Sunday, January 22, 2006

Old Granny?

Over at Stitch Bitch and Lake Stitcher the current topic is the relevance of cross stitch. Apparently there are those that believe that cross stitch has gone the way of the dinosaur. No one does this any more because everyone with any sense of what is hip is knitting or scrapbooking(my take on the whole issue). Apparently those that think cross stitching isn't relevant haven't tried googling cross stitch blogs. My SILs did this very thing recently trying to find my blog and were shocked to discover that there is something like 63,000 cross stitch blogs. They had no idea that anywhere near that many people cross stitched, much less blogged about it. I think they were pretty sure that me and my SIL Becky(she also married into the family) were the only ones in the world who cross stitched. The sad part is that I had no idea Becky still cross stitched until she commented on my blog. Maybe I should talk to family a little more often.

Like Lee, I've pursued other crafty endeavors over the years, but my heart has always belonged to cross stitch. It's just what I do. Yes, I crochet, I quilt(saying I quilt is probably embellishing the truth just a little, I dream about creating quilts. I have a lot planned but have only completed three tops since I took a quilting class 18 years ago-so calling myself a quilter is reaching), I'm trying to learn how to knit(in my defense I did learn to knit as a child), but no matter what I do, how good I might get at that particular thing, I always, always come back to cross stitch. There's always a cross stitch project in the hoop, a hundred more in the planning stages, a long wish list of charts, fabrics, threads, you get the idea.

It makes me wonder why cross stitchers get a bad rap? There are those that will tell you that crochet gets a bad rap because crocheters seem to use cheap acrylic yarn and crochet air freshener cozies like the current commercial for an air freshening product would lead one to believe, and knitters are willing to fork over big bucks for expensive yarn and pricey patterns. I don't agree with this assessment of crochet but that's how it appears to be judged. It doesn't mean that those assessing the hobby have a freaking clue but that's just how it is. I'm a firm believer in the fact that if someone loves a hobby and they buy the supplies that they can afford and it brings them joy, "hobby on!" I say, no matter what it is. So back to cross stitch and why it's got this horrible reputation. Ok, back in the 80s a stitcher's choices were limited. I remember in high school buying most of my charts and supplies at Woolworths, it was my source. The LNS was out of my baby sitting money price range and I envisioned everyone in there would be the superior stitcher that my neighbor was. I was not worthy. Then after getting a driver's license, I discovered another LNS on the other side of Memphis. It was Heaven. It was also expensive, but you have to understand I was comparing the prices of a discount store to a speciality shop, and I was only 17. Apples and oranges. The chart choices were beyond anything I could have ever imagined. I didn't know this world existed. Things that I wished I could paint, I found them in the form of a cross stitch chart. Things that if I had the skill I would draw or paint myself, but now I could spend time creating them on fabric with thread. No more ducks, no more country 80s style cross stitch. There was glamour, there was ART! (Don't get me wrong I believe anything anyone creates is art, I just found things here that were so me. Things I drooled over, something that wasn't a Paula Vaughn and to this day I still love her stuff, there was just a whole new stitching world opened to me, other artists that also designed cross stitch).

So why does cross stitch have this antiquated reputation?

How did it happen? As Lee, Lake Stitcher asks in her comment on Anna's blog,
Stitch Bitch, has cross stitch always been on the fringe? I know for me it was never main stream in my world. Sure I tried to teach all my friends to stitch but they seemed to stitch their one little thing, to shut me up more than anything, and move on to something with instant gratification. Thinking back, my neighbor who taught me to cross stitch and my best friend's mom were the only women I knew that cross stitched. My grandmother handpieced quilts, two of my aunts sewed, my mom didn't have a hobby. I do remember when I was a senior in high school one of the girls in my class stitched a sampler as her project. She put it right out there in front of the whole class. Here I had been doing it in secret, and she thought of it for a project for school. That's it, the three people I knew in the 80s who cross stitched.

A few years later when I married and moved to Ohio, I had a group of stitching friends that I worked with at a local hospital. Yes, they stitched, but not obsessively like I did. I've lost touch with them over the years but I do wonder now if any of them might still be stitching.

So let's try to put cross stitching in the same context as some people like to pigeon hole crocheters. Just to see--is cross stitch not hip because of the whole aida cloth thing? Is it the fact that readily available cross stitch thread is inexpensive? Well let me wake up some of you who don't get the art of cross stitch. It's not about how much your fabric costs or how much you pay for threads. There are people creating stunning pieces of needlework on cheap aida cloth(just like there are people creating beautiful afghans with Red Heart yarn) It's not about what you pay for your supplies it's what you do with them.

Why is cross stitch seen as a granny hobby? Why isn't it seen as something hip? Do the people making these judgement calls ever wander around cross stitch websites? Have they seen some of the fabulous art out there that has been translated to cross stitch? Heaven and Earth Designs(I can't find the link right now) are designing some great charts for stitchers who want to stitch things off the beaten path. There are a plethora of designers working to bring cross stitch out from behind the granny label. People are stitching some amazing things and the crafting world is looking in another direction.

I think I'm a fairly hip chick. My tastes are all over the place, I'm not a granny and honestly I can't begin to think of what a granny might cross stitch that would make it granny cross stitch. Other stitchers reading this blog chime in. What are examples of granny stitching? I don't think I've ever stitched anything that could be called "grannyish". MLI's Amish pieces. Well I think Amish Quilt Sampler might lend itself to contemporary if you read some of the decorating books that emphasize the contemporary beauty of Amish Quilts. My Carriage House Sampling pieces aren't grannyish. I think my Mairmaid's Song is pretty freaking funky hip. There's even some boob action, in a totally artisitc and primitive way, of course.

My Mermaid and the Sea picture - Webshots does that look grannyish? Not a great picture but does anything about this design scream granny? So I don't think there's anything about cross stitch that says this is an old lady hobby with the exception of people who don't have a clue saying that it is. Chances are they've never cross stitched, they are judging it by what they presume it to be. I think the same goes for crochet. I've always thought crochet was funkier and hipper than people tried to make it out to be.

As you can probably tell, I didn't really organize my thoughts before writing this entry, but this is, at it's most basic, a journal entry, so I rarely draft a blog post. This is just right off the top of my head, and I do think the comparison to crochet and cross stitch are valid. They are two forms of creative outlets that seem to get picked on all the time and I'm not really sure why. I mean ok I kind of know why, I get that. I don't live in a cave, but at the same time aren't we all artists? Aren't we expressing ourselves through needle and thread and hook and yarn and/or thread? Why is our chosen artistic endeavor seen as any less valid than scrapbooking or knitting? Why is it perfectly acceptable to insult people who choose to cross stitch or crochet?

If I'm not mistaken wasn't there a piece of embroidery found with a mummy that was like 800 years old? Maybe it was older than that. I do believe there's a cross stitch revolution and it's been around for years and years. It's just that cross stitch is relegated to the back of the store, but then again, when you really think about it, milk, eggs, they are kept in the back of the grocery store because everyone comes in the store for those items. It forces people to walk through the store to purchase those items, and then the shopper will see other things they want or need. If we look at cross stitch being stuck in the back of the store, maybe merchants are hoping that if we cross stitchers have to walk to the back of the store to get what we need we'll be inclined to spend money in other crafty departments as well. That thought is probably a long shot but it's in a lot more positive light than seeing it as a negative. I've given up wishing that the major market crafting stores would stock a larger more varied inventory. They are what they are and fortunately I have more options. If only the major crafting stores would see that their cross stitch customer base beyond the much misguided stereotypes. It seems to have happened with knitting which benefited crocheters, I can't begin to imagine what needs to happen in the cross stitch world to aid the choices of the cross stitcher. Let's just hope it happens before we really are grannies!

1 comment:

Lee said...

I love the milk and egg analogy! It's perfectly perfect...great post!