Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Is Big Society Working?

April 4, 2011


Just a quick post today to let you know about an exciting new project I’m involved with – ‘Is Big Society Working?’ will visualise a year under the ConDem government.

It’s free to join in so I’d recommend you all take a look at the website and express your hatred of them through the medium of embroidery.

You can find the website here:


IWD Post #2 : Shackles in Silk?

March 8, 2011

So, at the Carnival Conference, I presented a talk and a stitch workshop. The talk was based in how Mary Wollstonecraft described embroidery as “the silken fetters that keep women in chains” and how I disagreed with this point of view. I wanted to illustrate the power that could be found in sewing circles or in quilting bees, so I laid out a large woollen blanket and thick woollen threads and got the participants to sit around it and stitch whatever they fancied on the blanket. The point was to get them all to talk to one another, share experiences and the like, that sewing was to become secondary: a reason why we’re all together but then make bonds of our own.


It was the first time I’ve ever done anything like this, and I think it went really well. I got positive feedback and I definitely want to do it again. It was a really nice space to have in the conference, away from the academia and just a focus on us.


The varying things that people did were really interesting. From words, to simple pictures, cobwebs, french knots, one participant even stitched the outline of her hand.


The blanket was later exhibited at a party that night. The fantastic ‘Lashings of Ginger Beer‘, a radical feminist queer burlesque troupe, used the blanket as a makeshift changing room throughout their set. Pretty proud of myself!


November 14, 2010

Before I go on to post anything else, I would just like to state that Vince Cable is a backstabbing worm and the piece of embroidery you see below is now viewed ironically (but no less treasured). Turns out that no Lib Dems up top* have principles.

Just for more info:
Here is what their website says about education and tuition fees:
“Liberal Democrats believe university education should be free and everyone who has the ability should be able to go to university and not be put off by the cost.” –
And this is what they do in power:


*some of the ones with less power still do. yay!

Rabia’s Story

May 22, 2010

So a few days ago I asked you for your stories, and what a response I got! Thanks to everyone who shared, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

I thought I’d show you my sample for my final piece, containing Rabia’s story. Rabia is on my course with me – she’s 21 years old and she moved to England from Afghanistan six years ago. This is her story:

I didn’t know anything about it- nobody had told me at all about things like that. When my breasts started growing I went to my dad and said “I’ve got two spots on my chest, I think I should go to the doctor” and then my mum shouted at me for talking to my dad about things like that. So when I started, and I found blood, I thought I’d cut myself when I’d been scratching because I had long fingernails. I wiped the blood away and carried on. But later I found more blood, and no matter how much I wiped I’d always find more- I was really scared. I went to my sister and told her about what was happening, I was embarrassed about damaging myself in this way, but she just gave me a hug and told me and explained it and she said “You’re a woman now!”.

One of the things I’m finding so interesting about this project is the wealth of stories- from different generations, different parts of the world, different class backgrounds. It’s incredible how diverse it all is.


So we’re studying blackwork at the moment, which is a lot of repeating pattern backgrounds (essentially).

I created a little uterus motif and repeated it across a background, and popped in a line from Rabia in it too.

I stitched this through counted fabric and dissolvable fabric, so then I removed the counted threads so it was just on dissolvable:

Then I dissolved the fabric away so all I have left are the stitches.

I like it but I think I’ll do a couple of things differently for the final piece.

I want your stories!

May 19, 2010

Hello everyone, women in particular –

My project is currently about menstruation. Periods an’ stuff.

And so this is a call for you tell me the stories of your first periods. I wanna hear it all- no matter how ‘boring’ or ’embarrassing’ or ‘disgusting’. Everything.

I will probably use direct quotes in my stitch work, so that’ll be exciting for you I guess.

If you could leave the stories in the comments on this entry that’d be GRATE. If you’re a little shy you can email me:
rosagmartyn [at] gmail [dot] com

My story- I was two weeks short of thirteen- I had extreme tummy pain and went to the toilet expecting the worse. Instead, I found blood. After telling my mother that I’d started she danced me round the kitchen singing “You’re a woman, you’re a woman!” Next day I went into school and whispered to all my friend girls “I started my period last night.” It was a proud moment, for me.

The Financial Times refused to publish this

May 18, 2010

And so I, and others in blogland, shall do it for them.


Love, Rosa.

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,

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:

Obsessed with Bulls

February 24, 2010

Current obsessions:
Halo by Beyoncé
Effervescent Vitamin C
Writing lists
Waking at 6am




I’m struggling with life a bit at the moment. But I’ll bounce back and be back soon.