Miss me much?

July 28, 2010

Ok, so I’ve been away. I’ve been busy! I’ve been having fun. I’ve been hanging out. I’ve been a bad blogger.

But hey, I’m back now. And you know what you get to ease the pain in your heart? You get a free cross stitch pattern. Why? Because I missed you too.

I made this to enter it into a competition to be an Elizabeth Bradley pattern. It was too gosh darn rock n roll for them so I was denied. So instead, I’m throwing it into your open arms. G’wan, stitch it, love it, give it a home.


It’s a little angry bull decorated with flowers because women are full of strength and anger inside, but we cover ourselves with fripperies and fineries to make us more accessible. Or something. Visual metaphors in cross stitch ftw.

As my mum once said, women are wonderful. Whatever sex you are, you should celebrate this.

Be back soon, promise.


Being a woman and being successful

June 8, 2010

“Some women choose to follow men, and some women choose to follow their dreams. If you’re wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore.” – Lady Gaga

Because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed. If I fail, no one will say, ‘She doesn’t have what it takes.’ They will say, ‘Women don’t have what it takes.’ – Clare Booth Luce

Not sure why I chose a picture of Whoopi Goldberg for an illustration- but it’s pretty good, right? By Annie Liebovitz.

Scarlet Work

June 3, 2010

Thankyou to everyone for your stories! I was inundated but that was absolutely wonderful- every single one of them added to the strength of my sketchbook, and every single one was a joy to read and a fascinating insight. I recommend reading them all, and furthermore- asking your friends for their own stories. It gives way to a brilliant conversation, that whilst at the beginning some may be reserved about- after a few minutes people are fighting to have their voices heard. Everyone loves it.

So on Rabia’s story, I hinted at the stitch outcome. However I didn’t say that the point of dissolving it was to dissolve it onto my thigh, like a huge trickling blood spill that supported all the stories of the women whose histories I gathered. I videoed this process, so it was a multimedia Embroidery project- which I am going to claim as being the first one ever at The Royal School of Needlework. Record breaking embroidery.

I don’t think i can show you the video- there’s probably too much nudity for youtube and my knowledge of uploading videos to the internet is essentially nonexistent. Photographs however- doable.



It means you’re normal


Don’t tell Dad


Trickling down my leg

And with that- I have finished my first year at Embroidery School.

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.

Take Back Parliament

May 14, 2010

So, we’ve had an election recently in the UK. And I got involved. Big style. The run up to the election consumed me- all the time. All my chat was about it, for weeks. Some moaned, some just sat and listened knewing I was unstoppable, and some got involved and went with me on it.

I was championing the Liberal Democrats. I loved them so much I went to a ‘flash mob’ in central London where we all stood around wearing the party colour (yellow) and chanted “I agree with Nick!” (the party leader)


Here’s a photo, taken by my Brother in Law of my sis and I there. Guess which one I am lololololol

One of the Liberal Democrat’s policies was electoral reform- challenging Britain’s First Past The Post system and asking instead for Proportional Representation- making every vote count so that some parties (the Lib Dems being one of them) had an actual chance of getting power- rather than the two main parties being the only seemingly viable options.

I didn’t realise how important a policy it was until the voting results came in. Conservative got 37% of the vote. Labour got 30% and Lib Dem got 24%. Did this translate into seats into Parliament? No. No it didn’t. Conservatives got 305 seats, Labour got 258 and Lib Dem? 57. How on earth does that work? I don’t understand it- but I know it’s not right.

This gave way to a new movement in the UK. People demanding fair votes, people demanding Proportional Representation- regardless of their political views, people want their votes to count. A group called Take Back Parliament have started a petition and have organised demonstrations and ‘flash mobs’ (which now appears to be less dancing in public and more a hastily organised get together of 100+ people in public.) and encouraged people to wear purple, the colour of suffrage, all week.

Tomorrow is the main event. On Monday there was a flashmob- and I went, head to toe in purple, with a little something extra… An armband embroidered with ‘Proportional Representation no more broken elections’ emblazoned onto the side. I had spent my day doing it and had even printed off patterns to take incase anybody there was into the stitch. I gave out a few but as we all know, political protesters that enjoy cross stitch are few and far between.

Larger size, here!

Larger size, here!

Today I finally got around to photographing the finished article-

I do quite like this armband fandango.

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, http://votematch.org.uk