Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Assertion Of Self or This Ones For The Boys

I frequently post my completed projects to craftster and enjoy letting others know what I think of thier work (remember what they say: stealing your idea and making it for my room is the sincerest form of flattery). I ran across this post by a fellow male stitcher, appropriately named MrXStitch, who included this information with his latest project:

"I've been a lot more public with my stitching, doing it on trains and public places, and it's been an interesting experience for me and suprisingly emotional"

Of course my first thought was if you just change the word "stitching" the whole sentence takes on a new meaning and describes other things I like to do on the train and in public. Seriously, if the spelling/ and grammar errors didn't tip you off, this blog is by a 14-year-old.

Once I actually paid attention to what he was saying the implications of it got me thinking. I've been stitching publicly for a while now but not always so. When I first started I would go to my local craft store after closing for thier potluck/UFO night (UnFinished Objects). I would make something fabulous - because I am more awesome with a pan then I am with a needle - but once I got there I was still to embarrased to stitch in front of anyone. I brought my project, I showed my progress and I even discussed my future plans. But I would not stitch. Stitching was a great stress reliever with my last job and I loved doing on my lunch. But I would park the car in the corner of the lot and go out there to stitch.

I would do it at home. My sister and her kids would give me a little laugh but in that "family tease each other about everything" way. but the hardest part was doing it at my current job. I work in a box taking calls and we are painfully slow most of the year. I brought my stuff and kept it in a drawer for a month before I took it out. Then I just left it on my desk for a week to see if anyone said anything. Now, it's all I do at work. I make things for people. I get a lot of questions. But I also got asked to participate in a company craft fair. Well until it came out that most of my stuff was not work appropriate.

But there is still a stigma. One of my tattoos is on my neck. Yep, my neck. But its not because I am tough. You wouldn't know it unless I told you or you and I had being a HUGE nerd in common, but its from Star Wars. Still when asked how a man got into cross stitching I mentioned it was to relieve stress. I kid you not my coworker asked "Did you learn to do it in prison"?

Somehow the man cross stitching and the neck tattoo and wanting to relieve stress led to the conclusion that I had been in the klink. And that was emotional for me because how many people think the same thing and don't ask? I have been called many things by the uneducated and mostly unwashed masses. I've had trash thrown at me because they think a guy with an embroidery hoop can't start some shit.

But as equally important are the conversations my working in public has started, the compliments and oohs and awwws I have gotten at my work, and the friends that I have made because of it.

With that, I am a HUGE fan of MrXStitch. His work and his ideas and his creative use of unwanted projects has been a big inspiration to me. I cant imagine someone so talented and funny having to needlepoint in the dark alleys behind unreputable craft stores.

So this one's for you, Sir! Consider this your Cross Stitch Coming Out Party. Sorry we forgot the chips. Luckily there is a hooker in the corner. And by hooker I mean someone is doing crochet. But men like us were probably already thinking that!

Any good crafting in public stories? Share 'em in the comments section people!


Deirdre said...

Good on you James for stitching in public. Men used to stitch all the time. Gack. These stupid gender boundaries.

bee listy said...

i'm a butch dyke, so i sometimes get some weird looks or surprise from people who are surprised that i have "feminine" hobby. i usually turn it around on them that my grandpa taught me to stitch (he did).

i was recently recognized by a worker in another dept @ my big corporate workplace as "the person who sews on the train!!" and i was kind of embarrassed, but also excited to be recognized.

i x-stitched a patch for my messenger bag that says "resist assimilation" which to me means be my own person... but a guy on the bus asked me if the borg was after me. :D i kind of mumbled "something like that..."

i love that more men (and other gender non-conforming folks like m'self) are stitching. we create different work than some of the easily available commercial patterns, and anytime a genre expands, i think it's a good thing. :)

beefranck said...

Good for you for stitching in public! And I daydream about stitching at work, it must be wonderfulu to be able to actually do it. :)

I haven't stitched in public myself and even have a hard time doing it in front of my family. Not my husband, but when my parents come to visit or I'm visiting them and the nieces and nephews are there.

The main problem is the subject matter, though. Most of my patterns have some sort of sauciness to them or a naughty word or two. Even if I just work on the border while others are around, the question comes up - "What's it going to say?" and I'm a terrible liar and blush very easliy, so it's pretty much all over at that point. I was working on my Hasty Fellatio pattern when my parents were in town and my Dad asked me what it was going to say. That was the last time I stitched in front of anyone but Jim. :)

Mr X Stitch said...

I must admit I had some difficulty in stitching my latest Bad Mofo piece in public because it might have offended.
I think this stitching in public and the associated psychological processes that we go through is an important part of personal development. I'm comfortable with stitching on the train now, but my next challenge is to actively engage with other people on the train/bus/bench about what I'm doing and what they're doing. Not easy for a Brit.
But I'm going to keep doing it - I do quite like the option of stitching in public these days. It's cathartic.

And let's face it WJ, if we're going to pioneer the manbroidery movement (along with Benjibot, Johnny Murder, Bascom Hogue, Kidmissile and others) we have to keep at this stuff.

I need to work on a range of man-safe stitch subjects... Hmm.

Keep it up though dude, and then at some point you will be revered. :)

IncogKnito said...

I stumbled across your project on craftster today (http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=300166.0) and I had to see your blog. While I don't personally stitch, I know a man who does. My dad has cross stitched for as long as I can remember. I'm pretty sure he has never completely x-stitched in public, friends and family know his work. He creates some very beautiful works of art and I have a whole wall of framed pictures to showcase. I always brag about him and his work whenever the opportunity arises. I just wanted to let you know that I think what you do is awesome. Great job stitching in public.