Monday, 23 January 2012

These fragments I have shored against my ruins

I have been ill this weekend (nothing exciting) and haven't felt like doing anything demanding. So I whipped out my embroidery that mum bought me for Christmas.
I haven't done the back very well. But it's a cushion! No-one will see!
This is going to be a cushion cover. It has this flower pattern at all four corners. You do it in cross stitch and french knots, and it has the little crosses already printed so it is, and I mean this in a good way, satisfyingly mindless and lots of fun. You don't have to think, and that was what I wanted, sitting huddled miserably on the sofa under my rainbow blanket.

In a way you could see anything where you follow a pattern/ guidelines as uncreative. Knitting pattern, sewing pattern, recipe, anything (and, just to get on my hobby horse one more time, this is basically the argument Germaine Greer uses in The Female Eunuch to show that all the things women do are rubbish and they should be doing something more exciting. Please don't make me dig the book out and quote properly).
A rook, basically just hanging out near the jobcentre
In another way, the presence of a structure doesn't mean the loss of creativity: it means creativity has something to use as a jumping off point. I see your argument Germaine, and I raise you Jacques Derrida's concept of différance. Besides, are we going to tell someone staging Tristan und Isolde that it's just telling people where to stand and picking a few frocks, and there's no creativity involved because someone else had already written it?

So I plough proudly on with my cushion cover (and thank you to the person who left me a comment about Sublime Stitching a while ago - I had not looked at their designs for ages and I like them very much. I am considering buying the sugar skulls one but I have not the first idea what I would embroider it onto. We don't have embroidered anything in this house. Pillowcases? A tablecloth? Answers on a postcard).


Magpie Mimi said...

How about embroidering skulls on the side and edge of a plain skirt?

Nana Go-Go said...

Oh, I could argue Germaine's point in so many ways. My Mother and Grandmothers were the most creative women I know in their own right, whether they followed knitting/sewing patterns or recipes...ALL of their creations were their own versions of the originals and ALL the finished objects were very expertly made and proudly shown off.....Germaine can stick her uncreativity....I won't bother finishing that sentence!

GirlAnachronismE said...

I would say that cross stitch is creative as you are creating something with your own hands, surely that's the basic definition? And it looks really good so far.

Sharripie said...

I'm a process crafter, so I don't know how the argument applies to me. I do like making stuff and I like that people who know plenty more than I have kindly written patterns so I don't have to reverse engineer anything. I think that people who knock other people's work are just cranky jealouspants.

Anonymous said...

By that reckoning then (Ms Greer), we are all the result of the most boring and useless women's work of all. After all there is no more set pattern than procreation. Yet strangely, though following the same process we are all different. Knitting is like this too.

Anyway, this is something that fascinates me. With out the 'doing' process there is no creation. So raspberries to that. I find people who draw a picture of the thing - e.g a handbag and give it over to someone else to work out how to knit/sew it etc the weirdest of all. You know, when they call themselves designers but haven't got a clue how to make it. It's only half the story yet there are 'designers' who do this. Craft IS creative. So is art and so is design. All these can go into a finished item but they may all not. Who is to say what should?

I think there is certainly room for following patterns and besides how often does that lead to us taking a detour and putting our own slant on what we are making. Look at Ravelry, nothing you see is the same though a single pattern is followed.

Sometimes you want to be in on the 'creative' process from the start other times you just want in at the middle. They are all appropriate. And poo to Ms Greer if she said it's all unimportant. Historically we would all live in bare houses and be running around naked if we didn't learn these skills. Besides in some places men do them. Crochet is often done by men. I'm not overly impressed that all that women do is rubbish. Even if we do only do it because of generations of gender programming. Seems to me like half the time she is saying we aren't good enough being what we are and we should be like men. Freedom to be ourselves is one thing, indoctrination to make us like other is another.

To be stupid and useless is not clever. Neither is spouting silliness. I used to like Greer and no doubt some of what she said was necessary and appropriate. However, in recent times I have tended to see her a rather noisy and vacuous person. I am actually the worm that turned regarding her as I used to rate her. Not these days. I think most of her criticism is poor and would feel short changed if she were my teacher. I reckon she has been getting by for decades on a book that she wrote erm, decades ago.

I digress. Sorry. I easily turn into an angry person. I love the idea of cross stitch marked on the fabric. I was thinking off this earlier today actually. Why do you get extra brownie points for being able to count? (I can't so am biased here.) It is the look of the thing that is important. If I drew my own design straight on as cross stitch showing drawing skills, does that still mean I am not so clever as the person who counts? I think not myself.

Who made Germaine Godd(ess) anyway? I am woman too. So my version and yours and anyone else's is valid too. And what did she create?

Anonymous said...

p.s sorry for the ignorant typos.

yvette williams elliott said...

I so love seeing the things you are making and planning to make. Loved the comment on Greer too.
I have my doubts about Ms Greer, and regard her as rather a loose canon these days. But, just to defend her for a moment, I would say that we should perhaps remember that The Female Eunuch was written at a particular moment of feminist political thought. Perhaps it was too early in the movement to value women's traditional skills at a time when for many women this was the only outlet they were permitted, and could seem like a prison as a result. I have a feeling that, initially, the feminist movement almost had to go through a rather stark 'know your enemy', 'break the mould' kind of thinking, a black and white approach which was just the beginning of formulating feminist thought. I think she was wrong, and thankfully feminism has now been refined to the point where we can celebrate and include skills, work and creativity traditionally practised by women.