should focus on this voting apathy. One of the ways we were going to tackle it, in time for May 6th, was to create cross stitch patterns with voting as the topic. That was of course my job! And here is what I created:


For better resolution views, please go to Craftivist Collective’s flickr.

And so, on May 6th, please go vote. If you want some help on who to vote for, then this week all the parties manifestos are coming out. Furthermore, this website is good to tell you how your views align with the big guys,

Every Heart

April 9, 2010

Rayna over at Radical Cross Stitch asked me to stitch up one of her (then unreleased) patterns to check how it went. I of course said yes immediately! A privilege!


It took me quite a while, I kept running out of red thread (and believe it or not, it’s hard to find any embroidery thread in my area of the world. Yes, I know, I go to embroidery school… Still. Tricky!) and I ended up finishing it at a Patti Smith book shop whilst she played Because The Night. That’s about as cool as I get.

You can now buy the pattern at Radical Rags etsy! And believe me, you wanna buy it. Sure you do.

A little nothing goes a long, long way.

April 4, 2010

sophie is pretty

A friend asked me to embroider some words onto some clothes for her. When the request was made, back in November, she had no idea what she wanted. We slowly wittled it down to “Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens” (Talking Heads lyrics ftw!) and a super little vintage stripey vest.

I made a cross stitch pattern for it, using Stitch Point.

A link to a bigger image

Sophie said she wanted the entirely lowercase one. And so, on it went!


When I was taking it to her, I was busy reading God Bless You, Mr Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut on the train. I was excited to find an extract of Mr Rosewater’s book, describing heaven. And how does he describe it? As a place where nothing ever happens. “Heaven is such a null… A LITTLE NOTHING, O GOD, GOES A LONG LONG WAY.”


Friends in high places

April 3, 2010

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.

Turn page.


“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:

I used to like pigs.

April 1, 2010

So, this time last year I was obsessed with Pigs. It’s now bulls, but I fancy revisiting the past.

Why did I like pigs?
Firstly: What’s not to love? They’re all cute and snorty and big and ugly and hairy and covered in mud and wonderful. And tasty, let’s not forget that.
Secondly: Because I was doing a project based around ‘You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear’ and I let it consume me. I enjoyed it consuming me. During this project, I not only took nice photographs:


(And yes, I could see piggy brains)

But I also discovered a verse from the bible that I swiftly adapted into a motto I have since lived by. And now, it is a cross stitch pattern which I wish to gift to you all, for so patiently waiting for me to update my blog (I know, I’ve been gone a while.)


And now, when I do something that I am proud of that goes unappreciated- or worse, scorned, I simply remember it is pearls before swine.

Popular Culture references to this include:
In Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Milly finds solace in her bible when the Seven Brothers are being arses to her. She then returns to the dining room and throws the table over and fucks some shit up. Go Milly.

Kurt Vonnegut’s 1965 novel ‘God Bless you, Mr Rosewater’, the extended title is ‘God Bless you, Mr Rosewater or Pearls Before Swine’. In it, Eliot Rosewater exchanges his rich, decadent lifestyle, to live in an old dentist’s office, and becomes a 24/7 agony aunt for the people of Rosewater town, who need and love him. His family think he has gone insane and cannot comprehend that such a selfless life can be lived sanely. It’s pretty good, you oughta read it. “If you would be unloved and forgotten, be reasonable.”

Talk to you soon, I promise.

Oh, and those struggles I mentioned? All gone. I am a happy bunny once again.